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the-golem
02-09-2012, 10:28 PM
Just a month shy of a couple years ago, I posted a WIP of one of my first mapping attempts, the Continent of Narridia (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?9757-Continent-of-Narridia). Since then, I've taken a few design classes in which I learned the basics of Photoshop and Illustrator. Today, bored out of my mind, so I decided to reconceptualize Narridia from the ground up.

Phase 1: The Concept Sketch
I grabbed up my 11x17 vellum pad, and with a 0.7mm pencil, I lightly dragged an outline of a couple continents. I ended up not liking part of it, so I took my trusty x-acto knife and sliced that badboy in two. Now armed with a smaller 8.5x11 piece of vellum, I scanned that puppy into my computer, at 300ppi. The result of which you can see below:

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Phase 2: Outlining in Illustrator
From there, I opened up illustrator and placed that image onto my artboard, and went to work. I first grabbed the pen tool, set it's width initially to 2pt, and started tracing the outline of the contienent. Once that was done, I traced the rivers and the mountains with the same tool, this time at 1pt width. I noticed that it was really hard to differentiate the rivers, so I made them thinner, down to .5pt, and widened my mountain lines to 1.5pt.

After all that was done, I drew a compass rose with the line tool, and the circle tool. I then trimmed the overlapping lines with the scissors, and after that I used the live paint bucket and filled in the alternating triangles on the compass rose. Long story short, I ended up with what you see below:

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I like using Illustrator for this part, because I can then resize my image however large I want to, and I don't have to worry about line degradation or pixelation. Figuring out how to color everything might prove more difficult than I anticipate, however.

PHASE 3:

Satisfied with how my map was turning out, I decided to try out some simple coloring. I figured a modern-style map was simplest, so I found a map of Australia and used it's colors as a guide. As an aside, I chose Australia because I was originally thinking that I wanted this map to be roughly the same size. Now, I'm not sure. If I make the whole continent similar in size, I feel like it's too small. Selecting both the full continent and the smaller island, I made them a complex path so that they'd get colored at the same time. Then I simple changed the fill and stroke colors to match the reference. Et voila:

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Lukc
02-10-2012, 02:13 AM
A nice map - very clear and legible ... but what it needs now is ... some labels. Also, I can't help but think the balance might be better with the compass rose in the north east corner of the map.

the-golem
02-10-2012, 03:08 AM
A nice map - very clear and legible ... but what it needs now is ... some labels. Also, I can't help but think the balance might be better with the compass rose in the north east corner of the map.

You're quite right, the balance would be better with it in the NE corner. The legend will likely grow larger, when I include things like geographical features.

I haven't figured out the political divisions yet. All I have at the moment is the basic continent.

EDIT: I did a few more tweaks to the basic continent, including adding some more rivers. I figured out how the stroke profiles work, so now all the rivers are properly tapered.

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the-golem
02-11-2012, 07:22 AM
PHASE 4: POLITICAL BOUNDARIES
Just a short while ago (maybe an hour?) I learned how to "contract" shapes in Illustrator. Once I figured this out, I set about dividing up the continent into political divisions. This map is turning out to be much more modern looking than I originally intended, but I'm okay with that; I really like how it's turning out.

I used the same method to create shore-ripples (or whatever they're called). It really makes the contentinent pop.

Here's what I got so far, with two versions:



With Dashed Borders
Without Dashed Borders


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I'm extremely happy with how things are coming along :-)

Lukc
02-11-2012, 08:14 AM
I think the dashed borders version looks better. Two hints:

1. Go into the strokes panel and play around with the dashed line settings, you'll work out in about 5 minutes how to make cool dashed lines of various settings, including the dash-dot-dash-dot typical of national borders in many maps and atlases. Also look into what rounded corners does to your dashed lines.

2. Try adjusting the thickness of the dashed lines to 0,5 pt or even 0,25 pt. With the coloured edges you don't really need such a thick dashed border, it's a bit too visible (still, it's a matter of taste) and detracts from other features (including the colours).

the-golem
02-11-2012, 10:51 PM
I think the dashed borders version looks better. Two hints:

1. Go into the strokes panel and play around with the dashed line settings, you'll work out in about 5 minutes how to make cool dashed lines of various settings, including the dash-dot-dash-dot typical of national borders in many maps and atlases. Also look into what rounded corners does to your dashed lines.

2. Try adjusting the thickness of the dashed lines to 0,5 pt or even 0,25 pt. With the coloured edges you don't really need such a thick dashed border, it's a bit too visible (still, it's a matter of taste) and detracts from other features (including the colours).

Thank you, kind sir. Your hints were extremely helpful. It never even occurred to me to try the rounded bits on a dashed line. Here's my latest progress, with pretty much everything turned on.

I'm still having problems naming things, and I'm having an issue with scale. I think I want the large sea to be roughly the size of the Mediterranean, but if I make it that large, then I feel like my countries are too large also. I suppose some large areas would be fine, as they could be an empire-type area. ... I just don't know.

Anyway, here's the latest WIP:

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Lukc
02-12-2012, 02:37 AM
I'm glad I could help :) it's looking really good.

I should suppose scale is entirely up to you ... it really depends on the imaginary underpinnings of your fantasy map. What technology level do the people possess (do they have horseless carriages or horses or none of those, do they have long-distance communications)? What kind of people are they (giants, dwarves, elves, chupacabras...)? How rugged is the terrain (do the mountain symbols indicate mountains like the Urals or like the Himalayas)? These and other factors determine how large an area can be rulled effectively - though they're not absolute determinants.

If it's the size of the Mediterranean that's app. 2.5 million km2, or 5 Frances. Judging by that, I'd think your states are not too large - and besides, you can always make some of them loose federations or even confederations, and thus indicate an association of semi-independent poleis.

However, on a continent (island?) this small I'd warn against leaving much wilderness ... if the people are at least a bit human, they'd have settled as much as humanly possible! :D

the-golem
02-12-2012, 06:39 AM
Lukc,
Your points are all very good, but I can see I wasn't very clear. Trying to explain scale by comparison isn't very easy, so I quickly grabbed a European map, did some live manipulation, and came up with this comparison (I didn't realize the Mediterranean was so lo-o-ong). Anyway, this is roughly the scale I think the continent will be at, and maybe you can understand my trepidation.

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Lukc
02-12-2012, 07:48 AM
Ohhh ... well ... that's different! I thought you meant the area of the continent was equal to the area of the med! :D

If it's *that* large you might have to decrease the size of your mountain symbols as well ... and yes, probably add more states! :)

the-golem
02-12-2012, 08:34 AM
Ohhh ... well ... that's different! I thought you meant the area of the continent was equal to the area of the med! :D

If it's *that* large you might have to decrease the size of your mountain symbols as well ... and yes, probably add more states! :)

Yeah... I hadn't really thought about scale when I first drew it. I'm now thinking I should definitely make the symbols smaller, and break up the mountains into smaller ranges.


UPDATE: Okay, so I splot some of the countries up into smaller ones, and I tried redoing the mountains a bit. I'm not sure if I like them, but I do at least like how much smaller they are. Smaller mountains really change the scale.

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Lukc
02-12-2012, 12:36 PM
(We really need to rope some other people into this thread, because it's actually a very beautiful and clean vector map you're producing here ;))

I think you've hit it pretty perfectly on the head with the smaller mountains ... it suddenly feels much bigger than before. A thing to consider is that mountains tend to form in lines (ranges) where the earth's crust buckles at tectonic boundaries. Now, for the kind of representation you have (basically: "here be mountainous and rough terrain"), you don't need to bother with indicating ranges (IMO) ... but you should think about what happens when those ranges hit the sea. The mountains don't end at the sea - they turn into islands, seamounts, underwater ridges and, often, accompanying marine trenches. I would expect at least the southern mountains to continue a bit further to the sides (east and west) with a few small islands or crags.

the-golem
02-13-2012, 05:06 PM
(We really need to rope some other people into this thread, because it's actually a very beautiful and clean vector map you're producing here ;))

I think you've hit it pretty perfectly on the head with the smaller mountains ... it suddenly feels much bigger than before. A thing to consider is that mountains tend to form in lines (ranges) where the earth's crust buckles at tectonic boundaries. Now, for the kind of representation you have (basically: "here be mountainous and rough terrain"), you don't need to bother with indicating ranges (IMO) ... but you should think about what happens when those ranges hit the sea. The mountains don't end at the sea - they turn into islands, seamounts, underwater ridges and, often, accompanying marine trenches. I would expect at least the southern mountains to continue a bit further to the sides (east and west) with a few small islands or crags.

Lukc, I took your advice and created a few extra islands on the southern half of the continent. I did some long narrow ones on the southern edge of that continent, and on the southernmost cove I added three islands as well, turning the cove into almost a bowl. I was very busy yesterday, and I haven't had a chance to respond, but I'll do so once I get home later today. I thought about putting a few more on the SW edge of that same continent, but then the islands I'd add would end up going under the legend. I didn't see much a point to do islands that you couldn't see. If I ever revise the legend again, then I might go ahead and add them in.

I was looking at some other threads, and one of them involved placing tectonic place to help decide where mountains would logically form. I'll be honest, I never thought of that myself ... should I do something like that? In the future, I planned to place some lakes and other geographical features, such as swamps, forests, and hills, but I'm having a heck of a time getting things to look right.

Edit: Updated WIP with islands added in.

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Lukc
02-14-2012, 03:18 AM
Yup, some people go that route ... honestly, it depends on how involved you want to make a single mapping project. If you want to go really deep into the whole thing, you'd make a geological history of the planet, size, mass, star type, plate tectonics, etc. etc. ... but it might turn out to be a bit much. Also, consider that unless you're doing a geological map, it might be unnecessary - you're not indicating the actual plate boundaries, you're focusing on the political map.

Personally, I think the new islands look good and also liven up the place :)

the-golem
02-14-2012, 03:37 AM
Yup, some people go that route ... honestly, it depends on how involved you want to make a single mapping project. If you want to go really deep into the whole thing, you'd make a geological history of the planet, size, mass, star type, plate tectonics, etc. etc. ... but it might turn out to be a bit much. Also, consider that unless you're doing a geological map, it might be unnecessary - you're not indicating the actual plate boundaries, you're focusing on the political map.

Well, truth be told, part of the reason why I'm doing it in Illustrator (although the same could be said for Photoshop) is so that I can maintain different layers which pertain to the different aspects of a map. So in theory, I'd have one overall layer for political, one overall for geographic, etc) Although you're probably right that tectonics might be a bit overboard for a fantasy conworld. I just want to do it reasonably correct, to avoid unnecessary hand-waving. What do you mean water doesn't flow uphill? Of course it does, it's MAGIC!


Personally, I think the new islands look good and also liven up the place :)

FUUUUUUUUU. The power went out earlier this evening, and even though I Saved for Web, I apparently didn't save normally, and I just opened up the file .... and my islands were gone. Luckily I *do* have an image version, so recreating shouldn't be too difficult. Blarg.

On a side note, I played around with the mountains, and got a nice 45 linear gradient going on them, so now they have a bit of dimension and "pop".


Edit: Fixed everything. Once you know how to do a certain thing, it gets loads easier later on. Universal Truf!

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bartmoss
02-14-2012, 03:45 AM
Sorry to hear that. I used to have similar experiences way back when I started using PCs. Since then, I always make a new copy when I start working on a file (or even in between, when I have major changes) and I hit ctrl+s about every 30 seconds. ;)

Lukc
02-14-2012, 06:10 AM
;) yeah, maps are great for polishing illustrator skills! :D

atpollard
02-14-2012, 08:57 AM
(We really need to rope some other people into this thread, because it's actually a very beautiful and clean vector map you're producing here ;))

Since your map area is supercontinent size, I ripped a few images from geology.com and worldmaps to check a hunch.

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Note how many rivers a continental plain has ... especially near the coast. Your map has far fewer rivers with vast tracts between them. The steppes of central asia and the desert of north africa are the only places on the sample maps that approach the riverless tracts of your map.

I think that your lack of rivers makes the map 'feel' more like an island than a continent.

Your map looks good. Interesting continent shapes, and the design and graphics keep getting better.

Lukc
02-14-2012, 09:13 AM
Good point atpollard ... however, I'd draw attention to the map of India (physical map) vs. the map of Asia (political) - the political map shows relatively fewer rivers (only the ones someone deemed "important").

atpollard
02-14-2012, 09:20 AM
A general observation from drawing contour maps and drainage basins: The coast generally represents the contour drawn at the level of the water (since most water is flat). A convex (bulge out) coast represents a small hill, ridge or slightly higher local terrain. A concave (curves in) coast represents a small valley, swale or slightly lower local terrain. Since water flows downhill, rivers tend to collect in the low parts. As a result, most (but certainly not all) rivers intersect the coast at one of the concave parts. Look at the sample maps in my earlier post to see what I am talking about.

A free observation of dubious practical use ... the general convex/concave shape of the coast tends to continue into the deeper water body. This affects local water temperatures and steers local weather patterns. As a result, concave areas of the coast recieve more rainfall and are more likely to be the place where a hurricane makes landfall. (based on observations of storm paths around the bulge on the west coast of Florida, just north of Tampa).

atpollard
02-14-2012, 09:36 AM
Good point atpollard ... however, I'd draw attention to the map of India (physical map) vs. the map of Asia (political) - the political map shows relatively fewer rivers (only the ones someone deemed "important").
Agreed. I chose maps that showed the rivers clearly, but not all rivers are important.

On the other hand, his southern continent is larger than Asia with riverless coastal plains larger than Europe ... and that (IMHO) makes the areas feel smaller than they actually are.

the-golem
02-14-2012, 01:32 PM
Agreed. I chose maps that showed the rivers clearly, but not all rivers are important.

On the other hand, his southern continent is larger than Asia with riverless coastal plains larger than Europe ... and that (IMHO) makes the areas feel smaller than they actually are.

I see we're back to the problem of determining the scale of the map. Looking at your images, I hadn't quite realized how close my southern continent is to South America. I could definitely branch off of the main river more, maybe add in some extras

*Big Long Pause While I do So*

LATEST WIP:
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Lukc
02-14-2012, 02:17 PM
Actually, I think the southern continent is more app. half the size of Europe ...

atpollard
02-14-2012, 02:33 PM
OK, this could be my bad.

The map on post #8 has two scales ... one for the map of Europe and the Medeterranean, and another scale at the bottom of the map. They are very different. Which is correct?

I assumed that the medeterranean was shown at the same scale as your map, and your southern Continent is 3-4 times the area of Europe on the post #8 map.

From the scale on your drawings, both of your continents combined are about the size of Europe.

the-golem
02-14-2012, 03:14 PM
OK, this could be my bad.
The map on post #8 has two scales ... one for the map of Europe and the Medeterranean and another scale at the bottom of the map.
They are very different. Which is correct?

I assumed that the medeterranean was shown at the same scale as your map, and your southern Continent is 3-4 times the area of Europe on the post #8 map. From the scale on your drawings, both of your continents combined are about the size of Europe.

Well, they both are. Kinda. The Euro-scale came with the map, and is 500 miles. My scale is actually measured in leagues, although I never went out and said that. The blue line *above* that is the same distance, converted to miles, based off of the length of the Euro-scale. However, I think that this is a bit too large, and I had a different idea: Each subcontinent is roughly the size of Australia. I think this is slightly smaller than I had before.

Although, interestingly the scales show up at different sizes, so I initially thought Australia would be smaller, but my math tells me they should be the same rough scale, roughly

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the-golem
02-16-2012, 02:33 AM
Ugh. I've been stumped for placenames, so to distract myself, I took a shot at few geo-features, namely Forests and Swamps. I'm not exactly pleased, but I thought I'd at least toss this out there:

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Lukc
02-16-2012, 02:52 AM
Hmm ... what about a style where more of the underlying map remains visible? For your style, such bright colours for features might kill your mountains and borders visually.

the-golem
02-16-2012, 04:10 AM
Hmm ... what about a style where more of the underlying map remains visible? For your style, such bright colours for features might kill your mountains and borders visually.

Yeah, I should have thought of that sooner. I did a test with the swamp texture at 50% opacity, and the forests at 75%. I like the faintness of the swamp, I think it looks better. On the other hand, the forests look worse, IMO.

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Edit: Meh, noone's replied, so instead of doing multiple posts, I'll just go ahead and make an addendum to this one.

To get a better grasp of scale, I went online and grabbed a world projection map (Goode's Homolosine), and superimposed an outline of Narridia onto it. I scaled the continent down to the same scale (more or less) as the one involving Australia to fit it to the map. I must confess, I'm a bit surprised as to how small the scale is. When I was working with Europe, It seemed very very large in comparison, and with Australia it also seemed large, but not overwhelmingly so.

Opinions?

------------------
Edit: Oh, I'm an idiot. I forgot to upload the new image. Fixed:

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