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Talon44
03-20-2012, 12:36 AM
Hi everyone. New to the site, new to digital cartography.

I've been browsing the site for about a month and siphoning off little tricks and hints and stylistic elements to use in a project I've been working on. It seems only fair, since the work here has been so inspiring and helpful (especially the tutorials), to share my map in progress. Actually, I consider it fairly close to finished, but I'm still open to critiques and suggestions. Although, I'm not sure how many more embellishments I can add because the file has gotten to the point where it is taxing my limited hardware.

Anyway, before I post, a little background:

This map is created for a mod that is being created for a strategy computer game that has a rather complex story and a lot of original lore. I figured it'd be helpful to have a map to go with all that story. Knowing virtually nothing about digital cartography, I started by sketching the map out on a piece of paper, scanning it, and then turning it into a digital version that wouldn't (hopefully) be laughed at. The first few versions were quite laughable. :) So I started looking around for resources online to help do this kind of thing and I wound up (in a roundabout way, through Amazon of all places) finding this site.

What I'm showing below is my third or fourth iteration. It's done entirely in Inkscape and all the features (mountains, trees, etc.) are original, although I did use images I found on the web for inspiration. I do realize that some parts of this map may not be completely ... er ... geologically or climatologically kosher. This is due to the fact that much of the story was written before I started thinking about any kind of logical placement of events and locations, so the world's geography was created somewhat ad hoc. Still, I've tried my best to make everything as believable as possible.

The continent where the story takes place is called Corgarian. Please tell me what you think.

(PS, This is my first image uploading here, so I'm not sure what size to make it. If this is too low res, I can make a bigger version.)

Lalaithion
03-20-2012, 01:12 AM
Maybe it is the low resolution, but your labeling is hard to read. Putting a glow effect on it will help distinguish it. Your rivers seem to follow the rules, more or less. I would avoid changing fonts so many times. Don't be afraid to use different Tracking (spacing of letters) or curving the words to make it fit better. I love the style you have going here, and everything I have said is very nitpicky and very minor.

Diamond
03-20-2012, 02:11 AM
That looks really great, overall. The mountains and hills especially are a home-run. I'm less enthusiastic about your forests, although the color mix is good. I think I'm not liking them as much because they don't seem to conform to the same scale as the mountains; they poke up over the shoreline in several places and it's distracting. Geographically, the only place I'm not really sold on is the Drylands... with a big river cutting through it. Not to mention it's between a lake, a big sea, and another river to the north.

As Lalaithion said, the fonts are difficult to read. VERY difficult to read over the forests. Try uploading a bigger version; that might help.

Positives: Great looking landforms, your rivers are logical in layout, the border and compass look cool, and those mountains... *drool*

Talon44
03-20-2012, 08:14 PM
Hi again and thanks for some of the feedback.

Trees and forests: I'm not 100% sold on them either, but I haven't come up with a suitable alternative.

The river through the drylands - actually, the river is supposed to be a dry river bed through a deep canyon, but again I haven't come up with a good way to represent this on the map. It was easier to represent it as just a river, but I agree it seems strange the way it's represented at present.

I will futz with the text as suggested, but in the meantime here's a larger version of the same version of the map. I wanted to err on too small before because I didn't know if there was a size limit for files here. I can make it bigger still if necessary.

jfrazierjr
03-20-2012, 08:31 PM
Very nice start. But you need to pay attention to your lighting. It was easy to miss in the small version, but you have the mountains lit from the West, but the hills from the East. Just look at which side is darker and make sure that all of your elements match(trees included when/if you replace these).

Slylok
03-20-2012, 09:28 PM
Is the name Corgarian set in stone for your map? It seems to me that a Corgarian would be someone from Corgaria. Anyway the map is looking good. I prefer more muted color tones, but the color theme you have goes together well. The land form and coast lines look real nice to me. About what scale is this map?

Talon44
03-20-2012, 11:24 PM
@jfrazierjr

Ugh, I hadn't even noticed that before. That's eye-rollingly annoying. :) That'll be a lot of effort to fix, but now that you've pointed it out, I notice nothing else.

@Slylok

Re: the name. Not set in stone, and I thought of that as well. It will require going through and changing it to Corgaria throughout hundreds of pages of text, but I may go back and do that since now I'm not the only person it bothers. ;)

Re: Scale. I envision this landmass as perhaps about the size of Western Europe. I suppose that it would help to have a scalebar.

Re: Color tones. I usually like more muted tones as well, but the computer game this project is related to has a bright color palette as does most of our other concept art, so in the interest of being consistent, I chose brighter colors for the map.

Ok, looks like I'm back to the drawing board for a while. The suggestions have been helpful! One question - earlier Lalathion warned against using too many fonts. I believe I have three here (four if you count the title font). Which one would you get rid of?

Lalaithion
03-21-2012, 12:26 AM
The red font is, for me, the hardest to read.

Also, use Find>Replace.

Talon44
03-21-2012, 12:49 AM
Yeah I see what you mean. Here was my issue: I have three political levels I'd like to signify on the map: country names (currently large bold font), town/city names (script font) and then the one nation, which is named "Kingdom of Holbark" in the map, has various provinces/duchies/earldoms/whatever, which I signified with the red font. I was afraid if I had another black font, the meaning might be lost. I actually had coats of arms for all of these as well, but I thought it was getting way to busy when I added those. Anyway, maybe all black font is the way to go? I'll try that in the next iteration.

Hai-Etlik
03-21-2012, 02:57 AM
Mixing different typefaces, and scripty typefaces in general, are bad. It makes the map look messy and hard to read. Ideally you want to use simple faces within a single family. You're using at least 4 completely different faces, and the clash. Other than the fairly heavy one, they are also all rather poor in terms of readabilty. Maps tend to be noisy environments for text, you need to keep your text simple and clear to compensate.

Talon44
03-21-2012, 07:44 PM
Hai-Etlik -
Do you mind if I ask what you mean by "simple faces within a single family"? Especially the "single family" bit.

Lalaithion
03-21-2012, 10:08 PM
Typefaces, abbreviated as faces, are basically the same thing as Fonts. A family of fonts are very similar fonts, such as the Droid family;

43290

Talon44
03-31-2012, 01:08 PM
Hi everyone -
I want to thank you all for your very helpful suggestions. It took some time to implement them all but I think this version is far superior. Please give me any additional feedback, as it's really useful.

Here's a list of things I did since the last version:

* Spent a lot of time making the interfaces between the rivers and oceans look more streamlined (the coast outline was a lot thicker than the river outlines, so I had to taper them down by hand to be seemless transition).

* Reduced the number of fonts from 4 to 2.

* Outlined all text in white for easier reading.

* Removed red text. Differentiation between nations and provinces is now done by text size and number of underscores

* Replaced dots for places of interest with symbols (castles, cities, ruins, etc.).

* Made the forest tiles smaller so that relative scale with mountains was more realistic.

* Added other decorations (cactuses in the desert, marsh plants, etc.)

* Removed the desert river and replaced it with a giant crack.

* Added a map legend. I also thought about adding crests for each country and duchy, but thought it would be too busy.

For fun, I'm also attaching the very first (laughable) quick digital version I did. I've come a long way I think. :)

Gidde
03-31-2012, 04:58 PM
This looks really cool!

Diamond
03-31-2012, 07:57 PM
Far superior. I like it.

One thing: What about borders?

jfrazierjr
03-31-2012, 08:57 PM
I much preferred the original's mountains, hills and water areas. Yea, they could have stood for a bit of tweaking, but I think that they were far superior...

Talon44
03-31-2012, 09:27 PM
@Diamond - You mean borders between nations? Like, dotted lines or something?

@jfrazierjr - The mountains are exactly the same; didn't touch them (except that the labels are on top of them now). The hills I just flipped so that the shadow is now on the right instead of the left, as suggested by someone else. The water was unchanged as well, except for the waves and rivers. So could you be more specific about what you liked better about the earlier version?

Diamond
03-31-2012, 11:00 PM
Yes - national borders. The map doesn't NEED them, but it might be interesting to see what it'd look like with them.

jfrazierjr
03-31-2012, 11:55 PM
@Diamond - You mean borders between nations? Like, dotted lines or something?

@jfrazierjr - The mountains are exactly the same; didn't touch them (except that the labels are on top of them now). The hills I just flipped so that the shadow is now on the right instead of the left, as suggested by someone else. The water was unchanged as well, except for the waves and rivers. So could you be more specific about what you liked better about the earlier version?

Ah... color me confused. You said you put up the original image long with the "fixed" one. I assumed that the first was the "original"(since it's like the one in your first post) and the second was the "new" one. Sometimes words confuse me.....lol....

Talon44
04-01-2012, 01:58 AM
Oh, lol. Probably should have put the old one first, or arranged them better, but I just stuck them both on there without thinking about it. Yeah, the one on the left is the new one; one on the right is the very first one I did.

@ Diamond - I'll give it a whirl. I was also thinking that the grass and water areas could use a little texture, but having next to no practical experience with photoshop, I'm not sure how to go about that. On the other hand, maybe this is the time to learn. Maybe I'll have to have a look at a few of the tutorials.

Veldehar
04-01-2012, 09:05 AM
Considering your symbol style, the one thing that jumped out at me was the lackluster answard bridge. A beautiful map, with that one tiny nitpick, LOL. Love the style and colors.

jfrazierjr
04-01-2012, 09:12 PM
I still want different tree symbols...

Talon44
04-02-2012, 12:43 AM
@Veldehar: Agreed, the bridge is pretty bad. I'll have to think of something better.

@jfrazierjr: Mind if I ask what specfically you dislike about the tree symbols? "Different" as a critique doesn't narrow down the options very much. Bright pink Dr. Seuss-style trees, after all, would qualify as different. :D

jfrazierjr
04-02-2012, 01:11 AM
@Veldehar: Agreed, the bridge is pretty bad. I'll have to think of something better.

@jfrazierjr: Mind if I ask what specfically you dislike about the tree symbols? "Different" as a critique doesn't narrow down the options very much. Bright pink Dr. Seuss-style trees, after all, would qualify as different. :D

true dat. I think for me, the number of radically different style symbols is the issue. If it were say hardwood and a few Conifer trees mixed, even if there were multiples it would be ok if they were each in the same style family(ie, hardwood trees would look generally the same even if you had 10+ shapes... ie a consistent line style, shading style, etc). Don't have time to screenshot and point out the specifics right now though, so I hope you understand what I am talking about.

Talon44
04-02-2012, 10:19 PM
No, I get what you're saying. I thought with lots of varieties I would avoid having the forests look too repetitive. But I'll try a version with just a few varieties (but different sizes/shades) as you suggest, and see which one looks better.