View Full Version : New and looking for critiques

01-09-2012, 08:34 PM

I'm going to say I'm new to map making but I have made several maps in the past.
This is the first map I feel came out looking the best.
I used a few tips and tutorials from this site and I'm a bit nervous at my rivers. :P

So here is my first map that I feel pretty confident in.


01-09-2012, 08:39 PM
Welcome to the Guild! Kudos for posting a map on your first post. Rep. No critique from me, I'll leave that to the professionals.

01-09-2012, 10:25 PM
Hello Cloudbourne,

Welcome to the guild. I like the colors and over all presentation of your map! The bigger type is a little wavy or is that your intention? I think your rivers look good. What software are you using? Also, don't be afraid to put them closer together.



01-09-2012, 10:48 PM
I did this all in Photoshop except the text. The text I did in Illustrator.
The curvy text is done purposely, trying to get it to kind of wrap around the land a bit.
My main goal was to make all the text readable.

Thanks for the feed back.

01-14-2012, 12:41 PM
I like the font. Other than going a bit overboard with the wavy text, I'd say it is looking really good.

It wouldn't take long for a name like "Sunsstone" to become "Sunstone", although an older spelling might not keep up with pronunciation.

01-14-2012, 01:56 PM
The map as a whole seems fine, it's clear and shows what you want to show. BUT: the distortion on the sea text is a bit much - I don't think it really adds much to the map while at the same time grabbing attention and shouting, "Look at me! Look at me!" to the detriment of the rest of the map.

Another thing - you have a Western and Eastern Vale. A vale is, basically, a valley - not usually a feature associated with seas.

01-14-2012, 01:57 PM
The map as a whole seems fine, it's clear and shows what you want to show. BUT: the distortion on the sea text is a bit much - I don't think it really adds much to the map while at the same time grabbing attention and shouting, "Look at me! Look at me!" to the detriment of the rest of the map.

Another thing - you have a Western and Eastern Vale. A vale is, basically, a valley - not usually a feature associated with seas.

01-14-2012, 03:49 PM
A sea is just a big valley filled with water.

01-14-2012, 05:09 PM
True, true ... I'm just saying the name is unusual (and causes cognitive dissonance in the unweary peruser of said map) and I wanted to be sure it was on purpose, not accidental :)

01-14-2012, 05:29 PM
This looks really good.

I do agree with a few of the others though. The Vales were a little confusing. The term typically refers to land.

Also, I don't know if this is just me, but when I zoom in to look at the details, the image pixilates and I have a hard time telling what some of the details are.

Far better than I can do, and great job for a first post.

01-14-2012, 09:38 PM
Welcome to the Guild, Cloudbourne. It's a nice looking map, and worth a bit of rep just because you led off with a map in your first post - thank you!

A couple of issues not yet mentioned - some of the rivers are implausible. Take a look at Redrobes' excellent tutorial on How To Get Your Rivers In the Right Place. (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?3822-How-to-get-your-rivers-in-the-right-place&p=42630&viewfull=1#post42630) The only real departure you have from reality is where they connect two coasts - water flows but one way, downhill. There's no way for one coast to be significantly downhill from the other. Even where you have a lake in the middle - water will drain just one way from a lake. Even if one outlet is a couple of inches lower than the other, that one will quickly "win", leaving the other high and dry.

Is this a size you would use this map at? Or will it be printed out pretty big? Because at this resolution some of your minor labels are too small to read. Since you have a relative scarcity of labelled features, you could afford to label those larger.

The compass rose is nice, but it doesn't "fit". It is obviously hand-drawn, whereas much of the labeling is crisp, even typeset-looking. You have hand-drawn feature symbols too - which are pretty detailed. If a cartographer were drawing this map, and had the patience and steady hand to do the little forts and towns, he would likely show off with a more ornate and precise rose. I'm with the other comments - the wavy sea names actually give a third theoretical origin for the map - "computer-drawn", vs the hand-drawn and typeset cues already mentioned. SO while they look cool, they send mixed messages.

Light text on dark background is a bit hard to justify if you are going for anything remotely resembling hand-done. One *could* use an opaque light ink over a dark background, but it wasn't often done. Computers do it just fine, hence another cue that this is computer-done. It can provide great contrast, so if you like it, go for it!

I'd label that one biggest river right-side-up, inside of oriented upside down. Another hard-to-read issue is contrast of some of the labels with underlying symbology. You went ahead and light-haloed the biggest labels - that helps. If you're doing that, you could do the same with little labels, or do labeling first then place the mountains, etc with gaps.

The land shapes are pleasant and plausible. You've set up mountains and forests in reasonably believable places. the rivers would be cured by just breaking the sea-to-sea ones in the middle. I like the palette. The overall effect is good - it's just nice to look at. Good work, just keep practicing :-).

01-15-2012, 02:06 AM
To curve text on a map you generally want to use a simple "text along path" type feature (Adobe has weird names for everything so it's probably called something different) Envelope deformations like this distort the actual letters which does not help readability. Adjusting the letter spacing is also a good technique and sometimes you might want to get down to nitty gritty adjustments to glyph positions. Inkscape can do this fairly easily so I assume there's a way in Illustrator. There is also some very tiny black text in places that is completely unreadable.

You have some odd rivers, including a lake that has rivers flowing out of it to opposite coastlines and another that seems to be flowing across the terrain gradient for an incredible distance. Rivers flow downhill, and they take the most direct coarse. Places where a river diverges into separate streams are short in distance and in duration, and they are rare except at the mouths of some rivers.

Also the scale seems off. You seem to be spanning between the polar ice caps, and are preserving compass bearings (Based on the presence of the compass). That implies you are using Normal Mercator as a projection, and that this map probably covers more than half of the planet's surface. That also means that if the planet is Earth sized (And there are significant problems with going very far from this), this continent is something like the size of Pangea. Judging by the details though, it doesn't look like it would even be the size of Australia, in fact it looks more like an island than a continent.

Assuming it works with what you are aiming for with this map, I'd drop one of the icecaps, and maybe the compass.

01-15-2012, 04:07 AM
(Adobe Illustrator stuff: it's called "Type on path" I think ... the only tricky thing is that it's hidden in a drop-down menu from the "Type" tool icon - or alternatively you can trust the Type tool itself, it usually suggests that you want to type on a path. Adjusting the start and end points of the typing and so on is a bit more of a hassle with the direct selection tool ("A"). Kerning, letter spacing, etc. is done in the Character panel. I forget the shortcut.)

01-16-2012, 03:22 AM
The curvy text was/is something I'm currently learning about. There is a type on path in Illustrator that I used for the large river on the west, it's not as noticeable as the rest of the text.
Another concern I had was how readable the text is, I did realize that dark was on dark and different things for the text, like a stroke outline and a glow, didn't like either.
I am currently making the map have more of a lighter tint and fading things into the background more. I feel the names of the places should stand out more than the images.

An explanation for the Vales being called that is because of the story that this takes place in. Its called a vale because there are storms, hurricane like storms to the east and west. No one sails to these locations unless they are pirates and sent to their death along with their pirate ship.

Good point on the font, I think I'll try a new font.

I'll see what I can do about those rivers, some are important to the story in a way. However, the big one to the west is partly man made, I could extend where the man-made part starts.

Thanks for the great tips and comments.

01-16-2012, 03:23 AM
The resolution was from me uploading a smaller file size. More concerned about the layout and overall look than the little details for now. I could say this is a work in progress still since how I do seem to change a few things around from time to time.

As for the size of the continent, it's actually about the size of the Americas. The images used are to show show important areas not so good if your lost here and need help finding exactly where to go.
All you need to know is, Big giant mountain is over there, Big city over there, forest over there, and river over that way.
I feel the ice caps are fine, different world, different forces of nature, they have two moons here, what effects that has on tides could explain a lot in the evolution of how this world came to be.

This map is to go along with a novel I am writing, a fantasy/adventure story.

Again, thanks for the feedback, I'll rework the font and curvy text for a better look and hand-drawn feel.