View Full Version : Black&white big city

04-21-2012, 12:47 AM
This is just a first sketch to see if the style could work. It is super-simple, as you can see, but that could be helpful for such a big city (1 px = 2m at the present scale, and there will be stuff outside the walls too).

The city is part of the world I am mapping, llike most of the works I have posted here, but the style is very different.

What do you think?


04-21-2012, 07:55 PM
It looks like a great start to me. There's plenty of 1700's - 2000's city maps in that general vein - you'll be able to tilt it toward one era or another with details, fonts, and such.

04-21-2012, 09:12 PM
Some little progress, several very small tweaks, and an old paper look.
The world is fantasy, the technological level is similar to our antiquity. The city is the one at the mouth of the greatest river of the world, so it gathers a lot of commerce both from the inland and from the sea. It is therefore amongst the biggest and richest cities of the world, but apart from that it has nothing exceedingly "special", not too much arcane secrets, magic or whatever, is a normal commercial city, built by normal humans for normal humans.
Do you think that the street plan is decent enough? I would like it to give the unplanned/organic impression, but at the same time the site is very flat, so there is no reason to put in too many serpentines and the likes. Also, the end result will have of course more open spaces than what appear from these first sketches.


04-22-2012, 07:27 AM
I think the street grid looks fine, no problems at all. And the style of the map is quite beautiful as well.

04-23-2012, 10:52 PM
Update. Still a lot to do, but having completed a couple of neighbourhoods, the general look of the finished city should start to be apparent.
Not sure of how the labels look, but beside that I am not displeased by my work so far.


04-24-2012, 02:40 AM
That looks pretty good. What software are you using? And what process? It looks like the city "blocks" are layers with a drop shadow, but I can't be sure.

04-24-2012, 08:38 AM
That looks pretty good. What software are you using? And what process? It looks like the city "blocks" are layers with a drop shadow, but I can't be sure.

I am using photoshop 5.1 and nothing else for the moment (though perhaps this style would better be done in Illustrator).
It's very simple, the "common buildings" are all together in a layer with drop shadow (with some noise which is quite lost at this resolution but can still be seen in larger shadows), a 1px 75% opacity black inner outline, and covered by a pattern (one of those boundled with PS, incredible as it may seem to those who really know how to use the program, i have been unable to fetch myself one that looked better). Going from blocks to single buildings is mostly done by subtraction, erasing.
The "notable building" are the same, only with a stronger outline, no pattern but a ligh grey colour and bigger shadows.
Streets are simply white stripes with 1 px outline.
Labels are made with Belwe Lt font, with a 4 px white outline for making them stand out from the underlying city parts.

So, not much to explain, very basic.
One problem is that, though this particular city is completely flat, I would not know how to render elevations in this style, and also I am not sure of how to do cultivated land, of which there will be some outside the walls.

04-25-2012, 08:46 PM
Is it possible to edit the thread title?

04-26-2012, 12:09 AM
A Community Leader can edit it for you; what would you like to change it to?

04-26-2012, 12:26 PM
I like where this is heading, but I gotta say that I always have to giggle a bit when I see this map....not gonna tell you why....might get slapped upside the head... ;)

As for showing elevations on a map like this, have you thought of using hash marks(or whatever they are called..short parallel lines running perpendicular to the contours) or even faint contour lines proper to show the elevations...?

04-27-2012, 04:36 AM
The Delta of Venus, Korash?

Yup, hash marks are a classic, very popular on 19th century maps and such. I like them as well :)

04-27-2012, 12:24 PM
Lukc!!! get that mind out of the gutter ;) but I have always liked getting up with the crack of Dawn.....

Back on the topic at hand....with the style already in the map, I think that subtle contour lines might be the way to go...

04-27-2012, 06:05 PM
I'm not sure what to say generally, but with the individual building footprints starting to take shape, it's starting to look pretty amazing.

04-27-2012, 07:33 PM
Hmmm, I get the giggling now. That happened completely outside of my control, although of course the sub-conscious... I actually drew the walls almost at random, but the general shape made me think more of this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil_fish) (safe for work, unless you are Troy McLure).

Anyway, once I'm finished with the city, including the outside the walls part, the shape won't be so recognisable, hopefully.

By the way, the shape of the land is given by fractal terrains, because this truly correspond to the location of the city in the world I am (very slowly) mapping (see my Arya maps).

As for changing the thread title, I was thinking of putting the city name in it, but I continue to change my mind about the name, therefore...

04-28-2012, 12:11 AM
An update. The average size of the buildings in various areas should convey a sense of the difference in economic status.

Also, what are "hash marks" and "contour lines"? Could you link an example, because here my English is failing me.


04-28-2012, 01:20 PM
Okay, contour lines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contour_line) are lines that you see on most modern maps to give an indication of elevation. The closer the lines the steeper the slope and the fewer lines you have the flatter the terrain...as a general rule...

What I was calling hash marks are actually termed hachure marks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hachure_map) or just plain hachures, Like I said in the other post, these run perpendicular to the elevations and indicate the length of the slope by the length of the marks. The shorter lines are steeper than the longer lines.

I hope these short explanations and the links included help clear that up for you.

04-28-2012, 01:53 PM
Thank you very much Korash. The hachure are what I probably would like with this style (though I did not know the name), but I am not sure how to do in a satisfactory way.

04-28-2012, 03:08 PM
I would suggest doing a rough layout (put rough elevation lines down) of the land and then indicate the slopes at various locations, and then fill in with the hachure. Just remember that the hachure marks at the same elevation all indicate the same height even if the lengths are not the same. Shorter = steeper. As in most things mappy, the best way to learn how to do it right is to actually try it out and learn from what works and what doesn't...

05-03-2012, 06:39 PM
update... slowly crawling on...


05-08-2012, 03:31 AM
I like what i see. I wonder how this is going to look when it's finished. I plan to try myself at making city maps soon. My new project will require at least one. City maps i find them tricky couse there are so much style you can choose from. And it's not easy to follow just one. Rep!

05-15-2012, 11:58 PM
Progress has slowed somewhat. I am also start to get bored with the monochrome idea, perhaps would be better with some colouring?

Also, I decided to go on with naming the city areas for professions, to immediately emphasize the peculiar corporative (like in medieval guilds, not modern business) kind of government that this city has.

Finally, the real problem is that I have no idea of how to do fields and vegetation consistently with this style (this too could perhaps be easier if I yielded to colours)


edit: messed up with the attachment, now corrected.

05-16-2012, 12:11 AM
Check this out; it's not quite the same style but it's pretty close. Might give you an idea of how to do the fields and vegetation :)


05-16-2012, 04:45 PM
Nice find Gidde! I like how the map is going, but with this simple style ... I don't know, the fonts seem a bit blocky and chunky to me, while the city is so gentle and elegant and V-shaped ... (god, I'm awful. But I really mean it about fonteys)

05-16-2012, 06:43 PM
Which font, or kind of font, would you advice me to use?
I am not especially attached to this font, it's just what I used for other maps of the same world, I think it was an advice from this forum too, but perhaps it just worked better with other styles. I still need something ancient-y/fantasy, so probably I could not go with something similar to the classical Enlightenment-y font used in the map linked by Gidde.

05-16-2012, 08:43 PM
Yeah, I would go with something more calligraphic than the one you currently have. Try just browsing dafont.com or another font site in the Calligraphy section.

05-17-2012, 12:10 AM
Do you think this font might be more adequate?


05-17-2012, 12:18 AM
Yes! Much more appropriate :)

05-17-2012, 10:19 AM
Yeah, I think a font like this suits it better as well ... fonts are a hassle, I admit, it's always a bit of trial-and-error to find one that both fits the map and the mood you're after.

05-19-2012, 02:36 PM
Excellent city layout. Your city streets have a nice flow to them. How are you picturing the architecture of the buildings? Thatched roof, clay roof, mud plaster siding or wood? Italian-, Spanish-, German-, French- or English-style? Packed dirt roads, flagstone or cobblestone? Are there any natural waterways through the city? I love what you've done! Can't wait to see the finished product. I can't give rep. It says I need to spread it around first.


05-19-2012, 03:24 PM
Thanks for your appreciation (much needed since I'm growing tired with finishing the map!).
Even though perhaps this style does not convey that, the city technological level is comparable to that of our antiquity (there is magic in the world, but in most case it is not so common as to influence general technology). As far as I know, houses are mostly relatively small buildings of 2-3 floors, poorer buildings are generally stone on ground floor and wood upwards, although the scruffy and smaller ones might be merely wood. Often the ground floor is commercial-production, while the higher floors are for living quarters. Also often the "backyard" space are used for productive activities, especially of course in manufacture areas.
In the well-to-do areas, buildings are usually bricks with white, light yellow or ocher plaster. The houses of the rich are split into one-two story "domus-like" (with inner garden, not many of those pictured in the maps posted so far), favored by the old nobility, and taller 5-6 story buildings used especially by prominent merchants' families, which keep together the living quarters and the business offices. The climate is mild and snow is infrequent, therefore roofs should generally be flat, clay or wood depending on the building construction. Roads should be flagstone, better for heavy commercial traffic I think.
The city lies at the mouth of the greatest river of the world (see here: http://www.cartographersguild.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=38847&d=1317287666 at the time called Eryasse, I am still undecided on the name) and there are not other waterways. While the city proper is still to be finished, the geography is what you see, just the waters of the river mouth and flat terrain.

05-21-2012, 11:59 AM
Update [now with enlarged market plaza and many more "domus-like" houses!]


05-22-2012, 08:08 PM
This is really coming together nicely Feanaaro.


05-24-2012, 01:37 PM
Trying with fields and trees. Do they work, or is there too much clutter already?
Perhaps the tree, in particular, should be ditched. What do you think?


05-24-2012, 06:43 PM
I personally think the fields are fine and the trees are ok when it comes to laying out the orchards or putting down wayward lone trees. As large clusters like on the right hand side, it doesn't work as well and I would try to find some other means of representing forests, if that is what you are trying to do.

I should also add, that your city is awesome and I already find myself fiddling around in adobe illustrator trying to make my own in that style.

05-24-2012, 07:06 PM
Thanks Krases.

I am actually using Photoshop, though perhaps Illustrator would indeed be a better choice. I could have used it, especially for the possibility of producing "cleaner" vector graphic, if not for the fact that I am yet unable to use it in a way that would allow me to map such a big city in a decent time (i.e. before I die of old age). I was thinking of trying Ai for the next city, although that would reignite the problem that I cannot do two things precisely in the same style, while this should be only one of eleven cities that should be mapped together (same consistency problem, though less pronounced for regional maps of the world... and all started with an attempt to standardize a quick style... ah, where fantasy cartography brings you...)

As for the three, it is not exactly a forest I want to represent, just an area where tree are denser. The idea is that one tree represents just one tree. Most other areas have less trees because I figured that outside the fields there would be mainly open pasture, while the area beneath the city walls would be cleared for security reasons. The small promontory on the left, on the other hand, is too small for having significant herds, and far enough for the wall for not being completely cleared.

Having said that, I think you are right, trees does not look good that way.

05-24-2012, 11:53 PM
If you can use photoshop, then I suggest photoshop. I only use Illustrator because that is what I was formally educated on and I try to learn as much photoshop as I can, but my skills just aren't up to your level. Illustrator is great if you are trying to get those really straight lines, something I can't really accomplish in photoshop. Its also great for accuracy if you know how to setup grids and space things correctly. But in my experience it is a lot harder to apply paper patterns and other things like that. I plan on using a mix of photoshop and illustrator ideally.

05-26-2012, 11:00 PM
Tried different woods.
Also, back to white for once.


05-26-2012, 11:12 PM
Looking good! I really love the fields and the cultivated trees. I'm not really sold on the forest style, but there's nothing actually wrong with it. It just isn't singing like the rest of the map.

05-27-2012, 07:36 AM
I find this map just amazing.

05-27-2012, 11:00 AM
Yes, this is really impressive!

05-27-2012, 11:17 AM
The problem is that I know how I would like the forest/woods to look (hand-drawn style, as I have seen many here and generally in fantasy maps), but I am unable to produce a texture pattern that would really work.

06-04-2012, 07:59 PM
I have a linguistic question for the English-speaking among you.
In my language, there is a name for the people who use wood to make ships and boats, and that name is most readily translated with "carpenter". Then there is another word to name the people who generically make woodworks (what Saint Joseph, or Mr. Geppetto would be), which in English seems also to be translated with carpenter (and only with carpenter, because other terms, such as "joiner" or "woodworker" have narrower meanings, at least according to my dictionary).
Now, I need to have the quarter for people who make ships, and another quarter for the people who make generic woodworks. What names could I use to make that clear?

06-04-2012, 09:01 PM
Shipwright : a carpenter who specialises in ship and boat building. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shipwright

Carpenters in general: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpentry

Interestingly enough, the suffix -wright is the Old English term for a worker of wood. Thus a shipwright builds ships, a wainwright builds wagons and so on. After the Norman invasion of England in the 11th century the term was replaced with carpentier, from which we get carpenter. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wright)

This transition between languages is probably part of the reason you can't find a direct translation into modern english. The term 'wright' has fallen from common usage.

06-05-2012, 12:54 AM
Thank you very much occam99, very informative.

Now it is practically finished, some names are to be added, then probably some minor fiddling. I have ditched the "forest" thing, now we have only single trees shown. If I cannot find a decent style for forest/woods, it will remain so.


06-05-2012, 05:29 AM
That's really great. Love the style of this

Blaidd Drwg
06-05-2012, 05:42 AM
Awesomesauce! I really love this. <3

06-05-2012, 02:53 PM
I've been looking forward to seeing the finished result and it looks amazing!

06-05-2012, 03:39 PM
Glad to be of service.

Great clean map.

06-06-2012, 08:59 PM
An attack from the sea would be devastating...

06-06-2012, 09:12 PM
Same is true of most ports though, that is why you have a good navy on hand or you're fighting abroad anyway. Not everyone was in the privalaged position of Constantinople!

06-06-2012, 11:08 PM
How would you envision maritime defense on the map of an ancient city?
The wideness of the harbour areas is intended, as this city stand precisely at the point were the longest river of the world goes into the sea, so it has massive (for the era) commerce in both directions.

06-07-2012, 12:29 PM
If practical, a wall inside the city protecting vital areas (like the government buildings and blacksmith’s quarter) while being prepared to sacrifice the fisherman’s quarter and docks to enemy attack.

An alternative might be towers (like bulwark monitors) 300 meters out from the coast and spaced 300 meters apart armed with trebuchet reaching out from 300-600 meters (depending on the missile size) … forcing enemy ships to run a 600-900 meter gauntlet (of Greek Fire?) before reaching the docks.

In cities with a natural escarpment along the river, the docks and warehouses might be separated from the first ‘city street’ by a 10-20 foot slope offering the town guard a defensive ‘high ground’ to fight from.

[as far as how these would look on the plan … an inner wall through the city, towers off the coast or stairs on the roads perpendicular to the shore.]

(A strong navy is probably easier).

06-07-2012, 01:28 PM
The government of the city is "guild-based", thus essentially de-centred; so there is no "government area" to protect. Also, if the port is shut down, the city would have to surrender rather quickly, because it receives a big chunk of its food from the fertile land upstream the river.
The other solutions are probably technologically too complex.
The city has a somewhat strong navy, especially on the river side of the equation. It would be vulnerable from the sea, where it is not the greatest power. However, the main factor is that none superior sea-power has the interest or the strength to conquer the city and keep it military, while the land powers are not strong at sea or river. For sure, if Eryemiré were to give a rough deal to Iramir, the latter would retaliate and win on the sea, but it would have no interest in conquering the city or even destroy it, because it is a profitable commercial hub and a manufacturing powerhouse (relatively to the low technological level of the era, of course).

Edit: on a second thought, perhaps some small artificial island with some defensive machinery could be plausible on the riverside, where the water is presumably shallower. They could also be off the area of this map though.

06-07-2012, 03:42 PM
Great map! :) I love the amount of detail and the fact that it doesn't seem overwhelming.

06-07-2012, 10:07 PM
For some context, this is a close up of the area where the city is, taken from the larger regional map (that likely will never be finished, since it already halted photoshop to a grind on my computer).

The region here depicted is quite small, roughly 300*250 km; it is however one of the most densely populated area in the world, due to it being in the position of reaping the surplus of the fertile lands upstream the river Kelerion. The cities and other smaller dwellings should total approximately 1,5 million inhabitants.

Names still provisional, as usual.


06-09-2012, 11:37 PM
Is it finished-finished now?
Will it ever be?


Blaidd Drwg
06-10-2012, 04:51 AM
Probably not :P
But you have to let go at some point ;)

06-16-2012, 03:34 PM
That is really stellar. I'm a huge fan of really detailed city maps. I can appreciate the time-consumingness of a project like that.

06-11-2013, 03:27 PM
As some may still remember (apparently this is the most successful of my maps) I had trouble with representing elevations with this monochromatic style (espacially since, as often repeated, I can't really draw anything). Now I've returned on trying. Do you think this might work:


06-11-2013, 04:12 PM
Assuming that you are talking about Old Deree, Yes, I think it will work quite nicely. If you are talking about the other two areas on the northern edge, they seam kind of faint.

06-11-2013, 07:19 PM
I agree with Vinoex about the hills to the north being too faint. Personaly i think both styles could work with this map.

06-12-2013, 03:27 AM
Thanks for the feedbacks.
My idea was not of two different style, just two different slopes, one hill is steeper, the other, larger, two are gentler.
Anyway, some further tweaking:


- Max -
06-12-2013, 04:36 AM
The effect is interesting and could work but it looks a bit too computer generated for now. Btw the city design itself andthe farms are nice. though my personnal tastes don't make me a great fan of the city shape.

06-12-2013, 04:39 AM
It's true that it looks too computer-generated. That is because it is just the product of some tinkering with the bevel/emboss settings and the opacity of the brush. I would love to be able to get something with a more hand-drawn look, but without having the actual ability to draw (I don't even have a tablet, anyway), that seems difficult to me.

- Max -
06-12-2013, 04:54 AM
That makes sense. What about selection, expand on many lines with thin and low opacity lines(similar to the waterlines)?

07-04-2013, 08:11 AM
Well, this is one amazing city map! I'm currently working on my own, and I would like to kinda emulate your magnificent style if you don't mind. Thumbs up for this map, feanaaro, I think I'm in love!

07-04-2013, 10:01 AM
Thanks Caenwyr.
Of course I don't mind, flattery is the best kind of imitation, or something like that :P
I am pretty sure that if you, unlike me, were able to do something similar in a vector program it would come out much better.

It's funny that this style encountered so much favour, in the end I find myself preferring my other, more coloured, cities.

07-04-2013, 10:54 PM
While I definitely enjoy hand-drawn town maps I quite like the style that you've got here feanaaro. I think the fields and orchards turned out very nicely. My only suggestion would be to try to distinguish the land from the sea a little more clearly. While you do have some small waves running along the shoreline one has to zoom in to see them. It would be better if one could see the difference clearly without having to zoom in. One possibility would be to place more waves out further from shore, perhaps decreasing the amount the further from shore you get.