View Full Version : Help me improve my map

03-05-2008, 09:03 AM
In order to run the Encounter at blackwall Keep with MapTool (praise it!), I tried to draw a photoshop map with 60 pixels as grid size.

The encounter takes place around a tower keep. Here is an part of the scenario description:

The keep itself is built out of black stone and consists of a single ground floor with a tower. The entire ground floor is buried under a false hill, and all that is visible is the tower itself: The door to the keep (visible only from the south side) looks like it has been broken open and hastily repaired. On the level above the door a five-foot balcony extends outward, giving the defenders a good vantage point and making it harder for invaders to enter the tower by climbing the walls.
Large sharpened wooden stakes jut out of the hillside, pointing away from the keep (toward any potential attackers).And now my map, :
http://www.zimagez.com/miniature/ebkblackwallkeep21.jpg (http://www.zimagez.com/zimage/ebkblackwallkeep21.php)

It is based on the scenario map that I extended. The upper floors will be added as stamps in MapTool and are not in this "ground floor" map.

My concern is mainly the land away from the keep which I feel seems too much "stamped" (I mean as if a stamp was ued to add the vegetation).
What should I do to improve this?

03-05-2008, 10:56 AM
You could make another grass/vegetation layer and use a layer mask to make it blend into and out of the image to break up the repeating pattern. Similar to how you used the brown earthen bits to break it up.

03-05-2008, 12:45 PM
Glenn's idea is a great one--plus has the advantage of being very, very easy. Don't forget you could also go very low tech and draw with another color brush (perhaps set to "color"?) to break up the color monotony as well.

On a side note, I would also recommend lowering the saturation of the entire image a bit; right now this is very neon--which in fact may contribute to the pattern showing up, too.

A nice map. :)

03-05-2008, 02:07 PM
Firstly, this is another great map from you :)

Now whenever you get something that says do it at 60 pix per inch then I would do it higher and reduce it for the final. I haven't measured your map but thats just a general tip there.

On this map I reckon that the grass is a bit too saturated as Don just mentioned and also that the rough pattern on the path is a bit to strong too. The spikes are wicked tho :)

The trouble with all sorts of 3D terrain height stuff is that its really hard to make it look that way without shadows and shadows are a bit of a pain generally especially if your using a stamp based tool. Also, on this map you have multi directional shadows which is not helping the eye either. So, if your app allows, I would make a low res version of the map, add a layer and create a shadow map by painting some rough shadow patterns on the hill. Mega blur it and re-sample it back to full res and keep that as an additional layer to darken the map in those areas. Now when you add stamps down on the color layer they will fall into shadow. You will find that the mound just pops out and it will look better.

For the grass I went out to a hill side and took a camera load of rough grass pics straight down but you can short cut this and go to a texture site like this :-


and get a load for free.

I like the map tho. It looks like a real fun encounter with the multiple levels and entrance to siege.

Edit -- something like this is what I had in mind there.

03-05-2008, 03:29 PM
I just thought about it but since you are using Photoshop to make this, you could use the Lighting effects to pull off the shadows RedRobes suggests. I found the tutorial in Photoshop's help to be pretty clear and helpfull.

In a nutshell it would use a new channel to dictate the appearent height of the hill and draw the shadows for you. On this new channel you can simply draw/paint with black/white/gray to represent the various elevations.

03-05-2008, 09:10 PM
This is a good start for the map, and you've established an excellent base for further detailing. My primary suggestions have to do with mood and scale, and I think a couple tweaks might go a long way.

Its mentioned that the grass is overpowering, and while there is nothing generally wrong with bright grass, the "greenness" of it here is weakening your tower focal point. I think if you drop it a notch you will see a big difference, and the structure will pop more. You'll also get a slightly more ominous feel that could enhance the mood of a combat encounter.

To ease away from the "stampyness", try to find other small foliage and detailing to help blend the trees/rocks/etc into the environment. Weeds, debris, and small stones would aid the composition and help establish scale.

On the subject of scale, you may want to take a look at your road. Right now it looks to be about 15 feet wide. Somewhere between 8-12 might be more appropriate for a rugged path leading to a small tower keep. A narrow choke point makes a great defense, and seems much more ominous to the attackers.

Keep going! =)

03-05-2008, 10:43 PM
I kind of like this map, it looks like a nice quiet resting old man house with some friendly deadly zombie killing worms who either gets out of the ground for tanning session or are burrowing their old friend garden.
Up to u to decide.

But still a place I would like to go sit for a cup of tea.

I'm sure the finish version will be cool.


It could be a fun scenario for an evening sidequest : after the rain, the heros emerge from the house at the same time as the worms...

cool entry,

03-06-2008, 03:33 AM
Thank you for all your tips.
I'll try, but not before next week, work, wife, childs...

03-13-2008, 04:03 AM
I managed to improve the map thanks to your advices.

I is not perfect but I hope it will be enough for my game...

http://www.zimagez.com/miniature/ebkblackwallkeep22.jpg (http://www.zimagez.com/zimage/ebkblackwallkeep22.php)

I also made PNG files for stamps of the LV2 to 4 :

http://www.zimagez.com/miniature/ebkblackwallkeep21tourlv2.png (http://www.zimagez.com/zimage/ebkblackwallkeep21tourlv2.php)

http://www.zimagez.com/miniature/ebkblackwallkeep21tourlv3.png (http://www.zimagez.com/zimage/ebkblackwallkeep21tourlv3.php)

http://www.zimagez.com/miniature/ebkblackwallkeep21tourlv4.png (http://www.zimagez.com/zimage/ebkblackwallkeep21tourlv4.php)

I'll tell you how it has worked once we play it!

03-13-2008, 07:00 PM
Looks good. A nice improvement, and I'm sure everyone will be appropriately ooing adn aahing over it. If you had the time (and who ever does?) I could see a lot of places to still go with this, but good work overall!

Okay, now get to posting the next one! :)

03-14-2008, 04:09 AM
Nice, the separate elements feel a lot more cohesive in this version. I think you'll have a solid map for battle 8)