View Full Version : Blue Ox Inn - Hand Drawn

04-08-2011, 04:25 AM
So I've been down in the dumps for the last week. Monday, I had to put my dog to sleep - very sad. The best therapy for me is to create a detailed, hand-drawn map to take my mind off real life and immerse myself into the work.

I decided I was long overdue in creating a typical fantasy tavern/inn... related to another commercial map idea. Unlike my Endless Terrain Battlemaps which are more photorealistic, I want to design a set of specific maps that can be used for many adventures - focusing in on the cliche locations including the inn.

This is the Blue Ox Inn. Below is the first floor, mostly the work in lineart only, having added only the main walls, and the floor stones for the 'Ox head' and 'B' for Blue Ox - just so you can see it better. Those are the only blue stones in the floor, the rest will be tan and gray, with a light gray mortar behind it. All rock shapes will have bevels and drop shadows, like the blue stones are already. The 'devil is in the details' as they say, and the devil is sure in this, as I went overboard on texture detail.

I still plan to create the smaller second floor containing five sleeping chambers for overnight guests.

My overall goal is to create a PDF sliced map pack both floor of the Inn, the stables and some outside road and yard. I want to offer a download only product, or a POD printed one by One Book Shelf, to get some of my own products into RPGNow/DriveThruRPG and the Paizo Store. I also intend to create some map objects to correspond to 10 'patrons' already created. I need tables, kegs of beer/ale, a kitchen, bedrooms, etc.

I think my plans are to build an entire village, or at least most of the main structures and facilities: black smith, market, small temple, hedge wizard's den, a dry goods or general store, corral, village home, farm house, village office/jail - what else should I create? Perhaps a water mill.

I haven't decided on the price, but I will find out what the POD version costs, and base my price on 50% of that, at most.

The map is mostly B/W for now, but it won't be when its complete.

Work-in-Progress below: (I see I missed detailing one tiny tile, need to fix that.)


Steel General
04-08-2011, 08:17 AM
Sorry to hear about your dog GP :(

This is looking pretty nice so far.

04-08-2011, 10:05 AM
I just wanted to say sorry about your dog. I've lost a few pets over the years and each one was tough...but it's going to be really hard to lose our current dogs when that time comes.

Good idea to keep occupied until you're feeling better and the map's looking great, of course!

04-08-2011, 11:25 AM
Condolences. I am the person in the family that everyone comes to to actually do the deed so I can appreciate your pain.

Excellent project to start too. There can not be enough village maps out there!


04-08-2011, 07:34 PM
OK, the flagstone floor of the main hall and beer storage room is done. As stated, this is not yet furnished, and I will be creating all the map object furnishings soon. I will be doing the second floor next, followed by the enclosed stable area and small barn, after which I will start working on the many map objects for this inn.



Ryan K
04-08-2011, 10:53 PM
Sorry to hear about your dog, mate. Losing a pet is always too hard. Good use of cartographical therapy.

04-09-2011, 05:55 PM
Second floor done. Next the stables...


04-10-2011, 04:19 AM
sorry about your dog - I had to get our cat put down x-mas day a year ago and its a terrible thing. :(

Inn is looking great - especially like the blue stones, very cool :)

04-11-2011, 05:21 AM
As I reflect on the scale of this tarvern/inn, I begin to realize that it is actually pretty large, so my thoughts on creating a village map has expanded into thoughts towards creating an entire town. That way, I get to design more interesting buildings, and finally creating an entire town map featuring the dozens or so structures featured in the series. A temple guide with six or eight temples with all maps comprising a single map set. A city militia or gendarme office and jail and perhaps a military barracks map set. A magic shop, an old book store, and a wizard's laboratory/home as another map set. A niteclub hideaway for the local crime syndicate with an understreet haven and training grounds. Perhaps I can design a city fortress/palace, as well as a market place with varying goods from slaves to produce as map sets and accompanying map objects. I could also do a theater and several other iconic locations not fitting the most standard of sites. Another idea is a map of adventurer accomodations, starting from one-room shack/apartments for low level PCs, small homes to an eventual master adventurers urban manse with stores, vault, armory and other features better fitting higher level and wealthier player characters.

I'm even thinking of being a bit more agressive with this map and include it with a collection of 3 or 4 taverns of varying size and quality, with the Blue Ox being the premiere tavern/inn in the community. Being able to share the accompanying map objects provided give greater versatility to the overall map set and usability of the included objects.

While I could certainly build statted NPCs to occupy the city, at this time, to make a product more suitable to any/many game systems I might only list fluff NPC data describing occupations and agendas, political ties and opponents, but leave the game crunch out to be usable in D&D, Pathfinder, GURPS, Iron Crown games, whatever the enduser prefers. Like my Endless Terrain Battlemaps, I would include versions with square, hex and no grid to accomodate more game systems. This would all fit a medieval to early renaissance, European like town.

The more elaborate map requirements might better keep my interests for a long term, ongoing project like this one.


04-11-2011, 08:18 AM
I like the flagstones on the lower level with the mosaic blue pieces in it. cool idea.

04-11-2011, 10:51 AM
Nice work there. I like the Blue Ox head in the floor, made me smile. Also, condolences. When that day comes for us we are going to be absolute toast.

04-11-2011, 12:03 PM
I like the flagstones on the lower level with the mosaic blue pieces in it. cool idea.

Like any map, if you want to show detail in a location you can't show it on the walls, as they cannot be properly viewed so any detail has to be in the floor, which in this case the flagstones and the mosaic icons give the notion of quality and detail I want to include in the Blue Ox Inn.

@Jax - I'm glad it made you smile, I'm starting to feel better myself.

While I want to make some money with this project, I also realize that generic maps, while useful and needed are not necessarily big money draws, however, I am counting on the 'long tail of marketing' where this overall map collection will be useful for years to come, so by keeping it available online it should continuously generate an income stream over the long haul of many years to come.

Even after this project grows in map sets, I've got inklings of creating a set of modern map locations in a similar vein, but using my digital style rather than my hand-drawn style for modern settings, including things like: a convenience store, an office complex, a power plant, a strip mall, a nightclub, a typical store, etc.


04-11-2011, 12:16 PM
Being a big fan of Tavern/Inn and general building interior maps, I'm really enjoying this. Great Work. :)

04-12-2011, 04:38 AM
Being a big fan of Tavern/Inn and general building interior maps, I'm really enjoying this. Great Work. :)

Thanks, jtougas! I enjoy building interior maps as well.

OK, I've created the stables area and attached to the side of the Blue Ox Inn. Next I have to create the Innkeeper's home and outhouse, as well as finish the wall enclosure - all going behind the Blue Ox main building. After this I will begin to create the various map objects needed to fill this.

I do have a 'topside of guild' tavern map, I created a while back for another project that didn't pan out, so I will be using that hand-drawn tavern and courtyard area as the second tavern of this collection. So I just need to create two more tavern layout's and call this first collection of the town maps fulfilled.

Below is the Blue Ox, so far... Edit: I reattached the map, fixing a misaligned linework over the stable area.



04-12-2011, 02:22 PM
It is excellent work. I like the wagon wheel ruts, it gives the stables a very real feel.


04-12-2011, 04:15 PM
Its one of the main reasons I do hand-drawn maps: a) I can draw - I have some talent into hand-drawn work. b) While I also work in 3D, the difficulties in trying to texture map a 3D object is often more time consuming than what it takes me to 'wing it' with a pen, then scanned and colored in Xara Xtreme. If I could effectively texture map a 3D object accurately and quickly I might be doing that instead, but drawing for me is faster and easier.

While accurately depicting the objects within a map is very important to me, doing so quickly is even more important. Doing the work by hand, I know I will get the 'look' I am after and doing so quickly so I can finish a project in a timely fashion. Plus many, especially publishers often prefer hand-work to digital creations, so it doubly works in my favor.

Trying to create ruts in 3D can be done, but is ineffectively slow process, so I create by hand exactly what I intend in the final map.


04-13-2011, 03:56 AM
OK, I finished the base map for the Blue Ox Inn. The structure in the top right corner is the innkeeper's home, no need for a kitchen as the inn's kitchen is quite close, so only a living/work room and a bed chamber. The outhouse sits in the alley between the innkeeper's home and delivery shed, where inn supplies are dropped off from wagons in the stable area. Tomorrow night I will create all the map objects. Moving right along...



04-13-2011, 12:22 PM
Here's the tavern map I created about 6 months ago for a different project. Though its already posted here, I can't find the file in the image attachment manager here, so I am uploading a 100 ppi version just for posting in this thread. Note this map contains many of the map objects I intend for this set - in other words, I don't have to recreate most of the map objects as they already exist, though I still need to create a few.

I called this originally the Guild Tavern, as it was supposed to be the topside site over an understreet/sewers connected thieves guild headquarters. Though I don't need the inference for this map.

Its actually a 'pretty' tavern map layout, so it works for a nice alternate tavern/inn location. It follows the same style as the Blue Ox Inn, therefore already fits the map set collection well.



Ryan K
04-13-2011, 07:53 PM
How quickly do you churn these sort of maps out?

04-13-2011, 11:01 PM

Dude, seriously! It looks pro!

04-13-2011, 11:41 PM
How quickly do you churn these sort of maps out?

To do that level of detail in a hand-drawn map, it still takes me a couple of days to do, the Blue Ox took me three to get the stables and back area along with the two floors of the main inn. Given something smaller, if I am motivated, I can create something in a single day. That is sneak in some illustration during the work day, but spending most of an evening until past midnight to complete, but I do it all the time.

Most mapping challenges that I've participated in take only 3 days at most. For me, to keep my interests on a project, I need to get it done quickly, otherwise I will procrastinate and never finish. So my lightening speed cartography skills is an extension of my work production in my graphics shop - I'm used to creating art at high speed. I can't work on the same map for weeks on end, that would drive me nuts.

@Murcu - thanks, but I am a pro. :)

04-14-2011, 12:03 AM
Well, then, that makes sense, doesn't it?

04-18-2011, 06:44 AM
Just people to represent tavern patrons in top-down format. Oh and one assassin with a blade out... I'll do furniture next week, and also create two other taverns. I'm thinking of creating a small neighborhood public house, and one raunchy, nightclub, gladiator arena type drinking hole.