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View Full Version : [WIP] Aetherworld Map: Water flows up mountains too, right? Help with Rivers.



wittyoctopus
02-07-2012, 02:22 PM
Hello to all. I have been working on the attached map for about four weeks now. Sadly I did not think to read the river tutorial until after I had placed all of my primary rivers and lakes. This map was/is being created using a combination of Illustrator and Photoshop. I've only been working in photoshop for about four months so I'm still learning the ropes, but the tutorials I've found around here have been invaluable in getting me this far.

I'm fairly pleased with my mountains and hills. All were "hand" drawn using a wacom that West2/Mark Mahaffey so kindly loaned me.

I could really use some critique of my rivers. I feel like some are O.K. but others are in serious violation of the rules. Therefore, calling all river flow nazis, help me fix my rivers.

Let me know if I'm being too demanding/needy. I'm new to the forum and to this type of work and don't want to step on any toes right out of the gate.


42033 (http://www.cartographersguild.com/album.php?albumid=3494&attachmentid=42032)
Aetherworld Map (http://www.cartographersguild.com/album.php?albumid=3494&attachmentid=42032)

Ramah
02-07-2012, 02:44 PM
Hey there.

I really like the look of your map. The palette is right up my street, as is the style. But to be honest, I was really having trouble concentrating on your rivers because the dark brown blurred stroke you have used that seems to denote borders is overpowering. I'd lower the opacity on that by a large amount personally.
But aside from that yeah, I can see your rivers aren't great. I can see several that stretch from coast to coast and lakes with several outflows.

With those fixed and those dark brown borders this would be a real looker.

wittyoctopus
02-07-2012, 03:25 PM
Raman, thanks for the criticism. I see what you are saying on both accounts, and now that I think about it and after re reading some of the river tutorials I feel silly looking at my rivers, but then again that's why this is still a work in progress. The multiple outflows to the lakes and the rivers running cross continent are probably my two most glaring mistakes. Thanks again for the advice.

Gamerprinter
02-07-2012, 03:53 PM
Ramah, caught them already, but notice the tag under my name "river police" - pull over, let's see your license and registration.

Rivers start from a spring, lake, snow cap melt, glacial melt - some inland source. Rivers flow downhill. Sometimes rivers merge with another river, sometimes there are islands within a river, but rivers never split downstream. Rivers end at the sea, or some other body of water that eventually reaches the sea (not always).

You can have a river that starts inland and ends in a lake inland, however rivers never connect to the sea in two different places. River deltas are an exception to that rule, but that is the cause of very flat, slow muddy parts of the river, where mud deposits change the channel of a river forming multiple channels to the sea.

Rivers are the most regularly mauled geographic feature by amateur cartographers. Fix your rivers.

You also have a lake in the southeastern part of the map, that has three or so rivers exiting the lake and going to the sea - that can never happen either. Only a single river should leave the lake and reach the sea.

wittyoctopus
02-07-2012, 04:11 PM
Yes officer, *hangs head in shame*. I think I left my license and registration at the house.

Hai-Etlik
02-07-2012, 04:45 PM
You didn't actually ask about this, but the shape of your planet is even more impossible than your rivers.

First, your latitudes go past 90 in both directions. Now, there is sort of a way of interpreting it, as going on pas the pole and down the other side. So 100 N 60 E would end up at 80 N 120 W. Obviously, we don't generally make maps like this though and your map doesn't show the rotated copy of the map this would produce so it can't be a sphere. Maybe a torus would work?

You have drawn meridians and parallels as equally spaced straight lines which would normally mean you are using a Plate Carree projection, except the numbering on them is different. So it's an Equidistant Cylindrical projection but the meridians are actually more spaced out than the parallels, so the projection surface off in space (nonsecant) rather than touching the surface (tangent) or cutting through it (secant) as is normally the case. This is never used in practice because it just adds distortion, the places where the projection touches/cuts the surface are where distortion is minimized, and the further apart they are, the more distortion there is.

If we assume that it is in some form of equidistant cylindrical projection, and that the labeling is off. Then it doesn't display the horizontal distortion that the projection would produce. Also, a compass rose isn't appropriate for such projections as they do not preserve compass bearings. It'd probably work better if you re-interpreted it as being in Mercator projection by just swapping out the graticules. The only real problem there is that you might not reach the climates you are after unless you posit that the overall climate is cooler and so cold climates extend further south.

If you want a Mercator graticule, you can get one here: http://hai-etlik.deviantart.com/art/Portolan-Chart-Lines-176848667 or if you prefer rhumb lines http://hai-etlik.deviantart.com/art/Portolan-Chart-Lines-176848667 they would also be appropriate for a Mercator map.

wittyoctopus
02-07-2012, 05:05 PM
Wow, Hai-Etlik, that is excellent advice. I guess my map is definitely showing my amateur roots. Especially since I had to go as far as to wikipedia some of your references just to have an idea about what exactly you were saying. You are exactly correct though, I'm way off with what I've got now. Definitely going to go with the Mercator projection, I think that makes the most sense. I had already considered that this "planet" was going to need to have a generally colder climate, I'm just impressed that you could see that that was the case. Thanks again for the excellent advice, and to anyone else who happens to stumble across this WIP and you see something that could use some fixing, even if I didn't ask about it, please feel free to point it out. Obviously, as my map so glaringly points out, I'm really new at this.

Hai-Etlik
02-07-2012, 05:23 PM
Wow, Hai-Etlik, that is excellent advice. I guess my map is definitely showing my amateur roots. Especially since I had to go as far as to wikipedia some of your references just to have an idea about what exactly you were saying. You are exactly correct though, I'm way off with what I've got now. Definitely going to go with the Mercator projection, I think that makes the most sense. I had already considered that this "planet" was going to need to have a generally colder climate, I'm just impressed that you could see that that was the case. Thanks again for the excellent advice, and to anyone else who happens to stumble across this WIP and you see something that could use some fixing, even if I didn't ask about it, please feel free to point it out. Obviously, as my map so glaringly points out, I'm really new at this.

Well, this stuff isn't really glaring to anyone who isn't an actual geographer/cartographer of some sort. Most people in the guild don't pay attention to it. There are a few of us who have some sort of background in real geography/cartography/GIS and we sometime pop up to make some arcane and incomprehensible suggestion about projections, ellipsoids, and graticules.

wittyoctopus
02-07-2012, 06:03 PM
Fair enough, but if I'm going to put my time and energy into a project like this I would prefer that it make some sort of logical sense. Hence my desire to get the rivers at least somewhat correct, and now to fix the graticules. So with that said please continue to throw your "arcane" comments in my direction.

wittyoctopus
02-07-2012, 07:09 PM
So as far as river rules are concerned they could be summed up in the words of Sheldon Cooper. "Gravity thou art a heartless bitch."

Hai-Etlik
02-07-2012, 08:53 PM
Fair enough, but if I'm going to put my time and energy into a project like this I would prefer that it make some sort of logical sense. Hence my desire to get the rivers at least somewhat correct, and now to fix the graticules. So with that said please continue to throw your "arcane" comments in my direction.

Well, you might find the thread I'm working on to provide an introduction to GIS helpful. It covers a lot of ground quickly (and is still a massive wall of text despite that) but it will hopefully give you enough of an idea how to use some real world geography software that you can get something out of it. http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?17469-Some-pointers-for-using-GIS&p=176512

Lalaithion
02-07-2012, 09:08 PM
While Hai-Etlic is completely and totally right, your map doesn't look like it has been distorted in the same way as a Mercator; Mercator enlarges things that are far from the equator. Your map looks more like an equirectangular (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equirectangular_projection), where X maps to Latitude and Y to Longitude. The graticule will be a grid of evenly spaced lines in both directions.

wittyoctopus
02-07-2012, 09:32 PM
I wish I could claim to have put half as much thought into my graticules as either Hai-Etlic or Lalaithion have done for me today. To be honest when I started my map it was designed to be a basic Mercantor projection. However, looking at my own idea of how the continents have been "distorted" the design does more closely resemble the equirectangular projection where the chief distortion is felt in the horizontal plane.

You have both given me a fair amount to think about. One solution that I have been tossing around is to make it a Mercantor projection and narrow the focus of the map so that extreme north and south remain unseen, therefore hopefully limiting the amount of extreme distortion you would normally see on a Mercantor projection map.

I appreciate all the thoughts that have been thrown in my direction today. Please keep them coming.

Hai-Etlik
02-07-2012, 09:34 PM
While Hai-Etlic is completely and totally right, your map doesn't look like it has been distorted in the same way as a Mercator; Mercator enlarges things that are far from the equator. Your map looks more like an equirectangular (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equirectangular_projection), where X maps to Latitude and Y to Longitude. The graticule will be a grid of evenly spaced lines in both directions.

There are some wide things in the north and south, but they don't have the squashed/stretched look that Euqidistant Cylindrical/Equirectangular would produce.

wittyoctopus
02-07-2012, 09:41 PM
I think what I'm going to have to do is borrow Hai-Etlik's Mercantor projection file and superimpose it on my map and compare that to a Mercantor map of the earth to get a better idea of how the world I have in my head would look on paper with similar distortions. From there I should be better able to decide what I want to do.

Along the way I've noticed that the extreme east and west don't mate up properly either so that will need to be remedied as well, by either narrowing the focus of the entire map or by touching up those sections. Thanks again for all of the input.

Hai-Etlik
02-07-2012, 09:49 PM
I think what I'm going to have to do is borrow Hai-Etlik's Mercantor projection file and superimpose it on my map and compare that to a Mercantor map of the earth to get a better idea of how the world I have in my head would look on paper with similar distortions. From there I should be better able to decide what I want to do.

Along the way I've noticed that the extreme east and west don't mate up properly either so that will need to be remedied as well, by either narrowing the focus of the entire map or by touching up those sections. Thanks again for all of the input.

Well the map as it stands doesn't go all the way to 180 on either stands anyway so they shouldn't match up.

One solution would be to just drop the graticule and compass rose entirely. If it's a kind of vague representational map without the claim to precision which those elements make, these issues become less of a problem.

Gamerprinter
02-07-2012, 10:07 PM
One solution would be to just drop the graticule and compass rose entirely.

Eh, I would never recommend not using a compass rose on a map. In fact, I'd say no matter what kind of map you're creating, always include a compass rose. The graticules may be best left of the map, I agree, but never the leave off the compass rose. Since this is supposed to be a world map, I understand Hai-Etlik's desire to see it as a mercator projection, but even I never use projection maps (but then I never create world maps that fit on globes, either, where it might become an issue...) I only create regional maps or smaller areas, never worlds.

wittyoctopus
02-07-2012, 10:21 PM
I grant you all that as an amateur I may have gotten a bit over zealous by attempting to create a whole world with my first map. But hey, go big or go home.

Hai-Etlik
02-07-2012, 10:57 PM
Eh, I would never recommend not using a compass rose on a map. In fact, I'd say no matter what kind of map you're creating, always include a compass rose. The graticules may be best left of the map, I agree, but never the leave off the compass rose. Since this is supposed to be a world map, I understand Hai-Etlik's desire to see it as a mercator projection, but even I never use projection maps (but then I never create world maps that fit on globes, either, where it might become an issue...) I only create regional maps or smaller areas, never worlds.

There are very good reasons you might want to use a non-bearing-preserving map and putting a rose on such a map would be wrong in the same way as putting a scale bar on a map that is not to scale. It would be saying something about the map that is not true. For a map of Canada, chances are you want a conic projection, or for a map of one of the poles, an azimuthal one.

For sufficiently small extents, yes you are usually safe treating it as bearing preserving, though it has to be fairly small otherwise you have to choose between preserving bearing or distance. Of course it doesn't matter how small the extent is if you are at a pole.

Gamerprinter
02-08-2012, 04:20 AM
There are very good reasons you might want to use a non-bearing-preserving map and putting a rose on such a map would be wrong in the same way as putting a scale bar on a map that is not to scale. It would be saying something about the map that is not true. For a map of Canada, chances are you want a conic projection, or for a map of one of the poles, an azimuthal one.

For sufficiently small extents, yes you are usually safe treating it as bearing preserving, though it has to be fairly small otherwise you have to choose between preserving bearing or distance. Of course it doesn't matter how small the extent is if you are at a pole.

There are certainly exceptions, but I think polar maps are rare. I have seen only a few. Most world maps are at equatorial rather than polar.

wittyoctopus
02-08-2012, 02:25 PM
Images Attached below:

Ok, first let me say thanks again for all the advice. After thinking long and hard yesterday about how I wanted to proceed and after some limited research I came to the following conclusions (putting aside my serious river problems for the moment). I apologize in advance for my limited real cartographic knowledge and for any gross oversimplifications that may follow, and please correct me if I'm wrong.

-The area of the map using a Mercator projection with the "least" amount of distortion appears to be between 60 degrees N/S of the equator.

-On the Earth our primary population centers also appear between 60 degrees N/S of the equator. Furthermore, 60 degrees N/S of the equator on Earth appears to be the primary zone of habitability.

-On Earth the tropics are approximately 23.5 degrees N/S of the equator.

Taking these assumptions into account I have applied the following reasoning to my map.

-If my map's focus was narrowed to between approximately 62 degrees N/S of the equator I would have to worry less about extreme distortion.

-If I considered that my "planet" was of a generally colder climate than earth and that the "tropics" were limited to about 13 degrees N/S of the equator, less of the extreme north and south of my planet would be habitable; therefore justifying a map whose scope was more narrow. (As a side note a colder climate on the planet may be due to an ice age or mini ice age, which could also explain the lower sea levels and the increased percentage of land mass to water on Aetherworld, approx. 50/50, as compared to Earth.)

-If I have less to worry about as far as Mercator projection distortion due to the more narrowed focus of my map I could declare it a Mercator projection without stretching reality too far.

With those assumptions, and after the baby and the wife finally went to sleep, I was able to make some modifications to my map. I came up with two basic alternatives, both using Hai-Etlik's graciously provided svg files of Mercator long. and lat. lines and Rhumb Lines. Please review these and see if they make sense following the above logic. Let me know what you think. Also, if my logic makes sense let me know your preference visually between the Rhumb line and Lat./Long. versions of the map.

Oh, and per Ramah's suggestion I decreased the opacity of the country and continent borders. Finally, I have relocated my island continent further north to more align its climate with what I was imagining.

Attachments:
42084 (http://www.cartographersguild.com/album.php?albumid=3494&attachmentid=42081)
Aetherworld, Mercator Projection, Rhumb Lines (http://www.cartographersguild.com/album.php?albumid=3494&attachmentid=42081)

42085 (http://www.cartographersguild.com/album.php?albumid=3494&attachmentid=42083)
Aetherworld, Mercator Projection, Lat. & Long. Graticules (http://www.cartographersguild.com/album.php?albumid=3494&attachmentid=42083)

Hai-Etlik
02-08-2012, 04:34 PM
Actually, "the tropics" are defined by the tilt of the planet, not the climate. Moving them closer together means reducing the tilt, which certainly changes the climate, but not in a simple "colder/hotter" overall way.

wittyoctopus
02-08-2012, 04:52 PM
Of course you are correct good sir. I feel like smacking myself in the forehead. Tilt of the Earth equals seasonal changes and greatly affects the weather patterns here. In general I had imagined my planet with slightly less tilt, but I mistakenly did not associate that with the tropics. So a generally colder plan means that there will be generally colder tropics, not that the actual region on the map considered the tropics would change, as the tropics are determined by the natural tilt and "wobble" of the planet. Thanks for the correction. I feel like I might need to go back to fifth grade geography before posting another WIP.

Aside from that failure, do you see any other glaring logical fallacies, or am I a lost cause?

Hai-Etlik
02-08-2012, 04:57 PM
Of course you are correct good sir. I feel like smacking myself in the forehead. Tilt of the Earth equals seasonal changes and greatly affects the weather patterns here. In general I had imagined my planet with slightly less tilt, but I mistakenly did not associate that with the tropics. So a generally colder plan means that there will be generally colder tropics, not that the actual region on the map considered the tropics would change, as the tropics are determined by the natural tilt and "wobble" of the planet. Thanks for the correction. I feel like I might need to go back to fifth grade geography before posting another WIP.

Aside from that failure, do you see any other glaring logical fallacies, or am I a lost cause?

No, though you might want to simplify that rhumbline file before including it, I built it with far more components than should really be used on one map so that the bits you want can be deleted. In your case you may want to remove all of the roses and just move your rose to one of the intersection point.

wittyoctopus
02-08-2012, 05:24 PM
I agree about the simplification of the Rhumb lines. I just did a quick copy and paste to get a general feel for how it would look. I apologize if this is a dumb question, but even if the other roses were not included you would still place their respective rhumb lines maintaining the same number of angles per section, correct? And no offense to your rhumb lines, they are quite spectacular, but if I do go that route I will most likely attempt to create my own rhumb lines, if for no other reason than for getting the practice.

Which map do you think looks better, from a purely aesthetic perspective?

Robulous
02-08-2012, 05:54 PM
Lovely looking map but as u mentioned the rivers desperately need fixing. All you need to do is cut out some sections so that each area has separate river basins, rather than continuous waterways that run coast to coast. Think of a river system like a tree - it starts with many small branches on high ground, each flowing together to form larger branches, which all come together in one main trunk which connects with the sea. It's rare for a to split into two separate rivers downstream.

Eg, It's fine having a river running from Nestalia to the sea at Shikelsiv, but those lakes in the mountains in Nestalia should be the start. Cut off the section that flows southward into Lesser Elusium and make those rivers separate. It's one of my biggest bug-bears of fantasy maps - rivers are like stories, they must have a beginning and an end!

Hai-Etlik
02-08-2012, 06:41 PM
I agree about the simplification of the Rhumb lines. I just did a quick copy and paste to get a general feel for how it would look. I apologize if this is a dumb question, but even if the other roses were not included you would still place their respective rhumb lines maintaining the same number of angles per section, correct? And no offense to your rhumb lines, they are quite spectacular, but if I do go that route I will most likely attempt to create my own rhumb lines, if for no other reason than for getting the practice.

Which map do you think looks better, from a purely aesthetic perspective?

Well, I just wrote a program to make them an the first place. You can find it here if you want http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?11692-Portolan-Line-Generator

The rhumb lines are probably the prettier option than the graticule. It's also good if you want to play up the marine aspects of the map and they look "older" for what that's worth.

lostatsea
02-08-2012, 11:18 PM
Or if you really don't want to do your Doctorate in Cartography. Maybe you should start off defining your style and getting the basics of mapping rivers placement etc.down first. Before the advent of modern technologies maps were more guess work and rough reckoning. all projections are accurate only under certain circumstances. Even a globe is only mostly accurate the Earth isn't a perfect sphere. Where is the fun in a map that trades style and atmosphere for 21st century accuracy. IMHO !!

wittyoctopus
02-08-2012, 11:31 PM
Or if you really don't want to do your Doctorate in Cartography. Maybe you should start off defining your style and getting the basics of mapping rivers placement etc.down first. Before the advent of modern technologies maps were more guess work and rough reckoning. all projections are accurate only under certain circumstances. Even a globe is only mostly accurate the Earth isn't a perfect sphere. Where is the fun in a map that trades style and atmosphere for 21st century accuracy. IMHO !!

Fair enough. As if you couldn't tell I was going for a more artistic style then straight realism. Still I wanted to have at least some legitimate foundation as to the proper projection since it is basically a world map, and since the graticules were the "easiest" thing to fix on this particular map I started there. Rivers are definitely next on the list. That will mainly be about going back and chopping up some rivers and adding elevation to make it feel within the grand rules, it's just those mountains don't draw themselves, unless of course you are using a GIMP image hose.

Lukc
02-09-2012, 05:34 AM
Or if you really don't want to do your Doctorate in Cartography. Maybe you should start off defining your style and getting the basics of mapping rivers placement etc.down first. Before the advent of modern technologies maps were more guess work and rough reckoning. all projections are accurate only under certain circumstances. Even a globe is only mostly accurate the Earth isn't a perfect sphere. Where is the fun in a map that trades style and atmosphere for 21st century accuracy. IMHO !!

Oh, not quite true! The maps mariners used were quite accurate for their purpose - navigating the sea in a small sailboat without a compass. The global maps (e.g. the T-O maps), on the other hand, were more akin to thought diagrams than actual maps designed for navigation. At least that's what Terry Jones says in Mediaeval Lives: the Philosopher (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTf2EzTd1TE).

:)

wittyoctopus
02-14-2012, 06:29 PM
Hello again. I finally found some spare time this weekend to work on correcting my errant rivers. If you all could look this over and see if I've broken any "river rules" I would sincerely appreciate it. Thanks in advance for any advice that you are able to render. Let me know if you need further information. Please keep in mind that this map was originally designed to be 36" x 24" at 300dpi, so a fair amount of detail has been lost.

42276 (http://www.cartographersguild.com/album.php?albumid=3494&attachmentid=42275)

Aetherworld Map, Corrected Rivers (http://www.cartographersguild.com/album.php?albumid=3494&attachmentid=42275)

Lalaithion
02-14-2012, 09:09 PM
There is one half-problem; Down near Grasdum the river goes through mountains, and while not impossible, I dont think one example exists on earth. Your call.

atpollard
02-14-2012, 11:18 PM
Actually, a quick look at rivers in Australia made me wonder where the river police were when Australia was made.
It was just one map, so it could be the cartographer's choice of what to edit out and what to keep, but it was a real What-The-Heck moment.

Master TMO
02-14-2012, 11:53 PM
Actually, a quick look at rivers in Australia made me wonder where the river police were when Australia was made.
It was just one map, so it could be the cartographer's choice of what to edit out and what to keep, but it was a real What-The-Heck moment.

Land of convicts. They stay as far away as possible from any kind of police, just from habit. :)

-or-

Australia is where they sent rivers that had been caught and prosecuted by the River Police.


And now I can never visit Australia again... :(

wittyoctopus
02-15-2012, 12:56 AM
About that one region of the map. When I was drawing those mountains in I basically saw the crevice where the river ran through as a deep gorge or valley that dropped the elevation down significantly from the surrounding terrain resulting in the river's ability to "pass" through the range. So basically a deep valley that maintained a continued drop in elevation resulting in the river's continued flow down that path, along that range, and on into the sea. I don't believe that would technically break any rules. Let me know if you all think otherwise or if you catch anything else. I'm putting the finishing touches on my Rhumb lines now, and if I don't get pulled over by any of the river cops, I'd say this map is pretty close to done.

atpollard
02-15-2012, 08:57 AM
IMO, a river through the mountains is uncommon but not a violation.

wittyoctopus
02-15-2012, 04:16 PM
Here's the "final" version with the Rhumb Lines and Compass Rose I made. Let me know what you think. If there are not further suggestions or river violations I think that I am prepared to call this one done.

Final Aether World Map Version (http://www.cartographersguild.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=42288&d=1329335135)

Also, if you so desire I've attached a blown up portion of the North West section of my map so that you can get a better feel for some of the detail that is lost in the full version. Let me know what you think.

NW Section of the Map (http://www.cartographersguild.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=42289&d=1329335179)

West2
02-15-2012, 05:44 PM
Looking good, man! A leap forward. One minor comment is to adjust the kerning on the initial capitals in all the map labels - that font is particularly bad about leaving long gaps between capitals and the rest of the words...

wittyoctopus
02-16-2012, 01:30 PM
Looking good, man! A leap forward. One minor comment is to adjust the kerning on the initial capitals in all the map labels - that font is particularly bad about leaving long gaps between capitals and the rest of the words...

Good catch Mark. I don't think I would have noticed that, but now that you mention it that kerning is jumping out at me. I guess that's why we post a WIP thread, to have a second, third, and so on pair of eyes to look at a map and catch the stuff we may have missed due to our own "map eye fatigue."