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Gregorus Prime
10-26-2012, 04:14 AM
Hey everyone. It's been years since I posted here but the map bug bit me again and I'm redoing an old map I uploaded here.

This new one was built using the Eriond tutorial and I'm rather happy with the height map, but there's a certain something missing that I can't quite place my finger on, and I don't want to proceed too much farther with it until I can find a proper direction to go in. I plan on airbrushing the rivers on the grass layer to get rid of those annoying little glossy bits, and maybe adding some more bump mapping and noise to the color layers.

Any input you folks can give would be greatly appreciated.

EDIT: Already airbrushed away the annoying embossed bits.

DrunkenEwok
10-26-2012, 05:34 PM
Looks pretty awesome1 I especially like the water texture, it's a very nice touch - the island layout and central mountain are reminiscent of an impact crater. I might tone down the coastal "glow" effect a bit - it's a little on the bright side... maybe make it start a little darker, or take longer to blend into the darker depths.

jtougas
10-26-2012, 05:47 PM
Very cool. Depending on the scale it either looks like a vast desert ringed by mountains or a dragon's lair. I agree with DE about the "glow" a large blur on that would go a long way to lessening the slightly jarring contrast. The mountain the middle of the ring looks a bit "cut off" as well. I admire people who can create accurate (and interesting) height maps and this one is great. I love the mountains they are just about perfect. Overall this is great and I'm looking forward to seeing it progress. :)

Gregorus Prime
10-26-2012, 06:10 PM
Thanks for the compliments. Really, the praise should go to arsheesh because his tutorial is what made this possible. Without that clever method of layering difference clouds to make nice mountainy crests to copy and paste I'd still be using shaped gradients to create rather artificial-looking mountains. And then of course there's Wilbur, so kudos to Joe Slayton for coding that miraculous little program.

I added in forests and some sparse vegetation as well as toning down the contrast on the sea coloration and lowering the opacity of the seashore ("waves") layer, then upped the overall contrast on the map for this picture. I uploaded the old version for comparison. I feel like the old one has a certain character about it that the new one is missing. I can't quite put my finger on what it needs. (I've already ruled out obnoxious glowing text, distractingly gaudy icons, and a "are you kidding me?" marble border and embossed title card, so there's that.)

jtougas
10-26-2012, 06:16 PM
Those forests look great. I like the original map. I can feel the stories and adventures in it. It feels like it is just waiting for people to explore it. I look at maps kind of like kids. They are all about the fun and play at first and then we make them "grow up" to be too serious. I really mean it when I say that your original map is great. But on to the re-do. ;) It looks very good. You have a couple of rivers that seem to "hang off" the edge of your landmasses due to the fact that your rivers and your seas are different colors. (nothing wrong with that) it just looks a little odd. Either way this is great and I'm watching eagerly. :)

Lyandra
10-27-2012, 09:22 PM
Fantastic use of the Eriond Tutorial. I have seen so many great maps made in that style... I have to finally try it out for myself. :P

Regarding your map. Maybe what it is missing are just labels and a nice border that will go well with the style? Compared to the original the new one looks simply empty, "unmapped" in a sense that it looks wild and untouched by humans. The other one is live with their stories and lives, doings, and adventures... If you know what I mean. ;)

DrunkenEwok
10-27-2012, 10:39 PM
I'll throw in my kudos again - I definitely agree that the forests look incredible, and while I keep thinking the mountains are a little too linear, I remind myself that it's an impact crater, and normal rules don't apply.

If I were to pick at nits, however:

Looking at the scale on your previous map - that's one hell of an impact crater. It looks like ~500mi (750km) - more than twice the size of the Vredefort crater (largest confirmed extant crater on Earth) and nearly 5 times the size of Chicxulub (the theoretical dinosaur killer at the end of the Cretaceous). Assuming this crater was formed any time in recent memory, it would have caused one hell of an extinction event - possible fodder for the campaign history, perhaps?

There's also a bit of a question why an impact crater would form an island - most sea-bound craters are completely (or at least mostly, as Chicxulub) sub-surface. Maybe the surrounding sea is relatively shallow? Or maybe the crater is old enough that the ocean currents have worn away some of the ejecta? Or maybe it's not so much an impact crater as a volcanic caldera - but then why the prominent central peak uplift? A caldera could form a central peak, but it's more likely to be a rough mound or hill than a sharp peak... OR maybe I'm just being too OCD... :)

The coastline glow still seems a bit distracting when zoomed in. It's fine when viewing the map as a whole, but zooming in the glow just doesn't seem to "fit" with the rest of the map - it feels a bit artificial to me... too regular, perhaps? Maybe try using the technique from RobA's artistic map tutorial (http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/1142-%5Baward-winner%5D-using-gimp-create-artistic-regional-rpg-map.html) (post #8 ) - blur the sea mask by a bit, then use displace filter to give it a wispy irregular look? I've also wanted to try using the sea mask as a selection, then using Stroke Selection with a big grungy brush and a lot of jitter (maybe a couple times with a low opacity) to give it a more random appearance... OR I'm just way to hung up on continental shelves for my own good. :D

Protopop
10-29-2012, 05:08 PM
I want to go to Victory Bay - I love a name with history in it. I wonder what happened there?

arsheesh
10-29-2012, 07:57 PM
I'm just now seeing this. I like both versions for different reasons. I think I share JT's assessment of what's so enticing about the first map. As for what might be missing from the second map, while most people have commented about how distracting the shallow water glow is (and perhaps they are right to do so), I actually think that having some kind of glow (perhaps continental shelf) extend further out would add something. If you look at the first map, there is more of a striking difference between hues of blue in the shallow and the deep water that I think helps to really make the Island "pop". Otherwise I think the second map looks pretty good (though I agree with JT that the mountain in the center does look a bit cut off, but it's not a big issue).

Cheers,
-Arsheesh

MistWolf
10-29-2012, 11:30 PM
The original map looks painted, giving it a feel of being lovingly handcrafted, then photocopied for publication. I think it's blur/noise that gives it that feeling of being photocopied. It's style is very reminiscent of a map you'd find with a boxed fantasy RPG set.

The redo looks like a photograph shot from a satelite and very flat, like it was taken with the sun directly over head and it looks flat.

Both maps give the impression of a very flat, featureless plain with very little change in features or elevation.

I do like the overall idea and such a large impact crater in the ocean tells a compelling geological tale

Gregorus Prime
10-30-2012, 04:18 AM
The ridiculously massive size of the "impact crater" is 100% intentional, I assure you. The backstory of the campaign is that in ridiculously ancient times (time scales most fantasy worlds don't deal with) the world was a different place and Lovecraftian monstrosities -- well, actually, they were people, just not pretty ones by humanoid standards, but I digress -- waged a war on an immense scale. This giant desert was created by one such event, the detonation/backfiring (haven't decided yet) of a magical weapon of incredible power. The war culminated in the attempted summoning of a god. This was a very bad idea, because gods are as much forces of nature as they are entities, and attempting to bring into the physical world a... thing... of such boundless potential, power, and reality-altering essence does not end well. And indeed it did not. The god, for lack of a better word, shattered, destroying almost all the life on the world and leaving it barren and empty for millions of years. The remaining gods picked up the pieces and hoped (if a dreaming substanceless being of limitless power and nebulous ego can hope) that it'd go a bit better this time. They did their best reflexive and pseudo-voluntary job cleaning up, but some shards of the shattered god remain on the world, bleeding away their power into the tellurian, waiting to be seized upon by beings of ambition to be used to perform great things. And indeed, some have.

Phew. Sorry for the infodump there, but hey, some people were curious. Some of it doesn't make sense just yet, but it's sort of a work in progress, and writing some of it out has given me some fresh ideas. I'll need to do some more worldbuilding. To answer Protopop, it should be clear what happened at Victory Bay: Victory. Specifically, of the psuedo-Roman/Byzantine humans over the pseudo-Islamic dragonmen.

As for the map: I did use the displacement map method to generate some "waves" around the seashore, but I guess it's not so clear. The ocean surface I like as is, but some adjustments to the subsurface lighting are clearly in order. As for the landmass itself, I think I may have to backtrack quite a bit and start from the height map again to add more overall variation and make the desert look more like a crater and less like a flat plain. It'll be a pain but it will be much easier now that I'm familiar with this method of mapping and have added some things to my bag of tricks. I appreciate all the feedback, folks, and I'd like to again extend my thanks to both arsheesh and RobA for their fantastic tutorials. Without those I'd have never touched the GIMP and I'd still be doodling crappy maps on lined notebook paper. Hell, thanks to everyone at this site in general. This is a great community and it's always inspiring to see what fantastic works of art can come out of it. It helps that everyone here's friendly as all hell too.

amberroberts09
10-30-2012, 07:26 AM
Looks very real!!!

Lyandra
10-30-2012, 08:05 AM
You telling us a bit more about your setting actually helped me a lot in "understanding" your map. ;) I always like to hear stories that hide behind or within a map, in my opinion they make it more complete and usually explain a lot of its features that look implausible from the real world point of view. I think that many people within the Guild like to hear other peoples' stories associated with the maps they create, so if you want feel free to share yours here. I for one would read it with great interest. :)