View Full Version : My first city map

06-08-2008, 01:37 AM
Hello all,

My first attempt at mapping a city. Thanks go to pyradon's tutorial...I have been looking for years to try and map out a city but have been limited to continent maps (or world maps) until now. I'm a detail nut so my map won't suit everyone's preferences. Once I get some patterns and brushes made to suit my style my next should be better. Any kind words or advice would be appreciated (as mean words will be promptly filed under the nearest large rock :|). This took me about 20 hours of trial and effort (that's why I'm gonna make some patterns and brushes).

06-08-2008, 02:38 AM
Things I liked:
I laughed at the "Red Writings" :).
I also want to take a magnifying glass to the little people. >.> <.<

These are things I don't like about the map:
I don't like the "White Border" on the flags on the towers. It doesn't quite seem natural... Might just be me though Your bridges look like they're "Floating," but not sure what to do about the floating bridges. Maybe try blurring the edges? One of the bridges doesn't line up with a road, I'd move it to match the road if it were me. I'm new at Gimp/Photoshop, so don't know all the craziness that everyone else seems to be able to do.

I like this map in general though.

06-08-2008, 06:49 AM
I like your map very much. It is very nice. I have a couple of comments thought, if I may...

First of all it's quite dark for my taste, but then again that's just me.

Another problem are the field I think. They really stand out. They should be mixed with the rest of the ground, seem like they are a true part of the land, not a paint over.

That' all I think. Other than that, very nice map!

06-08-2008, 07:25 AM
I agree and disagree with The-Somberlain ;). I disagree on the darkness of the map, it feels mysterious and foreboding, though it depends on the atmosphere you want your map to have. I agree on the fields, and some other objects like the houses. They stand out a bit too much, like they're floating. The red remarks are nice touches as well :)

06-08-2008, 09:19 AM
Very nice map ascension. I particulalry liked the brooding dark feel to the map. My only gripe would be the fields which dont seem to blend with the underlying scenery very much. IIs there a reason they are all of similar size? Welcome to the guild. Dont forget to post an introduction post in that forum. We are also looking for city mappers in the CWBP so pop in there and check out this month's challenge.


06-08-2008, 09:28 AM
Another problem are the field I think. They really stand out. They should be mixed with the rest of the ground, seem like they are a true part of the land, not a paint over.

I agree and disagree with The-Somberlain ;). I disagree on the darkness of the map, it feels mysterious and foreboding, though it depends on the atmosphere you want your map to have. I agree on the fields, and some other objects like the houses. They stand out a bit too much, like they're floating. The red remarks are nice touches as well :)

Ditto. I am ok with the darkness, but the fields really need some work. As the above stated, they seem to be painted over the ground instead of being carved out of the ground so to speak. Another thing to perhaps do is to make the fields not quite so perfect. Unless all the field makers are anal mathematicians types, the fields are not going to be so rectangular. Round some corners a bit, perhaps make a few a bit longer on on side or the other, maybe some a bit more round or triangular, etc.


06-08-2008, 10:06 AM
Thanks for the heads up on the fields....I'm not very good at making brushes. I just used a scatter on my brush to twist 'em around but yeah I do need to come up with a way to feather out the edges and create something more random looking. The houses just have a drop shadow which makes 'em float so maybe I'll use the same technique as I did for the steeple, tower, and mills. The dark feel comes from my monitor's gamma, white point, and color settings...I change this all the time so it's sorta like Cher...I have no idea where I started and no idea how to get back to the original settings. Anywho...thanks all.

06-08-2008, 10:13 AM
Its a real nice map. You'll fit in just fine around here.

Did I get a nice fat cow btw ? :D

06-08-2008, 10:30 AM
No actually, your character (for this scenario) is on the slow side so he bought a skinny heifer and is going to deck it out in war armor and attach it to a three-wheeled chariot. Oh my poor players, the things I make them go thru :D

06-08-2008, 11:53 AM
first let me start of by saying that i like your map, aside from the fields.
it is well crafted and nice to look at. I do however have some concerns or thoughts

the wall is huge it looks as thick as the great wall of china.
the town is laid out like a sparsely populated gated community/subdivision
on a disney lot somewhere.

now I am making a few assumptions here but one would think that a town in a dangerous fantasy world would need to conserve resources even more than historic medieval towns did in our world. so to that point medieval towns were densely populated with houses butting up to each other and very little yard space.

this was because they needed to fit the maximum amount of people in a small space because building walls and towers to protect them was quite expensive

but then again this is a fantasy map and I am probable being to critical

here are a couple of links illustrating my point


well life intrudes so adieu

06-08-2008, 04:15 PM
I love the comments! Lovely map too, although my only suggestion would be to shoot for a bit more variation of the shapes and sizes of the houses to add more interest to the map.

06-08-2008, 07:54 PM
Really Cool!

The City looks dark and brooding thanks to the ambiance and color, very nice. I agree with everyone on the fields, maybe you could darken them up a bit and place the same texture you used for the land itself and put it in the field (on a low opacity), or better yet do a smooth transition on the edges of the farmland to land. Otherwise it is really good.

That Bard is Naughty by the way.;)

06-08-2008, 09:41 PM
I agree on the fields. Also your buildings are kind of odd for a town with walls that thick.

What is with the random giant wooden balls sitting beside the fields? :P

I would rework the buildings in the town, and make them more like the Inn. Move the market tents closer to one of the gates, and generally make things feel tighter and dense enough to have a reason for walls that large.

Good work, I like the colour set you are using, have you tried different patterns on your walls and castle?

06-09-2008, 12:40 AM
Those balls are an attempt at making a silo with a striated pattern overlay and smooth inner bevel. Perhaps a longer shadow would make it seem taller and maybe a more chaotic pattern like some hay. Thanks for that bit, I had totally rushed thru the whole fields part I guess.

06-10-2008, 06:05 PM
You are thinking of the large, tall silos you see at modern farms? If so I would suggest skipping them and just use haystacks or something. I can't actually find a source for when tower silos were developed.

Any storylines to go along with this? I must say that I loved the little notes on it for the post, made for a great laugh.

06-10-2008, 08:08 PM
I like the map it has a great feel to it.

My question would be though, are the walls so easy to build that they have that much land to spare inside of them?


06-10-2008, 09:17 PM
I guess I need to be more specific :) This was my very first city map attempted in photoshop...ever. I went by pyrandon's tutorial so naturally I wanted to play around with things to see what was possible. There is no rhyme or reason for anything in this map just a way for me to experiment. So the big ole wall was to test out my ideas on how to add crenelations, texture, and lichen stains. The houses were spaced apart so I could work on creating some footpaths. The fields were more of a way to express different types of crops by using a dissolve inner glow (same with the garden) on a custom brush made for just this purpose (yeah I gotta work on the actual brush some more but the style looked good and I have made improvements to the style by combining inner shadow, etc). The overall darkness was due to some bad monitor color settings I was using. So overall it was more of a test piece to see what I need to work on stylistically rather than story-wise. I'm still in a quandary about the shadows tho, I'd rather not have to create many different types of houses in some 3d program then render 'em then cut and paste 'em...would take forever, especially since those programs wouldn't take into account how a shadow elongates on a downslope..so maybe I'll just leave 'em floating. I'm trying to come up with something quick rather than taking a few days.

Anywho, cheers.

06-13-2008, 03:05 PM
I really like a lot of things about this map. The tree's are great, and the grass is good too. Some people would probably see the sharpness of the structures compared to the smoothness of the surroundings as bad, but I think that's just the style of it.. If you try to make everything smooth, you'll make anything that is fine in detail look out of place. But yea, fix the fields >.>

About light and darkness, I like the darkness of the map. But I think it would look alot better if you tweaked some other things to be less bright as well. The walls are a very light gray and stand out a lot. Same with the fields and silos.

The floating shadows are hard to get by aren't they? I can't figure out how to make my mountains have good shadows without having to paint em (but thats not a logical option for massive cities!) try experimenting with motion blurs. make a duplicate townhouses layer, fill as black/dark dark blue, then motion blur it a small bit like 13-20 pixels. Then duplicate the layer and merge it down (the edge of blurs are very opaque, this makes it less opaque) Then using the move tool, offset the layer diagonally down so one end of the blur lines is touching the houses (rather than the houses being in the middle of the blur line.

Other things....

About the realism, don't bother remaking the whole thing if your wanting to achieve it. Just turn the stone walls into palisade walls. Palisades were known for being used as walls to enclose newer, less filled towns. I'm sure it would be interesting to make them, it'd be a bunch of 1px cone bevels in a line :D. They sometimes had earthworks (like mounds or ditches) in front or behind em, I dunno how it worked exactly. Some also had walkways. But yea.

Another thing, the trees in the deeper parts of the forest kinda begin to look abit melted together due to the yellow bevel highlights. try a different color as the tree highlights, like a medium or light green.

The marketplace, I thought was a fairground actually, till a few minutes later when I looked again and read the text under it.

You could add circles (huts) in there along with the houses.

A plaza would be cool, just a big square or circle of dirt/road with bunches of people

I love your pixel people.

I hope you don't mind, I took a screenie, adjusted the levels on a section of houses, used the silhouette of the houses to tryout the effect on my own. this is what I got.

How I did it:
I used the color replacer on the grass, clicked, then held shift, clicked again and dragged around abit till all of the greens were selected, then replaced it with white (it looked like snow then :D) Then I desaturated the image, used the brightness/contrast, contrast at 100, brightness levels adjusted so only the houses were there.

Keep in mind the silhouette I got for these shadows, included the shadows already on there (this may have had a substantial effect on the shapes of the final shadows.)

Then I motion blurred it at 15, then duped and merged down that layer.
I then changed the layer style to multiply, set it at 72% opacity, and moved the layer diagonally towards the bottom right corner (so the buildings are at the edge rather than the middle of the blur) Oh and I also did a Gaussian blur at .9 pixels to get the streaks out.

(edit again, I looked at the top of what I thought was page 1 to see the author of the map's name again to put it on the example, but I was looking at page two... so yea... Ravel, oops. so I fixed it)

06-13-2008, 05:23 PM
I completely agree with you on the motion blur for the shadows (I've been playing around with that myself) but that method only works up to a point. If all of my buildings are the same height then no problem, but if you notice, my tower and church steeple don't use either a drop shadow or the motion blur. So what I did was to draw what architects call an elevation (basically a side view of a building). So I drew a large rectangle then put a pointy top on it then set the layer to zero fill, put a black to clear gradient overlay on it, flattened out the layer style, then rotated the shadow. I only did this for the tall things (forgot to do it for silos) because drawing elevations for every single house would be a daunting task, not to mention the fact that not all houses have a side directly facing the sun...ie houses angled to the sun would require me to use Google Sketch-Up (free version) and then cut and paste into Photoshop. I tried this but I don't like the way Sketch-Up makes its shadows. I even imported my jpg into Sketch-Up and drew all of my buildings on top of it 3d-style so that I could get the shadows right but this brought up a new problem, accounting for hill slopes. An object casting a shadow onto the up slope will have a smaller shadow than an object casting its shadow onto the down slope. The money version of Sketch-Up allows terrain sculpting via the sandbox feature but I'm not going to pay money and waste another 2 weeks creating my buildings just to have totally accurate shadows.

So with all of this making my brain hurt I just use a drop shadow and let my houses float :)

06-13-2008, 06:12 PM
Well another thing you could do for hillsides is rather simple actually. With the motion blur shadows, you could simply make three sets of motion blur shadows (each with a different length of the blur) A medium, a short, and a long. Add a layer mask on all three, make the masks all black (blank)

Then with a large somewhat soft brush, paint on the shadows per area. So you could paint the hillside (on the short shadow layer mask), and every house on it gets a short shadow, then switch to the long shadow layer's mask, and paint the other side of the hill in one big stroke, and they all get long shadows.

And yea I understand with the tall objects. Motion blur shadows can't do anything about those, as it will begin to look funky after a certain size.