View Full Version : Mountain Village - step by step

11-16-2011, 01:48 AM
I need to create a map for an upcoming Kaidan supplement product called Way of the Yakuza for Rite Publishing and designed for Pathfinder RPG. While the publication is primarily an overview on the Yakuza criminal organization found in Kaidan, but also includes class archetypes for specialized bards, fighters, rogues, and wizards, new feats, new spells, new magic items. The product includes a yakuza gang 'stat block', based on the Game Mastery Guide city stat-block, as well as how to design your own yakuza organization using the stat block rules. As a bonus feature, a mountain village called Zawaizumi has been taken over by a ruthless gang of yakuza smugglers with complete detailed Yakuza gang with full NPC stats for the boss, lieutenant, accountant/litigant, major members of the gang, and some non-Yakuza NPCs of the village. Further there are 6 encounter locations that fit a background story, and recent events in that village. This would be a ready to use drop-in encounter location for adventurers in Kaidan. The inclusion of a vilage and map is somewhat unusual for this kind of product, just something we are trying to do for something unique.

I decided to create my usual hand-drawn / digital hybrid map style that I'm known for, using Xara Xtreme Pro 4 my preferred application.

So below is a step-by-step WIP showing just what I'm doing in a bit more detail than most of my threads - kind of a tutorial, which I might eventually start a tutorial thread replication what I do here - but this is a WIP, I'm only in the early steps.

1. First image is a hand-drawing using a micro-point pen on an 18" x 24" sheet of paper. This is then scanned into my large format B/W scanner at 300 ppi.

2. Then I create layered beveled shapes using my pastel earth tone palette I prefer. Note the larger complete shapes have been cut away to the shown rectangular area. After I created a given layer, I applied bevels and a drop shadow to increase the feeling of height. I used the hand-drawing as a guide in creating the shapes then placed it over a transparent background filtered version of the hand-drawing.

3. Next image shows the beveled shapes with the hand-drawing on top.

4. Next I did something experimental. Since I wanted the banks of the stream to be less beveled than the surrounding terrain, I created a rectangular shape surrounding the area around the stream, created the bank bevels with shadow. Finally I cut away most the areas around the bank to not conceal the elevation drops beneath it. I cut it to the banks especially at the elevation drops. Then I placed a stream of blue beneath the banks but cut to just beyond the edges of the bank.

Of course the waterfalls and rapids which I have yet to place is currently covered by the current stream - not to worry, I will slice that stream apart and work with the drop shadows and elevation changes as their own beveled shapes as my next step. I have lots still to do, a dry ravine sits in the top left of this map view - which needs to be cut as in the the step by step stream work below. Buildings, roads, roas rising on the elevations. The trees and rice paddies are yet to be drawn and placed with their own beveled shapes, palette and shadows - much to do yet.

In the end, I need to rotate this maps 90 degrees counter-clockwise, so that the right side of the map is north (top), then labeled in that direction to fit the PDF letter size format.






11-16-2011, 05:21 PM
I finished up the detail in the stream first with rapids, waterfalls, elevation changes, rocks and bridge over water. Then I created the gorge to the top left of map. Added roads, buildings and interior grounds - all with appropriate drop shadows.

Next I will be doing trees, forest, ground detail and rice paddies. Labeling after that.

Moving right along.




11-16-2011, 06:30 PM
great stuff, thanks for sharing this GP! cheers, DJ

11-16-2011, 07:24 PM
This is nice and insightful. Xara appears to have some interesting things you can do with the bevel/emboss stuff. By the way, what is the building with the three large... vats (I think)?

11-16-2011, 09:25 PM
That's the egg painting station :)

Nicely done GP thanks for showing the work flow process too!

11-16-2011, 11:23 PM
Very cool map, I love how you've done it.

11-17-2011, 12:26 AM
Thanks, guys! Yes, my intent was to show as much of the process as the map itself.

@Larb - the building with the three vats is a tannery for leather-making.

Will do more tomorrow and should be finished by Friday, I think.


11-17-2011, 03:00 AM
Do they paint egg leather?

Otherwise, I agree, an interesting hybrid workflow :)

11-17-2011, 05:21 PM
Well it turns out I had to finish the map today, as the product that it's being included is being released tomorrow morning!

1. So I created a hand-drawing of the forest/trees and rice paddies.

2. Next I created a beveled trees and rice paddies.

3. Applied the forest to the map.

4. Labels and cut the edges to final rectangle format.

5. This is the cover design for the product being released tomorrow at the Paizo Store - and probably later at RPGNow/DriveThruRPG







11-17-2011, 06:38 PM
Since the legend to this map is in the product itself, I'll post a list below of each numbered location, in case you're wondering...

1. Yakuza complex - bakuto gambling parlour/sake house, yakuza offices/dormitory, brothel.
2. Tannery - formerly the village elder's business, but gambling debts by tanner's son has resulted in yakuza ownership of tannery.
3. Village Shrine
4. Village Elder's House
5. Sake House - existed before the yakuza moved in, now keeps a low profile and charges more than the bakuto parlour to not draw yakuza attention to his competion.
6. Beekeeper's Home - a family with ancient rights to a beehive in a tree (on the path cut through the woods behind the house to that large tree on the cliff).


11-18-2011, 07:44 AM
I like your style - simplistic, yet straight forward and clean.

One thing I do appreciate in your workflow - and something I didn't consider as a method to aid in creating rapids on rivers - is your use of elevational changes on your original layout. I'll certainly have to consider that for a current map I'm working on.

Thanks for posting this, and congratz!

11-18-2011, 07:41 PM
I like how you beveled the trees for this layer. How are you doing this? A Script-Fu for Gimp or some other program?

Looks great!


11-18-2011, 07:58 PM
Green-Pilgrim, I use Xara which is a vector based drawing program. It's also a page-layout program - I use the same software to do my maps, illustrations and page layout for RPG publications. It is not an image editor, like GIMP, rather more like Illustrator or Inkscape. However, it has powerful beveling tools unique to it, as well as image effects like feathering, complex transparencies, even a 3D extruding tool and use with Photoshop Plugins. It let's me do all kinds of things. The above map is just one style I use - some of my maps involve 3D objects, phototextures, more realistic looking mountains. I have many styles.

I just prefer this sketchy hand-drawn/Xara hybrid style, and its consistent with other maps I've created for my feudal Japan/Asian horror inspired Kaidan setting. The map in this thread is for the 8th product in the line, with 3 adventure mini-intro-campaign, 3 race books, a free adventure for Halloween, and more coming.

The current software is Xara Designer/Photo Editor 7, but I still use Xara Xtreme Pro 4 - it's old, but serves me well enough (I should upgrade though.)


PS: Hey, now! I'm the original "GP" here... LOL ;)

11-18-2011, 08:34 PM
I was wondering what programs you were using since I couldn't seem to find a way to replicate the effect that you did. I love the look of the hills / map project that you were working on and was trying to incorporate the look of the inked map with color / texture but was kinda slamming into a wall with your first step. :)

lol. gp. lol.

Thanks for the heads up bud.

-Green Pilgrim.