View Full Version : Dragons' Den

12-13-2010, 12:51 PM
This weekend some things in my social schedule changed a bit, so I ended up with some additional time on my hands. I haven't made a map in quite a while, so I figured it was about time I indulged in a little mapping. Also, mapping is quite a good way to spend time ;)

I'm not the best at working with WIP's, but I'll try anyway. If your name is Matrim, you might want to skip the background story (the quote below).

My player characters are currently crossing the 'Verboden pas (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?9212-Oostangelt-en-de-Verboden-Pas)' (Forbidden Pass) by means of an airship, which they boarded in the Gnomish town of Gnomsulost (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?11218-The-Wind-Gnome-town-of-Gnomsulost). Unfortunately they had a little argument with a bunch of Griffon mounted Drow, who punctured the front compartment of the balloon. The remaining Drow are currently being chased off by a rather huge red dragon (no worries, it's a good guy, despite it's colour).

This leaves the captain of the ship with few options. Making an emergency landing (or crash) in one of the most dangerous areas of the known world is everything but an attractive option.

However, one of the PC's spotted an elven female on the head of the dragon, and it seems she's about to jump off the dragon to her death when a much smaller dragon flies into view directly below her. It catches her, and she flies to the airship. Here she will tell the PC's and the captain to head west and try to make it over 'that ridge over there'. Once past that obstacle she points to a lake for the captain to crash in. The ship hits the water and slams into the only island in the lake. The PC's are then brought ashore by fishermen, and have to follow a path to a small but legendary village called 'Dragons' Den'.

The village is located between two mountains, each housing a dragon. Fire Mountain in the north (which is not a real volcano) is the home of the aforementioned Red Dragon. And in the south the White Peak, where a Silver Dragon lives. Both Dragons are the guardians of Dragons' Den, and are in fact good friends.

A lot of inhabitants of Dragons' Den have drakes as mounts.

This map will show Dragons' Den, Fire Mountain and the White Peak, and also the fjord in the west, and the lake where the ship crashed in the south.

I'm still using many elements from Pasis' 'rising up the mountains' tutorial (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?4405-Award-Winner-Rising-up-the-mountains-in-Photoshop).

I started out with the ground, fully pasis style: one layer of clouds, one layer of monochromatic noise, one texture layer, and a brightness/contrast adjustment layer.


After that I was still going by Pasis and made his mountains, but added snow of my own (layer on top of the mountains with a light marble texture, with the layer mode set to screen). I also made a crater with some rough black marble texture. I believe both textures are standard photoshop textures. I added some orange 1 pixel lines to make the mountain look like a volcano.

31437 31439

I'll continue later...

12-13-2010, 04:17 PM
Looks fine to me.

12-13-2010, 04:40 PM
Thanks Ascension! I'll just continue from here in a new post. I was going to add this to the original post, but I figure that would be confusing.

After shoveling up some mountains and dumping some snow on them, it is time to get the garden hose, and fill up some lakes, a fjord and of course some rivers.

Basics are a simple layer styled (see Pasis' tut) texture, with several clipping masks. One adds a dark blue colour, another adds black, a third one darkens the texture (brightness/contrast adjustment layer) and the final layer adds some clouds.

Next I added the forest, village etc. Many details. The forest is BASED on Pasis' tut, but with my own texture, which is MUCH bigger than what is useful for this scale. Thus I used the 'rough round bristle' brush in photoshop, and stamped the forest. I made some simple 'cliffs' with a fine brush on the 'high' layer of mountains. The buildings are beveled dots, and small shapes. I made a waterfall just by adding some white dots on a layer with slightly lowered opacity. It's barely visible anyway.

This is quite a large difference, but this is mainly because of the 'grass' (green colour) below the forest and on the mountain sides. The higher points of the mountains got a touch of grey, it's just basically throwing in two colours. Also, the 'pseudo-volcano' got a bit of smoke. It's not really ash, but smoke. Cloud texture, low opacity, heavy drop-shadow... poof... smoke.

I'm pretty close to where I am now... But I'm going to stop for now. I don't know when I'll have time this week, I hope I'll be able to finish this map soon :)

Steel General
12-14-2010, 07:10 AM
Nicely done so far...

12-14-2010, 08:16 AM
looks really good - a thing that I noticed was that some of the rivers are visible as they enter the sea - I'd blend that out :)

and nice beard SG :)

12-14-2010, 09:44 AM
Awesome !! Red and Silvers being friends? sounds like a place I want to visit !! :)

12-14-2010, 12:19 PM
This looks really good.

02-16-2011, 12:18 PM
Ok, so I'm pulling this thread from the graveyard... I haven't been able to work on this for about two months so it's about time I picked this up again, and hopefully finish it... I don't have the feeling there's a lot remaining to be done, save for the legend.

Anyway. I made quite a few open spaces in the forest (which isn't all that dense to begin with), and I have further darkened the water. I think I may start on the legend and flavour text soon.

Still: any questions, tips or other remarks are quite welcome, as is critique.


02-16-2011, 11:40 PM
Looks pretty darn good. The only nitpick I have is the smoke from the volcano going straight up; it seems to obscure a lot of stuff. Maybe you could make it kind of drifting east or west? I dunno, maybe that would be even worse. Maybe thin it out a little? But that's a minor consideration; all in all it looks great.

02-18-2011, 05:07 AM
Hmm, I actually figured the wind in this mountain range (in between several mountain ridges) would be south-to-north... thus the north-facing plume (it's not going straight up, the view angle is perpendicular to the ground, not at an angle). I also took some artistic liberty, because I wanted the plumes shadow to be somewhat visible.

Perhaps I should make it a little lighter. Perhaps I should experiment with the direction... :P Cartography is full of choices!

02-20-2011, 03:33 PM
Ok, I think someone here once told me double-posting is not an issue here, so here goes...

I tinkered on a bit, but I did not feel like adding an extensive legend like on the last two maps, this map is rather 'fancy'. Telling the viewer that a tree is a tree while it isn't an abstraction feels somewhat unneeded. I'd really like some feelings and views on this. It also had the pleasant side-effect of freeing up more space for flavour texts. It's supposed to be a handout for my D&D campaign.

This is the CG-exclusive version in English, so I've thought up a bunch of names, some quite stupid. The normal map will be in Dutch. I slightly darkened the mountains by adding in a bit of dark grey, and as Diamond suggested, I tried rotating the 'volcano' smoke a bit... I'm still not quite sure which direction I like better. :P

I also made a stupid error in setting up the map, resulting in a rather wacky scale. It's not a big issue though.