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DanChops
05-16-2008, 11:55 AM
Hello all! I'm a new member (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=2042) here. This map is based on RobA's superb tutorial (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=1142) for creating a regional map in GIMP. This is my first real attempt at a digital map, so I'm in serious need of advice.

Obviously, I haven't even gotten to the labeling part. I figure I'll try to get the underlying physical geography right before putting down cities and roads and empire borders and stuff and then naming everything.

The next few things on my list of tweaks are:

Figure out some way to make the rivers look like they're flowing through the forests rather than over them
Address some of the areas of the coastline and rivers that have right angles
Make the northwestern-most mountain look more craggy coming out of the forest
Add a fertile river valley along side the rivers that flow through the desert


Thoughts? Suggestions? Pointers? Thanks!

su_liam
05-16-2008, 12:46 PM
The coastlines look vaguely familiar, buuut.... Whuh-what happened to Europe?

jfrazierjr
05-16-2008, 01:31 PM
Very nice for your first try!

I am just learning GIMP from Robs tut also. Though I have not tried it yet, you may be able to use the same technique used to create the "Dirt" layer to selectivly show/hide parts of your river flowing through the forest by creating "clearnings". Again, I have not tried it yet, but you may want to give the approach a try.

Also, some of the mountains have a hard line transition to another land type. I have found that selecting the layer mask on the mountain layer(the right most icon on that row) and running pixel spread and a 'tiny" bit of blur make the areas merge better. Some people like this technique, some don't but it's there if you want to give it a try. Note that it will make the border somewhat "transparent", so play with it if you want.

Joe

RobA
05-16-2008, 02:42 PM
Nice go!

Joe gave the suggestion I would have. Select Alpha from the river layer, invert and feather it. Then move to the forest colour layer's mask (and many the texture, too) and fill the selection with black (or grey, depending on the intensity of the effect. This will put a "space" around the rivers. Alternately, create a bevel effect (explained somewhere - stf for my post) around the rivers that will make then look set into the land. The stop looking like they are painted on top of the forest that way.

-Rob A>

DanChops
05-16-2008, 02:55 PM
The coastlines look vaguely familiar, buuut.... Whuh-what happened to Europe?

Yeah, I live in Oman, so I figured for this doodle I'd base the map very roughly on the Middle East/Western Indian Ocean area. It makes for a fun variety of terrain types and coastlines.


Very nice for your first try!

Thanks!


I am just learning GIMP from Robs tut also. Though I have not tried it yet, you may be able to use the same technique used to create the "Dirt" layer to selectivly show/hide parts of your river flowing through the forest by creating "clearnings". Again, I have not tried it yet, but you may want to give the approach a try.

That is a superb idea. I'll have to give it a try.


Also, some of the mountains have a hard line transition to another land type. I have found that selecting the layer mask on the mountain layer(the right most icon on that row) and running pixel spread and a 'tiny" bit of blur make the areas merge better. Some people like this technique, some don't but it's there if you want to give it a try. Note that it will make the border somewhat "transparent", so play with it if you want.

Yeah, I've noticed that. I've been playing around with blur and pixel spread on the layer masks, and it actually looks a lot better now that it used to. One idea I'm toying around with is making the layer mask for the mountain color layer a wee bit smaller than the layer mask for the mountain bump layer. I'm hoping this would make it look like the elevation carries some of the underlying terrain (either grass or desert) before it turns into the mountain itself and that this would allow for a smoother transition between the mountains and the flat lands.


Nice go!

Thanks! And thanks for stopping by and commenting.


Joe gave the suggestion I would have. Select Alpha from the river layer, invert and feather it. Then move to the forest colour layer's mask (and many the texture, too) and fill the selection with black (or grey, depending on the intensity of the effect. This will put a "space" around the rivers. Alternately, create a bevel effect (explained somewhere - stf for my post) around the rivers that will make then look set into the land. The stop looking like they are painted on top of the forest that way.

I tried playing around with a bevel effect, but I could only get it working at all on the north-south running rivers and not the east-west running ones. Compare the "Nile" with the "Ganges" for example. I did a bump map on a Rivers layer with itself. Any ideas how I could go about making it work better?

RobA
05-16-2008, 03:06 PM
You are right. The bevel doesn't work well in differentiating the forest (this was just a quick, overexagerated, hack attempt):

3661

I think masking away the forest edges might be the way to go...

-Rob A>

DanChops
05-17-2008, 02:22 PM
Here's the results of my efforts masking away the forest edges. I think it went well...I like the way it looks now better than before, but I'm not 100% happy with how the rivers look. Maybe I ought to try to bevel the rivers a bit anyway, just to give them definition?

Anyway, the way I ended up getting this to work for me was by selecting the alpha in the river layer, inverting the selection, growing the selection by about 5 pixels, and then feathering by about 15 pixels. I found that the resulting path meandered a bit around the rivers.

I think I'll tackle making the upper-rightmost mountain next. I plan to add a layer mask for just that mountain and duplicated the bump map. Hopefully, that'll give the effect I'm looking for without affecting the rest of the mountains.

By the way, a few questions about the map generally. What do you all think of the color scheme? Two of my goals were to have large swaths of clearly differentiated grass and desert, and to have distinct looking sandstone and granite mountains. What do you think? Also, any thoughts on the forests? I spent a fair bit of time trying to get them to look "foresty", and am interested in your thoughts.

elemental_elf
05-17-2008, 07:54 PM
I like the map, it looks very neat and clean :)

jfrazierjr
05-18-2008, 01:19 PM
Here's the results of my efforts masking away the forest edges. I think it went well...I like the way it looks now better than before, but I'm not 100% happy with how the rivers look. Maybe I ought to try to bevel the rivers a bit anyway, just to give them definition?

Agreed, much nicer. The bevel makes not on the rivers look nice, but I thing it tends to make the river end where it empties into sea/lake look a bit better also. If you can get access to a tablet, from what I have seen from others, the rivers will look so much better as the pressure sensitivity will allow them to start as a small line and get bigger as they go down stream instead of staying a constant width. I hope to get my tablet in the next few weeks. Another possible thing that I have been playing with a bit, though not sure how good it looks yet is to add a fade out to the brush and start the river away from the mountains and draw to the mountains as the brush fades. Not perfect, but it is a cheap way to get somewhat of a fad as you enter the mountains.




By the way, a few questions about the map generally.

Still need work blending the hard line of the mountains.


Two of my goals were to have large swaths of clearly differentiated grass and desert, and to have distinct looking sandstone and granite mountains. What do you think?

The blending between grass and desert is superb!


Also, any thoughts on the forests? I spent a fair bit of time trying to get them to look "foresty", and am interested in your thoughts.

You nailed it. Great look

DanChops
05-19-2008, 01:18 PM
Agreed, much nicer. The bevel makes not on the rivers look nice, but I thing it tends to make the river end where it empties into sea/lake look a bit better also. If you can get access to a tablet, from what I have seen from others, the rivers will look so much better as the pressure sensitivity will allow them to start as a small line and get bigger as they go down stream instead of staying a constant width. I hope to get my tablet in the next few weeks. Another possible thing that I have been playing with a bit, though not sure how good it looks yet is to add a fade out to the brush and start the river away from the mountains and draw to the mountains as the brush fades. Not perfect, but it is a cheap way to get somewhat of a fad as you enter the mountains.

Yeah, I would love a tablet. Unfortunately, one's not really in the picture at the moment, so I'm going to have to make do with what I've got. And drool over maps people draw with tablets of course. ;)


Still need work blending the hard line of the mountains.

Yeah, you're right. I have a few ideas on how to address this.




The blending between grass and desert is superb!

You nailed it. Great look

Thanks!

DanChops
05-19-2008, 01:40 PM
Okay, new problem. My .xcf file got big. I mean really big. As in 1.5 GB big. Unfortunately, my antiquated PC just couldn't quite handle it very well - it was taking upwards of 5 minutes to simply show a layer. So, I've decided to chalk that map up as an educational experience and start afresh. This time, I'm going to try to post the steps I take along the way here, in the theory that by explaining what I'm doing, I'll learn it better.

So, here's the basic coast outline of the new map. I decided to make it about 1/4 the size of the first map (5.5"x4" instead of approx 11.5"x8.5") in order to keep the size from getting out of hand.

One of the problems I noticed toward the end of the earlier map was that in areas my coast was too right-angle-y (if that's even a word). I think the problem may have been that my initial coast outline was too detailed, preventing RobA's TLS from producing maximum effect. So, this time, I've made the coastlines quite a bit less detailed.

DanChops
05-19-2008, 01:51 PM
And here is the coastline after applying RobA's TLS. I'm already liking the coastlines much better this time around. Not sure how that island got into the lake in the middle, but I think it has potential, so I'm going to keep it.

GM's Apprentice
05-19-2008, 02:52 PM
Thanks for posting this, and for the series of in-progress images. I'll take a good look through this thread tonight.

DanChops
05-19-2008, 03:30 PM
Thanks for posting this, and for the series of in-progress images. I'll take a good look through this thread tonight.

Not a problem. I hope you get some use out of the thread, although I suspect that it will be more helpful to me than to anyone else.

DanChops
05-19-2008, 03:49 PM
One thing I did with the last map that I'd like to expand with this one is that I created two underlying land layers, rather than the one "grass" layer in RobA's tutorial. I expanded that two three layers this time - a Grass layer, a Desert layer, and a transition layer between the two.

I created a separate mask for each of the three land types, as well as an over all mask of the coastline. This is what it looks like before applying any textures or bump maps or blurs or whatnot.

DanChops
05-19-2008, 03:56 PM
The next step was to go through the texture --> bump map --> bump layers for each of the three. I pretty much followed RobA's directions on this one, except that for the desert bump map I used "Plasma" clouds rather than "solid noise." This gives the desert a nice stippled look. I think this is a serviceable alternative to giving the layer HSV noise and then bump maping it to itself, like Rob did with the dirt layer in his tutorial.

After going through the texturing and mapping process for each of the three layers, I made a copy of each and merged the three copies together. Then I applied a Gaussian blur to the merged layer, and to the masks for each of the texture and bump layers. I think the combined effect blended the three layers together nicely.

DanChops
05-19-2008, 04:02 PM
My final post for the evening shows the dirt layer applied to the map. I followed Rob's instructions to the T for this one. I really like how the dirt helps to blend the different terrains together. Tomorrow I'll spend some time with black and white brushes to get the dirt where I want it.

One thing I'm concerned about is my colors for the transition layer. I'm wavering between the yellow look I've gone with so far, and a more muted pallet of brown and green. Fortunately, since I've kept the original underlying color layers separate, and only merged copies, it won't be too taxing to go back and change later if I decide I want to.

The Cartographist
05-19-2008, 04:22 PM
DanChops - Really cool to see what you're doing here. It helps make Rob's tut more accessible. Also shows some alternatives to how he does business. Keep it up.

RobA
05-19-2008, 10:07 PM
Nice variation on the technique! I like what you are doing here.

-Rob A>

DanChops
05-20-2008, 12:11 PM
Thanks for the comments guys. It nice to know that people are reading!

Here's a quick picture of what it looks like as I've finished with the dirt layer. I only reduced a dirt amount a little bit in a few areas - there's not that much change from the earlier picture.

DanChops
05-20-2008, 12:33 PM
Okay, now that I'm done with the sea and underlying land layers, it's time to start with mountains. I'm going to try a bit of a divergence from Rob's tutorial with the mountains. Instead of using the mountain colors to color in the entire area covered by the mountain bump map, I'm going to color in a smaller area inside the bump map. I'm hoping that this will create the illusion of hills surrounding the mountains, and will assist with blending the mountains in with their surroundings.

That's the plan anyway. Let's see how it works out.

First, I need to figure out where to put the highlands. I decided to sketch in where I imagined the tectonic plates would be. (Hey, it's a fantasy map, right? Just because I'm roughly basing the coastlines on a region of earth doesn't mean I have to follow real tectonic plates, right?)
3718
The tectonic plates (and their rough directions of movement) are in red. (The dotted line indicates where the large plate is splitting itself in two.

3719
This image shows where I'll be doing a height bump map for the hills along with the plates.

3720
And this is just the hills outline.

Well, lets see how this turns out!

ravells
05-20-2008, 12:40 PM
This is great stuff Dan, it's wonderful to have your thought processes explained. I appreciate the time you're taking to do this rather than just forging on with the map making!

jfrazierjr
05-20-2008, 12:45 PM
Very nice so far. I had the same thought about making hills around my mountains also for the transition. One thing I have played with a bit, but not mastered yet, is trying to use a gradient on the hills to blend from the underlying color into the mountain color and help reduce hard edges.

Waiting to see more, so far it's coming along very well!

Joe

DanChops
05-20-2008, 01:06 PM
This is great stuff Dan, it's wonderful to have your thought processes explained. I appreciate the time you're taking to do this rather than just forging on with the map making!

Thanks! I'm enjoying writing the process down. It helps me ensure that I'll be able to duplicate it in the future. :)


This is great stuff Dan, it's wonderful to have your thought processes explained. I appreciate the time you're taking to do this rather than just forging on with the map making!

Now that's an interesting idea. I may have to try to play around with it after I exhaust this approach. Do post any results you get, I'd love to see them.

DanChops
05-20-2008, 01:15 PM
3721
Okay, so here are the hills. I simply skipped over the color gradient step in Rob's mountain instructions, and added two bump map layers on top, similar to the layer Rob has on top of his grass layer earlier in the tutorial. One layer was bump mapped to a turbulent cloud layer, the other to a non turbulent (peaceful? calm?) cloud layer.

I think this approach has potential, although I'm anxious to see what it looks like once I get a colored mountain layer on top. I'm particularly happy with the bit of a rift valley feel in the central-west, the southern island, and eastern of the two lakes in the middle (I think that may be the remnants of a monster long-dead volcano.)

I also think I ended up with hills to form the foundation of rain shielding mountains most places that I would need them in order for my deserts to make sense.

DanChops
05-20-2008, 01:44 PM
3725
Before starting with the peaks I figure I should sketch in where I want them to be. I started by applying the hills mask to a new layer, and selecting the area where the hills were. Then I shrunk the selection by about 30 pixels, and then adjusted the area to taste.

3726
For reference, here is the sketch of the peaks along with the tectonic plates sketch from before

DanChops
05-20-2008, 02:49 PM
I liked the idea from my previous map of having two different colors of mountains - brown for deserty/sandstone type mountains and gray for really really tall granite type mountains. Here are the brown mountains.

3727

I'm quite happy with how these mountains turned out. I followed Rob's basic outline, with the following alterations:

I rendered low detail, medium size clouds directly on to the color layer. This created a bit of variety within the mountain range between the lighter and darker patches.
For texture, I added a bump layer to which I applied a bump map with the Peak Noise layer (the middle of the original peak three layer sandwich) as the base of the map. I then duplicated this layer. This really made the range "pop" as it were.
Of course, I fiddled with the colors a fair amount.
I added a "Brown Peak" mask to all five layers involved (the color layer, the two height map layers, and the two texture map layers) and applied a 50 pixel Gaussian blur to each mask.

All in all, I'm pleased with how this looks. While the texture layers prevented it from appearing that there is one large mountain (like in Rob's tutorial) I think the scale of this map fits the multitude of smaller peaks look better. I'm also happy with how the mountains blended in with the surrounding landscape, although a lot of that may be due to the similarity in colors shared by the brown mountains and the desert layer. I'm anxious to see how it looks with the gray mountains, but I'm afraid that's going to have to wait until tomorrow.

RobA
05-20-2008, 03:17 PM
That look great Dan! mush more in line with the "word scale" you are aiming for, rather than the "regional" that I initially was targeting in the tutorial.

I'd also suggest copying the land mask and using that to clip where the mountains look like they overlap the water.

-Rob A>

DanChops
05-21-2008, 12:00 PM
I'd also suggest copying the land mask and using that to clip where the mountains look like they overlap the water.

Great idea. That cleaned things up quite a bit - especially in the red sea coasts. Is there a way to have two masks applied to the same layer?

RobA
05-21-2008, 12:04 PM
Great idea. That cleaned things up quite a bit - especially in the red sea coasts. Is there a way to have two masks applied to the same layer?

No, unfortunately. You either have to apply the first (destructively) then create the second mask, save the two masks as channels, combine them manually, then apply them as a mask. Not destructive, but more work, as you have to manage the channels manually.

-Rob A>

DanChops
05-21-2008, 12:06 PM
Here is the map with the granite mountains done.

3739

Again, I'm happy with how this two-track approach to the mountains (a hills step followed by a peaks step) helps the elevation blend in with the lowlands. I think it looks a wee bit odd in the area where the gray mountains meet the yellow lowlands on the east. I'm going to have to rethink my palette there, I think.

Beyond that though, I'm pretty happy with how it's turning out so far.

DanChops
05-22-2008, 05:11 AM
Okay, so today I've been tweaking the granite mountains. I wanted to to create the appearance that the areas outlined in white were higher than the surrounding granite peaks.

3761

And this is what I came up with.

3763

Compare with before the change.

3762

Basically, I duplicated what I did with the hills layer - I created the height map and did a few bump map layers based on that, but didn't add a color layer. The effect is subtle, but I think it does what I wanted it to do - creates the illusion that those areas are a bit higher than the rest of the mountains.

DanChops
05-22-2008, 06:19 AM
And here are the forests. First, the rough sketch:

3764

And the final product:

3765

A few thoughts about the forests: I did a plasma noise render for the noise layer in the Forest TLS rather than a solid noise render. I found that this helped give it a more "foresty" border. I also used the same plasma noise layer as the map for a bump map layer, which I duplicated. Finally, the color variation was achieved through use of a solid noise render overlay layer. I used a "large galaxy" brush with varying degrees of gray directly on the noise layer to make the color variation more to my liking.

All four of the visible forest layers (color, the two bump maps, and the texture overlay) got the forest mask applied. I blurred the mask to help with blending. Then I copied each of the four layers, applied the forest mask, and applied the coast mask to keep the trees out of the water. Then I added the mountain mask and blurred that mask, to help the forests blend in with the mountains better.

I'm not entirely satisfied with the forests as yet, and I'm sure I'll come back and tweak them later on.

DanChops
05-22-2008, 10:20 AM
Rivers. Ahh, rivers. I tell you, rivers are tough. I've spent much of the afternoon with them, and I'm still not quite where I want to be. Let me show you what I've got so far.

First, as always, I did rough sketch of where I wanted the rivers to be:

3769

Then I zoomed in really close and, using the mouse, drew more precise rivers in white:

3771

After I had them all drawn in, I colored them:

3772

I still had the problem from my first map with the rivers looking like they were laying on top of the mountains and forests, rather than flowing through them. I tried to remedy that by applying a bump map with the rivers as the source of the bump. I made the azimuth the opposite of what I had been using for the elevation (315 for the rivers as opposed to 135 for the elevation) to give the illusion of a depression, and kept the depth very low.

While this approached helped the appearance of the rivers flowing through the elevated terrain, it made the rivers on flat land look funny. So, I made a combined Forest/Mountain mask and applied it to the bump map. This seems to be a good start, but I think I'm going to need to work on them some more.

Anyway, here's the map as it is now:

3770

A few things I'm not happy about:

The narrow rivers running through the mountains get lost. I think I may have to make them thicker.
I'd like the rivers running through the sandstone mountains in the southwest to look like they're going through a deeper canyon. Maybe I should do another bump map with a higher depth masked to only affect those rivers?
The rivers running through the plans need something, I'm just not sure what.
I'd also like to stipple some white or lighter blue onto the rivers running through the mountains to give the illusion of motion and rapids and such.


Thoughts?

RobA
05-22-2008, 12:44 PM
Regarding rivers -

What is the scale of this map (whole world)? I think some of the rivers are too twisty for this scale. Look at rivers on earth that have a similar scale in similar terrain to see how they move. Really big rivers tend not to meander that much (it all depends on the scale...if this map were, 25-50km across, I'd say you got it right). Just my opinion, doesn't count for beans :)

I do like the river running down the sandstone mountain valley in the SW.

-Rob A>

DanChops
05-25-2008, 02:45 AM
Regarding rivers -

What is the scale of this map (whole world)? I think some of the rivers are too twisty for this scale. Look at rivers on earth that have a similar scale in similar terrain to see how they move. Really big rivers tend not to meander that much (it all depends on the scale...if this map were, 25-50km across, I'd say you got it right). Just my opinion, doesn't count for beans :)


Yeah, I guess I got a little crazy with the twistiness of the rivers. I'll have to tone that down some.

As for scale, I'm thinking roughly 6,000 km or so from side to side. So yea, I definitely need to straighten out those rivers.



I do like the river running down the sandstone mountain valley in the SW.


Thanks. My goal is to make it look like it's running through a canyon.

DanChops
05-25-2008, 01:20 PM
I started straightening out a few of the rivers, and decided that I was too lazy tonight to go back through them all. :P Since I don't plan on ever actually using this map, I'll just chalk this up as a learned lesson.

So, here we are with a few rivers straighter than last time. I also duplicated the river bump map and applied the brown mountain mask, emphasizing a bit more the rivers running through the sandstone mountains.

3913

The things I still want to play around with on the physical geography of this map are:

Create some sort of a plateau look in the midst of the north east granite mountains (think Tibet)
Play around with the coloring for the band (currently yellow) that transitions from the grass to the desert
Add a lush river valley to the river running through the desert to the west (think the Nile)

DanChops
05-25-2008, 02:33 PM
Okay, I think I'm pretty much done with the physical geography portion of this map. Here it is:

3916

I added the fertile river valley and the high mountain plateau, and adjusted the coloring of the transition band. I also added a bump map to the ocean floors and did the coastline stroke like Robb suggested in his tutorial.

All in all, I'm quite happy with this map. I've learned quite a bit about GIMP and about map making:
Like Rob pointed out, I need to keep map scale in mind when drawing rivers to keep from making them too curvy.
Similarly, I think I need to work on my mountain placement. The width of the central North-South range in particular just looks regular for my tastes.
I like the two-step elevation process I played around with here, and I have a few ideas of how to play around with that in the future.
I kind of like the canyons in the southwest - I need to play around with the idea a bit more to refine it though.
I like the three bands of ground color, and imagine it could be expanded to include a tundra and an icy band as well.
I also like the two different colors of mountain.
I really like the way using plasma clouds affects the forests.


A huge thanks to Rob for the tutorial, and for everyone who's commented thus far. Next time I have a chance to sit down and tinker, I'm going to start with the political geography aspects of the map.

Elvith Gent
05-25-2008, 02:33 PM
For rivers : I personnaly "cut" forests where I want to put a river. The result is, in my opinion, a little bit better. But it's not perfect ...

jfrazierjr
05-25-2008, 03:23 PM
I added the fertile river valley and the high mountain plateau, and adjusted the coloring of the transition band. I also added a bump map to the ocean floors and did the coastline stroke like Robb suggested in his tutorial.


In my opinion, the river valley is a bit to regular. Make a few points where it flairs out a bit more and perhaps consider using a gradient blend to show how it gets lusher the closer to the river you get.



All in all, I'm quite happy with this map. I've learned quite a bit about GIMP and about map making:
Like Rob pointed out, I need to keep map scale in mind when drawing rivers to keep from making them too curvy.
Similarly, I think I need to work on my mountain placement. The width of the central North-South range in particular just looks regular for my tastes.
I like the two-step elevation process I played around with here, and I have a few ideas of how to play around with that in the future.
I kind of like the canyons in the southwest - I need to play around with the idea a bit more to refine it though.
I like the three bands of ground color, and imagine it could be expanded to include a tundra and an icy band as well.
I also like the two different colors of mountain.
I really like the way using plasma clouds affects the forests.



I think the two elevation process is a good idea, it just does not look natural in this execution. Perhaps as you say the problem is that it is two uniform in width
canyons are cool
Multiple color bands are very cool
different mountain colors is a very good mutation of the tutorial
plasma = good! your forests rock!




For rivers : I personnaly "cut" forests where I want to put a river. The result is, in my opinion, a little bit better. But it's not perfect ...


I agree to some point with this. In a perfect world, I would have bits if the river hidden and show as it winds through the forest.

DanChops
05-26-2008, 03:14 AM
In my opinion, the river valley is a bit to regular. Make a few points where it flairs out a bit more and perhaps consider using a gradient blend to show how it gets lusher the closer to the river you get.


Agreed. Truth be told, I just rushed that out right before bed last night. I'll take another look at it this evening.



I think the two elevation process is a good idea, it just does not look natural in this execution. Perhaps as you say the problem is that it is two uniform in width

How do you think it looks elsewhere on the map? I like the mountains to the southwest and to the east. It's just the constant-width stretch in the middle that I don't like so much.


canyons are cool


Thanks. I'm still not entirely happy with them, but I'm not sure why. I think I may go back and tinker with them some as well.



Multiple color bands are very cool
different mountain colors is a very good mutation of the tutorial
plasma = good! your forests rock!


Thanks!



I agree to some point with this. In a perfect world, I would have bits if the river hidden and show as it winds through the forest.

Yeah, I think I may need to rethink my approach to rivers. Not sure exactly how yet though.

DanChops
05-26-2008, 01:10 PM
Okay, I played around a bit with the river valley, and I think it looks a bit better now:

3935

DanChops
05-26-2008, 03:08 PM
Okay, so I'm ready to start with the political geography portion of the map. Before labeling cities and drawing in roads, I wanted to define empire boundaries. So, as always, I started with a sketch:

3937

I figure the three in the middle can be locked in war. The one in the west would probably be based on Egypt (yeah, I'm not stretching the creative muscles tonight, am I?) The northeast can be the obligatory Elven kingdom; the one in the east the obligatory Dwarven kingdom. The other three would be small, trade-based seafaring nations.

DanChops
05-26-2008, 03:16 PM
I just realized that I started the last two posts with "Okay." Note to self: word variety is a good thing. :)

I've finished one possible style of border, and have it in both light and dark varieties.

Light:
3938

Dark:
3939

I had the borders in Civilization IV in the back of my mind when I made these. Generally, I think they work well. The borders with the more muted colors work better than the ones with brighter colors though. I'll need to redo this with a wider variety of muted colors.

Not sure if I prefer the lighter or the darker borders though. I think I'll wait to decide on that one until after I've placed the cities and roads and see how much they compete with the borders for real estate.

jfrazierjr
05-26-2008, 05:18 PM
I just realized that I started the last two posts with "Okay." Note to self: word variety is a good thing. :)

I've finished one possible style of border, and have it in both light and dark varieties.

Light:
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Dark:
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I had the borders in Civilization IV in the back of my mind when I made these. Generally, I think they work well. The borders with the more muted colors work better than the ones with brighter colors though. I'll need to redo this with a wider variety of muted colors.

Not sure if I prefer the lighter or the darker borders though. I think I'll wait to decide on that one until after I've placed the cities and roads and see how much they compete with the borders for real estate.


I like both, but tend more toward the more vibrant of the two. IMO, I would actually make a copy of the underlying map, turn off many of the texture layers and have the political stuff be the primary element of the map other than the general shape and terrain features. Of course, I have ADHD and OCP, so I tend to like things fairly well delineated (which goes against mapping principals since this makes things look unnatural...go figure...)

Joe

Karro
05-27-2008, 11:50 AM
I like both, but tend more toward the more vibrant of the two. IMO, I would actually make a copy of the underlying map, turn off many of the texture layers and have the political stuff be the primary element of the map other than the general shape and terrain features. Of course, I have ADHD and OCP, so I tend to like things fairly well delineated (which goes against mapping principals since this makes things look unnatural...go figure...)

Joe

In general, I agree with this principle... It's why I wanted to start making my maps on the computer, because otherwise I could more easily draw a map by hand and scan it in than drawing it in the computer. But by using the computer, I could use the layers to generate different kinds of maps quickly and easily - geographical maps, or political maps - without duplicating the effort of redrawing everything.

However, I think the hard line with fading glowy effect for the borders is kind of cool. On the contrary, though, I think the brighter colors work better as borders. They help the borders stand out from the terrain. The very earthy-looking Elven area border, for instance, fades into the background rather too much, making it hard to pick out. Bright red and bright blue and purple are very clear (although the bright blue obscures the rivers a bit too much, and the red blue border makes the rivers there look weird).

The only other criticism I have is about where the rivers join the ocean. Using RobA's ocean technique, the edges of continents have a very light blue, almost white color for the oceans (unless you change up the palette a bit). However, the rivers are a much darker blue, which makes for a strange and abrupt looking color transition when the river suddenly meets the pale white-blue of coastal waters. When I do up my maps, I'm also hoping for a slightly clearer land/ocean border. All-in-all, though, it looks good.

DanChops
06-02-2008, 01:05 PM
Sorry about the long MIA - real life can be rather intrusive at times. :(


I like both, but tend more toward the more vibrant of the two. IMO, I would actually make a copy of the underlying map, turn off many of the texture layers and have the political stuff be the primary element of the map other than the general shape and terrain features. Of course, I have ADHD and OCP, so I tend to like things fairly well delineated (which goes against mapping principals since this makes things look unnatural...go figure...)

Joe

Thanks for the feedback. I've gotta say though - putting political borders on a nifty physical map appeals to me. Maybe I just play too much Civ IV. ;)


In general, I agree with this principle... It's why I wanted to start making my maps on the computer, because otherwise I could more easily draw a map by hand and scan it in than drawing it in the computer. But by using the computer, I could use the layers to generate different kinds of maps quickly and easily - geographical maps, or political maps - without duplicating the effort of redrawing everything.

See, I'm almost the opposite to this. I wanted to start making my maps on the computer because I have next to zero artistic ability when it comes to drawing things by hand.


However, I think the hard line with fading glowy effect for the borders is kind of cool. On the contrary, though, I think the brighter colors work better as borders. They help the borders stand out from the terrain. The very earthy-looking Elven area border, for instance, fades into the background rather too much, making it hard to pick out. Bright red and bright blue and purple are very clear (although the bright blue obscures the rivers a bit too much, and the red blue border makes the rivers there look weird).

Excellent points. I worked on the colors for the Elven area border, and adjusted the red and blue borders so as to not mess with the rivers so much.

I'm glad you like the hard line with fading glowy effect. (Is that name trademarked? I may have to yoink otherwise. ;))


The only other criticism I have is about where the rivers join the ocean. Using RobA's ocean technique, the edges of continents have a very light blue, almost white color for the oceans (unless you change up the palette a bit). However, the rivers are a much darker blue, which makes for a strange and abrupt looking color transition when the river suddenly meets the pale white-blue of coastal waters. When I do up my maps, I'm also hoping for a slightly clearer land/ocean border. All-in-all, though, it looks good.

Yeah, I agree with the rivers-meet-ocean color discrepancy issue. I've put that in my list of things to try to improve on my next map.

DanChops
06-02-2008, 01:10 PM
So, after a much too long absence, I had a chance to sit down tonight and play with the map some more. Here are the cities and roads:

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With the scale of this map, I figured narrow roads would work best. I think I should have made the secondary cities a bit smaller.

DanChops
06-02-2008, 01:53 PM
And, here we are with the empires labelled. I really like RobA's method of using a path to curve the text. I thought it worked well.

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I realize that I should probably tweak colors and fonts and such, and I certainly could add a title and a legend and whatnot, but, truth be told, I think I've gotten all the practice out of this map that I'm going to. I'm quite happy with the skills I've developed throughout this process, and I'm excited to start drawing maps that may see actual use at the gaming table.

Thanks again to everyone for their feedback!