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Hawksguard
06-23-2011, 08:27 PM
Here is my first WIP map here on CG for your consideration, questions, comments and criticisms. It is the first map I have attempted with Photoshop, and later I hope to be adding some more map elements done in Illustrator.

This world first saw life as part of a D&D homebrew campaign from almost 20 years ago, since then it has evolved quite a bit in the form of endless hours of scribbling, note taking, some unpublished short stories and collaborations, as well as a couple major overhauls including one about 5 years ago when I advanced the timeframe to a higher tech level for a GURPS: Transhuman Space campaign. Parts of it I had previously attempted to map out with Campaign Cartographer but said files seem to have been eaten by my old PC, so this project is in part an attempt to recreate them.

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My immediate goal is to create a solid base map from which I can make any number of others in a modern(-ish) atlas style. While magic does exist, I'm aiming for landforms that, at least superficially, give the appearance of having been formed through natural processes. The planet was originally heavily terraformed into a sort of post-Ragnarök Eden. Unfortunately, the tech civilization that has evolved has managed to damage the terraforming controls keeping the planet stable and the planet is starting to revert back to its original icy state. Silly humans.

Current list of things to do:

Add some variation to the base biogeographical regions (it's just a simple gradient at present).
Add forests, rivers and mountains.
Figure out and place the names for all the major land forms that I don't already know the name.
Work on the bathymetry.

Big thanks to all the great tutorials that got me this far. A couple that really helped me on my way were Ascension's PS Atlas Style (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?4084-Award-Winner-My-atlas-style-in-PS) and Tear's Saderan Tutorial (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?8086-Award-Winner-Saderan-%96-a-tutorial). Both are awesome examples of Photoshoppery goodness. Also, an honorable mention to Arsheesh's GIMP Map Borders (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?15037-Making-Map-Borders-in-GIMP) tutorial, which I was able to translate to Photoshop and made some very cool looking borders which, alas, did not really go with the map style I was aiming for. But I'm sure I'll use them at some point. :D

Cheers all and thanks!

Ascension
06-23-2011, 10:32 PM
Looks great, man. I like your color transitions from ice to tundra to grassland the most...I'm a sucker for good color.

jbgibson
06-26-2011, 04:40 PM
If a map is hand-drawn, I expect some degree of generalization. But there's some point in the range of crayon-on-construction paper to satellite photograph, where I start to expect every nit-picking detai that a camera would seel. This style is way over toward photorealism. While what you show here is nicely plausible, your world seems to have a rule that "all islands are big". Too, your coastlines mostly have a similar degree of jagginess. Grab a google map of somewhere with a lot of coastline - say, Indonesia. No fjiords, of course, but some rough terrain, and indeed some of the coastline is jaggy. Some though is smooth sweeps and curves.

Your landforms are pleasing, and the ranges of mountains seem to work. There's a couple of places where the coastline seems to conflict with the texture. They're not horrible, just slightly jarring. Maybe these:
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Frankly, if I'd made a basemap as nice as this, I might stick a city on top of any cosmetic flaws and be done with 'em :-).

I love the inner sea, then the inner-inner sea at the SE of the biggest continent. Nice work!

Hawksguard
06-26-2011, 09:08 PM
Not only do I appreciate the nit-picking, I require it! As you say, when striving for accuracy and realism, there is nothing worse than coming across something that makes you go 'what the...", like some guy wearing a Timex in a gladiator movie.

I totally agree with your observations that all the islands are big and there is not enough variation of jaggedness to the coastlines. The island size in particular was something that popped into my head the other day when I was thinking about island chains like Hawai'i of which my map is sadly lacking. The original coastlines I had were actually much more jagged. I guess I'll give another round on smoothing some of them out.

So far I'm pleased with the way it is turning out, much thanks for the comments thusfar. Hopefully I should have another draft ready in a day or so as I've finished most of my previous goals.

Juggernaut1981
06-27-2011, 02:57 AM
Honestly I'd be expecting to see a chain of islands probably appearing from the axe-head like shape to the right of the upper yellow circle.

Hawksguard
06-28-2011, 01:48 AM
Okay, second draft. I've added rivers, forests and mountains. I changed some of the base biome areas, mostly pushing habitable land and icy areas around due to what should be the prevailing ocean currents. And I added a small cold desert in the S part of the central continent. I smoothed out some of the continental coastlines and added some smaller islands to add some diversity.

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Think next I am going to focus on adding cities and major roads. Probably will be a lot of tweaking and refining of what I've got so far along the way.

Steel General
06-28-2011, 12:12 PM
This is really starting to "come to life", looking forward to the finished version.

Diamond
06-29-2011, 10:38 PM
I really like this so far, especially the forests - they look great. Have some rep to keep you enthused! :D

Jaxilon
06-30-2011, 02:21 AM
This is indeed looking good. Keep going.

Hai-Etlik
06-30-2011, 02:35 AM
I'll make my usual observations about projection incongruities with the usual caveats that some people don't care or notice the difference so feel free to ignore my advice if you don't mind cartographers, geographers, etc. thinking it looks off.

You seem to be using the Equidistant Cylindrical projection (Also known by several other names). It's an easy projection to understand and implement and works well when you want to wrap it onto a mesh globe in 3D graphics software. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equirectangular_projection

Unfortunately it also has a number of downsides which is why it's not used much for any other purposes. It is neither conformal (angle/shape preserving) nor equal area and in fact distorts both properties dramatically, and the distortion is rather unpleasant looking.

So, it's not really a projection that would normally be used for a global reference map like this.

The distortion would mean that shapes toward the poles should be stretched out horizontally in the map. On your map, they aren't distorted this way, which means that the same shapes on a globe would be distorted and would appear sort of pinched together as they approach the pole.

Also, the compass rose is inappropriate in this projection as it implies that directions are preserved, which is not the case.

Unfortunately, there's no easy fix for this problem. Your map is rather clearly a full globe and there's no way to reinterpret it as being in another projection. That only leaves redrawing it or leaving it looking off (Or putting it another way, not looking off in the right way)

Otherwise it's quite attractive. The style isn't really one I'm fond of, but you do a good job of it.

Hawksguard
06-30-2011, 03:04 PM
Thanks all for the continued feedback.

@Hai-Etlik, your info on projections is much appreciated. I probably should have been a little more descriptive of this as a 'base map'. Basically yes, I will be using this as the foundation in some other maps I'm going to be doing but I doubt I will actually use this in its current projection, mostly for the reasons you mentioned. Equirectangular projection is kinda boring artistically, but for a base it is, as you said, the easiest to understand and implement, especially when you're not designing with digital heightmap data.

I chose to go for this quasi-photorealistic style because it will warp well, whereas vector symbols would not. Admittedly, some distortion is inevitable but since the majority of my landmass is away from the poles the distortion will be minimized when I start actually projecting my basemap into the styles I plan to use. Fortunately I am still at the point where I can go back and make some changes if the distortion is particularly noticeable. Also, I should be able to incorporate any natural terrain features, as well as a lot of line data (like roads or even political boundaries, so long as the lines are crisp) into the basemap before projection.

Yeah, the compass rose will definitely have to go. Are there any projections in which directional preservation actually occurs? Since, at least to start, I'll be doing some modern-style maps, are there any projections you can suggest or suggest to stay away from? A lot of atlases I see nowadays seem to prefer one of the Wagner projections (VII is one of my personal favorites). I know many moons ago when I was in grade school it seemed everything was Goode Homolosine Interrupted and before that everything was Mercator, Mercator, Mercator (no Virginia, Greenland is not bigger than South America).

I'm using G Projector (http://www.giss.nasa.gov/tools/gprojector/), which to date is the best map projection utility I've found out there in terms of different styles, assuming of course you've got an equirectangular map to start from. I know there are some other programs out there, but this has been particularly good for me since I'm running a mac and it seems to have a good ability not to choke on really large files.

Here's a quick-and-dirty rendering of my world in Wagner VII format:

arsheesh
06-30-2011, 03:07 PM
Hey this is looking really nice so far!

Cheers,
-Arsheesh

Hai-Etlik
06-30-2011, 04:55 PM
Yeah, the compass rose will definitely have to go. Are there any projections in which directional preservation actually occurs? Since, at least to start, I'll be doing some modern-style maps, are there any projections you can suggest or suggest to stay away from? A lot of atlases I see nowadays seem to prefer one of the Wagner projections (VII is one of my personal favorites). I know many moons ago when I was in grade school it seemed everything was Goode Homolosine Interrupted and before that everything was Mercator, Mercator, Mercator (no Virginia, Greenland is not bigger than South America).

The only projection which preserves compass directions is Normal Mercator, which is usually just called "Mercator" despite the possibility of other aspects like Transverse Mercator which is used for a lot of large scale maps.

At large scales (zoomed in or more accurately, less zoomed out) where you cover only a small area, any projection with little distortion within the extent of the map can also have a compass rose. Generally, a more detailed rose implies less distortion. A simple arrow is fine with any projection where north is generally the same direction, whereas a modern navigation chart style rose would only be appropriate for a map with very low distortion.

Scale bars are similar, except there are no projections that preserve all (or even most) distances. The equidistant projection you are using preserves north-south distances, and distances along the equator. All others are distorted (more so further from the equator and further from north/south), and that's about the best you will get out of any projection. Most regional projections are designed to preserve distances as well as possible within their region, The UTM coordinate system is an example of this using multiple Transverse Mercator projections to sweep out narrow bands of the Earth.

If you want to check if you've got significant polar distortion, try a polar projection. Polar Stereographic would work well for this, pick "Stereographic" and set latitude to 90° or -90° If it looks wonky, you've got a problem, if not, you are good to go.

Hawksguard
07-04-2011, 12:59 AM
Thanks all for the continued feedback and especially @Hai-Etlik for the tip on polar steographic projection to check for polar distortion. I may have to tweak my "Australia" continent a bit but the others are looking good.

Here's the latest incarnation. Since last time I've reworked the rivers and coastlines in Illustrator, established some workflow for getting stuff between Illustrator & Photoshop and begun adding some villages/names to what will eventually be a political map. Nothing set in stone, I just wanted to play around with the toponymy and get a feel for what cultures were going where, especially in the areas of the world that were heretofore unexplored.