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Morgan
04-02-2012, 02:00 AM
Ok, I've been experimenting with mountains for some days, and I find myself a bit frustrated. What I'm trying to achieve is a realistic effect for grounded, solid and convincing mountains, like in this (http://www.cartographersguild.com/album.php?albumid=343&attachmentid=40641) map.

Now, don't laugh, these are the results of my efforts up to this moment (the black white version is the standard brush):
43605
Now, this is just a sketch, I know I should draw details more carefully, but I think that is beside the point, I don't find the overall effect convincing at all. Since I think the basic brush is not bad (even if it can be improved) I think the problem is in the coloring/shading.

I drew the brush by hand and then scanned it. As for the coloring, the layers I'm using are:
- Brush outline (the default) set on multiply
- Highlight layer (hue/saturation set on hard light)
- Shadow layer (hue/saturation set on multiply)
- Texture layer (granite texture set on multiply)
- Color layer (plain base brown)
- Parchment background

Suggesions, anyone?

Gidde
04-02-2012, 02:46 AM
I don't think any laughter is imminent, that looks pretty good! Maybe if you rounded the bottom so that it looks more organic? It has a kinda pyramidal look at the moment since the sides are so straight and even down to the point in the middle. Another thing (and I've struggled with this a lot so I see it fast now) is that your lines on the actual faces are too regular. Most are the same length, and on the top most section they're parallel and in perfect rows. Try making them more random and varying the length and thickness. I find random is the HARDEST thing to do; I always make order like this unless I specifically guard against it. I make orchards instead of forests too!

Morgan
04-02-2012, 08:43 AM
Yes, that is one of the problems, now that you mention it.
Another sketch, done in 5 minutes, just with tablet (not scanning), trying to follow your advice. Shape seems better (thank you), not the colors though...
This came out quite cartoonish! :D

jfrazierjr
04-02-2012, 09:02 AM
I like the second B&W image quite a bit(the first has too much black for my tastes). I would love to see just the line art for the last one though. It's hard to tell with the color, but personally I think you have hit on what I have been "trying" to get for quite a while, which is avoiding the cut off bottom effect. As Gidde noted, it's fairly easy to fall into a pyramidal approach(I admit to having done it several times) and while it can look ok in some maps, I think the "random" sawtooth approach works quite well. I even think if your careful, you could go "deeper"(relative to the base line of the mountain outlines) and still have it look very nice.

rpgmapmaker
04-02-2012, 09:37 AM
I have had an issue with the "flat bottom mountain" This gives me some ideas. I like the "bit" of green too, that is a nice touch.

The lines in the newest one seem "off" in some way (not that we would get a close up if it was put on a map). The lines might be too "hard" or slightly out of alinement with the shadows... either way this is a cool mountain and I hope to make such things with my tablet soon.

Thanks for shareing. Reped!

Gidde
04-02-2012, 10:06 AM
Now that is a very good mountain! The texture looks awesome, the bottom looks great, the shading looks good. The lone line in the center of the bottom looks a little strange, but I'm not sure what's bugging me about it. Tiny nitpick there though, it doesn't really take away from the whole.

Oh! forgot something. You've got your shadows getting deeper further down the mountain, which actually looks ok to me. However, I read an article once on swiss shading (someone linked to it here but I have no earthly idea where it is) that stressed that shadows should be darkest near the peak and lighten as you go down. I honestly don't know why that is, but you may want to give it a shot and see how it looks. And maybe someone who understands lighting and shadows better than I do could enlighten us as to why they'd say to do it that way?

Morgan
04-02-2012, 10:19 AM
@ jfrazierjr: Alas, the second image has no sketch, I drew it directly on photoshop. But I have an earlier sketch on paper, it's almost the same. Dunno if it can help you, but here it is:
43610
I'm not sure I understand your last comment. What do you mean by going deeper? With central slope lines?

@rpgmapmaker: Thanks for your approvation and the reputation! :) I know it's not perfect, I'm just working with a general idea for now, looking for a style, then I'll spend more time refining. The whole mountain is even too big for a map, unless I'm going to make a map of Moria! :D

In the meantime, I tried to draw a mountain range with the djekspek tutorial. This is the result:
43615
Needs refining, like everything else, but I quite like the overall effect. Perhaps I need to go smoother with color, and use less contrast, otherwise it just becomes noise and flattens the image.
I will be experimenting trying to merge the two techniques and see what happens... ;)

Well, since it seems that my sketches are helping people getting ideas, I'm sharing all of them, from the earlier ones. Sorry for the quality of the first two, but I made a mess with scanner settings. Should anyone want a clean version of some mountains, just tell me which ones and I'll rescan them properly! :P
This is the fist one. Flat mountains with a linear bottom. Please notice the spider eating the sheep of the first sketch! :D
43611
Here I proudly present the awesome Ice-Cream Peak! :D
43612
This is the lat one. Better results, I think. Still improving, though. Enjoy! :)
43613

Gidde
04-02-2012, 10:24 AM
Ooh, thanks for posting those! I actually really like the one on the left in the almost bottom row of the second scan. The shading at the bottom looks totally awesome. I also really love the one with the path going up it on the last scan.

Morgan
04-02-2012, 10:27 AM
Now that is a very good mountain! The texture looks awesome, the bottom looks great, the shading looks good. The lone line in the center of the bottom looks a little strange, but I'm not sure what's bugging me about it. Tiny nitpick there though, it doesn't really take away from the whole.

Oh! forgot something. You've got your shadows getting deeper further down the mountain, which actually looks ok to me. However, I read an article once on swiss shading (someone linked to it here but I have no earthly idea where it is) that stressed that shadows should be darkest near the peak and lighten as you go down. I honestly don't know why that is, but you may want to give it a shot and see how it looks. And maybe someone who understands lighting and shadows better than I do could enlighten us as to why they'd say to do it that way?

I missed your post while I was writing my looooong monologue! :D
In that version I added a drop shadow effect on the highlight layer, and I'm quite happy with it, but I think I have to use larger brushes to reduce complexity.
I'll have to try what you say, I can imagine the reason for the darker shadow on the peak is that there is more light there, thus shadow is darker. On the vales there's less direct sunlight, so less dark shadows, but more gloom.
Don't know if I made it clear, but think about a candle: if you put an object near the flame, shadows are darker near the object, an then become lighter because they merge in the general illumination of the room.
Example:
43616
Here you see how the nose's shadow are thicker (near the flame), while on the cheeks they are more morbid.

Gidde
04-02-2012, 10:42 AM
Good explanation, thanks!

jfrazierjr
04-02-2012, 10:44 AM
@ jfrazierjr: Alas, the second image has no sketch, I drew it directly on photoshop. But I have an earlier sketch on paper, it's almost the same. Dunno if it can help you, but here it is:
Well dang it!! Don't do that!!!.. heh




I'm not sure I understand your last comment. What do you mean by going deeper? With central slope lines?

Yes... think in terms of a first step being the "top outline" of the mountain. So, in a simplistic terms, your upside down V's. Now draw an imaginary line between the bottom two points of the "V" and this is what I mean by baseline. By deeper, I just mean further into the "negative" from that baseline with your central spines (multiple appears better!!!). This mainly points to singular mountains as opposed to your approach which has multiple "peaks" in single brush as I have recently been playing with also..

For me, flat = bad. rounded = not bad, but not best either. jaggedly sort of roundy but not really round = really darn nice!

For me, the bottom row of the last image are the clear winners in overall style and 3D-ishness. BUT, then again, it also depends a huge amount on how you link them together... ie that extra bit of line shading around the base really helps make mountains pop. Even "flat" bottom mountain symbols look much better when you have added some additional shading between each symbol. On your last scan image, take off your "land" shading on both sides and just have the mountains themselves(including shading on the cliff faces but not any "horizontal shading. My guess is you will notice a huge difference(feel free to share both copies if you want) and that the one without the land shading will look much flatter....

Morgan
04-02-2012, 10:48 AM
You're welcome. I'm quite good when we speak about theory. I fall when putting into practice! :D
But I keep promises. Is this the one? :D
43617

Actually, I had to manually remove some grey from the fold on the paper. And that should teach me not to draw of flying paper piaces. They make A4 whole for a reason. And folders exist for a reason, too! :D :D :D

Morgan
04-02-2012, 11:08 AM
Well dang it!! Don't do that!!!.. heh

Oooohhh, sorry, sorry, it was the last time, I swear! :D


Yes... think in terms of a first step being the "top outline" of the mountain. So, in a simplistic terms, your upside down V's. Now draw an imaginary line between the bottom two points of the "V" and this is what I mean by baseline. By deeper, I just mean further into the "negative" from that baseline with your central spines (multiple appears better!!!). This mainly points to singular mountains as opposed to your approach which has multiple "peaks" in single brush as I have recently been playing with also..

For me, flat = bad. rounded = not bad, but not best either. jaggedly sort of roundy but not really round = really darn nice!

For me, the bottom row of the last image are the clear winners in overall style and 3D-ishness. BUT, then again, it also depends a huge amount on how you link them together... ie that extra bit of line shading around the base really helps make mountains pop. Even "flat" bottom mountain symbols look much better when you have added some additional shading between each symbol. On your last scan image, take off your "land" shading on both sides and just have the mountains themselves(including shading on the cliff faces but not any "horizontal shading. My guess is you will notice a huge difference(feel free to share both copies if you want) and that the one without the land shading will look much flatter....

Ok, got what you mean. I agree, actually, when I begin drawing the final versions of the brushes, I want to have a coherent perspective (which I think will be isometric), thus I'll have a measure of how deep I can go. I mean, since the general shape of a single mountain's base has to be a circle (not regular, of course, but since a mountain is a cone, the base must be a circle), I want to draw the isometric projection of the circle, then the base outline (which is a slightly "randomized" circle), and then draw lines from peak to the base. This should grant an harmonic look in the various mountains, that is, they should all respect the same perspective.

I also think you're right in the single-mountain approach. Drawing 10 different single mountains allows you to construct different mountain ranges mountain by mountain, having more variation in the map. I'll have to try that.

As for the ground shadow, with my last experiment (the djekspek tutorial one), I think that using the smudge tool to merge the color with the background makes mountain smoother, so I think I'll go with that and then add the ground shadow manually. This should also help to give a coherent shadow for greater mountain ranges ('cause when peaks overlaps you don't need the shadow of the peak in the back, of course).

Thanks for the insights, they have given me a lot of things to consider. Have some rep! :)

Slylok
04-02-2012, 01:45 PM
Your mountain technique is coming along nicely Morgan :) They are really looking great. Some things ive learned about blending mountains into the map:

- The base is key. lines that gradually become more horizontal at the base of the mountain give it the appearance of coming out of the ground. a sharp angled line at the base of the mountain is a no no.
- Shadows. as has already been stated, the shadows are darker closer to the ridges. also the shadows that the mountain casts on the ground gets lighter as it moves away from the mountain. be aware of the direction the light is coming and its angle. A light that is coming 90 degrees from the right will cast a long shadow to the left. A light that is coming 45 degrees from the right will cast a shorter shadow to the left.

when i get home tonight ill whip up some examples that might help explain what im trying to say.

Slylok
04-02-2012, 09:11 PM
this is basically the same technique i used on the Arcadia map. dont forget where the happy sunshine lives :)

Morgan
04-03-2012, 02:03 AM
Oh my, you're so good at this! :o

You know, I was beginning to realize the gradual lines this just today, when I was in my car and got a glimpse of the Vesuvius (Yep, I'm from Naples). It was not so clear, but I was beginning to wonder if all mountains have so morbid slopes.
It's incredible how much we don't see, sometimes, even things that are in front of our eyes every day. It's clear now! ;)
Well, leaving philosophy behind, I thank you for your words, I also think my technique is improving a bit for every new sketch I make, but I know I'm still far from a good result. However, your image has been illuminating (perhaps it was the happy sun-smile? :D), especially the B/W version of the mountain and the layers explanation. It points out some flaws I have in my general approach to the shape. Can't wait to implement what I've learned in my next sketch! :)

The forum does not understand how crucial your role has been, and won't let me rep you ('cause I repped you for the Arcadia map, I think). You'll have to do with just my thanks for now (they are a LOT of thanks, though :D :D :D), but you'll have yuor rep as soon as I can give it to you again! :)

I will post another sketch soon and share what I come out with!

Morgan
04-03-2012, 11:19 AM
I made it, I made it!!!!! :)
My technique still needs refining, of course, I need practice and experimentation, but I'm quite satisfied with the result!
Credit goes to Slylok for pointing me in the right direction, and thanks everyone for the advices and support.
I will go on posting updates and revisions for critique and comments! But not now. Now I have to go on and jump in excitement all over the room. I'm so happy! :D :D :D

Gidde
04-03-2012, 11:36 AM
Looks good! It's *really* dark though. Maybe some more highlights?

Morgan
04-03-2012, 11:40 AM
Yes, some of the refinements I was referring to are to use brighter and less saturated colors, add more highlights and smooth some shadows.
It's a question of brushes and opacity, though, shouldn't be too difficult to adjust! :)

To be honest, I made this in a rush 'cause I wanted to see the final effect. Smaller and less opaque strokes should increase quality exponentially! ;)

Slylok
04-03-2012, 08:08 PM
Yeah thats looking really good. Another thing i forgot to mention is the color layer and pattern layer should fade as they get closer to the base of the mountain as well. it just helps it blend into the map more. The happy sunshine was my way of trying to be like bob ross. he was such happy artist and fun to watch. keep it up the good work:)

Gidde
04-03-2012, 09:50 PM
Happy little trees! I used to love watching that guy.

Morgan
04-04-2012, 08:03 AM
Thanks Slylok. As for the blending, I used a bit fo smudge tool on the base of those layers, but came out to be insufficient, it has to blend more. Next time I will also go with less opaque brush strokes! :)

As for Bob Ross, didn't know the guy but couldn't resist the temptation. Genius! :o
"Everybody knows there are 500 branches in an evergreen tree"
Yeah, everybody! :D

Morgan
04-05-2012, 12:30 PM
Had very little time in these few days, but I managed to make another sketch.
This one was hand drawn with pencil on paper, and then scanned and converted to brush.
Still working on the coloring technique, but I like the result. Real pencil adds a certain "something" to the result, I think! ;)
Sorry for the unzoomable size, but this was just a quick test!

Slylok
04-05-2012, 11:23 PM
Oh yeah now you got it!

Gidde
04-05-2012, 11:55 PM
That looks great!

Morgan
04-06-2012, 12:33 PM
Thank you guys! I'm now busy drawing mountains pencil-on-paper style. If I come out with something worth sharing, I may think about releasing a brush set! :)

Gidde
04-07-2012, 02:25 AM
Pencil's fun, but it makes me miss having a white paintbrush ;)

Morgan
04-07-2012, 08:29 AM
Pencil's fun, but it makes me miss having a white paintbrush ;)

Hmm... perhaps I'd share your feelings if I knew how to use a paintbrush! :D

Slylok
04-07-2012, 06:32 PM
hehe...i think he means when you use a pencil instead of photoshop you cant make quick corrections like you can by switching to the white paintbrush. I too miss the ease of making quick corrections on the digital medium when using pencil and paper. Photoshop is pretty much all i use now to do sketching and concepts. unless im not at my computer and i get a sudden urge of inspiration.

Morgan
04-07-2012, 10:03 PM
Oh. Oh, that makes even more sense now. I feel so stupid! :D

Well, I do agree that using photoshop is better, especially for the UNDO function. But, I don't know why, when I work directly on digital I can't get a convincing hand drawn effect (small strokes, hatches and so on).
Should I try playing with brush settings, perhaps?

Oh, well, while I'm at it, I post another update. I'm very happy with this last result! :)
Please note the parchment background. It's done with the famous coffee-and-oven photoshop effect! :D

Gidde
04-08-2012, 02:25 AM
Actually I meant snowcaps rather than corrections, but otherwise Slylok had my meaning nailed :) I too, find it hard to get good hatching and such with the digital media; I think it may be because I'm too poor to afford a bigger tablet (I'm using a 4"x6" tablet to translate to 23" of screen), so hand actions don't precisely translate to actual drawing actions. I've found that zooming way in helps a lot though. So does the brush/tool used.

To get back on topic, I love the mountain! Never really been a fan of that style of parchment, but to each her own!

Morgan
04-08-2012, 07:26 AM
Hmmm, perhaps that's my problem, too, the small tablet. I'll have to try with the zoom-in technique. I'm not reallt sure I haven't tried it, but neither I am sure I did! :P
However, on pencil, I draw just the silouhette of the mountain and the hatching. I add color with photoshop, and don't really have problems with snowcaps (in the coor layer I draw very very light gray instead of brown).
Still, would love the Undo. :(

Oh, the parchment is there just for test. I did it the other morning while I was brewing my coffee, and wanted to try the effect. Actually, I don't think I will be using that because it's too "textures" and I think I'll want a more morbid background.
Actually, I'm looking for a good tutorial for a parchment background :P
As for the mountain, thanks. I added a bit of texture there, and really like the effect. Now I'll have to draw a map with this style to see the general effect! :)

Gidde
04-08-2012, 02:40 PM
RobA has a great tutorial for making parchment in Gimp, check it out :)

Morgan
04-08-2012, 03:04 PM
Thanks Gidde! It is exactly what I needed! I don't know how I managed to miss it! :D
Now let's see if it is also doable in photoshop. Otherwise I guess I'll be getting GIMP soon enough! :D