View Full Version : WIP: Ethania

03-24-2011, 09:37 PM
First post here.

So, I've been looking at maps and tutorials on this forum for at years now but never got to post one of my maps and ask professionals for tips and tricks.

First, to introduce myself and my map:

The first map I ever made, well, played with, was a procedural fractal world generated by an app which I can't remember the name. I simply added borders and nation names on it. Strangely, there was a particular continent shape I liked in the fractal result, but was too small, so I ended up trying to transfer the shape and scale it to something editable. This is when I discovered this website, and, after a couple of tutorials and a mess of Photoshop layers, I had my second map.

Of course that wasn't enough, and since I always wanted something more of a satellite view instead of an atlas map, I started the long road toward realistic looking continents. I failed countless times, sometimes rapidly, others after tweaking and tweaking and finding out I couldn't go back anymore. I'm afraid I might be on the the same path this time I would like to ask what could be improved/revamped in this map.

This is Ethania, a continent. I don't have the back-story written in English, but to summarize, it is an earth-like planet that is settled by remnants of humanity, and the resulting civilization is similar to the classical era.

Using google maps, I found out I'm not supposed to see mountain relief at this size (consider every pixel a square kilometer), is that true? or are google map images just... strange?

I believe my forests look good when zoomed in but not when zoomed out, and it's the opposite for the deserts (they might be too reddish also).
Maybe the artic ice could go all the way down to the northern snow. Does the snow actually look realistic? I don't know what to think of it...

So, my main points are the forest, desert, snow, and water (maybe I abused the ps difference cloud effect? can you see this when in orbit?)

Thanks a lot for your comments and sorry if I ask too many questions!

03-24-2011, 10:16 PM
While it might be true that you can't really see relief from a satellite I have the habit of exaggerating my terrain so as to make things easier to see. Making things easier to see makes it more exciting but, yes, less accurate. The deserts could use some more yellow in the color mix - the end result should be like a light tan. Snow looks good. Rivers look good but many don't seem to go anywhere - they come out of the mountains and stop. As for the oceans, technically you can't see any waves but here we use the exaggeration idea to make things more exciting.

03-24-2011, 10:35 PM
Ah thanks, I'll try that with the desert. And in a way you're right, it's much more interesting to see actual height on the mountains. I could try to redo them in a more... snaky shape or something though.

About the water, I believe I failed to convey what I wanted to represent. I wanted to represent low water (is it the term?) where water is nor really deep, but it seems on earth pictures they're not as, well, mountainous as on my map. I could try to better represent waves instead.

About the rivers, I made then using a google map spot as a reference, and it seems that at the same resolution, some rivers are too small to be seen, so the effect is that it looks rivers stop in the middle of nowhere. I might have failed at conveying this also.

Google Map position I used as a reference (http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=50.176898,-67.91748&spn=2.30783,5.817261&t=h&z=8)

(Note the circular thing that I find quite interesting)

03-25-2011, 04:27 AM
i think, with the mountains, if they're tall enough, adding snow on the tops would do a lot to add to the realism, and the water seems really bright to me, every time i see a satellite image the water is always a dark blue color, and if you taper your rivers more, some of the ones that look like they go no where might look a bit more like the images, is the google image you have linked about the height you want to convey in your image? if not you might want to consider zooming out to the height you want, and using that as a reference.

03-25-2011, 11:17 AM
I've tweaked the rivers a bit, and redid the water completely. It is now darker and I wanted it so you can see the bottom when it's not so deep.
I added some snow caps on mountains, and changed the desert color, but now it looks like a light glow instead of sand...
Looking at google maps (yeah... again...) it seems I'm missing a lot of color variations. The saraha has a lot of different color variations that seem to follow some kind of wind pattern or something, I'll try that.

I added a realyl small glow on the rivers, so smaller veins seem to be more visible. I also connected some "going-nowhere" rivers and sent them on a path toward the ocean, without having it go all the way. There's still something about them I don't like. Maybe they don't vary enough in size and color...

03-25-2011, 03:17 PM
Indeed there are a lot of color variations in a desert - it's not all just tan-colored sand. There are browns, reds, oranges, grays, yellows, whites, and greens in all sorts of subtlety, pattern, and texture. I use the google as a reference as well and I've been doing experiments on getting that color variation into my deserts. So far I'm just doing it with textured brushes and hand-painting. Once I've come up with something automated then I'll do up a tut for it. But for now, like I said, I'm just using textured brushes in various colors. As for your deserts looking more like a glow, I see what you mean and that happens when you use "too much paint" so to speak. If you keep brushing in color in an area many many times it starts to look like something spray-painted and not natural. Happens to me all the time. The only thing that I can tell you is to keep practicing at it - use different colors, different strengths, different blend modes, and opacities. It also helps if you erase the underlying mountains and hills so that you don't have to brush in so much color. The ocean looks pretty cool. The term you are looking for is "shallows" - that area is always a sort of greenish-teal on satellite images, bright by the coat and duller further out. If you're referring to the topography of the ocean floor that is called bathymetry and I only do that on atlas style maps. You can do it sat-style if you want but I don't. Once you get the deserts nailed down I think you've got something pretty nice.