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View Full Version : August / September 2012 Lite Challenge: Lost City of Ubar



anomiecoalition
08-23-2012, 05:32 PM
A few months ago, I saw a documentary on the history channel on "Civilizations Lost" and was struck by the story of Ubar. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etmhB2ZwqJs) The basic story is that it was a thriving Trading Center in the middle of the desert that eventually collapsed on itself as the oasis beneath became depleted. When I got into mapping a few weeks later, I kept thinking how i'd like to eventually recreate it and adapt the story to the Al-Qadim campaign i'm running.

So - my adaptation of the story is that generations ago desert nomads stumbled on the Oasis, settled there, and made a deal with a genie to construct the fortifications necessary to defend what would become a very prosperous Caravanserai situated between two trading cities.

Here is my WIP for that part.
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Several generations pass without incident as the Sha'ir leader of the city always fulfills his end of the agreement made with the genie by his ancestors. Until one rather arrogant Sha'ir comes to power and decides to renege on the deal and imprison the Genie. When other more powerful Genies catch wind of this - they destroy the city as punishment by making it collapse on itself (same as the original story).

I don't have much a WIP for this part - but my idea is to create a massive crater in the center of the city and later use everything else as a height map so I can create sand dunes over them. (Not sure exactly how to technically do this...but I've got some time to figure it out...if anyone has any pointers on that process, I'd be very appreciative).

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I enjoyed doing the challenge last month because it forced me to learn how to use photoshop to some degree...hoping that I can learn even more with this. So any comments, suggestions, criticisms are really welcomed (particularly stuff on the technical aspects of the program).

anomiecoalition
08-23-2012, 09:35 PM
Redid the housing in a different style...think it looks better and was equally as time consuming as my first attempt. I've searched the forums for an easier way to do lots of housing without manually rotating each element after you brush it in - but it seems that this is just an area where I'm going to prefer CC3 to photoshop.

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Did a bit more...redid the roads, added a Stables (top left) and a temple (top right). Think I'm going to redo the fountain.

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anomiecoalition
08-24-2012, 05:09 PM
More updates.

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anomiecoalition
08-25-2012, 04:13 PM
Redid the Oasis...added some roads...added markets. Think some of the colors might be a bit too bright on the market, might end up playing with the settings again and redoing it. Absent that, I think it just needs some final touches (border, scale, key, maybe a few palm trees here and there, etc.) Comments, suggestions, and criticisms welcomed.

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gen
08-26-2012, 08:01 PM
Hello anomiecoalition :)

I think it's an intricated work, and nicely done. From the general feel of the colors (sand, mostly), I would say it's dusk. I think, just for the fun of it, I would try a more punched color, to make it glow, like a sunny day in the desert...there's a lot of that overthere. Then, palm tree and market by the oasis would be more alive, like an everyday type of living in Ubar.

I think I would also add a road, that enter the city and -again, for the fun of it- add a merchant and is cartwheel, a couple of peple (little dots maybe) just to see...since you are interested by the real history, I though you might want to make this one more alive.

Again, just thoughts :D
Congrats for your work,

gen

anomiecoalition
08-26-2012, 08:42 PM
You beat me to the punch...I was just about to upload a new version with some palm trees added and some tweaks on the colors. Its my first time experimenting with layer adjustments so still not sure what i'm doing, but I think this is better than the original.

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gen
08-26-2012, 08:54 PM
A lot better, and with the scale! I was just checking differents version for my own map :)
The color is better also. Are you using photoshop? Is so, and if you want to try a couple of liter tones, you can do it easily like this, though not optimal, it can give you an idear:

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I'm only suggesting since you said you wasn't sure what you where doing ;)

anomiecoalition
08-27-2012, 10:10 PM
I am using photoshop - and thanks for the tip.

I've been trying to figure out how to do the after map the way it is in my head. I envisioned a black bottomless pit where the oasis was and massive sand dunes covering up what used to be the structures of the city.

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I'll briefly describe my method so that if anyone has any ideas or thoughts about how it could be done better, they can let me know. I added a invert and greyscale layer adjustment to my structures. I then made a layer with bevel, shadow, and texture effects that was slightly expanded and feathered from those shapes (set to multiply). I then repeated that process twice but each time contracted the selection to try to give the image some elevation. I then hid my original structure layers.

I think the shape of the dunes still looks a little too "defined" or sharp - but i'll save trying to figure out how to fix that for another day.

Thoughts?

Korash
08-27-2012, 10:51 PM
Actually, I think the buildings are only just a bit more defined than the area around the city, and work quite well. My biggest reservation is the vagueness of the hole itself. I would think that it would be quite distinct, unless the edges are where there is a continual cascade of sand...then I get the vague edge.

Nice work :)

anomiecoalition
08-28-2012, 02:53 PM
Thanks...and yeah, the idea was to have more of a smooth hole rather than a crater (so sand is cascading in rather than stopping at the end of a rocky cliff). I will probably try to mess with it a bit more to try to get more of an appearance of a slope.

*Here's a version where I changed the shape of the hole to match the oasis from the before pic...not sure why I didn't do that in the first place.

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gen
08-28-2012, 09:59 PM
It really improved. I can almost feel the hole. Would put more hightlights on the face of the groud to increase contrast (will help the 3D effect). To increase depht, personnally I would work with differents dark-browns of various tones. I did some murals live-scale and we never seldom use black but work with colored black; we often forget to work the darks parts as much as lighter parts, and they are as much important.

anomiecoalition
08-29-2012, 12:46 AM
Thanks for the tips...I'm definitively going to continue tweaking these images and will likely incorporate those ideas. For the time being, I wanted to get a grip on the final presentation. So, downloaded some cool arabian themed photoshop borders and played with some effects.

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Tigon
08-29-2012, 11:25 AM
Very nice but the pit doesn't really follow in the style of the settlement: the shadows are from just west of north, which give a nice feel but in the after-map there is no shadowing with regards to the pit. The sun should be illuminating part of the interior, of the south-east wall in this case. So, you'd either have a funnelled slope with sand-slip, with more highlight above the actual lip, or a more sharply defined edge.

anomiecoalition
08-29-2012, 05:05 PM
thanks for the suggestion on the pit and shadows...I definitely need to put some more time into it. Now that i've made a little progress on the border, i'll get back to that.

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gen
08-29-2012, 05:11 PM
Oh, now i understand the hole...I didn't catch it was for the whole city. In that case, I totally agree with Tigon here. We should see the interior and maybe hightlights on part of the destroy city under? I would have that the after image of the hole the same size of the city, or near. I dont think the city can vanish in the size of this hole.
Anyhow, love the touch of finishing (frame, symbols). Looks good.

anomiecoalition
08-29-2012, 05:44 PM
yeah, i have to play around with some different ideas. In the original story, the water cavity beneath the city was as large as the city itself and when it emptied, the whole thing came crashing down. So in effect we would see a large crater...but...over time, this crater would partially fill up. In this scenario, the debate is between depicting the city just after it collapsed or generations later.

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I'm also debating whether or not to modify the story a bit so that the cavity only covered the market area - in this scenario, the market collapses into the sinkhole and the seismic activity that would have been triggered by this event caused the other mud-brick structures in the city to fall (i.e. walls, keep, etc.) *Of course, I'm a political scientist, not a geologist, so I have no idea if that would really happen or not. I thought that this approach might look better and require more effort than simply creating a massive hole to cover the whole city.

i'll probably try several variations...but if anyone has any preferences, i'd love to hear your opinion.

gen
08-29-2012, 09:27 PM
Why choose between "the city just after it collapsed or generations later"? I would put the two of them, so the final product would be a tryptic, Before the collaps, After and Today...with a legend of possible years and other informations, it would look very interesting and documented style. After all, it is real history so there is the matter of "what was, what happened" and "look what it is today".

Cunning Cartographer
08-30-2012, 04:33 AM
Totally agree that some development over time would be interesting or as you say change the story a little, otherwise the comparison between the two maps is a little stale in my opinion. It's nice to be able to see elements from both maps; what's still there and what has disappeared, what was destroyed and what survived and how it was changed. A simple "and then it was all gone" makes it hard to make the comparison. Overall it's looking good, I like the style of the market for sure, though I'm not as keen on the embossing you have done for the text, are you trying to make it look like it was letter pressed/stamped into the paper, or did you want it to look like it was written on?

anomiecoalition
08-31-2012, 12:55 AM
Thanks for all the helpful comments...Don't think I have the energy to do 3 pics, but I think i'm making progress in incorporating the suggestions on the after pic. Overall I think it looks much better this way, but I still have some tweaking to do (particularly in trying to get the pit shadow right.)

I did emboss the text for the complete picture in an effort to get that imprint look...but I'm not wedded to it yet...I think I have too much text and the lettering I want to use is a little too formal to try to o a handwritten look...but i'm going to keep messing with it.

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anomiecoalition
08-31-2012, 01:05 AM
just wanted to see the update side to side with the other one.

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gen
08-31-2012, 10:50 PM
You've worked so much on that project and it shows. I thinks the vanished part of the wall around the city is absolutely amazing; nothing to say about it!
As for the hole, it is strange because the first thing I ask myself when looking the before and after image is "How did everything got into that tiny hole...and how?" So maybe the hole should be bigger and not so neat? Looking at the photo you post, you can see differents levels in the hole so the collapse is much more believable. We should be able to see bits of buildings. The actual hole look like a dig much more...I don't if I'm clear enough? Again, I'm french :)
Anyhow, congrats for your work! I't a lot of energy for sure (I'm learning that) and not that easy!