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View Full Version : December/January Challenge " Dead of Night"



jtougas
12-30-2010, 12:18 PM
Rog Nenshen knew that the Burneal forest was no where to be at night. It wasn't much safer during the day and here he was with a inexperienced party of adventurers deep in the forest on a cold and windy night. They had made camp in a clearing surrounded by the dark trees and eerie sounds of the forest. Not for the first time during this expedition he wondered how he had allowed himself to be talked into this...

Here we go again...This is set in the Burneal Forest North of my Kingdom of Shendenflar campaign setting which is set in the World of Greyhawk setting. I'm going for a "dark and ominous" feel. :)

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jtougas
12-30-2010, 03:31 PM
Rog Nenshen Was not happy. The fools hadn't even brought enough tents. Two of them were forced to sleep on bedrolls next to the fire. It made guarding the little camp that much more dangerous. Worse still Nenshen didn't trust them to not fall asleep so he would have to stay up all night on watch. He gripped his trusted and tested broadsword a little tighter as he settled in for a long night...

My first attempts at some handmade elements (not the fire though.. :) )

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jtougas
12-30-2010, 04:51 PM
The sound of rustling outside of the clearing drew Nenshen's immediate attention. the horse's unease was another indication that something was wrong. He looked at the sleeping figures of his companions and snorted with disgust. They called themselves adventurers but had not the slightest instinct when it came to danger. His sharp reflexes were validated shortly after when two shadowy figures emerged from the edge of the clearing. He would know the shapes anywhere. He drew his bow determined to not let the evil beings any closer to his camp or his party....

Now I realize that I'm NEVER going to win one of these things as long as I keep using premade elements. BUT I've come to realize that overall I CANT DRAW.. :) Plus I'm really trying to tell a story with all of my work and this seems to be the best way to do that. I'm just going to resign myself to the fact that I'm better at writing than I am at drawing.. :)

*EDIT* aargh where is the grid...?

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Piscivorous
12-30-2010, 05:17 PM
Meh. Don't worry about premade elements. I myself am a computer drawing Luddite. I think the end product is much more important than how you got there.

jtougas
12-30-2010, 05:41 PM
Here's the grid... :)

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jtougas
12-31-2010, 02:17 PM
Four against two that were the odds even if one of the creatures was a orog. Rog Nenshen knew that this encounter should go his way but already one of his companions had been injured by a huge blow from the orog's hammer. "Damn" he thought to himself his bow was having little effect on the thick hide of the twisted creature and it's orc handler was smart enough to stay behind it and use it as a shield. Nenshen drew his sword knowing that the only way they all survived was if the orog did not. He let out a loud cry and attacked...

I think this is mostly done. It would be too easy to "clutter" up the scene with a bunch of objects. I went for a little "ambiance" with this one (big creepy forest, little camp, big scary monsters.. :) ) And all in all I think I got what I was shooting for.. :)

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DEDDESO
01-05-2011, 01:03 PM
I don't like RPGmapshare objects very much

jtougas
01-05-2011, 01:12 PM
I don't like RPGmapshare objects very much

Hmm..not sure what to say to that..I'll admit that this map much like most of my work isn't great. I think I might have a go at redoing this.. :)

moutarde
01-05-2011, 02:15 PM
I don't like RPGmapshare objects very much

Pointing out that you don't like something without offering any comments that might help to improve it could be considered rude.

Savannah
01-05-2011, 02:30 PM
I love your trees! Very spooky.

However, in my opinion, the spookiness is kinda lost with the people and objects, since they're so much brighter (and kinda seem to be floating above the ground in a couple of cases). I wonder if making them a bit dirtier looking would help. Maybe have them cast some shadows, too.

Overall, though, I like the scene. Looks like something I've run into in a game....

jtougas
01-05-2011, 02:52 PM
I love your trees! Very spooky.

However, in my opinion, the spookiness is kinda lost with the people and objects, since they're so much brighter (and kinda seem to be floating above the ground in a couple of cases). I wonder if making them a bit dirtier looking would help. Maybe have them cast some shadows, too.

Overall, though, I like the scene. Looks like something I've run into in a game....

I think your right the scene is ok but the characters don't have any "life" I'm currently redoing this whole thing and trying to do all my own elements. (this outta be good.. ;) ) And yes I'm sure we've all had the "spooky" campsite encounter at some point.. :)

And here it is my own fire pit (with lousy fire) and my own oddly shaped tent...(aargh what am I doing.. ) o)

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Jaxilon
01-05-2011, 02:58 PM
I would agree with Savannah, I think if you chill the brightness of the objects it would help a lot.

I would probably first attempt to do this with a layer set on Overlay and loaded with 808080 gray. Then make it darkest farthest from the fire and lightest right near the flames (You can dodge/burn it to do that or just load it with black instead and then lighten it nearest the fire). That might give you a more natural looking glow and make it so even the viewer doesn't want to lurk around the edges.

If you really want to go nuts allow the trees to cast darker shadows on the opposite side from the firelight.

Tip: You do know that in Gimp there is a brush for fire? It works pretty well and then if you manipulate it a bit even better. You might give that a shot.

Savannah
01-05-2011, 03:07 PM
I like your fire better than the first one. The first one looked like it had some sort of portal opening in it!

jtougas
01-05-2011, 04:24 PM
Ok after my crisis of self-esteem..(I sometimes get myself so worked up that I ruin something that I was actually happy with.. ;) ) I decided to compromise. I'm going for a "feel" here The dark scary campsite surrounded by the dark scary forest. and Savannah and Jax thanks to both of you for your feedback. So here it is I decided to use the objects I had but kept my fire I kind of like it. I followed your advice Jax with the overlay and added a "bright spot" where the fire was pointing. Let me know if I'm on the right track.. :)

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Savannah
01-05-2011, 04:32 PM
I like it. It definitely makes the woods seem scarier to have them fading to black at the edges, and I think just having that grey over the tents solves the problem of them being too bright. The only thing I'd change is to make the bright spot centered on the fire, since as far as I can tell there's no reason it wouldn't light up everything around it equally.

jtougas
01-05-2011, 06:27 PM
Well here is the latest installment. Feels pretty scary to me thanks for the feedback which made me go back and look at this again. I like this version much better. I still like the objects though.. :)

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jtougas
01-05-2011, 07:21 PM
Added a "key" of sorts :)
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Jaxilon
01-05-2011, 07:37 PM
Is that an Ettin right on top of them? That guard is so stinking fired!

I think you are on the right track now with this. I'm not sure how you are doing the light from the fire, procedurally or by hand but keep at it. For instance going down the pathway, if the only light is the fire it's going to get gradually darker the farther you get away. I know I'm being a bit of a pain and I know how much this can take doing it by hand, look at my Yurt map, I did those shadows by hand. Hassle, hassle, hassle, but in the end it really adds to the piece. And don't forget, Tents, animals, people all cast shadows on the ground or on objects behind them.

I haven't even gotten to this part of my entry yet, oh the fun :)

jtougas
01-05-2011, 08:00 PM
Thanks Jax :) The fire is about 4 layers of me playing around with brushes and opacity and such but I think it looks pretty good. As far as the shadows I see what you mean I'll be working on that next.. :)

Jaxilon
01-05-2011, 08:36 PM
Not sure if you are still beating on this but I created a little Gimp tut for doing light (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?12998-December-January-Challenge-Cavern-behind-the-waterfall&p=138657&viewfull=1#post138657). It may or may not suck but it's free to check :)

DEDDESO
01-05-2011, 08:56 PM
I know it can be considered somehow rude, but what can I add to my comment?
Trying to draw all those characters would be very complicated, human and horse proportions are something for skilled people, so my suggestion would be "don't put any character".
Jtougas has put external characters in his map because this is his map so if he wants to do it he's obviously free to do it. I can't add anything technical here. I can only say "choose better models"

DEDDESO
01-05-2011, 08:58 PM
btw the bed sprites I used in my map for this lite challenge were downloaded from a site (of course there was no shadow over them) <-- oh finally a usefull comment has come up without even wanting it ! XD ok jtougas here's my usefull suggestion:
if you use models, paint on them, give them shadows using black.

Jaxilon
01-05-2011, 09:05 PM
I think he means try to modify them so they have more depth. Your campsite is full of atmosphere so he wants your people to match.

jtougas
01-06-2011, 02:16 PM
I know it can be considered somehow rude, but what can I add to my comment?
Trying to draw all those characters would be very complicated, human and horse proportions are something for skilled people, so my suggestion would be "don't put any character".
Jtougas has put external characters in his map because this is his map so if he wants to do it he's obviously free to do it. I can't add anything technical here. I can only say "choose better models"

No worries mate, I was just having a crisis of self esteem and sometimes I can be my own worst enemy. I appreciate your feedback :)

jtougas
01-06-2011, 03:38 PM
Arel Latner couldn't quite believe that he was still alive. He had never seen a creature like the Orog before. they didn't exactly roam the streets of Riverhewn after all. He had been awoken from a fitful sleep by a roar from Nenshen. He was if he could admit to himself scared witless. He had seen Nenshen charge off after the beast with sword drawn. Latner knew he couldn't do something like that so he wasn't sure what to do. Beside him his twin brother Cadle was also stunned into inactivity. Arel wondered if he would ever see another sunrise....

After a couple of hours of shadow work. Let me know if they look right I've been standing behind a lamp for most of the day watching my own shadow to get a idea of how it falls (amazing how you take that stuff for granted.. :) )

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DEDDESO
01-06-2011, 03:42 PM
nice.
we all know that the 3d isometric campsite is going to win this challenge, but we are still defending our honor :)

jtougas
01-06-2011, 04:03 PM
nice.
we all know that the 3d isometric campsite is going to win this challenge, but we are still defending our honor :)

Thats a great map thats for sure but it's not so much about winning or losing as it is about having fun in the process. :)

Ascension
01-06-2011, 04:33 PM
Doing shadows is tricky at first but once you understand them the theory of how to do them gets easy but actually doing them is way hard and time-consuming. Realizing that the light goes in a direction and the shadows are cast upon objects you can almost intuitively draw them out. The further the distance between object casting a shadow and object receiving shadow the bigger the shadow. So a shadow from the minotaur thing coming from the fire means that the shadow will be really elongated and bigger on the ground where the head is and less distorted near the feet. You also have to think three dimensionally in that a fire on the ground and a minotaur head up in the air means the head shadow will actually be skyward. Making them realistic is easiest in something like a 3d program unless you have actual people and a fire to stand around and act as models for you. But, for what it's worth, this is pretty nice, man.

jtougas
01-06-2011, 06:21 PM
So something like this? or have I completely bogged it up? :)

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Jaxilon
01-06-2011, 06:23 PM
And you might want to move the shadow on the sword because unless it's hovering in air the shadow you have for it is too far away. It's shadow would actually be like 2 or 3 inches long and right up tucked against it.

You also need to connect the shadow on the archer to his feet. Should be pretty easy, just paint it in with a low opacity brush. Things don't have to be perfect but if you have the time why not?

It is looking better already.

I don't consider myself an expert at this by any means but when it comes to light I try to put myself into the map as a light beam and travel from my source outward. When I hit things I imagine what would happen and where the shadow would go. The horses for instance are far from the light, so while they might cast some shadow it would be fairly weak because the light isn't very bright where they are. Also, the light is coming from a low source towards them so the shadow would probably be diffused against the forest for the most part. Anyway, "be the light", you know you want to :)

moutarde
01-06-2011, 06:27 PM
What Jax said. But let me say that your shadows look absolutely fantastic! Just fix up those little details :)

jtougas
01-06-2011, 06:40 PM
Following Jax's advice I have this. I have to say I never really thought about how shadows add to the overall feel of a "scene" This feels just the way I had envisioned it in my head :)

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moutarde
01-06-2011, 07:04 PM
The shadows really bring it to life - this is looking really good now. An extra detail you could try is moving the creatures above the grid, as if they were pieces on the board. Maybe with the tents too, but I'm not sure - it's something to play around with anyway. The only other thing, and it might be just me, but those bedrolls seem really bright. You might try just splashing a black brush with 10% (or so) opacity, something to make them attract the eye a little less.

Jaxilon
01-06-2011, 07:05 PM
That's the best part of these challenges, it's like each time you get a little closer to what you envisioned. Eventually you will do a pretty good job of putting what you imagine down. Just think, next time you will be able to just do it without all the fiddling around. By the way, the dude attacking the monster needs his shadow to connect to his feet unless he's jumping.

jtougas
01-06-2011, 08:21 PM
Can't seem to let this alone tonight I feel like with each little tweak I get a little closer to "it"

I brightened the overlay of the fire light I think it makes the scene "pop" a little but maybe it's too bright? I also modified the shadows a bit more. Is that better? I made the two monster shadows bigger following Ascension's advice.

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Steel General
01-07-2011, 06:24 AM
This is progressing quite nicely... one thing that caught my eye is that it seems the horses are out of proportion compared to the prone figures (unless they're ponies).

jtougas
01-07-2011, 03:07 PM
The hardy Heartguard ponies hadn't bolted. Yet. Rog Nenshen knew it was just a matter of time. They had ridden through the forest with barely a snicker but the battle was making them uneasy. And without horses they would be forced to walk through the forest which was never a good idea. he was surprised he had time to think of these things while fighting a pitched battle against an Orog and a Orc. He was fighting that battle alone although Cadle Latner had picked up a flaming branch from the fire and was waving it madly at the Orog. This in turn was merely angering the creature more which caused it to fiercely swing it's huge hammer and catch The younger Latner twin squarely in the chest knocking him back to roll several times. Nenshen once again raised his sword and took another swing at the Orog knowing that this battle wouldn't last much longer no matter how it turned out....

Heartguard Ponies bred for toughness and stamina.. :)

I added another ring of "light" around the outside of the campsite to make it a little darker as you move away from the fire. All in all I'm very satisfied with this. It "feels" right and tells the story well IMO. Of course feedback is always welcome and appreciated.. Thanks!! :)

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Jaxilon
01-07-2011, 08:15 PM
That is one cool looking little symbol you have in the bottom right corner my shadow mastering friend. :)

jtougas
01-07-2011, 08:39 PM
That is one cool looking little symbol you have in the bottom right corner my shadow mastering friend. :)

Thanks Jax I'm thinking of "adopting" that as my personal sigil.. :)

jtougas
01-08-2011, 07:52 PM
I got rid of some of the more extraneous layers that weren't adding anything to this. I also tightened up the firelight overlay a little. I think this may be done as I don't want to clutter it up ;) As always feedback is requested and appreciated.. Thanks !! :)

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Jaxilon
01-09-2011, 01:43 AM
It's looking great. If you have it on it's own layer, you might play with lightening up the darkness just a bit so you can show off some of those trees you have out there. It's almost pitch black out there right now :) It's sort of a toss up of you going for realism or usefulness. I'm thinking that since you have those nice trees out there it wouldn't hurt to show them off. Depends on how it looks and you have to make the call.

jtougas
01-10-2011, 01:00 PM
Rog Nenshen swung his sword with his last bit of strength. The blade connected with the Orog's thick neck biting deep and drawing forth a river of blood. The Orog bellowed and fell dead. It's Orc handler seeing his protection dead at it's feet made a quick retreat and Nenshen was glad to let it do so. He surveyed the scene. Arel Latner lay curled into a ball muttering something in a sing song voice. Cadle his twin lay moaning on his back his cheat heaving and obviously in pain. Nenshen himself had not escaped injury a large gash on his forearm leaked blood onto the forest floor. Dropping his sword he clutched his wounded arm and offered a silent thanks to whichever God might be listening that they had survived this encounter but only just......

Following Jax's advice I redid the trees and added some more of my newly learned shadow technique. Feedback is requested and appreciated. Thanks !! :)

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Jaxilon
01-10-2011, 01:48 PM
That looks better and lets the viewer know they are in a forest. You still have a couple things you might want to address:

1. The center sword is floating because it's shadow is a foot behind it.
2. You have bright firelight behind a couple of the tents that has no way of getting there. Probably need to shadow it about 50% as there would be some light reflected off the other tents but go with what looks best.
3. There is a band across the bottom edge of your image that is missing some shadow. This happens to me at times and I'm not sure if it's an oddity of Gimp or something I'm doing. The shrink function has a stupid "shrink from edge" opt-in that screws me on this if I'm not careful.

Fix those up and I think you are ready for the presses.

jtougas
01-10-2011, 02:04 PM
Thanks Jax for taking the time to look closely at this and tell me where I've missed something :) Sometimes I get staring at these things for so long I just flat out miss stuff. Here it is with your suggestions.

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Jaxilon
01-10-2011, 02:25 PM
I know what you mean I do that all the time. Sometimes I figure, 'ah, nobody is going to look at that' and then someone does and I have to kick myself for slacking.

That looks much better. The only thing I can say now is if you want to go more nuts start adding some highlight lighting on stuff. For instance, the two guys laying on the ground sitting up could have some firelight on their faces and chests, maybe the front of the knee, the tent cloth that is tight against a rope cord and that sort of thing. It's the small crap like that which will start really popping the image into life. So, if you have the desire and the time why not? Just make another shadow layer with the 808080 and work on highlights. See if you like what you get. It's going to be tedious though, I warn you now. :)

moutarde
01-10-2011, 02:42 PM
This is really looking great JT :) If you havn't already done it, go back and look at some of your first WIP posts, the improvement is incredible :D

jtougas
01-10-2011, 02:58 PM
This is really looking great JT :) If you havn't already done it, go back and look at some of your first WIP posts, the improvement is incredible :D

Thank you very much!! I couldn't have done it without all the help :)

jtougas
01-10-2011, 03:30 PM
Leave it to me to have 5 pages of WIP.. :) Ok here is my first attempt at some highlights I think they are OK but I need some feedback to see if I'm on the right track. Again let me say thank you to everyone that has taken time out of their own projects to help me on this :)

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Jaxilon
01-10-2011, 07:16 PM
Dang, is something wrong with my browser or do you have a big-ol-honkin CC License in your sig? You know, they say, "bigger isn't better", right? I'm not sure I believe it though. :)

I think you might be using too big a brush for these highlights. They should be pretty small, almost like the shine you might see along a sharp corner. Unless of course, the whole surface is reflective. Take the horses in the back for instance. Technically the side of their bodies that is away from the fire should be shadowed when compared to the side facing the fire. Also, technically, the 2nd horse, unless it's much higher than the closer one would be in the shadow of the first. (hopefully that made sense).

The sword on the ground is glowing now and I'm not sure that's what you want. Maybe a tiny sliver of white near the tip closest to the fire and that's about it.

Remember too, we are getting into the tiniest of details so this isn't going to break your picture or anything. If it doesn't make it better than just toss it out. I'll keep my eye open for some examples of what I'm talking about if I see any tonight.

jtougas
01-10-2011, 07:41 PM
Whoops all this map making and I can't even resize a sig pic. :) I see what you mean about the highlights I was actually outside a while ago taking pictures of how the sun highlighted things in the yard I think I have a better idea of it now...

Savannah
01-10-2011, 08:58 PM
It looks good! But I just noticed that those horses are really little....unless they're supposed to be ponies.

jtougas
01-10-2011, 11:19 PM
Yeah the're ponies :) Ok I did some more highlight work it's REALLY subtle though.

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Yandor
01-11-2011, 02:18 AM
hey just notice on the bottom few inches you pulled your tree shadow layer up, so you got a solid line from light to dark =D

jtougas
01-11-2011, 01:23 PM
hey just notice on the bottom few inches you pulled your tree shadow layer up, so you got a solid line from light to dark =D

Good eye :) I had thought I fixed that.. Well here is today's installment with the shadow line fixed and a bit more highlights :)

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Jaxilon
01-11-2011, 07:31 PM
Looks great man.

jtougas
01-11-2011, 08:16 PM
Looks great man.

Thanks Jax I couldn't have done it without all your (and everyone else's ) help :)

moutarde
01-11-2011, 08:40 PM
You know, I just noticed that it kind of looks like the Pony closest to the top is up in the trees! Your archer also to a small extent, but not as much as the pony. Hopefully its an easy fix to just move those underneath the trees. Other than that, it's really come a long ways. Well done JT :)

jtougas
01-11-2011, 09:15 PM
You know, I just noticed that it kind of looks like the Pony closest to the top is up in the trees! Your archer also to a small extent, but not as much as the pony. Hopefully its an easy fix to just move those underneath the trees. Other than that, it's really come a long ways. Well done JT :)

More sharp eyes thanks !! Again another case of staring at something and not seeing it. :) I moved the pony and Rog so they look like there on the ground and not on the trees. :)

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moutarde
01-11-2011, 09:33 PM
Okay, one more thing now - with those two moved, it looks like you left behind some shading and highlighting. I can still sort of see outlininess where they used to be :)

jtougas
01-12-2011, 03:18 PM
Thanks again :) I think I have it all set now. I went back in and adjusted some items and worked on the shadowing and highlighting. I'm very happy with this now. But if anyone sees something I've missed please feel free to let me know.. :)

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Gidde
01-12-2011, 03:56 PM
This looks great! Nice work!

jtougas
01-12-2011, 10:24 PM
This looks great! Nice work!

Thank you very much :)