View Full Version : April 2013 Entry: Róth Tharith, handdrawn map

04-06-2013, 09:46 AM
Hello! I joined here simply because of this challenge that I found out about from the bay12games site. I thought I´d give it a go, since it seemed fun. ;)

I prefer drawing maps by hand, since I enjoy the manual, almost meditative feeling of just drawing on a free day, so I decided to keep on the manual way. It's probably not gonna be as fancy as some of the entries I have already seen people posting, since I am by no means a experienced painter, but I hope that it will be pretty to look at, at least. ;)

I made a small island world, tried a few until I got one I liked, that had a decent spread of civs and a nice shape. (The more I draw this world the more I love the shape!) using the legend viewer mentioned in the main thread (Thanks alot for that, whoever linked to it, it's been an invaluable help!), I then printed it out in several parts, since my printer only handles A4 papers and my final paper was a bit larger and I wanted to make it as big as possible to get as much detail in there as I could.
I taped the parts together, and got the correct size on the third try! =D
Wasting printer ink, me? No, never.

I then tried some methods to get the map from the printout to the watercolor paper I use, and finally came up with the idea to just use a hard pencil and push so that it leaves a groove underneath, which I highlight with a flashlight from the side and fill in. After that I paint the seas with watercolor.

In hindsight, I should have made the whole paper a gray-brownish base, possibly stained it with dilluted coffe or tea to give it an aged parchment look, but since I already started with the seas when I thought of that, I had to make do with what I had.
I marked the mountainrange and the ice levels just so that I dont forget later.

Next is to mix up color batches for all the different terrain types, paint out the mountains (I dread that part, since I have not settled for a good mountain look yet), forests, rivers and lastly cities and other landmarks as well as names and such.

I'll try to keep the colorscheme a bit grayish, not too many clear colors that will eat up the picture. I'll fill in all the details with ink.

PS: I am sorry that I cant scan the map yet, it´d be a hassle to do that only for a WIP pic, since I have to puzzle it together, so I am afraid you´ll have to make do with photos until I am done. I saw nothing against using photos in the rules though. Again, Sorry.

I have an Imgur album with progress pics as well. Check it out if you are intrested. Róth Tharith - Imgur (http://imgur.com/a/uPLHh)

Original map

### LATEST WIP ###

04-06-2013, 03:20 PM
Very cool so far! I really admire those of you who have the talent (and patience) to paint this stuff.

04-07-2013, 05:04 PM
Nice start and great to see people coming over for the challenge. ;)

Welcome to the Guild, the Mappiest Place on the Web, :D I hope you enjoy the stay.

One point about the challenge, can you also post the DF map that you are using for the basis for your map?

04-07-2013, 05:28 PM
Diamond: Its more patience than talent, I feel like. I have made some other smaller maps as well, I got infatuated with ink pens and wanted to make something, and besides calligraphy, I feel that maps is something such pens are useful for, so I just started making a map and found that I liked it. =)

Korash: Thanks! It's a really inspiring place, especially a challenge like this one. =)
I have posted it in the imgur link, but I'll edit it into the first post as well for clarity. I made the imgur album so that I could document the entire process better instead without cluttering the forum with it all.

Today I "filled" the map with watercolors. I made a mistake and started painting some dark forests, when I could have just layered it with a light green and then put layer upon layer for the other greens.
Hindsight is 20/20 and I'll hopefully do better on my next map. I´ll just have to work around it all.
The next step after this is to basically map out all the colors and start thinking of what cities should be shown, and if I´ll have actually cities drawn out or just red dots representing large sites.
With ink, its always a challenge to draw small detail, but I do prefer actual little images of cities and intresting sites rather than just dots and stuff. It's food for thought.

I also updated the imgur gallery. http://imgur.com/a/uPLHh

### LATEST WIP ###

04-10-2013, 02:36 PM
Love it. I'm fascinated with Watercolors lately and have been fiddling with them myself so I can totally empathize with the whole, "Oh, I should have done it that way instead." Love the process pictures, we are happy for you to "clutter up the forum" as you say it. We love seeing the progress unfold and that is a big part of what we all love about this place. Everyone documents their process a little differently but we get everything from just a final image to the complete day by day update so feel free to go for it. We have a lot of space so don't worry about that and speaking for myself I would rather see the gradual unfolding of the project because I'm learning by watching how things go with yours.

04-10-2013, 03:52 PM
I agree with Jaxilon. More progress updates do help to learn the process. But it is easier to read through them on your imgur gallery. Clever, but I cringed throughout your tracing process. There are a couple of simpler options: Graphite transfer paper, which you put between your tracing image and your art paper, or a light box; you can make an easy home-made version out of a glass cutting board or pie dish and set it carefully atop a standard conical lampshade with your tracing image sandwiched between the glass and your art paper. Alternate light box is a window in daylight. Of course, the light box only works if you detach your art paper from the pad.

This is looking nice. I've been hoarding a couple of hot-press Arches watercolor boards to paint maps on... but I'm not that good at patience when it comes to building up colors gradually. I also don't use watercolors, but transparent acrylics. Need to sit down and practice. =)

04-11-2013, 12:37 PM
Wouldn'tcha know it... I went and got out my inktense pencils and a water brush to give it a try. Thanks for the inspiration, Khamero!

04-21-2013, 06:43 AM
Jaxilon: I´ll post all I can here as well then. ;) I love making little in process series of things I do, so its just fun. =)

Chashio: Yes, I've used different tracing methods before, but this time I didint have any glass or a fitting lamp, so I did what I could. It actually worked pretty well, for being an improvised solution with a flashlight. =)
I prefer the runnyness of watercolors. I´d love to see some acrylic maps and how they would turn up. There are some parts that are very hard to do with watercolors, like distinct details, which could probably be better with thicker paint that does not run. The ink I am planning to use is better than the watercolors, but not that good. ;)

Some of these pics are a bit old, since I've been working a little now and then.

Here is the workspace for the evening, checking out the map in legends and painting some badlands and savannahs.

I am also really starting to worry about how to make the glaciers and the map symbols. Making villages and cities is easy enough, but as I am planning to stick with the ingame races and try to make the map as close to the game as possible, I want to do authentic dwarven fortresses as well, and I honestly dont know how to make them and making them look good and as impressive as I imagine them.
However, I am thinking of using the ingame ASCII symbols for settlements. Colors might be changed, but the symbols themselves could stay the same.

This is my lates scrabble map, with settlements, rivers, areas and everything in a great big mess. Also marked up the settlements inhabitants and which settlements contain the civ leaders. Some were changed since the game does not always put civ leaders in the largest or even large cities. There is a human law giver (highest position) that lives in a town with 20 inhabitants for example. That was changed.

### LATEST WIP ###

Lord Thomas
04-21-2013, 09:49 AM
I love it! Very Nice!

04-21-2013, 04:07 PM
Aaaaand another update, since time is running out, so I'll have to put some effort into it. ;)

A good day of drawing and painting makes one pretty tired, but some things cleared up. I decided to go for the DF ASCII map legend for the settlements and sites after all, which had the pleasant sideffect of being alot quicker to do than actually painting loads of little towns and such. The positions are not 100% accurate, and I realized only now after letting the map rest while I ate dinner that most of the site icons are crooked, probably due to me sitting weirdly while drawing.
Again, this is why making maps by hand can be very troublesome, and also rewarding. You have to live with the mistakes, but every mistake also adds to the uniqueness of the map itself. That being said, I'm kinda bummed about it all. I also messed up one of the human towns, which got filled in since my brush was too wet. Reapainting it would be a very messy project, so I'll let it stand.

Here I have added the rivers and streams that would be big enough to be intresting on the map. In the detailed map, there are LOADS of smaller streams and such, but I decided to leave them out. Much of this map is marches and swamps as well, so it would be littred with still ponds and small brooks anyhow.

This is the first sign of whats to come. The first elf settlement I drew. I was so proud I took a picture. The symbol as well as the color is original from the game, and it looks pretty good, I think.

Forest retreats galore. A quick shot of the workspace as well.

Even more forest retreats. I decided to make the capital retreats a more shiny kind of yellow, and wth a bigger symbol. I kinda failed the first one, to the right, but the second one, in the middle of the map, stands out nicely.

I just added the human towns and cities. The failed one is the one closest to the top, which is just a blot rather than a circle. The capitals are bigger and with kinda crosshair-like protrutions on their icons. I am not terribly pleased with the looks, since all the other icons are more elaborate and foreign, while the human towns are just a circle, but I stuck to form. The circle is the original ASCII icon from the game and the blue color is from the legends viewer.

Here are the goblin towers added. They are a very dark green, as from the legends viewer, which I had hoped would get lighter when it dried. It didint, but the almost black looks kinda sickly if you think about it, which suits those little dwarfnappers perfectly. The main towers are bigger than the others. There were loads of smaller towers, with just a hundred or less inhabitants, that I didint add in, since they fell below the population limit for what I wanted to draw. The main towers have 3000-5000 inhabitants though, so they are pretty well defended.

Finally added the dwarves and their little gate-like icon. The capitals are larger, and there is also a slightly larger fortress slightly north of the two capitals that was just large enough to warrant a slightly larger icon (5000 inhabitants)

And last but not least, the final result of a days hard work. Grass for the grasslands around the humans have been added, and I am pondering if I should add rolling hills as well. The vast marches and swamps have gotten some blochy pools that I'll decorate with reeds and grass to make them suitably damp and wilderness-like.

THe next step will be to fix the swamps, which will be a tedious task, but rewarding in the end, detailing the mountains and forests with, well, mountain peaks and trees, respectively, as well as the small patches of badlands and tropical shrubland/savannah. Finally, there may or may not be labeling of the major cities and such. And I will have to do the glaciers. I still have no idea how to do those. I might have to buy more watercolors. Some of my coloring choices come from my quite limited little box of watercolors, something I rather like, since nothing brings out creativity and uniqueness, as far as I can tell, as having limits on what you can do or the materials you have to work with. But having an icy blue or white would really really make my life easier with the glaciers. ;)

PS: Thanks to whichever mod that fixed the title of the thread. It was very embarrassing.

04-21-2013, 04:11 PM
The last post seemed to bug out with the latest WIP tag, so I'll post it separate here. =)

### LATEST WIP ###

04-21-2013, 04:35 PM
Looking good :)
With that human city icon you filled in, you might try scraping the top layer of pigment-infused paper off (very gently) with an exacto knife or similar sharp pointy object.

04-22-2013, 01:08 AM
Ah, I had not thought of actually removing the offending part by force. I'll try that when I get home and continue painting. Planning on buying some more supplies as well. This place has now officially started to scrounge into my wallet. ;)

04-22-2013, 10:46 AM
Try it on a scrap piece first to see how it affects the paper and paint (leave it to dry first). And if you're attempting to take ink off, vs watercolor paint... (I did this the other day where I had filled in a lake that I thought was a river) the black ink from the scrapings smudged into the surrounding paper and dirtied it... next time I'll try using a piece of tape to lift the scrapings off instead of blowing and brushing them.

Of course, the best thing to do would be to not make such mistakes in the first place, but we're human--so little fixes like this can be useful on occasion. ;)

04-22-2013, 03:54 PM
Chashio: I bought a thick white color today, and I'm pondering if I should just fill in all the human cities with a white dot in the middle, which possibly would make them look better as well. I am kinda annoyed with them right now.
The idea of using tape is really clever though, unless you could just blow it off?

In other news, one of our cats managed to sit on the map, get frightened by me when I saw it, take of, sending the paper and the little bowl of green color mix flying. And at the same time managing not to get one drop of paint on the map. O_o
I felt like a jerk getting angry at the cat as well, since I always tolerated them on the table unless we were sitting by the table, and now he looks at me with really big eyes, mournfully. I'll make it up to him, and not leave my important papers on the table like that. =)

Today I only just managed to do the swamps, which was a big part of the map. I experimented by putting reeds along the little ponds I made earlier with a calligraphy pen with a nib, as well as loads of stray grasses inbetween, but it didint feel right, so I skipped the grasses. After some deliberation I used a larger brush which I dipped into the color, then the water, and finally dried off slightly, and just drew it inbetween the ponds in slightly wavy motions. The color/paint/wetness ratio differed all the time, which gave it all a nice natural feel.

Forests are next, which is gonna be a pain, and I'll need to experiment on the glaciers. However, now that I have two white paints, one that can cover stuff and another which I can easily use for mixing, I am feeling more confident that I can get a good icy blue feel for the glaciers.

Here I have just started to put the reeds along the ponds using my nib pen.

My piece of scrap paper which I tested out stuff on. I tried doing the squiggly lines with the nib, but decided against it in the end and used a brush with more watered down paint instead, but you get the idea. I have not dared to put trees there yet, which I should, at least for the swamps, the marches being more just ponds and reeds. However, I am feeling the time pressure and so I am leaving the trees out. For now.

I could prolly sit and do these swamps forever, but I want to have all the features in by voting time, and as such I am leaving some stuff for later. I will probably continue working on it even after the competition though. I am growing rather fond of this swampy, messy world, and I see no problem with using it for my own roleplaying games later on. ;)

04-22-2013, 03:56 PM
Again, it seems like it mistakes the Latest wip pictures with others on the same post, so I am reposting the wip pic here. =)

### LATEST WIP ###

04-22-2013, 05:15 PM
No, the blowing didn't work for me... the tiniest ink particles still caught on the surrounding paper threads and smudged things. But it may work better for you. At least mine's a revision stage and not the final product.

04-27-2013, 07:20 PM
Last stretch for the challenge right now. One workday left (and by that I mean one weekend day where I can work on the map. ;)

I try to explain how I work and my designchoices as well as I can.

So here phase one of the most tedious part of the painting. Conifer forests. I used a pretty sharp nib and my green ink straight out of the bottle, no mixing or anything. The variation in backgroundcolor will have to give it life. I just use standard calligraphy ink, I dont know if there is specific ink which work differently on the paper or something, but this stuff works.

More conifer forests.

The return of the conifer forests.

I know which forest you were in last summer. o_o
By now I am pretty tired, but happy. I drew all the trees, starting by the bottom of the forest areas and working upwards. When I was finished with all the green stuff I added the trunks that would be visible. Pinetrees are pretty dense, so I just have to do the ones in front.

Here comes a bigger problem, the broadleaf trees. You -can- do them by drawing little cottonballs and just leave it at that, but its tedious and looks like <expletive>, as opposed to the pinetrees, which are tedious but look pretty OK.
Finally I come up with a master plan! I can just stamp them using some kind of spongy thing. My mind starts working! I dont have any pro tools for it, so I'll have to improvise.
First plan consisted of using spare little cylinders of leather which you get when you punch holes in leather. Those would be a good size, but I realize after a while that they´d be too small to dip in paint and then stamp repeatedly. But the leather is a good material, soft and spongy and with a nice texture, soooo...
If I take a piece of soft, thin leather and drape it tightly over a pencils head, then you´d have a small tip which should work. You´d have to secure the leather with glue and/or tape or something though.
I ponder this, and my girlfriend gives me what can best be described as a admiring look over my extremly complicated work.
I realize that the leather is too thick, and begin thinking up an even more elaborate and impressive plan to make the tiny little stamp when I suddenly stop, think about what I am doing, and abandoning all hope of impressing my SO with my intricate designs, and fetch a Q-tip instead.
Worked like a charm.

Picture shows the q-tip in question, as well as my scrap paper, where I tried out the swamp colors when I extended the swamps again.
Push it down hard and you get a nice very green circle. If you put the q-tip almost laying down and roll it to get an edge and then bop it slightly against the scrap paper to get it slightly flat, you can get the nice little spongy blotches as shown in the upper part of the paper. Complete with treetrunks, and you have a forest.
My leaf-forests are slightly less dense than my conifer forests, but I kind of prefer it like that, as opposed to just blocks of forests with equal density.
In hindsight, I could have varied the forest densities alot more.

The forests in question. Working at the sofa at the moment. I am trying to vary my drawing positions as much as I can to relieve the stress on my back for example. Varied workpositions are always good. =)
I also started drawing the mountains. I -should- have done them before the forests. But at least my hindsight is 20/20, and it didint look too bad. I used a larger nib for the mountains, and pretty thick black ink which makes it stand out more, which I like. I still feel inexperienced with making mountains, but there are a few decent ones here.

More mountains.

A closeup. I decided to add trunks to all leaf-trees that were not concealed by other trees. That gave the forests more life, I feel.
I could easily have used different shades of green and so on with different q-tips to make it more varied as well, but I didint think of it then. I will in the future though. Q-tips 4 lyfe.

I post no real WIP right now, I'll post a final scan tomorrow I think.

Future: Glaciers. I dont wanna, but I gotta. As well as adding the shrub/badland/savannah, possibly recoloring the goblin towers purple as well as maybe adding evil details the the NW grasslands, which is an evil area ingame, which is prolly why the humans never settled there. I cant do that with the only good area I have, since its a dense conifer forest, and the colors just would not match. You could assume that its good, since there are elves there, but DF elves are cannibals (Yep, no kidding.), so maybe not.

04-28-2013, 11:56 AM
Q-tips? I'm repping you just for that! =)

And the map looks fabulous.

04-28-2013, 04:21 PM
Chashio: Thanks. ;) Was confused about what repping meant for a bit, but I think I figured it out. I felt pretty awesome about the q-tips as well. ;D

Today was the small fix day, which took alot of time, but added those little details that make it... well, good.

Step one: I finally dared to go out on a date with the dreaded glaciers. I spent hours playing around with different mixtures of the paint I used, basically titanium dioxide in a tub. Stuff like if the brush should be dry, should it be wet, should I mix in some blue, and so on and so fourth. In the end, I used a semi wet brush just to make the edge of the glacier, or the glacial cliffside. I then tried different methods of lightly brushing with a pretty dry brush just to leave some blue with white, simulating snowdrifts covering blue ice. It didint look as good as it could have, the material of the paper was a little bit too rough to give it a smooth, snowy surface, among other things, so in the end I just brushed it all with white.

Here I have started to set out the names of places. Since I am only using red paint and a nib, I could not write down citynames, especially not in the forests. I could have used my white to cover it up and give me space to write, but time was a constraint, and more importantly, I dont think it would have looked very good. So I decided instead to just put down the region names. The forest names are written next to the forests, either in the swamplands or the water, where they are readable at least. I am a bit sad that it can be confusing as to if the name refers to the body of water or the forest, but I really wanted names to have a way of navigating the world, so I added them. I will probably continue work on this map and name the waters as well, which should clear it up a bit, but that is for the future.

And here is the finished piece. Or at least the piece which I will be judged on in the challenge. ;)
Many small changed, which might be hard to see, but all the badlands have a dry-hilly texture now, and the savannahs have golden grass, and the evil area in the top (Fafodefafirelčma) has gotten purple grass, signifying how sinister it is. I left the elfs forest as it was.
I also painted the human cities with a white dot in the middle, which in my view made them look much better.
The glaciers still looked bad, so I added a black border as well, and finally added the black lines, or cracks and crevases in the surface, which gave it more of a cliff face feel.
I debated if I should have added a cliff edge on the top of the lines as well, but decided against it. The glaciers are basically part of the arctic, and I didint want to spend too much time there, as its not a very intresting place, map-wise. (It's an awesome challenge to build a fortress out there though. It's Fun.)

In the end, I scanned the map in two pieces with my scanner, cussed it out a bit since they didint line up properly, and then cussed some more when I finally got them to line up, and the top part was a bit blurry from the scan and the lower part was sharp. Trick was to let one part overlap the other and have them on different layers. Then you just use a soft eraser and erase the blurry parts til it looks good. I did a sloppy job on my own map, but I gotta get up to work tomorrow as well, so I'll have to live with it for now.

As a summary, I made this map because I like to work with my hands, and I have realized more and more, how I like to learn the actual handiwork of it all, and how tecniques can be used to make an otherwise impossible task possible. Winning this challenge or now, I've learned loads, both practical stuff (q-tips!) and more intangiable things, as how a single idea can change a task fundamentally.
I find manual mapmaking the most intresting due to the mistakes that make it into the end product, and you have little to no chance to redo stuff, so many times you have to accept and/or work around your mistakes. The goblin towers were too dark of a green? Well, they´re black goblin towers now! (which kinda fits since they are often built of obsidian if I recall correctly) Did you regret using map symbols from the game instead of little pictures of villages and stuff? Tough luck, you gotta roll with it now! (I actually ended up regretting that for visual reasons, but I am unsure if I whould have had the time to finish the project had I done it any other way).
In the end, I gotta agree with what nolgroth said in his thread for his map: I win. Even if I dont get the most votes, I win purely by completing a sometimes literally backbreaking project. And learning from it.

04-28-2013, 04:23 PM
I am doing something wrong with the Latest wip thingy, so here goes a whole post just for that awesome final picture!

### LATEST WIP ###