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mearrin69
01-03-2011, 01:29 AM
Hi all,
I'm working on a map of Tarina, the feature city in an upcoming BlackStar Studios (see below) campaign setting product, and wanted to start a thread to share my progress, get comments, etc. I'm working interatively on the city map and the regional map covering the area around the city.

It's a city mirroring Greco-Roman style, set on the coast in a humid jungle. Yes, there are dinosaurs. I kinda pictured Dinotopia when they told me about it. Historical Genoa (Genova), Italy is an inspiration.

Anyway, I've attached the original "turnover" sketch of the area surrounding the city and then my first rough draft of the area map. There are lots of ancient elven ruins in the nearby jungle.

The city map is next.

BlackStar Studios (Facebook: BlackStar Studios (http://www.facebook.com/pages/BlackStar-Studios/115204471879374)and Twitter: @BlackStarGames)

mearrin69
01-03-2011, 01:41 AM
Here are my rough stages on the city map so far:

* The first is just a cut from the regional to establish the basic shapes.
* The second gets a little more detail. Here I've sketched in roads and outlying villages, laid in a stand-in texture for the city, and placed the outer wall, docks, etc. The city is made from clips of Genova taken from Google Maps in satellite mode. It looks kinda cool, I think. Doubt I can find a way to use it in the final, however.
* The third has a little more refinement on the surrounding terrain, adds the city's original wall, and works out the details of the roads a bit more...especially those within the city itself. I used the city texture to suggest layout a bit and it worked pretty well actually. Oh, the purple hashes are intended to show elevation within the city. The crosses mark the high points, where prominent features will be placed.

I'll be out of town for a week (at CES in Vegas, joy) but will hopefully have updates to these and the battle maps (thread (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?12902-WiP-BlackStar-Studios-commission-battlemaps&p=138316#post138316)) on Saturday or Sunday. C&C welcomed and appreciated. Thanks!
M

jtougas
01-03-2011, 03:46 PM
Looking good as usual M this will be fun to watch :)

FeralBuddy
01-03-2011, 04:37 PM
That looks amazing, Mearrin! It's cool seeing the progress as it becomes more and more photo-realistic.

mearrin69
03-10-2011, 01:14 AM
Here's an update on the regional map. For some reason none of the exports I can do (even screen grabs) look like what I'm seeing in Photoshop. It looks darker and more pixellated in the exports/grabs. Anyway...it's fully labeled now but in need of lots of touch up. I'm not all that happy with it, actually...
M

Tigon
03-10-2011, 06:49 AM
I Like the city although an amusing though did cross my mind: who plays at the stadium? Tarina AC, Swampdoria? :D

Jaxilon
03-14-2011, 12:24 PM
Excellent work M. I hope that someday I can make cities look like this.

mearrin69
03-16-2011, 03:09 AM
LOL. Thanks, guys. I hope that someday *I* can make cities look like this...still a long way to go. In the meantime I've done some revising of the area map...with terrain informed by Ascension's wonderful atlas style tutorial. I always find something useful in that thing every time I look. I've also refined the water a lot and think that part's starting to look pretty darned good. C&C welcomed and appreciated.
M

mearrin69
03-16-2011, 08:38 PM
We've been having some discussion on how to represent features in a way that's somewhere between realistic and symbolic. I thought back to my sketches for Argria (unfinished CWBP map) and remembered my iconic-but-representational features. The client likes the idea so I'm trying it out. Presented here for, hopefully, some feedback. What do you guys think?

Jaxilon
03-16-2011, 08:45 PM
To me it's fabulous but irritates almost to anger because I can't zoom in any closer for more details. :) Leave them wanting more, eh?

As long as the angles of the cities match the map I think you are golden.

jtougas
03-16-2011, 10:34 PM
Those look great M. I think you're on to something there.

Ascension
03-17-2011, 12:12 AM
Ditto what Jax said.

mearrin69
03-17-2011, 12:23 AM
Thanks, guys. I'll hopefully get some more icons ginned up soon.
M

Tigon
03-17-2011, 08:15 AM
Nice coastline work in there too now. Top stuff, shaping up to be a real corker.

torstan
03-23-2011, 07:05 PM
You're doing a cracking job of these maps. Blackstar are lucky to have you (and they're great guys too, so this seems like a really good collaboration).

mearrin69
03-23-2011, 07:42 PM
Thanks! I understand I may see something from you on it someday? Looking forward to it.
M

torstan
03-23-2011, 08:08 PM
Yep, I'll be doing some Blackstar work in the relatively near future. It's amazing what happens off the back of a drink at a gallery show :) You're definitely setting the bar pretty high.

mearrin69
03-23-2011, 08:21 PM
Awesome! Maybe we can have a BlackStar contributor party someday. You're right, they're pretty good guys...easy to work with.
M

mearrin69
09-06-2011, 09:13 PM
Wow. Haven't posted to this thread in a while. Trying to finish up this week...as it has been dragging on. Here are two of the city's islands, mostly complete, I think...though I may muck about with details when I am finalizing.
M

RevGunn
09-06-2011, 10:35 PM
Awesome... Satellite photo meets artistic. As usual. I really like those icons as well. One thing though, this one is a bit weird for me since my wife's name is Tarina....

mearrin69
09-06-2011, 11:05 PM
Uh oh! BlackStar may have to license it from her. :)
M

RevGunn
09-07-2011, 01:14 AM
She says she'll wait and see how well it sells.... ;)

Hugo Solis
09-07-2011, 01:35 AM
Looking real good, and that Genova map is a fantastic inspirational ill. The googlemap pic for reference is a great technique too. Learning lots in here!

mearrin69
09-12-2011, 02:42 AM
Thanks, Hugo. I'm looking at your recent posts as learning opportunities myself!

Here are some more closeups. The pullout is still a bit dodgy so I'll save posting it until it's closer to done. Still some touchup to be done, even on these areas.
M

ravells
09-12-2011, 06:18 AM
Very cool! First time I've seen a map created in this way!

mearrin69
09-13-2011, 03:22 AM
Thanks! Dang, nearly knocked me out with your rep stick. :)

Here's another 100% shot.
M

Ascension
09-14-2011, 05:53 PM
Don't know how ya do it but it looks awesome, dude.

torstan
09-14-2011, 06:24 PM
Wow! Blackstar are definitely getting their money's worth from you :)

How are you doing each of the buildings? It looks like a satellite image.

mearrin69
09-14-2011, 07:15 PM
Thanks guys.

@Torstan: That's pretty much what it is...with a lot of mushing about of pixels, tweaking, recoloring, hand-painting, etc. Unfortunately they're getting well more than their money's worth...at least if you consider the time I've spent on this times my real-world hourly rate! ;) Of course, there's no real excuse for my having taken this long on it. I'm well past several deadlines. Still, I hope the end result is worth it.
M

ravells
09-15-2011, 01:20 AM
Yeah, I figured the really hard part in this is to get consistent lighting / colour into all the individual elements. I dread to think how much time this must have taken.

mearrin69
09-15-2011, 01:30 AM
Still having trouble with that as you can likely see from my zoomed out clips below. It's a pain to get everything reshaded and recolored to be consistent.

BTW, I have been playing with filters trying to find one that can be applied to the final to soften up the hard satellite look and give it a bit more of a 'painterly' feel. This is Paint Daubs and I think it might be the one. 100% zoom in the large image, on a relatively finished section (missing some waves and docks).
M

Ascension
09-15-2011, 01:59 AM
The problem with the filters is that anyone who uses PS regularly can spot them a mile away. I've tried filter combos and never found anything that I felt didn't look shopped. Maybe I need to try 6 combos or stick it in something like Painter.

mearrin69
09-15-2011, 02:03 AM
This is certainly true. A very long time ago, on a much earlier version of PS, I had a filter that emulated various natural media (from Flaming Pear maybe?) quite well. I never looked into getting it for CS4, however. Wish I still had it.

Any ideas on how to 'post-process' this to remove some of the photographic look?
M

ravells
09-15-2011, 02:13 AM
Yeah! Trace it over by hand!

/runs away!

mearrin69
09-15-2011, 02:31 AM
Yeah. That's gonna happen! :)

I'm taking the lazy way out for sure.
M

Clercon
09-15-2011, 02:58 AM
I don't know if your using PS5 for this one or not. But if you do I can recommend the pixelbender addon (you download it from adobes website) that includes an oilpaint filter that probably can do what you're looking for. To keep the details in the map a layer with the map with highpass applied to it and set to overlay will fix it.
I hope I'm not too confusing :)
Great map by the way.

mearrin69
09-15-2011, 03:06 AM
Sounds cool...but I'm using PS CS4, unfortunately. I bought it a few months before they came out with CS5 and didn't have the cash to upgrade :( Do you know if the pixelbender thing will work with the trial version of CS5? I've never tried out the new version and this might be a good time to do so. :)
M

Clercon
09-15-2011, 03:42 AM
As far as I understand the trial version is the full version, but it only works for 30 days.
But I had a quick look at adobes site and if you go to Adobe.com/devnet/pixelbender.html you can find pixel bender for CS4. Just look under archived downloads.
If you're interested I wrote a tutorial on how to make your map into a painting, you can find it in the tutorial section. It's a fleshed out version of my earlier post.

mearrin69
09-15-2011, 12:54 PM
Thanks! Getting it now. Will see how it goes.
M

Edit: Bloody Windows! The extension manager opens up and then tells me I don't have administrative rights to install it. I'll see if I can just insert it by hand.

Again: AHA! Just ran extension manager as administrator, seems to have worked.

And again: Bah. No Oilpaint filter in the CS4 version, it seems. Some cool effects though.

mearrin69
09-15-2011, 02:03 PM
I downloaded a 15-day trial of Alien Skin Snap Art 3. It's pretty cool but didn't see that it would be useable for my purposes here but I might want to get it anyway. It's on sale until the end of September.

The pic below is Impasto with the realism settings dialed up. I like what it did with the water. The land, not so much...
M

ravells
09-15-2011, 06:05 PM
That actually looks really good! Even with the land. I think the problem is that there is too much detail so it's hard to draw it back to a handdrawn look.

mearrin69
09-16-2011, 03:04 AM
Wow! Blackstar are definitely getting their money's worth from you :)

How are you doing each of the buildings? It looks like a satellite image.

Dude. I just saw your regional map on their FB page. That's some sweet stuff. More than their money's worth from you as well, I think!
M

Coyotemax
09-16-2011, 06:46 AM
I was trying out Snap Art as well, not sure about long term functionality but I got some great effects using the snap art filter results as adjustment type layers, I was using Google images as a basis. (freind of mine asked me to do a campus map for a Humans vs Zombies game)

I set the base map to 33% overlay over the background parchment. I ran the impasto (i think) with one of the small brush settings on a copy of the base map and set the layer to Soft light, 100%. Third layer was the base map run through Pencil Sketch, I think it was small pencil no canvas and set that layer to multiply 66%. I couldn't leave well enough alone, had to try multiple filters at once ;P

ravells
09-16-2011, 07:07 AM
Looks good, but still looks shopped to me....but then I guess I know what I'm looking for, not sure if people who don't use photoshop will!

mearrin69
09-16-2011, 02:18 PM
That looks pretty cool.

@ravells: I don't necessarily want to imply a hand-drawn look, just want to 'process' it in some way so that it integrates it all and gets rid of the satellite-sharp look.

Clercon
09-16-2011, 05:54 PM
I took the liberty to run your map through pixelbender (I really hope you don't mind) so you could get an example of what it would look like. I think it gets rid of the satellite-sharp look in a good way. The left side is with pixelbender/high pass on and the right side is your original file. As I said just an example for you.

mearrin69
09-16-2011, 06:07 PM
Wow. That's pretty awesome!
M

mearrin69
09-16-2011, 10:49 PM
I could sort of live with something along these lines.
M

mearrin69
09-17-2011, 03:41 PM
Now with moar boatz!

mearrin69
09-18-2011, 02:13 PM
Aquaducts! A late addition only because I misunderstood the client's requests.
M

ravells
09-18-2011, 03:13 PM
I like the shadow you've got on the ducts, makes them look like they have arches....clever!

mearrin69
09-20-2011, 04:38 AM
Thanks!

Here's a look at the full thing with stand-in labels and such. There's still some work to do on it (like scaling down those immense aquaducts) before it's final but this might be the last post I make on this thread...look for the final thread soon. Thanks for all of the advise and encouragement!
M

Clercon
09-20-2011, 06:09 AM
I must say that this is an absolutely fantastic map! I am actually speechless looking at all the details.
One small thing though, one of the aqueducts clearly comes from someplace off the map, the others seems to start in the river. Is this intended or are you adding more lenght to them later? Taking water from the river in a city of this size to feed the population is probably only a good idea if you want to poison everyone. The water also needs to be pumped up to be able to reach all parts of the aqueduct. Which seems like a bad solution.

Redrobes
09-20-2011, 09:19 AM
Awesome. The field patterns make it look quite modern. My skim read didn't pick up a date on it. Of course with that style it might be a tad difficult to get old style field patterns of any sensible image quality to use.

Its an unusual style and one that really works well. Probably the best city with realistic style I have seen so far. A good map for commission bargaining I would think !

mearrin69
09-20-2011, 11:03 AM
Hi guys. Thanks for the comments and nice words!

@Clercon: The path of the aquaducts was given to me specifically by the client. Apparently it's vitally important to the adventure included with the campaign setting. I wondered about that too but apparently waterwheels were used to raise water into the aquaduct (they sent me refs even!). Agree that the river would probably be dirty but maybe these Roman-type folks are especially clean (or do bad things to people who defile the river or something). I have some redrawing work to do on those because they're outscale and don't show any details (such as the waterwheels). I think I'm going to have to create a separate file at 2x resolution and redraw them before scaling down and pasting them back in...just aren't enough pixels at this res to do them, and they don't match the detail level of everything else.

@Redrobes: Yeah. I agree about the fields. It's fantasy Greco-Roman and I tried to pick the most reasonable looking fields I could. I initially tried to draw them by hand but couldn't match the look of the rest of the map at all. If I had more time I'd do more work on this part of the map to see what I could come up with. What do you mean by "commission bargaining"? Renegotiation? If so, I wish. :) I don't think there's any more money to be had at this time. If I do any more, however, the fee's going up! ;)

I set out to draw this map by hand but initially laid in a collage of satellite images to get something on paper. The clients started picking out buildings and saying, "This is here and that is there" so I decided to see what I could do with it. It turned out okay but I *don't* recommend doing it this way to anyone else...ever...again!
M

Coyotemax
09-21-2011, 03:42 AM
wow, nice work. rep, oh yes. My only criticism - i wore out my mousewheel trying to zoom in for more detail :P

mearrin69
09-21-2011, 04:47 PM
Thanks much. You can zoom in a bit more on this one...hopefully it'll satisfy you until BlackStar comes out with their product! :)

I've fixed the aquaducts a bit and refined the wall. Looks much better at the zoomed out level. Now working on final tweaks, finishing up some roadwork, color and lighting correction, etc.
M

eViLe_eAgLe
09-21-2011, 07:37 PM
I thought I posted on this.. But anyway! Bloody brilliant piece mearrin!! One of the best satellite style city I've ever seen!

Ramah
09-22-2011, 02:17 PM
Awesome map, Mearrin. :)

I certainly do not envy you the time it must have taken to do this. :S

ravells
09-22-2011, 02:46 PM
That is just stupendous! I just hope the people who see it don't think you've taken a satellite photo of a real place and just changed the names! This is, to my mind, as amazingly cool as A2Area's city map. Absolutely incredible.

cantab
09-22-2011, 02:50 PM
I'll never be able to trust an aerial photograph's reality again.

Ascension
09-22-2011, 05:07 PM
I agree, Cantab. Mearrin needs to put his logo on these things so we know what's what heading into the future.

mearrin69
09-22-2011, 05:22 PM
LOL. Well, you should never, ever expect to see me use this technique again! Problem solved! :) Thanks for the comments.
M