View Full Version : The Union of Holy Kingdoms

12-30-2010, 05:27 PM
This is going to be a super-big piece, a map of a Holy Roman Empire type collection of states, with 'Swiss' Dwarven kingdoms in the southern mountains, and Norse werewolves in the north. My intention is to try and label each state (there might be as many as four dozen), complete with a coat of arms, every single city, and every single river, etc. If there's room when all THAT is done, maybe I'll get REALLY ambitious and put in towns.

Here's the base work for the land:

Steel General
12-30-2010, 05:29 PM
Sounds interesting, looking forward to see where you take it.

12-30-2010, 09:31 PM
Textures look good. Is this going to be a desert world or is this strictly the bare land base?

12-30-2010, 10:12 PM
This is just the bare-ass land base.

12-31-2010, 06:54 AM
As you like labeling you will surely have much fun with this map! ;)

Looking forward to see this map come to live!

12-31-2010, 03:24 PM
The more I looked at it, the more unhappy I was with that landform, so... remake! :D

12-31-2010, 05:09 PM
It's similar to the original shape but better. I especially like the bottom of the second map. In the first one it looked as though it was round like the coast of China but got cut off. In the second one it looks like the land stretches on to a large chunk of continent or a peninsula outside of the mapped area. It just feels more 'complete'.

12-31-2010, 06:02 PM
Yeah, exactly. Those lakes at the bottom of the first try look like they're actually seacoast. Just didn't work; I like this one better.

12-31-2010, 07:57 PM
I definitely prefer the second land shape. Moving to a narrower map was also a good move, it just seems somehow more artistic, though I couldn't say why.


01-01-2011, 02:00 AM
Finished up the sea and mountains - yay fuzzy caterpillars! - and started in on placing some nations.

01-01-2011, 06:46 AM
Looking forward to where this is going... oh and Happy New Year everyone ! :)

01-01-2011, 05:24 PM
Another update, with quite a bit more done. Map-making is soothing for hangovers...

01-02-2011, 12:53 AM
Big update this time. Got all the borders/nations/colors done; now to work on coats of arms for all those places, plus... about five bajillion city names.

01-02-2011, 06:09 AM
One more update for today. Did some title/border work, a few more shields.

01-02-2011, 07:10 AM
Comes along nicely. To be honest, I think it would look even better with "real" mountains. This style of depicting mountains just does not work for me. YMMV of course ;)

Steel General
01-02-2011, 10:37 AM
I'm with Eilathen, not a fan of the mountains, but I understand why you would choose that style. Otherwise it's coming along quite nicely.

01-02-2011, 11:53 AM
I agree too. I'm just not a big fan of the caterpillar mountains. That's just a matter of preference, however. If your map, don't forget.
I really like the flags. It adds a nice, unique touch to the map. Are the dotted lines roads or borders? I'm just not sure since not all countries have them. If they aren't borders, do you plan to add some? With no stroke or anything, the countries don't blend so smoothly with the bodies of water. Like, hard next to soft. It just doesn't look right.
I love what you have so far. And it looks a lot better since you changed it. Looking great! Keep at it!

01-02-2011, 12:58 PM
Very Nice I love the colors and the overall feel of the map :)

01-02-2011, 05:46 PM
I did the mountains that way so they didn't take away attention from anything else, this being a political map. At some point I may go back and make a physical map...

The dotted lines are borders; I'm going to put in a key to explain them, but basically: black dots: The Dwarven Kingdoms; dark red dots: UHK; gray dots: other states. I'm also going to add internal borders. I think I might add roads, but we'll have to see how crowded the map gets with everything else first.

And thanks for the words of encouragement!

01-02-2011, 06:53 PM
All I can really say is maybe reduce the glow size, or turn down the opacity, and combine it with a stroke of the same color but more solid. That gives more of the "antique" feel but it's not, like, mandatory. Looks pretty good so far.

01-03-2011, 12:26 AM
@Ascension: Well, it's not really meant to be an antique map. No grungy overlays or anything on this one.

Another update; it's getting closer... I finished up all the coats of arms, added a key, and gave the mountains a little bit of oomph so they stand out a bit more without being distracting.

01-03-2011, 10:16 PM
I could probably leave this as is; it's got all the essentials. I'm thinking though, that I'm going to get really crazy and add towns and roads.

01-04-2011, 12:04 AM
Look great Diamond.

01-04-2011, 09:15 PM
On second thought, I think this is done. If I decide to do regional maps, that'll be the place for towns and roads.

01-05-2011, 01:04 AM
Late question, how do you do those coats-of-arms??

I really like this map, nice job

01-05-2011, 06:11 AM
I love it! As everyone has said, they coat-of-arms ad a very nice touch. The countries' borders are more defined. And even the caterpillar mountains look good because of the gray to kinda fade it. My only criticism is the Duchy of Tirrenun hanging over the key. Either cut it off of move things over; which shouldn't be difficult. Everything else is good! Great map, Diamond!
Have some rep!

01-05-2011, 04:26 PM
Late question, how do you do those coats-of-arms??

Pretty simple, actually. Here's a mini-tutorial for photoshop. Note: I'm not a vexilologist or heraldry expert, so I'm sure my heraldric definitions are wrong. :D

1. I start off with a basic shield shape, ideally large enough to handle any artwork, but not so large that when you shrink it down to place on your map, the details lose all definition. My black shield is about 500 pixels in size. You can find shield template free for private use all over the web; I drew mine, but just do a google search if you don't feel like making your own. Create a brush from it in PS.

2. Once you have your base shield, open a new PS document: 700x700, 300 resolution, RGB color/8 bit. Make the Background layer Invisible, so that when you eventually save your coat-of-arms design, you don't have a white box around it.

3. Create a new layer, name it 'base shield'.

4. Select the brush tool and find your shield brush that you just created it. Put in one shield in the approximate center of the document.

5. Duplicate the 'base shield' layer. Rename it 'rim'.

6. Make the 'base shield' layer invisible, then (you should still be on the 'rim' layer) click Select-->Color Range-->click the black area of the rim layer-->set Fuzziness to 200 -->hit OK. Then, Select-->Modify--> Contract-->5 pixels--> hit OK. Hit Delete, then Deselect.

7. What you should see is basically a 5 pixel wide outline of your base shield shape. Now you're going to add some color and definition to this shield rim by adding a couple of layer styles. So hit Layer-->Layer Style--> Color Overlay. I went with hex #:c7bd25, set at 100% opacity.

8. Now we add a bevel to the rim. Layer--> Layer Style--> Bevel & Emboss--> leave everything at the default setting. Then click Contour, and change the shape to a Half-Round.
**At this point, Save your file as something like 'Shield Template'.**

9. Now that your shield's outer rim is done, click back on the 'base shield' layer and make the layer visible again. This is where your design sense (or lack of it) comes into play, because from here on in, it's all imagination. What I usually do to start out creating a coat of arms is to have a design already sort-of visualized in my mind's eye. Let's do a simple one - I want to do a coat of arms with a golden dragon on a field that's split in half, the left half green, the right half red.

10. Start out by adding a layer style of Color Overlay to your 'base shield' layer. Since I know I want half the shield's field to be red, I'll just leave the color overlay at a suitable red, #e12d24.

11. Create a new layer; name it 'color box'. This layer should be between the 'rim' layer and the 'base shield' layer. Click the Rectangular Marqee tool in your toolbar. Starting from a point above and to the left of your shield, click and drag out a box. Try to get the right side of the box as close to the centerline of the shield as you can. Now, with that marquee box still active, click on the foreground color of your two color boxes in the toolbar. Choose the green color you want the other half of your shield to be. I chose #15894f. Then click Edit-->Fill-->Foreground Color (from the dropdown box on the menu that comes up). This fills your selection box with green. Deselect.

12. Control+Click on the 'base shield' layer, then Select-->Inverse-->Delete. This removes the bits of green outside the shield.

13. Click on the 'rim' layer. Now, there's a couple of ways you can go here. If you trust your artistic ability enough, at this point you can create a new layer, name it 'dragon', and draw in your own dragon (first making sure you've set your foreground color to the color you want the dragon to be). If you want to save time, or can't draw, you'll need your friend and mine, clipart! There are literally hundreds of thousands of heraldric images around the web, many of which are free for private use. Once you find a suitable dragon, save it to your computer. Then follow steps 13a - 13e. If you've drawn your own dragon, continue on to step 14.

13a. This step involves adding predrawn images, as opposed to drawing your own. Make sure you're on the 'rim' layer, then File-->Place-->select the clipart dragon image you found. The image will probably be much much larger than you want it to be, but that's okay. Click on the Magnification tool. You'll get a prompt that asks if you want to place the image; click Yes. Now you've got a big dragon that probably takes up the whole screen. I tend to use easily-editable images, because A) the less line-work there is, the less editing you'll have to do, and B) when you shrink the end-product down, you don't end up with a blurry mess. I also use only black and white images, because it's easier to add color when you're starting from a B&W base.

13b. Right click on the dragon layer and select Rasterize.

13c. You probably have a large white box around your dragon at this point. To get rid of all the white, just leaving the black dragon, Select-->Color Range--> click in the white area. Select a Fuzziness of 200, then hit OK. Delete. Now you're left with just the black dragon shape. It's probably overlapping your shield rim, but we'll fix that a bit later.

13d. Now I want to make my black dragon a gold color instead. First, make every layer below the dragon invisible. This is so that when you select the areas to change color, you don't change anything on the other layers. Next, Select-->Color Range--> click somewhere in the black dragon. Then choose your foreground color; I went with #e5ec1c. Edit-->Fill--> Foreground Color (the gold color you just did)-->OK. Then Deselect. Now make all the other layers (except Background) visible again.

13e. Now I want to resize the dragon to fit on the shield where I want it. Edit-->Free Transform. This creates a box around the dragon image which you can then use to manipulate the size and orientation. For something simple like this, just go to the top of the screen, where you'll see some options like X, Y, W, H. W & H are the ones we're going to use - they're Width and Height. Play around with entering different values until you find some dimensions for your dragon you like. When you're happy, click on the Magnifying tool. You'll see a pop-up that says 'Apply Transformation?' Hit Apply. Now, move the 'dragon' layer beneath the 'rim' layer.

14. This is useable as-is, if you want it to be, but I like to add some shadows and hightlights. So, click on the 'rim' layer, then Shift+Click on the 'base shield' layer. Four layers should be highlighted, from top to bottom: rim, dragon, color box, base shield. Now merge those layers.

15. Now we're going to apply a layer style of bevel & emboss to the whole thing, so go to Layer-->Layer Style--> Bevel & Emboss. I use these settings, but you can certainly play around and find something that appeals more to you.

Size: 50
Angle: 59
Altitude: 26
Highlight Opacity: 30
Everything Else: default.

16. Then click Contour and change the shape to Half Round. Then hit OK.

17. This is now done. I usually save as a PNG file so I don't get any JPEG pixellization. I attached two pictures below; the right hand one uses the Bevel/Emboss values from above, while the one on the left uses the default Hightlight value.

18. To start a new shield design, Edit--> Step Backwards twice. This removes the Bevel/Emboss, and breaks out the layers again. Now you can delete the 'dragon' and 'color box' layers and start over again.


Now that you have a completed coat of arms, you can place it on your map. On my UHK map, I scaled them down to 30%, 50%, or 75% (the side-bar shields), using the Free Transform function.

Hopefully this has been a bit of help!

01-05-2011, 05:37 PM
I think that looks great (the map) and I while I understand others critique over mountains, I think they look ok. Though they are a little more confusing where there are dense rows. Still a fabulous looks map though.

01-05-2011, 06:18 PM
Thanks! I appreciate it. To be honest, I did go back and redo the mountain layer with icon mountains, and it just didn't work. I may try to redo them as height map/grayscale though.

01-05-2011, 09:37 PM
Rather than start a whole new thread, I figured I'd just keep posting in this one.

I decided to start on the Etrenian Peninsula which lies to the south of the UHK.

01-09-2011, 04:16 AM
What about this fake DEM version? Do you guys like it better than fuzzy caterpillars?

01-09-2011, 07:58 AM
I do, but I'm biased.

01-09-2011, 09:38 AM
I like it better than the caterpillars as well, but it could be just because I've been looking at Nat Geo maps my whole life and that's closer to how they do their political maps ;)

01-09-2011, 02:13 PM
When you say you tried the mountain icons, do you mean you tried something like Ramah's Vaniya, or just representational little triangles? The fake DEM looks nice, but if you're going to be continuing along with the same style as the original map, I don't think it will fit in very well.

01-09-2011, 04:30 PM
When you say you tried the mountain icons, do you mean you tried something like Ramah's Vaniya
Yep. I actually tried with Ramah's brushes and with hand-drawing my own mountains, and in both instances, the number of political borders and text on the map, combined with the mountains, made it impossible to read. Simple triangles, I thought, looked too, well, simplistic.

The fake DEM looks nice, but if you're going to be continuing along with the same style as the original map, I don't think it will fit in very well.
I thought I'd try this one in a more modern style, but we'll see how it goes.

01-09-2011, 10:00 PM
Update. Next thing to do is change the ocean, and get rid of the rings.

01-09-2011, 10:15 PM
You know, I'm just not very sold on the fake DEM look. I'm not sure it really works without going full-on sat-style. I guess a good question might be, if this is a political map, are the mountains even really necessary on the end product? They're certainly necessary for getting everything in the right spot, but I'm not sure you need to show them to anyone but yourself. I mean, if you're happy with them, by all means keep them, but give it some thought :)

01-09-2011, 10:36 PM
I like them, but the soft-shaded DEM mountains and the concentric-lined coastlines don't match so well. The lined coastlines feel antique-y, whereas the mtns and coloring look super-modern. I'd try a gradient-style coastline, see if you like that better with the rest of the map.

01-09-2011, 11:05 PM
For what my opinion might be worth, I think you should go back to the caterpillars. These mountains just don't fit with the rest of the map.

01-10-2011, 02:37 AM
I think I'm going to run with this and see where it takes me. I'm happy with the way it's turning out.

01-10-2011, 02:49 AM
The bigger mtns come through pretty well but the smaller hill-types just look like stipple (kinda my fault for not yet finding a better way to fake DEMs) so maybe erase them smaller things and leave the larger chunks. You might have to do up another LE filter to get some more mtns to chain together, though (use the lasso tool with a 50 px feather) then the move tool to position them). Looks pretty good with color now.

01-13-2011, 03:18 AM
A text-heavy update. This map is actually on a slightly bigger scale than the UHK one, so I may just add towns and roads to this one, since I have extra room.

01-13-2011, 05:05 AM
Looking nice. Is there a Rome equivalent?

01-13-2011, 01:30 PM
There's two, actually. The Archprelacy on the UHK map is the equivalent of the Papal States, while Govan on this map is the equivalent of Rome itself. All church power is concentrated in the Archprelacy though.

01-18-2011, 03:02 AM
Finished all the shields that'll appear on the main map, and added the layout for the remaining (lettered) territories/shields on the left. Sorry about the slight pixellation; I had to reduce the quality a bit.

01-18-2011, 04:21 AM
This map looks great, it has a very Reinassance feeling.

01-18-2011, 08:32 PM
wow. That map makes me wish we had computers back in the HeyDay of RPGs when it seemed I DM'd too much and never had enough time to do justice to the maps of lands or Cities.

Nice job. LOVE the Shields! For some reason it reminds me of Greyhawk (not the shape... just the feel).


01-18-2011, 10:46 PM
Very nice, Diamond :)

01-23-2011, 10:25 PM
All coats of arms are finished and I've started work on the intimidating amount of naming things. I also decided to put some geographic names in this map as opposed to the previous UHK map, since this one's going to have more open spaces. I'm still debating on whether or not to put in towns, but I'll definitely be adding major roads.

01-23-2011, 11:19 PM
looking good! I like your compass rose among other things :)

01-24-2011, 12:06 AM
This is a great map Diamond. It looks like something out of an atlas.

On a side note: Progressives were easy to adjust to, I hardly even noticed them and everything looks super clean :)

01-24-2011, 11:19 PM
Thanks, guys! I think that compass is from Wiki Commons, if I recall.

On a side note: Progressives were easy to adjust to, I hardly even noticed them and everything looks super clean :)

Cool. It's nice to be able to see again, eh? :D

01-25-2011, 01:31 PM
This map is simply amazing. I could only dream of making such ones! Good job!

02-06-2011, 01:37 PM
So... I was going through my various Pictures folders yesterday, deleting unnecessary crap and doing a general file paring/cleanup. And I accidentally deleted my PS working files of this map. And permanently deleted them via my Recycle bin on top of that.


So I'm left with the choices of using the sub-par jpgs I posted here as a base to finish the labelling, or to start over from scratch. I am a freakin' idiot sometimes...

02-06-2011, 01:53 PM
Hey Diamond ... what software do you use for your work?

02-06-2011, 02:24 PM
I feel your frustration with that Diamond. I've done the same thing before. It's annoying. I'm sure there is a way to get those files back if you just had an expert in such things. Maybe Redrobes or someone knows a trick or two? Authorities can bring back files that have been deleted and I'm pretty sure they didn't just pull them back from the recycle bin.

02-08-2011, 02:36 AM
@wally: photoshop CS2. Old, but reliable.

@Jax: Yeah, it sucks. But... on the bright side, this gives me an excuse to say "Hey, now I can redo it in a different style, one that has mountains EVERYONE loves!!!" :D