View Full Version : Neverwinter Maps

08-22-2011, 07:09 PM
Hey Folks,
Now that GenCon's done and the Neverwinter Campaign Setting is on the shelves, I can finally post the poster maps I created for it.

The process for these was similar to my typical work-flow, just on a larger scale. Like my other maps, I usually start in Photoshop with a rough outline forwarded from R&D or the author and begin developing the stylistic elements like textures and border treatments. Sometimes the maps are following an already established motif though. For example, in this case I was trying to stick with the flavor I have been developing already for my other Forgotten Realms maps. Once I have the working file set up with an outline, borders, text, textures, and a background, I then begin sketching my ink layers. I've created a series of custom ink brushes that allow me to hand draw the details of my maps. Once I'm progressing with the ink layers, if need be, I can cut and paste some elements in a randomized fashion making sure they don't look repetitive. I've also built a library of inked brush stamps that I can use to cut down the drawing time. In addition, I make sure that there aren't any gaps in object outlines if they will be colored separately, this way I can isolate them with a wand tool later on during the coloring phase.

Once the inked details are complete and all the text is placed, the file gets sent off for approvals/edits and then, barring any major revisions, I get down to painting. Again, In my opinion, custom brushes and textures are worth their weight in gold. At this point I usually build some quick alpha channels to separate out the major elements of the image and begin painting on multiple layers. Each map can have dozens of individual ink and color layers since keeping the artwork well organized allows me to edit, paint, and mask off portions of the image quickly and cleanly. I love playing with my layer and brush setting and probably use multiply and hard light almost as much as "normal".

Once the inks and general colors are finished, I take a long look at the image as a whole and try to address any overall color, contrast, or readability issues before forwarding on the final streamlined file to my art director.

So that's basically it. I could go into a lot more detail but would probably need a book to pack it all into.

Hope you like the artwork. :)

Matt James
08-22-2011, 07:28 PM
Truly awesome. You are the best.

08-22-2011, 07:32 PM
Wow! Snatched to my Inspiration folder! Full on awesome man.


08-22-2011, 08:13 PM
Amazing as usual, these are beautiful!

08-22-2011, 08:19 PM
So that's basically it. I could go into a lot more detail but would probably need a book to pack it all into.
Oh, good heavens! Then pleasse - do it ;)
You can't have enough details on the creation process of such masterpieces.
I love the details - e.g. the increasing number of graves in the 'lava'-version and tons of other things, truely amazing.


08-22-2011, 09:57 PM
Love your work, thanks for sharing!

08-23-2011, 12:23 AM
So nice. Thank you for sharing and thanks for just the tidbits on how you do your work flow. I'm not sure I have settled on mine yet so the more I hear how others do it the better.

08-23-2011, 03:04 AM
Beautiful maps as usual - I'm curious about your ink-brush-stamps - do you have whole buildings as stamps?

08-23-2011, 03:53 AM
Awesome maps!

08-23-2011, 04:01 AM
Really fantastic maps. You really set the standard of maps nerly too high.

Steel General
08-23-2011, 07:07 AM
Fantastic stuff...

08-23-2011, 01:03 PM
A bit too nice... It discourage me to even try doing something like that! ;)... I couldn't say enough how much I like those maps!

08-23-2011, 02:37 PM
Lovely maps, Mike. And thanks for sharing a bit of your workflow. Any time you feel like sharing more then I'm sure there would be many around here eager to hear it. :)

08-23-2011, 02:58 PM
Thanks for all the kind words guys!

Here's a trick to using brush stamps while avoiding that repetitive look. Only stamp the inks and occasionally flip them on their x & y axis. You can also add or remove a few details. That way, when you're applying color to the individual objects there will be enough randomness that they won't looked stamped. If you paint your light and cast shadows separately, rather than stamping them, it will help with the illusion. This way you can turn the ink drawing of a single building into dozens of unique map elements. Saves a LOT of routine drawing time that could be spent more productively.

08-23-2011, 03:31 PM
stunning work again, as usual! .... and thanks for the insight in workflow and the tips & tricks! cheers, DJ

08-23-2011, 04:10 PM
I like the little brush fires in the east there, I've been trying to figure out a way to do forest fires that wasn't kitschy. Great stuff, man. Must have taken a long time even with stamp brushes.

08-24-2011, 10:19 PM
Outstanding work as always. I agree with Moe - a book is what we need.

08-25-2011, 05:28 AM
Absolutely terrific. Real works of art.

Escape Artist
08-30-2011, 06:03 PM
Your maps are the reason I am now learning to do mapping of my own. Keep up the amazing work.

09-18-2011, 11:01 PM
Amazing. Can't wait to use these in a campaign! The closeup of the "Protectors enclave" will be very handy.

I'll simply echo, if you post more specifics or maps, I'll be back to read and view them.

Thank you!

09-19-2011, 01:18 AM
Your maps are amazing!

10-18-2011, 12:34 AM
These are beautiful!

10-18-2011, 02:21 AM
This is just gorgeous and jaw-dropping ... wow. I'll really have to try my hand at mapping a city again. But this time with more digital work, I don't feel like doing a whole manual metropolis again, like I did in the olden days ...

10-19-2011, 11:03 AM
Hope you like the artwork. :)

How could we *not*? :) I, for one, will buy your book!

10-19-2011, 02:31 PM
I love them, amazing work :)

10-19-2011, 05:43 PM
wow :O fantatic!

10-03-2012, 11:08 AM
Nice work.

Is the detailed version for the entire map available? or just that corner? you are teasing us! :)

10-03-2012, 11:44 AM
You are truly the "vision" of this generation's D&D. Amazing as always !! :)

10-03-2012, 02:13 PM
amazing work, share more of your tips and tricks.. :)

10-03-2012, 09:25 PM
You are truly the "vision" of this generation's D&D. Amazing as always !! :)

Actually yes really when you think about it. I do love the classic maps from the old dungeon magazines and other older modules. But from 3.5e onwards there seems to be this big step in terms of the quality of cartography in D&D and it seems to be a handful of artists who have shaped it and set a high bar for not just D&D but other RPGs as well. And they've been a source of inspiration for myself too.

05-19-2013, 12:26 AM
I have been looking at these maps for a long time, and I do love your work and style. Unless I am wrong, these maps are used for the new Neverwinter MMO? If they are not, they are close enough that I can't tell the difference. Is this the case?


05-19-2013, 05:23 PM
Some of you people truly have a talent for this... I'm shocked by the detail that goes in some of these....