View Full Version : Jan/Feb Lite Challenge Entry - "Brave New World"

02-04-2013, 04:06 PM
Hello All!

This is both my first contest entry and my first post, so a quick intro seems appropriate. I started becoming interested in map-making about 3 months ago, when I started thinking about building a DnD campaign world. After searching for a map that would work for my world, I eventually came to the conclusion that my best bet would be making one myself, and shortly thereafter I stumbled upon these forums. I previously had zero experience with photoshop or Gimp (which is what I've taken to using), but the many tutorials here have been extremely helpful, and my first trial map was already leaps and bounds better than what I hoped to produce. When I saw the Lite Challenge, I thought this would be a fun way to make some more practice maps and continue improving, until I get to the point where I'm ready to tackle the huge project I have in my brain for my campaign.

So when I read the challenge, the first thought I had was a Christopher Columbus style exploration thing, which is what has shaped this map so far. I purposefully stretched it out long and narrow to try to capture the deep blue sea feeling. This is still an early draft, but I think the land shapes, trees, and mountains are all staying where they are. I still have a lot of work to do with color, texture, and of course the journey itself, but I wanted to get the first posted to make sure I would keep myself going. Peer pressure and all that. :)

"Brave New World"

Hope you like it so far, and I'll be looking to post an update by tomorrow.

02-05-2013, 10:25 AM
Ok, so here's my work since last night.


Added a background texture layer, I'm attempting the papery watercolor effect. That looks a lot better already though I'm not quite sure it's perfect yet. The border is supposed to be a fancy frame for the map, as some nobleman might have it upholstered. Again, it isn't perfect but it's a start.

There's now an actual line for the journey, which I plan on narrating in the large empty ocean areas. The thought in my mind right now is that the small island nation is populated by a race of halflings who are kind of being beset on all sides by "big folk", and who enterprisingly decide to go off and look for a new land to expand into. I hope the relative sizes of the civilization I added into the 'old world' helps reflect that. I'm also debating using some sort of color banners to denote different nations, but haven't made up my mind yet. Opinions are welcome!

02-05-2013, 03:03 PM
So I tried posting an update a few hours ago, but either I did something wrong or the forum doesn't like me. In any event, I think I'm done working on the map for today, so here's where I'm at currently.


As can be seen by my stormclouds, I'm a terrible artist... ah well! More to come tomorrow. :)

02-06-2013, 12:50 AM
Way to go- first post... With a map... As a contest entry. That level of willingness to participate I'd worth a bit of rep all by itself, so welcome, and have the smidgen I can bestow.

Two things about the map - first, what size is your original file? It's small enough to be showing pixelation. I know you're new at this, and expertise comes with trial and error; what you'll eventually get a feel for is how large a canvas you can start with, without bogging down your computer. Can't use "biggest starter file it will open", since it'll soon add way more complexity. At least if its too big to start, you can downsize pretty safely . You can hardly ever scale up.

And scale is at the root of your second issue. The little city profiles make great city markers, but you seem to have resized them willy-nilly. That's left many looking much fuzzier than the rest of your symbology. It *is* possible to resize some symbols, but you then have to adjust their sharpness and detail to mesh with the rest of your map. Some symbols just can't be resized without ruining their look - for instance you would figure your in-character cartographer would have drawn with similarly-sized pens.

I like what you have going - corral your varying sharp/ blur characteristics and it'll get more believable as a handmade artifact.

The cloud's not bad. The wind-whoosh is awfully pixelated - maybe a tensy bit of blur applied to just it, or redo with antialiased linework?

02-06-2013, 05:16 AM
So I tried posting an update a few hours ago, but either I did something wrong or the forum doesn't like me. In any event, I think I'm done working on the map for today, so here's where I'm at currently.


As can be seen by my stormclouds, I'm a terrible artist... ah well! More to come tomorrow. :)
I love the mountain and trees in your map. They are pretty good.

02-06-2013, 05:59 AM
Indeed a nice start. Gotta be brave to start on a challenge :P

I like the trees and mountains. As for the cloud I think it's good, except the wind it feel somehow weird to me, but the rest is pretty good.

Anyway, following what jbgibson said will make your map even better.

Good luck, ;)

02-06-2013, 09:59 AM
Yeah, scale has really been a source of confusion for me so far, and I've been unable to find much if any information on how to... fix it. This map is 2100x600. I tried earlier to start with something larger (I think 3000x3000), and my computer (admittedly an old machine) didn't seem to like it, so I've been limiting myself to around 2000 or less. Since I wanted length, this was about as big as I thought I could go. If anyone knows of any good reading material on scale and dealing with it, that would be awesome.

The trees and mountains are brushes downloaded for free from this site, I think from Gidde, and they've been immensely helpful. I do hope to eventually make brushes of my own, but I'm starting small. The cloud I made with some tree brushes, which is why it looks okay. Only the wind-swoosh is actually 'hand'-drawn, which is why it specifically betrays my inability to make straight lines. :)

In any event, thanks for the feedback, and I'll have another update some time this afternoon I hope.

02-06-2013, 03:29 PM
Look! Narrative!
### Latest WIP ###

The narrative makes up the bulk of this update. While I think building background panels for each block of text that look like parchment tacked on to the main map would probably be cool, I also am a little (okay, a lot) intimidated by that undertaking, so for now the text sits on the map directly. While it isn't faded or anything like the rest of the map, I am pleased overall with how it looks. I'm also on the fence as to whether or not I should add one last block of text, on the other side of New Hearthland, saying something like "and then we all lived happily ever after YAY!"

I spent a little bit of time trying to clean up the blur/sharpness problems that the towns at least were having. I think it's probably a little bit better, but probably not all the way there. I used the 'sharpen' tool on pretty much everything first, and then back in with a single pixel wide brush and added/erased black to make the shapes more definite. I got impatient with it though, and only really spent time on the chapel in New Hearthland and the two castles in Ahn'Bernac and Urudun. I want to see how it looks in the web browser, and what other people think, before I decide if all of that small detail work is worth it.

I also spent a few moments on the wind gust. Not enough time to really make a huge difference, but there is a small difference anyway! :P

Edit: After looking at it in the browser side by side with the last version I posted, I can see both what you meant and the improvement with the sharpness, so that's good to know, thanks!

02-06-2013, 08:48 PM
Oh Hey, welcome to the guild and thank you for jumping right in and getting involved, we love that sort of spirit.

You are missing your ### tags needed to be included in the challenge thumbnail thread which is used for the voting process. I have editted your last post so you can see what I mean. I'm refering to the ### message right before you attached your image. The thumbnail scraper only grabs the latest one in your thread so no need to go back but if you add any more images be sure to include them.

Good job so far, keep up the great work.

02-08-2013, 02:13 PM
Well, as I won't have time for mapping over the weekend, this will be my last update, but I'm pleased with what I was able to produce anyway.

### Latest WIP ###

Only minor changes from the last post, since I kind of lost clear direction for improvements within my skill range! I faded the text a little to bring it more in line with the rest of the map. I also removed the storm cloud and wind gust. I would have liked to keep it, as I think it adds to the story, but since I couldn't get it to a place where I was happy with it, and it was the only non-location element, it seemed best to just remove it. Had I been able to get a good result from it and add in some more interesting graphics (sea monsters, fish, mermaids and the like), then I would have kept it. Oh well, things to look at learning for the future!

Overall I'm happy with the result, and even though I don't expect to win, I'm looking forward to next month's map! :D