View Full Version : Continent of Irshy

02-25-2012, 11:38 PM
What began as a quickly fudged map using other peoples' brushes and a lot of mistakes has turned into a lot more work entirely. Once I found this forum, and browsed some of the most amazing fantasy maps I have ever seen, I became dissatisfied with my own creation. It wasn't good enough, not nearly as good as what it could be, if I put the effort in like so many other people had for their maps. The members of the Cartographers' Guild have inspired me to do better with my, admittedly first ever, map.

So, please regard this work with a grain of salt and the knowledge that I'm rather new to this whole cartography thing. Having said that, I'm definitely looking for constructive criticism on this map so I can make it better (cue river police?).

Without further ado, attached are some bits and pieces that I have been working on over the past 3 days (about 22 hours spent on all this so far, not including reading the many useful tutorials of this website).

The purpose of this map is as an aid to a LARP campaign that I will be running 3 years from now, after the campaign that I'm currently running. It will be a sword and sorcery game, but I wont go on about that further than to say this is a map for medieval fantasy purposes. The map will be A2 size when I'm finished, so I can print it out when I'm done with it, for myself and for anyone who wants to order prints from the game. I'm working on the landscape at A1 size so that the landscape has detail, and will shrink it to A2 before adding the icons and names.

The continent preview is a much shrunken version of the draft landscape plan. The grunge brush streaks in grey represent a crude height map, and the green is roughly the forest distribution I'm aiming at. I've only given cursory consideration to tectonics, climate, and rainfall at this stage because it's a single continent, rather than an entire world, and the main intended audience of the map probably wont pick up on errors in such things.

The mountains, hills, and land forms are inspired by the amazing map of Colorado at The BIG Map Blog (http://www.bigmapblog.com/2011/us40-21-denver-colorado-mountains-1894-pezolt/), and the Imperial Worldmap of Arden right here at the Cartographers' Guild (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?17438-Imperial-Worldmap-of-Arden-by-Schwarzkreuz), and a few photos courtesy of google image search. I drew my own land forms mostly because I wanted mountains and hills that looked more realistic than the standard issue iconic representative fantasy map triangles for mountains (I have nothing against them, they're just not my style). The buildings are somewhere between generic basic buildings and Nordic architecture (there are also a few more in the works). The trees were referenced from photos, and while I'm not terribly pleased with them, I figure they'll do the job (although I may redo them before I use them).

Having done all this, I figure it's time I give back to the forum that I have lurked on and learnt so much from, so I'm sharing this with you all. For anyone who is interested, I have turned all of the sketches into photoshop brushes. Should anyone want them, I'll upload them in another post.

02-26-2012, 03:30 AM
Looks great so far! I love your mountains, very nice style.

02-26-2012, 07:44 AM
I agree, very pretty mountains! :) And towns! :D

02-26-2012, 12:07 PM
I like your mountains and trees. Those are pritty cool symbols for a Sword and Sorcery setting.
Till I lack the proper drawing skills I am still using other people's brushes :)
So I would like to ask for Your permission to occasionally re-use your symbols for my maps.
I still don't know, when (or wheter) I will actually draw those maps, I am still stuck with designing my hobby setting and gathering my strenght for the task ;)

02-26-2012, 01:31 PM
Thanks for the positive comments, everyone! Hopefully the map will look decent once it's been composed.

Narogi: Yes, you have my permission to use the symbols that I've created, so long as it's non-commercial and you attribute your use of them. I've attached the photoshop brushes to this post, so feel free to download them; they have the full-resolution land forms, as well as a few extras I drew last night.

02-26-2012, 02:42 PM
Rep+Rate this. You realy got me rethinking at some important points in mapelements. It will be a pleasure to follow your next steps, I am sure.

Klaus van der Kroft
02-26-2012, 05:31 PM
Wow, I really like those brushes. They remind me of Heroes of Might & Magic III, one of my favourite games of all time. I can only imagine the excellent maps you'll be making with these.

Great work!

02-27-2012, 04:50 PM
Really fantastic brushes, but I can't use them with PS 11. I've downloaded them twice, but there is a program error when using them. Does anyone else have this problem too?

02-27-2012, 06:25 PM
Thanks for the positive feedback, I'm glad you all like the brushes!

I've begun placing the mountains, but am not pleased with how they look when the map is reduced to a smaller size, and realise that when I shrink it again to make the web version, that they will be tiny. Therefore I'm going to use the full size brushes on the A2 size canvas to prevent the web version mountains from looking like just a bunch of rocks. Once I've completed the mountain ranges, I'll post a WIP picture.

I will also be drawing some more large (but not gigantic) mountains to add to the brushes, mostly to increase the variety. I'll upload the newer brushes once I've done this. When I finally finish this map, after which the brushes may change even more, I'll create a thread in the resources forum and share them there.

Katto: The brushes were made in PS CS3, so may not work for you in PS 11. Sorry, I should have said so earlier.

02-27-2012, 06:48 PM
Tetrajak, I am also inspired bye your work and have recently redone my complete Citybrushes. Your versions are much more convincing than what I had build up before. i hope you dont mind that I maked my own versions based on your concept?

02-27-2012, 07:15 PM
Schwarzkreuz: I'm glad I've inspired you, thank you, that's a really great compliment! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I don't mind at all that you've made or altered your own based on what I've done, go right ahead!

02-28-2012, 02:05 AM
Seemed I had problems with the internet/pc yesterday. I've downloaded the brushes from another computer and now it works.
Thanks again for sharing this fantastic stuff. Perhaps you should open a thread in the resources section, so people can find it more easy?

02-28-2012, 04:24 AM
Katto: I'll be creating a thread in the resources section once I've finished all the brushes. There are, I'm sure, more to come. I've already drawn several more mountains and a few more buildings than the original post, and I imagine I'll draw more than this as I progress on the map. Thank you for the compliments, and I'm glad you got them working!

02-28-2012, 10:39 AM
I know what you mean, i started with only a hundred brushes to start and on progress draw till now more than 1000 and i am still not satisfied :D

02-28-2012, 10:52 AM
Yes, those are some beautiful brushes. I look forward to seeing the rest! Consider yourself repped!

03-01-2012, 02:59 AM
I've finally done all the mountain ranges, and the two hill ranges I had planned out. The preview image (attached, 50% zoom) also shows the slightly revised greenery distribution. I haven't placed cliffs on the map yet, as I want to place forests and settlements before I draw them (this order is purely for aesthetics).

I've varied the coast somewhat as well; some parts are smoother, others are rougher. I really could pay a little more attention to the coastline, but I'm honestly not too worried for this particular map (again, the intended audience aren't cartographers). However, I did spend some time taking a look at real coastlines (thank you, google maps), and have learned a thing or two about where the rough areas are, and where the smoother areas are, which mostly depends on tectonics and river outlets (I think, although correct me if I'm wrong).

Now that I have the mountains down, and the greenery approximated, I'm going to move on to placing the settlements, as they are based on resources, but also have an effect on the forest distribution.

@Schwarzkreuz: Yea, I get the feeling that I'm going to have quite a few brushes before I'm finished with this.

@cereth: Thank you, I'm glad you like them! Admittedly, I wont be showing the brushes in their own image until I finish this map and post a resources thread, so I'm afraid you'll have to wait (although I did use them in the attached map preview).

03-01-2012, 06:14 PM
It's getting a nice shape...

03-02-2012, 04:43 PM
I've finished adding the settlements (attached, 50% zoom, cropped). Admittedly not all of them will have names. This is so that the players can add their own flavour to the world by naming settlements in their back-stories, after which point I can add those labels to the map.

I am leaving the effects, such as the crinkled paper texture, water effects, and land textures until last. This is mostly to improve the time it takes for the map to open in photoshop, and the time it takes to appear on the screen. My computer is quite good, but I have gotten to the point where it actually takes a few seconds for the map to load; there's just that much data.

Next I will be placing the roads, and after that forests, and then cliff faces. If I weren't so busy in the real world, this would admittedly be progressing a lot faster. Ah well, real life comes first.

@Zorrier: Thanks, I'm glad you like the progress so far!

03-02-2012, 07:00 PM
This is an excellent looking map. Color me impressed. I especially like your mountain style. I personally have a hard time preventing my mountains from appearing as if they are floating above the landscape, but you've done an impressive job of "grounding" them. Your city and town icons are also enviable. All in all you are definitely putting together a map you should be incredibly proud of. Have some rep!

03-04-2012, 05:21 PM
I've completed the roads, and am currently working on the forest. After that comes the cliffs, then the political lines of separation. I'm afraid I don't have the map file with me, so I can't post a WIP picture.

@wittyoctopus: Thank you for the compliments! Perhaps the curve towards the horizontal at the edge of most of the mountains helps such a grounded perception? Shadows also help with grounding, but I haven't gotten that far yet. I'm glad you like the town and city icons!

03-04-2012, 08:05 PM
Very nice style.

03-08-2012, 05:33 PM
I've completed the roads and the bridges, and have moved on to the forests (attached, 50% zoom, cropped). I had no idea it would be this time consuming, although that's perhaps because I'm placing the brushes one by one and attempting to avoid creating a too-obvious pattern. I've done the pine forests of the valley in the 'middle' of the continent, although I'm not sure which forest I'll do next.

I realise I have also made a rather fatal mistake in making the brushes. In checking the measurements in photoshop (with the rulers), it turns out my symbols are far too small to be recognisable to the eye in the size that I was hoping to print it. So much for printing it. I guess I've learned a hard lesson here, and that is; if you're drawing your map symbols digitally, always draw your map symbols with the rulers on! *sigh* Ah well, I'll persevere with this map and get it finished. I'd hate to waste the effort I've already put into it.

@Rukia_K: Thanks, I'm glad you like what I've got so far!

03-08-2012, 06:57 PM
I think this looks great! The brushes you're using look great and really give it nice "hand-drawn" look. And thanks for sharing the brushes.

03-08-2012, 07:38 PM
Your Brushes and composition are very good blending in together and create an interesting feel to the map. What are your plans on the now black ocean?

03-08-2012, 10:17 PM
@maxsdaddy: Thanks, I'm glad you like how it looks so far!

@Schwarzkreuz: Thank you, I'm glad you find it interesting. I plan on making the entire map look like it's on old parchment, and make the ocean look as if it's been died with a thin blackish-blue ink. The coastline and lakes will have extended outlines that get fainter (think tolkien style map coastline), and I'll probably have a gradient of the same overall colour, except darker, closer to the shoreline to give it better definition. That will be a lot later in the map though, after everything else has been completed. I'm trying to leave all the layer styling and large-scale textures until last, so that the map will still load relatively quickly while I'm working on it currently.

03-08-2012, 11:10 PM
Ok, that sounds pretty good so far. I am impress by your fast pace on mapping. It is even with repeating Brushes a lot of work. But believe me it will be worth every second spend on it when you have it in your hand, printed out. The problem in Scale is also something I have slowly realised. Is there any update on your brushes? I would like to see the elements if possible. I will also soon show a new range of brushes. Mountains have a very strong fascination, so they are always the first thing I draw for a new map. But the Forests are quiet a task. I think I can see some repeating issues with your forestclusters. There is a slight pattern visible in the zoomout.

03-09-2012, 03:40 PM
I'm honestly not spending very long on the map currently, I'm very busy in real life, and don't always have the time to sit down and work on it. There aren't very many new brushes, which is the reason I haven't posted them. After this map, and the two I have planned after it, I will probably create an entirely new set at a larger scale, with the rulers on this time.

Admittedly, I draw the mountains and other landforms first as well.

Yes, the forest will look like it's repeating, as there's only 1 3-clumped group of pines brush, rather than several. This is probably a poor choice on my part.

03-10-2012, 08:16 PM
This is really astounding work. Your brushes are great! Further impetus for me to get off my lazy butt and make my own...

07-26-2012, 07:38 PM
Sorry for being inactive for months, the real world needed a lot of attending to.

I've finally gotten back into working on the setting that this map is for, and thus the map itself. I've added the sand dunes to the desert, as well as adding some more of the forests. In comparison to the first forest I put on this map, I like the others better. I'm most likely going to redo said first forest, to remove the appearance of a pattern that it has now. Although I will probably leave this until after I've completed the other forests. A preview of the map so far is attached (50% zoom, cropped).

After I finish all of these forests, I'm going to make myself some crop-pattern brushes and lay a few of those out on the plains, near the towns and villages. After all of the brushing is done, I'll finally get to the part where I make this image look more like a paper map (looking forward to doing this part).

I'm not sure when I'll get more time to work on this map. A number of other real-world events are coming up in the next few months that require preparation for, and are thus time consuming. Apologies in advance if it's another few months before I update this map, although I hope that wont be the case.

@Diamond: Thank you for your kind words! I hope I get to see any brushes you make.

07-26-2012, 09:17 PM
Nice to have you back, I agree with the forest the new ones look better.

07-26-2012, 11:10 PM
So I ended up finishing all of the forests much sooner than I had expected to; i.e. today. Sadly, I do not have my tablet with me, so I cannot draw the crop patterns yet. Once all these icons have been placed, I will tidy up the continent, and then get to work on transforming the image into something that looks like paper.

@Schwarzkreuz; Thanks, it's good to be back!

Klaus van der Kroft
07-27-2012, 11:54 AM
Fantastic work!

Looking forward to the finished version. You have something really good here.


08-05-2012, 07:28 PM
More progress! This time, I've finally added a paper texture to the background, and begun colouring the map. The green of the grassy plains, the white of the snow covered north, and the red rocky mountains are complete. The coastline's gradient is a placeholder for now, and in the end will look more like the transition between the desert and the grass plains, except with a different colour. I am in the process of colouring the trees, so the colour of those that have been shaded (to the north east) is also a placeholder, and will likely be somewhat lighter than it appears currently (it's dark so I can easily see the trees that I've done).

I am aiming at an overall appearance of ink, dyes, and watercolour paints on parchment in a world whose people do not have easy access to vibrantly colourful materials. Do you think this map is close to my intended medium?

Any thoughts or comments on the work so far are appreciated.

08-06-2012, 12:54 PM
Looking good!

However, I do suspect that the effect around the coast would be very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve with the tools you are assuming.

08-06-2012, 01:07 PM
blur your brushes, there are too defined of splatter patterns where your grass and terrain colors shift. other then that uber boss

08-07-2012, 05:52 PM
Looking good!

However, I do suspect that the effect around the coast would be very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve with the tools you are assuming.


By tools, do you mean the tools that I am assuming the map makers have access to? If this is the case; what sort of coastline would be more appropriate for such map makers?

blur your brushes, there are too defined of splatter patterns where your grass and terrain colors shift. other then that uber boss

I will test blurring the edges of the dyed areas and see if it looks better. I'm glad you like the rest so far!

08-09-2012, 11:37 AM
By tools, do you mean the tools that I am assuming the map makers have access to? If this is the case; what sort of coastline would be more appropriate for such map makers?

Yes. That smooth blur effect looks very computer-generated. There's a number of coastal styles that can be inked, but I'm thinking a blue "watercolor" about as intense as the forest green could look good. Not over the whole ocean, but around the coast; it could fade out as you move away from the coast, but not in the regular way that the current blur does. You'd probably have to "paint" it in yourself rather than apply a command to the whole coast, although someone with better knowledge of technique might be able to contradict that. The rest of the map has a nice hand-drawn look to it, so the coastal blur really stands out now as a digital element.

08-09-2012, 11:04 PM
The next preview image (50% zoom, cropped) is attached. I've finally finished colouring all the trees (I now have a new found respect for maps with coloured trees), as well as completing the coastline and altering the grass shading as recommended (blurred).

Next I will likely work on a compass rose and a border, then I will likely move on to place names and then a key/legend.

I am debating whether to also mark marshes and farmlands on the map. Neither of these are likely to be relevant for the use of the map (for similar reasons I have only marked major rivers, large mountain ranges, steep hills, dense forests, and important or populous settlements). What do you think, should I add them anyway?

08-11-2012, 11:07 PM
I like it!

Rather than busy the useful part of the map with irrelevant features, it is more likely the cartographer would embellish the non-functional areas of the map (the sea, in this case) with ornamentation or possibly information that he expected might be useful to the user.

Don't forget a scale.

08-11-2012, 11:49 PM
truly awesome map.. love the style of brushes you made also.. cant wait to try them out..

08-14-2012, 10:09 AM
Waw, do I like those brushes! This may sound a bit noobish but is there a specific way so I can import these in photoshop?
Thx for the response!


11-01-2012, 07:23 PM
Thanks for the compliments, everyone!

Sorry it has been so long since last I updated. The real world has been keeping me busy, but I have found enough time to put city and nation names on the map. I've pinched the name components from a glossary of Scandinavian/Old Norse place name components (http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/freefun/didyouknow/placenames/scandinavianglossary.html), to keep consistency with the Norse inspired fiction of the setting.

Attached is the preview of the map at 50% zoom. Next will come the scale, legend, and compass rose. I don't think I'll be putting on a fancy border, as I don't want to distract from the map itself (which is the entire point of the venture).

Let me know what you think.

11-01-2012, 07:50 PM
Its alive!

My only critic is your Ocean color choice, it See it As a Lot distracting

11-01-2012, 09:19 PM
Its alive!

My only critic is your Ocean color choice, it See it As a Lot distracting

What change would you suggest I make to make it less distracting?

11-01-2012, 11:30 PM
Very nice map indeed. I agree the ocean colour is bit off-putting, but the map is darn good! Don't ask me what colour it should be, I've no idea!

11-04-2012, 12:04 AM
I think the contrast of things is great, and there's a good bit of detail in everything. Nice work!

11-04-2012, 03:56 PM
Thanks for the compliments!

I've reduced the opacity of the ocean blue by 10% and it now matches the luminosity of the plains green, so it now fits well visually.

I've also begun work on the key and scale, which goes well so far. No need for an updated preview yet, as there's not enough change worth showing.

11-04-2012, 08:26 PM
I only would put the oceans grey tones to multiply and reduce opacity by 30%

11-06-2012, 04:58 AM
So I've finished adding the key, scale, and compass rose. It's also worth noting that the continent has had its name changed to Aeviheim to fit with the rest of the norse place names and the fiction of the setting (which there is about 10,000 words written on so far, but that's another story).

The image, however, is rather large. Even the 50% scaled version is too big to upload to these forums. This map is, after all, meant to be printed out on an A1 piece of paper.

So, since I can't upload it here, I've uploaded the 50% scaled preview image to my own site (http://tetrajak.com/download/Aeviheim_Continent_Preview9.jpg) for easy access. Let me know what you think, and if anything could be improved. If not, this will be the final version, and I'll post it in the completed maps section.