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View Full Version : First Map. Critique please.



fifthmanstanding
01-12-2013, 05:10 PM
Hi.

The image size of this map is rather large and hopefully will upload properly to this post. If not here is an img ur link : http://i.imgur.com/QNsT8.jpg

51181

This is my first map and first time using photoshop. I followed the Atlas Styled Tutorial I found here and I'm semi happy with the results. Everything was done with CS5.

The map is for a D&D campaign and while I'm mostly glad to just be at this point with it I have several issues. I want to break this up by zone so that What I'm about to say makes sense.

Map Segmented by Zones : http://i.imgur.com/XBgRP.jpg

1) Zone 1 should look like the amazon river basin. The most notable issue I have here is both coloring and the river system. I feel like the way the the rivers were approached in the atlas style tut was great but in my map I don't feel like I executed them very well and it doesn't really convey to me "Low lying tropical mangrove forest jungle river basin' type of area. I think the color detracts from that a lot. The problem I ran into with color is that in the tut you create a gradient fill for the land layer and pick essentially three colors then come back later and paint over it, when I tried to paint over it with darker colors i mostly created dark spots because only some parts of the layer would 'pick up the paint', if that makes any sense. I'll be the first to say that I'm a photoshop idiot so any insight on that would be great.

2)The Mountains stand out to me as the biggest disappointment of the entire thing. They more resemble offensive gouges in the land. I had some problems with the cloud filter when following the tut. I tried it both on CS6 and CS6 and had the same results. Somewhere something in my settings is screwed up. When creating render-> filter-> clouds you're supposed to then select a color range ( alt s m c) while the foreground/background palate is black (fore) and white (aft). From there you set the fuzziness and hit ok. It should, in theory select all black. The problem I had on both programs and literally every time the select color range function was used is that it would either select all white or all of the grays and leave me with nasty black ring cloud colors. I worked around this by setting select to 'Shadows' instead of 'Sampled Colors'. This, however, allowed me to select the black but didn't leave me with much gradation once the color was deleted. It left me with very jagged cloud rendering to build the mountains with and I'm exceptionally unhappy with them. Any insight at all on that would make my day.

3) The placement of the mountains is bothering me. I have to point out that my GM created the outline map originally and I picked it up and made it digital later so I was going by his original. I felt that to justify the existence of the lakes, you would have to, I assume, have mountains somewhere to create an elevation to allow water to drain and pool, creating a lake. I tried to reflect that with the rivers. I feel that the placement of the mountains is poorly chosen and doesn't really convey believable terrain to me but I reworked them so many times and over so many hours that I settled on the current product out of frusteration. Any ideas would be helpful.

Any other critique would be appreciated.

fifthmanstanding
01-16-2013, 08:28 AM
bump. anyone???

- Max -
01-16-2013, 10:11 AM
Hey there,

I'd say it's pretty good overall, though some comments : I'm not really convinced by the height waterlines and the coasltines could be worked with more smooth to fit the map'style. It seems there are some rivers issues (a lot of them don't flow towards oceans or seas with no reason but some rivers police experts could tell you more and better about that. They probably need some more work to fit the style too.

Bogie
01-16-2013, 11:29 AM
Nice Map, I like the design / layout / textures. As Max said you have some river problems. Many of your rivers branch in the opposite direction of what they should be doing.

GrimFinger
01-16-2013, 11:43 AM
1. You lack patience. You posted your map, and a mere eighteen minutes later, here you go bumping this thread. A forgivable sin, to be certain, but a lack of patience will not serve you well, when it comes to cartographic undertakings.

2. Mountains? What mountains? You mean that there are mountains on this map? Oh, those things - those are mountains? How dreadful! I share your disappointment with them. I leave it to you to fix them, however. May I suggest that you obliterate these, and spend a little time crafting some real mountains - of the kind that will make men to sit up and take notice?

Typically speaking, mountains should be the predominant feature on most maps. Yours are, well, what some might call blobs and squirts. They are unworthy of the title, mountains.

3. Your map has coastline sections that are simultaneously quite large and too rounded, to boot. Whatever were you thinking? These areas are wholly at odds with my eye. They don't sit quite right in my view scape. They retard my ability to appreciate what it is that you are trying to accomplish with them and through them.

4. Your greater coastline, if I may call it that, is less jagged than would ideally be the case.

5. Such a large land mass, and such few islands. A pity.

6. The green color assortment that you use, I find that to be appetizing. That desert area in the south could stand considerable improvement. That frigid snow-covered region in the far north, thumbs down. It's largely a bunch of white, with little in the way of character to entice the eye to be drawn to it. As such, why is it even there? The various parts of your map should all be continuously dueling for attention from the viewer.

On this early incarnation of your map, my eye settles on the green. Very pretty, but largely an exercise in abstract art. Why? Because, your map lacks detail, and because it lacks detail, it lacks character. The green is quite beautiful. The remainder isn't.

7. This map cries out for a border. Not all maps do. This one does. Borderize the beast.

8. That interior lake is atrocious.

9. I see that you have plopped down a number of what appear to be rivers. Rivers are probably the single hardest thing on a map to get right. You will be pleased to learn that you have not quite mastered the art of rivers, yet. In all fairness, though, most haven't. I couldn't draw a realistic or passable river system on a map, if my life depends on it. My life doesn't depend on it. If you get a lot of the other stuff right, the human eye will tend to be more forgiving of the rivers that you do get wrong.

10. Are those dark green splotches supposed to be forests? If so, I can grasp that. But, is that what you are after? Do you seek to make them blend in, and not become a focal center of gravity, visually speaking? Or do you want them to take on their own identity within the overall map, itself? What is your grand objective?

11. The elevated coastline effect, I have mixed feelings about. It will work very well, with islands. It would work better, here, as is, if it was also applied to those large inner bays, and if the small islands were wrapped by that effect independent of the larger land mass, itself.

12. You have spared us the indignity of textual atrocities. For that, I thank you. Get the features and points of interest right, first, and then worry about your text labels, afterward.

Midgardsormr
01-16-2013, 11:49 AM
The rivers are definitely a problem. Rivers seldom split as they flow downstream. And when I say seldom, I mean so infrequently that if you depict one doing so, you'd better have a darned good explanation for it prepared ahead of time. Usually it can only happen with human intervention—flood control or irrigation or canals. Stylistically, they don't really look like they're carrying water across the landscape. They look like damp spots. Assuming the rivers are on a separate layer, ctrl-click that layer to select them, then switch to whichever layer holds your land texture, and hit the Mask button at the bottom of the layers palette. This will carve a space in the texture for the rivers to sit in. Then raise the opacity of the river quite a bit so they are more visible.

Now to get the look of your mangrove swamp, make a new Hue and Saturation Adjustment Layer on top of your layer stack. I'd suggest turning down the saturation a bit, and sliding the hue slightly toward the blue. Your entire image will change, but don't worry about that—we'll limit the scope of the adjustment in a few moments. Once you have a color in that basin that you like, select the Mask on your adjustment layer and fill it with black. Then use a soft round brush to paint white in the places where you want the adjustment layer to take effect.

Regarding your fuzzy selection problem, the tool won't automatically select black. On the right-hand side of the dialogue box, there are three eyedropper icons. Click the left-most one, then click in a dark area on your image. Now you can adjust the fuzziness, and you should get a selection that starts in the darkest areas and creeps toward the white as you adjust the slider.

No time to talk about mountain placement in any depth, but from a quick look, it doesn't appear to be a problem to me. It does look like maybe there was an asteroid impact, with that ring of mountains surrounding a huge bay/sea.

Midgardsormr
01-16-2013, 11:54 AM
1. You lack patience. You posted your map, and a mere eighteen minutes later, here you go bumping this thread. A forgivable sin, to be certain, but a lack of patience will not serve you well, when it comes to cartographic undertakings.

Um… I don't know what you're looking at, but according to what I see, the map was posted four days ago.

GrimFinger
01-16-2013, 11:57 AM
Um… I don't know what you're looking at, but according to what I see, the map was posted four days ago.

I stand corrected. Perhaps I have been staring at the monitor screen for too long, this morning. This may be a good time to eat.

Jaxilon
01-17-2013, 11:18 AM
I'm surely not interested in a big round of word battle but I wanted to say some things.

@GrimFinger - Dude...Your critique style seems harsher than required, probably due to your using questionably humorous comments and questions. It's nice that you took the time to type all of this because unless someone did there wouldn't be any critiques. However, one could just point to what needs addressed and leave it rather than being insulting. Half of your statements amount to "I don't like this". That's not really helpful to a new mapper. Perhaps if you pointed to a tutorial or another map that shows what you feel is needed it would be useful. It's also acceptable to say, "I'm not sure what you should do with those 'whatevers' but they don't seem quite right to me." Now, in honesty you do bring up some valid issues so if the artist can read through the verbiage they may improve. Unfortunately, I will say I am glad my first attempts were not critiqued by you. Today I wouldn't mind tougher critiques but I think if my first attempts received this sort of treatment I would have bailed for another forum. Giving a critique is an art form in itself. I'm late for work but if I have time I'll find the discussion we had on this some months ago. I'm not entirely sure if you are trying to be encouraging or discouraging with what you posted and that leaves me on the fence regarding everything you said.

@fifthmanstanding - There are good things about your map so don't give up. Sometimes you have to look at critiques and try to understand what is being said rather than how it is said. If you feel disheartened just remember how interesting it is that those who tend to talk the most are those who haven't created anything themselves. Also, if you want to be an artist you simply must grow a thick skin. For all I know you have one but I'm just saying.

GrimFinger
01-17-2013, 12:58 PM
I'm surely not interested in a big round of word battle but I wanted to say some things.

@GrimFinger - Dude...Your critique style seems harsher than required, probably due to your using questionably humorous comments and questions. It's nice that you took the time to type all of this because unless someone did there wouldn't be any critiques. However, one could just point to what needs addressed and leave it rather than being insulting. Half of your statements amount to "I don't like this". That's not really helpful to a new mapper. Perhaps if you pointed to a tutorial or another map that shows what you feel is needed it would be useful. It's also acceptable to say, "I'm not sure what you should do with those 'whatevers' but they don't seem quite right to me." Now, in honesty you do bring up some valid issues so if the artist can read through the verbiage they may improve. Unfortunately, I will say I am glad my first attempts were not critiqued by you. Today I wouldn't mind tougher critiques but I think if my first attempts received this sort of treatment I would have bailed for another forum. Giving a critique is an art form in itself. I'm late for work but if I have time I'll find the discussion we had on this some months ago. I'm not entirely sure if you are trying to be encouraging or discouraging with what you posted and that leaves me on the fence regarding everything you said.

@fifthmanstanding - There are good things about your map so don't give up. Sometimes you have to look at critiques and try to understand what is being said rather than how it is said. If you feel disheartened just remember how interesting it is that those who tend to talk the most are those who haven't created anything themselves. Also, if you want to be an artist you simply must grow a thick skin. For all I know you have one but I'm just saying.

Jaxilion,

No big round of word battle, as you characterize it, is necessary, but I am happy to respond to your concerns expressed here.

It has been said by men greater than I that one man's junk is another man's treasure, and that one man's vulgarity is another man's lyric. What I offer, what I contribute, to the discussions here is merely my opinion, nothing more.

As you acknowledge, you are not certain as to whether I am trying to be encouraging or discouraging. Uncertainty has a tendency to instill doubt. That's the nature of it.

Perhaps I could tone down my critiques. Perhaps I could water them down. If I don't base my critiques off of my honest opinion, then what should I base them off of?

For that matter, I could eliminate criticism, altogether. Granted, as you point, out, I do bring up some valid issues. But, perhaps criticism should be intentionally mild and deliberately soft. Perhaps I should be a little less honest, and a lot less blunt, and either mask my critiques with half-truths or withhold criticism that I believe to be warranted or useful.

If I go that route, though, then perhaps I should also tone down and water down my instances of praise for the handiwork of others on display here. I mean, after all, I use the exact, same eyes to lead me down the path of either praise or criticism. If I err in my criticism, then perhaps I err in my praise, as well.

It may well be that you are correct, Jaxilon, in your stated opinion that my critique style seems harsher than required. In all honesty, though, I really wasn't aware that critique styles should never be harsh. The process of critical analysis, after all, requires that one be willing to criticize.

As a general rule of thumb, I tend to leave it to each individual to decide whether to value or not any given input from myself on the maps displayed here. My experience in life, over the last half century or so, has been that perspectives vary, experiences vary, and opinions vary.

It certainly is not my intention nor desire for you, or anyone else for that matter, to be on the fence about everything that I say, here. But, then again, I haven't asked anyone to practice fence-sitting.

By and large, I feel that I tend to take as much time to explain and to expound upon particular and specific areas of criticism on given maps that I comment on, at least as much as the next guy.

Since you did not bother to specify which specific instances of my critiques that you feel may be too harsh, I'm not sure what, specifically, that you would prefer that I critique in another, less harsh way.

If you like, and believe it to be warranted, I could certainly go back in and edit out whatever it is that you find to be offensive, whether to yourself or others.

Also, if you like and prefer, I could simply keep my opinions to myself, until and unless someone asked me directly to comment on their cartographic efforts.

I try to be flexible, and I try to be tactful. Some seem to appreciate my style of critique, but that not everyone does isn't particularly surprising. After all, everyone tends to form their own opinions on what they like or dislike.

At any rate, my apologies for any headaches that I caused you, Jaxilon. In any event, I enjoy observing the cartographic handiwork of so many talented and skillful individuals so well-versed in their respective mastery of the craft. For most of the time that I have been a registered member of this site, observation - rather than critique - dominated the time that I spent on this site and in these forums, here. Issuing forth critiques tends to be rather time-consuming, anyway. If it's any comfort to you, it's less headaches for me, as well, when I simply observe, rather than critique.

Happy mapping to one and all,

- Charles -

mearrin69
01-17-2013, 01:13 PM
@GrimFinger: Your critique was good, and mostly insightful. Your choice of wording could have been improved upon. Edit: please don't just observe...you're welcome to critique my work any time you like!

To the OP: It's a good first try at the Ascension style...and that's a tough tutorial to follow. I think enough has been said about rivers, so you've got somewhere to go on that. I agree with GrimFinger about the mountains. Maybe revisit the tut and make sure you do both the hills and mountains steps? It almost seems as if you've missed one or the other. My biggest issue with this one is the ocean/lakes/continental shelf. This is an important one to get right and a little tough. I'll again refer you to the tutorial...maybe try the steps again with your base map? I had to do this tutorial a couple of times before I got it right...so don't despair!
M

Pryme8
01-17-2013, 01:17 PM
looks awesome, the colors are sharp and clean! and the layout is believable. Some of the water stacks could be worked on, and if your showing that shelf might as well add a dropoff where the water gets some darkness to it!

other then that, add some cities and some more texture to give it less of a uniform look and you got a winner!

kaelin
01-17-2013, 11:44 PM
For your first go I'd say you've done quite well. I think it turned out rather well, given it being your first time and following a tutorial (never as easy as you would think it to be :)). So good job!
As for critiquing this, I'd say you hit all the major selling points on your own. The only thing I would add is the relative size of the three climate zones. Not having a scale doesn't tell us how large the land mass is, so it does make a difference, given the relative closeness of the desert to the snowed area. The mountains aside, the colors are good and the map as a whole doesn't leave me wondering what is what. I've found in my own project that mountains can pose a bit of a problem to get right.
I would recommend going back through the tutorial step by step a time or three on practice runs. It's helped me immensely in my project. :)
All in all, it's a great beginning and I look forward to seeing how it progresses.

jbgibson
01-18-2013, 01:23 AM
Sorry - I missed this when you first posted, fifth. Nice start, and props for sticking a map right in your first post. We appreciate folks willing to contribute right from the start - and I'm serious about *contribute*. Y'see, like in a classroom, one ought not be shy about asking a question, since a dozen others may have been holding back on asking the same thing! In the case of a map, I figure I can learn from pretty much anybody's efforts; first map or thousandth.

I don't use Photoshop, so my responses will be general & theoretical rather than recipes for success :-). First off, you have the shading set for light from the SE. While on a real globe, that may be a plausible direction for the sun, a more conventional light direction would be as though one were looking at a paper map on a table with a desk lamp, or one on a wall lit from above. Your continental shelf seemed to bulge instead of sink, until I stared at it and MADE the depths sink below the land. I wonder if your mountain visualization might have the same issue - can you switch the illumination to top left and see what that does? Ha - when I try to just turn it over on my phone, the dad-blamed thinks-smarter-than-I phone turns it back right side up. :-b...


The rivers. Mmmmmm. Like has been noted, they ought to only join going downstream, or branch going upstream. That would fix a lot of their "something is awry here" impression. Take a look at Redrobes' Most Excellent tutorial about how to get your rivers in the right place - it should be stickied near the top of the tutorial forum. But another thing other than the slight "lying on top of the overall texture" issue, is that you're mapping a continent - your intent to show the width of the rivers varying results in them looking to be what, fifty miles across in places? SOmething a bit bigger than you intend, anyway. It's a tough trick, to show variations in a river - at this scale a satellite photo might show only a pixel or two of width, so it's pretty normal to generalize when symbolizing the watercourses: wide enough to be discernable, but narrow enough to look like a long river. Sinuous looping in the lower reaches of a flatland river has to be exaggerated ... subtly, and probably has to be shown in far fewer number than the real river's convolutions. <shrug> - it's a tradeoff.

The suggestion to incise the river into the terrain by masking the surrounding texture must work - I see it on a lot of Photoshop maps (refer to previous assertion of PS naivite on my part), but even that needs to be done with a light touch - going ahead and beveling the land to further emphasize the channel works best on large-scale (equals small area, remember) maps; the impression on a continental scale starts to be "vast canyon" rather than "river banks".

Did you create the big and small NW bays and the interior lake by erasing? With a circular brush? They kind of have that character. The outer coastline of the continent looks fine - maybe however you generated that, you could duplicate for the inland water, with some varied jagginesses?

jbgibson
01-18-2013, 01:25 AM
Oops -double post. But I do have another question. What scale do you have in mind for this? Considering that it's a satellite-view realistic style, maybe having an equivalent scale at which to examine views of Earth could help. Like, how far in or out one ought to zoom on the Amazon basin, to get more ideas of tropical coloring, feature visibility, and so forth.

Jaxilon
01-18-2013, 01:32 AM
@GrimFinger - Please do not desist from offering critiques as I feel they are important for growth. I know I need more of them and I appreciate how much time it takes to put together a thorough critique and how difficult it can be to do so in a constructive manner. I've tried to write a few myself and they are time consuming. I also don't feel it necessary to "water down" your message when you have one to convey.


Since you did not bother to specify which specific instances of my critiques that you feel may be too harsh, I'm not sure what, specifically, that you would prefer that I critique in another, less harsh way.

I was on my way out to work this morning so didn't have time for more and it's midnight now but basically it's the little comments around the good points you make that I think could be refined.


2. Mountains? What mountains? You mean that there are mountains on this map? Oh, those things - those are mountains? How dreadful! I share your disappointment with them. I leave it to you to fix them, however. May I suggest that you obliterate these, and spend a little time crafting some real mountains - of the kind that will make men to sit up and take notice?

Typically speaking, mountains should be the predominant feature on most maps. Yours are, well, what some might call blobs and squirts. They are unworthy of the title, mountains.
He already admitted his disappointment, it seems to me you were needlessly rubbing his face in.


3...Whatever were you thinking?...
I don't see how this question helps. The rest of the point is ok but it's these little comments that sound condescending to me and that's when I start wondering what the goal is.


8. That interior lake is atrocious.
This point needs some direction to be of use.

Honestly, if your critique were on someone other than a newbie's first map posting I wouldn't be saying anything. I know he did ask for a critique so it could be I'm wasting my energy. I certainly have other things I could be doing.

My concern (and why I'm bothering) is that I don't want folks to be scared to ask for help when their projects don't turn out the way they want them. New artists are usually jumping a tall hurdle just to share their first creation. I know I was.

Maybe all I'm really asking is to try taking it a little easier on newbies.

fifthmanstanding
01-18-2013, 04:17 PM
1. You lack patience. You posted your map, and a mere eighteen minutes later, here you go bumping this thread. A forgivable sin, to be certain, but a lack of patience will not serve you well, when it comes to cartographic undertakings.

Not sure what you mean by that. I waited 4 days. Time stamps says so.

You know. I had a point for point post typed out for you to combat your overall useless banter but it seems pretty clear you have no intention of offering me anything worthwhile and that a point for point is useless here. I'm fine with critiques. Love em. 4 years of an art undergrad and looking forward to a masters as well, critiques are pivotal in getting better and have been a very important part of my life. What you're doing is not a critique, especially when you offer nothing constructive or any source material to learn from.

Good day sir.

EDIT: I thought maybe you're a troll, just because of the theatrics and verbosity, and then I read your blog post on this site and I just can't even be irritated. You're either an a+ troll and I salute you or you're insane and I salute you.

fifthmanstanding
01-18-2013, 06:21 PM
The rivers. Mmmmmm. Like has been noted, they ought to only join going downstream, or branch going upstream. That would fix a lot of their "something is awry here" impression. Take a look at Redrobes' Most Excellent tutorial about how to get your rivers in the right place - it should be stickied near the top of the tutorial forum. But another thing other than the slight "lying on top of the overall texture" issue, is that you're mapping a continent - your intent to show the width of the rivers varying results in them looking to be what, fifty miles across in places? SOmething a bit bigger than you intend, anyway. It's a tough trick, to show variations in a river - at this scale a satellite photo might show only a pixel or two of width, so it's pretty normal to generalize when symbolizing the watercourses: wide enough to be discernable, but narrow enough to look like a long river. Sinuous looping in the lower reaches of a flatland river has to be exaggerated ... subtly, and probably has to be shown in far fewer number than the real river's convolutions. <shrug> - it's a tradeoff.

The suggestion to incise the river into the terrain by masking the surrounding texture must work - I see it on a lot of Photoshop maps (refer to previous assertion of PS naivite on my part), but even that needs to be done with a light touch - going ahead and beveling the land to further emphasize the channel works best on large-scale (equals small area, remember) maps; the impression on a continental scale starts to be "vast canyon" rather than "river banks".

My incomplete poorly thought out thoughts on rivers was this: start them near the mountains and have them move towards a body of water or the ocean. I wanted the middle of the island/continent to be the highest elevation but not in a volcanic or 'mountain range topped by one mountain at the center of this island' kind of thing. The original outline of the continent was created by the guy running my D&D game and I wanted to go digital with it, so keeping to his original creation I tried to topographically justify what he'd already made. The two major lakes were already created by him and somehow pivotal in what we are doing so I have to keep them. I figured thier creation would be dependant on either a glacier withdrawing in the days of old and leaving behind a deep lake bed with streams/rivers back to the mountains, or a trickle down of water starting at a mountain. Those ranges were set to sort of break up the zones he'd pre-created. So...the challenge at hand is keeping elements that are not topo/geographically sound but must be kept for story sake and still visually justifying everything in the form of a map. That being said, the logic used to create the rivers I feel (very ignorant of other princepals that may improve my logic, mind you) was that the island was high in the middle, the amazonian region was a low lying drainage basin that centered around the expulsion of waters into the ocean by use of a large lake, I was going for something between the basin around the lakes in the Congo and I wanted to illustrate the type of terrain by using a lot of rivers. I think more small 'pools of water' around the area are needed to illustrate the excess of water/swamp. As far as the southerly lake/rivers,what would be the guideline to determine the flow of water to create a river? It's south of a mountain range and the land, in theory, goes from mountainous to plateau and dips into the coast. tldr; what are the rules/algorithms/guidelines for determining (manually) generation of believable rivers?



Did you create the big and small NW bays and the interior lake by erasing? With a circular brush? They kind of have that character. The outer coastline of the continent looks fine - maybe however you generated that, you could duplicate for the inland water, with some varied jagginesses?

Yeah that lake is pretty starkly round. The coastline was generated using the cloud render as a layer and playing with it that way. I agree that if feels very 'streamlined' as a coast line and I think that comes from me being sort of scared to shy away from the tutorial videos too much. There is another huge group of islands/continents that I have to illustrate for my DM and I think I'm going to play with it a lot more to create a greater sense of jaggedness and randomly dispersed land. I think this map feels to fluid and too contrived to be believable.

Jaxilon
01-18-2013, 07:19 PM
There are some great tutorials on making jagged coastlines that look realistic if you poke around in the tutorials area.

There have been plenty of us who have had to make maps with unrealistic geographical locations due to a game or story already in progress. Those can be hard to deal with. You just do the best you can. Usually you can talk them into redoing rivers that are contrary to nature or at least that's been my experience.

I also, would encourage you to not disregard everything that was stated in the critique as there are some useful things being mentioned. You might need to leave it for a day or two and then try reading it again though.

fifthmanstanding
01-18-2013, 10:14 PM
Ok. So I finally got off work and had some time to sort of illustrate my thoughts somewhat better and hopefully it will help me frame questions better. I've attached two pics.

51348

The above pic ( imgur link: http://i.imgur.com/Vs7OF8H.jpg ) is my attempts/thoughts on the river system direction as I was making it. Hopefully this illustrates the directions and the flow of the river better, I figured the rivers would run away/down from the mountains (greyed areas) and into the basins below them. With that in mind I would like very specific critique on that if anyone would be kind enough.

51349

The above pic (imgur link: http://i.imgur.com/szMTcer.jpg ) is supposed to attempt to visually explain what I was going for in terms of placement and direction of the ranges. Like I said before: color and representation is horrible but until I get a better understanding of what does and does not make sense in terms of topography neither the mountains or the rivers, I feel, will be correct before I even begin to redo them. I want to make sure I pass the competency check on this before i ever put pen to paper/tablet.

The circles are the three large mountains and the scribbles are the ranges they fall in. A mountain pass plays an important role in the storyline and needed to be illustrated so that lies between the two ranges and the two mountain circles on the mainland. I also included a sketch over top of what I was thinking the ground level view would sort of be if you were sailing up to the island/continent from the southern end.

fifthmanstanding
01-18-2013, 10:15 PM
sorry, double post, deleted.

ManOfSteel
01-18-2013, 11:48 PM
It's good to see that you're putting some thought into the directions your rivers are taking, but you seem to be missing a fundamental concept.
Rivers don't fan out from a source; they converge from a source.
Somewhere out on those lower plains there is a lowest point. All tributaries are therefore going to flow towards it as they work their way around higher ground in their path. Along the way, they meet and form the main river. Remember that a river system drains a large area that is at a higher level, whether it be a basin, a plain, or a mountain range and it's the very nature of the flows to converge as they meet each other at lower and lower levels until they become one river and flow into the lowest local point that leads to the sea.
Rivers do not split along the way except for maybe a rock or small island. If they flow into a lake they generally flow out of it somewhere and continue their courses to lower and lower ground. There may be more than one influx of water, but there will almost always be only one outflow of water. At one time there may be multiple outlets, but one of those is going to be the lowest and that one will always have the greatest outflow. Over time, erosion will deepen that exit. Even if it's just an inch, that will create a kind of snowball effect; the more water that flows out, the deeper the outlet becomes...the deeper the outlet becomes, the more water flows out. Eventually that will be the only outlet.

Jaxilon
01-19-2013, 12:04 AM
Regarding rivers you might find these useful: Essential River Guidelines for Mapping (http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/2927-essential-river-guidelines-mapping.html) and How to get your rivers in the right place (http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/3822-how-get-your-rivers-right-place.html). Both tutorials are here on this site and are very helpful in getting the water flow concepts down right.

From what I can tell you want to have two exits from the lake on the East and that would be highly unlikely to happen except perhaps for a short time during a downpour. Maybe if men were involved in engineering something that would force this to happen but water will always follow the course of least resistance chasing gravity and if a lake has more than one exit at any time one of them always wins out and become the only one.

There are almost always exceptions but unless you have a solid reasonable explanation for it it'll never get past the "River Police" :)

Don't feel bad though because I think most of us learned a lot about rivers after we joined here.

edit:ManOfSteel types faster than me I guess :)

amberroberts09
01-19-2013, 04:52 AM
I think it is a nice map as it is the first one of yours!!!

ManOfSteel
01-20-2013, 12:47 AM
edit:ManOfSteel types faster than me I guess :)

Faster than a speeding bullet.;)

fifthmanstanding
01-28-2013, 11:09 PM
So I re-did most of it using an early save file from the original. Round 2.

51658

(imgur link: http://i.imgur.com/9VVJfIE.jpg )

The mountains remind me of the skin of a burn victim. Still not happy with them but I'm going to finish this up and then come back to it later when I'm less sick of looking at it.

-Map marker icons and some names are now set
-Some terrain has changed.
-Some mountains have changed
-Complete overhaul of rivers

I'm looking for critique on the whole, especially rivers, I think I did better but still feel like something's missing with the river.

Thanks in advance.

fifthmanstanding
01-28-2013, 11:18 PM
Sidenote: How would you all suggest approaching roads/road making. ie what tool, opacity and so forth, keep in mind that I'm incompetent with photoshop and bridging most gaps with excessive googling.

Midgardsormr
01-29-2013, 03:13 AM
I usually use the Pen tool to make a path, then stroke it with a rectangular brush set up with angle controlled by stroke direction and spacing set so that it makes a nice dotted line. Spend some time experimenting with all of the different controls in the brushes palette.

Regarding your labels, you need to adjust the kerning in numerous places. If you're not familiar with the term, kerning is the space between letters. In Adobe applications, you can adjust it on a per-letter basis by placing the cursor between the letters where you need more space, holding down alt, and using the right arrow to move everything after the cursor over. Likewise, you can decrease the space with alt-left arrow. In some cases, entire words could use more breathing room. The tracking control in the type palette can be used to add space between all the letters of selected text at the same time. This is frequently handy for large labels meant to stretch across countries or mountain ranges.

The mountains are looking much better than they did before. I think your color scheme for them is a little too swampy, though. Maybe reduce the overall amount of color they're getting, and reduce the yellow. Take a look at some satellite pictures of coniferous forests and try to get closer to that dark green.

The rivers are now much more physically accurate. There is one tributary on the large river east of Griffyn's Landing that appears to enter a confluence running the wrong direction. The southern most stream is travelling north by north-west, joins up with the main river, and that water must immediately turn about 135 degrees to travel south-east. While that's not impossible, it does seem unlikely.

Stylistically, I still think the rivers look more like damp spots. It's just odd that the land texture is visible underneath them. Since they're so wide, I think what I would do is to style them the same as the lake and seas. Or, Torq (whom we have not seen here in a while) developed a look in which the rivers were given a small pillow emboss to make them appear sunk into a channel. You already have a very small bevel on your coastline, so I think that would be a natural enough extension of the idea. You'll probably need to do a little bit of hand painting at the estuaries, though, to make the bevels interact with each other properly.

And, finally, some of your icons are a little jarring in color. Particularly the magenta one. Don't wander too far afield from the colors you already have in your map. There is nothing remotely resembling that color anywhere else, and it's really disrupting the unity of the entire piece. The brick markers look okay to me, probably because their saturation and luminance levels are closer to the green field they're one. Plus, that color is complementary to your ocean color, which probably helps it. Just try to avoid placing one of those icons directly on the ocean, as I suspect that will cause some vibration.

Freehand 5.5
01-29-2013, 12:02 PM
Do you seriously use the imperial logo for cities?!?

I like the fresh colours.
I don't like the cloudiness everywhere. It's a bit turbulent.
The underwater step is a good idea but a bit sharp. Could look better if it's a bit softer. Don't know.

Overall it's a nice map.

fifthmanstanding
01-29-2013, 06:33 PM
Do you seriously use the imperial logo for cities?!?


Imperial logo?

I google image searched for circular symbolic sort of nondescript black and white sigils/runes/seals, basically anything that was ambiguous and simple. What's it from?

Midgardsormr
01-29-2013, 07:19 PM
Ha; I didn't even make the connection! One of your city icons is the emblem of the Galactic Empire from Star Wars.

fifthmanstanding
01-29-2013, 07:53 PM
Ha; I didn't even make the connection! One of your city icons is the emblem of the Galactic Empire from Star Wars.

What's hilarious is that it was actually a 3d image of a shield i snatched off of google images that I flattened and made all one color. But damn if it's not. lol.