View Full Version : Isometric cities maps project

08-26-2012, 09:38 PM
Hello everybody,

I'm working on a project to make maps from some cities created with the free rpg city creator. I've got to make a lot of cities. I tried different ways of embossing the plan view that the software generates, but they were far from what I wanted. So I had to travel the tough route and hand draw everything. I'm giving perspective and shadow to the maps using strokes, textures, and embossed patterns, but as I have to make a lot of similar maps I thought of sharing the drawing method I'm using to see if anyone can come with some advice to speed things up a bit.

For the moment I enclose a caption of one of the maps so you can see the style I want for the maps. The steps I follow to draw the map are basically as follows:

1. I draw vertical lines on the vertex of the shapes generated by RPG City Creator. The length of these lines depend of the height of the building. I draw these lines in a layer with a stroke style applied, as well as a colour layout and pattern. This way I can easily adjust the color or texture of the buildings.
2. In another layer I draw the roof on a layer with a pattern style applied. This way I only have to paint white where I want the roof to be.
3. I draw details and windows on the building erasing with a 1 pixel brush.
4. I erase doors
5. I paint doors under the building's layer
6. I paint shadows

I guess it will be easier if I post some step by step captures of the process... I will do it as soon as I can.


08-27-2012, 08:53 AM
It looks nice. I do wonder if the angle on the two rear square towers is correct? The roofs/Parapets look slanted to the inside of the city to my eye. The wall to the right of them blends into the roadway quite a bit also.

The one thing I would definitely add is farmland to feed the hungry masses, something to supplement all the fish in their diet. :)


08-27-2012, 09:21 AM
Well, I think the real problem is with the round towers. I haven't drawn them correctly for an isometric view, but there's also a slight inclination of the vertical lines that makes them bend over the village as you say. I still have to correct this. Thanks for pointing it!

Regarding the wall that blends with the roadway, I still have to erase a dirt road under the two close towers and finish the main gate, wich at the moment is just sketched.

As for the vegetation, it's a town in a desertic area, but you are correct, I still have to add some farmlands here and there though I haven't decided yet wich way to go as far as implementing it on the drawing. I've tried some textures I have, but they're top down views so I have to draw or add a perspective... I'm yet undecided.

Thanks for your comments.

08-28-2012, 02:26 PM
you may be able to speed things up with a 3d modeler. i like povray's programmatic/text based interface, haven't tried others.

with some familiarity, you could process your map into various versions and use each to generate height fields. use an orthographic projection, perhaps import back into your image editor (again, possibly process the scene in 'layers' for convenience).

08-29-2012, 06:26 PM
I really like the isometric town, but I must say that I don't think that using a texture for the land is the best way to go for a map like this. I'd recommend going for a more hand drawn background - even if all that means is adding a bunch of little clusters of dots to indicate sand, I still think it would be an improvement over the current texture.


08-29-2012, 08:22 PM
Really love this map (particularly since I've been doing a lot of desert themed stuff as of late)...really hope you do make a step by step tutorial with pictures...I would definitely use it.

I actually kind of like the textured background...but then again, everything does look better hand drawn.

09-01-2012, 03:20 AM
I have to agree, this would look better if it were hand drawn. It looks fantastic though. Must have taken a lot of work.

09-01-2012, 10:20 AM
Thanks for the comments and advice about the texture, but bear in mind that it's a WIP image and what you see is the base texture of the land. I still have to add different textures on top of this one and blend them together. I'm confident about the results as I've already done it before and I think it looks quite good in the end and I'm sure you will like it.

About the 3D Software, I started using sketchup to model everything, but it was really time consuming, so I opted to go the hand drawn way, wich is faster for me. Don't know if that POV Ray stuff that you mention would be faster than sketchup, but in any case I'd have to learn from scratch so, at least for this project, I'll have to discard it. I'll spend some time with it though in case I can use it for future projects.

About the tutorial or step by step, I'll post it as soon as I return from my holidays. I'm just enjoying the beach and riding waves at the moment!

Thanks once again for the comments and advice.

09-01-2012, 07:29 PM
I was wondering if it wouldn't look better if the vertical size was reduced. Most isometric view have a shorter vertical scale than the horizontal one. I think it would give a better result. Just my two cents...

09-02-2012, 12:21 AM
isometric is like 86.062 or something like that height in relation to 1 width.

09-02-2012, 02:57 PM
Nice job. =) I like to start with sketchup to get the basic blocks and shadow positions, then export a 2D view to photoshop for all of the actual drawing work. At least for me, it's a lot more fun to get the gritty perspective stuff over with so I can concentrate on playing with everything else. Using the group function makes it easier to move, rotate, and multiply objects in sketchup. And it does have a freehand pencil tool that you can get from the drop menu (useful for city walls between towers, and rivers that aren't straight canals, and some roads and odd buildings). Anyhoo... =)

Cunning Cartographer
09-02-2012, 04:40 PM
My first thought was the same as some of the others before me in that the textures aren't as good as the drawing itself (and does detract from it at the moment). That said, if this is a WIP and you're confident of the final style then I very much look forward to seeing the end results. Mixing hand drawn illustrations with some realistic textures is hard enough (Mike Schley does this a lot with some of his WOTC maps and even though I love his work I really prefer it when he barely uses textures) so to make map where its primarily (or solely?) textures is a big challenge, at least I would find it a challenge to do it skillfully.

So again, I really look forward to seeing how this develops so keep us in the loop!

09-19-2012, 09:12 PM
Bhoritz, thanks for the advice, but if I reduce the vertical height I won't be able to add doors and windows to buildings as easily.

Pryme8, I'm drawing by hand, so I can't be that precise. On the other hand I'm not making a real isometric perspective, I'm just adding height to a flat map of a city. So squares remain square, I don't 'skew' them as I should if I was doing a real perspective. Thanks for the data though.

Chashio, I tried with sketchup but since I have to work over an existing map, I have to trace every shape and sketchup autosnaps to every vertex around, making things really tough. I didn't find a way to turn off that autosnap feature. I considered making the basic tracing in autocad and then importing it to sketchup, but I don't think I would have saved much time and is certainly way more boring that drawing by hand.

Yospeck, although I really like Schley's work, it's not the style that I'm after.

09-19-2012, 09:18 PM
I'm back from holidays and I've retaken the maps. Here's another update. Right now I'm correcting some towers of the city walls.

I still have work to do:
- Add windows and doors to buildings in the lower part of the city
- Add some palm trees
- Add some decorations to certain buildings and finish the big buildings in the middle
- Refine the coastline
- Refine the river
- Add a bridge
- Touch up the ground
- Add small details here and there

I hope to finish it by the end of the week.


09-27-2012, 02:25 PM
Woo, it's looking nice. However, I find the houses a bit more "cartoony" than the terrain, which makes it a bit dissonant for me. Honestly, I wouldn't mind a bit more of a cartoony feel in the terrain as well!

09-27-2012, 03:42 PM
I agree with Lukc. It's a really nice city but the terrain looks "too realistic" and the styles clash.

10-01-2012, 03:55 PM
Excellent, I love what you did with both styles, I don't mind them together even though they don't match. I really like the terrain style, one of the best rivers I've seen.

10-01-2012, 04:06 PM
Very pretty. This is coming along nicely.

10-01-2012, 04:17 PM
This is really good. I love the style of the buildings and the terrain is so nice that I don't mind the clash of styles. :)

10-07-2012, 08:31 PM
Well, thank you everyone for the comments, I really appreciate it. As for the difference of style, you have to bear in mind that it's still a piece I'm working on, that's not the final terrain.

It's taking me longer than expected, but I'm experimenting quite a bit with the drawing method to try to speed things up a bit as I have to draw another 25 cities or so!

This is how I went so far with the terrain. It's not finished everywhere and I think I need to tone it down a bit, beacuse at the moment it seems to obscure the city a bit. I'm experimenting with desaturating the terrain and also darkening it a little, but I'm not still satisfied with the results, I'll keep trying. On the top left corner I have some final bits of terrain, the rest is ongoing at the moment.


Blaidd Drwg
10-15-2012, 09:51 AM
It looks about right to me, but then I'm not in your head and can't see what you intend. Maybe a bit less contrast could work as well.
Love to see where it's going. :)

10-21-2012, 10:48 AM
Wow, this is turning out quite nice. I do like where you are bringing the terrain, but I still think it is a bit too "real" for the overall style (at least in my mind). Of the terrain that you have done in the top left, I think the best result is the "dune" just above the tower just to the left of #9. The lighting, colors and textures all mix perfectly for what I see as the direction you are going in.

keep up the good work