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View Full Version : The land of Andoria & Realm of Telrith - [unpaid] commission (WIP)



rpgmapmaker
04-20-2012, 12:46 AM
This is the first time that I have ever made a map for someone else. I love making fantasy maps, and having the chance to work on one that might be a novel is really cool.

The first version of the map turned out well in my opinion. However, in the end it did not meet the intent of the author to have a map that looked like it might have been drawn by a character in the story. Mr. Wall, has been very helpful in providing the details needed to place features in the right locations. He has also provided several source images to make things easier. He also sent me the 12 page (single spaced) outline for the book!

Here are two of the images he provided:
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During the first exchange of information we focused on the region of Telrith. The process I used for making this version was to. First, draw each individual element. And second paste them all over the map! At first I used different types of trees for each forest, but in the end settled on using just one throughout the entire map. While the mountains look alright, I have never quite been satisfied with doing them that way. There are currently so many wonderful examples of hand-drawn mountains on this site that I would like to emulate. I might have continued to work on these particular mountains if the author and I have not decided to try and do a more hand-drawn look for everything.

Here are some of the tests that I made for version 1:
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:compass:Here is the realm of Telrith - version 1::compass:
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C. M. Perry 2012

So, there are so many good hand-drawn styles out there it is hard to pick one. For now, I tried to combine several different versions that I have seen here on the Guild. For this version I am also increasing the size of the file to 8.5 inches X 5 .5 inches at 300 dpi. While I like the solid mass of trees, I still don't know if I will go back to trying individual ones. Also for this version I am trying for just black and white with no gray scale shading or colored "Old paper" background. (that might change)

Here's the first Mountain & Forest test Version 2: - (full resolution but cropped):
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Sorry for the attachment overload! I am hoping that you all will get something out of seeing the map evolve as I go about the task of making it.

Let me say a big THANK YOU in advance to anyone willing to critique/comment on this work or provide advice on ways to improve. Positive and negative comments are welcome!

-RPGMM

P.S. This was dictated to my computer using Dragon Naturally Speaking (Speech-to-Text Software)

arsheesh
04-20-2012, 01:43 AM
Of all the styles shown, I think I like that of Telrith the best, followed by your second version of Forests and mountains. Telrith wins out for me both because of the nice subtle contrast between light & dark, and because all of the features of the map seem to be well integrated. Your second version of mountains and trees looks nice, but it seems a bit more busy. Perhaps if you had a bit less forest texture (aka canopy tops) it might be a bit less distracting. Overall though, I'd say this looks rather promising. Looking forward to seeing updates.

Cheers,
-Arsheesh

grangarian
04-20-2012, 05:57 AM
I'm a very big fan of the hand-drawn style maps and i always try to find something to improve it. There are many forms of the mountains, trees, roads, etc; and it's always nice to see something unique. Telrith map wins. I'm looking forward to see more of it.
And i also have a question for you, how do you plant the trees? Click-drag until it looks nice or maybe you use some secret technique?

rpgmapmaker
04-20-2012, 09:12 AM
... how do you plant the trees? Click-drag until it looks nice or maybe you use some secret technique?

Well, it's all starts with the little seed... add some love and tender care... They say that adding fish to the seeds can help (I am not a big fan of fish). Then you wait for about 300 years.........

After I draw the outline of the tree and shade it. I add a layer under the tree and color the whole thing white (and merge the two layers). This makes the tree icon have no "holes" in it for other trees to show through from under it. Then I start at the top of the forest and work down in rows (this keeps the trees lower in the forest on top). The layer order is important and I "alt-click & drag" to copy and move all-in-one step.

In Photoshop I use the layer folders to keep the trees all in one place and then once I have it looking the way I want it to... I merge the folder so that I don't have a file with thousands of layers :)

I guess in a way I am making my own little "Campaign Cartographer Icons" in Photoshop. I draw and keep all of the elements in a separate file then drag them into the main map as needed. I hope that helps.

---------------

Both of you told me that the "finished map of Teltith wins", but this is not a contest... that map has already "lost" in the sense as it does not meet the intent of customer. Don't get me wrong he likes the map, but there are too many complicated textures in gray scale for someone in fantasy world to have actually drawn.


... nice subtle contrast between light & dark, and because all of the features of the map seem to be well integrated...

Thanks, this was supposed to be a more final version of this map.


...it seems a bit more busy. Perhaps if you had a bit less forest texture (aka canopy tops) it might be a bit less distracting. Overall though, I'd say this looks rather promising.

You are right about the extra details being distracting. I guess, that I just needed a second opinion. I will try using a simpler more consistent texture on top of the trees and see if that helps. Some of the detail lines on the mountains also just don't look right to me... I think I will try some sort of "line shading"

Thanks for the feedback, it really means a lot to me.

rdanhenry
04-22-2012, 12:35 AM
One comment on "Realm of Telrith, version 1". With the given compass, the Northland Woods are not north of anything but sea.

rpgmapmaker
04-22-2012, 02:08 AM
Good point... that is my fault...

The author named everything but I told him that the climate was not right as the "coldest" part was then in the Southwest (if the top was north). I tried to get the map turned but was told to just turn the compass and keep the landmass the way it was... I did not catch the name issue. I will ask him if it is okay to change the name of the forest... I guess if the book was in print I would just have to change the compass back...

Here is a climate that seamed to work with the locations of his "hot" and "cold" places.
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Thanks for pointing it out :)

-----------------------------------------------

Also, here is a new Mountain & Tree test... I am still not sure what hand-drawn style to go with...
44228

I am blocking out the land features, so that I know what will go where and try to figure out the rivers on the rest of the landmass. I just made some simple brushes for each type of icon to make blocking them out easier and faster. I have added some of the "New Test Style" Mountains and Trees to this but that is slow going as this time I am drawing each mountain with no "copy/paste".

I am still doing the copy/paste for the trees... but I still might do forests as big masses. (900+ trees in that top forest and I was still not done with it)
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C. M. Perry 2012

-RPGMM

rpgmapmaker
04-23-2012, 01:13 AM
So, the client liked the new mountains and so I am starting in on version 2... I am not sure if the rivers work but I like them so far. The forests literally have thousands of trees at this point but I am not sure if the look is right. maybe some different sizes or other shapes... I am not sure what will look best... any advice on the forests is welcomed.

With the size of this version I will only be posting the part I am working on :)

Thanks again in advance for advice or criticism.
44270
C. M. Perry 2012

-RPGMM

Crudus
04-23-2012, 01:33 AM
I really like the little bridges over the rivers at various points!

Perhaps one way to improve the forests would be to break up the uniformity of the trees? You could do it only slightly, but I think it would help with the hand drawn effect. I find it hard to believe that one person could draw the same little oval on top of the tree thousands of times... maybe make some of them a couple pixels wider, or taller, or having a bit shorter trunk? Just minute variations.

Edit: It also occured to me that the shading on your trees is not as complex as that on the hills or mountains - just a little line off the trunk. Maybe a very slight shade on the right side of the leaves could make them fit the rest of the symbols better?

Freodin
04-23-2012, 05:34 AM
Some difference in the trees would definitly help. Have you tried to place them more sparsely?

The mountains are great though, looks like the classic copperplate engraving style of the 17th and 18th century. Maybe you should look towards these maps for some inspirations for the trees?

arsheesh
04-23-2012, 04:28 PM
I really like the new trees. The only critique I would have about them is that the brush stroke you've used for them is pretty thick, so that when you combine them into forests the forests turn out really dark. If you used a thinner brush stroke for the trees this might help. Course, that would mean going back and redoing a bunch of work. So you have to decide for yourself how cost effective that would be.

Cheers,
-Arsheesh

jfrazierjr
04-23-2012, 05:28 PM
I hate to be a downer, but based on your previous statements, I don't know how well the trees will work. First, if he is drawing as he goes over time, you would have to almost certainly have to draw many many trees to account for uniqueness. On top of that since it appears he is doing this as he goes, he would likely be using different quills so slightly different line thicknesses as things fill in over months. Unless he is the super meticulous sort, he won't hand drawn several hundred trees when a general shape outline of the forest would let him keep track of the same information in a fraction of the time. Don't get me wrong, your last post is very pretty, but your second last likely is more like what an adventurer might do "in the field".


Just something to think about and perhaps ask the author more information about the character motives and patience level.

Lukc
04-23-2012, 06:24 PM
Jfrazier has some good points - I just want to drop my 2 cents and so forth: I love your rivers. I think they're gorgeous. In the last post. One thing you should think about is painting over the coastline, so the river seems to flow into the Ocean.

Also, if I'm picking trees: I love the big fat pine trees.

rpgmapmaker
04-24-2012, 12:06 AM
I really like the little bridges over the rivers at various points!

Perhaps one way to improve the forests would be to break up the uniformity of the trees? You could do it only slightly, but I think it would help with the hand drawn effect. I find it hard to believe that one person could draw the same little oval on top of the tree thousands of times... maybe make some of them a couple pixels wider, or taller, or having a bit shorter trunk? Just minute variations.

Edit: It also occured to me that the shading on your trees is not as complex as that on the hills or mountains - just a little line off the trunk. Maybe a very slight shade on the right side of the leaves could make them fit the rest of the symbols better?

Yes, you are right. Making several trees (icons) and getting them to look good together is hard... I am not sure if what I am doing this time will work. I guess I will let you all be the judge :)

The trees are still not as detailed as the mountains but adding some shading did help.


Some difference in the trees would definitly help. Have you tried to place them more sparsely?

The mountains are great though, looks like the classic copperplate engraving style of the 17th and 18th century. Maybe you should look towards these maps for some inspirations for the trees?

I did look at many 17th century maps and you are right that is where I found that mountain style... I went back and look at all of those maps again for trees and did not like much of what I found... most of the time there are little to no trees and most are spread way thin... i guess that was not that important back then... But it did make me realize that with this style less is more.


I really like the new trees. The only critique I would have about them is that the brush stroke you've used for them is pretty thick, so that when you combine them into forests the forests turn out really dark. If you used a thinner brush stroke for the trees this might help. Course, that would mean going back and redoing a bunch of work. So you have to decide for yourself how cost effective that would be.

Cheers,
-Arsheesh

You have a good eye... I forgot to paste the layer style I was useing for the mountains on to the trees layer so they were still dark. it does not matter now as I did redo everything... but it ended up not being as much work as I thought. I mad a seamless texture of the tree icons 200 X 200 pix and then just cut that into the shapes for the forests... and cut some here are there from the inside too. Quite a time saver.

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C. M. Perry 2012


I hate to be a downer, but based on your previous statements, I don't know how well the trees will work. First, if he is drawing as he goes over time, you would have to almost certainly have to draw many many trees to account for uniqueness. On top of that since it appears he is doing this as he goes, he would likely be using different quills so slightly different line thicknesses as things fill in over months. Unless he is the super meticulous sort, he won't hand drawn several hundred trees when a general shape outline of the forest would let him keep track of the same information in a fraction of the time. Don't get me wrong, your last post is very pretty, but your second last likely is more like what an adventurer might do "in the field".


Just something to think about and perhaps ask the author more information about the character motives and patience level.

You are not a downer! You are correct that keeping in mind that before the great Photoshop when the pen was still mightier than the sward... it would have been a nightmare to do trees like that! I am still thinking about the Mass Forests vs. Tree Icons... no winner yet but for now I will stick to trying to make the icons work. I had not given that much thought to the number of quills a mapmaker would have used... but now that you say that... I also wonder if I should make more little mistakes, or should I say not correct some of the ones I already make to give the map a more "one try to get it right" look.


... I love your rivers. I think they're gorgeous. In the last post. One thing you should think about is painting over the coastline, so the river seems to flow into the Ocean.

Also, if I'm picking trees: I love the big fat pine trees.

I added some triangle trees just for you! Thanks for the tip on the river meets coastline... it looks much better now.

Here is the new test:
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C. M. Perry 2012

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to post and help me! The map is already moving in a better direction.

-RPGMM

jfrazierjr
04-24-2012, 07:48 AM
How did the customer like your Version 2 forests(first post)? I think something more blocked in would be closer to a character in the field's level of effort. Personally, I would think the mountains are a bit to perfect, but if the customer likes them, that's all that really matters.

Just in case your interested in playing with the technique, I have been playing around with the ink tool to make some mountains lately. This will give you a very hand drawn look since even with a tablet, it's quite hard to get the same pressure level each and every time and IMHO would do quite well in imitating a hand drawn look(of course that would mean you have to hand draw each mountain.... but then again... as CoyoteMax says: "...sometimes the most efficient way to make something look drawn by hand is to simply draw it by hand...") Unfortunately, my tests on my home computer were not saved since I had to reboot and could not save the tests... there were some messed up stuff there anyway, but it looked fairly promising.

rpgmapmaker
04-24-2012, 08:21 AM
How did the customer like your Version 2 forests(first post)? ... I have been playing around with the ink tool to make some mountains lately. ... as CoyoteMax says: "...sometimes the most efficient way to make something look drawn by hand is to simply draw it by hand...").

The customer did like them but he seems to like the tree icons better. (I will try a test with the blocked out mass trees and the new mountains to see how it looks together).

The character in the story is not in the "field"... think more like bilbo baggins from the hobbit getting back from his adventure and making a map after many years of sitting at home. so the time to draw is not a problem.

I am interested in this ink tool? I will have to re-download GIMP and see what it is all about. I have tried several drawing programs that claim to have better brush tools but have not found anything I like.

-RPGMM

Gidde
04-24-2012, 01:18 PM
I'll second the ink tool suggestion. It's probably the best way I've ever found to hand-draw with a tablet and make it look, well, like ink. The size to pressure link is better than any paintbrush tool i've used. It's also really sharp. I've been playing a lot with actual ink and dip pens, and the ink tool in gimp approximates it extremely well.

jfrazierjr
04-24-2012, 07:17 PM
Here is about 20 minutes or so of work with the Ink Tool in GIMP. Note that I started with a 1024x768 image and used Torstan's parchment as a background. I then zoomed in to 400% and just played with what looked nice and zoomed every now and again.

One word of caution, the Ink tool WILL take some getting used to. Very slight pressure changes with your pen can make large jumps in the line width as can the pen "tip" chosen, speed, etc based upon the settings, so it will take some getting used to. I included the top which is a duplicate of the bottom and on the bottom layer I used a 50% grey layer set to overlay and just kind of swatched in some black/white to create the shadows here and there where I thought it might make sense (on the mountains) and just a bit randomly on the "ground" using the Paintbrush tool with a very fuzzy brush and pen dynamics set to pressure opacity. The only thing not done with the ink tool was the parchment texture(of course) and the highlights/shadows. All of the line work was with the Ink tool set to two different "sizes" and various pen pressure on my tablet.

Personally, I think the lines look nice and "smooth" and well.. inky....

jbgibson
04-24-2012, 08:03 PM
Delightful stuff.

You've got a river acting badly. You've got to keep an eye on them at all times - cheeky things. Between v.1 and v.2 the Amberglow seems to have grown attached to whateveryacallit that empties into the ocean south of the Outland Forest and that nice waterfall.

rpgmapmaker
04-27-2012, 11:59 AM
Gidde
I got myself a dip ink pen some time ago and never really got the hang of using it... after some practice I did end up with a few things I liked but I was mostly trying to use it for text not drawing...

jfrazierjr
That is a good 20 min! I have been playing with the ink tool in GIMP... I am sure that it is the best connection with the tablet's pen pressure I have seen yet! you are both right about it taking some getting use to though. I will keep working with it to see what comes of it. I think I will try and use it to make the city icons for the map. More to follow on that.


Delightful stuff.

You've got a river acting badly. You've got to keep an eye on them at all times - cheeky things. Between v.1 and v.2 the Amberglow seems to have grown attached to whateveryacallit that empties into the ocean south of the Outland Forest and that nice waterfall.

Wow... you are so right! That is a good catch... the client mentioned extending the river though the forest and I did not give it a second thought.

Here is where I am at right now. I have not had as much time to work on it in the last few days. I finished the mountain range and started placing the text. I made some new swards for the compass but have not finished... The file is large but I thought that a larger view of the world was in order this time. The corner might be to friendly for the Iron Age: Dawn of War... I will have to re-think that.

44361
C. M. Perry 2012

There are somethings that need to go on the map that I am not sure how to "show" the tundra "snow land" is the main one. Any suggestions on how to hand draw an ice covered land are welcomed. in version one I just put some dirt on the ground and added some spikes but I am not sure that really looked icy.

Thanks again for all of your help so far :)

-RPGMM

Crudus
04-27-2012, 06:19 PM
What is the region labeled Sabledain Basin meant to be? Some kind of swamp? I imagine something similar could work for tundra, except sparser and without grass. Of course, it's hard to show sparseness when your defaul grassy areas have nothing drawn in.

Without changing the color of the background for the tundra regions, I not sure how I would go about this myself. Maybe some kind of hatching around the outline of the tundra region?

rpgmapmaker
04-29-2012, 05:42 PM
What is the region labeled Sabledain Basin meant to be? Some kind of swamp? I imagine something similar could work for tundra, except sparser and without grass. Of course, it's hard to show sparseness when your defaul grassy areas have nothing drawn in.

Without changing the color of the background for the tundra regions, I not sure how I would go about this myself. Maybe some kind of hatching around the outline of the tundra region?

The Sabledain Basin is indeed a swampy wetland. You are right about the grasslands being sparse... I had not yet had time to start adding grasslands. This update changes that and is quite a big update for me in the amount of work I have done on it :)

I hope you like the additions and changes.

The dead-land and the Ice-land are still giving me trouble. I think that I will just keep trying to figure out what kinds of things best say dead and cold... that might make the light turn on. I still need to re-do the town & city icons... at the higher resolution that is harder than I thought as they have to be more detailed to look good. I am having a hard time with the sea lines too... I guess the only way to do it is to draw them all by hand. I have tried several version drawing part and using patterns but nothing looks right.

44394
C. M. Perry 2012

I am still waiting for the customer to let me know what he thinks of this but I think I am getting close to having a finished map (cross fingers).

Critiques and comments are welcomed.

-RPGMM

Crudus
04-29-2012, 06:55 PM
The only little thing i see wrong is that with the font you've used, it's really hard to tell the e's aren't c's in the smaller labels (especially when zoomed out.) For example: Imperia, Kael'Dravia

rpgmapmaker
04-29-2012, 07:43 PM
This is true... I will paint that in by hand to correct that once I know where the text will sit above the city icons. I did that fix on one as a test and it works, so thank you for the good catch. sharp eyes are a good thing ;)

Also, I have been working on a test coat of arms for one of the factions and a "World Name" thing. What do you think?

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C. M. Perry 2012

44396
C. M. Perry 2012

-RPGMM

Freodin
04-30-2012, 04:43 AM
The world name cartouche looks a little pale as it is now, but the CoA is great in its way!

One thing I would like to see changed on the map: could you exchange the colour shadowing of your cliffs to a kind of crosshatching, so that the drawing style is consistent throughout the map? I know that I am a nitpicker in this regard, but I think consistency is important for immersion.

I hope your customer likes the map. It might be not as flashy as some pieces you find here on the forum, but I for myself simply love that style!

rpgmapmaker
04-30-2012, 08:41 AM
...cartouche looks a little pale... One thing I would like to see changed on the map: could you exchange the color shadowing of your cliffs to a kind of crosshatching, so that the drawing style is consistent throughout the map? ...I think consistency is important for immersion. ...I for myself simply love that style!

The cartouche is pale right now... it will get darker... as to the color shadowing. Right now it is a placeholder for what I am working on with my custom brush settings... I want to give the darker areas a stained look. I don't want the dark areas to look colored or painted but instead like someone took the corner of a rag and dipped it in coffee then rubbed it on the finished map to add color... or stained it with a brush and some other stain... I just have not found the right combination of settings to pull it off.

You might be right that I just need to go with hashing for the shade...

-RPGMM

jfrazierjr
04-30-2012, 11:19 AM
I have not tried to emulate this, so have no idea how well it would work, but for your ice fields, can you try something like the way ground looks at Superman's Fortress of Solitude? I will look to see if I can find some references...

rpgmapmaker
04-30-2012, 12:05 PM
I know what you mean... that is sort of what I was going for in the version 1... but making an effort to make the "crystal frozen" look might help... not covering the land but just in a few places... yeah... I will have to try that. I have also thought of adding some snowflakes to the ground... but have not tried that yet.

arsheesh
04-30-2012, 08:54 PM
Well, I too hope your client is happy with the map, because they are getting allot of hard work and a great product absolutely free. This is really coming together rpgmapmaker.

Cheers,
-Arshessh

rpgmapmaker
05-02-2012, 02:26 AM
Deep breath...

Thanks Arshessh, it means a lot to have a good word of encouragement as the project takes it's toll on my mind :)

I am not sure what to do with the "Dead Lands" that is mostly because I have not yet gotten full guidance form the customer on that region and I am just leaning forward... he did say "evil volcanic, necromantic wasteland"... and I know that I am falling short on the volcanic side of things... but I am having trouble getting a set of good looking volcanoes in the style of mountains I have been using. I also want to add some cracks and cannons... this was more a test of the overall terrain and the ground lines and new dead trees...

Anyway here is the test:
44429
C. M. Perry 2012

Also I have made some pointy mountains that I might end up using in the "dead lands" but for now were intended for the "Ice land". I did some test of some things that were more "crystal" like but none of them turned out very well...

Here is that test:
44430
C. M. Perry 2012


Thanks again to all who have been feeding me ideas ;)

-RPGMM

rpgmapmaker
05-04-2012, 12:44 AM
Well,

I have gone just about as far as I can without more guidance from the customer. The full res version is 16M so I dropped the quality until it was upload-able here.

I still need to add the rest on the city icons, but I am waiting for the customer to get back to me with their descriptions. So far I have been trying to make them look like their descriptions. At first we were only working on the realm of Telrith (West top corner). This time I just went all out for the whole land of Andoria.

I am still not sure about the "Gul-Thatar" and "Icevale" areas... and as was said before in the thread, I also don't know what to do about the cliffs. I have never been good at cliffs and despite my best efforts I can't seem to get them to look the way I want them to.

I have a new found respect for the artists on this site who I am still trying to live up to :) This has been way more work that I thought it would be. It has been fun and a learning experience I will not soon forget. As of right now I am happy with the way it is turning out but that is more for the customer to decide.

44470
C. M. Perry 2012

As always comments and critiques are welcomed.

-RPGMM

Freodin
05-04-2012, 02:36 AM
A few ideas that you might try:
1. the Icevale
Make the crags/spikes/whatever more spiky. More linear, sharper. That would look more like ice, in my view. The dunes/snowdrifts... I don't know. Less of them, I would say, and perhaps more in the style of a flat crested wave... windswept looking.
2. dead lands
Again, I would reduce the amount of bushes, and spread out the texture overall. Perhaps spread it out at the borders even more, so that it fades into the surrounding areas a little.
The volcanoes are absolutely amazing, though!
3. the cliffs
Two things I would try here. First, get rid of the shading and add some shorter vertical lines of various length, so that they don't reach the top. Second, add a little vertical variation to the top line, so that it shows some "v" cuts.

A lot of work for sure, but it was worth it, wasn't it? It is a stunningly wonderful map!

Crudus
05-04-2012, 03:34 AM
There are still places where your lowercase e's look like c's.

This map is amazing though, I love how minimal it is while style having a distinct style.

jgibson1
07-22-2012, 12:11 AM
This is really tremendous. As a great GM with no cartography skills, I'd be interested in a commission if you'd be! Brilliant work.