View Full Version : Wooded Village

02-04-2008, 12:50 PM
I did this map recently just for the hell of it, to try out some new ideas with the village base and have a play with some pen & ink style again after being inspired from this thread (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=1430) from palehorse (not that this art is comparable to his...)

It doesn't even have a name. Sorta generic village in the woods kinda thing that might be useful to a GM at some point.

The village stands on a clearing that was used as an over night camp in a large wood that took several days to traverse. The dolmen and the pool are ancient and provided shelter for generations. With ever increasing traffic permanent structures appeared and now a small village prospers on the passing trade. Its likely that carpentry, farriers and alike make up the miscellaneous trades with the inn and overnight accommodation being the mainstay.

### Latest WIP ###

02-04-2008, 03:11 PM
I think it looks kind of cool - a nice mix between hand drawn and the "photorealistic" style of mapping.

02-04-2008, 10:17 PM
Interesting. I must admit I do not like the mix of realistic trees and sketched buildings/etc.--too discordant, I think, and also breaking what I think you were attempting with this map, right? Hmm--on second thought perhaps I'm just not sure I'm gathering what exactly you were trying to do here(?)

02-05-2008, 08:11 AM
I guess different styles appeal to different people.

I would say that I also do not necessarily like this discordant style either but its a pragmatic approach. The trouble is that you would need hundreds of top down photos of medieval buildings to make up all of the nice alleyways that jigsaw together. I certainly don't have that and I have never seen anyone that does though I have seen much closer than this. So that would mean that there would never be a possible approach to making a realistic map for medieval settings that included buildings. I'm prepared to compromise to have it.

The long and short of it was that I was ill in bed and away from the PC so got out my pen and pad.

The bit I was trying new stuff on is the base. The green and mud sections of the paths. I was using a new method and trying to pen in places that people might walk or use and make that mud then get the PC to automatically texture that based on my masks. I was pretty pleased with the results of that. It takes more memory to hold the bitmap base instead of using splat icons but it is easier and gives a smoother, less regular and more pleasing result. I think that for these kinds of villages I will make this my de-facto standard until I find a better way.

Just to be clear, the trees, the ploughed/plowed areas and the pond are icon splats but the green and mud bits are bitmapped texture.

02-05-2008, 11:40 AM
I wonder if you couldn't make some fairly basic 3d models of medieval buildings and render them in overhead iso with your favorite 3d engine. The trees aren't altogether photorealistic so this could work. Especially if you had some photographic textures of roofing(try wood shingles, thatching or perhaps terra cotta for a wealthy Mediterranean urban look).

02-05-2008, 02:38 PM
Hi Su_Liam, I think that your suggestion is a great one but it would be a lot of work. I tried to make a house construction set. A group of splat icons where they would all fit together in various ways to make one house. Then rearrange to make another etc. I did this reasonably successfully to make these tiled houses... (HousesTiled1)


I really wanted to do this for thatch tho but I found it harder and gave up quickly - maybe I should have spent more effort on it and done it properly. Anyway, I kept making lots of full cottages instead, some of which are in the images in that link for such set ups as Mill1 etc.

In case anyone would like to make some 3D models I am including here some of my photos of thatch. There are a still a lot of thatch cottages in the UK but getting close to many of them and especially getting a close photo perpendicular to the thatch has been a problem.

Muse... I wonder if its possible to get pics of real modern houses and get an app to replace the roof with thatch patterns. That could generate a lot of buildings quickly. Hmmmm...

02-05-2008, 09:00 PM
That clears up what I was confused about, Redrobes. I also realized I should have said that I liked the buildings, and think they are wonderfully authentic and rich--which is what made the trees stand out to me: I wanted the trees to match the buildings' great sketch style, not the buildings to be photorealistic. (I like hand-drawn much more than most other styles).

That being said, I would also love for someone to do the rendering of the thatched roofs and such. I plan on thefting heavily from you all! Mwahahahaha!!! --oh, ahem, did I bellow that out loud?... ;)

02-06-2008, 08:17 AM
Ah I got the wrong end of the stick there. I like pen style too just that my particular houses were not all that great. My main quest tho is to try to get a photo real looking terrain like a satellite image on a medieval / fantasy terrain.

and yes, both trees and houses are the worst of the images to get. You can rip google and copyright stuff but I would like known PD stuff like views from a hot air balloon or maybe even bonsai trees etc. My best has been leaning over cliffs and tall buildings. Not the best sources so far.

Houses too are hard to come by. I know I should get off my butt and make some proper ones in 3D but I am taking all my time doing the terrain stuff at present. It would be a major boost to have some nice libre 3D houses for doing old cities.

If anyone knows of photo sources that can fill in either of these things then I am all ears.

02-06-2008, 10:38 AM
I don't have a source as much as a method.

I keep reading about Kite Photography. People strap large kites to a suspended (CHEAP) camera and set up a remote control or timer to take the photos. You can get photos pointed directly down for a perfect top down view of any area you can get a kite over, powerlines and trees compose the major threats.

I've also read about using a digital camera and a GPS tagger on weather balloons, but I don't think I need photos quite that high.

Make magazine has articles on both methods if you want to look them up for more info.

02-06-2008, 01:41 PM
Oh yeah baby ! I have heard about this when reading on Debevecs web site (http://www.debevec.org/Campanile/) - go there, thats one COOOL site - where the guy took some shots for the campanile movie. 8)

I have thought about it but I haven't flown a kite since a time just after I got to grips with this crawling / walking thing. I always thought it might be a fun way to trash a few digicams. But they are getting a lot cheaper recently where a 2+ MPix is about 20 ($40 or so) - prob less if you could keep getting second hand ones. The remote shutter would be no problem. Its the kite I worry about.

02-06-2008, 03:15 PM
Well most of them use the really big kites and give them a test flight or two with a matching weight that isn't a fragile camera. Most of the rigs I see are cheap disposable camera with a radio controlled remote or a timer.

I think the hard part would be getting a village to allow a stranger to fly a kite bearing electronics over thier rooftops.

Maybe I'm just still miffed at Boston for 1-31-07.

02-06-2008, 03:34 PM
I'd do it for just trees I think. Thatched cottages are uncommon enough that it would be a great feat to get several via a kite. Trees though should be a little easier ! Your right that there is probably a law against it somehow. I suspect that there would be a law against breathing next to a wood. The UK seems to be slightly less fidgety than Boston I will agree but it has that same oppressive attitude to anything remotely unusual. Y'know there is a kite festival each year in the park not so far from here. They have some monster kites - power winch stuff 'n all - so maybe ill go there this year and have a chat to a few guys. I have been asking about people who fly balloons but I hadn't thought of contacting people who might have cameras mounted on kites. There must be some legit way to get a stack of tree photos. Dirty big rocket is what I need !

02-06-2008, 10:46 PM
...Dirty big rocket is what I need !

Or a bottle of Wonka's Fizzy Lifting Drink! ;)

02-07-2008, 12:11 AM
@Redrobes: Yeah, if they object to your big kite, whip out your 30-foot long LOX/gasoline rocket. That'll shut the whiners up.

@Pyrandon: If I'm going to risk my life actually flying up there, I'll take me a nice DSLR with big fat telephoto lens. OH YEAH!

If only I had $10,000.00 or so to spare...

02-07-2008, 10:17 AM
I thought about this a bit last night and called up a firend who flys R/C airplanes. He claims that I could mount a disposable camera under his plane and take photos by remote control.

He says that he's got to finish the large "parkflyer jet" he's been working on for a year now to carry the extra weight. If he gets it finished, I'll get us some photos yet.


I am going to call my old boss that Oklahoma Water Resources Board. They used to take aerial photos of lakes and rivers. Maybe he's got some photos of the various trees in the state. They vary from scrub oaks only a few feet tall in the west and 70 ft pines in the east. Since you are after trees, I think I can manage to help out.

02-07-2008, 02:50 PM
WOW :o

If you can get either of these options going that would be immensely useful and I and many others would be indebted. Its the permission to use and publish thats the key. If you take them yourself then thats not an issue but using stuff which other people think you should have to license or get permission is where the killer bit is because usually it takes special equipment like planes & balloons etc and, not surprisingly, they usually want a fee. Its the burden of retrospectively withdrawing permission that means that I wont use stuff unless it has a stated license term or a declaration on public domain. The majority of downloads from my site are creative commons which is a license that guarantees it stays free and sharable. Public domain is ideal but items declared as such have a strange habit of becoming not public domain any more.

02-07-2008, 03:29 PM
I talked to the boss at the Water Board, I think there's a difference between the altitude for a photo of a 5 mile wide lake and and 15 ft wide tree. They are all just specks of green.

My current boss goes flying with her son in a private plane, she'll she what she can do for us.

With either option I know I could get the creative commons license, no worries there. It's just a matter of logistics.

02-07-2008, 03:52 PM
Yeah, you know, 'cause weenies who object to little kites flying over don't at all mind being buzzed by light airplanes. Heehee. Pulling your chain, dude.

I would join Redrobes in indebtedness to anyone who can put out good tree and house freebies. Photographic or otherwise.

02-07-2008, 04:51 PM
I talked to the boss at the Water Board, I think there's a difference between the altitude for a photo of a 5 mile wide lake and and 15 ft wide tree. They are all just specks of green.Definitely, I have had a few friends and the odd family member do a hot air balloon flight. I tell them with fervent pleading to take some photos straight down. They take off from a field and pass over the odd tree maybe but you quickly gain enough height that the photos merge to a green cloth. Also the shots must be vertical straight down. You cant fix up angled pics. Ill post what I have, some are workable but less so that you might initially think. These are my best I have and I dont think they are good enough as they lack detail. I reckon the RC plane or the kite would be best with the right kind of altitude.

Edit: The last one is a bit surreal. If nothing else it gives great reference material for anyone wanting to draw trees from above ! These were taken April 2007 and whilst very grateful to the family member for trying with these I cant make a single tree icon out of them. As a texture it might work. Might have to push number two through the seamless tex creator script over in the tut section.

Edit 2: Added seamless tile of image 2

02-07-2008, 09:31 PM
These are a good--no, a GREAT start! I am very excited about this! Go, Redrobes, go!

02-08-2008, 05:08 AM
Very nice, Redrobes! I'm copying your post for the texture thread in the mapping elements forum! Do you think these textures would work as a seamless fill? Probably not, I'm guessing as you would have bits of trees cut off at the edges. Clone stamp maybe?

02-08-2008, 07:57 AM
You must have missed the update yesterday where I added the seamless version of image number two. But I would like to get icons (clone stamps) out of the images and these images do not have enough res or clean enough trees to get at them well. What I would like is old oak in summer - you know, fluffy green stuff like model train sets have and some conifers too. My app can bunch a whole load together or mix them up and create textures for that if I had a selection of really good icons to use.

02-08-2008, 09:34 AM
No, I was just being blind...hadn't realised that the last image was a seamless tile. I did a google for 'architectural trees' and found this site (http://www.trinity3d.com/store/DOSCH-Viz-Images-Birds-Eye-Trees-p-695.html), (sample image below) which sells images of trees seen top down but it looks like 3 modelling rather than the real thing and at $75 it's not cheap! You can download Bryce 5.5 for free, I think and that has a tree modeller. The models are not much to write home about, but they may look better if seen from above, and you can make alpha channels for the render too and make transparent .pngs out of them.

I'll have a play tonight and see how they look.

02-08-2008, 11:53 AM
They're cool. Whats your take on this... If you used a proprietary 3D model of a tree or even an app to generate random trees and took a screenie from above then can you distribute the image of the tree ?

Speed Tree :- http://www.speedtree.com/tree_browser/index.htm is a bit of a daddy when it comes to this as its used in a lot of places and games. There is a demo where (at least a few years ago at any rate) you could whoop up some random stuff and select the viewpoint including from above. The demo had a handful of models to try and get the idea where the full set gives you loads. But I chose not to use them because I don't want to get tied up in any kind of copyright spat.

02-11-2008, 02:27 PM
And if looking for trees, there is an old post from me back here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=1010) that points to an offsite tutorial I made on rendering many kinds of top down trees using an assemblage of free tools).

-Rob A>