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Meshon
04-03-2013, 04:25 PM
Hello, I'm embarking on a project to make a bunch of buildings for battlemaps and I'm trying to figure out ways to smooth my workflow. What I'm after right now is a half-convincing way to represent multiple levels within a building. I use illustrator for initial shapes (and recently to do the stairs) and then add textures and shadows in photoshop.

What I'm struggling with is a quick and reliable standard operation that I can do on each "floor" to demonstrate that it is above the one below. Here is an example:
53267
I've been using a drop shadow with a distance of '0' which is okay, but falls apart when two elevation levels intersect. I've also been playing around with using the 'stroke' layer effect and a gradient overlay, which seems promising. My main problem is I'm looking to do a large number of buildings so I need to standardize my moves.
I guess what I'm looking for is ways that the cartographers here do their elevation levels for battle map-scale. Any ideas or advice is greatly appreciated!

cheers,
Meshon

Meshon
04-03-2013, 06:36 PM
I should mention, that if you want to use the building you can, but I can't take credit for much of what is in there, other than the walls. The stairs that are in there aren't mine either but I've since made an overlay that produces something similar:
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along with an underlay you can use if you need the stairs to be different than the background:53269

Comments welcome too, or if you need something altered to suit your purposes, do let me know.
cheers,
Meshon

Gamerprinter
04-03-2013, 06:57 PM
I've used the same shadow effect to delineate a lower floor from an upper floor. It works, as in your example, in a small area only. When attempting extensive areas or additional lower levels, having everything on an entire floor in a darker shade is problematic at best. What I've done is create the shadowed effect of the area near the change in levels (your staircase for example), but fading that shadow to no shadow within a few 'feet'. While this isn't realistic, it still allows you to show the depth difference, but not forcing shadow on the entire floor.

Generally, I just keep floor separate without actually stacking them - perhaps do your shadow effect at the exposed stair, but otherwise keep floors separate so there is no issue. Understand?

Meshon
04-03-2013, 08:50 PM
Thanks for the reply! I like what you're saying about shadowing a localized spot where there's a change; the stairs for example. As to keeping the maps separate, I didn't explain the particular use I'm going to be putting these buildings to, but they are for a skirmish game (Mordheim) played on a virtual table-top, so there's a lot less exploration and more finding the perfect nook to put a crossbow sniper. I think I'll favour utility over aesthetics in this particular case and just use the same shadow effect for each level and accept that it won't look ideal but will get the required information across.

Again, thanks for the tip.

cheers,
Meshon