PDA

View Full Version : The Town of Koppollex



pyrandon
11-06-2007, 10:56 PM
Hello, friends:

I am asking for your critiques, opinions, & help on the attached WIP map: the large, medieval town of Koppollex. Obviously, I have not yet labeled anything yet, but otherwise I think it's done.

This was created using the "RPG Citymap Generator" (posted by Naryt here: http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=629) and Photoshop. My aims were speed of creation and flexibility (so filters can be run on it).

I also wrote a tutorial I'd like to post soon, if you'd find it useful--but first I'd like to hear your ideas, specifically on possible improvements to the style. Thanks a lot!

Take care,

RobA
11-06-2007, 11:50 PM
Wow!

First let me say this has a very photorealistic look - almost like a picture of a model. Since you want critique, I'll give critique :) and this is all IMOO...

(As you are constantly raising the bar, these are getting picky, I'll admit)

-Overall the image is dark. This could be the old laptop I am using, however.
-The roads look a bit too soft focussed (but that could be the intent if representing dirt).
-Not too sure about the horizontal banding on all the roofs.
-Most trees are much taller than single level dewllings. Their drop shadows should be more displaced.

um. Thats about it from me! SO how long does it take (as speed was one of your intents)?

-Rob A>

ravells
11-07-2007, 05:34 AM
Very, very nice. Particularly if done at speed. (I too would like to know what 'at speed' means in real numbers!). I was trying to do much the same thing but by importing the program into a vector drawing package, but it had problems reading the roads as part of the buildings and then something shiney distracted me away.

Here are my thoughts / suggestions:

1. The map is dark (it's not your laptop, Rob) but I think that works if you want a really broody, menacing atmosphere. In these colours this is a town I wouldn't want to visit. It has the sickly scent of death about it.

2. I would love to know how you got that hint of gableling on the rooftops. I'm not mad on the bands either, I think that's because they are all oriented horizontally even though the buildings themselves are oriented in different positions, so it looks too much like a fill.

3. The River looks almost handpainted - how did you do that?

4. I'm not overly keen on the vegetation - it looks just a bit too photoshopped for me (but still v.beautiful), however I expect that people who don't spend their days playing with heightmaps etc would say - 'wow that's really cool!' I wonder what it would look like if you tried a more spherical texture for the trees rather than the crumply one you currently have?

Beautifully done, Don!

RobA
11-07-2007, 08:39 AM
...and then something shiney ...


LOOK - a distraction!

-Rob A>

landorl
11-07-2007, 09:36 AM
This map is great looking as it is!!!

The things that I think could be improved are pretty much what the others said...

1. A little lighter in color.

2. The patterns on the roof don't quite look right.

I love the river though, one of the nicest that I have seen, and the elevations look good.

Naryt
11-07-2007, 10:15 AM
WOW!

My ONLY "complaint" is the banding on the rooves as previously mentioned.

OT

BTW, in case you've missed it in my barage of Wealth issues (so sorry about that) Gereth, Yule and the peddlers just left Piercy. I should be able to get the journal (http://www.ormonds.net/rpg/journeys/gereth/page.php?page=1) updated through Faellstaf and possibly even to Koppollex today.

RPMiller
11-07-2007, 12:35 PM
You know I have to be more critical with your work than others right? ;)

First off, beautiful map! For being a speed map, it is exceptional.

Now for the nit picks:

I do not like the banding on the roofs at all.
The roads appear to be convex. They should be flatter looking, especially if they are well used, and definitely "lower" looking than the land around them.
Shadows are too uniform in their cast distance. I would suggest putting the objects on different layers and then using non-global lights to give them different shadow lengths.
I think the tree tops are too flat looking.
For the river, take a look at this map: http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=38.817099,-120.933391&spn=0.012021,0.016823&t=k&z=16&om=1
(http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=38.817099,-120.933391&spn=0.012021,0.016823&t=k&z=16&om=1)That is a location in the foothills where there are some rapids. I like the coloration of the water as it changes in depth and speed. Also note the shoreline's vegetation. You'll have a lot more right next to the water unless it has been cleared.

RobA
11-07-2007, 03:15 PM
The roads appear to be convex. They should be flatter looking, especially if they are well used, and definitely "lower" looking than the land around them.

I was thinking that too, but thinking that (modern) roads are often crowned up to drain made me dismiss that comment.

Probably should U shaped on foot trails and UU shaped/ruted on cart/wagon trails.

-Rob A>

RPMiller
11-07-2007, 03:36 PM
They were actually crowned going way back in history, but at the scale we are looking at and the angle, they shouldn't appear convex which was the reason for the statement. If rutes and such can be added that would be cool as well.

AidyBaby
11-07-2007, 04:25 PM
I like it. I generally agree with the other posts above, especially the roofs. I've done this too on my maps http://homepage.ntlworld.com/adrian.walton/maps/Farhill.jpg and it always looks a bit naff.

I look forward to your tutorial...

RPMiller
11-07-2007, 04:33 PM
I like it. I generally agree with the other posts above, especially the roofs. I've done this too on my maps http://homepage.ntlworld.com/adrian.walton/maps/Farhill.jpg and it always looks a bit naff.

I look forward to your tutorial...
Wow! Those are some mighty big rocks in that town. :shock:

Airith
11-07-2007, 09:23 PM
Everything has pretty much been said, so I'll just add that I think the map is too dark as well. Even if its supposed to be a dark medieval feel, could look less... foreboding. Also, couldn't make sense of some of your rivers in the top right... Maybe it's just me though.
Other than that, it's way better than anything I could do :D

pyrandon
11-07-2007, 09:50 PM
Thanks so much, everyone, for your encouragement, and thanks just as much for your critiques--they truly helped, although whew! You gave me some tall orders! :)

The brightness was an easy, easy fix. Some vegetation & shadow issues also decently quick to fix. Other issues--like the roofs and the roads--were tough, mainly because after much a-playing I was never completely satisfied. I did end up making the changes for the better (IMO), but I also realized something: I posted the map too large. I never intended this to be scrutinized that closely, and I never drafted it at that high of zoom; so I reduced the size so that 100% zoom is where I intend it to be. (It also struck me that this is something we don't discuss much as cartographers). Hopefully that resizing eliminated many of the problems you see. :)

I do have a couple lingering, minor beefs with this map (ex: the bridges), but I am too pooped right now to fix 'em. Maybe as I post the tutorial. :)

I will post the tut soon. Thanks again for all your help. That is why the Guild rocks!

ravells
11-08-2007, 07:42 AM
It looks absolutely beautiful now. And you are so right about the level of detail in the maps in relation to its intended final size.

RobA
11-08-2007, 12:24 PM
Wow -

That is very nice! This really does look like a photo of a painted scale model now.

-Rob A>

RPMiller
11-08-2007, 02:48 PM
I hope I wasn't too hard on ya. ;)

Looks much better now. Yea, that zoom thing is definitely worth considering in the future; that made a difference.

I'm still seeing something odd with the roads that is bugging me, but it just may be the way the shadows are playing over them.

RobA
11-08-2007, 03:59 PM
I think it is the lighting from 2:00. Not something your brain is used to seeing :)

-Rob A>

RPMiller
11-08-2007, 04:09 PM
That must be it.

pyrandon
11-08-2007, 08:55 PM
The roads gave me a hassle, I'll admit. If going for the realistic look, they would have no hard, stroked outline, they would be two-tracks and waver a lot, but whenever I did that they looked too blurry...so I bounced back and forth and tried 2 million different things, and then--gave up. :(

No way, RP--you weren't too hard at all. I appreciate it. The comment you made about this seeming like a scale model threw me back for a minute, though--for that was not at all the look I was shooting for. Admittedly, I have no idea WHAT I was shooting for, but it was not a model. :) Not sure how to fix that one, either, short of getting out my 20000x zoom lens and drawing a dog peeing on an ant in the butcher's back yard, etc.

But, as I originally claimed, speed and PS filter versatility were my goals, so at least at these I think I have succeeded well enough. Also, I had to keep telling myself this is a map, not a satellite image. Someone once mentioned the grey line some maps in the digital age walk between cartography and photography, and I sure ruminated a lot about that while creating this! :)

RPMiller
11-08-2007, 08:59 PM
A model? I never said any such thing. :) Perhaps you confused me with that other Rob. ;)

pyrandon
11-08-2007, 11:12 PM
Oops--it was RobA.

Not saying he's wrong, just saying I'm not sure how to remedy that--or if it's possible with this style of map.

landorl
11-09-2007, 07:18 AM
I think that the different zoom level makes a huge difference. Now the roofs look good, and the texture on them just appears to be normal roof textures.

I don't have any problems with the bridges, I think that they are a pretty good representation of the bridge.

The roads still don't look quite right. You might want to think a little about varying their width, or smoothing out some of the right angles a bit. Roads are always a challenge though. It's hard to figure out just what to do with them

I like the adjustment to the lighting though, I think it brings out a lot of the detail.

terrainmonkey
11-09-2007, 09:03 AM
hey--

great job on this map. it's very good and shows a lot of work and promise. i wish i could do the same thing on corel. i noticed, however, that you were using the RPG random city map designer for this. i downloaded that program and ran it a few times, but i wasn't happy with the results. here's why.

the roads are illogical and don't make any sense in this map. it looks haphazard and unrealistic to me to have all the roads, curved for no reason, going every which way with no thought to community demographics or planning. there's just too many of them first of all, and a few of them are winding for no reason. look at most towns this size and you will find that most roads go strait to the location they need to go. sure, there are exceptions, but that's my opinion. also, buildings are too close to the roads in some cases. there are some buildings that butt up against each other over the road. this is illogical too. town planners wouldn't allow this.

now, i know we're talking about fantasy towns, and this is all hypothetical, but if you have those on a different layer, perhaps you could erase some of them, just to make it more "organized" if you know what i mean.

i've taken your map and crossed out those roads i feel are either redundant or not necessary to the finished map. this creates more solid understandable town "Blocks" like normal towns. just a thought, that's all. i just think this map looks too "busy" as it stands right now. please don't take any of my suggestions as dislike. this is a great map, i'm just offering suggestions that i feel would make it even greater.

Gamerprinter
11-09-2007, 09:53 AM
TM, with the RPG City Designer you should notice that on the last template setting is an American City. If you click this the streets and blocks are very straight and square. That's because American cities use a formal geometric system in city layout, moreso than European cities.

IMO, European cities include lots of curved roads, because they originally followed the contours of the land much more closely, then here in US. Our engineers blast the obstacles away and put up a straight road. Old Europeans followed the curve at the base of a hill, around the edge of a pond.

As time goes on, these obstacle features often get worn down or removed altogether, yet the curved streets remain - this is very European.

I think the curved streets created by RPG CD for European styled cities is very realistic. although this map may be alittle busy, so that's creating a distraction for you. Just my opinion. 8)

RobA
11-09-2007, 10:00 AM
I particularly likes the double street in the NE corner. it look like one one goes along the top of a ridge, and one goes along the bottom...

An by a model miniature, I meant that it has lots of photorealistic detail but lacks real world features/oddities/inconsistencies.

-Rob A>

terrainmonkey
11-09-2007, 10:31 AM
i'm not saying that every map needs to follow the city planning of american roads. i understand there are towns out there with multiple roads going to the same place. my feeling is that in a fantasy map, some of the roads here are redundant and unnecessary. why have two roads going to the same place? it doesn't make sense. there's also many roads in the town center that i feel are redundant. while it may have made sense in reality, on a fantasy map where clarity is key there's no reason for it. it makes the map look far busier than it needs to be for the sake of realism only. that's my point. don't get me wrong, i'm not dissing this map. there's just no real reason for many of the tracks and roads.

Naryt
11-09-2007, 10:49 AM
the roads are illogical and don't make any sense in this map. it looks haphazard and unrealistic to me to have all the roads, curved for no reason, going every which way with no thought to community demographics or planning. there's just too many of them first of all, and a few of them are winding for no reason. look at most towns this size and you will find that most roads go strait to the location they need to go. sure, there are exceptions, but that's my opinion. also, buildings are too close to the roads in some cases. there are some buildings that butt up against each other over the road. this is illogical too. town planners wouldn't allow this.

Having lived in old East Germany for a while (West too but that was before I can actually remember), let me just say that Koppollex puts me very much in the mind set of the places I lived there. Roads that led to nowhere or seemed or actually did just go in a circle for no obvious reason or the occasional road running through homes (OK, the upper story was actually built over the road but still). As for town planners, one city I lived in was celebrating it's 1000th anniversary in 1990 and cattle tracks laid the main roads as often as not.

Compare this google map (http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&time=&date=&ttype=&q=halberstadt+germany&ie=UTF8&ll=51.892967,11.048212&spn=0.031728,0.09407&z=14&om=1) of Halberstadt's (1000 years old in 1990) city center with Koppollex. Now look at the "squared" roads further out from the city center, those later roads benefited from town planners.

With this google map (http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&time=&date=&ttype=&q=pleasant+grove+utah&ie=UTF8&ll=40.367801,-111.730442&spn=0.039171,0.09407&z=14&om=1) of a town that started with a very orderly town plan and then relaxed it to accommodate the "need for aesthetic avenues."


it makes the map look far busier than it needs to be for the sake of realism only. that's my point. don't get me wrong, i'm not dissing this map. there's just no real reason for many of the tracks and roads.

Knowing Don as I do, I'm sure he'll see that as a compliment as realism is actually an important issue to him (and his players....gold statues are problematic).

Joshua_101
11-09-2007, 12:41 PM
This map is perfect IMO... And I am EAGERLY awaiting this tut because the surrounding area (river, forests, hills) are exactly the style I am trying for with my Elsir Vale Region map.

pyrandon
11-09-2007, 05:50 PM
First off, as always, thanks to all for your input. This discussion of roads is particularly useful and interesting! (Odd we've never had a "road discussion" thread before! It's such an important topic.)

I'm with TM on this one IF Koppollex were a "newer" medieval city; roads would have a purpose. But if it were a thousand years old and such Naryt is right: it would not necessarily be that way, although some of the roads would be forgotten, smaller, sidetracks vs. the large, wide roads they are in the map. Were I to go back and change this map I would either 1) add more buildings to give most every street a purpose, or 2) change the thickness & opacity of little-used roads to show that they are in fact little used.

Honestly, as I said originally, my concern with this map is more imagistic: I wanted to create a map that gives the illusion of reality from a distance, and I did little to no thinking about planning, purpose, districts, etc. And, on top of this, I wanted to do it FAST. Both these factors combined result in inconsistencies that I would never abide in a "serious, long-term" map.

TM, you totally rock. Thanks for bringing that up--it generated a very interesting discussion! Thanks to all (and Naryt, that Google map was very interesting--nice post.) Rep all the way around!

Oh, and Joshua, thanks for the vote of confidence. I am beginning to post the tutorial right now, so I hope it helps at least a tiny bit! :)

Take care,

Arcana
11-09-2007, 09:29 PM
This community never ceases to amaze me. I'm SOO glad we can have discussions like this and toss around VERY serious constructive criticism and sometimes very heated debates, but in the end everyone takes it like they should and grows from it. It warms me on the inside...I love you guys!

ravells
11-10-2007, 08:02 AM
Absolutely, Arcana. Seconded. This is what makes this community so wonderful to be in.

Just a thought - people were mentioning cart tracks earlier. This is not so difficult to do if your roads are vectors (maybe more a challenge if they are raster but you may be able to use the select by colour and shrink selection tool - I think). Simply copy and overlay a double vector line over the road. Very quick example below (sorry about the horrid colours) of the final image and an exploded view - of course you'll want to scuff up and texture the road colour a bit and maybe put some jitter, drop shadow etc on the cart tracks.

ravs

Naryt
11-10-2007, 09:50 AM
This community never ceases to amaze me. I'm SOO glad we can have discussions like this and toss around VERY serious constructive criticism and sometimes very heated debates, but in the end everyone takes it like they should and grows from it. It warms me on the inside...I love you guys!

Pshah, we're all here for a common cause and even the "least" talented among us (*proudly raises his hand as a "least"*) recognize the effort that goes into even the "fast and dirty" maps. That being the case, critiques are honest attempts to help and rebuttals doubly so.

S'MORES FOR EVERYONE!

Naryt
11-10-2007, 09:51 AM
Absolutely, Arcana. Seconded. This is what makes this community so wonderful to be in.

Just a thought - people were mentioning cart tracks earlier. This is not so difficult to do if your roads are vectors (maybe more a challenge if they are raster but you may be able to use the select by colour and shrink selection tool - I think). Simply copy and overlay a double vector line over the road. Very quick example below (sorry about the horrid colours) of the final image and an exploded view - of course you'll want to scuff up and texture the road colour a bit and maybe put some jitter, drop shadow etc on the cart tracks.

ravs

Yeah, it definitely needs some brand of noise on the tracks themselves so they're not so clean but very good idea and example ravells.

terrainmonkey
11-11-2007, 08:56 AM
i'm glad that my critiques of the map haven't been taken in a bad light. my whole process for designing maps is different that others. everyone has a style they use and that's the reason i like this site so much. some people here have a style i like and want to emulate. i would love to be able to do maps that look great like the town of Koppolex, but i don't have the software for it right now. i am envious of you photoshop users out there. :(

a lot of folks here do some great maps. i'm always amazed at the quality of work. i think some of my own maps have been enhanced by the cunstructive criticism of the users here, and that is why i think this site is great. thanks arcana, and everyone else that makes this a vibrant forum.

pyrandon
11-13-2007, 10:55 PM
Okay, I'm finishing up the tutorial & the map, and I could use some help. Farm fields. These are throwing me into fits.

For this style of map I can't seem to get the right field feel; either they turn into a texturized, processed blob of crap that is totally unrealistic, or they become artsy-fartsy-sketchy pieces of crap. I even tried copy-pasting in photos of fields like I did in my Eneini tutorial, but its not working either because that looks like...well, photos I copy-pasted in!

Any ideas you PS gurus out there? Help!

ravells
11-14-2007, 03:32 AM
Here is a very quick suggestion. I've used the fields fill I posted in the textures section to make a field in the top left corner. About 45% opacity with a stroke brush that suggests hedgerows. May need more fiddling with but I'm late for work. I think getting fields to work also involves making sure that they fit realistically into the landscape - maybe putting hedgerow strokes on either side of the roads might help too?

I'll try again tonight, I think that using a filter on the fields fill to make it less 'realistic' might help too.

Ravs

Joshua_101
11-14-2007, 10:12 AM
I'll try again tonight, I think that using a filter on the fields fill to make it less 'realistic' might help too.

Hmmm... why not try this:

Take your base ground layer (with the shadows and heights) or merge your base ground layers together (making copies of course). Then turn this into a channel. If the difference between the darks & lights isn't enough, use Levels to increase the contrast.

Then take your farm field pattern layer and run Lighting Effects on it using the heightmap channel. That might make the fields look more like they're shaped to the land better. Also, turning the opacity down should help it blend better too.

I'd try it myself right now, but I too am late for work. Good luck!

pyrandon
11-14-2007, 11:36 PM
Ravs and Joshua: thanks for your suggestions, fellas. I ended up going with a "faking" technique involving the texturizer filter and a layer mask. Not great, but I like it the most so far, and it does not stand out like a sore thumb. Thanks for your help--both your ideas gave me the idea to do what I eventually did! :)

You can see the results in the tutorial: http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=1150

ravells
11-15-2007, 05:18 AM
Nice looking result, although I'd be tempted to lower the opacity a little so it picks up the tone of the underlying land a bit more.