View Full Version : Dragon's Lair WIP (newbieDM tutorial by Torstan)

07-23-2012, 11:40 PM
For my first-ever cartography/Photoshop project I'm attempting to replicate Torstan's Dragon Lair (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?7735-A-WIP!-Dragon-s-Lair/page2), based on his NewbieDM guest tutorial (http://newbiedm.com/2009/11/09/newbiedm-tutorial-the-battlemap-a-guest-post-by-jonathan-roberts/). Most of my maps will likely be battle maps, based on my group's style, so I thought this would be a good starter. Here's what I have so far. (Done with PS & mouse).


I had some trouble nailing down the wall shadows, especially in the sacrificial chamber around the steps. My current difficulty is figuring out how to do believable snow, as the tutorial says to use a brush with a gradient, which I'm not sure Photoshop can do(?). Anyway, it's been a blast so far and I would love any comments/critiques!

(And thanks, Torstan, for the tutorial!)

07-24-2012, 12:06 AM
Hey that's not bad at all, especially for a first try! Very nice. I hope your players enjoy it.


07-24-2012, 12:24 AM
Welcome to the Guild Clanan, Nice first map.

07-24-2012, 02:10 AM
Super map - I haven't realised that Torston had a tutorial - I'm going to try it myself one day.

Without knowing what you are aiming for, my advice would be:
-Your snow looks great, however the transition between the cave insides and the snow is too sharp - you need to merge these a bit more and your snow will look more realistic.
-You are right - the shadows on your steps are off. I think this is for two reasons: 1) the shadows around the pillars are too dark relative to the other shadows in the room - increase the contrast of the step shadows to match & 2) the size of the shadow between each of the large platforms should be double the size of the shadows between each smaller step. Does that make sense? At the moment, your shadows are the same regardless of the drop, but in fact a larger drop should have twice as much shadow.
-You might consider increasing the contrast slightly between the wall shadows and the cavern floor - the shadows in general are rather subtle.


EDIT: Ok I checked Torstan's map by following your link and am even more impressed by your work! Torstan's snow is superb and you are very brave to try and copy it exactly. Your current snow is fine once you bring it inside the cavern a little like he does. In the places where you bring the snow into the cavern make sure to have blue wall shadows. Look closely at his shadows along the steps, though, and you'll see what I meant above. Good work.

07-25-2012, 02:29 AM
Thanks all for the comments, and Jack for the advice. I've been working on the shadows throughout, and tried to change the shadow depth in the front room as advised. Just discovered the Blur tool, which has made touchups much easier! I think I'm happy with the snow as well. Well, maybe it needs some purple... (And some blending into the rooms - thanks Jack!)


So does a low-end tablet make this a lot easier, or is that a personal preference sort of thing?

07-25-2012, 03:35 AM
Well done - you got it there. Your snow/ice will be absolutely perfect once you add some purple and blend it into the two entrances. Your internal wall shadows are perfect and your steps look amazing. You have it.

I think you can confidently create your own maps in this style.

07-29-2012, 01:03 AM
Almost done with the Dragon's Den. Here it has lava, loot, better snow blending, and some more set dressing. Looking at it now I think the lava needs more work (it doesn't really look like Torstan's) and I forgot to add some purple touches to the snow. Almost done!


Edit: I noticed in Torstan's lava he tapers the yellow lines at both ends, so they're thicker in the middle. Is this possible with a mouse? I wasn't able to figure it out.

07-29-2012, 01:32 AM
Excellent map.. I really like how you did the snow..

Cunning Cartographer
08-09-2012, 06:42 PM
Get a tablet. For any illustrative based maps it really is a must. I'd never used one before and got one a couple of months ago because I got the chance to start working from home as an illustrator and so managed to get myself an A3 size Wacom Intuos4 XL and it's amazing how much better it makes my art. If you can put together some cash to get even a cheap one where it recognizes pen pressure then you will get instant results from your maps.

So to directly answer your question, no you can't get different thicknesses without a pen-pressure tablet (well there are certain calligraphic brushes that can give a similar effect but it would be very awkward to use them in this style).

08-10-2012, 04:27 AM
...tapers the yellow lines at both ends...

Not sure about photoshop, but on gimp this is easy - you just click the 'Fade Out in X pixels' box in your paint tool, enter half the desired length of the line as X, and draw each line from the centre out to the ends. I assume photoshop has something similar in your brush settings, something like 'simulate brush pressure' or 'fade'.

Alternatively you should be able to apply a gradiant to your line (ie a line that starts off white than turns into black). If so, you can draw directly onto a black layer mask masking your required line colour, starting each stroke at the centre of the desired line. That should have the same effect with only a little more work.