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Heinrich Zweihänder
04-12-2012, 10:05 AM
Hello, I'm working on a map of some role-play universe I'm in.
I've been working on it for a year, and its complexity increase as well.
I already learned a lot working with it, and I hope you'll help me to learn even more as well if you have something to tell.

I'm working with some guy on a CampaignCartographer3 map he did.

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When I was chosen to help for the map, I decided to use inkscape, for many reasons, but mainly because CampaignCartographer3 do not run on linux... my single operating system.

This should be a quite comprehensive map of the universe, including geography (map elements), countries, religion distribution, main trade resource location, place names, city locations and flag of countries.

Countries :
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Trade resource : Note location of trade resource is a bit random, just to try it look great. No all resources are done, and some resource need to be modified because there are hardly visible.
Also each trade resource is in its own layer so I can selected the resource I want to display.
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Now I'm to working on the height map. Using a custom filter based on the diffuse lighting filter node, I convert some grayscale image to a bump. The grayscale image is made of svg shapes, blurred at various level. This is not as easy an creating a grayscale image on some raster image editor, because blurring must occur at the same level along the curve. Besides, for performance reasons, filters have a bounding box to work within. This box is often too small, creating those ugly line/rectangle-bump artifacts in the picture. I truly need to find some better way to create this grayscale image. Also note the rivers were placed long before I start this height map, so I is even harder to create it. The linear river is a canal.

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Finally, the elements map. It already gone through some revamp, but is to be again modified. The current version is a bit "cartoonish" and colorful. Each elements were directly drawn on my computer, and cloned with the spray tool of inkscape. Using inkscape allows me to move/delete elements later.

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I do not really like this map wich looks too much "happy world". I'm now trying to paint my elements by hand, and include them in inkscape. This is long process and I hope the result will stand out.
I'm a bit stuck to decide whether I should outline them with the color of the paper or not. An outline helps to separates elements one from another but it looks a bit strange... I have not decide yet which one is better :
outlined -> 43955 43956 <- not outlined
Of course, I painted more than two trees, but I did process only those two for the test.


Well, that was a long post. Thank you for your attention !

Lukc
04-12-2012, 03:56 PM
Uhm ... I'm speechless. It's detailed, is what it is! And the trade resources remind me of Civilization! I think Hai-etlik (http://www.cartographersguild.com/member.php?9958-Hai-Etlik) is your go-to guy for more on Inkscape! Check out the things he does with it and you'll get a few ideas for the way you can move with Inkscape. :)

Katto
04-12-2012, 04:40 PM
"Heinrich! Mir graut's vor dir.“ (Faust, Goethe)
Sorry, couldn't resist. With this detailed resources I am curious how the final map will look like. I will follow this WIP.

jbgibson
04-12-2012, 05:41 PM
First.... wow. Nice, comprehensive worldbuilding there. Is this your first use of Inkscape, or did you already know it? If it's new to you, you're doing great at tackling a new tool.

Second -- immediate kudos for someone who lists peppers as a major natural resource. :-)

Third -- some of the rivers have issues. Put simply, at any one place on the landscape there will only be one direction that's 'lowest', so water will only flow that one way. Any spot where there is more than one lowest direction will be 'corrected' pretty quickly by erosion. So except for fairly rare cases, rivers join but do not split as they go downhill. Outlets from a lake are the same - only one spot will be lowest on a lake's rim, so that outlet will capture all the flow, and any temporary rival streams will lose out. A good reference is Redrobes' excellent How to get your rivers in the right place (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?3822-How-to-get-your-rivers-in-the-right-place) tutorial. You're in good company to need to think about streamflow to get it believable - my day on CG is not complete unless I've suggested somebody view that how-to :-).

That said, since you already have one major canal in operation -- if you feel like you're stuck with the river network as shown, you could designate a different color for canals, and 'correct' the extra connections by showing some as being man-made. Like one real river flowing out of a lake and several other dug connections to rivers that happen to be nearby. Differentiating the one big existing canal would be good anyway, since right now it takes a text explanation to keep the viewer from going "huh??"

Next - I know what you mean about being dissatisfied with a look that's "too cartoonish"... but what you have going isn't really *bad*. maybe you could be happier with a more subdued set of colors? Or some graduated colors instead of flat, discrete colors? Mind you, using flat colors and crisp outlines to permit output as small .gifs is about the only thing I could call my style, so I approve of what you have... but it has to make YOU happy first :-). If you're improving the elements you are using as symbols, you could benefit from several ongoing or recent threads on hand-drawn elements. The mountains for example aren't bad[/], they're just kind of flat - I bet you could make use of the suggestions on making mountain symbols look more three-dimensional.

Next-th (already lost count - doesn't say much for my attention span) -- the outlining of repeated elements: How about if instead of giving them a background-color outer glow, you give each one a bit of a darker inner glow or border? Not black & bold, so distinct as to look like bits of a child's coloring book; just a pixel or less of somewhat-darker value? I agree the way you have a paper-colored outline looks odd. You're handling the scatter of repeated elements well, by the way.

The distribution of resources is good too - you've resisted the tendency of some to make every nation have equal access to stuff, or at least have [I]something they are each 'rich' in... real (realistic) nations have surpluses and lacks, and that's what causes interesting trade opportunities (not to mention interesting conflicts... ). And face it, some countries are rich and some are poor.

You say this is for a role-play universe -- are players using this for a setting, or are their "characters" the nations themselves? One has to do a good sales job to get average players to accept a nation that has serious lacks - most people want to be biggest and best :-). Personally, in the geofiction games I've played, I have enjoyed playing underdogs.

Speaking of Hai-Etlik :-) if I suggest slapping a latitude/longitude grid or graticule on willy-nilly, I'll get in trouble :-)... but if you *do* want to hold yourself to the implied precision of such an overlay, synchronizing the gridlines with your filter boxes could hide the linear artifacts. Only doable if you have a rectangular projection going on -- unless you get fancy with the shapes of your filter boxes, which would seem to be a bit excessive. For that matter, a locator grid doesn't have to match any particular projection, so long as you make it clear by labeling your axes that that's all it is (say, A,B,C... one way; 1,2,3 the other). But the only reason for a map to have a locator grid is if you have a bunch of scattered items the reader wants to find - or if there's stuff you want to label that would make the map too busy otherwise.

Again - nice work ! I look forward to seeing it progress.

arsheesh
04-12-2012, 06:09 PM
Wow! Like others have already mentioned, you've thought out this map/setting in amazing detail. I particularly like how you've broken up the trade regions by resources. I've tried to do this for my own campaign world but in nowhere near such detail. Impressive stuff. I'll be watching to see how this develops.

Cheers,
-Arsheesh

Heinrich Zweihänder
04-14-2012, 06:48 AM
@all Thank you all for your positive feedbacks ! This is very motivating !

@jbgibson I didn't do the rivers myself, but I didn't realize there was so much trouble with them. Unfortunately some rivers already have background with them, I'll explain the person who did the river (and the cc3 map) the problem.

For the cartoonish look, I believe I'll try to find some way to keep two versions. I believe the flat look of mountains is due to the cartoon style, and using some linear gradiant will give smooth mountains which is even worse.

For the outline don't forget these are hand-drawn elements (actually painted with Soy sauce and a brush) on white paper. Your solution seems a bit hard to do. I just decided to drop any outline.

For the game, most of the character are the faction leaders or have some other important key role in their countries. There 5 "playable countries" that are the five larger ones and consequently should have at least fair amounts of resources, and the "other"... But again The resource map is to change in near future.

For the grid, this can be easily added on a separate layer and turned on/off at will. Thanks for the suggestion.

Heinrich Zweihänder
04-14-2012, 06:50 AM
Thank you for the reference ! His gallery is amazing. I have to level up ! Does he have any topic I can follow ?

PS: Trade resources are indeed inspired from computer wargames

Bisol von Sint-Omer
04-14-2012, 12:03 PM
Hello guys,

I am the co-mapper of Heinrich. Basically, he helped me to improve my role-play universe and I owe him a lot of the improvment of my work.
So, if we are to mention the role-play background, let's say it is on the way, but already quite dense. My forum is unfortunately far from well-known, which doesn't help the role-play to be fully effective, but it offers us the opportunity to improve the background. We decided that the map was the first base we needed, then followed the History which defines the civilizations.
Sincerely, this forum is going to be a great help about the mapping concerns. If I am to tell about the rivers which I designed, I received the basic formation in geology that would have allowed me to do this better, but the heights map that Heinrich is making has never been introduced to me before. The mountains, however, were drawn at the same time as were the rivers, which is a mistake as they are supposed to be placed at first. According to me, the big mapping steps for a non magic world are :
- The continents
- The tectonic plates
- The mountains and volcanos
- The main streams
- The rivers
- The biomes
- The forests etc...

If I had to start a new map, I would do that. The fact is that my map is from 2008, so, lots has been built on it already and we are trying to improve it without interfering too much with the role-play, if you know what I mean... I have not given a look at the heights' map of Heinrich yet, but I guess there are problems with the rivers indeed. nevertheless, some rivers are not natural, as you noticed, and there are some areas in which the land is so wet and flat that it is quite hard to design them properly.

Thank you very much for your attention anyway :)

PS : For those interested in a nearly dead belgian forum, here is the link :
http://pandrea.team-talk.net/

Heinrich Zweihänder
04-14-2012, 02:46 PM
Hey, Bisol !

The height is new from 3 days, so it's normal I didn't show it to you yet. About that map I realized from my own quote “This is not as easy an creating a grayscale image on some raster image editor” I should simply paint the height field in gimp then import it in inkscape, possibly convert the bitmap to paths. It is far better looking fairly unzoomed, at a more zoom level it looks “minecrafty”.

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Converting the raster image to a path do not improve the result very much : 256 level values seems too few to render a smooth slope with a low dip.

(PS: You forget to mention the "nearly dead Belgian forum" is in french. Honestly who would be interested ?)

Bisol von Sint-Omer
04-14-2012, 02:58 PM
That height's map looks great anyway, even if we need to improve it. I think the mountains are not going to move anyway, unlike the rivers. Fairly easy to move them, I think. Not many of them have a role-play background yet.
Concerning my link toward the forum, of course they are not going to be interested, but it illustrates the situation : this map has a background.

jbgibson
04-15-2012, 01:58 AM
HEY. Any time I hear something that sounds a bit like "These aren't the droids you are looking for. Move along" I am naturally drawn to look, and closely :-). Besides, a number of us Guildsmen do speak French (for me I should rather say I READ a little, and understand very roughly...) And for the rest, there is of course approaching your site through Google Translate (http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fpandrea.team-talk.net%2F) :-).

Does "to retcon" have an equivalent in French? Retroactive continuity. I.e. to add material to a backstory to permit desired present and future events? If one has a flexible imagination it may take only tiny tweaks of past history to accomplish one's goals; since a game world is inherently sketchily detailed, betimes it only requires adding bits that really don't even change history.

Sixteen thousand messages on the game board? Yes, you have well illustrated the fact that the map has a great deal of background- and understandable some of that will be unchangable. i just look on a fixed set of constraints as a huge opportunity for creatively engineering the solution I want. "Make a dessert" is not so great a challenge. "Using this flat lite beer, these nineteen chili peppers, and this ostrich egg, create a dessert to present to these four judgemental, skeptical, and jaded cordon bleu chefs. You have twelve minutes. Go." Now THAT's a challenge :-)

Lukc
04-15-2012, 03:20 AM
"We are not amused," quoth the bleu chef.

On another note - I like how you're doing the height-map. What are you using to render it? Inkscape?

Bisol von Sint-Omer
04-15-2012, 03:40 AM
I am greatly surprised and glad in the interest you are giving to our map, especially considering the size of this forum (which sometimes is a negative point as one project is invisible among the 10 others of the day). Also, I have to admit Heinrich and I look a bit like the star wars droids, especially if you consider that my personnage in the comic strip (we used the universe for many types of activities) is quite a drwarf while Heinrich is tall :P Nevertheless, I am HochMeister, so, da big boss of me land.
I am currently hesitating with starting a blank universe, so that I am using your advices from the very beginning, rather than spending hours in integrating them in a somewhat complex background. Of course, I would use my previous work to quickly boost some steps. Let's see what Heinrich thinks about it.
NB : if you like to have a look at more maps (I think you love that :P) you can find many scratches of maps on the forum, in the game/initial context/maps folders ;)

EDIT : just noticed the star wars reference was for the "this forum is not interesting, move along" rather than for Heinrich and I arguying. You will soon discover the second interpretation is quite appropriate.

Bisol von Sint-Omer
04-17-2012, 04:03 PM
So, considering our map, would you rather suggest to start it back from the begining, or to correct its faults. In the second case, what would seem a priority for you (the rivers have been noted already) ?

Heinrich Zweihänder
04-18-2012, 04:22 AM
@jbgibson You're right on the whole thing.

@lukc the height map is done with inkscape, yeah. This is a custom filter because I prefer to code my own than to search through the 100 pre-made filters the conveniant one. It basically use the color matrix effect to convert gray value to alpha channel, then use the diffuse lighting effect to generate a grayscale image of the lighting with a distant light. The grayscale is merged with the background with a composite effect in the custom arithmetic mode. On top of that filter I usually add a "rought paper" filter to get a slighty rough surface. It works almost the same way, but its input is a perlin noise. I can write a tuto for it if anyone wants.

@bisol This is a common reference : https://github.com/404.
For the new blank map, this is new concept, I have no idea what is best to do. Jeez, you've just managed to put my work in stand-by with one suggestion. If you want to restart the map, you ought to ask the other on the forum ;)

Hai-Etlik
04-20-2012, 03:55 AM
Speaking of Hai-Etlik :-) if I suggest slapping a latitude/longitude grid or graticule on willy-nilly, I'll get in trouble :-)... but if you *do* want to hold yourself to the implied precision of such an overlay, synchronizing the gridlines with your filter boxes could hide the linear artifacts. Only doable if you have a rectangular projection going on -- unless you get fancy with the shapes of your filter boxes, which would seem to be a bit excessive. For that matter, a locator grid doesn't have to match any particular projection, so long as you make it clear by labeling your axes that that's all it is (say, A,B,C... one way; 1,2,3 the other). But the only reason for a map to have a locator grid is if you have a bunch of scattered items the reader wants to find - or if there's stuff you want to label that would make the map too busy otherwise.

Depending on the extent of the map, there is a fairly simple way to come up with a graticule: http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?16284-Large-Scale-Graticules-Made-Easy


@lukc the height map is done with inkscape, yeah. This is a custom filter because I prefer to code my own than to search through the 100 pre-made filters the conveniant one. It basically use the color matrix effect to convert gray value to alpha channel, then use the diffuse lighting effect to generate a grayscale image of the lighting with a distant light. The grayscale is merged with the background with a composite effect in the custom arithmetic mode. On top of that filter I usually add a "rought paper" filter to get a slighty rough surface. It works almost the same way, but its input is a perlin noise. I can write a tuto for it if anyone wants.

I think you're the first other person on this forum I've seen using Filter Effects in Inkscape.

Given the complexity and varied data sets of this map, you might be in territory where a GIS wouldn't be the utterly ridiculous overkill it would normally be for fantasy maps. Using one would allow you to create multiple maps from a single pool of raw data fairly easily, and it should allow for a better shaded relief effect, especially if you were to switch to a proper Digital Elevation Model rather than a simple greyscale image. You do end up with the problem of needing an editor capable of editing a floating point GeoTIFF as if it were a normal image though.

This tutorial is rather terse, and not complete (I'll get back to it at some point), but it should give you an idea of whether you want to try a GIS: http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?17469-Some-pointers-for-using-GIS Several GISes are available for Linux, including QuantumGIS, which I use in that tutorial.

Bisol von Sint-Omer
04-20-2012, 12:33 PM
Using a GIS ? I may need to get familiar with that type of programs to generate maps of biodiversity hotspots, in order to evaluate the efficiency of the european network of biodiversity conservation to protect birds (Natura 2000). I will definitively consider the idea. Also, considering the fact my partner (Heinrich) is mathematicaly minded, we may manage to do some good work (about Pandrea). Your suggestions, of course, will be of great use too. This is kind of funny, as I downloaded QuantumGIS a minute before reading your post (bioogical purpose). I knew I should have studied geography :P By the way, if anyone is interested in ecological processes for his maps, I would gladly be helpful ^^

EDIT : Can we somehow use inkscape or whichever program to save our map in a format that QuantumGIS can use ? And would you rather use QuantumGis or ArcGis, that I may have to use in the future (meaning I have to work on my windows session) ?

Heinrich Zweihänder
04-21-2012, 08:56 AM
@Hai-Etlik I bet we have to start over then… :sad:

I'm afraid a GIS is a bit too scientific tool, hence… with ugly output ? I feel this map in a more artistic way, but if I can get nice image with a GIS, maybe i could use it.

@Bisol: Bwahaha spherical coordinates are so easy, you don't need my mathematical skill to use them (and I refuse to use a more accurate system). If you want to work with me probably better to use qgis, although I'm unsure I'm willing to learn yet another tool. It's up to you.

To avoid posting without a picture here is the trees I made a week ago :
44184 44185

The evergreens were not painted with the same opacity and I find it quite nice, but a bit weird when compared to the broad-leaf trees.

Bisol von Sint-Omer
04-21-2012, 11:45 AM
Looks Japaneese, so looks cool :) I am currently downloading geocontrol 2 and vue 9 pioneer to give a try at those tools.
The GIS may be useful to implement lots of data that would help to generate different types of maps. My duty shall I say, as you would rather use your skills to work on the design ;) Anyway, nothing prevent us to try different ways. Let's summarize our tools :
- Inkscape
- Gimp
- Quantum GIS
- GeoControl 2
- Vue 9 pioneer
- Geomod

The last one can give some pretty results. I shall present this on this forum, as I don't believe many people are initiated to the tool. I will start a windows session tonight, so that I can make print screen for you.
I just have a scratch to present you, if you are interested :
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On the left side : part of the inkscape map
On the right side : medieval 2 campaign map designed with geomod (no trees, not many textures, no cities, etc... implemented yet)

By the way Heinrich, have you given a look to this tutorial ? http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?1142-Award-Winner-Using-GIMP-to-Create-an-Artistic-Regional-RPG-Map

Bisol von Sint-Omer
04-21-2012, 04:09 PM
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Here are some more sample I quickly made tonight. You will notice some errors witht the rivers etc, but it should be fairly easy to avoir them by working more properly. Those pictures are from my "Pandrea mod" for M2TW, working with geomod.
I have to add that, as this is an application for a video game, the problems are :
-> you need the game
-> I have never found out if it is possible to fully unzoom, the second picture showing the maximum unzoom level within the game
-> you cannot draw elements that would cause the game to crash, for insteance a city in an unreachable place

However, in case some of you would be interested in a test, and don't own the game, I may explain them how to work with tga files so that I can use them in the game and generate the printscreens. I don't expect anyone to be interested, but one never knows....

Hai-Etlik
04-22-2012, 02:31 AM
@Hai-Etlik I bet we have to start over then… :sad:

I'm afraid a GIS is a bit too scientific tool, hence… with ugly output ? I feel this map in a more artistic way, but if I can get nice image with a GIS, maybe i could use it.


Certainly not ugly. Making maps is one of the primary tasks of a GIS, so they need to be able to do a good job of it.

They aren't graphics editors though and so they aren't much for non-functional curlicues and filters and whatnot. Where I thought you might find it useful would be in managing all your different data sets as it sounds like you have more data than can reasonably fit on a single map. You could then export to SVG or PDF and load into Inkscape for final touches.

I used QGIS for laying out and projecting the features in this map: http://www.cartographersguild.com/album.php?albumid=158&attachmentid=36691

And I used it for the majority of the graphical work in this map: http://www.cartographersguild.com/album.php?albumid=158&attachmentid=43675

Both were finished off in Inkscape.

Bisol von Sint-Omer
04-25-2012, 03:26 PM
Trying to learn gimp, here is a draft that I made. This is related to one of our island (Antinoe). The "relief" has been made using geocontrol 2.
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NB : water texture from http://greeneyezz-stock.deviantart.com/art/Water-Texture-10-58575292

arsheesh
04-25-2012, 04:37 PM
That looks really interesting. However, what is the scale you are working with? The sea foam looks great, but it also gives the impression that this is a small rock outrcrop with lichen growing over the top, as opposed to an island. Still, I think it looks pretty promising though.

Cheers,
-Arsheesh

Bisol von Sint-Omer
04-26-2012, 03:49 AM
Your are absolutly right :) This island is quite large (around 150 km long I think), and clearly the sea isn't in right proportions. I just lacked time yesterday to work on the water's texture. I think I will just use 2 textures, one for deep sea, one for coastal sea, and try to get a nice transition between them. Nevertheless, even though the sea texture isn't appropriate, I find it cool :P

Here it is :
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And another try using distorsion effects :
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Of course, as I didn't spend much time on it, it isn't very proper yet. However, considering the large scale of the total Pandrea's map, it may be sufficient as the local resolution will drop. Anyway, your comments are more than welcome :)