View Full Version : [WIP] Britannia 480 AD

02-13-2012, 06:12 PM
Hi everyone,

this is my first post in the forum, my name is Luca and I'm an italian fim & TV composer with a passion for cartography... (and RPGs, and roman britain). I'd like to share with you a map I've been working on, and I'd really appreciate any comment, advice or suggestion to improve it and/or finish it. It depicts the british isles in 480 AD, about 60 years after the roman empire left the region.

It's still quite a WIP, let's say 75% done. It was created completely in Photoshop CS5. The original file is HUGE, 10800x19200 pixels with about 50 layers (excluding the text layers, or the total goes up to 150). The PSD file (actually it's PSB) is 4.5 Gb and when I open the map 15 Gb of RAM gets filled up. It's probably too big to be printed on anything smaller than 60x100 cm. but actually I'm not thinking about printing it at all... my idea is to create a small "interactive map navigation" software to browse the map, select what info to display and what not, access additional information when clicking on important locations, and maybe even open smaller-scale area submaps (and, in my dreams, even high quality artist's impressions of places, towns, landscapes, people, etc.).

Anyway, that's for the future. Right now I've got this.


This is a heavily resized version, basically too small to even read town names. I wasn't sure about the max size of attachments. If you're interested you can download larger versions from here:

25% (2700x4800) (http://www.lucaantonini.com/data/Britannia480Low.jpg) - 9 Mb
50% (5400x9600) (http://www.lucaantonini.com/data/Britannia480Mid.jpg) - 38 Mb - Minimum for good readability
100% (10800x19200) (http://www.lucaantonini.com/data/Britannia480Full.jpg) - 120 Mb

Updated version Feb 15th:

50% (5400x9600) (http://www.lucaantonini.com/data/Britannia480MidB.jpg) - 38 Mb
100% (10800x19200) (http://www.lucaantonini.com/data/Britannia480FullB.jpg) - 120 Mb

Ireland and France are generally less detailed than Britain and still need a lot of work (for example no rivers yet in Ireland, and I turned Lough Neagh, one of the largest lakes in Europe, into a marshland...! That should be corrected). Ireland also needs more research about accurate towns/kingdoms data in 5th century. Many things are missing from Britain too, and I plan to add some of them: Antonine's Wall, more roman roads (the Fosse Way should go from Isca to Lindum so both ends are missing right now), more custom icons... and I know some islands are missing too!

Map colors and fonts are the two things that I'm least satisfied with. There's much room for improvement there. Fonts seriously need some variety. The difference between regional names (Gallia, Armorica, Hibernia, Caledonia), tribes/people names (Franks, Picts, Eblani, etc.), kingdom names (Dumnonia, Powys, Dalriada, etc.) and other stuff should be immediately clear, right now it's not. At the moment the same font is used everywhere except for river names and for the written info in the upper-right corner (which is not meant to stay, BTW). About colors... well, I desperately need some advice on that!

Also, PLEASE, if any of you live in the depicted areas, could you check for big "mistakes"? Of course landscape does change in 1500 years, even coastlines do, but I'm sure there are things around the map that a person living in the area could spot as definitely misplaced (see the lake turned into a marsh for example, but at least I'm aware of that one).

A note about historical accuracy: very little is known about the post-roman years in britain. I've studied all the maps of this area/time I could find (ancient and modern) and in everyone of them some of the names are different, some of the places are different, spellings are different. I've read tons of material about those years, the people, the places... some things are historically certain, but not many (even the idea of the Anglo-Saxon invasion is debated). Anyway, historical accuracy is desired but it is NOT my final intent. Roleplaying is. To fill in some the missing details, I've used "The Warlord Chronicles" by Bernard Cornwell as a reference (my all-time favorite arthurian saga, I warmly recommend it). Every non-historical information you'll find on the map is taken from these novels (I'd say 75% of the data is historical, 25% is Cornwell imagination).

I've written more than enough... let me know what you think! And many thanks in advance for any comment or idea or suggestion!

Luca A.

02-14-2012, 10:00 AM
Hey Luca-

As a new user you post was held in the moderation queue. I have approved it.

Thanks for sharing a lovely map! Wish it was bigger so I could appreciate the details more...

-Rob A>

02-14-2012, 10:37 AM
As a new user you post was held in the moderation queue. I have approved it.
Thanks for sharing a lovely map! Wish it was bigger so I could appreciate the details more...

Thank you, Rob! By the way, if you want to appreciate some more details of the map, there are links to three larger versions...

02-14-2012, 11:09 AM
Looks very good! The scale is astounding, a lot of work must have gone into this. I quite like the font, it's not bad, but you could play around a bit to get something you like better. Perhaps something a little less modern? I looked at the 50% version and the readability is very good, so a font which is a little less readable shouldn't be a problem, especially if you look at the 100% version. As for the colours, I like the general tones of the forests and the mountains. The marshes may be a bit too grey, perhaps a little more yellow/green would work better. The other thing is that it's very obvious the colours were painted in with a large soft brush. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I think the forests would look a little better if only the actual 'leaf' part was coloured. Would take a lot of time and effort though, so it's maybe something to try out on a couple of trees to see if it's worth it.

02-14-2012, 12:41 PM
Saule, thanks for your comments and ideas! Indeed I'm already trying to do what you suggested regarding forest colors. You know, actually the colors were NOT painted with a large soft brush (I know, they look just like that), but created with a different process. Basically I have all my map icons (forests, hills, mountains, marshes, etc.) stored in different layers, in B&W (just black actually, no colors anyway). To create the colors I do the following:

- I select (for example) the forest icons layer, all of it (Ctrl+A).
- I nudge the selection a pixel in any direction and then nudge it back in place... this way only the actual content of the layer remains selected (only the trees, with no blurring at all). Probably there's a better way to do this but I didn't find one... ;-)
- I feather the selection (12 px).
- I fill the resulting selection with forest color... but in a different layer (not the one with the trees icons). This color layer is set to multiply and about 50% opacity.

Once I do this for hills, mountains, farmland and marshes, the result is what you see in the map.

I just redid the whole process, but feathering less (or not feathering at all) and I am getting exactly the result you suggested. It was a matter of about 20 seconds... fortunately I don't have to paint all the map! That would take days.

I am also doing some other tweaks and will post a new version shortly, with less blur around the forests. Ireland is getting some justice, too.

I'm also trying some less modern fonts... I got used to this one so it's not easy to find something I like, but I'll keep experimenting!

Thanks again,


02-14-2012, 01:09 PM
Benvenuto Luca and may I say that is a nice map. Anche se e un pochino strano trovare un Italiano che preferisce disegnare l'Inghilterra, e non le terre Romane ;).

Also: Rob - there are links to much higher resolution images ;)

02-15-2012, 08:43 AM
I uploaded a new version of the map, implementing Saule's suggestion about forest coloring. Now just the actual "leaf" part is colored, and it looks better indeed! A small drawback might be the fact that now the map looks a lot less green overall, especially when zoomed out. I also modified Ireland and removed all "tribe/people" kind of labels, leaving only geographical names and kingdom names, which should make the whole thing easier to understand. I've created only two mid and high-res versions of this update, you can find them here...

50% (5400x9600) (http://www.lucaantonini.com/data/Britannia480MidB.jpg) - 38 Mb
100% (10800x19200) (http://www.lucaantonini.com/data/Britannia480FullB.jpg) - 120 Mb

To Lukc: grazie per il tuo benvenuto e per i complimenti!

P.S. I don't want to sound impolite but this "moderation queue" thing is quite frustrating. For example, I'm writing this Feb 15th around 1.30 PM UGT... and still there's no sign of another post I made almost 24 hours ago, in reply to Saule. I don't know how big the spamming issue really is on this site, but I know that having to wait a day or longer for a post to appear makes using the forum uncomfortable at least! I think my map should be evidence enough that I'm not here to spam, but because I share a common interest with all of you... thanks to any admin for their attention!


02-15-2012, 04:22 PM
Luca, I think there is just a 5 post moderation queue, altho' the server has been a bit shifty in the past as well, so it could just be that ...

02-16-2012, 02:35 AM
I don't know where the limit is, but yeah, the moderation goes away after a short while. Welcome to the guild, by the way!

02-16-2012, 03:18 AM
Ciao e benvenuto! Un lavoro incredibile, per dettaglio e chiarezza...grande! (Amazing work, neat and very detailed...great).

02-16-2012, 07:16 AM
Thanks to everyone for their welcome! I've been looking around the forum and I must say the amount of talent here is stunning... :-) ...some works are absolutely amazing! Inspiring community!

Also sorry about my impatience regarding the moderation queue... if it's just for 5 posts then it's going to be over with this one I suppose! Thanks again,


02-16-2012, 10:36 AM
Welcome to the guild! That is a fine map indeed. The colors, font, composition are all spot on.

02-18-2012, 11:14 PM
Nice Map, I realy like the forests. Got Rep+ from me