View Full Version : Greyhawk: Atlas of the Flanaess

12-09-2007, 02:33 PM
Hi Everyone :)

I’m making this post to show you what I’m currently working on. Right now it’s the plains of Furyondy and the Evil Horned Lands. Only a rough rendering of the new parts yet, and not even finished with rendering.
So I’ll try and put new screens to show my progress.


12-09-2007, 02:45 PM
That's great Anna! Being a fan of your work - having printed a dozen or so of your map for my clients, I've seen them up close on paper, all the more impressive let me say.

I'd never have thought you did this in patches - its nice to really see the methodology. Though still beyond my capability!

Great work.

12-09-2007, 07:14 PM
Anna, this looks very cool. Theres lots of little squares of bits of map at the edges. Do I take it that this is a very high res map that your putting together in sections ? If that is true then how do you get consistency between the bits. Do the grid lines indicate that its all georeffed too ? Do you have any tech details about this map - like what are you using to make it ?

12-10-2007, 01:08 AM
Here are some insights into how I made this map.

To construct the terrain I use Bryce 5.5. In order to achieve the detail I want of an area this big the terrain must be made of small pieces. Picture 1 (Bryce1.jpg) shows my Atlas terrain made up of 435 pieces with 751 115 943 polygons! The second picture shows the detail of a terrain piece (Bryce2.jpg)

To render it in the resolution I need I have to zoom in and render it in parts, each 2400 x 1450 pixels, so far I have made 516 renderings.

I use Corel PhotoPaint to put the rendered pieces together exactly as you guessed Redrobes. I adjust each piece manually and then do a lot of touch up work to improve the looks. My terrain file is 28 550 x 22 440 pixels and is 2.05 GB in size

To make my final maps I use CorelDraw to add symbols, text heraldry etc.

To be able to work like this I use a really fast computer with 4GB RAM, and a desktop resolution of 2560 x 1600 on a 30” monitor. So far I’ve been able to upgrade my hardware to match my progress. My planned investment is to move to 64bit Vista to be able to use more RAM, and a faster QuadCore CPU.


12-10-2007, 08:08 AM
This is fascinating and it seems we share a great deal of ideas here.

So you get your basic consistency through using Bryce and rendering the terrain with a similar texture set. I am guessing then that you must model the terrain by hand based on some reference maps.

Your final size of 28Kx22K must be close to the limit of what your able to work with. My experience is that even if you had unlimited ram the basic image file formats tend to break down at about the 32K. My PSP start dying at 14K so its of limited use at these resolutions. Im guessing that you must have to turn off any undo buffers or any layer controls.

I am an admin on the Me-Dem site :- "www.me-dem.org". Were making a map of middle earth at an extrordinary resolution. I think the plan is 160K x 160K. Its nuts actually and we might not be able to go quite that high but thats the current plan. I am attaching an image of our base map which is also 3D contoured set. Its 10x10 tiles of 2048x2048 so its of similar size. This is the base DEM because it gets chopped into 256x256 tiles and then procedurally boosted up to 2048 each tile.

Most of us are running 64 bit XP and I am unusual in that I have a mere dual core as most of the others have quaddies. I would recommend getting 64 bit but you need to check if your apps are available in 64 bit or else it does make much difference.

One thing I must also ask. On another forum there was a chap putting together a new machine and thinking of getting 4Gb for XP 32 bit. I was very skeptical that you could get 4Gb out of it. Tell me, if you right click on My Computer and properties, what RAM does it tell you that you have installed. How much of your 4Gb do you think you have access to ?

Is your map an open shared thing or a commercial type ? The Me-Dem is open. I think the general rule is that if you register on the site then you can download the work in progress. You can get that 20K middle earth if you want it. If your map is open then I can suggest some more chewy stuff to help you out on it - especially if you find that your machine is practiucally dying under the load of it.

You map is very cool. Mucho kudos !

12-10-2007, 04:46 PM
Wow, that is cool!

And what you do at www.me-dem.org is what I知 aiming for with my work. So far I have reached the treetops and you are on your way to the stars :)Great to see what some combined effort can accomplish, I知 a solo effort so far.

My machine has 3GB of physically addressable RAM, which max for a 32bit OS, and yes it is straining under the load. I mask of all the parts I知 not working under and it helps a lot. I think Corel uses memory more efficient, but it痴 just a hunch, not a fact. Vista 32bit is in fact better than XP 32bit in handling my large files. Hopefully Vista 64bit with 8GB of RAM will be a lot better.

Your projects with ViewinDale and GeoTerSys looks really interesting. Your samples of Middle-Earth are certainly the most inspiring things I have seen on the net so far, and I have seen a lot!

My plan is to make a Flanaess Atlas using this technique and refine it as much as I can without having to remake the old parts, it will probably take 2 years or so. Then I値l try and continue my work on Greyhawk with whatever improvements in software and knowledge there is.

There are cities and underdark and so much more to map and illustrate

Thanks to you Game-Printer I now know that my maps are used :-)


12-10-2007, 06:45 PM
What gorgeous work!

Just to add another perspective on the larger map projects -- and it really is peewee compared to what you folks are doing -- when did Tuala Morn (in Illustrator on 2gb system) there was no way could get all those objects on a single space. The system was groaning with what I was doing and I had several near crashes when I did saves and whatnot.

My approach was top down similar to Redrobes', I started with a larger map and then panned down and did everything in sections. I would have loved to do it all in one shot so I could get the names and all the features in one spot but it just wasn't feasible, and I am often dealing with deadlines that are measured in weeks. If I were to do it again today, I think I would have to consider very carefully what sort of approach to make and plan ahead. The sort of things that I did do (like create reference points so that I could transfer things from one map to the other) helped immensely, but there were other things that I coud have done (like keep everything in the same exact location from one map to another so that I could cut and past more easily between maps using the "paste in place" command) that would have been better in the long run. We always say that we'll come up with a better plan next time, but when doing maps for someone else, you don;t always have the time to develop that plan fully.

Live and learn, but I am taking notes from your excellent examples. Thanks!

12-10-2007, 07:11 PM
I was just sending a PM about that sort of stuff to Anna. We use tiles of 2K max so that we can easily fit it into 2Gb. Although most of us have 4Gb+ we don't want to restrict it to cut out some of the members.

Its a chap called Monks who does the mapping. Hes very particular about things and a ME nut. So he has lots of ref maps and has overlaid them all into one giant map and is working off of that to create it in 3D. I believe its all georeffed so its physically accurate to the globe too. I'm just the dev creating the tools and stuff that might get us there. We have others who are also doing some sterling work too.

I would really strongly advise going to tiles. There comes a point where the machine cant cope with such large images easily. As soon as you go to tiles then the memory footprint drops tremendously. You can even use the graphics card processing. Things get faster and you can take the handbrake off.

BTW. Publius if you need a map in a few weeks thats very large take a peek at L3DT. It has some advantages and some disadvantages over other tools but its very easy and quick to get a large terrain out of it. I really like it but accept that it has some limitations that would have not worked well for MeDem. However it may be fine for what you need. A few weeks is a drop in the ocean for large scale high def mapping tho.

12-10-2007, 07:39 PM
Anna; Your first map I would LOVE to see at a much Higher RES, especially the area of the Duchy of Urnst. I wrote a few mods and did a few maps in CC2 for the Duchy of Unrst back in the early years of Living Greyhawk, and so would loe to see that area.

12-11-2007, 01:49 AM
I split my terrain bitmap in half a while ago because it was becoming too big, only joined it again to make the overlapping areas easer. Now I will split it in half again and continue working on each half.

I値l run into the problem again when I知 expanding north but I値l deal with that then, it will not be until 2009 anyway I think, so there will be at least one upgrade in hardware and probably software too before then.

Hopefully the attached map can fulfill your desire for a map of the Duchy of Urnst. Here is a link to my webstorage where you can find highres copies of all my Atlas maps I have done to date:

It is thanks to you and others who researched the area before me that I could have made the map the way I did.


12-11-2007, 02:22 AM
Publius I can understand your frustration with limited resources and all doing a project like that against a deadline. I could never make this project against a deadline, it has taken me well over 10 years to come this far.

The worst part when I started was to work out a procedure to achieve a result I was satisfied with. Now the worst part is to see all new cool tools and techniques available and to stay focused and finish this, before moving on.

People here in Cartographers guild biggest asset are their talent but I think mine is to never give up! I知 sure that everyone here could have made what I知 doing and made it look better if they just had kept on doing it for half as long as I have. :x
But now I feel like I知 getting somewhere.

Here are some examples of my early work

12-11-2007, 02:52 AM
I split my terrain bitmap in half a while ago because it was becoming too big, only joined it again to make the overlapping areas easer. Now I will split it in half again and continue working on each half.

I値l run into the problem again when I知 expanding north but I値l deal with that then, it will not be until 2009 anyway I think, so there will be at least one upgrade in hardware and probably software too before then.

Hopefully the attached map can fulfill your desire for a map of the Duchy of Urnst. Here is a link to my webstorage where you can find highres copies of all my Atlas maps I have done to date:

It is thanks to you and others who researched the area before me that I could have made the map the way I did.


WOOT! What is really cool, is the the village of Thallin (East of Nesserhead) was the name I made up for the small forestry village for the Year Duchy Module I wrote: Never the Same Thing Twice.

Its nice to see little things I did years ago in others work :D

12-11-2007, 09:03 AM
What a gorgeous map, amazing work. I have not done any work with 3d as of yet. Just amazing.

12-11-2007, 11:15 AM
Also, I think you have misspelled the name of Castle Seh to Sen (On the Duchy Map, west of the Spurned Vale in the Celadon Forest.

I will see if I have my detailed CC2 map of the Duchy of Urnst kicking around still and post it up for you if you wish.

12-11-2007, 11:33 AM
So here are the two maps, the first shows the locals of the Modules from Year One for the Duchy, and the second is just the map.

As I thought, you have labeled Castle Seh as Castle Sen. Also, uou have placed Thallin further north than I originally placed it. It was within the small forest there, and not on the river, closer to Aldon's Watch, which actually is located on the Nesser River almost directly across from Hammersend.

Also, the Spurned Vale was located outside the Celadon, not within, as the Elves of the Celadon are not very welcoming of Humans and others, and while the County of Unrst runs guerilla warfare with the elves trying to Log the forest, the Duchy is viewed as friends of the Celadon.

Finally, Salt Harbor was located on a small Island off the coast of the Duchy.

I love the map tho, and please don't take me notes above as complaints. They are just the ramblings of a player who has played in the Duchy for almsot 5 years and had a hand in creating it through writing modules and what not.

12-11-2007, 12:34 PM
Wow :D

This is exactly the kind of input I need, thank you soo much for the maps and corrections!

I値l update my maps accordingly and post the updates here and on Canonfire. If you have any more maps or other info that you think would help my mapping I壇 love to have a copy.

Thanks again!

12-11-2007, 12:58 PM
Not that I know of. I'll look into the Duchy Websites and see if there is anything new there.

12-12-2007, 08:50 AM
Hi guys, very interesting convo, great site too. :)
I'd love to see the old rpg maps become 3D models with viewers such as Google Earth and WorldWind. The advantage of having a heightmap is that you can generate contours from them and use those in your maps. I've had many convos about this over the last few years with rpg/ terrain folks- GreyHawk is one of the maps that came up.
A guy who is involved with NASA recently suggested an offer of server speace fro the ME-DEM data and indeed said that he'd like to see more fantasy worlds using their technology as a viewing interface (WorldWind).

The worst part when I started was to work out a procedure to achieve a result I was satisfied with. Now the worst part is to see all new cool tools and techniques available and to stay focused and finish this, before moving on.

Yes, I can totally appreciate this Anna :) If you don't stay focussed you end up like the Duke Nukem Forever devs- always waiting for the next great wizzy engine to come around. At ME-DEM we've had to wait and get involved in terrain tool development with guys like RedRobes.
I'd recommend running some procedural erosion over your heightmap- this has the single biggest impact in terms of terrain visual realism.

If you're into terrain, then the best apps to use to take advantage of 64 bit for modelling are:
GTS: fully multi threaded, 64 bit. Secret weapon: texture output which is directly output from the physics sim. Of the terrain modelling apps this Thas easily the best physically correct water modelling- enabling glaciers and lava flow.
Water is a heightmap.

World Machine 2.0 -fully multi threaded, 64 bit-in beta, not yet released but it will be within weeks. This has multi threaded right down to the device level so you can run erosion multi threaded- that's a massive step.
image overlay (alows tracing over imported maps)

L3DT: MASSIVE terrain capability. multi threaded in parts, 64 bit.
image overlay

Geocontrol 2.0 Again not yet released, it's in beta; release date on the horizon. There are plans to include a tiled terrain manager and output. Not x64 or threaded yet but it's secret weapon is it's Procedural zoom. check it out.
Water is a heightmap.
image overlay

Wilbur: an amazing app for the price- that is, for free. There are plans to release a Wilbur 2.0 but no definite time frame on that- next year. I do know that the dev is working on some pretty major things.

If you're into mapping as well, then GlobalMapper is numero uno imo. There's now a workflow between the GIS worlds and the terrain modelling worlds with the new hf2/hfz terrain file format hashed out here: http://terrain.cg-arts.org/forum/index.php. At the moment we have L3DT and Global Mapper supporting it. We've asked both World Machine and GeoControl to implement support.
Google Maps, kml, WorldWind output. If your into tiled terrains/ maps, GM is the Gold Standard imo.

I'd also like to see the Middle Earth underdeeps mapped, in fact this is how I got into terrain modelling/ mapping; I digitised my floor plans for Mt Gundabad (Goblin city) from many years ago. I looked into using software and standards from the caving industry. I'll upload some screenies when I get the chance.
GIS is the perfect vehicle because it deals in vectors. We plan to have a layer in our maps that shows underground networks.
I'd like to have something like GTS to erode natural passages- that's a version 2.0 or 3,0 methinks. You have to get around the volume problem.
We also need a workflow to create VAST underground networks which can be read into a 3D viewer. I would go for a vector editor/ interface (much like some of the more user friendly interfaces in speliology) which is converted on the fly by a 3D engine into tunnels, rooms, etc. It would be better as a procedural engine because if you're mapping vast areas- then there's a lot of
redundancy- who wants to walk down a mile passage? with enough procedural content/atmosphere I think maybe I would!- but you certainly don't want to store that as a static model- just the vectors. Then of course one could avoid the boredom by simply having a click interface to teleport around the map. Lots of possiblities.


12-12-2007, 08:54 AM
Interesting read, monks, thanks. Forgive my ignorance, but what does 'multithreaded' mean?


12-12-2007, 10:05 AM
Interesting read, monks, thanks. Forgive my ignorance, but what does 'multithreaded' mean?
It means it can do several things at the same time.
Technical Answer (http://www.the-computer-book.com/Multithreading-computer-pc-terms-tips.html)

12-12-2007, 11:52 AM
-or, if you have a computer with more than one core- such as a dual core, quad etc, the apps can process the data (do things to it) using all of those cpus at once. So for eg, a quad core would have up to 8 threads available to an app. If I wanted to do something to the entire map, the multithreaded app would take the map and split it equally bwetween all of the cpus and they would all go at it at once. It's like having lots of computers!


12-12-2007, 03:27 PM
Ah, I have a dual core and it's much faster! (I don't lift the hood though!)

12-18-2007, 02:37 AM
Sorry for not replying sooner, but I致e been away working far off into nowhere a while.

I looked over the apps you listed Monks and there are some gems among them! Let me add Vue6 from http://www.e-onsoftware.com/ to that list it looks like another interesting tool I will look into for the future.

My take in the 鍍hreading discussion is to order a new QuadCore machine so soon I will have 6 CPU cores able of handling 12 threads, so hopefully my renderings will go a lot quicker in the future 8)


12-18-2007, 08:20 AM
Each core can process one thread but if your counting the hyper threading and similar technologies then it gets interesting when you hit the x64 bit apps as these are compiled for the x64 instruction set which states that all of the streaming SIMD extensions are natively included (They are optional in other CPUs). So now that you know you can have them then the compiler will use them. I believe - though I could well be wrong - that there are 4 SIMD pipes each. So your new shiny quadcore running a 64 bit app would be using 4 threads but each thread can sometimes do 4 operations each. So there is a very big advantage to running multi core in x64. You can get bursts of x16 processing power !

Most apps are not multithreaded though most terrain apps are. Even when they are, sometimes there are only two threads active. This would be kinda true for ViewingDale, though that is doing half of its work on the graphics card which in itself is highly parallel. However the GeoTerSys program is designed to use as many cores as you have at max capacity. It will turn anything, even a quadcore box sluggish - its burning through a lot of compute tho.

So thats why Monks highlighted whether these apps are multithreaded and 64 bit as it can chop your waiting times down by large factors if you use the fullest capacity of all the processing elements in your PC.

12-18-2007, 11:13 AM
Just make sure that the application was compiled to support Intel's hyperthreading (HTT) if that is what you have. Various studies have determined that application not optimized and re-compiled will perform slower on a HTT processor than non-HTT. Very chipset dependent. I know on some of our servers we have disabled HTT for optimal performance (not x64 though).

-Rob A>

07-25-2008, 06:54 AM
So much great work has been presented here so I thought it was to for me to reenter the fray again with some pictures of my current work.

Here are two previews.

First is a map of the Principality of Naerie as it is presented in the Living Greyhawk campaign.


This map is a first try to present one realm of Greyhawk in a single map with a legend. Some new symbols and markings will also be introduced, local borders for example. I thought it could be a good thing to incorporate even local lordships names and borders when available. Please send me your thoughts when you have seen the initial version.

My aim is to present my Flanaess work in 3 formats. First the area maps splitting up the Flanaess in equal sized pieces to be able to get all the detail of all areas using the same scale. Next is to make a big poster map of the whole Flanaess with towns and cities and other major features marked. Then present the different counties and realms in maps like the Naerie one. These will have different sizes and perhaps scales as needed.

The second preview is the first VERY rough rendering of Veluna and the Lortmil mountains. I will be tweaking the terrain here and there to better match the sources and the texturing is in its infancy and will need more work to get the forests, settled areas, marches and other features in the right place.


07-25-2008, 01:05 PM
Hi Anna.

love your work! So much interesting detail. It will be a fantastic accomplishment when you're done. I didn't know anything about the Living Greyhawk campaign, but your maps are very immersive.

Great stuff!

07-25-2008, 04:41 PM
After seeing the other maps, I'm sure this one will turn out just as awesome...so I don't really have anything to add other than keep up the good work and whatever you do I'm sure it will skip straight to the taking of names part as by default it already kicks.

07-28-2008, 08:21 AM
Here is the initial version of my Naerie map.


Remember that it hasn稚 passed the rigorous peer review by the Greyhawk experts at Canonfire.
I also want or all you mapping (and some GH :)) experts here at Cartographers Guild to scrutinize it as well.

PS. I can't get the upload picture to function at work so you have to live with a link for now. DS.

07-28-2008, 12:34 PM
Here is an updated version that I've been able to upload.

Steel General
07-28-2008, 03:03 PM
I'm no Greyhawk expert, or a mapping expert for that matter) - but that is immensely well done.

07-29-2008, 03:52 PM
Ok, what you are doing is just not fair!!!! These maps are incredible to look at. I could sit and stare at them for hours. It makes me want to go back to Greyhawk!

The Cartographist
08-01-2008, 08:15 AM
Anna - The Naerie map is beautiful. I definitely think that you are on the right track by presenting your work in the three different formats.

Being the map geek that I am, I've often thought that it would be really interesting to take a region in a fantasy world and map it TO DEATH. I mean, a map for landforms, a map for population densities, a map for rainfall, a map for vegetation, etc, etc, ad nauseum. While that is a little different from what you are doing, the idea is much the same.

08-02-2008, 02:33 PM
Thank you for your replies :)

Chartographist you and I think along the same lineshehe. To map a fantasy setting to death is just what I aim to do, and this set of maps I知 working on now is the base for all those special maps. Ideas of mine are religion, languages, trade routes, ocean currents, weather patterns. I知 already planning to try and have historical overlays so you can go back in time and se where the ancient empires had its borders and cities.

08-18-2008, 01:34 PM
now that is something that i would be very very interested in helping you with. i have already begun amassing all information on ancient flanaess that i can find. i am starting a campaign based in ancient pre-cataclysm times and am going to need maps for it. ^^ so far we are starting in the region within 300 miles of the center of the Nyr Dyv.

were you aware of the adjustments that have been suggested for the latitude and longitude? i found an article about how to "true" the map to a spherical surface. if you haven't seen it yet, then i will be happy to dig them out of my files and share them with you.

is there anything that you would like help with? i very much enjoy the maps you have made so far.

The Cartographist
08-19-2008, 03:23 AM
Anna - I'm sorry that I missed you and Ravs when you were in London. The timing was really bad for me.

I'm fully in agreement with you for your plan with the atlas. It sounds like it is going to be a fantastic (even moreso than already) project when you finally complete it.

08-19-2008, 11:48 AM
I知 sorry too, would have been great to meet you, and you missed Ravs great hospitality.

We have to arrange some sort of gathering again soon :!:

Ninjeko, what you are doing already would be a great help to me. That grip adjustment sounds interesting. Research is one of the most time-consuming aspects of my mapping and if you do historic research I would be very interested in using your findings for a historic overlay.

09-29-2008, 01:49 PM
My latest release, the initial version of area 58 is finally avaiable!

There is an updated version of area 59 available as well, to match 58. I did the initial version of 59 almost four years ago and still there are details to be corrected and added. So I知 sure there are lots of things to change and add on area 58, so please scrutinize it thoroughly so I can get things right.

An updated map of area 45 will be published shortly to fit in with area 58.

When that is done I知 going back to Onnwal and the Dragonhead Peninsula. With expert help from Stuart Kerrigan I will make a special map of LG Onnwal. Then it is back to the Lortmil mts again to continue work on area 71.

My plan is to try and keep a schedule of one map a month, Onnwal in October and area 71 in November.

There is a small chance I can manage to get the western part of Nyrond ready by xmas :)

All my maps can be found at http://ghmaps.net


09-29-2008, 03:29 PM
great stuff, book marked your site.

10-18-2008, 07:06 PM
Thank you :)

Here is a first rough preview of area71. Terrain is very much a work in progress but I wanted you to have a peak into what I知 working on.


10-28-2008, 11:01 AM
Wow. Lovely as ever. Glad to see you back over here again. Did you ever do a tutorial of how you do these? Those mountains look great.

10-29-2008, 05:54 PM
Thanks Torstan :)

Been a bit busy lately, work and more work...sigh. But it will get money for upgrades and new software so not too bad.

Having a week off to do some "mega-mapping" sessions that will advance my project quite a bit. There will be more on that later this week.

I made a first tutorial that you can find here:

Hope this explanes my technique.

11-13-2008, 01:12 PM
An initial version of area map 71 is available for download in jpg and pdf formats


It covers the southern part of the Sheldomar Valley, please check it for errors and missing things.

You can download it at http://ghmaps.net

11-16-2008, 03:12 PM
Looking really fantastic, Anna! I love the forest distribution.

11-16-2008, 09:49 PM
Keep em comin...I love em. I just like to imagine myself on the ground walking through your maps...helps to inspire the ole creative juices.