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Naeddyr
02-09-2013, 11:16 AM
I've been working on a story and story setting recently (based on an earlier concept that was set in the West) based on light novel, anime and manga clichés, specifically shounen demographic stuff. Yamada Tarou is an ordinary teenage boy, you know the drill... The twist is that he isn't a Protagonist (with a capital P here), he's a side-character. He's a side-character in dozens, hundreds of stories, varying from vampire settings to aliens to magic to about a gazillion street fighting variations. One of his background stories is that in middle school, he, and six other class-mates, got sucked into a pretty generic Japanese-style high fantasy world, and had to defeat the evil emperor to get back, and so forth. Yamada's schtick is that he's very competent at many things by now, and he's got some stuff left over from his trip to Elysion (including: weapon use, hammer-type; alchemical crafting magic that he tries to replicate in the real world; and a magic mirror portal back to Elysion, where he's the lord / king of one of the bits that was left over).

After creating a new Aramaic-derived writing system for one of the stories that involved western demonology, I've started procrastinating with making a map for Elysion. Currently I'm stuck on the style of mountain: every other map I've made (except one) has had stylised isomountains, this one I want to have reliefs... Anyhow.

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I start making maps with black on white land areas, roughly shaped with big brushes to get a general shape based on some very vague tectonics (note the SAmerica/Africa coastline thing going on between the central and eastern continents).

I then start carving out the (black has been carved out, green hasn't) coastline with my tablet. Sometimes long stretches of smooth, a bay every now and then... The important thing is that I do any carving at all, just whittling down the coastline gives it more character than just the basic shape. In GIMP, I occasionally switch between black and white (quick-key: X) to create smaller details, like small peninsulas or to fill in stuff. But, as long as you start with a big resolution and do a lot of small scale detail, it'll look pretty good.

Anyhow, now to the meat of my current stuff, the mountain relief method...

I am basically following Ascension's basic method in GIMP: choose the shape of your range, gradient fill with intelligent shapes, modify, use that as a bump map.

My twist is that I choose the shape of my range by first drawing the river system associated with it. Create a river system, choose a shape around with the lasso, then deselect all the river pixels.

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I get... Ok results.

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By increasing the density of rivers, the mountains start to look less artifacty and a bit more fleshy.

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I'm just left wondering if I can get good enough results with this method.

EDIT:

Some extra info:

Projection is equirectangular, as usual.

The world is smaller than Earth, I won't bother with realistic climes.

I am still single.

EDIT:

Oh yeah, and the poles were done with my Hugin method (in the tutorials forum).

Naeddyr
02-10-2013, 01:20 PM
Does anyone have any opinion on this style of mountain range? I've been dissatisfied with everything I do with it so long that I don't know anymore...

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Will Brawner
02-10-2013, 01:55 PM
The first one looked great! Don't change too much. Once you add color it will look even better. Mountains are definitely the hardest part.

Naeddyr
02-11-2013, 10:35 AM
The first one looked great! Don't change too much. Once you add color it will look even better. Mountains are definitely the hardest part.

Sorry, which one do you mean?

EDIT:

Might as well post this, because in lieu of working on mountains I've been inventing an elemental system. Seven elements because I had seven characters in the party.

http://i.imgur.com/3C2RWut.jpg

Four material elements: Air, Wood/Blood/Life, Water, Earth
Three immaterial ones: Fire(Sun), Silver(Moon), Ink(Sky)

Fire represents change, transformation, time, creation and destruction
Silver is space, matter, and the senses
Ink is identity, language, separation and unity, distinguishing, lightning, borders, limits, differences. It's the anti-Tang (technical term) that keeps everything from merging into oneness and oblivion.

Air and Earth ascend from Silver, Wood and Water ascend from Fire. Air is space, Earth is matter, air is motion, Earth is stillness, etc. Wood is growth, Water is decay/destruction, wood is hunger, water is fulfilment, etc. These sorts of things. Ink keeps everything together and separate.

Each party member has a specific thematic element: Yamada Tarou is an alchemist, so he is Fire: he also acts as a catalyst for character development, learning etc. The Leader is Silver: light in darkness, tactical matters, home. Girl with artillery magic is Ink, girl with healing powers Wood, Tank/Bodyguard has Earth, dual-wielding damage dealer girl Water, axe-and-arrow ranger/rogue boy Air.

Will Brawner
02-11-2013, 10:22 PM
I like your elemental system. I'd like to see how it plays into the map. And if you don't mind, could you take a look at one of my maps called "Northern Land of Yothra?" Thank you. I'd really appreciate some feedback.

Naeddyr
02-13-2013, 04:40 AM
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I'm using methods from Arsheesh tutorial (trying to mix them with the the mountain ridges), and I guess it should look OK when I get down to it.

What I'm really going to look forward is the colouring, because I suck at choosing good colors. The presets given in the tutorial are perfect.

Only problem is Wilbur is uncooperative with some things, probably because the map is too big + I'm running it through WINE... At one point, it just doesn't do the Paint Add operation for example. But I can fix that by simply dividing the map into bits, I guess.

EDIT:

Come to think of it, the texture is going to be really pinched at the poles... I need to do those separately, too.

Also gotta move that mountain chain in the southeast more to the coast, a la the Andes.

Naeddyr
02-13-2013, 02:19 PM
Ok, I've roughly followed Arsheesh tutorial, and it is an excellent one. Screwed up a bit with the height maps (to much fiddling with it, I guess), and the mountains that I generated weren't exactly by the book (because I got tired of waiting for the Difference Clouds to render :P), but the gradient stuff was excellent.

Here's a WIP in the Ortelius Oval projection that I picked in G.Projector cuz it fit ok.

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A map for a JRPG is usually different from normal story maps in that there's a lot less on them. Maybe half a dozen towns, no borders, places where you have events, etc. Elysion is thematically related, so I might just put down places relevant to the story (and, like, stuff like secret treasures)... This will be a pretty boring map, but at least I'll get it out of the way.

Naeddyr
02-16-2013, 09:19 AM
http://i.imgur.com/EQp7ac5.jpg

Further fluff to use on the map, this is the Elysian script... meant to write Japanese, Engrish and Japanese cypherlangs, the sort of thing you'd expect in a JRPG.

Natively Japanese is written with kanji (Chinese characters that represent words) and hiragana and katakana, two parallel syllabaries, where each character usually represents a minimal Japanese syllable (like A, or KI or NO), plus some extra stuff. The Elysian script is and abugida (alphasyllabary), that works differently. In an abugida, you have a set of core consonant letters, and vowels are marked with diacritics (like in abjads, like Arabic or Hebrew), except an unmarked consonant has an inherent vowel. Most South Asian scripts (like Devanagari and Thai, for more familiar examples) are abugidas because they're descended from a shared source.

So Elysian is an abugida, except mostly tooled for writing Japanese... and with a lot of diacritical marks to show where the pronunciation is different when it's a word that has been loaned into Japanese. The word "alchemist" would be transformed in Japanese into "arukemisuto", so you write out that in Elysian: A-RU-KE-MI-SU-TO, consonant+vowel pairs. Then, the RU sign gets a triple dot that means "originally no vowel", and a small underbow that means "read as an L"; similarly, SU and TO get triple dots. When you read it the Japanese way, you can ignore these diacritics, and just go "arukemisuto" (or really rather more like "arkemisto" because /u/ in Japanese often gets unvoiced and disappears), but it can also be read as "alkemist".

Naeddyr
02-17-2013, 12:56 PM
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Just doing Arsheesh tutorial again to get the hang of it.

I'm getting somewhere, I think.

EDIT:

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Wheeeeeeee.

arsheesh
02-17-2013, 03:33 PM
Hi Naeddyr, so far it's looking pretty good, except that the dark outer-shadowsurrounding the land-forms looks out of place; almost as if the land-forms were hovering above the ocean. Rather than making an outer-shadow, have you considered an outer-glow? Perhaps of a lighter hue of blue? That might help give the impression of shallow water along the coast.

Cheers,
-Arsheesh

Naeddyr
02-17-2013, 03:42 PM
Hi Naeddyr, so far it's looking pretty good, except that the dark outer-shadowsurrounding the land-forms looks out of place; almost as if the land-forms were hovering above the ocean. Rather than making an outer-shadow, have you considered an outer-glow? Perhaps of a lighter hue of blue? That might help give the impression of shallow water along the coast.

Yeah, of course I did the outer glow first (what there's now is an inverted layer from that), I'm just trying something new.

Eh, maybe I'll do a proper ocean-bottom topology.

Also, I might do a floating continent and for that I could use the drop shadow effect...

http://i.space.com/images/i/000/014/808/wW2/blue-marble-earth-wallpaper-1920.jpg?1327886705

Cyan shallow waters, at least in the tropics...

I need to find more true color images of ocean.

EDIT:

Though if I make a more stylised map style (I've got one idea) I might go with the black borders. I'll do a quick mockup...

http://i.imgur.com/1ZGoxTM.jpg

Just using edge-detected lines to accentuate the separate colours of the the landscape, makes it seem more painted...

EDIT:

http://i.imgur.com/ld9U5oE.jpg

Something like this.

Naeddyr
02-18-2013, 01:54 PM
http://i.imgur.com/iaZ3Epf.jpg

Just modifying and iterating.

EDIT:

Yes, those volcano craters are hundreds of miles wide... Honestly, that seems a tad excessive. :p

Naeddyr
02-20-2013, 08:07 AM
http://i.imgur.com/2z9SFic.jpg

EDIT: Added some clouds for effect :TIDE

I think I'm getting the hang of this.

A slight outline, some continental shelves, and a "tropical glow" in some places on the coast.

The flying continent has a shadow outline, of course. :p

Gigantic, World Swallowing Volcano Continent That Really Has No Reason To Be Able To Coexist With Life On This Small World is now a realistic dark brown, and the crater lakes look a bit cooler in the middle.

About the scale of the world: I don't know if I've said it before, but this is a small, small world. The exact size? Depends on how much I need... JRPG worlds have weird scales. But, the world is small (but also varied!), and the population density is tiny. Maybe this whole shebang is comparable in size to Europe. With a much smaller population. Gravity and rotational periods and years are still 1 Earth Unit.

I'm thinking of an underwater kingdom of some sort, for water dragons, but don't know how much of that should be shown on the map. It'll get a place indicator.

I think the next bit is to add fluff to the map

1) Places and place names. As you'd expect, sparse towns and some random places of interest to the backstory.
2) Some sort of minigame treasure hunt indicator, like Chocobo Hot and Cold in FFIX, or secret draw points in VIII.
3) Symbols and fluff.

And here, have an elemental diagram.

http://i.imgur.com/oHACwsQ.jpg