View Full Version : Orion Spur Map

11-15-2011, 04:07 AM
I am still working on creating a nice star map.

I was quite happy with the galactic map I created some time ago (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?15553-Milky-Way-Galaxy-Revisited), but it necessarily lacks detail. So I decided to zoom in a bit and create a more local map of the orion spur.

The base map I used, as you will recall, was a NASA image of the Milky Way galaxy (http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/images/1923-ssc2008-10a-A-Roadmap-to-the-Milky-Way) which I turned into a more map-like background image - this included increasing the resolution, as the Milky Way Galaxy map was designed as a 60cm x 60cm drawing.

However, when I zoom in, it still gets too blocky, and besides the gaps in the spiral arms start showing badly. So I used gimp to create a new orion spur based on the original. Here's what I got so far; I am unconvinced that Terra is centered like that, I'll check tonight, but for now it'll do as a "sample" star system.


PS: Yes, I realize it's beginning to turn full circle and I am pretty much where I was a year or so ago, when I began to map out the orion spur for the first time. ;)

11-17-2011, 02:49 AM
Alright, haven't had a whole lot of time, but this is WIP#2. I am not entirely happy with the spiral arm background yet, but it's getting there.


11-17-2011, 07:27 PM
Just for the fun of it: This is a screenshot of Inkscape, you can see nicely how the current map fits into the bigger galaxy image - and the difference in resolution, too.


11-18-2011, 02:57 AM
Looking awesome so far.

11-18-2011, 03:53 AM
Thanks. :)

Current WIP, with some minor updates - I added sector names (just some random temp names), though this is really a lot of detail that's lost overall.

I gave the overall "cosmology" or astrography some thought yesterday night. Basically, on the orion spur map, every sector is 200x200 light-years. If I accept the trade-off that these are 2d, then it's entirely possible to create a third level of zoom - sector maps - which then map EVERY star system in the setting. Of course, creating the Orion Spur map at light-year resolution is a lot of work, but much of it could be automated in some fashion.

As an aside, the systems on the map are all Piper worlds, except for a few systems very close to Terra (the "break-out-list" attached to Terra). Distances are not correct, but relative positions are quite reasonable. ;)


12-04-2011, 08:30 PM
Current WIP is a little detour. I decided to make the map a little more colorful.
Since I used noise on the base map, it's a 22MB png and can't be posted, instead here's a scaled down version and a 1:1 area cropped so you can make out details.


Edit: Used star brushes from http://sakura222-stock.deviantart.com/art/Starfield-brush-set-30314622 - doesn't seem to have restrictions attached to use besides giving credit.

12-04-2011, 09:44 PM
I like it a lot with color.

12-05-2011, 03:44 AM
Thanks. Labels are getting even harder to read tho.

12-05-2011, 05:46 AM
Great stuff bartmoss! As Mearrin said, the colour makes all the difference!

12-05-2011, 06:54 AM
Thanks ravelis.
Are the colors okay, though? The main BG is supposed to be mostly blue.

I hate being colorblind, I can never be sure about what I see.

12-05-2011, 01:09 PM
the colors are great - looks really good bartmoss :)

12-05-2011, 02:43 PM
Thanks ravelis.
Are the colors okay, though? The main BG is supposed to be mostly blue.

I hate being colorblind, I can never be sure about what I see.

Really great work! Blue is defenately a good choice. I think I see a galactic pirate sign with crossed bones and everything (see attached) ;)

12-05-2011, 03:44 PM
Haha that's pure coincidence of course but nice find. Thanks on the color feedback. Which of the "sector names" styles in the current WIP do you guys prefer?


12-05-2011, 03:51 PM
pacifica blue :)

12-07-2011, 12:44 AM
This is beautiful- I have been thinking about making a zodiac for some time, but after staring at your beautiful work for awhile... now I'm feeling really inspired! :) and look- you linked some cool space brushes! Bravo to you sir- Bravo!

12-07-2011, 01:05 AM
Haha, thanks, and you are welcome. When you use them, remember that GIMP can scale brushes. I am not a heavy gimp user so I forgot about that at first. (it can't rotate brushes though, I think, which is kinda too bad.)

12-13-2011, 03:42 AM
I printed the map out on A3 on a color laser printer, and I LOVE it if I may say so. I will definitely print this out to A2 or so (I forget what resolution the bitmap has).

Three things though:
- Readability: Blue Pacifica looks best on the printout. Star names are very hard to read, but that should improve once the printout is bigger. Also the "breakout" lists of colony names are almost impossible to read.
- I almost wish I had not applied noise to the underlaying map, but it's too late now. I think this probably looks better on a high res print - and anyway it is not "terrible" by any means so I can live with it.
- The Skull Nebula needs trimming down, it is way too dominant

12-13-2011, 12:01 PM
I would buy this as a poster! :)

12-13-2011, 01:52 PM
Aw, thank you.

12-13-2011, 06:15 PM
The map is A1 at 200 dpi. Think that works for a printout that size?

12-14-2011, 12:20 AM
Current WIP, cropped and saved as JPEG.

- Made the "Skull Nebula" less dominant
- Changed sector titles. The two "Beyond" sectors have different styles, upper one has a drop shadow, lower one a solid outline - not really noticable, so I may go with the solid outline simply because it is easier on my PC
- Added a bunch of systems and a few routes


12-15-2011, 11:15 PM
I do think the shadow on the sector titles helps, but not lots, so if it's really hurting your machine then I guess it will do.

Do you have a plan for handling the way system names overlay the sector titles? I think you should consider maybe using a MUCH larger font size for the sector titles -- that way they'll endure the overlay a bit better. Right now the difficulty in reading feels unfinished. Or maybe just really tedious repositioning? I don't think it's great as is, anyway.

But the map itself is GORGEOUS. Holy amazing.

12-16-2011, 04:50 AM
Thanks for the compliment - and cool nickname, by the way. Big ERB fan here.

As for the sector names, I have been pondering the problem. I am coming to the conclusion that adding so many star system AND sector names simply is going to be a mess. In theory, every square ought to have a sector name in it. There's no way I can do that and have overlaps.

Instead, I think what I should probably do is add "region" labels. I can get away with far fewer of those, which will make for a cleaner map.

And since this is all organized in layers in inscape, I can create an alternative map which has just a few key systems - and a lot of sector names.

01-08-2012, 08:02 PM
New Year's Update, so to speak...

I decided to omit regional or sector labels; there are a few left, and they are sort of "squeezed in" in places, but I do think this works.

I've also added some preliminary borders, and a LOT of new star systems.

Current WIPs are attached; one is a massively downscaled full view, the other a tiny, tiny section of the map in original resolution; both had to be saved as JPGs with compression, so there's some minor loss of quality.



Oh and... if anybody wants a star system named on this map - let me know - but they need to be "serious" names.

01-10-2012, 09:01 PM
Current WIP attached, as always downsampled due to filesize limitations.

The map now contains just over 400 named systems. I've also added more regional labels, transport routes, and some special stuff. This includes a new Terran Federation logo in the lower right corner, next to the Seal of the Empire.

I think one or two more evenings and I'll be done with this baby.



01-10-2012, 09:20 PM
I'll put a name up for a star system, Golter. I love Iain M. Banks. It would fit nicely in the void. Great map. Love all the references to sci-fi novels and authors.

01-10-2012, 09:29 PM
Thanks! - Actually, there aren't that many sci-fi references, just a few minor ones... well - with the exception of H. Beam Piper from whom I've borrowed liberally (as his works are in the public domain). Plus some authors, of course, and a few "generic" names. I'll put Golter in for the next update though. I must admit that I never read anything by Ian Banks, though I love his variation on the Ringworld concept (the Banks Orbitals) who are definitely part of my universes.

01-10-2012, 09:31 PM
For the references, I've actually avoided anything that's famous - so for example no Trantor, Vulcan, or Endor. There is a Hoth, but that's because it's in Space Viking, plus it's a Norse god. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoth_%28disambiguation%29

01-16-2012, 09:47 PM
So what, Zelazny is just a minor reference?;) I cut my teeth on the Amber Chronicles when I was a young lad, so sooo long ago ... wistful sigh. I also love Niven's Ringworld and much of his other work. I will say that what made me pop in with a comment was the Yellowstone star system which I thought was a nod to Alastair Reynold's Revelation Space. After wiki'ing the term though, and reading your reply I'm not so sure now.

01-17-2012, 03:59 AM
Zelazny of course was named after the author, same deal with del Rey, de Camp, Heinlein. I, too, am a huge Amber fan. As a completely off-topic aside, you don't happen to know a source for the unabridged Amber audiobooks, read by Zelazny himself? My understanding is that these should exist, at least for the first series, but I was only able to obtain the abridged ones (with the sound effects mixed in).

Anyway, back to planets: Yellowstone was named after the North American national park. I have to out myself in that I never read Revelation Space stuff.

I could have of course put every planet name from every sci-fi show ever on the map, and that might be a cool project some day, just for the nostalgia value. There are two reasons why I did not want to do this: One, this is MY science fiction universe and if I use too many worlds borrowed from other sci fi universes - even if it's just the names - that will distract from the setting and also hurt suspension of disbelief.

Second, there are legal reasons. Now, clearly you can't claim a copyright on a planet's name - that's trademark law. So if I put Coruscant or Bespin on there George Lucas could theoretically try to sue over it. They could try for Hoth or Endor or whatever, but since those are not their own creations, they may have a harder time (trademarking a god's name? Doubt it). Now if my Hoth is an ice planet and there's a battle with giant dog like robots.... we get into the realm of copyright law again.

01-20-2012, 03:35 AM
Little progress since my last WIP, so I won't attach a new one just yet. I am up to about 450 named systems. The left part of the map is giving me headaches; since it's basically unexplored and "room for future development", I can't put too much there - unless someone has any good suggestions?

I really hope to get this map done this weekend. I am excited about it, that's a good sign that I actually might manage it... ;)

01-20-2012, 11:19 AM
Sorry I've been away for so long... you've been busy! And doing fine work too.

01-21-2012, 03:46 PM
Thanks. I think I am almost done.

Current WIP (scaled down):


The empty regions on the left side were of course explored somewhat; the map now shows the most famous of these missions - all of which ended in failure. Hmmm. I wonder why.


Fluff text closeup:



Fluff text probably needs some work, but I like the basic approach.

01-22-2012, 05:21 AM
Added a legend to the map, which looks like so:


So I am mostly done - I'll let it sit for a week or so then look it over, re-work the fluff text perhaps, and then I'll test-print this to A1 size. I am quite excited about that last part :-)

01-26-2012, 02:45 PM
Completed Maps Thread: http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?17287-Orion-Spur-Science-Fiction-Universe-Map

Phew :-)

04-07-2012, 12:44 PM
Have been working on the setting again.

Historic borders, WIP:


04-10-2012, 11:06 AM
Wow. I've been away for a while, but when I come back I see an astoundingly awesome update to a really great map. I guess that's just par for the course for bartmoss though. =)

04-11-2012, 02:24 AM
Thanks for the compliments... I've been working on this background a lot and I am really glad I spent the time to work on a decent map for it. It helps so much to work out the details of the background.

05-02-2012, 12:49 AM
In 2600AD, the Federated Nations loosened their grip on the human colony worlds. Mankind's colonial empire immediately split into 19 smaller nations. This map shows their rough claims; in reality, the borders were not nearly this distinct - there was a great amount of overlap in rivaling claims, which led directly to the great civil war.


05-04-2012, 12:45 AM
And the same map, fast forwarded another 20 years. These violent humans are beginning to cause severe damage to themselves with their silly civil war...


10-10-2012, 10:27 PM
Really cool, I like how it's evolving!

How do you use this map? Do you print it out, or print out zoom views, or just use it electronically?

10-11-2012, 01:47 AM
Thanks. I need to post some updates to this thread. - I mostly use it electronically but I have a printed A2 sized wall poster of it as well (without checking, if I recall correctly I set the map up as A1 sized).

10-21-2012, 07:38 PM
Hey guys - it's The Map That Never Gets Done (do I have any other type?).

In the past few days I've been working on improving the Orion Spur map. Nothing too wrong with the old version, just a couple of things that kept nagging me. So I sat down and began to analyse Human Space in order to make it more consistent.

I won't go into detail about the process (because I spent a lot of time to write it up already: Building a Better Star Map | Enderra (http://enderra.com/2012/10/21/building-star-map/) - second part is here: Building a Better Star Map II: The Leapfrog Effect | Enderra (http://enderra.com/2012/10/22/building-star-map-ii-leapfrog-effect/) ) but I figured I'd post this as a "WIP":


As you can see, human space will shrink a bit. The yellow circles are the expansion of the colonized area at various times. The black dashed line is the approximate area in which Federation and Empire will meet - in actuality, probably a bit closer to Empire than that.

I've tried to support this new "layout" of human space with a bit of math and everything. It's certainly not scientific, but it makes me happy to think that I am tightening the world-building up a bit.

And, by Niflheim, once I am done with this "fix" I will actually call it done and not fiddle with it anymore.

10-29-2012, 03:33 PM
This is a sample of a smoothed version of the background. I really liked the grainy one, but it was causing compression artifacts all the time.

Watcha think?


11-02-2012, 02:56 AM
The smoothing looks very nice. How much blur did you use?

11-02-2012, 01:33 PM
Thanks. - I used a straight 5x5 gaussian blur (Gimp) on the background; but the stars, nebulae etc are on separate layers and were not affected.

11-14-2012, 12:18 AM
Susskind's world is named after Leonard Susskind, I guess?

11-14-2012, 01:15 AM
That is correct.

11-14-2012, 08:11 PM
That is correct.

Excellent. The naming of sci-fi planets is an art in itself; your worlds have particularly apt names.

02-17-2013, 03:27 PM
Just wanted to chime in and say that bartmoss' work was instrumental in getting my own map (http://www.cartographersguild.com/sci-fi-modern-mapping/22335-orion-arm-map-inspired-bartmoss-work.html#post208411) underway (yes Nils, I finally remembered I still had an old Guild account :p ).

Will Brawner
02-19-2013, 11:03 PM
This whole project is absolutely incredible. Really inspiring for anyone making a space map.

02-20-2013, 12:50 AM
Thank you :)

03-08-2013, 07:37 PM
It's one of the best star maps that I've seen. But I've been wondering about something for a while. Aren't the bright "arms" of galaxies just created by young stars, while the darker parts (the areas between the arms, the "gaps" etc) are supposed to be filled with less luminous old stars that can still have habitable planets around them? Most fictive star maps seem to assume that they are almost exclusively in the highly illuminated parts of the galaxy. Does everyone know something that I don't, or is it just a common misconception?

03-08-2013, 07:53 PM
And yes, I think it's a common misconception. IIRC The spiral arms are basically density waves, and thus starforming regions. Older stars can be anywhere, really. I think the reason this is kept up is because it is convenient for story purposes to have some sort of "geography" with choke points etc in your setting.

I really do need to get the v2 of this map worked on too.

03-08-2013, 08:01 PM
Then I am a bit confused. You know this, but you adhere to this misconception anyway? Or did you do it for the story purposes that you mention?

03-09-2013, 06:06 AM
It's a design decision, correct. I believe that any "hard" science fiction setting will NOT have faster-than-light capabilities, and therefore will not have an interstellar culture at all, except perhaps by (very slow) communication via message laser or radio waves.

In the case of this setting (which I dub "Somnium"), I needed interstellar societies. That means FTL. And that means, ideally, some sort of "geography" of space. Restricting movement is incredibly important in my opinion, and I am still working out how that would work best - and realize I may just have to accept that I have to revise my design premises.

On the topic of scientific accuracy, I noted this in my (private) world design bible:

Setting and story trump science: There are certain violations to the laws of physics (“as we currently understand them”, as the saying goes) that the genre necessitates. For example, an interstellar society needs FTL transportation of some sort. Setting and story are more important than scientific accuracy; but only to a point – the Somnium universe should be plausible and, above all, self-consistent.

My "version 2" aims to be better thought out:

Building a Better Star Map | Enderra (http://enderra.com/2012/10/21/building-star-map/)
Building a Better Star Map II: The Leapfrog Effect | Enderra (http://enderra.com/2012/10/22/building-star-map-ii-leapfrog-effect/)
Building a Better Star Map III: Placing Stuff | Enderra (http://enderra.com/2012/11/02/building-star-map-iii-placing-stuff/)

I am a bit further than that, but even if I was sure that I could keep the setting 100% as-is, re-doing this map is very daunting and I had a very busy schedule at work (my day job unfortunately does not involve anything like this).

03-09-2013, 08:13 AM
I would create bottlenecks in a different way if they were needed, for example, restricting FTL to a gate network would give you far more flexibility. Who says that the gaps can't be traveled in even if they were so empty anyway? What is keeping spaceships inside the arms and making them adhere to the bottlenecks?

You can do similar things depending on your chosen FTL method; You seem to use hyperspace travel; it can be given restrictions that facilitate the need for spacelanes (a license to put bottlenecks anywhere you want), and similar things can be done with all other FTL methods.

FTL is a necessary violation of physics, but I think that this one isn't. I suppose you could justify it though by somehow restricting hyperspace travel to the spiral arms, or make it impractical outside of it. Hyperspace can have all kinds of weirdness. "Hyperspace" gives you a nearly unlimited license for imposing rules on FTL.

I've made several attempts at star maps myself, but I never liked the outcome. I think I'll give it another shot. Though I'm abroad at the moment and only have access to photoshop touch on my tablet, I have a few ideas that I'd like to give expression to.

03-11-2013, 02:06 PM
Just to clarify, the yellow lines are just "main travel routes", not "jump routes" - ships can go anywhere they please, but most follow patterns dictated by practical reasons.

I considered a gate network, but I rejected it for a number of reasons. Some design-based, a few in-universe reasons I do not quite want to spoil yet.

My hyperspace drives work a little like Traveller jump drives, you pick your destination and you travel there in n days, where n scales directly with distance. Unlike Traveller jump drives, my hyperdrives do not need "fuel", they need energy. (Traveller never adequately explained what is being done with all that hydrogen...) The in-universe explanation is that "hyperspace" is actually the very fabric of the multiverse, that is, ships basically travel in the gaps between universes. They can only return to the one they originated in, though, because none of the other universes has laws of physics compatible enough with our own that ship and crew would not immediately vaporize (this is what the in-setting scientists 'proved', anyway).

Gravity is deeply connected to this; I decided to go with the hypothesis that gravity is weak because it "leaks" into parallel universes, probably gets refuted soon if it hasn't already - now that they are on the trail of the Higgs boson. Anyway, it works for this setting. Jumps in gravity wells do work, but because gravity twists spacetime, it makes them much harder and less safe.

I know I can go with any sort of reason - even really weird ones - just read Ringworld's Children if you haven't (or I can spoil it for you if you want). I'd just like something a little less arbitrary. It's one of the big, big problems I have working on the setting...

Anyway - it's cool if you want to do more star maps - the more the merrier. Make sure to share them with us, I surely would like to see your work! :-)

03-11-2013, 02:07 PM
PS: You may have noticed, on the map, that there ARE "Hyperspace anomalies" - regions of space where hyperdrive ships may go but will never, ever return from. There is an explanation for that, of course, but it won't do for every day travel restrictions. :)

03-11-2013, 10:34 PM
Interesting ftl method. Sounds good. Ftl has been an issue for me too. I'm the obsessive one and everything has to make absolute sense. I used to put a lot of effort into finding some original ftl method too, but I've since given up on that. Everything has just been done over and over again. But I've been thinking; let's say that you know everything about how the universe works, wouldn't you be able to manipulate it any way you want at will, if you have the knowledge to make the necessary technology? In that way, maybe all imagined ftl methods are possible. It's just a matter of knowing how.

I looked up ringworld's children and it definitely sounds intriguing but I dont have the time to read a book series at the moment... barely have time to work on universe/maps but i just have to.

It would be nice if you uploaded a full resolution version.

03-12-2013, 12:51 AM
The full-res version is 27MB, and that's jpeg compressed. It's beyond the limits of the CG. So, not going to happen :-) Besides, I really want to finish version 2, because I think it *will* be better overall. Ah, well...

Just because one understands something may not mean one can also manipulate it. Some things may simply be fixed, others might be changable but practical limitations are forbidding. Energies involved in doing anything at very large scales are insane. That's one reason I went with a hyperdrive - I can always pretend that the energy needed to jump to that alternate dimension aren't all that phantastic because it's "just there" anyway, just a slight phase shift away. Still needs a crapload of electricity coming from large banks of ultra-hightech capacitors, but I can pretend that it's practical.

But yes, since this is a setting about the conquest of the galaxy/universe, I am also assuming that at -very- high tech, pretty much anything becomes possible. Ringworlds and Dyson spheres? Commodities. Engineered galaxies? Sure, why not. Custom universes? Want fries with that? - Just not what humans will be able to do during the time of the main setting.

04-27-2013, 10:52 PM
I just started reading through this. I have never tried anything like this before and you've made me realize I need to expand my parameters. Fantastically interesting, and thank you for sharing it.


07-14-2014, 01:48 AM
That's some seriously phenomenal work. I've been busting my bum trying to replicate part of your process, but I'm not super familiar with the workings of GIMP and Inkscape (I've usually relied on an archaic version of PSE). I'm a bit new to use the PM system, so I was wondering if you could break down a few parts of your process for me, if that's at all feasible. I'd really appreciate it.

Firstly, how did you go from your initial B&W Milky Way map to this? The cropping is child's play, but I'm at a loss as to what you did to create the new more detailed background here: http://www.cartographersguild.com/sci-fi-modern-mapping/15553-milky-way-galaxy-revisited-2.html. Noise? Blur?
How did you make your way to this here http://www.cartographersguild.com/attachments/sci-fi-modern-mapping/40373d1323048469-orion-spur-map-sectors-overview-rectangles7-small.png from the B&W detailed background? You wrote of using new brushes from what seemed to be a color palette. Did you do a palette replacement? Did you color over?

I appreciate any help. I know I'm asking some basic questions, but I've been looking around and I just can't figure out how you're pulling this off. If this information is actually readily available somewhere, I'll soak up the "I'm an idiot" points happily if you could point me that direction. Thanks in advance.

07-14-2014, 02:44 PM
Hey Supcomm,

Thanks for your kind words. :) It's been a while, but if I recall correctly what I did was use the enlarged and cropped part of the galactic map, blurred it a bit and then used it as a mask on a nice fractal cloud pattern. I added blur and noise to the result and did some manual editing with the airbrush tool. There was a TON of trial and error involved. I really should have taken notes, but how was I supposed to know people would like this map? :)

The brushes I mention are cutouts from astronomy star field photos. I use them for detail work, the star clusters etc you see on the finished map.

- Nils

07-14-2014, 06:27 PM
Thanks for replying so quickly! I much appreciate the help you've so kindly proffered.

So far - Imgur (http://imgur.com/a/bCdR5)
I like where I'm going with some of the blur + using the orion layer as a mask, but at that point, the similarities with your end product seem so disparate as to imply that something's gone wrong in my process (or what I'm doing is insufficient). I've saved my work in two states here, and at this point I'm not sure, even with your much-appreciated help, how to make the jump from an unrefined arm to the much softer and even product of yours. The incremental changes I'm seeing with blur and noise don't appear to be contributing to that eventual state. Of course, I understand if this project is too far in the past for you to recall any of those more minute details. Thanks anyways.

07-14-2014, 07:40 PM
Alright, I did some digging. You're actually not far off - it's my memory that's sucky. I found a gimp file which I used to create the basic B&W image. Resolution I worked at, by the way, was 6622x4677 pixels. Also, for the sake of this post, I will refer to layers by number where 1=topmost and 5=lowest layer in this particular gimp file.

Anyway, after the resizing and cropping I started out with this:


Looks pretty close to what you have, doesn't it? This is layer 4 in the file, and indeed is turned off completely.

Above it, at layer 3 I have this. Now, this LOOKS an awful lot like I simply took my wacom tablet and plopped down something that resembles the original image. My memory was that I got there with tons of transformations, blurs, and whatnot and then just fine-tuned the result. Might be, but looking at this, the easiest way is to draw something freehand. The layer is transparent but I think it doesn't really matter - it's just easier to work that way because you can see through to layer 4, the original, of course.


Layer 2 looks like following screenshot.


It's the fractal cloud I mentioned. I have no idea what I used, but it was generated with GIMP. It uses fairly fine detail and looks like I blurred/smoothed it. Here's a 100% zoom view of a section:


Note that this layer is slightly transparent (I used a value of 88.6 in Gimp) and is set to Mode=Lighten only.

Enabling them together gives us this:


Now, layer 1 - topmost - is a pure black layer which is set to mode=saturation. In addition to that, enabling a completely white layer 5, gives me this end result:


I have no idea if this is helpful.... Let me know if I can help in any other way... And definitely post your progress and your end result please!

- Nils

07-14-2014, 07:54 PM
PS: To get to a blue color base image, I seem to have added the following layers (going into negative numbers as they are above what I described in the previous post).

Layer 0: Completely white, set to mode=difference (seems to just invert it all)
Layer -1: A blue hue, mode=overlay. I used #5860ff.

...and that's it.


Layer -2 is "Stars" (indeed there are four layers of stars; I separated them by color so it'll be easier to make changes later). These are disabled in the above screenshot.

I did do some changes to that, for example I think there's a lot of noise in the final map to give the illusion of fine detail:


(Zoom into the above crop, it's at 1:1 zoom - you'll see what I mean.)

Also, though I think I mentioned this in older posts, all lettering, the trade routes, colonies and their labels, and the "fluff" around the map were all added in Inkscape.

- Nils

07-14-2014, 10:55 PM
No bien - Imgur (http://imgur.com/a/oYdRi)
I know my level 3 isn't as pretty as yours (I don't have a tablet), but I don't think that explains how off I am. The main issues I seem to be encountering are the following:

- Cloud layer is BW (not sure if this actually changes anything)
- When viewing level 3, I see much less alpha than you do.
- End result is not smooth and cloudy, but seems to be a solid grey with cloudy wisps over it.
- No recognizable shapes present themselves aside from what I clumsily painted in

If none of my issues seem immediately simple to fix, could I see your layers? Also, let me know if there's anything in my file that you want to look at/check. Thanks again.

07-15-2014, 01:15 PM
Try to put some massive, massive blurs on your layer 3, and use a much lighter cloud (inverting it may work). I am not sure the cloud has enough detail, it's very... foggy.

Edit: In Gimp, what I used was definitely the plasma, with the turbulence set to max. It looks very much like my screenshot. The plasma gimp generates is darker though, so I must have played with the color levels.

(Hah, this is amusing - I am reverse engineering my own graphics.)

PS: You've pretty much seen my layers, there aren't any secret settings I am aware of, and my file doesn't have any layers I did not post about, above.

07-15-2014, 02:54 PM
Success! - Imgur (http://imgur.com/a/zHYlH)
Success. I have extra bright spots and a bit less detail, and I don't know why, but I'm really not too rustled at that. THe outcome is something I'm very happy with, and I have you to thank for it. Much appreciate you breaking down your process for me!

Just some ancillary questions,
Are the stars made with a specific kind of brush + a fill pattern? I'm guessing that your four star layers represent size and intensity; -2 would be like the class G main sequence yellow, then maybe -5 would be the faint stars that blend a bit more with the background. Am I on the right path with that? To be honest, stars aren't even a make or break for me in the end, but I'm still curious, because that's a darn fine effect.
Thanks again.

07-15-2014, 03:29 PM
Looks great, and yeah I think you got it!

I did some more reverse engineering in the meantime. The detail, I think, is directly related to resolution of your image and your cloud. Did you end up using a plasma? I think you have to, but it may be that the others work too.

To adjust the brightness, play around with the levels (color -> levels) to control the brightness of your cloud layer. Drag upper slider to the left, lower slider to the right:


Play around with it a bit, it's hard to describe for me but I think you should get the hang of it quickly.

This is what I got, using a section of the milky way galaxy as a base. I didn't draw any custom shapes this time:


The levels in the screenshot may not be EXACTLY what I used to get this image, but you get the idea. Oh, for the plasma, I used random seed 42 :-)

Last but not least, I used this little piece from the milky way image and scaled it up:


As for the star layers:

It's not that I use it for spectral classes or anything so scientific, just to keep stars separated so that if I decide to move something, I don't have to re-do everything else in its neighbourhood as well. If that makes sense? I placed a lot (well, not all) of them fairly deliberately, either to match my campaign setting, or to highlight "boring" parts of the base image.

Note that when I say "stars" here I mean the ones that are part of the background graphic. The colony worlds (white circles with black outline) and their labels etc were all added in Inkscape, not gimp.

The star brushes were cutouts from NASA star field photos. It seems I lost them when I re-installed my PC.

07-20-2014, 04:42 AM
Used plasma. I encountered a problem (which I am rustled about) with resolution, which I understand the cause of, but I'm still happy with the final project. It's done! It's done! I thank you for everything you've done. Not only have I made a swaggin' map for aliens and space and universe things, I have a new intimate understanding of both Inkscape and GIMP. You are the one to thank. http://i.imgur.com/0E50Wek.jpg

07-20-2014, 08:26 AM
Looks nice! And you are quite welcome. :-)