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Schattenherz
07-20-2011, 02:14 PM
Hi folks,

as I couldn't find help anywhere else, I will now show this map to your experienced eyes ;) Thanks to Eilathen for encouragement :D

This is Demera, the capital of an egypt-like country in Alvarania, my fantasy world. I'm not really satisfied with this map, but have no idea why. Well, I suppose more details would make it better, but somehow I'm quite uninspired this time o.O

Short explanation of the city: The inner ring contains palace and houses of the upper class. All temples are built in a way which makes them belong to the inner as well as to the outer circle. The free space to the south-east of the inner circle is a fairground(?), the western quarter of the town is where the dead are ... eh... kept in houses like the ones of the living people.
For everyone who speaks german, you may read more here: http://www.schattenherz.net/drachenblut/wiki/wissen/suedwesten/geographie/demera


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I would appreciate any suggestions concerning style and contents :)

Greetings,
Schattenherz

arsheesh
07-20-2011, 02:28 PM
Hey there Schattenherz, welcome to the Guild! Looks good so far, but since you're asking for advice, here's my 2c. The blur that you've got going on the docks looks sort of funny. Perhaps you meant to give the impression that the docks were somewhat submerged, but nonetheless the faded blur still doesn't quiet look right. In addition, the grunginess to my eyes could be toned down a bit so as not to be too distracting. I'd also try adding some more texture and/or ripples to the river to give it a sense of depth. Otherwise this piece looks pretty good.

Cheers,
-Arsheesh

Ascension
07-20-2011, 03:40 PM
I'm just pleased as pie to see southeast lighting. The canals seem a little off but I understand why they were done that way, no ideas to do it any better. Looks good to me so, nice job, man. Just need a scale so that we can tell distances.

ravells
07-20-2011, 04:04 PM
Hi there, for me the street pattern within the city blocks is unconvincing (it looks too random and not man made) - it looks like you have created a rectangular brush and drawn the buildings with that - most of the buildings have exactly the same x/y rectangular proportions. I think the size difference between the main streets and the smaller streets is too big so it looks a bit unnatural. Cities are very hard to look convincing. I've spent the last 10 years looking for short cuts, but have yet to find any which really do the job properly.

Take a look at many of the really good city maps here (for example A2area's map: Sheinar) and see how they deal with building distribution, street sizes and negative space.

p.s. check the link in my sig about building fantasy cities...which may or may not be of help.

Larb
07-20-2011, 05:10 PM
I agree about the piers. It looks too much like a fade rather than the effect you are going for (which I believe is a sloped pier descending into the water). You need a harsher line where the pier breaches the water's surface.

About the street layout - I have similar trouble making mine look convincing too. The map itself looks awesome though, it's really well crafted and clear. I like the style a lot.

The only other thing is there appears to be a slope down just beyond the river within the confines of the city. I dread to think what happens on the rare occasions that the river bursts it's banks.

Schattenherz
07-21-2011, 09:47 AM
Hi,

thanks for your comments, guys! I really appreciate them :)

I will try your suggestions, Arsheesh, they sound convincing. Thank you for pointing out what to do about the docks, Larb, for that would have been my next question :D
The city is protected by a dam just behind the harbor. Is that what you thought to be a slope?

@ravells: maybe that's just the point why I don't like the outcome of the map. Though I like some randomness in placing the buildings, it may be too much here. I will play around with some ideas I had right now and show the results here, so you may help decide which is most convincing. Thanks for your critique!

Schattenherz

edit:
What do you think? I tried to give the houses more different sizes and making them more aligned with the streets. Better now, or didn't I get the point? :?:

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Yandor
07-21-2011, 01:03 PM
I think the newer ones seem to blend better, but I was thinking about it... And its a smaller thing I guess, but up in the top corners of the map, you only have the "pattern/color" nothing else really to fill the space (if that makes sense) I checked on the Nile river on google maps, just to make sure my suggestion I was going to give had some credibility and when I looked, they had Hills/Mountain-ish looking terrain right up to the edge of the nile river. So having altering terrain leading up to the city or water could also be an idea to add to it (maybe even sand dunes).

Steel General
07-21-2011, 01:33 PM
My only critique (on a otherwise really nice piece), is that I think the shadows on the city walls are a little heavy and dark. No big deal really, just my 2 cents worth.

Keep up the good work.

Schattenherz
07-21-2011, 02:23 PM
You're right, Yandor, at least some rocks would make it look more interesting/realistic. Thanks :)
I will play around with the shade of the walls, Steel General, maybe you're right.

Thank you all, I'm quite overwhelmed by your nice and useful words :D

ravells
07-21-2011, 02:26 PM
Hi,
What do you think? I tried to give the houses more different sizes and making them more aligned with the streets. Better now, or didn't I get the point? :?:

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Much, much better. In my humble view if the basic structure of the city is unconvincing, no amount drop shadow or colour is going to fix that. Get the structure right first and then have fun with the colours and textures etc. Don't forget streets can be both positive and negative space, depends on what's around them. You can suggest that by extending street lines where there are no buildings on either side.

Ascension
07-21-2011, 03:54 PM
Instead of lightening the shadows too much try making them brown...that's what I do in desert-like area.

Schattenherz
07-26-2011, 10:43 AM
Next WIP:

Remade all houses, tried to make the submerging docks and the water a bit more realistic, added some rocks in the upper corners (not really satisfied with them, though :/ ), made the shadows of walls and houses less solid and added some labels. The map key + scale will be done later.
What do you think? :)

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cantab
07-26-2011, 11:46 AM
Wow, the new houses make it look totally different. The first version called to mind the shanty towns in developing countries, while the new version looks a lot more like what I'd expect of a walled city.

They could actually be "before" and "after" if you wanted I reckon, if pretty much the whole city had been rebuilt at some point.

Midgardsormr
07-26-2011, 12:42 PM
That's looking very nice!

I'd say you should put farmland upstream of the city, and across the river, too. If you're patterning after the Nile floodplain, it's extremely fertile land, and every inch that can be cultivated is going to be worked (unless the civilization has discovered rotating crops, at any rate). You might even put in some silty islands—if you look at satellite views of Cairo, you can see a few of those with evidence that they're being farmed. There should also be some infrastructure near the farms to make moving the food efficient. I'd expect to see lots of structures stretching up and down the river: houses, tool sheds, silos, and the like. These will be fairly temporary shelters since it's expected that they'll frequently be destroyed by the floods.

Schattenherz
07-26-2011, 01:15 PM
Thank you :)

Great idea, cantab, I will think about that.
You're right, Midgardsomr. Though Demera's economy depends on salt rather than on agriculture, the relatively narrow space for fields would be used extensively. The one thing I'm thinking about is making the river much broader...

Chashio
07-26-2011, 03:56 PM
Yes, that looks nicer with the buildings more aligned. One little detail... The 1 and 7 labels are pretty 'aligned' with the buildings as well, which sort of gives the impression that they're part of the map (small arenas or some such, no real biggie). Maybe positioning them more on top of the buildings would help. Ooh. If you wanted to show an open gate or two you could carve out a bit of the shadow to show the sunlight coming through the doorway. Love the coloring, by the way!

Ascension
07-26-2011, 03:59 PM
As to the upstream/downstream thing...towns send their refuse downstream soooo not good for drinking water but good for crops.

arsheesh
07-26-2011, 04:21 PM
This is looking quite good! The new houses are much more visible than in the former WIP. Great job so far.

Cheers,
-Arsheesh

Schattenherz
07-29-2011, 12:47 PM
I tried to implement your suggestions, so maybe last WIP:

Moved labels 1 & 7 (and changed their color, so the don't look like buildings), added fields and sheds (...), some more houses, the river is broader and the map has now key & scale. I'm quite happy with it :) Thanks for all your ideas, without them it would have looked not half as good as now :)

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