View Full Version : The City of Keys (WIP)

02-14-2012, 09:43 AM

Right this is my first map post! It's WIP because I'm still tinkering with it, so I'd appreciate some input. I wanted to give an impression of the topography of the land underneath but I'm not sure best how to do it. As you can see I've coloured the landscape with atlas-style colours, but that's not very in keeping with a fantasy map. I'm aiming for a 17th-18th century look rather than mediaeval, so I won't be using parchment effects.

Background: VahlTor is one of the most important cities in my con-world, Helevos. It is an ancient city at the confluence of two rivers, which has been fought over and changed hands many times. It's the capital of an early-industrial naval power, the heart of a paranoid and bureaucratic empire which jealously guards its secrets and it's borders. The many walls, guards and gates are an effort to control it's citizens - hence it's slang name, the City of Keys.

The lack of bridges is due to the land along the Velun (the western branch) being swampy and subject to flooding, so rather than bridges there are numerous ferries. I haven't put in the city's scale but it's about five miles across.

Map: As you can see this was originally a hand-drawn map which I've edited in Photoshop. I kinda like the rough-edged feel that gives it, but I'm wondering if I should convert it to Illustrator/Inkscape (this would require me learning one of them!). I edged the labels with a Stroke blending effect to make them distinguishable from the background, not sure if there's a better way of doing it.

I haven't put in a key, but green is the lowest land, the browner colours high ground. Confusingly I also made a vague attempt at indicating population density by shading the buildings, so that Eilunn and the Docks are the most cramped, Tabray more spacious. I'll have to fix this.


02-14-2012, 10:06 AM
I really like it. The hand drawn lines look fine to me (learning software is always a good thing, but hardly necessary for this map).

The border isn't quite right. The punched holes at the top seem out of place and I can't quite tell if it is indented to be a tattered edge (in which case there are too many shreds that are unattached but still in place) or a rough painted outline. The 'watermark' in the lower right, takes away from the rest of the map. I would move the copyright to the lower left or right corner (and perhaps match one of the title box fonts).

But I really love the color 'contours' - well done.
I wonder if they could be blended together with a softer transition.

Have some rep.

02-14-2012, 10:24 AM

Sorry I shoulda clarified, the watermarks and the outline are just a theme to remind me it's a WIP draft, I'd remove these for the finished version.

02-14-2012, 02:02 PM
I think the map looks very good and very well done! :) However, I'm not quite sure why some roads are different colors and why some are divided from others by black lines (confusion reigns).

02-15-2012, 01:06 PM
Ok draft 2! I've changed the colour scheme so it's more the kinda look I wanted. It doesn't convey the topography so clearly but I'd rather have it looking pretty. I also removed the black outline on the main roads and I've labelled the salmon colour with road names, I'm hoping this makes it more obvious that the colour indicates a major thoroughfare.

I really could tinker with this endlessly. (In fact, I have, for years!)

Worse? Better? If so I'll do some final tinkering and bump this up to a finished map post.

02-16-2012, 04:07 PM
I liked the colors that you had. More color kind of went with "Dyesgate" there in the upper right.