View Full Version : Big Castle

10-13-2012, 11:08 AM

I have decided to make a castle-style encounter map(s). I've always wanted a good castle backdrop for an RPG but existing examples were never exactly what I wanted. For this castle, I want to include the following:

1 drawbridge; 1 secret back entrance; at least 2 towers; a wall that you can walk on top of; a keep; narrow outdoor walkways; an outdoor courtyard; a throneroom; a dungeon.

I plan on firstly making a rough overall map then creating detailed views of individual locations (each one will be 2000 pixels by 2000 pixels representing 100 feet squared/30m2, then pasting them all together into one big overall map in the end. In addition, I want to make sure that the terrain on which the castle stands can be swapped out - ie so the castle can be placed in a springtime meadow; a wintery hill, or a seaside cliff.

In addition, I would ideally like to re-use some of the pieces I've already made; notably a gate house and drawbridge, and a couple of towers.

This project might be too ambitious for me, but I may as well try and start it.

Step 1 will be to come up with an overall castle plan. I want it to have a few key locations rather than a myriad of small rooms; however I also want something that looks more like the Disneyland castle (fantasy!) than a boringly realistic symmetrical square castle/keep.

If anyone has any ideas I'd be very grateful for any advice.

All maps and objects made by me in this thread can be used by anyone for non-commercial use only.

10-13-2012, 11:31 AM
Here are some concept images shamelessly stolen from the interweb (did a google images search for fantastic castle). I have no idea how I am going to translate these into a good floorplan. At all.


10-13-2012, 01:35 PM
This sounds like a great project. With your skills I'm sure it will be amazing. I've been wanting to do something similar for my Castle Shendenflar so I'll be watching this eagerly for inspiration. :)

10-13-2012, 01:42 PM
Well I don't know - I haven't tried something like this before - it could easily go horribly wrong. Anyway - a little bit at a time. I have some ideas for a basic ground plan which incorporates all the best bits of fantasy castles.

10-13-2012, 02:25 PM
Right - here is the ground plan:

From the front it is based on the disneyland sleeping beauty castle. But from the back it is based on Castle Fairfax in Fable 2 (which I never heard of before but which I gather is some sort of computer game). Our castle has almost everything I was looking for, except for a high terrace overlooking everything (like the landing strip in the Lord of the Rings movie in Minas Tirith). On the plus side, its a compact plan. I calculate I can cover most of it with 14 100'x100' square encounter maps and then paste them all together in the end to make the overview map, adding in the missing bits.


10-13-2012, 02:38 PM
That looks like a good plan. Are the round objects towers? there seems to be a lot of them for a (relatively) small castle. In any case it looks like a sound foundation to start with. :)

10-13-2012, 02:52 PM
Yes they are tower and yes there are LOADS of them because the images of castles I liked all have thousands of towers. I am designing it so it looks like the disneyland castle from the front - all towers and flags. I realise its not realistic but it is how I imagine fantasy castles.

10-13-2012, 03:44 PM
Yes they are tower and yes there are LOADS of them because the images of castles I liked all have thousands of towers. I am designing it so it looks like the disneyland castle from the front - all towers and flags. I realise its not realistic but it is how I imagine fantasy castles.

I never worry about realistic. If it looks like it's got a story or two in it then I build it. I think this is going to be great :)

10-13-2012, 04:36 PM
Looks like a great project.:)

10-13-2012, 05:26 PM
Thanks. I've started work on the exterior colour scheme - going very muted.


10-13-2012, 06:34 PM
Just trying to get a feel for the layout.


10-13-2012, 09:25 PM
Fancy looking castles aren't actually unrealistic. You just won't find them on the frontier. The "fairy tale" castle is just a show castle taken to the extreme and Neuschwanstein is a real example of one (even if it was built a while after the medieval period). But less elaborate "show castles" were built.
As a general rule, the nobility will build what will impress people and in areas where defence is less of a concern, there will be more emphasis on how it looks, following the fashions of the time and culture. That's why you get the country villas of ancient Rome and the country manors of late medieval England. There's no reason why a very rich and powerful noble family wouldn't build such a show castle if they had the means and thought it would impress everyone else.

Errr, but anyway. I have been planning to do a castle plan of one I drew myself so this is inspiring. I can't wait to see how it turns out!

10-13-2012, 11:10 PM
A subtle point of semantics, but the 'keep' is the strongest point of last defense in a castle, so the tall tower may be the 'keep' and the big square building is the maor house.
The tower way out back might even be more of a 'keep' depending on the details.

Labeling nit pick aside, it looks like a good project off to a good start.

10-14-2012, 05:14 AM
Good to know Larb.

Thanks Atpollard - however I might retain 'keep' for the large rectangular building because I don't like the term 'manor house' (too loaded with the anglo-normans) and I can't think of a better word. The tower is there for a captive princess, or wizard.

I also need a good name for the castle; something a little better than 'Big Castle'. Castle Jacktannery?

10-14-2012, 07:10 AM
Here's a placeholder background - I intend to make the background 'swappable' to make the castle more useful.


10-14-2012, 08:40 AM
This is still very conceptual -used google maps of paris to cut out some shapes. I just want to see how the various elements might mesh together, and to see if I can get away with reusing some of my pre-existing maps.

I'm also having doubts now about my original colour palette. I will need to give this more thought.


EDIT: I've divided up the map into 5-feet grids and 100 feet x 100 feet encounter maps. I think I will start with the bridge one since it will be the easiest.


10-14-2012, 12:06 PM
This is just a study piece for courtyard A: thinking about how to show the flags and turrets etc. on the maps - one way is by shadows. On this map I try it out for size - I think it will work great; I just need to put a bit of thought into it. It should also work with the chapel's buttresses.


10-14-2012, 12:47 PM
All this stuff looks great. Really like how you did the shadows on your last post. But shouldn't these castles have a few more auxiliary buildings in the courtyard area (i.e. stables, barracks, other what-not)? Or are all of those miscellaneous things supposed to be housed in the keep/manor?

10-14-2012, 12:57 PM
No you are quite right - that's a great point. I'll put the barracks in the keep's western tower with the donjon, and I'll place the stables on the west side of the courtyard. I also thought I should have a well. Can you think of anything else?

10-14-2012, 01:57 PM
I suppose it would depend on how self-sustaining you imagine this castle to be. Does it need its own trade shops within the walls (i.e. blacksmith, potter, carpenter, etc.)? Are servants housed within the manor house or do they have their own small dwelling/common house within the castle?

I wouldn't want to go overboard with it or crowd up the map, but it might be cool to see a few small buildings for these sorts of things along the walls (maybe on the south-west side)

10-14-2012, 03:02 PM
I've taken those idea anomie-c and added a stables and small western courtyard with outbuildings/stores/smithies. I put a well in the western courtyard and a fountain in the eastern/main court. That's great and breaks up those open spaces.


EDIT: And now I've added my main (under-building) shadows so I remember to put them into the encounter maps.


10-14-2012, 09:25 PM
It seems like you're under way, but if you're still seeking a layout I can send you a few pics of castles/forts I've doodled. Lemme know via email if you're interested - I'm at realmwright[at]gmail[dot]com.

10-15-2012, 01:37 PM
Bridge Version 1. This was a bit of a rush-job; its not finished yet and I need to think hard in particular about the colour of the paving stones on the bridge. I haven't added in the sunlight or the shadows yet. However I wanted to get started so here we go.


EDIT: put some work into the shadows and added a bit of stone texture to the bridge.


10-15-2012, 04:22 PM
This looks like quite the undertaking! Look forward to watching it unfold.


10-16-2012, 01:50 PM
Well I've been thinking about all my circular towers and I am delighted to report that after playing around in GIMP for a while I have found a new trick!

See these images: the top one is just a photo of a stone wall I've cut into four slices and pasted roughly in a line. I didn't bother fixing the seams. This long line of wall is on a layer which is exactly the width of the image, and about four times as tall as the image, and the image is centred on the layer (changing these parameters makes a huge difference). I then select FILTER>DISTORT>POLAR COORDINATE and press OK without checking any of the settings and I get the circular bottom image. Useful!


10-16-2012, 03:23 PM
And here we have that same circle of wall with some colours and shading and a roof (tower roof by Kegron here http://www.dundjinni.com/forums/forum_posts.asp?TID=875&KW=roof&PN=0&TPN=1 I just changed the colour) to make a tower. I can use these as my wall tower external view.

I've included it as a png so others can use it. If anyone wants me to do this in a different colour for them it will be extremely easy so just let me know. I doubt this tower is finished yet - won't know until I start using it.


10-16-2012, 03:27 PM
Looks amazing...wouldn't mention it except that you seem to be putting a lot of effort on the details...but, perhaps little arrow slots in the exterior circle (forget what the technical name of that is).

10-16-2012, 03:33 PM
Crenellations? - yes I agree. I will be adding those next. Thank you for the good idea.

EDIT: here we go (there's a bit of clipping to the west and north unfortunately):


EDIT2: fixed the clipping and increased the contrast on the roof a little to make it seem taller and pointier. There is a minor shadow error but I'm going to ignore it.


10-17-2012, 03:33 PM
Here's a segment of curtain wall to go in between the turrets. It has no shadows or highlighting because each of the wall sections is oriented in a different way. You may wonder why I'm making all these elements - its because so many of the encounter maps have a bit of a wall, or a bit of a tower, and it would have been silly to redo them a million times from scratch - this is more efficient.


10-17-2012, 05:49 PM
Awesome...i'm stealing your tower...

10-17-2012, 05:55 PM
Good - let me know if you want any simple colour tweaks.

10-17-2012, 06:28 PM
wow, stunning work!, How did you do the Towerroof?

10-17-2012, 06:38 PM
I didn't - its by Kegron done in 2004. I linked to his thread in post 26 - I just recoloured it.

However, considering my amazing discovery in post 25, I actually could easily make a circular tower roof from a photo of some slates. Maybe I will try it now.

EDIT: I tried it and it did not work. Oh well.

10-18-2012, 01:52 PM
I started to think about the keep maps and I realised I had made it a silly size - if I am aiming for 20x20 square encounter maps then a keep measuring 25x12 squares isn't going to work. So I have made the keep 19x19 squares which meant moving the chapel around the side and removing large parts of the wall and towers... Oh dear. I'm not happy with this layout (though at least is allows the creation of discrete 20x20 encounters). If anyone has any advice I'd be thrilled.

Also I really wish I had thought up a good name for this castle instead of 'Big Castle' because I have a feeling I will be stuck here for quite a while (I made a similar error of judgement when I started my own company last year; I just assumed it would fail and that the name would not really matter so I chose a really crap one and now I'm mortified every time I answer the phone).


10-18-2012, 06:25 PM
Next on my list is to make the roof of the main keepa at 1900x1900 pixels. Here was a good one I found to try and copy.


10-19-2012, 02:02 PM
First attempt: It looks awful but perhaps it's not quite as bad as I think - hard to tell with block colours. At least the size is correct finally. Not sure if my crudely-pasted photos of slate roofs will do here - I'll have to see after adding details and shading if the seams are visible. I think this roof will be all in the shading anyway.

I should also mention that I am TERRIBLE at drawing full stop, so that's not really an option.


10-19-2012, 04:32 PM
I added some shadowing and it looks a LOT better (note: the .png version is way too big to post here for some reason). The shadowing is still completely off, but I can start imagining this as a keep now. Only need to add some flagpoles and spikey bits along the ridge of the roof - must ask Bogie if he has flags.

I also need to add funny metallic-white bits that seem to always be on these sorts of roofs, and some windows.


EDIT: completed the shadows and colours; I feel like the shadows cast by the NW tower are wrong but can't put my finger on it yet.


10-19-2012, 11:35 PM
Looking good. I think your flag shadow might be a little too rounded at its base (The angles on your tower seem to be sharper).

The only other thing that's throwing me off a bit is the windows graphic in the south end of the keep. Its done really well, but it kind of distracts from the birds eye view that the rest of the image is going for (Personal preference...I've seen a lot of great maps on here that mix perspectives...so feel free to ignore.)

10-20-2012, 07:38 AM
Thanks anomieC; I removed the facade as per your advice. Not sure what you mean regarding the rounded shadow - I think a tower can have sharp edges from a top-down view but still curve in profile.

In any case, here is the latest version with added flags, some more shading and desaturation, the roof-top grille thing and some metal studs. I think its basically done now unless I add some roof windows to the front, which I should do really.


10-20-2012, 10:19 AM
Here are my first attempts at the courtyard (eastern half) encounter map - I hate it but I can't work out why. Everything about it looks awful. Hmmm.

49218 49219

EDIT: slight improvements but still don't like it - maybe its the shadow?


10-20-2012, 05:34 PM
Your latest edit looks really nice. Maybe try shrinking the scale of the pavement?

10-20-2012, 07:11 PM
Smaller pavement:


10-20-2012, 08:49 PM
I think the problem is that the pavement in the sun looks so faded out and lacking of contrast and detail, while the shadows should darken the pavement without adding contrast and detail. In your examples, the pavement in the shadows appears far more sharp of an image than the pavement in the light.

Someone more skilled in Photoshop will need to suggest a technical fix, but visually, darkness should not add detail - it should remove it.

I hope that helps ... PS, great work.

10-21-2012, 12:57 PM
Perhaps Atpollard - I'm not so sure; I think its ok to have less detail represented by sunlight glare. In any case I have started working on the second of the courtyard maps - this is the first pass - I still have to go back and add proper shading. I will be making two of these: one external view (like this) and a second one showing the interior of the two houselike structures (one is a stables) and the central mural tower, with a staircase up the battlements.

House roofs by Aegean 2007 (Dundjinni Mapping Software - Forums: House, roof, tavern - variations (http://www.dundjinni.com/forums/forum_posts.asp?TID=8609&KW=house)).


Fixed shadows - reasonably happy with this one.


10-21-2012, 09:08 PM
WOW.... that really looks amazing. I really have to re-think my castle now. I personally like the shadows as a way of representing the flags and turrets as well. :)

10-22-2012, 03:59 PM
Added a fountain and some muddy tracks in the first courtyard; and I discovered what I hate about the map! It's the gate. I need to completely redo (well, do) the gate into the complex.


10-22-2012, 05:10 PM
Again that looks great. Maybe the shadows over the water in the fountain could be a bit lighter or possibly more distorted to account for the "movement" of the water? This is really amazing and I am getting SO much inspiration from this project. :)

10-22-2012, 05:57 PM
Thanks JT. I rippled the water shadow and lightened it, and also started changing the gate. Obviously I'll have to get rid of those crenellation shadows.


10-22-2012, 06:23 PM
That looks perfect. I'm running out of adjectives to describe how much I'm enjoying this. :)

10-22-2012, 08:32 PM
An outstanding project and I am very much looking forward to how this turns out.

I really like the idea of the shadows of the flags and turrets to give the feeling of height around the encounter area.


10-23-2012, 05:58 PM
New gates, mud and some minor tweaking.


10-24-2012, 01:07 AM
It just looks SO good with those two pictures put together. Great Job!

10-24-2012, 12:05 PM
Fantastic. I love the feeling of light and space this gives.

10-24-2012, 01:55 PM
Thanks guys. Now I need to start working on the internal spaces of the western courtyard. Ive blocked these out here with 5-feet grids so I can work out scale and start drawing over the top.


10-24-2012, 02:04 PM
*Warning...obnoxious OCD-type nit picking...feel free to completely ignore.

Now that you put the grids up, it looks like your well is a little on the large side. Might make sense to shrink it a bit.

10-24-2012, 02:43 PM
I appreciate good nit-picking. The well is rather large (the hole is 150 pixels in diameter which is 7.5 feet/2.2m). This probably makes it the biggest well ever created. However I don't think there is anything fundamentally wrong with this, and as a rule I like encounter maps to contain fewer larger-than-life objects rather than more realistic-sized clutter, as it provides more clarity. I could try a version with the well reduced to a more standard 1m diameter (ie 50% of the size) if you think it is very important.

EDIT: at this size it is probably more a cistern than a well; but it seems reasonable to have a large cistern that can store very large amounts of water in case of siege. Obviously in real life this would be covered over for safety but as a coincidence someone has obviously left the cover off today. I must remember to add a flooded tunnel to the cistern when I do the dungeon map.

10-24-2012, 03:42 PM
I have now completed the stables building. I am pretty happy with this.


EDIT: added a .png without shadows in case anyone wants to use it. Please note the hay and wooden columns are not by me.

Hay by Bludragn 2005 (http://www.dundjinni.com/forums/forum_posts.asp?TID=3107)
Bales by cdenham 2006 (http://www.dundjinni.com/forums/forum_posts.asp?TID=1646)
Wooden Column by Greytale 2006 (http://www.dundjinni.com/forums/forum_posts.asp?TID=12535&PN=0&TPN=1)


10-24-2012, 03:51 PM
Wow that looks great.

10-24-2012, 03:58 PM
I am pretty happy with this.

You should be...its pretty rad!

10-24-2012, 04:06 PM
Oh the temptation....to grab yet ANOTHER great piece of your work.... MUST RESIST.....failing...failing.... :) It's almost like you are building TWO castles... :)

10-27-2012, 06:27 AM
Amazing project. I am so looking forward to see the finished map! :)

10-27-2012, 07:48 AM
Really awesome ... Give it to me please!!!

10-27-2012, 10:48 AM
Really awesome ... Give it to me please!!!

??? Thank you for the compliments, I think.

10-29-2012, 12:55 PM
I've been quite busy but managed to do a little work on this today - I tried the interior view of the largest tower.

I'm not happy with the result.


EDIT: here is the overview: external/internal so far :-

49485 49486

10-29-2012, 01:08 PM
Think its shaping up pretty nice. The most obvious problem is the door to nowhere. Have you thought about doing a hatch leading below (via ladder)?

10-29-2012, 01:12 PM
Actually that was supposed to be the door into the tower. Obviously I have not done a very good job on this at all! Perhaps the shadows of the crenellations are making it too confusing?

10-29-2012, 01:31 PM
I must not be seeing the problem with the door. It looks like the door into the tower to me. IMO the floor texture is a little large. Other than that I think it looks great. :)

10-29-2012, 01:34 PM
How many floors is the tower? If door is on the first floor, then you still need a way to get up to the top level you have depicted. (or it just occurred to me that what you have depicted is actually the first floor of the tower - if thats the case, then perhaps more shadow on the non crenellation walls might help.)

10-29-2012, 01:55 PM
Thanks jt - yes the flagstones are a little large - each is exactly aligned to my five-foot grid. I'm keeping them that size as its a combat map primarily.

Anomie - the way I have drawn the tower it is only has a ground floor, with two sets of stairs in the back that climb up from the ground floor to the crenellated battlements. In actual fact the tower probably has an upper floor too but I have not bothered to depict it. I'm not sure its as complicated as you seem to think it is.

10-29-2012, 02:03 PM
Thanks jt - yes the flagstones are a little large - each is exactly aligned to my five-foot grid. I'm keeping them that size as its a combat map primarily.

That makes sense. It looks great. :)

10-29-2012, 06:42 PM
I removed the tiles, replaced them with the same flags as in the courtyard, and made some fixes. I prefer it now but it really needs nice 5-foot tiles.


10-29-2012, 08:24 PM
Nice Tower JackT

I'll see if I have some tiles that could be made to work for you.

10-29-2012, 09:29 PM
I posted 8 floors in my Mapping Elements thread, may be of some use. Go down to post 237.


10-29-2012, 10:28 PM
From a visual standpoint I think that looks better. But for game mechanics go with what you need to make it work :)

10-30-2012, 05:46 PM
This is the first WIP of the interior of the house. I'm not sure what this should be, function-wise. A little office for the stablemaster/smith? I'll throw in a desk and bookshelf, perhaps a barrel and some crates. What's the best way to show windows?


10-30-2012, 06:33 PM
I love the lighting in these. There are some window elements out there but I usually just show light streaming in from places where windows would logically be.

11-01-2012, 05:27 PM
Finished the office-type structure. The furniture is not by me.


And here's the overview:


11-01-2012, 05:53 PM
That looks great. The only question I have is what is that block that sits above the door?

11-01-2012, 06:01 PM
It was supposed to be the threshold - obviously not a very good one. I'll try and rejig it, maybe adding shadows to ensure it 'sits' down low on the ground.

11-02-2012, 12:15 AM
If you made it narrower that might help too. I'm not 100 & certain you would even need a threshold if the building was sitting directly on the paving stones (of course it is a neat detail) :)

11-02-2012, 01:34 PM
Thanks JT I'll narrow it up later.

But first, I have started on the chapel. For this map, I am making it a bit bigger than I anticipated and I am using the (reduced) floorplan of Siena Cathedral in Italy. This is still at conceptual stage - the black and white tiles each are 5 feet, so the entire chapel is 130 feet/40m long which seems quite big to me but perhaps is the right size (?) for a chapel rather than a cathedral.


11-02-2012, 01:59 PM
Looks good. I guess the size depends on the ruler of the castle. Is he (she) very religious? was the castle built for protection and as a way to boast of the rulers wealth and power? These kind of factors would determine how much space could be given to something like this. Now it's MY turn to get back to the internal views of my castle. :) Keep up the good work.

11-02-2012, 04:13 PM
Worked on the columns a lot - pretty happy so far. I have a plan for the floor (might not work).


And here is my floor! Very happy with this now, except for the lighting which is awful and yes I know the columns are in the way of the lights and should be blocking them - all wrong. But just look at my floor! I really don't think I need anything else on this map at all - not even pews.


EDIT2: fixed an error:


edit3: I think I fixed the problem with the threshold also:


11-02-2012, 06:58 PM
wow that looks great. I wouldn't add any pews either and spoil that beautiful floor :) BTW the threshold looks spot on now too :)

11-03-2012, 05:09 PM
Cathedral Roof - Step 1 complete - this is the chapel roof before I add shadows and highlights. I have used googlemaps to fly over some cities and see what cathedral roofs are supposed to look like - something a little like this perhaps.


11-03-2012, 05:24 PM
That looks very good. My only suggestion is that the shingles of the roof look "compressed" on one side and not on the other. The compressed side looks "out of scale" :)

11-03-2012, 05:32 PM
Thanks JT - I don't think it will show up in the finished version - the slate shingles are literally just photos of houses from the side cropped and squished into the roof to give it some texture. The lighting should take care of it. If it doesn't, then I'll have to go back and look at it again.

EDIT: Pretty much done. It's a bit weird but I don't really know anything about roofing so I'll just leave it be. Will probably need to work on shadows a wee bit.


11-04-2012, 12:35 AM
That looks good. Maybe the highlights are a bit bright. It almost makes the roof look round.

11-04-2012, 08:47 AM
Completed at last. Yes perhaps the highlights are too bright - I'll see how it looks on the finished map and I can tone them down at that stage.


11-04-2012, 09:45 AM
It might be better to go back to the original and then add less brightness. If you darken what you have now, you will lose detail in the shingles.

11-04-2012, 04:15 PM
Ok I've put it where it is supposed to go - I don't think the highlights on the roof are too much. Sometimes I need to look at the maps for a few days before I decide.

49644 49645

11-04-2012, 07:07 PM
Looks Great. I know what you mean. It always takes me a few days of looking to decide if something is right or not as well. :)

11-05-2012, 09:03 AM
After a week of no power, its fun to see all the tremendous progress you made on this project. Great work

11-11-2012, 06:05 PM
I love the lighting inside the Chapel.


11-15-2012, 12:40 PM
You, Sir, create wonderful encounter maps. A shame I have no time to have my group visit each and every site. For now, I will ponder on how get these beauties on the gaming table.

11-15-2012, 01:27 PM
I intend to put a grid underlay on these - let me know if you want me to upload a gridded version on any of those. Thanks for the compliment. I've been a bit busy lately but I do intend to keep working on this project.

11-16-2012, 02:35 PM
Went back to complete the columns on the cathedral (interior view). It's been hard to do columns, but I think I'm finally happy with these. I'm not happy with the internal lighting yet so will tweak that next.


EDIT: Fixed the lighting. I have a feeling I could keep tweaking this forever and never be completely satisfied. I think I'll leave it now.


EDIT2: oops! this version has loads of errors. Fixed now.


11-16-2012, 06:03 PM
Here's the new version of the chapel set in the castle. There's a little bit of grid peeping through the main entrance to the chapel where I haven't finished the map yet - the chapel is accessed through the main keep, and I haven't drawn that yet. It is next, though.


Commander Freddy
11-17-2012, 11:55 PM
I really love this castle, the level of detail is just incredible and everything is so well rendered! I look forward to seeing more of it. :)

11-18-2012, 01:22 AM
this is really amazing...maybe you can do a mini-tut on how you did all the lighting effects for us one day.

just one question - is the big circular light in the middle from a chandelier or skylight?

11-18-2012, 04:16 AM
It's some sort of weird skylight in the roof that is invisible on the roof map.

The lighting is pretty simple actually. It has three layers.

1. the bright areas are a white overlay layer. This is a little blurred (I used gaussian blur).
2. I duplicated this layer.
3. Next I placed a layer of pure black over the floor (but not over the walls). I selected all the white bits of layer 1 ('alpha to selection') then deleted this off the black layer. Then I reduced the opacity of the black layer to c. 50% or so (can't remember exactly).

And that's it. Very simple.

11-19-2012, 02:01 AM
just one question - is the big circular light in the middle from a chandelier or skylight?

That one irritates me too: it cannot be a skylight since there is just not enough room for a hole big enough to create this projection. And for a chandelier it is much too bright and the position does not make sense.

11-26-2012, 01:40 PM
It looks similar to a rose window (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_window) on a cathedral.

12-01-2012, 06:31 PM
Exactly atpollard - it was meant to be a rose window, situated somewhere high up. I acknowledge the lighting is probably not terribly realistic but I don't know enough about shadows and perspective to know how to go about doing it properly.

I haven't abandoned this project - I'm just busy on other things, and will get back to this in due course.

12-01-2012, 07:34 PM
It's looking amazing I think. The one thing that I feel should be addressed is the lack of shadow from the building itself...I mean with all the shadows through the windows the south side of the building should be in some serious shade.

12-06-2012, 03:07 PM
Thanks Jaxilon - you are absolutely correct about the shadow. I'll need to get on that.

12-30-2012, 05:02 AM
Amazing work. Especially the shades and lightning are exceptional.

Apart from that I have a few minor things: 1. The strange circular light in the church. 2. The church roof looks rounded. 3. I'm not fond of walls with lighting effects on them when you see them top-down and cut through (I know many encounter maps that uses this style so this my personal reflection of a very, very nice looking map).

Minor note: The well/cistern is perfect in size for a large castle. I guess in the real world it would be covered by a sturdy floor (with a trapdoor to get water through) or even a roof but it's looks better as it is now :)

12-30-2012, 11:34 AM
what a fantastic project Jackt - and wonderful artwork you're making. Love the textures and lighting and the general feel... very cool - I just have to rep you now so I don't forget later, now that I'm not around as much as I used to be :)

01-02-2013, 09:52 PM
JackTannery any progress updates on this? I need my castle fix LOL

01-03-2013, 10:33 AM
Thanks for the kind words Carnifex and Tilt.

Carnifex, I'm also coming around to the idea that the strange circular light in the chapel is awful and should be removed. The chapel roof was supposed to look rounded to the west. I'm not 100% sure what you mean by point 3 - do you mean the chapel windows? Yes these are very strange but I really like them. Glad to hear my well is of a realistic size - though that was just a fluke.

Vellum - I'm still busy but I'll be working on the keep next time I get a chance to update.

Freehand 5.5
01-20-2013, 10:57 PM
Amazing project. You're very good in doing all those nice light effects.
I like this one and your other dungeon maps very much.
Can't wait to see more.

01-30-2013, 09:50 PM
Phenomenal work. Can't wait to see it all come together.

01-31-2013, 01:40 PM
I'm planning on getting back to this over the coming weekend - I have some spare time for the first time since November.

02-02-2013, 10:54 AM
Ok - First thing is to see where I am.

I threw the main keep onto a rough background. I may go back and redo the cliffs properly on all maps later on.


Here are all the completed exterior maps combined and reduced to a quarter of the original quality. There are some seams visible, in particular between the two western maps. There's an error in the shadow colour of the flag/turret west of the stable. The chapel needs a shadow, as pointed out above. I really don't like the spiky bits on the chapel buttresses. But otherwise, its not too shabby.

51739 51738

Next I either need to the interior of the keep (two levels), or else the big tower on the east side of the courtyard.

This is the concept plan I did at the start; reposting this here so I don't have to look back through all the previous pages. No-one is allowed to point out that the crap collage I did in five seconds below looks better than my carefully crafted maps above.


02-02-2013, 01:51 PM
Started on the eastern tower map. Just working on the roof. I am re-using a tower roof done by BluDragn in 2006 here: Dundjinni Mapping Software - Forums: Tower Roof (http://www.dundjinni.com/forums/forum_posts.asp?TID=7266&KW=roof&PN=0&TPN=1)


EDIT: and now with added paving and shadows:


02-09-2013, 08:41 AM
Nearly done this exterior view. The forest below doesn't look very good - I will need to redo the fog effect & lighting.


02-09-2013, 05:45 PM
*sight* These maps are still so beautiful...

02-09-2013, 06:29 PM
Looking fabulous Jack. Have a bit of rep for all your hard work.


02-10-2013, 08:18 AM
Thanks guys. I am now starting on the walkways map. Uploading the first pass.

In the finished map for this area I intend two versions
1) scaled as normal.
2) with the walkways only in focus, and with the ground floor scaled down to look smaller and slightly desaturated and blurred; maybe a few birds. I have high hopes for this but I have no idea what it will look like in practice.


02-10-2013, 08:28 AM
By the way, I found this while deleting some old files. It was part of a river I was beginning to make for a commission but the project fell through so I never finished it. It might be useful to someone as a base for something. I'd post it in Bogie's 'map elements' thread, but it isn't finished so its not really good enough for that. Feel free to use for anything non-commercial.


02-10-2013, 09:26 AM
That river is Most Excellent and is more than good enough to post on my thread. The castle is looking great!

02-10-2013, 10:04 AM
Thanks Bogie.

02-10-2013, 10:08 AM
Coming along great. Love going back over these posts to see the progress.

02-10-2013, 11:26 AM
My northeast tower doesn't look very good here (I haven't started to add sunlight to the roof though - and that will help). I think I will change the northeast walkway to run into the centre of the main roof, over the smaller turrets. I wonder if I should also taper them at each end.


02-10-2013, 12:43 PM
I think it looks really cool so far. You really have come a long way from your first drawing.
As you said, you should definitely lighten things up a bit around that northeast tower so we can see all the great details.

Good luck & great work so far! :)

02-11-2013, 03:14 PM
The northeast tower is not working at all. I'll have to remove the moat and rocky base; hopefully I will be able to keep the tower roof. I tried to do shadows under the walkways but I didn't do a very good job. I feel like these maps are getting worse and worse! That's because I started with the ones where I had a strong mental concept, leaving these ones for later. Dear oh dear.


02-11-2013, 03:32 PM
IMHO you should add some degree of transparency to the wakways shadow, more in the area near the tower (because the walkway is more separated from the ground in that zone). Also the shadow on the forest below is too dark and crisp. The sun will not cast a shadow so defined unless the object was only a couple of meters above the trees.

02-11-2013, 03:47 PM
Good advice. Ta. Will fix that tomorrow.

03-03-2013, 06:37 AM
This is an experiment to see if I can get away with re-using a map I made last year and insert it into the keep ground floor. Obviously this would need a bit more work. At least it fits.


Also here is the bridge again with the forest background quickly swapped out for some tropical water, for an encounter I am running soon. I just googled 'water map cartography' or something like this and found a low-resolution version of a map by Torstan, posted on these very forums (the larger proper version is available in an excellent-looking pirate ship map pack I believe). Because I was in a rush and the map is only for my own home campaign, I grabbed the thumbnail, blew it up, sharpened it and added some noise so it didn't look too stretched, made the colours more tropical, and pressed save. It worked out ok, which is good as I had intended all these castle map segments to be modular.


03-03-2013, 07:30 AM
Love the railings on the balcony of the 1st pic. and the stairs, well done. I know you said it was from another map, but I wasnt around then so rep for that.

As far as this total project, wow, I can only imagine what your desk, walls, ceiling most look like to keep all this organized, sketches, printouts everywhere?

03-04-2013, 04:04 PM
What a wonderful project! Everything looks amazing so far, and it's so nice to see the various stages of development. Looking forward to the next update! :D

03-04-2013, 06:11 PM
Thanks Neyjour - great to get such good feedback from a master mapmaker such as yourself.

03-08-2013, 02:56 PM
I have been away from this thread for a while but I am so glad this amazing project continues !! :)

04-01-2013, 01:10 PM
After a LONG gap I have gone back and hit the walkways again. I made this rope bridge from scratch using a photograph of rope and some wood, but then discovered I could have just downloaded a supurb rope bridge from dundjinni; so I just tweaked mine a bit to look a little more like the dundjinni one (which is probably better anyway). Oh well. Here's the latest version of this map, along with the ropebridge object in case anyone is interested in it.


I still need to fix the shadows on this map. And yes I know the cliff looks awful - leaving that until the end.


04-01-2013, 10:39 PM
The rope bridge is Excellent. But, I wonder if the shadow is to perfect, considering it is on treetops which would all be at different heights. Minor detail though, change it or not, it still looks good.

04-02-2013, 06:42 PM
Fantastic job on that bridge!!! And thanks so much for providing the PNG. *snagged* What are your rules (terms of use) for it? Can it be used commercially? Non-commercial only? etc.

I agree with Bogie about the shadow. Maybe you could try applying a very slight wavy distortion to it (to simulate it falling on an uneven surface), and lowering the transparency a bit so it's not quite so dark? I'm thinking a lighter, more transparent shadow would work better for that height. As it is now, it looks like the shadow is falling on a surface that's much closer/shorter from the bridge than it should be.

I also noticed that your ropes don't quite reach their fixed points in some places, and the ends need to go under the turret roofs, but I'm sure you already aware of that! :P

Looking terrific so far! *thumbs up* :D

04-03-2013, 03:38 AM
Yes I know about the shadows - I'll do that later. I think I need to show the interior of the centre-south turret first and maybe add a new bridge.

Neyjour - everything I upload here is non-commercial use only - I'll add something to that effect in the first post. If you want to use the ropebridge commercially just change the colour/other aspect significantly so it looks different enough and I won't mind, because it was a bit of a rush job and to be honest isn't really good enough for commercial use. When I bent the rope strands they separated into awful-looking sections.

04-03-2013, 12:14 PM
Fixed up shadows but have realised in horror that I have deleted the parts of the ropebridges I wasn't using, meaning I need to start all over again if I want to do my internal map. Blast. I also made a mistake with how far the bridges extended to the middle tower. Oh well.

I fixed up the shadows - they should be all right now. Neyjour yes some of the ropes are supposed to be connected to the roofs.


04-03-2013, 12:20 PM
PRETTY________(is that ten characters? :P)

04-03-2013, 12:45 PM
That sux about the ropes, but at least the shadows look perfect!!!

04-03-2013, 12:58 PM
This looks great so far. This is the first time I've seen the thread (I know, where have I been?) so I'm not sure what you have talked about but have you considered making the flags a bit wavy? At first I thought that NW flag was another rope because it just happens to end over the top of a rope and the coloring is so close.

04-06-2013, 11:42 AM
You are a god for me ^^
So beautifull ... i'm french and i suffer to not have the good english words to tell you my feeling ;)

04-07-2013, 12:14 PM
Started work on the interior. Lower part is done (might add some wooden furniture later) and now I need to do the bit where the three rope ladders inter-connect, with access down a platform/ladder into the tower. Tricky.


04-07-2013, 12:40 PM
Wow, you're making this really good. It'll be awesome to see the whole picture when you're ready to show us. As for what you're delving into now - awesomeness. I am sure you'll continue to do well. The rope bridges look incredible.

04-07-2013, 01:40 PM
for sure ppl will just make something to play and explore this castle :)

04-09-2013, 10:48 PM
Great interior of the tower!

04-13-2013, 12:25 AM
Neyjour - everything I upload here is non-commercial use only - I'll add something to that effect in the first post. If you want to use the ropebridge commercially just change the colour/other aspect significantly so it looks different enough and I won't mind, because it was a bit of a rush job and to be honest isn't really good enough for commercial use. When I bent the rope strands they separated into awful-looking sections.

Thanks very much. I just like to make notes of com/non-com use whenever I download objects, for future reference. Yeah, it's not perfect, but it's still a terrific looking bridge and should be easy enough to fix with a few tweaks. :)

The interior is looking great! Looking forward to seeing the next update. :)

04-13-2013, 04:18 AM
I see the tower interior awesome, the lights and the shadows are managed perfectly. But, if I can, I would propose you an important fix.

If the castle has or had has, ever, a defensive purpose you have to change the opening direction of the doors. To open like now the door's hinges must be in the OUTSIDE of the door, so anyone that tries to enter in the tower only has to break or dismount them. In addition the door's frame will not protect/stop the door from opening, so any assaulter could use a horse or even several men to pull the door outside its frame.


04-18-2013, 12:31 PM
Valid point Antonio - I'll keep that in mind next time I do a door. In the meantime I tried to draw the wooden platform. Its not very good.


04-21-2013, 02:07 PM
In reality, that tower would probably have one flight of stairs that go up to a second floor, that second floor is where the two doors are, then maybe another flight to a third floor where there would be the three doors leading to the rope Bridges.

Single Staircases will give you more interior room on each floor.

04-25-2013, 07:12 PM
I keep checking out this thread but I think I've never posted to say how much I'm enjoying watching the work unfold. Also really excited to try some maps where I pay attention to lighting, as you are doing so amazingly here.


04-26-2013, 11:53 AM
Ternsen01 - yes indeed, that would be better. But I want to try and depict this entire three-level tower on the one tactical map, so that limits my options.

Meshon - thanks.

Here is my second attempt - even worse than the first. I will forget about my spiral staircase and instead do a simple ladder down to the lower floor.


04-26-2013, 12:45 PM
attempt 3 - still don't like it but I do think I am moving in the right direction.


04-26-2013, 01:14 PM
I would think that the 3 rope bridges would connect (via rope) to a central suspended platform (whereas right now the last step in each bridge is a part of the platform.) So perhaps creating an hexagon or octogon shaped platform for the center.

Still love this project and following all the updates

04-26-2013, 01:26 PM
Why not, instead of a spiral wooden ladder (that, in my opinion would be quite innestable) do you create a forged iron spiral staircase that connect the platform with the floor level?

04-28-2013, 06:56 AM
Good advice Anomie - here is the platform.


EDIT: & ladder (modified from version by Darkness 2004, dundjinni forums - Dundjinni Mapping Software - Forums: Art Request - Ladders (http://www.dundjinni.com/forums/forum_posts.asp?TID=582&KW=ladder&PN=0&TPN=2)).


04-28-2013, 08:17 AM
Finished (?) version, exterior & interior maps. I think this map is done.

54008 54012

04-28-2013, 09:41 AM
And here's the exterior view of all the completed sections so far, reduced to 50% of size.

Obvious things that need to be fixed (in order of easiness to fix) are:

-seam error between chapel map and nw of w courtyard map
-there's an error in the seam and shadow between the two front courtyards
-I need to make a generic forest background for the black areas.
-my ropebridge should probably go under the main tower in the se rather than just stop in the middle of it.
-the chapel external view is all wrong; those spikes have to go, and I need to do the shadow.
-I need to add the main gate and access to the bridge to bring it all together

I'll start working on the first four issues today.

54015 54016

EDIT: minor improvements along seams and a generic forest background with TERRIBLE seams but no matter:


04-28-2013, 01:40 PM
Started reworking the chapel roof. Hopefully these buttresses will look ok once I add shading.


EDIT: added a little shading. Will wait until I place it to add the shadows.


04-29-2013, 11:19 AM
I have completed the spire and butress shadows for the chapel. Hopefully these will look good when I put the whole thing together. I used photographs of gothic churches in Barcalona to make these.


04-29-2013, 04:37 PM
And here is my attempt to bring it all together. I probably need to adjust shadows where they fall across towers and buildings and varying heights. Also some of the flying buttresses need extra depth where they rise from the forest canopy. And there are some seams. But overall I'm much happier with this version than the last version.

54070 54071

04-30-2013, 12:35 PM
Fixed some minor errors and added rather lovely shadow ornate roof crestings.


04-30-2013, 03:23 PM
The exterior maps are nearly complete now. I have three things left to do:

1) redo cliffs to north of keep and make cliffs stick out here and have a series of buildings under keep sticking out a bit.
2) do the keep gate where the bridge joins the main keep - once again the cliff sticks out here.
3) do the cliff properly - I never really did the cliff well. Maybe I can get away with the very rough cliff I have now. I need to make a decision.

And after that, I will be able to work on the interiors!


05-08-2013, 05:26 PM
This project is getting better and better!

05-27-2013, 08:06 PM
That seals it. Jacktannery of the most esteemed clan Tanurk will forever live in the annuls of Dwarven Lore in my world ;) Simply amazing !!

06-05-2013, 01:51 AM
The sunlight coming in through the windows = amazing O.o

07-11-2013, 06:19 AM
Wow, it's awesome!

08-11-2013, 05:40 AM
I did up the entrance. Now just the back of the keep to do and the outdoor version will be complete-ish.


08-11-2013, 11:16 AM
And here's the last part - the cliffs behind the keep. Now all the pieces should fit at last.


08-11-2013, 04:31 PM
Here's all the pieces fitting together. I'm done now so will post up the finished versions in the finished map forum.


EDIT: here is the link to the finished maps: http://www.cartographersguild.com/finished-maps/24308-castle-jacktannery.html