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View Full Version : W.I.P map for upcoming novel... would love critique before starting in Photoshop



GenoWrites
11-08-2012, 10:49 AM
Hello Guild,

This is my first ever attempt at drawing this sort of map (unless I drew one as a kid and just don't remember). As the title says, it will ultimately be used for a novel I'm publishing. So, I want it to be as good as I can make it. I also want it done as quickly as I can make it good enough to call done... in hopes of having the book available for sale by Christmas. To that end I would welcome any critique from the guild.
The western part of the map is currently blank because I was drawing a blank on how to depict a particular section. However Forum member Chashio gave me a great idea. I'll post what I come up with from that soon. In the mean time, please take a look at this newbie map maker's work in progress and let me know what you think could be better. If I have the skill (and time) I'll make adjustments. Any help in this would be greatly appreciated.

Without further ado, here's the map of Darlandis & Cairemia (Darlandis is the unfinished section. Cairemia is the part virtually done.

49727

I look forward to your thoughts.

And Thank you,

Geno

kestrelgrey
11-08-2012, 01:36 PM
I like how this looks. There's an almost nostalgic feeling (I'm thinking of the maps in the old McKillip books, the "Hed Series"; I guess also the Jacques books too). Excellent hand-drawn look, but detailed enough to be really engaging. The scale looks good too, although I have a terrible time with scale myself. Looking forward to see the rest!

Midgardsormr
11-08-2012, 02:51 PM
Your big river is a problem. It comes down out of the mountains in the north, and it flows okay through that pass through the Plains of Vendil, and around the hills to the east, but then instead of turning toward the sea, it continues south. Okay, well, I can see how that might happen if there's a rise in the land, but then after it heads through Rivertowne, again instead of turning east, it climbs the hills to the south and vanishes into a forest. Water won't flow uphill, so at one end or the other, this river is doing something unlikely.

Now, if you assume that Rivertowne is downstream of those hills, and this is two rivers that join somewhere east of Dorinden Rell, you can add a branch headed out to sea. I am assuming that the depiction of the width of this river indicates its importance and not its physical width, by the way, because it doesn't seem to be draining nearly big enough area to justify its size.

You're going to need a label on that feature southwest of the Plains of Vendil, as it is not at all clear what that is intended to be. It looks a bit like a dike, or perhaps a man-made cliff.

I like the style you're shooting for here, and the arrangement of features is pleasing. Try not to lose the hand-drawn feel of it when you get it into Photoshop; it is very easy to sterilize a map by making it look too clean and computer-generated.

GenoWrites
11-08-2012, 09:35 PM
Kestrelgrey, Thank you. I'll admit with some chagrin that I don't know the maps you're referencing. I hear how you like them from what you've written. So I definitely take that as a compliment. Where could a guy I get a glimpe of one of those maps?

Geno

GenoWrites
11-08-2012, 09:49 PM
Midgardsormer,

That's exactly the kind of critique I'm looking for. And, The Great River Moriella (as it is named) does not have the magical ability to climb hills. I spent my 10 minute break at work today fixing that right off. Thank you! And you are correct, the river is decidedly not as large as the scale would imply, but it is quite large. So, where you say "not draining nearly big enough an area..." I'm not quite sure how to remedy that. In the book there is a bridge over the river at the top of a chasm and its described as "so far across that a soldier at one end would have difficulty distinguishing between a horse and a man at the other." So... not the several miles wide it would be if this were true to scale, but big. Any thoughts on how I can make this more realistic?

And also yes... "The Wall of Ellerion" will ultimately be labeled. I'm still tweaking with how it's ultimately going to look. And, I'm really hoping to keep the hand drawn feel when all's said and done. I just don't want it to have a kidishly drawn feel. So, I'm hoping to refine a bit in PS.

Thank you again for such an encouraging and informative critique.

Geno

Midgardsormr
11-08-2012, 11:19 PM
No problem.

There are three ways (in my opinion) to look at the river width issue. One is to make it as wide as it actually is for the scale of the map. In that case, it would be only the finest of lines, no matter how wide it is. Even the mighty Mississippi, which drains everything between the Rockies and the Appalachians is only a couple of pixels wide at this scale in a satellite view. Other rivers are only visible at all because the land around them is somewhat greener. That's not really practical for a map, though, and this isn't a satellite style, anyway, so I think you'd be safe to ignore the physically accurate approach.

The second is to make it as wide as the people who interact with it perceive it to be. The people see it as the biggest river they can imagine, so on their maps, it's drawn quite wide, much like you have it here.

The third is to link the feature's size to its importance. There are two ways you can go here: how important is it to the cartographer, and how important is it to the story?

All told, I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing for the river to be oversized in comparison to the map's scale, but if it is, it should be for a reason. Even if you make up the reason afterward! ;-)

Oh, and if this is going to be printed in a book, remember that it's going to be rather small. So don't go overboard with details. Take a look at some maps in existing fantasy novels, especially softcovers to see what looks good to you and what looks overwrought. Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow & Thorn trilogy is a good example: I really like the coastlines, mountains and hills, but the forest seems muddy to me.

GenoWrites
11-09-2012, 11:08 AM
Next step in the rough map. Had to play with the color a bit (cause I like sepia maps better). still rough. still looking for critique.

49751

Gotta get to work or I'd write more.

Thank you all for your help,

Geno

GenoWrites
11-09-2012, 09:43 PM
Alrighty, I was able to work on the map on my lunch break, and I figured I'd get this question out there for those who have been kind enough to help me with this (and any others who would be willing to give advice).

I'm feeling like the map is muddy and part of the problem may be how much territory I'm trying to cover with this map. So tip, advice, critique... are all welcome. Also, I'd love to get opinions on which of these two would be better.

49763

or

49764

The compass rose is just a place holder. I'm wanting to start cleaning this up, but I'd love a few last minute critiques from willing parties. Thank you to those who've already responded, and thank you in advance for any others who will.

Blessings,

Geno

Midgardsormr
11-10-2012, 02:11 AM
I prefer the wider view, myself. I wonder if the muddiness you're perceiving is simply a matter of having too much line density. Rather than drawing all of those trees, you might be better off with a blobby outline and some light shading, instead. I'd love to link you to an example of what I'm talking about, but I just can't seem to find the map that I want. I guess it's similar to Schley's approach, only in grayscale: http://www.cartographersguild.com/feature/SarifalMap.jpg

Schwarzkreuz
11-10-2012, 05:37 AM
I prefer the wider too. Also i would only put trees where a dense forest is present like in tangleweave woods.
All massive dots are distracting. Its clear your World is not a wasteland if you are not putting trees everywhere.
Also your big river is doing some weird flow, which was stated above.

Lukc
11-10-2012, 06:37 AM
I would point out that the labels on the map are slanted ... this may be a problem. Most maps tend to have the labels pretty flat, unless dealing with large features, when they can arc a bit. In the tutorials or resources (I think) Ravells posted a very good guide to labelling maps.

Anyhow, if you are planning on publishing the map, the legibility of the labels is something to think about. When I hand-letter maps I tend to use a ruler to get straight lines to write on, then erase them afterwards. If your whole map is going to be in pencil, you might consider labelling on a separate sheet of tracing paper, then combining the two layers digitally.

amberroberts09
11-10-2012, 08:52 AM
I prefer the wider too. Also i would only put trees where a dense forest is present like in tangleweave woods.
All massive dots are distracting. Its clear your World is not a wasteland if you are not putting trees everywhere.
Also your big river is doing some weird flow, which was stated above.

I agree with you!!!

GenoWrites
11-10-2012, 10:41 AM
Thank you everyone for the constructive suggestions. I'm beginning my photoshop work on the map today. Wish me luck ;)

Happy map making...

Geno

arsheesh
11-11-2012, 07:00 PM
Hi Geno, coming in a little bit late on this discussion. I don't have much to add that has not already been stated, but I'll just mention the trees/forests again. You currently have quite a few trees sprinkled generously throughout the map. In some places (such as right above the Lost Hills) there are so many trees that it gives the impression of a forest. This would be a fine approach to take. However, it does not sit well with your delineation of other forests, such as the Tangleweave (which are quite dense). I would recommend heading the advice of either Midgardsormr and Schwarzkreuz, and get rid of all the non-forest trees, or alternatively get rid of the dense forest patches and simply make all of your forests appear the same (such as the patch of trees just above the Lost Hills). That would add a bit of continuity to the map.

Cheers,
-Arsheesh

GenoWrites
11-11-2012, 07:18 PM
Thanks, Arsheesh, I appreciate the response. I am definitely taking Midgardsormr and Schwarzkreuz's advice... at least I'm trying to. I'm hoping to have enough work done to post some more tonight, but the last couple days have been pretty crazy busy.

I said it somewhere else on this site, but I'll say it again. I'm amazed at how helpful total strangers will be. Thank you... and thanks to everyone who's chimed in.

Geno

GenoWrites
11-12-2012, 01:48 AM
Okay... I'm falling asleep (one year old didn't sleep last night. So neither did daddy) and I didn't get near as much done as I had hoped, but here is the first glimpse of my attempts to improve the map and make it publish-ready. I agreed completely on the forest thing, So I'm working on that. Unfortunately the countries involved are rather well and often thickly forested. I think I'm striking a good balance, but I'm concerned for how to pull off the western end of the map. There may need to be some other refinements I'm not thinking of, but hey... 2 hours of sleep will do that to you. Anywhoo... without further ado, Here's Map Day... 5 (I think). Enjoy, critique, or just stare blankly ;) all the above are fine. I go to bed now.

49810

Oh, and it's currently overlayed on the most recent scan of the sketch. Now that I know where stuff is, I'm hand drawing / hand drawing custom brushes... etc... K... I'm rambling now...

Thank you all again. You are very helpful.

Geno

arsheesh
11-12-2012, 05:52 PM
This is already much improved! The mountains have quite a bit more character, the forests are far more discernible, the hills look quite nice, and it is no where near as busy as the first map. Looking forward to seeing updates on this.

Cheers,
-Arsheesh

GenoWrites
11-16-2012, 08:25 AM
Hello Most helpful Guild...

So... nine days ago I'd never made a map and I came here searching for help because I'm on a deadline for my novel. Several people have chimed in in helpful ways... So I just wanted to share my very nearly done map. Any critique would be great! Thank you so much for your help.

Two versions: the print version will not be color, but the e-reader version might...

49983

&

49985

Thanks again for your help.

Geno

Chashio
11-16-2012, 01:28 PM
Those are beautiful! Enchanting, really. I could spend quite some time looking at all the little details, thus I've added them to my favorites folder. =)

jtougas
11-16-2012, 01:33 PM
It is just amazing the amount of progress you have made on this. That is a true and proper fantasy map. Have some rep !! :)

gbsilverio
11-16-2012, 01:35 PM
This looks fantastic, both from an artistic and practical viewpoint! I hope you keep making maps even after you publish your novel, would be great to see what else you come up with, especially after improving even more.

Cheers!

Bogie
11-16-2012, 01:49 PM
Great Map, Send More!

arsheesh
11-16-2012, 02:46 PM
It is just amazing the amount of progress you have made on this. That is a true and proper fantasy map. Have some rep !! :)

My sentiments exactly! You ought to be very proud of what you've accomplished. Great work.

Cheers,
-Arsheesh

kestrelgrey
11-17-2012, 07:41 AM
Love them - now I just have to get a copy of your novel ^-^ Hope you keep making more of these.

Midgardsormr
11-18-2012, 01:05 AM
Fantastic! Very well done. There are a couple of places where you might mask out the lines to help keep the text legible (Cairemia and Vandaris), but even without that touch, this is a very impressive map.

GenoWrites
11-18-2012, 01:12 AM
Thank you, every one, for your kind remarks. I appreciate them a lot. Actually even more than I realized I would. When I read them it bolstered my confidence in my upcoming novel. So, Thanks. I needed that. (and I'm also amazed at the progress I made on it. All of the tutorials and advice I found here were amazingly helpful.)

This will probably be my last work in progress post, and I'll post the finished map in the next couple of days along with information about the book I made it for. Thanks Kestrelgrey for expressing interest:) I do currently have an e-book short story in the same universe available on Amazon. It's called How to be a Hero (http://www.amazon.com/How-Hero-Treasures-Darkness-ebook/dp/B005628KV8/ref=la_B005B002ES_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349500453&sr=1-1#reader_B005628KV8). I originally wrote it for my nephew as a birthday present because he loves to read, but it became the back story for one of the characters in the book. So, I decided to publish it along with a sample chapter of the upcoming novel. I'm going to do a free promo on the short story next week some time. So, I'll put the dates in the finished map post. um... yeah... anyway... I rambled there a bit. On to W.I.P. questions...

So... last critique request: As I stated before, the e-book will likely use the color version while the print book will have the grayscale. I'm struggling with the deciding how muted or vibrant to make this map. So here are two examples of what I'm looking at. Would love input (also as a sidebar I'm just curious if the vibrancy of the color influences what sort of Climate you would expect? ... just curious) Okay... no more ado...

Here they are:

50041
&
50042
and for good measure, here's the grayscale
50043

Once again... thank you for all your input.

Geno

gbsilverio
11-18-2012, 01:13 AM
I personally prefer it less vibrant. In my opinion, it enhances the weathered feel, and that is pretty important to me.

Anyway, I'm looking forward t hearing about your novel as well as the finished map! :)

See ya!

arsheesh
11-18-2012, 06:42 PM
They are all lovely, but I prefer the more vibrant one myself. Just goes to show that people have different tastes. Go with the one that you like best. And congrats on finishing your first map here, it is a winner.

Cheers,
-Arsheesh

jtougas
11-18-2012, 07:29 PM
I agree with Arsheesh. I like the vibrant one. Pick the one YOU like you can't go wrong with any of them. :)

Chashio
11-19-2012, 01:06 AM
I could go either way, but my preference might tip me toward the muted colors. Just to even the poll, in case you were having trouble deciding your favorite. haha

One thing you may want to watch out for is the difference in values (light dark/contrast) of the forests and water bodies. The colors are very similar between them, too, but my eyes are finding it especially hard to keep them separated in the greyscale version since the only real difference is that the forests have trunks... vs. in the previous wip, you kept all of the trees lighter than the water.

gbsilverio
11-19-2012, 01:12 AM
One thing you may want to watch out for is the difference in values (light dark/contrast) of the forests and water bodies. The colors are very similar between them, too, but my eyes are finding it especially hard to keep them separated in the greyscale version since the only real difference is that the forests have trunks... vs. in the previous wip, you kept all of the trees lighter than the water.

Agreed. Something about the grayscale map was bothering me just a tad. That was it.

GenoWrites
11-20-2012, 12:26 AM
Agreed. Something about the grayscale map was bothering me just a tad. That was it.

It's funny... that was bothering me too. I think I found a solution and I'd post it, but it's on my flash drive that I happened to leave in my PC at work (dangit). I'll post the final soon.

Thank you again everyone.

GenoWrites
11-21-2012, 02:23 AM
Alrighty the map is complete... Took 12 days, but I'm calling it done. I started a thread in the completed map section http://www.cartographersguild.com/finished-maps/20999-completed-map-novel.html#post201136
I hope you all like it. and like I promised there's some info there about my book.

Thanks for all your advice