View Full Version : Jan/Feb lite challenge entry - "Oivalf's Odyssey"

01-17-2013, 12:37 AM
Since I pestered the moderators about when a new lite challenge would start, I figured I had to enter...and the topic worked out pretty well with an ongoing narrative one of my players and I were working out for our campaign. Their character is a half-orc barbarian (viking) from a semi-arctic region. They pillage/plunder party got lost at sea and shipwrecked on the sunny shores of al-qadim.

I've modified the story to suggest that they were on their way to plunder an island rumored to house a sacred temple full of unimaginable treasures. They reached the temple, but from that point forward, the character (Oivalf) completely blacked out. He awakes alone in the middle of the sea on a small river boat/canoe. There is no land in sight and he has no idea where he is, how he got there or how long he's been out for. His clothes are bloodied and in tatters and the only possessions he still has are his backpack (which luckily contains a compass and journal among other things), shield, and axe. He also finds several vases of fresh water on the ship. After a perilous time at sea, he eventually arrives on the desert coast. He has never heard of this place and no one he meets has ever heard of where he's from.

So, my entry will be his journal notes...where he records what he knows and tries to figure out whats missing. I'm using the outline of a map I already did of his home region (Myrr (http://www.cartographersguild.com/regional-world-mapping/21614-myrr-fantasy-viking-country.html))...I figure this doesn't violate the rules since I'm only using the outline and will be filling it in a bit with different symbols in a completely different style.

I'm still pretty new to photoshop...so trying to figure out how to make a convincing looking journal...I've also never made a map in this black outline on parchment paper style....so any comments, criticisms, and general thoughts would be very helpful.

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*I'm not at all wedded to the font or actual text used at this point...it was mostly just an experiment to see how I would start laying the whole thing out. I plan on using the bottom right page to map out the coast of my Al-Qadim region (Manaff). The space in the top right will probably be used for more of his notes and maybe a small sketch of the boat he found himself on

01-17-2013, 10:09 PM
Hi anomiecoalition,

I think your journal is a wonderful idea! I'm going to keep watching this thread to see how it develops!

There's a great tutorial on youTube called "Fantasy Cartography" that goes into creating parchment-style maps. It's also great to watch to learn about using Photoshop. I picked up a bunch of neat tricks!

Fantasy Cartography with Adobe Photoshop 1 - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KO4XZfaSAoA&list=UUkBj6Kfmxkim3bBQm2F_0ww)


01-17-2013, 11:53 PM
A journal is a cool Idea AC !

01-18-2013, 12:42 AM
Cool idea. Looks pretty good so far.

If you can figure out how I'd suggest making the paper a bit less rough looking...looks sort of like sandpaper now. Removing that bump and maybe trying to put a bit of shine on it might work? Giving the journal's cover some depth and texture might improve the look as well. Finally, instead of the black line around the pages, maybe you could play with a very slight drop shadow/inner highlight on the pages to make them separate.

Also, the character is a half-orc barbarian or did I misunderstand? I might be hewing too closely to stereotypes but the script seems a bit too refined for that race/class. :) Maybe something a bit rougher? There are lots of pretty rough script fonts out there. You can put text on a curve in PS, so you could also have each line go a bit wiggly if you wanted to get away from the very neat block style.

Just some thoughts. Looking forward to seeing what you do with it!

01-18-2013, 05:39 PM
Thanks for the suggestions...I incorporated many of them into this minor update. I blurred the pages a bit to decrease the roughness, and messed around with the shadow of the pages. I think doing both definitely helped. I still need to work on the book binding and try to add some more depth to the pages themselves (but I figure i'll save that for a little later in the process...particularly since I have no idea how I'm going to do that.)

Your absolutely right about the font...I wanted something that looked hand written and displayed some intelligence (given that this character can obviously write and draw), but he is from a tough part of the world...so I've got a couple fonts on there that I think mix the best of both worlds and just got to settle on one.

Finally, I watched a bit of that youtube video (particularly the part about creating water) and tried to get something like that going here. I think it improves the map a bit, but I probably still need to fade it out better and play around with the land mass generally (particularly for the land in the bottom right). Really, I'm not sure how to fade out the borders of the maps...

So any ideas, thoughts, criticisms, suggestions, etc. are welcome

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01-19-2013, 02:38 AM
It took me forever, but I finally figured out how to fade out the borders of my land mass while still being able to keep the shadow and bevel effect (I won't bore you with the details, but I'm sure there was a simpler way) ...I also found some new fonts and worked on filling out the text a little bit...also started playing around with mountains...

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01-19-2013, 04:48 AM
Cool you have got the perfect idea!!!

01-19-2013, 05:43 PM
Another small update....I discovered that there is warp feature for the layers...I'm still going to have to eventually warp all the material on the pages...in retrospect, probably would have been a better idea to merge everything together and warp it all as a unit at the end...but gotta make mistakes to learn.

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01-19-2013, 05:51 PM
eh...another small update (sorry for the double post)....just reversed the gradient for the pages (so, its darker in the middle of the book than on the ends)...doesn't look like much of a difference until you compare them side to side.

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01-27-2013, 05:15 PM
Experimenting with mountains, city icons, and labeling. Not sure how I feel about any of it...and still not sure if/how I will do other terrain (maybe cross-hatching patterns?)

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01-31-2013, 03:48 PM
Now that I have some extra time I'm taking a look at the other entries. A very interesting way of doing a map, I may try it sometime ("noted" :) ).

BTW, did you draw the mountains yourself? I liked them, and if you say you are using pre-made brushes I'll be even more surprised considering I just can't get this "connection" with premade mountains. Nice job on them.

02-03-2013, 06:16 PM
Thanks...The mountains are brushes I found on Deviant Art ("Sketchy" was the name I think...but I do remember that they were free to use)...The brush set was set up pretty well for connecting mountains. It had a few big single mountains and then a few small mountains that could fit on either side of the big ones.

Here's an update...I've been experimenting with hatch fills...I tried adding some trees in Myrr but I thought it made the whole thing look too busy. The place markers and labels are temporary...still not sure how many I want to throw in there.

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02-07-2013, 07:07 PM
I think they are StarRaven's brushes (http://www.cartographersguild.com/mapping-elements/13148-sketchy-map-symbols-magic-circles.html). You've used them really well. :)

02-07-2013, 08:30 PM
Thanks for the link. Good to give credit where credit is due. I've thanked him and posted a link to this entry.

02-09-2013, 01:15 PM
Made a few last minute fixes...can't think of anything else to add to this...so, this will probably be my last entry unless anyone has any suggestions.

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mystic badger
02-12-2013, 05:37 AM
I especially love the journey itself. Condensed ike it, it sparks the imagination. The map is very nice in his simplicity, I think a more workd map would have been distracting or out of place. Good job !

02-12-2013, 06:31 AM
Very nice story and I agree, the maps have just the right weight to support the journal. You should fix the "primatives" typo in the first paragraph, though.

02-12-2013, 01:24 PM
Thanks guys....fixed the typo and added one more city name. I'm glad to get some validation for the minimalist map approach...I really did intend to add more detail to them in the beginning, but as it developed things started to get too cluttered. Plus, it sort of fits with the narrative that Oivalf is only loosely familiar with this new land.

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02-12-2013, 07:41 PM
I'm glad to get some validation for the minimalist map approach...

Really? I don't know if it's considered proper to discuss the voting before it happens, but I had been considering you the front-runner. Your map is excellently executed, clear, appealing, and fulfills the requirements of the challenge in a unique & clever way - I will be honestly surprised if it doesn't win this one.

02-13-2013, 10:04 AM
Really? I don't know if it's considered proper to discuss the voting before it happens, but I had been considering you the front-runner. Your map is excellently executed, clear, appealing, and fulfills the requirements of the challenge in a unique & clever way - I will be honestly surprised if it doesn't win this one.

I would agree. Even the way it's presented, as a journal of sorts, adds to the experience that this is a journey. I think you had my vote before I even submitted my own first draft! (And Tomalak, I don't think anyone will frown on our manners since it's our own maps we're voting against here... ;) )