View Full Version : Pirate Cove

04-16-2008, 05:09 PM
So I have a bandit camp and pirate cove to put together for my players. I threw together a quick sketch that would serve but they didn't make it to the cove this session so I didn't have to use it. This is a good thing as I'd like to do a good job on it, and at the moment it is pretty rough. Anyway, here it is in its current form.


I'm playing with the style of things at the moment so any suggestions are very welcome. I have to get it done before next Friday (25th) so it should change pretty quickly over the next few days.

04-17-2008, 02:10 AM
I can see it forming. Pretty layout. Nice starting colours.

Needs a gallows or some such bloody monument for scaring away locals.

Are you starting these with pen and paper then scanning them?


04-17-2008, 04:08 AM
No, these are done with a tablet from start to finish.

The cove is off the beaten track - they are hiding from the locals rather than scaring them away.

04-17-2008, 05:48 AM
I'm liking it .... can't wait to see where its going in the final version

04-17-2008, 12:15 PM
I like where this is heading. This looks like a great start. The terrain and sketches of the buildings and cave really pique my interest and I want to know more about this place. Great job!

04-18-2008, 06:02 PM
I'm playing with the different methods of drawing in the lines and colouring the terrain. I'm doing this on some other sketches to try and get a style down for the different elements. Here's the current iteration of this work. Here the height difference at the cliffs is shown using a burn on the parchment texture to give a subtle shadow effect. I'm not sure whether to put in the ink hatching to emphasise the height difference.

The inking in this one was done using my new best friend in Gimp - the ink tool. I like the more sketchy feel of it.

The colour was laid down using an airbrush and the the colour from gradient function with the default Gimp 'Greens' gradient. This was smudged to even out the more obvious lines and then used as an overlay to allow the parchment to shine through. I applied the burn layer to this as well.


Any thoughts/comments welcome (and indeed actively solicited!) as always.

04-18-2008, 06:19 PM
I like the direction. I'm torn on the escarpment lines. In a way they have a more "cheating" feel to them in this particular map. I don't think they will be required once you add the depth of the jungle on the top elevation. Definitely keep them on a separate layer that is for sure. I love that color though. It all has a very old world gritty feel that is befitting a pirate setting. There is a little optical play with what is higher, but as I said once you add the canopy I think this will go away especially if you have some of the canopy overhanging the cliff edges.

04-18-2008, 06:31 PM
Those are interesting comments RP. I have a couple of other ideas I want to try for the escarpment lines. I'll have a shot with those tomorrow and see what comes up.

Here's a slightly updated sketch sheet with some ideas for the trees (ignore the mountains - they were just a random doodle after I had an idea)


Actually looking at this one, I guess I will drop all the colours down a fair bit more in the final version. Just a hint should be enough on this. I'm not sure whether the trees should be flat or whether they should be more shaped (as they are here).

Anyway, enough fun doodling for tonight. I'll play more with this tomorrow.

04-20-2008, 06:48 AM
I've drawn out a finished outline for the cliff edge around the camp and sketched in the location of all the buildings, tents, ship and so on. The next step is to ink these in properly, do the trees and then start on the colour wash. I decided to move the layout around a little to allow for three different points of entry to the camp to make the encounter less linear.


The story behind this is that the pirates (south area) and the bandits (north area) share the same cove as a base but are only in an uneasy alliance. The pirate ship is holed up here in need of repairs and the two groups are getting fractious. In addition, a monster (I'm thinki and ankheg or two) has entered into the loot cave, meaning that neither the pirates or the bandits can get at the treasure. The players follow some tracks down the river to the northeast and arrive in the middle of this situation. They are definitely outnumbered by both the pirates and the bandits, but if they can play them off against each other they should stand a much better chance. If it sounds familiar, it is taken from the Mysteries of the Moonsea book set in the FR. I just decided their map was dreadful and didn't have half of the fun promised by a pirate cove.

Anyway, that's the latest WIP. I'll ink it later today.

04-20-2008, 06:32 PM
Now the trees are inked in. I need to go back to the places where they overlap the cliff and river lines and clear them up, but otherwise the trees are now done. Next step will be doing the final ink lines for the structures and then colouring the buildings and the ground and water.


04-20-2008, 10:22 PM
Are the posted images at the full size you work at, or have they been downsized? Along with that, what is the brush size you are using?


-Rob A>

04-21-2008, 01:21 AM
They are at half the size I work at. The images themselves are at 2000x2000px which is pretty much the limit of what I can get away with using in maptool. I'm using a 2-3px ink brush size for the outlining.

04-21-2008, 11:50 AM
This is really coming together nicely. I love the deep rich water color effect you are using. It gives it a real organic feel.

Is that a passage between the to camps I see on the left? That is a great way to allow movement and still have some control. Neat idea!

04-21-2008, 05:53 PM
The cave entrances are actually to the cave where they stored the loot - the one that now has ankhegs or some similar nasty in it. Actually a bulette would be a fairly ironic nasty to put in there...

Anyway, it was the treasure cave because it had equal access from both factions section of the cove. I also envisages it as a hole bored through the cliff by the see when it was higher, or drilled through by the stream/river before it changed course in the past.

Anyway, here is the current WIP.


The ink lines have been done for the structures. No lines for the terrain though. These will go in after I have coloured them to add texture at that stage. Also, the ink lines here are black, I'll change them to a semi-overlay layer later.

04-22-2008, 02:56 PM
Okay, all the large blocks of colour have been added. Not sure about all the intensities, opaqueness yet. Any comments very welcome.


04-22-2008, 03:19 PM
I am still waiting to see how you do the cliffs! I do like what you have so far...

-Rob A>

04-22-2008, 03:53 PM
I concur, I can see the differences between the elevations already in the color differentiation, but the fact they are cliffs is still not readily apparent.

04-22-2008, 04:10 PM
Fair enough. That'll be my task for this evening then. Any ideas? I'm thinking a brown/grey tone laid on or under a burn layer around the edge of the cliffs. I'd like to avoid any further ink lines, but it may be necessary in the end.

04-22-2008, 04:35 PM
I would like to see it done without the lines as well. I think if the cliff face is a lighter brown/green and the floor below is a darker brown/green with a gradient where they meet that may be enough to make the eye see the cliff for what it is.

04-22-2008, 04:56 PM
I have been playing a little with the cliffs. I am not happy yet but here are two separate styles. Not too sure how to progress from here.


04-22-2008, 05:21 PM
I like the second one much better than the first.

04-22-2008, 05:38 PM
Yes, I agree. Here it is with cliffs!


04-22-2008, 06:51 PM
Man that map has a lovely feel to it. Lovely work, Torstan!

04-22-2008, 07:33 PM
I think I have just been inspired to purchase a graphics tablet. It's incredible to see a map like this from start to finish, awesome job.

04-23-2008, 05:11 AM
Not quite finished yet, but almost there now. Definitely will be done in time for Friday's game.

If you are after a graphics tablet, a little A6 Wacom was big enough for me. It fits in my laptop bag and I never use the A4 Nisis I have sitting at home anymore.

04-23-2008, 11:12 AM
You really nailed it torstan! That's a work of art as much as a map.

04-23-2008, 12:05 PM
Thanks! That's enormously kind. I'll try to get this finished tonight. It's been interesting working out more of a consistent style with my tablet. I'm liking the result so far, but I think I may well still play around with the opacity of the colours when I've finished the detailing.

04-23-2008, 04:54 PM
This is a wonderful, wonderful piece!!!! Great job, torstan!

04-23-2008, 05:38 PM
And I think it is done - here's the nominal finished version.


04-23-2008, 06:55 PM
For being "nominal" it is definitely a thing of beauty. I would even go so far as to say that is better than a lot of the "professional" encounter maps I've seen. Your players better give you some serious kudos for that. In fact, that would be worth getting printed and framed and putting up in the game room. Those colors are just awesome.

04-24-2008, 01:00 AM
I'm digging the soft colours and overall design. >.> Looks like a very cozy pirate cove.

04-24-2008, 05:38 AM
Thanks Chel and RP for the compliments. I've done another version with the colours dialled down.


Right, enough tinkering. This one is done.

@RPMiller: there is no game room for this to be put on the wall of as all game is play are now done over the net with maptool. There's a good two sessions' worth of play in this map though, so they'll definitely get some use out of it. I'm sure the players will appreciate the craftmanship as they get butchered by pirates :)

04-24-2008, 12:04 PM
I'm sure the players will appreciate the craftmanship as they get butchered by pirates :)
Excellent! It's good to have a plan. >:)

05-01-2008, 04:36 AM
Beautiful, Wonderful, Awe-inspiring piece of work torstan. I know all the hard work you did with the cliffs and such, but my favorite aspect of this map (aside from the wonderful coloring and shading) is the ship. For some reason that just looks..... sexy. :) yep, that's the word for it!

Have some Rep! :)