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ScotlandTom
01-12-2012, 10:45 AM
Sometime soon-ish I plan on running a new Pathfinder group and I've found myself in need of a world in which my players can campaign. In order to create this new world (which I'm calling Eldaron for now) I've decided upon an approach outlined in Korba's excellent WIP thread about his world of Calen Ndor (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?4812-WIP-World-of-Calen-Ndor). This method works from the ground up establishing tectonic plates and land masses and incorporating temperature, humidity, wind and ocean currents to create a believable world with logically located biomes. Using this approach will provide me with information on all the basic features of the world as well as the general climate. With those details established I'll never have to guess at how such things should be constructed when a campaign enters new territory.

I won't go through all the steps here as Korba has already done a fine job of doing so in his thread. What I will do is share my current progress:

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In the image you can see the major land masses and island chains as well as the mountain ranges in brown. The biome colors are fairly straightforward.

A = Tropical Rainforest
B = Desert
C = Plains / Grassland / Savannah
D = Temperate Forests / Mediterranean
E = Boreal Forests
F = Arctic / Tundra


I realize that not everything here may be entirely accurate as I have taken a few liberties for artistic purposes, but I'd still be interested to know if anyone notices any glaring issues. Now my major predicament is deciding what artistic style I'll be using to get this map on its way. Any comments / critiques are welcome.

RobA
01-12-2012, 03:14 PM
Hi ScotlandTom-

I approved your post. The auto-moderation is a bit aggressive for new members or those with few posts. Sorry for any inconvenience.

-Rob A>

ScotlandTom
01-12-2012, 03:18 PM
Understandable, thanks for the help!

ScotlandTom
01-12-2012, 05:37 PM
Well I already have some progress since my earlier post. Decided to go ahead and try a more pseudo old-world / calligraphic / whatever you want to call it style. It's something I've never tried before, but I thought it would suit the map.

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The jungle and the miniscule amount of swamp on the western continent are all freehand. The mountains are brushes I picked up courtesy of StarRaven on DeviantArt (http://starraven.deviantart.com/art/Calligraphic-Cartography-Brush-153063338). I was having trouble doing the mountains by hand so I used the brushes to fill in. I'll likely go back later to give it another go.

I like how it's turning out so far. I'm only worried about two things. 1 - Being able to make the jungles and the temperate forests appear distinct. 2 - The file getting too large for my computer to handle. Ideally I'd like to make this printable at 24"x36", but my computer couldn't handle the file size so it's currently half that. Still sluggish, but at least workable.

ScotlandTom
01-13-2012, 12:02 AM
Alright, my final update for the day. I pretty much have the southwestern continent taken care of as far as inking in details is concerned. Figured out how I wanted to do the mountains, yay! I do wish I could've made the temperate forests and the jungles look a little bit more distinct, but I think they're good for now. I've also just realized that two rivers that start on opposite sides of the mountain range almost appear to join somewhere behind the mountain peaks. They don't, but I'll have to take steps to ensure no one misinterprets the illustration.

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I am of course still interested in any comments or critiques anyone may have. I haven't done anything that can't easily be changed. And yeah, I realize I've got some rather nonsensical cliffs in there, but it's a fantasy world so I figure I'll have a little fun. :)

Lukc
01-13-2012, 03:52 AM
Looks very, very good. You might be worried about the size of the cliffs - but remember, the map is a representation of the place, not the place itself. The trees also aren't 20 mile high behemoths and the mountians aren't little line drawings ... so if the cliffs look too high, so what?

Only thing you're going to find a bit hard is keeping all that detail while adding labels.

ScotlandTom
01-13-2012, 09:45 AM
Yeah, this is definitely very representational so far as the inked elements are concerned. At this point I really enjoy the style so I think I'll keep going with it, but I'll likely do another more accurate version that's more along these lines (http://www.cartographersguild.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=39812&d=1320897651).

And labels, yeah... From what I've seen maps done in this kind of style sometimes have a hard time making labels readable over some of the terrain details (especially mountains). I'll probably stick to major labels only (oceans, continents) and leave out all the minor things. I'm sure there will be plenty of experimentation to find the right way to make the labels readable.

Speaking of labels, is there a good resource anyone uses to come up with location names? It always takes me forever to figure out what I want to name a mountain or a kingdom or what have you.

silverhead
01-13-2012, 03:29 PM
Very, very nice. I like a lot the colors, they look fantastic. And the hand-drawn elements are very good too. I'm starting to feel jealous :-)

dangerdog15
01-14-2012, 02:13 PM
I love the trees. Instead of just using a mass shape to represent them, you added a few larger trees to add character. Nice work!

ScotlandTom
01-15-2012, 01:34 PM
Thanks for the compliments! Regarding the trees, yeah, I liked the simplicity of grouping the trees in a larger shape, but I didn't want it to look like I'd just drawn a giant wad of cotton to represent a forest. I figured adding a few individual trees would add a bit of extra life to the forests and also help to further differentiate the types of forests I wanted to depict.

I'll probably be working a bit more on this today. I'll try and put up another shot of my progress later this evening.

ScotlandTom
01-15-2012, 08:10 PM
As promised I have an update this evening. Managed to get the Northwest Continent done.

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I'm kind of developing this style as I go. The mountains became a bit bolder in this pass and my pine forests were re-done with better detailing. I'm actually at a point where I'm considering re-doing the temperate forests and jungles to match the detailing of the pine forests. I much more like the way the pine forests look and the other forests look almost silly to me by comparison. I think I'll leave things as they are for the time being, but I'd be interested in some other opinions.

EDIT: Oh yes, and I also added a more prominent, stipple-like border around the continents that I think gives the map some richness and helps the continents pop a little more. And of course I'm trying out some early ideas for labeling.

Schwarzkreuz
01-15-2012, 08:36 PM
I like the rendering of the landscapes, I can directly see whats what. I realy would like to see the rest of the map, are you planning on adding more different terrains?

ScotlandTom
01-15-2012, 08:53 PM
The rest of the map looks pretty much the same as it did when I posted it earlier in the thread. I haven't posted the whole thing since then because little has changed and I figured I'd post higher-res images of the areas I've been working on.

Different terrains... Well, here's my current plan as far as detailing is concerned. Because this style is so representational I've kind of decided to skip some of the more minor details. I'm leaving out hills because at this scale I think they're pretty inconsequential. I'm also leaving out other minor details like minor rivers, tributaries and small lakes. Again, at this scale they'd just be cluttering up the map. What I am focusing on are major geographical features - large forests, plains and jungles, major mountain ranges and notable cliffs. I've got a couple of marshes/swamps in there and a couple of the smaller deserts. On the Southeastern Continent there will be a giant desert, so we can look forward to that. I also will need to go back over some of my mountain ranges and add in a few volcanoes. I also hope to add a few more fantasy type elements where I can fit them to make the terrain more fantastical.

So yeah, lots of ideas for what I'd like to do to keep the terrain varied and interesting, we'll just have to see what I can cram in there.

ScotlandTom
01-17-2012, 07:32 PM
Another continent done. I may or may not try and finish up the northeastern portions of the map tonight. We'll see.

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At this point I'm happy enough with how the temperate forests and jungles look that I really don't feel like changing them. The next time I try a map in this style I'll definitely do something different, but I have to admit I'm a bit anxious to be done with this one.

Added some palm forests (dunno if those are really even possible, but what the hey). I also further added to the distressed look of the piece, which I'm now much more satisfied with. And after experimenting with creating some different looking mountains I decided to revert to the same style I had been using. While many of these mountain ranges probably have differing characteristics I imagine the map maker in this case probably knows there are mountains, but he's never seen them and so doesn't know how to differentiate them. As I do regional maps of this world I'll work harder to make various areas unique; I just don't think it's necessary right now.

As always comments and critiques are welcome.

Schwarzkreuz
01-17-2012, 08:02 PM
For my huge Map, i did do different mountain styles but in the end its a question of scale. For such a Map, that Shows the Complete World it wont Be important. But i agree, some unique Elements will give your Map a Lot of flavor.

ScotlandTom
01-17-2012, 08:06 PM
Perhaps I'll just continue as I am, doing a basic pass on everything and then I'll go through and do a "flavor pass" to add some unique elements and spice it all up a bit.

maxsdaddy
01-17-2012, 11:00 PM
Very nice map. Have some rep.

Lukc
01-18-2012, 04:13 AM
Damnit, this map is turning out gorgeous. But I just noticed something ... the coniferous forests somehow don't fit your other forests. They seem too "low" at the edges or something.

Sapiento
01-18-2012, 04:45 AM
Very good design.

Clercon
01-18-2012, 06:32 AM
Looks very nice! I like the feeling of the contnents.

ScotlandTom
01-18-2012, 03:00 PM
They seem too "low" at the edges or something.
Yeah, the conifers do have a different type of styling going on and stand apart from the other forests quite a bit, but I'm not quite sure what you mean. I'd be interested if you could explain a bit more what you're getting at.

EDIT: The more I look at it the more I think I might see what you're seeing. While the edges of the conifers are actually about the same height as the trees in the other forests, the greater detail in the center of the coniferous forests seems to be making them appear to be shorter than the rest. Is that what you're seeing? If so, the only ways I can see to solve the issue are somehow remove the detail work or raise the level of detail work in the other forests to match. Not sure which approach to take though.

ScotlandTom
01-18-2012, 09:05 PM
Alright, all the major detail elements are in.

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I'm sure there are things I could do to improve things detail-wise, but I'm going to hold off on anything there until I get some feedback. Lukc, I think I fixed the pine forests; let me know what you think. My next major step will be all the labeling and whatnot. I have to admit I'm looking forward to doing something other than hand drawing all these little details. I'm gonna have to make my own brush set.

geamon
01-19-2012, 02:52 PM
My only qualm is how saturated some of the colors are, I dunno. Another detail that may have issues is the shadows on the mountains in the north east continent (not the islands).

Here's what I mean by the saturation.

ScotlandTom
01-19-2012, 05:02 PM
Thanks for the suggestions, geamon! I may play around with the saturation a bit, but I probably won't bring things down as far as you have in your example. Just looks a bit drab to me, which may be a touch more realistic, but it's not really what I'm aiming for.

Those mountains are bothering me too. I'll fix them up.

wynn
01-19-2012, 05:18 PM
Looking awesome! I love your style you've got going.

ScotlandTom
01-20-2012, 12:04 AM
The latest and greatest:

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Touched up those mountains on the northeastern continent; I'm fairly satisfied with them now. Did all the major labeling (which is probably all I'll do). Desaturated the whole thing ever so slightly. I'm also experimenting with removing the border. I kind of like the map being borderless; it gives me more room for a couple of the labels and the look is a little cleaner, though I miss the extra splash of red. Ultimately I think I may simply minimize the border rather than remove it completely, but I'll wait for feedback on that. No legend or scale as they're not currently necessary for my purposes anyway.

Before I call this one done I'd be very interested in any comments and critique I can get. And thanks to everyone who has supplied me with feedback so far, it's been quite helpful.

Lukc
01-20-2012, 03:59 AM
Hi ScotlandTom - sorry I took my time :) . Yeah, you got it exactly. The coniferous forests *seem* lower than the deciduous. I would definitely not touch the deciduous trees, as they look awesome. It's just a visual thing, but you might be able to solve it by adding more shadow beneath the conifers. Particularly the Noregar conifer woods seem to grow right out of the ground, like a hedge ... some bottom shadows and it would just look much higher.

Damn, it's hard to type with a cat on my lap :S

ScotlandTom
01-20-2012, 11:58 AM
I still see what you're saying about the coniferous forests, Lukc, but I think I'm at a point where I'm satisfied with how they look. Altering the level of detail in the center of the masses of pines went a long way toward fixing the issue for me.

Here's what's probably going to be the final version:

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I replaced the border (I missed it), though it is thinner and less bold than it used to be. I've also altered a few labels and done final levels and color adjustments to unify the look of the piece. Unless I receive any further feedback on significant issues that I should address I'll probably be posting this here and on DeviantArt as a finished work sometime this evening.

ScotlandTom
01-20-2012, 09:17 PM
Hm... 9 hours and no feedback. That must mean it's perfect! I'll post the completed work in about 2 hours, just in case anyone finds any flaws at the last minute. :)

maxsdaddy
01-20-2012, 09:38 PM
Looking good. Nice map Scott.

cereth
01-21-2012, 12:17 AM
Really nice stuff. I like the mountains a lot and the overall feel of the map. The border is quite snazzy as well.

ScotlandTom
01-21-2012, 12:46 AM
Thanks for the compliments, maxsdaddy and cereth! I'll be posting this in the finished maps section forthwith.

Sular
01-21-2012, 01:32 AM
ScotlandTom, this is a really nice map. I'm a fan of large numbers of small islands and you've done it very well.