View Full Version : New Map Style Experiment - Human Village

10-27-2011, 08:59 PM
While I've developed my own town/city style over the years that has been something of my mainstay (though always being refined), every so often I feel I need to break away and try something entirely different. I've always thought experimentation with totally different styles is important, even if the end result sucks.

I decided to experiment with a more illustrative style that will still function as a map of sorts. I think what I have works well for small towns and villages, but would probably be inappropriate for larger settlements (unless you were to separate them by district or something).

I made an isometric grid pattern in photoshop to use as a guideline before I began drawing the village in SAI. This ensures my angles are all (mostly) correct and reduces any perspective issues.

I've still got lots to do, lots of details to add. Then I have to colour the whole thing.

After this map is done (it is based upon another fictional world), I plan to use this style for a special map for a sandboxy village module I am writing from my own world.

10-27-2011, 11:16 PM
Looking very impressive so far...

10-28-2011, 12:10 AM
Thats just awesome man! *claps*

10-28-2011, 01:10 AM
Very nice!

10-28-2011, 03:38 AM
Love the direct-drive windmill especially.

10-28-2011, 03:56 AM
Wow, awesome possum :) looks very good.

But what is SAI?

10-28-2011, 07:49 AM
Very nice.

10-28-2011, 08:57 AM
When you say perspective issues, where you meaning to eliminate perspective, or thinking that the grid would facilitate perspective? With perfectly parallel lines, there's no perspective in a straight orthographic projection. Also, I too have no idea what you mean by SAI.

Beautiful map, though. I'd love to see more of these, or a tutorial.

10-28-2011, 09:17 AM
When you say perspective issues, where you meaning to eliminate perspective, or thinking that the grid would facilitate perspective? With perfectly parallel lines, there's no perspective in a straight orthographic projection. Also, I too have no idea what you mean by SAI.

Beautiful map, though. I'd love to see more of these, or a tutorial.

Sorry, I mean so that my angles are all consistent. I guess perspective was the wrong word to use, but I have attempted a few smaller pictures like this in the past and after finishing most of it, found that say... the buildings on one half of the map don't look right compared to the rest. So the grid gives me a constant reference (it won't be there in the final image).

SAI is Paint Tool SAI - it's a tablet-driven paint program I use to do all my linework.

I could do a tutorial although I'm not sure how I'd break it down. I essentially just start with basic shapes and then go from there. I'll see what I can come up with! Thanks for the kind words everyone.

10-28-2011, 10:02 AM
So im not the only one who uses PaintTool SAI! :)

10-28-2011, 12:22 PM
Is Paint Tool SAI free? :O

10-28-2011, 01:17 PM
It's gonna be a great map. This start couldn't be better!
Keep up the good work ;)

10-28-2011, 03:32 PM

Can anyone provide a brief overview?

-Rob A>

10-28-2011, 05:15 PM
Well, I can't write a full one right now but its stability feature for pen and brush strokes is awesome! It is also a Vector/Raster program which is a plus, if you make a linework layer and drawn on that its fully scalable, and editable. The only down side is that its extremely hard too make your own brushes, and involves a bit of file editing. And, it sometimes has this thing with Wacom Bamboo Tablet that it won't even move unless you remove the preferences. Oh, and did I mention.. ITS REALLY FAST! And has good lines! Definitely from the Ink Pen tool.

10-29-2011, 09:12 PM
It is also a Vector/Raster program which is a plus,

Thanks for the mini review ;) - Any one know how it compares to Drawplus or Xara?

-Rob A>

10-30-2011, 01:11 AM
I have not really made use of the vector functions and I've never used Xara or Drawplus either. I mainly use it because the raster pen tool is second to none and the colour mixing is really good. Beyond that, I move to photoshop.

10-30-2011, 01:41 AM
Very similair to mine own workflow.

10-30-2011, 01:30 PM
Awesome looking town there. Soon I will be working on some city maps and have yet to determine my workflow for them so it'll be a fun learning experience...I hope :)

11-04-2011, 05:58 PM
Really nice work! Pair this with a couple of basic descriptions and you have your self a product to sell. I would be glad to pick one up.


11-05-2011, 08:23 PM
That looks awesome. Do you know where I could get a grid like that for GIMP? I couldnt even find an image of a similar one on google.

11-05-2011, 09:43 PM
Autorealm allos you to make orthographic layouts like that. You could set up your graph and save it as an image and use it as a back layer for your map and produce versions with and without the grid.

11-05-2011, 10:31 PM
That looks awesome. Do you know where I could get a grid like that for GIMP? I couldnt even find an image of a similar one on google.

I don't. I had to make it myself. I shall attach it for you but it is a .psd. I think GIMP can open psd's but if it can't, I can convert it to a different file format for you.

Essentially, all I did was make a few vertical lines and then use the transform tool to rotate them 30 degees and then -30 degrees. Alter if you want a dimetric perspective or whatever. Then cut so they are seamless and define pattern. Then use a pattern fill layer.

The attached image is seamless. so it just need to be applied as a pattern.

11-06-2011, 01:00 AM
Beautiful style! I love it.
Are you coloring this or leaving it B&W?

11-06-2011, 04:52 AM
I am currently in the process of colouring it but it's taking a while. Also, the grid won't be on the final version.

11-06-2011, 03:31 PM
As someone asked me how I've been going about doing this, I threw something together quickly. I've attached an image with the steps on it.

1) I make a new image in Photoshop and create a pattern fill layer using the isometric pattern I made. Save it as a PSD and then open it in SAI (SAI can read pattern layers and stuff, but can't make them).
I then use a 6px light grey brush and sketch in the basic shapes of buildings and whatnot on a seperate layer using my grid lines as guides for my angles and proportions.

2) On a new layer, I use a 4px pen to draw in my lines, adding little details. Really, all you are doing is making a box with a triangle on top look a bit prettier.

3) I put in the basic colours although I will often have a palette in mind before starting. In this case, I didn't. =P I colour things on different layers, so the ground is on one layer, the trees on another and so on.

4) I decide on which direction the light is coming from (in this case, directly from the right) and begin shading the buildings.

5+6) If I am hand painting shadows on a map like this, I cheat. On a new layer, I just paint in some black and then lower the layer opacity. I will also save the image and open it in photoshop, then use some gaussian blue on the shadows. But in this case, I was doing it quick so I didn't bother.

You can also turn off the grid at this point, although if you like it, I guess you could rasterize the grid layer in photoshop and erase it where it covers the buildings so you've just got it on the ground.

7) I add more colour and details depending on how much work I want to put in. I add a little texture to the ground too.

If I'm not happy with how my colours are looking, I will edit them using the image adjustment tools in photoshop (which is why it's good to colour different things on different layers), so I might add more saturation or increase the contrast. Sometimes I will want harsher shadows, etc etc.

One thing I do when making a new map like this one is create a new layer, set it to overlay and set the opacity to something like 10-20%. On this layer, I will fill it with a pattern, often a rust texture or similar. It gives the whole image some texture. I do it at the beginning though, not at the end like on this one.

11-07-2011, 04:48 PM
I always love these step-by-step images! They are so helpful in helping folks like me develop their style and process, and this is a great style. Thanks, Larb! consider yourself repped!

Edit: Er, looks like I have to spread some more rep around before I hit you up again!

11-08-2011, 01:15 PM
Thanks for the grid and the mini-tutorial!

11-10-2011, 07:27 PM
A little update here.

I've blocked in all the basic colours. I've not removed the grid yet, dunno why but I'll do that next. The colour scheme is fairly basic right now, but after I shade in all the colours properly, I intend to import it into photoshop and I'm considering either a sunrise or sunset scheme, so I can add lights to the windows and things (this is why I said to put everything on separate layers in one of my above posts, it makes doing such a breeze!). At least, I'll try it. Maybe I'll do two versions, a day and a near-night, and see how they turn out.

I did consider adding something to the north-west corner of the map, but I'll probably cut most of that or use it for the map key. Also, I am considering adding people, but I dunno. It's all very rough right now!

11-10-2011, 10:40 PM
That looks amazing! Keep up the good work, I can't wait to see the finished product!

11-19-2011, 01:46 PM
This is a fantastic piece of art, I've been following along and can't wait to see how it turns out. The style is gorgeous and very well executed.

11-19-2011, 03:53 PM
That is just incredibly beautiful! And thanks for the step by step as well!

11-19-2011, 05:12 PM
yeah, great stuff and thanks for posting. I love ISO projected maps and this looks great! cheers, DJ

11-25-2011, 01:08 AM
Envy, I hath found thee. Seriously though loving it, and also hating you for your talent :) . I really should get back into mapping.


11-25-2011, 07:43 PM
I just finished it (in between lots of Skyrim). Well the night time one I had the idea for anyway. The dusk one was interesting too but I didn't go for that in the end.

I've finished the daytime one too, I just haven't labeled it up or anything but you all already have a good idea how that'll look so I thought I'd post this one. I hope it's not too dark or anything, I just thought while I'm experimenting, I may as well experiment a little more.

11-25-2011, 07:56 PM
Wow!!! That is hot! Awesome idea at night.

11-26-2011, 03:27 AM
I approve. :) The colors work very well. In all, it's something I'd probably use discretely for a campaign ;)

I'm just not 100% sold on the font, it seem s a bit gimmicky for such a beautiful map, plus it doesn't match the font used for the numbers.

11-29-2011, 12:42 PM
Great job! I love your style!

11-29-2011, 01:04 PM
I hereby award you the ubercoolness medal for a magnificent map!

12-01-2011, 04:37 PM
Thats a fantastic map, great work! Rep Rep!

12-02-2011, 02:40 PM
Very nice work.

Assuming SAI is a "Paint"-like tool, is that map freehand?
It has a very sketch-like quality.

12-02-2011, 11:21 PM
SAI is tablet driven drawing software. You get pen, pencil, airbrush, paintbrush, etc tools. Everything recognises pen pressure by default. It does colour mixing very well and you have lots of options you can adjust. It supports the typical formats as well as .psd (which is incredibly helpful). And the whole thing is very lightweight as the program is only a few megabytes in size.

And yes, the whole thing is freehand which is why it took me ages (colour adjustments and stuff aside I mean).

12-03-2011, 12:22 AM
*Yes, Paint SAI Tool is an amazing software, especially for linearts. It even works amazingly without a tablet (I have tested both.).*

As for the superb map in the opening post, all I can say is fantastic job! I can't wait to see any updates -- should be just as amazing. :>


01-02-2012, 10:13 AM
Yeah, this map is outstanding. Awesome work!

01-02-2012, 10:26 AM
Hey Larb - I'd like to EMail you about your work. I have a gaming studio and we are looking for talented cartographers. Can you PM me at some point, or shoot me an EMail? Mine is kurt (at) terminal-studios (dot) com

01-06-2012, 04:50 PM
OMG Dude! This is awesome. After growing up with isometric RPGs, this brings back so many memories. Thanks for sharing the beautiful artwork. And yes Skyrim is very wonderful and time consuming.;)

Lord Kev
01-07-2012, 05:46 PM
Nice result. Good work.