View Full Version : Hanlon

04-27-2008, 02:26 PM
Hi guys,

As requested in my intro thread here are the WIP shots of my creation of a map for my DM. I have attached the base map I am working from as well as the current WIP for feedback.

A few quick comments on making this:

A. Lots of little islands were a pain, even now some have merged together, it made setting a sea mask much trickier than it would have been otherwise

B. The boundaries between the features is harsher than I would have liked, the most succesful way I had found to soften them was to turn down the whole layer's opacity

C. I completely lost what was happening for the rivers (and the lake) in the tutorial I was following, so I have just made them as 2 layers, the blue and a black. to make the black line I traced the blue layer with a thicker brush, I cannot believe this was the most efficient way

Any comments on presentation are welcome, my hands are a bit tied with what goes where thoguh obviously (hence I can't for example do anyting about having rivers starting and ending inland)

04-27-2008, 02:34 PM
You got the same problem with rivers, as I got. Where they meet the sea, they just don't look right.

04-27-2008, 02:41 PM
I agree, I think its because it doesn't effect the coastline effect at all, I may have to add in by hand some sort of white 'wash' effect. Will have to look at what rivers look like when they hit the sea though, as I don't know how far off the coast you would take it (or how far up river for that matter)

04-27-2008, 03:42 PM
What software are you using, Jkaen, and do you have a tablet and pen?

04-27-2008, 05:17 PM
GIMP and no

04-27-2008, 05:52 PM
Thanks, I don't know if it's a stylistic issue that you want the islands not to have a detailed coastline, but if you do, then I recommend RobA's tutorial here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=875), written for Gimp. You can use the coastlines you already have, islands and all and make them more fractally.

I think using the sea as a mask might be counterproductive. It might be better to have it as a base layer and have your land on top in other layers. If you want to make adjustments to a landmass, you can just mask the layer its on and paint out the bits you don't want.

It looks like you're using a pattern fill to make the features. You might want to use a brush instead although it depends on the feel you want to achieve. Is there another map you can post which shows what you have in mind (roughly?) it'll be a great help in terms of getting answers as to how to get there. If you'd just like a softer border between the features and the underlying land colour, then select the features and use the 'feather' command. That should give you a softer transition.

I'm not a Gimp user, but one quick way to make a black outline for your rivers (in photoshop you'd just use a stroke command on the selection, but I have a feeling Gimp doesn't support that - but if it does then that's the easiest way) is to draw your rivers in black on a new layer and select them. Shrink the selection by the number of pixels you want the stroke width to be (I would guess one or two) and then fill the new selection with blue. Image below to show you the effect (but done in photoshop).

Oh, and get a tablet, it's really worth it if you want to spend time drawing maps - especially useful for rivers. If you're using a mouse I've just posted up a tutorial (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=1907) on drawing rivers with a mouse in photoshop, but I don't know if Gimp has the same functionality.



04-27-2008, 06:16 PM
I don't think the rivers that end inland are so much of a problem. So long as the water is going somewhere, it's not unreasonable for them to not reach the sea. For instance, if there are swamps near the ends of those rivers, or if they go underground for some reason. Or perhaps they could end in lakes with no outflow.

I'm not certain you need the bevel effect on the mountains. They look mountainous enough to me not to need it, though I'm not sure what the borders will look like.

04-28-2008, 05:32 AM
Ravells, Thanks for the comments.

I agree the random coastlines from Rob's tutorial look much better, the problem with it not being my map is I don't know which features are important and which are not right now. If I fractal it I may well end up losing a bit of coastline the DM has an important wizards tower on or something.

Getting feedback from him currently and I will ask if I can randomise the coast more and if there are specific features of it I need to keep.

Also currently I have done the rivers using a 'standard' brush, should I be using a path tool instead?

04-28-2008, 06:15 AM
You can always edit the coastlines afterwards if your GM decides that he wants a particular feature included/excluded. What Rob's method does is to take out all the 'fiddly bit's of drawing a coastline, which would be hugely time-consuming using a mouse.

I would use a brush to create rivers using a pen and tablet, but your control has to be pretty good to do it with a mouse. The advantage of using the path tool is you get rivers that taper (if that's important to you) and you can edit the path before you commit to drawing the river so you have a lot more control. The pen tool can be a challenge to learn how to use, but it's worth it imo.

04-28-2008, 09:27 AM
So from the feedback, I take it that if I could improve in any specific areas it would be the coastline and rivers you guys feel needs the most work?

04-28-2008, 09:38 AM
It all depends on what you are after. At the moment, the map has an illustrative feel to it - the smooth edged mountain and forest areas reflect the smooth coastlines, so it's internally consistent that way.

So I guess the question is, what are you after?

04-28-2008, 09:51 AM
A 'pretty' map basically.

I am hoping to be able to use the same style and technique when I scale down to areas or even towns.

I don't want the 'real' map look, and want it to stay artistic, but I am certianly not happy at the moment with the harsh transitions between the various features, and agree the coast would look better being a bit mroe rugged. If I had to pick a style I have seen here its RobA's style of map I am aiming for rather than (say) HandsomeRobs.

04-28-2008, 10:30 AM
Have you got access to a scanner? One way to get pretty coastlines if you don't find that Rob's tutorial works for you and if you don't have a tablet is to draw it with black pen and then scan it. This method probably gives you more control than any other.

As far as the features go, you should take a look at Butch Curry's photoshop video tutorials on Zombie Nirvana - he has a great way of doing Tolkien style trees by using a pattern fill and masking. Happimess has also posted a great tutorial on drawing Tolkien style mountains, which you can again do in pen and scan it for touching up.

04-28-2008, 10:45 AM
Gust to clarify, in GIMP you can stroke a selection or stroke a path. (and convert paths to selections and back again, and so on).

-Rob A>

04-28-2008, 11:13 AM
Ahh, ok thanks I will have to learn how to stroke stuff I guess (that just sounds odd to me!)

05-01-2008, 09:43 AM
Well, I am working towards an accepted map by the DM, I have solved the sudden forest border problem by bluring my masks rather than the images, and I am much happier with these forests (still need to do it for the mountains). Now I just need to add a couple more small mountains he wants in and add more names to update the main part of it.

However he also wants the political borders of each country shown, and I am not quite sure how to do that as my original thought was to do a geograpical map then a seperate politcal one. Anybody have any suggestions on how best to combine these into 1?

05-01-2008, 08:33 PM
You could use the path tool to create the borders then stroke them with a dashed line.

You could select areas and create separate channels then do an "inner glow" effect with a different colour in each area.

-Rob A>

08-08-2008, 02:32 PM
Just thought I would come back with the latest version of the map.

Its my understanding that the DM is finally happy with this version. Been a good learning experience, although I have ended up with a crazy amount of layers as a result of all the revisions.

Steel General
08-08-2008, 02:48 PM
You can never have "to many" layers :D (and you can always flatten and/or group them).

I like the look overall, resembles some of my earlier attempts. I'm not a big fan of the really smooth coasts, but that's just me. If you're happy with it and your GM is happy that's all that matters.

08-08-2008, 02:52 PM
I thought about roughening them up, but given its quite zoomed out I didn't think it would look right. However just looking at a map of europe I see I am wrong and it should be rougher, will do that next time though

08-08-2008, 03:57 PM
Well Europe has a very broken coastline (compare it to Africa, which is a much larger landmass but has a shorter coastline!) so it's not like a fictional map needs to replicate it to that level. Even so I would agree that the coast in your map is a bit too smooth to look good.

There is another thing I see that you might want to improve in your future maps: when using the technique of blurring the layer masks (as you did on this map), you should take care to keep the elements from spilling over to the water. If you look closely, you can see that this has happened in the attached picture. The forests and the mountains in particular extend a visible blurred edge to the sea.

There is an easy way to fix it: after applying the blur, make a selection of the water-area, click on the mask of the layer, and fill the selection with black color. This way the blurs will disappear from the water areas but they will remain over the land areas.

08-08-2008, 04:58 PM
Good eye Ghostman, I hadn't even caught that.

08-11-2008, 12:22 PM
Thanks for your comments, hopefully know I know a few of those tricks I can do better next time, I actually started up the attached before I realised I had no real plans for it and nowhere to go (well I was going to try for a town by the bay type area mid map, but my few attempts were awful, so I think I need to start off with some small amount of hard landscape and build up from there.)

The only thing I am really unhappy with is the ring effect I have right at the bottom of the mountain

08-11-2008, 04:59 PM
I do 2 things to eliminate those things, a low opacity eraser or a blur. Blurs tend to work best if the rings are being caused by a bevel or emboss.

08-12-2008, 04:18 AM
If I blur will I not lose the definition on the ridges though? (or do you not mean blur the whole layer?)

08-12-2008, 08:06 PM
I'm not familiar with GIMP but in Photoshop we have a blur brush so we can do spot blurring. You can also use the selection tool to make a selection then any blurring will only be inside of the selection, in Photoshop we also have the ability to feather out the selection so that it is not crisply defined.

08-13-2008, 03:50 AM
Pretty sure there is a blur brush now I think about it, not sure about feathering, will have to have a dig around

08-13-2008, 07:06 AM
Yep, you can blur in Gimp. There is a blur tool (it's called smudge and it looks like a hand) and you cna use it with any of the normal brushes. I'd set the opacity of the blur brush quite low and use a large fuzzy brush. Then rub it over the area you want to fix until it has smoothed it out.

08-13-2008, 10:10 PM
Yep, you can blur in Gimp. There is a blur tool (it's called smudge and it looks like a hand) and you cna use it with any of the normal brushes. I'd set the opacity of the blur brush quite low and use a large fuzzy brush. Then rub it over the area you want to fix until it has smoothed it out.

Little correction- in Gimp the hand is smudge. Blur/Sharpen is actually the drop:

-Rob A>

08-14-2008, 04:52 AM
Oops. You can use the smudge tool to spread out the sharp edges, but it is probably best to use the actual blur tool. Thanks for picking up my error Rob!

08-14-2008, 02:37 PM
No problem! I also believe that the blur/sharpen tool is sometimes called the convolve tool, which doesn't hold much meaning for most people...

-Rob A>

Steel General
08-14-2008, 04:23 PM
Convolve? - That almost sounds kinda dirty :D

08-14-2008, 10:32 PM
Yep, you can blur in Gimp. There is a blur tool (it's called smudge and it looks like a hand) and you cna use it with any of the normal brushes. I'd set the opacity of the blur brush quite low and use a large fuzzy brush. Then rub it over the area you want to fix until it has smoothed it out.

One of the things I have started doing for mountains to get rid of the "ring" after a bump map is to take a selection of the mountain area which should get pretty close to the outline of your rings. Convert the selection to a path. Then set up the blur tool (you have to do this ahead of time) to be the right size/shape brush, jitter if you want it, % of smudge/blur ,etc. Then select the path and Stroke Path. You can then choose the tool in question and it the tool will "run" along the path doing it's work. Of course, not as much control as doing by hand, BUT it's more consistent than doing it by hand, so.....


09-29-2008, 06:21 PM
Reworking the map now, and have also done one of the region maps, hopefully my work is improving noticably

Steel General
09-29-2008, 07:27 PM
Coming along nicely, if I do say so myself.

09-30-2008, 10:16 AM
Much improved, but looking a little dark.

09-30-2008, 10:31 AM
I am not happy with the contrast level on the sea, and I think to keep the bright areas sensible I have overly darkened the rest of it, however generally I do like my maps darker than most people seem to go for.

I think I will redo the sea layer though

09-30-2008, 07:03 PM
They underestimate the powaaah of the dahk side. You will always have at least one fan here who loves the darker maps, rock on with yer bad self mi amigo.