View Full Version : [WiP] Commission - Town of Beruak

01-13-2012, 05:06 PM

I've been commissioned to do another town, and the commissy (commissioner? commissionante? commissionary? :P) has kindly allowed me to post a WIP thread here as it develops. The town is built on the banks of a pretty big river, about 200 feet (60 metres) wide, flowing south along the edge of a hilly and mountainous country to the west (hence the feeder stream). The "named buildings" are the ones in black, while the rest of the town is in 75% grey. I'm thinking of putting the town walls, except for the named gates, into 75% grey as well.

Now, the purpose of the map is for a fantasy game map, but I'm going for clarity with this one and I hope the style of the map is going to match the theme closely enough ... it'll be a bit of a challenge, I suppose.

The scale is 1:1200 at 300 dpi ... so this version should be about 1:4800.

Comments, as always, very welcome.

01-13-2012, 05:36 PM
I like the clear line, the only thing that sounds weird for me is the mixture of German/English for the Freiherrschaften.

01-13-2012, 06:23 PM
Yes ... that's me being naughty with the filler names. I don't have all the names for the labels yet, so there may be some sillyness here and there :)

01-13-2012, 09:25 PM
You might want to clip the contours where they pass through the urban areas - human intervention in the natural grades tends to render contours meaningless.

Is there really a 100 foot (10 story) drop along the north bank of the river in the city?
That strikes me as suprising given how little change there is in the bank of the stream and river - the cliff suggests hilly terrain (with a change in grade and a strong current) while the constant el 1425 river bank suggests a flatter terrain and sluggish current.

A closer examination of the contours suggests that they should be renumbered as 2 or 4 foot intervals rather than 25 foot intervals. At 25' intervals (and 200' for the river width), the flattest areas on your map are roughly the slope of a handicapped ramp (8%) while natural slopes tend to fall closer to 1-2% for flat areas. Most of your city is built on land steeper than a flight of stairs and will require extensive terracing.

You might want to change the fill on the named buildings to make them stand out even more (although I must admit a strong personal preference for shading over hatching that biases my outlook on 'old' style maps).

Given your other work, I am sure that the final piece will be beautiful.
I hope you don't mind my nit picking the technical details.

01-13-2012, 10:04 PM
Well, atpollard seemed to cover the elevation issues and gave me a few insights I hadn't really considered before (thanks for that). The only one that struck me being the land being mostly flat in real cities generally, but not here. Other thing is there are only two gates and the one on the west side seems a bit odd. But could just be a quirk of the city so that is that. No apparent buildings outside of town though.

Apart from that, very nice and clean style. The map looks great. I think the fill on the buildings is fine myself but the outlines of some of them seem a lighter grey than the others? I don't know why that is.

01-14-2012, 04:27 AM
@atpollard - well, I agree it's not completely flat. I was going from my experience of terrain and medieval towns, which are mostly Alpine or Mediterranean, where 100' drops aren't really that unusual. I agree about clipping the town contours though. Hmm. On checking, it might be a bit much - 60' feet would be closer to the 20 metres I had in mind. On the other hand - it is a fantasy town and a bit more contour does make it more ... impressive to visualise. It's at approximately the elevation of Zürich and even Zürich is in a depression that drops approximately 600' from the heights on either side.

I haven't added contours to the river (indicating a drop) because it's gentler than would be visible at this scale, while the valley it has carved is quite visible. The town was built on an outcropping of harder bedrock that served as a natural dam for a long time, before the river broke through eventually (maybe it was a terminal morraine?). possibly I should narrow the river there ... Anyway, while the terrain is mostly rolling and not so steep, defense needs mean that a steeper location is better suited to settlement. Plus I think stair-case streets look really neat :D

41195 <-- is this approximately the incline that would result?

@Larb - the West Gate is built right on top of the stream, doubling as a bridge and culvert, barring entrance along the stream. I'm going to have to indicate that some more. Hmm. Maybe even carve out a moat along that wall, or something.

Some of the buildings are a lighter shade of grey because they are going to be unlabelled :) it's just so I can tell them apart at the drawing phase.

Thanks for the thoughtful comments!

01-18-2012, 04:40 PM
Great job on the criticism guys!

Looks wonderful as usual Luca! :)

01-19-2012, 12:43 PM

And an update. My flu's going away, so I'm getting back to work slowly. I've rearranged the terrain a bit, added the labels, added a moat ... the hatched areas at right are where I'm going to slot in some descriptive elements and a regional map (more or less). The light green border is where I'm going to put a decent border. I've kept several of the vicious gradients, because I think a decent medievalish fantasy city works well with a few cliffs in the middle :).

01-22-2012, 11:33 PM
I'm really liking this. There's some very evocative places and names in there, which is what I really dig in a fantasy city. I want to know what Verdeek's up to, and who's in charge of the army, and what the view's like from Longbridge.

Nice job!

01-22-2012, 11:52 PM
Another awesome Lukc production...can't wait to see the finished product.

01-23-2012, 01:48 AM
Thanks for the kind words :) I'll get back to my regular schedule next week, after my holidays ;).

01-30-2012, 08:36 AM
41184a pretty big river, about 200 feet (60 metres) wide
60 metres wide is a pretty small river in my humble opinion.

01-30-2012, 10:39 AM
Depends on where it is. Since it's at about 1500 feet it's likely far from the sea with a relatively small drainage basin. At that elevation 60 metres wide is pretty big. That easily gives you a flow of around 100 to 200 m3/s when not in flood. For example, the Rhine at Düsseldorf is about 600 feet (180m) wide, while at the Rhine Falls it's about 400 feet (120 metres) wide, and it's one of the largest rivers in Western Europe. At Düsseldorf it has a mean flow of about 1500 m3/s - which is huge.

Sure, it's not the Amazon - but then, not many rivers are!

01-30-2012, 05:01 PM

After a bit more work tonight, the town is mostly done. Some stuff is added, a little regional map is added. Now to add borders, trees and ... umm ... oh yeah, a title! :)

01-31-2012, 12:24 PM
Wow, it's amazing how something like a regional map can add so much! The only thing is that it's the first thing I notice when looking at the map. Maybe a subtler color for the mountains? Otherwise the map is wonderful.

01-31-2012, 02:43 PM
I agree with dangerdog about the colored mountains, they do draw a lot of attention to themselves. I also find it a touch strange that the rivers on the regional map extend beyond the border all the way to the edge. Could just be a matter of taste, but it's not really working for me personally.

Beyond that I really really really like this map. It's very clean, yet well detailed, which has given this city a ton of character. I could look at this map for a good long time (and have) without getting tired of it.

EDIT: The more I look at it the more I realize that I'd be extremely interested in a light tutorial on this style of city mapping.

01-31-2012, 02:44 PM
Hmmm ... I'll try paling it out later. For now: a bit of heraldry and titlery.


01-31-2012, 04:09 PM
Well now the mountains don't matter because the colors of the heraldry take the attention away. Right now it seems as though most of your color weight is on the right side as reds/oranges/yellows tend to be colors the eyes notice first. I wonder if, instead of just using black to highlight important buildings, you made them a dark red or brown to carry over the colors from the heraldry and mountains into the rest of the map. Doing so will help keep the eye exploring the map rather than pulling it to the upper and lower right corners.

01-31-2012, 06:02 PM
Always something, eh? :) I think it'll be easier to desaturate the heraldry (although, to be honest, a historical ruler would want his arms to grab your attention :P) I'm going to have to add a scale still. And I'm wondering if I should maybe keep a grid ...


EDIT: Damnit, you're right ScotlandTom. The heraldry is way too big. That's what I get from zooming in to do it, then forgetting about it (also I work with the grid turned on, so that also "busies" up the workspace). I'm going to decrease it's size, desaturate it, change the titling colour to a dark brown so it blends with the border, do the same on the coat of arms borders and kill the red saturation by about 50%, probably drop the K value to 90% as well.

01-31-2012, 07:38 PM
That latest version is shaping up really nicely. Lightening up the mountains combined with the extra work you did to detail the regional map really did the trick. I also really like the updated border. Changing it to the brown color really frames the map well and helps to keep the eye moving. You're also right on the size of the heraldry, I'd definitely shrink those down a bit. (I usually find it's a good idea to zoom out to like... 12% when I've been working on a project for a while. Helps when judging the overall composition.)

I still think it'd be fun to try adding in a few small spots of a reddish color in your city though, even if you do decrease the saturation levels in your heraldry. Again, it'll help pull the eye around and give the viewer some specific spots to focus on. That's totally your call though. I'm just really curious how it'd look.

01-31-2012, 09:12 PM
I'm totally with ScotlandTom. There's not much else I could say. The regional map has really shaped up.

02-01-2012, 03:34 AM
I'd love to add some red - there's just a tiny problem. I have no idea what it would represent! Unless I made all the marked buildings a dark, saturated brown. Hmm.

02-01-2012, 04:54 AM
Not sure how I missed this, but I'd like to add my compliments too. Fabulous work. As for suggestions I only have one. You might want to condense the letter spacing of the river, at the moment it's quite hard to read. Since the limits of the river are clearly marked you don't really need the lettering to suggest the limits by spacing them over such a wide area. Of course you want to retain the fantasy 'umph' as well. If you haven't already take a look at the link in my sig about labels, there's something there about spacing between letters (not to be followed slavishly of course!).

Terrific work, LuKc!

02-01-2012, 03:06 PM
Ravells, I'm not sure how you missed it either, since I've been bothering around with it for so long :). I've adjusted the river spacing and changed it to lead the eye along the direction of water flow. I've read your labels .pdf - it's a very good read indeed. Anyhow, I've mostly finished everything. I've desaturated the heraldry, added some trees, added the windrose and the scale so ... that's it I guess. :)

The final version is a vector .pdf for printing out at 36"x24" - so if something seems a bit small on the attached file, don't worry, it prints out pretty large in the final instance.


02-01-2012, 03:28 PM

And here is a very small, very aged, poorly printed version of the map, that had been sitting in my shoe box for 37 years ... (I won't upload the full-view version, because I really don't want to clog the servers with it right now :P)

02-01-2012, 06:06 PM
I like the aging, but it takes away from the readability of the regional map.

02-01-2012, 08:30 PM
Unless I made all the marked buildings a dark, saturated brown. Hmm.
Yep, that was the suggestion I made in a previous post. :)

I'm with dangerdog on the aging. I think it detracts from the readability of the map. I also don't think it matches the style very well. You have some very clean and precise line work going on here - nothing like what I'd expect to find done on aged parchment of some kind. I think the clean white map made much more visual sense.