View Full Version : Fantasy Port City

01-18-2013, 06:40 AM
Working on this for an RPG I help run; it's a port city in a fantasy world. The northern area is meant to be cobble paths with mostly stone buildings, the southern area is dirt roads and mostly wooden buildings. The docks have several warehouses on their wooden paths, which extend onto a large portion of the land.

Trying to figure out what I can do to improve the overall look of it, maybe do something to pull all the colours together a little.

Also thinking of using small symbols to mark the various locations on the map, which at this scale would be more a matter of showing the area they're in rather than their exact location. (Planning on displaying the map online at 600x600 or 800x800.)

Using photoshop.

The city of Elexia is set out into three areas that all blend seamlessly into one another in such away that while walking between them it is impossible to tell where any real borders are. The only good rule of thumb is that you can usually tell where you are by what's underfoot.

The Docks - Elexia is a city of trade and commerce, and its sprawling system of harboring and docks is a large part of that. The docks area comprises not only the sprawling interconnected boardwalks and jetties that line the coast but also a great deal of related areas filled with warehouses, markets and entertainment establishments. The docks district makes use of a lots of land at the coast which would be too sodden to use without the extensive use of boardwalks and sort stilts on which most of the docks district is built.

The Old City - Home to the rich and powerful of Elexia, the Old City's cobbled streets were the first signs that the fishing village had truly flourished. The architecture in this are of the city is slightly more impressive than elsewhere, and this effect if stronger the further north one goes. The old city is also the unofficial center of Elexia, as it houses many important governmental locations and the majority of councilors past and present live in this region.

The Warrens - Despite the old city being the center of Elexia's government, The Warrens are what most people think of when they talk about Elexia. A combination of stone and wooden buildings atop a packed dirt street that leads to most residents having dusty feet. The further south one goes the less civilized the town planning seems to be as things spread out and become more maze like. The Warrens are also home to the largest number of entrances to the sewers and the tunnels made home by the Atarin residents of Elexia. It is said you are always a stones throw from a bar, tavern or brothel in the warrens, and if you have a strong arm that might be true.

- Max -
01-18-2013, 06:55 AM
Hmm...The whole map doesn't make it imho. My comments:

A lack of harmony with textures ( textures used for sea and terrain don't fit the style of the town), blue of sea is too "blue" and the town looks rather like some brain parts or bunch of rivers than town parts. The bridges and harbour parts doesn't look natural too. Sorry for the kind of rude comments but well you need to work more about it to make it "true" (whatever style you choose).

01-18-2013, 07:41 AM
Thanks for the unput, your stuff is great.

The mismatch between the terrain and the town was because I started off using textures and then had difficulty finding decent textures to continue with and ended up switching to photoshop effects like noise and gradients. This was, as you rightly point out, a big issue with the docks area.

Fixed the sea, I think. Pulled the saturation down so its a less eye-popping shade, hadn't realised it was so bright.

As for the streets looking a bit like brains/river, I was going for a messy street system where only the larger roads are visible. I really don't have the time or skill level to do all the individual buildings by hand and I wanted something that suggested the buildings. Perhaps the buildings need a decent texture overlay to make them less blocky?

- Max -
01-18-2013, 07:55 AM
Perhaps you can draw major lines (with PS) of town areas than fill them with hatches. It usually work well when you don't wanna show details of buildings and small streets

01-18-2013, 08:20 AM
I'd rather not just completely get rid of those streets, since they took ages to do and I personally like how they turned out. Will definitely give the major lines and hatching thing a go the next time I make a map though, sounds like it would work well.

Ok, working on getting some textures in here in place of block colour. I think its looking much better already.

Edit: Moar textures! Starting to shape up a little I think for the base. Still have no idea how to tie all the colours together, maybe an overlay at the top?


Really have no idea how to get the docks and bridges looking good. Would it be worth it to manually sketch in the supports for the piers and some walls/foundations for the bridges?

Freehand 5.5
01-18-2013, 10:33 AM
The water is far too cloudy.
You could do a file that is three or four times as big, do the clouds there and then make them smaller to fit into your

The streets (?) are kind of ... weird?!
It doesn't seem that someone build them to get from one point to another most shortly, but to get lost instead.

01-18-2013, 11:48 AM
The streets being somewhat maze-like fits with the theme of the city, to a degree. Definitely not a technique I'd repeat, though.

Tried your suggestion with the sea, not sure how much it helped.


Any suggestions for the bridges and docks?

01-25-2013, 08:33 AM
I agree with Max, looking at the grey area made me think *braaaainssss....* For me it doesn't look much like a natural settlement.

What does the grey vs brown signify? The organic look of the streets is potentially an interesting effect for a culture with some kind of magical biotech culture, but for an ordinary human city it's just a bit odd to the eye. I find it helps if I try to think what kind of information or effect I want to give the viewer, or what kind of information I'm trying to convey in a map.

01-31-2013, 02:00 PM
I like the dichotomy your trying to achieve between north and south. But, your map really lacks a since of scale. If those pencil marks of thin roads represent your small alleys, which would be about 5ft wide, then your great roads appear to be 500ft across. I think you have too many and too wide of bridges. Crossing a river that wide is a major undertaking. I would be surprised if a major medieval town had two bridges over a river that wide.

Unless there is a legal reason in place, some of the north would be cheap wood construction, and some of the south would be expensive stone.