View Full Version : WIP: Birdseye

04-09-2013, 07:03 PM
Allow me to present my latest mapping project (my previous one, on indefinite standby, has not been forgotten - I will finish it. Promise.).

This is the Moste Beautifulle and Grete Citye of Birdseye. It is perched atop a pinnacle of rock, overlooking the sea. It was originally founded as a lookout, due to the dangers to shipping of a monster that lived in the nearby waters, but it eventually became a bandit stronghold, and then a town. An enormous stone bridge was constructed at a later date, to link the city to the mainland, and many houses have now been constructed even on the bridge's surface. There's a lot more to the history, which I won't go into right now.

When drawing this city, I wanted the buildings on the rock to resemble an Italian hill town, and those on the bridge to be more in the pattern of northern European (Dutch, English) settlements (i.e. long narrow plots with the house at the front and sometimes a shed at the back). There's also a cluster of buildings that are inspired by Islamic houses, which I started adding but then decided didn't look right. They're near the Bridge. I did a lot of research to try and get the look and feel right for this city, and hopefully I succeeded in some areas. Strangely, there's just not that much information around on medieval Italian cities. You don't know of any good websites, do you?

I've included the finished hand-drawn part of the map, as well as a rough contour map for the rock. I still want to polish it up a bit, perhaps redo some areas, and I have ambitious plans to make a 3d model in SketchUp, but that'll probably never happen.

I'd really like to hear people's comments and critiques.

Oh, and this is not a map by Larithas Stone, and so does not belong to the Dispatches series; this was, however, created by Stone's teacher at the CG (and a bit of a hero of Stone, it must be said), Titus Wolfgang.


- Max -
04-09-2013, 07:19 PM
THW is back :) Looks very nice. Funny to call a top view city "Birdseye" :D Can't wait to see it inked...

04-09-2013, 08:08 PM
That does look really nice. I particularly like the street plan and the way the smaller plots have been done.

04-10-2013, 11:54 PM
This is a really beautiful map. I think you don't need to ink it as the drawing style of it has a lot of flavor already, especially with the roughed out notes and drafts in the background.

04-12-2013, 11:14 PM
Thanks for those comments. Here's another picture of the city. This shows a handful of the houses on the Bridge, made in Sketchup. The purpose was simply to show the layout of the yards behind the houses, and the lanes that are interwoven between them. I should probably say that the map I posted previously, I've taken another look at it and I think it is probably a first draft. I'll probably redo some of the blocks which I wasn't too happy with. The street pattern will remain the same, though.

@Max: perhaps this image means the city can live up to its name, eh. The name just came to me (I mean, obviously a city perched on a rock high above the sea will have a birdseye view of its surroundings, but it was still inspired, I think).

- Max -
04-13-2013, 06:00 AM
Don't get me wrong, I like the name! :)

04-13-2013, 11:50 AM
Seriously cool map! And that sketchup development... I may try that technique with my Moora Cinthe city to plot out the streets and buildings... except it's on a slant, hmmm...

I do wish those notes were a bit more legible so I could read more deeply of them.

04-13-2013, 07:03 PM
Max: don't worry. I'm not mortally offended by your comments. I try not to use 'em, but smilies make everything bad go away.

Chashio: those notes aren't meant to be legible. Not yet, anyway. They were just done for my own reference. Thanks for the comments, though.

To be honest, I don't really like the way sketchup looks with this; it's a bit too digital (and I'm not very good at it). My plan was, after modelling the city, to trace over it and redraw it from, that's right, a birdseye view. That way I can make sure all the perspective and proportions are accurate, while the whole thing has a hand-drawn feel.

And Chashio, I know what you mean about the city on a slant. The Bridge of Birdseye is relatively flat, but the rock is meant to be really steep. If there are any Sketchup jockeys out there who know how to make terrain in Sketchup, I'd really appreciate some tips.

To give an idea of how steep I want parts of it to be, the look I'm going for (with the edge of the rock, anyway) can be seen in Cuenca, Spain, and the diaojiaolou style of architecture in southern China. If you're interested enough, check those in Google Images to see what I mean.

- Max -
04-13-2013, 07:14 PM
To be honest, I don't really like the way sketchup looks with this; it's a bit too digital (and I'm not very good at it). My plan was, after modelling the city, to trace over it and redraw it from, that's right, a birdseye view. That way I can make sure all the perspective and proportions are accurate, while the whole thing has a hand-drawn feel.

I like that. Sound like an interesting way to map this town!

04-13-2013, 08:24 PM
Chashio: those notes aren't meant to be legible. Not yet, anyway. They were just done for my own reference.
Darn. They looked interesting. :)

To be honest, I don't really like the way sketchup looks with this; it's a bit too digital (and I'm not very good at it). My plan was, after modelling the city, to trace over it and redraw it from, that's right, a birdseye view. That way I can make sure all the perspective and proportions are accurate, while the whole thing has a hand-drawn feel.
Yeah, I started (never finished) doing a little town map like this, setting up the basic shapes in sketchup and tracing and detailing in photoshop. It worked pretty well except sketchup is a bear to work with when every building has a different shape and roof slope... I was practicing 'off-grid' isometric layouts.

And Chashio, I know what you mean about the city on a slant. The Bridge of Birdseye is relatively flat, but the rock is meant to be really steep. If there are any Sketchup jockeys out there who know how to make terrain in Sketchup, I'd really appreciate some tips.
One way to do this might be to have a flat plane to pull your buildings from and have a slanted plane above it that the buildings stick up through. Another is to take a section of terrain from google earth. There should be a button in the top menu that lets you do that, but it only allows you to take a small area of terrain (with the free version of sketchup, don't know about pro).

At least for now, I've decided to try a more traditional means of modeling things. I made some play-dough today... we'll see how it goes. :)

05-06-2013, 01:39 AM
I really like your layout and I'm interested in seeing a more complete profile view.

07-05-2013, 12:07 AM
Well, I’ve been absent from these forums for a very long time, and so I thought it was time to make another update before gonig back into hibernation.

So, to business:

First things first, thansk to all the people who commented on this map, and apologies for not replying earlier.

@Max: thanks, we’ll see how it works out.

@Chashio I: I also liked the handwritten notes. I like the idea of a map that can be literally read. So the notes will be back, in some form. I’m holding off for now so I don’t spoil the surprise.

@Chashio II: I’ve quickly realised that trying to make an entire model of Birdseye in Sketchup would be one of the stupidest things I could do. Instead, quick mockups and close up views of some areas might be possible. My pictures below show some progress down that route.

@Chashio III: the big problem is that the shape of the rock is so irregular and very specific. I’m still trying to figure out the terrain side of things. Frankly, play dough might be the best option.

@AMXPariah: thanks. The profile was simply a quick sketch. My plan had been to do it more completely once the 3d model was finished, but that’s not likely to be anytime soon. Glad you like the layout – I spent a very long time working on it.

So, what’s been changed? The entire layout of the town has been revised. Most of it remains the same, but some sections have been virtually started from scratch. The biggest change is that the bridge has been moved, and I’ve also added a map of what lies under the arch of the bridge (I haven’t uploaded that picture, though). The areas on the bridge haven’t been finalised yet.

Why has this taken so long? Every part of this city has been scrupulously researched (Italian towns being my preferred type), and no changes were made unless I was sure they’d be worth it. To give some idea, I might spend a whole night thinking about the exact placement and arrangement of a staircase (and then change my mind and remove it the next day). I certainly can’t compete with Max for output, but [EDIT: bad joke].

And what are these pictures showing? The first shows the revised town plan (minus most of the bridge). The second shows a very quick mockup of the town in sketchup, to give an idea of how it might look (the actual town is meant to look much steeper but I’ll worry about that later). And the third shows my attempts to model buildings for Birdseye. The method involves created discrete segments that can then simply be joined together in almost any arrangement. They’ll also need more work, but you can see the effect from just a couple of buildings put together. I’m pretty pleased with it, myself, and again, all tediously researched and based on pictures of Italian medieval houses (although the textures are a bit off, I’ll admit).

Comments are, as always, very welcome. Please don’t be discouraged by the extremely long time between replying – I will keep updating this thread, it just might just take a few more months.

- Max -
07-10-2013, 05:25 AM
That's some interesting workflow so far and I'm really curious to see how the hand drawn stuff will render when you'll start on it. Keep up the good job ( whatever the time it takes ;) )

08-29-2013, 10:00 AM
Well I thought I'd post these...they're not quite updates; more like add-ons. Kinda just to prove that the city isn't forgotten.

The first picture shows one city block, with 3d buildings in SU. Those who have followed this city's progress will notice that they lack the details like windows and doors that I added to buildings in an earlier post; I'll probably add those features in the hand-drawn part (many years from now, at the current rate). I've also discovered SketchUp's 'styles' feature, which has been fun.

The second image is a quick sketch, showing the lower reaches of the city from the side.

The third and fourth images show a portion of the Bridge. I've reconsidered the Bridge concept - it'll probably be more like Old London Bridge or the Ponte Vecchio (and Dain's amazing featured map, of course), rather than the monumental architecture I had planned before (still impressive though). I like the tightly-packed look of the buildings on the bridge, but I'm not too happy with the way the old stone texture meets the light grey stone texture. I tried a couple of combinations, though, and still thought it looked best as it is. Any thoughts, people?

Lastly, credit where its due: all textures in the SU model are either those from the program originally, or were acquired from CGTextures.com.

Always keen to receive comments, feedback, questions, suggestions, and so on.


09-03-2013, 03:35 PM
Really cool progress THW. You've got it: split the houses horizontal then vertical and add similar variations of props, assets or how do you call it. You can see an advanced result of this technique here (http://www.3dworldmag.com/2013/08/22/tutorial-creating-a-photo-real-cityscape-animation/).

09-03-2013, 07:11 PM
Thanks Katto. That's a great link and deserves to be posted somewhere on the forums that gets a bit more traffic. I reckon a lot of people here'll be interested in seeing that. Unfortunately I won't be able to do anything quite as ambitious as that project, but I'm still pretty pleased with how Birdseye is turning out.

09-07-2013, 02:00 PM
First I want to say Thanks for posting your progress and development on this project. In addition to it being an exciting project, your July post helped my brain understand a different way of using components in Sketchup. I had used components before for smaller accent elements like beamwork or windows, and larger elements like whole buildings, but for some reason it never occurred to me to break down a building facade into repeatable elements. That helped me move forward on a couple of ideas I had been avoiding, so thanks!

I like the tightly-packed look of the buildings on the bridge, but I'm not too happy with the way the old stone texture meets the light grey stone texture. I tried a couple of combinations, though, and still thought it looked best as it is. Any thoughts, people?

What I see is that by aligning the building with the edge of the bridge you are visually combining the elements to create a unified blobby mass. The only way to correct that through colors/textures would be to assign textures that work on different scales, or to change the colorings for higher contrast. It could also be corrected using massing by adding detail at roadbed height to make a distinct break, like a curb or rail detail along the edge (and it could be more effective if set back slightly from the edge of the bridge). The buildings themselves do not need to end at the edge, and can either overhang (as was the case in both Dain's bridge and in google images of Old London Bridge) or be set closer to the center of the bridge. Finally, some small elements like bracketing (props and assets as Katto mentioned) can be added to cross the building and bridge masses, breaking up the sharp horizontal of the bridge edge. If I have done everything correctly there should be an image below exploring some of the massing ideas to see if that solves the correct problems, or if you need to pursue other options.

Finally, I have been following the progress of Birdseye, and I am excited to see how it continues to develop! One small hint you may already know, there is a button on the Sandbox toolbar (I know it was there in the free versions of Sketchup 7 and 8, but not sure about the latest version) called 'From Contours'. It can quickly turn stuff into a triangulated? mesh for a smoother landscape/terrain treatment (to avoid the stepped terrain look).

Good Luck!


09-08-2013, 07:30 PM
Thanks RedKettle. Those are some kind words and some good advice.

Unfortunately the facade idea isn't working as well as I'd hoped. The goal of doing it like that was to reduce the amount of work, but it seemed to increase the amount. All buildings need to be of standard widths (eg multiples of 12'), and corner blocks present additional problems. I might give it another shot when I have time, though.

Your comments on the bridge are bang on the money. I intend to have lots of areas where buildings are cantilevered over the edge. The bridge is, after all, prime real estate any the buildings there will squeeze every bit of land they can out of it.

As for the sandbox approach, I am aware of the SU feature, but I am hesitant about using it for several reasons. Primarily, my model of Birdseye is huge - from the top of the Rock to the lowest point is nearly 3000' (and that isn't including the bridge); the terrain slopes a lot, and the people of Birdseye have coped by building lots of staircases - the SU model has hundreds, possibly thousands, of individual steps. And all of that is without adding the 3d buildings themselves (letalone the details that the facade-built method would add). I experimented with sandboxing briefly, and my experience was that it slows the program down significantly.

Thanks again for the suggestions (and cool bridge picture, RedKettle). I'll try to post another update soon as I have time.


09-23-2013, 09:58 AM
I love the fact the original image has the overhead view as well as space for a side view of the city, plus all the details the "original cartographer" wrote down. These sort of details make it more than a map, they bring a sense of life and ambience to it. Keep it up!

09-24-2013, 07:55 PM
THW finished it and posted in somewhere?

09-24-2013, 09:17 PM
The map's still going. Should have more time to work on it in about a month, when my thesis is finished. For now I'll add images showing the progress I made on the 3d model when I should have been working on something else.

Unfortunately I'm getting the itch to redo parts of the town's layout, which is always dangerous.

09-27-2013, 11:03 AM
Impressive. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished piece. :)

09-27-2013, 11:22 AM
What program are you using for the housing development? That is pretty interesting...

09-27-2013, 07:24 PM
Unfortunately the facade idea isn't working as well as I'd hoped...

...I experimented with sandboxing briefly, and my experience was that it slows the program down significantly.

Sorry to hear those approaches are not working, but I understand about not wanting a slow working drawing. Part of my envy is that if I tried anything even half as ambitious as your last update my computer would quickly give up. :p

The progress continues to impress!

09-29-2013, 10:40 AM
What program are you using for the housing development? That is pretty interesting...

Scketh-Up :D

I've included the finished hand-drawn part of the map, as well as a rough contour map for the rock. I still want to polish it up a bit, perhaps redo some areas, and I have ambitious plans to make a 3d model in SketchUp, but that'll probably never happen.

09-30-2013, 01:07 AM
This map is really becoming something out of this world. You should think about letting EA Games see this after you finish it. I bet they would make it a setting for an online game or something. The detail is astonishing.

12-19-2013, 09:32 PM
Well it's been a really long time since I posted any updates to this map, but I've been busily working on the SketchUp model these last few weeks, and have a few screenshots to share with you guys.

The images show the Garden District. At the top of the Rock, retaining walls have been created, and the terrain carved away to create a landscape of terraced gardens and fountains, where the wealthy residents of Birdseye like to relax. In the middle of this district is the castle, originally a fortified mansion but now used to host royal and state visitors, and serve as the barracks for the Prince Regent's personal guard, the Silkfaces. Rising above the castle is the oldest building on the Birdseye Rock, Seawatch Tower, which has stood for nearly five hundred years (the original wooden building was replaced with stone several centuries ago, and the top was destroyed about forty years ago by lightning, but the tower is still standing nonetheless). There is a lot more to this district than I've stated here, and unfortunately SketchUp is not great for including trees, statues, fountains and so forth, but trust me, they will be there eventually.

I also want to take this opportunity to announce that Katto has generously volunteered his time and expertise to help make this city real (one of the images below is by Katto -- try and guess which one). I am extremely grateful for his ongoing assistance.

As always, comments and critiques are not only welcome, they are keenly encouraged.

PS: I know it's kinda late, but thanks Darkseed for the good suggestion. I might try it out.

So without further ado, the images:

12-19-2013, 09:47 PM
Love the garden designs - they look very traditional.

12-23-2013, 02:07 PM
The Garden District looks amazing. The scope of this city is simply stunning. It's also nice to see the more detailed visualization by Katto. I'm so looking forward to the next update on your project. :)

12-23-2013, 11:40 PM
Thanks guys for those comments.

And you're right Lyandra; Katto's 3D visualisation is stunning, I must say.

12-24-2013, 12:23 AM
What a fantastic (and impressive!) project! The Garden District is beautiful, and I LOVE that textured shot. Can't wait to see more! :)

12-26-2013, 06:27 PM
Thanks Neyjour. 'Preciate it.

12-28-2013, 06:57 PM
And you're right Lyandra; Katto's 3D visualisation is stunning, I must say.
That it is. :)

01-01-2014, 11:02 PM
The massing of the castle/mansion feels good to me, it looks like this area has been revamped compared to the older images you have shown. Are there floor plans for the castle/mansion? I really like the colonnade/arcade/balcony elements you have added to the exterior of the castle/mansion, and I am hoping that you will eventually add even more, if only for this main structure (especially if Katto will continue to produce those cool renderings).

I like the garden layout as well, it has a subtly compelling monumentality that fits with the other elements, and can't wait to see this perched atop the rest of Birdseye. It might just be the lack of trees, but for some reason the hedges feel a little overwhelming (tall?) in some areas of the garden. If trees end up not solving the problem, maybe some trellis elements could help?

Very cool modeling and rendering!

01-02-2014, 06:27 PM
Thanks RedKettle. Those are some good observations on your part. The whole district has been revamped, and the rest of the city layout is in the process of revamping (although nothing too drastic yet). No layout to the castle--I'd like to make one, and maybe some day I will, but I think I've got my work cut out modelling the rest of Birdseye. As for the gardens, the monumentality is intentional, but at the same time I want the gardens to feel kinda intimate or personal. That's why the hedges are so high--so you can walk into an area and suddenly be 'inside' a room, cut off from what else is going on. The trellis idea is nice though. I might take you up on that. Cheers again.

01-27-2014, 02:14 AM
I think it is about time another update was provided for this city. The images below show the current state of the Bridge District. Most of the houses have been modelled, and I have also included a view of a quick mashup of the jetties/scaffolding that will cover the sides of the Bridge. Birdseye is a major hub for 'decoline' trade (decolines are flying machines, that resemble a cross between modern kites, Venetian gondolas, and certain drawings by Leonardo da Vinci). These machines stop at Birdseye to load and unload lightweight cargoes (especially jewels and silk), and the Bridge is the main docking point for this trade. Many of the houses you see on the bridge belong to merchants, shopkeepers, and shipping companies.

This district is still incomplete, so suggestions for ways to improve it, and critiques are always welcome.


01-27-2014, 03:08 AM
Oh wow this is gorgeous :D

01-27-2014, 08:42 AM
this top view is impressive showing how big it is getting.

Maybe is the time to post a entire city top view? To see how is going to whole process.

01-27-2014, 09:24 AM
Huge and impressive project indeed!

01-30-2014, 12:38 AM
Thanks for those comments.

Aquarits: the overall town layout has been redrawn, with major and minor changes everywhere. Once I've finished this district, I might try and get a whole-city view, but I can't guarantee it will be an up-to-date city view.

02-03-2014, 05:16 AM
Good stuff. It appears you are successfully capturing the crowded-bridge charm. Between this update and the last few you can really start to feel the character of the Birdseye.

I like the scaffolding details, they add a certain life to the bridge. I also like that they give the eye a human-scale reference, which helps with the understanding of the project's grand scale.

Also, the decolines sound interesting!

02-06-2014, 06:41 AM
Watching how this town develops is a treat. I really like the look of that bridge, the amount of details you put into your work is stunning.

02-06-2014, 11:30 PM
Thanks for those comments. RedKettle, I like your comment about the human-scale of the scaffolding. It's a good point you make.

02-12-2014, 06:11 PM
Howdy all.

I'm working on a flag for Birdseye, have made a few variations, and need help deciding which is best, and how to improve it. So I thought I'd ask for the opinions of my esteemed fellow cartographers. The image below presents the main options I'm thinking about. They were created rather quickly in Photoshop using stock images, and will subsequently be hand-drawn by me to give them a slightly less crisp look (and the fish will be redone).

The symbolism of the flag includes:
--the crown, representing the authority of His Royal Highness, Prince Edgar Terana, Regent of Birdseye
--the waves, representing the sea, and its bounty
--the white bird and the black fish, which are the emblems of the City, and denote mastery of the seas
--the blue shield (in some versions) may represent the sea, or sky, or both.

Suggestions and opinions are much appreciated.


02-12-2014, 06:36 PM
The bridge in your city is the biggest and grandest feature, you should find a way to symbolize this in the crest. The eagle with a fish is awesome, but what does your city represent. The eagle is a powerful symbol of strength and freedom. If your city is wealthy you might want the color gold on the mantle, if it has a strong trade economy, maybe a set of scales to represent that. The bridge is a symbol of connection and I feel it shouldn't be left out. I haven't followed the whole thread, so if you have posted what your city's qualities are, trade, economic base and social values like culture and back story I've missed it.

I recommend to read a little about heraldry, which is the study or making of heraldic crests. I'm guessing you are using a European model for your city. The Irish have a strong system with many crests and a good amount of easy information about them. Some crests are based on a momentous event like a battle for independence or something about the founding of the city.

02-12-2014, 06:39 PM
I'll vote for #6, more interest going on in it. higher contrast than the light blue.

02-12-2014, 07:56 PM
Gold or blue mantle, shield part covered, smaller waves. :)

Like the ermine, though I was iffy for a bit, but I think it was just the watermark throwing me off >.<

02-13-2014, 12:59 PM
i am getting confused about it.
If you are talking about the flag why are you using the shield on it?
Usualy flags use the simbols of the society, economic or culture formation, skiping the shields that are used for heraldy reasons, for flags representing the heraldry shields usualy appears with small variations of primary colors, black or white, just to highlight in some events like wars for example.
check flags aroung the world:
even citys use flags wo shields, coz make no sense show for the others about a small group.
In other words, shields represent a particular group that you can identify almost with names and flags for a socirty group.

I lked the number 6, and i believe that you can work more in the flag formation using this way.

02-13-2014, 01:28 PM
Lots of OLDER societies used either the crest or shield of the ruling society on their flags - regardless of modern flags.

And the smaller the region, the more detailed the flag is likely to be. Cities/Counties DO use shields on their flags, even in America (where they say "seal" instead of shield, and make it round, but it's there.

Furthermore, not all countries, or cities, or people, or even eras handled heraldry and/or flags the same way.

Ways of handling them certainly can't, then, be set in stone for a *fantasy* world which operates under completely different sociological factors.

02-13-2014, 03:24 PM
Sorry aquarits, but Jalyha is right.

Cities/Counties DO use shields on their flags,...
Yes, one example is DO (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dortmund).

The larger the area/population the more abstract is the flag. Crests can also be, let's say "simplified" by heraldic rules.

02-13-2014, 03:55 PM
Ewww it wasn't a affirmative post, was a question

i am getting confused about it.
If you are talking about the flag why are you using the shield on it?

The material that I got before start with my shields says something about the diference of a flag and a shield.
And keep saying that when a flag born, mean lose the one particular power of a republic for a society featured domain. For a city, lose the shield mean answer directly to the government and not be ruled by a specific social group.
Wut it says is something easy to define, if some place use a shield to define the ruling, it is lands from somene, if have a flag it is a city with some way democratic or not to define the organization.
Crests have a diferent felling, when a place have a spacial feature like a soccer team, university or a industry, they create a crest for this and move it for one flag to show, sometimes it is so cool that ppl forget the original flag making the 'fantasy' flag almost official.

It was wut I found before work with my shields and I got confused when I saw a flag using a shield.

02-13-2014, 04:45 PM
Oh I see what you're saying.

That's a sociological *theory* that applies to many (not all) groups of people.

The way it works is something like...

You have a large group of people, ruled by 1 person/family.

Each person (well, noble-families, anyway) has their own CREST which goes on... everything, usually... Their *shields* their clothing, their dishes :P Showoffs.. anyway... They also, in SOME societies, have to fly the CREST/banner of their ruler... especially in times of war. It shows that they support the person/family who is above them.

Remember, this is only *some* societies.

What happens is, as the hierarchy collapses, fewer people are "above" you, less importance is placed on individual crests, and the display on banners and flags is more often simply the crest (or a *simplified* crest) of that ruling body.

It's a way of unifying a group of people that was once divided.

The crest could be simplified over time, or eventually, eliminated completely. Or it could take on characteristics of other ruling bodies that come before or after.

When a *type* of government (be it king, council, president, whatever) is overthrown, often the first thing done is to replace the symbol of their power - that's the crest- on as many things as possible... including the flag.

The USA, for example, took and decided on its' own flag with 13 stars and 13 stripes, to represent 13 colonies. More stars were added as it grew.

But once a large *country* is established, the divisions within that country usually fall back on developing its' own symbol. So each state or province, duchy or earldom, might have its' own flag. Then even smaller bodies of governance want in on the action, and develop their own symbol.

And since the "states" group incorporates the nation's symbol (typically) into their own, it's usually more detailed. And the counties incorporate the state's symbol into their flag, which is now even more detailed. And the cities incorporate the counties.... and so on.

So in that type of society, you can get pretty intricate flags as you get to the city/town level.

In some societies, you can't have your own flag... has to be the nation's flag.

In some societies, (especially militaristic societies) emphasis is still placed on simplicity and contrast... to make your BANNERS (not always the same as flags, but sometimes) more visible.

Banners are often simplified versions of the crest/symbol of whoever is in charge.

"Shield" in the context of flags/crests is simply the *shape* of what the crest or symbol is placed on. It might be a different shape... an oval, or circle, or a diamond... it depends on what society you're in and *who/what* the flag is meant to represent.

Trivia: In many societies, women couldn't place their crests/symbols on a shield... they placed it on a lozenge with a different shape - often round. Cities, countries and the like are often referred to as female, so in the USA they typically (though the reason is lost to most) use a round shape to illustrate their SEAL which is then placed on the flag :P


Anyway, yes, you're right, by the time you get to a more advanced society, most flags have been combined/simplified, but not all. There's no hard and fast rule for it, because it all depends on the sociology of the country/city/whatever, and its' history.

We think of flags, usually, with bright, contrasting colors, because originally, the flags, as banners, had to display the crest of certain leaders, and they had to be able to be seen and recognized far across battlefields.

But not all societies started that way, and even those who did, often had to find ways of distinguishing, say, the first son (a general) and second son (a general) of the same family... and so flags/banners/crests might get more complicated with time, rather than less. :P

It all gets very confusing if you try to make any sense out of it at all, because, as I saaid, each society is different.

I hope that didn't confuse you even more, I'm horrible at explaining things! >.<

02-13-2014, 05:45 PM
Thanks for the responses, everyone. No decision has been made yet, so more comments are still welcome.

Anyway, some answers from me. I'll try to deal with the responses in the order they came, so first up...

Darkseed, the bridge doesn't appear on the flag for a very simple reason: it was built 100 years after the flag came into use. I think that answers that one, but you also mentioned...

The meaning of the eagle and the fish (the bird was originally meant to be more like a seagull or albatross, but the best picture I found was of an osprey, so an eagle it is). My thoughts originally were that these animals were signifiers not of some virtues or symbols, but of the people themselves. Just as the kangaroo and emu represent Australia (for obvious reasons), and the Cross of St George represents England, the bird and fish are common emblems for the people (and their culture) living along this stretch of coastline. That said, your suggestion about the eagle is also perfect for the city: strength and freedom. Birdseye began its existence as a bandit encampment, and has always prided itself on its independence. Furthermore, the city is indeed wealthy (originally from stolen loot, mostly), and has in recent times become a prominent trading town (thanks to the flying machines, called decolines), so I'll give some thought to your other ideas. And then you mentioned...

Researching heraldry. Usually, I would jump at the opportunity, but I tend to get too absorbed in anything I research, and that would make the matter of the flag take months, rather than a few days/a week, so I thought I'd go with aesthetics and gut feeling (which let me down, hence needing to ask peoples' opinions :)). Thanks for your comments; much appreciated.

Madcowchef: thanks for your opinion. I'll bear it in mind.

Jalyha 1: thanks for the suggestion. I'll bear it in mind, too.

Aquarits: I don't mean to be rude, but I had some difficulty understanding your posts, so if I didn't quite get the point, I can only apologise. From what I did understand, I think Jalyha explained it quite well (pat yourself on the back Jalyha, that was indeed a good explanation).

The city was, at first, a bandit camp (as stated above). Consequently, the population robbed a nearby caravan, taking huge amounts of the most prized goods--gold, silver and jewels (that is why the Jewellers' Guild is so prominent today). It also meant that every nearby country ruler hated them, and they were frequently targeted by slavers and other raiders. They became the victims of their own success: as their wealth increased, they became the prize for other aspiring bandits, and they suffered as a result. About 250 years ago, the city began looking for a way to become legitimate, and so they imitated the customs of neighbouring countries (including developing the flag/coat of arms under discussion). They did not have any princely ruler at that time. They governed themselves by way of a council, so the coat of arms is not that of a family or prince, but the city as a whole (like I said, they were imitating the customs of others, and may have misunderstood how heraldry works). More than a hundred years later, they entered a personal union with a nearby king (I'm terrible at names, and so most of these places/nations/people etc are still anonymous), whereby the king's second son would be appointed prince regent of Birdseye (head of state), but Birdseye could retain self-government in the form of the council and the Portreeve (mayor; head of government).

So, I don't know if that explains things clearly enough, but, as I said above, I'm happy for this discussion to continue. Thanks again to everyone who responded.


02-13-2014, 05:55 PM
Actually... having heard that, I'd remove the crown from the mantling around the shield, if you use that on the flag.

Crowns are for rulers, *(in almost every society that's used them) and while your council might not have understood this when they devised their flag, the king would undoubtedly have set them straight. So unless they incorporated his family's crest somehow (and maybe even then) I'm sure they would have been.... encouraged... to change it.

Just a logical opinion, of course... perhaps your society works differently, or the king didn't care, or just wanted gold, or whatever, but it would have to be explained away, and it's always easier to fix before then, yes? :)

You might use a helm (since they were trying to intimidate bandits) instead of a crown, but I'd try to (either use nothing there, or) find something unique to represent your city. A circlet of gold coins, or a captain's hat (for the trade ships) or something instead :)

02-13-2014, 06:29 PM
Actually I forgot to mention the part about the crown. Thanks for reminding me. The crown was added AFTER the Contract of Union, at the request of the monarch, to represent his son, and future members of his family.

The idea of a ring of coins or a captains hat is pretty good, though.


02-13-2014, 07:18 PM
If the crown represents the ruler/king, you'd typically need something that said *which* ruler/king, because if you don't, people would assume the city had her own king... but again, that might be a sociological bias as well... especially if your other lands have emperors or pharoahs or chieftans or something, and there's only one king..

maybe.. idk :P

Just thought I would point out the unusual-ness :)

Actually there's a whole chapter in a book I had been reading (I'll try to find it again) about spotting fake heraldry through the use of the wrong crown or helm :P But again, that's this world and not yours :P

02-20-2014, 02:13 AM
Two new update pictures. All the buildings on the Bridge are now complete, and I've done about 1/4 of the scaffolding. The images show the current state of the scaffolding (from afar and from up close). Comments and suggestions, as always, are welcome.

About the heraldry, I'd quite like to read that chapter, Jalyha, if you can find it. As I said above, I don't know much about heraldry, but sometimes I can spend too much time thinking about something, and therefore get nothing done. If the flag ends up being historically implausible, then, I don't mind.


02-20-2014, 05:06 AM
You're crazy :)

02-20-2014, 05:21 AM
Wow, your work on those views and all the stairs is very impressive!

02-20-2014, 09:06 AM
Agreed. Absolutely insane. Impressive, but insane.

And I'll look for the book again. :D

02-21-2014, 02:29 AM
All city mappers are crazy. Maybe I'm just a little crazier than the others. ;)

02-22-2014, 09:33 AM
This city reminds me a lot of Lordran! (derp souls)

03-06-2014, 03:00 AM
Very nice detail on the scaffolding, it almost reads as some kind of architectural ivy creeping over the whole bridge. Pretty cool.

I know this is still a work in progress but one thing I noticed was your stair stringers? (the diagonally moving pieces bracketing your stair treads) looked a little stripey due possibly to textures that need to be realigned. If the stringers are components it might be worth 'changing axes' (an option in the right-click menu when a component is selected), so the texture shows better.

Still eagerly anticipating a view of all the pieces put together!

03-06-2014, 06:21 AM
Glad you like the scaffolding. I see what you mean about the stringers; they do look strange. Unfortunately, modelling the district is taking all my time, and, frankly, textures are pretty low priority (maybe I can persuade Katto to take over the texturing ;)).

I'll try and get a quick mockup of the complete city in my next update, but you might find it disappointing. So far there is only one district that is complete (Garden District), one more that is near completion (Bridge District), and a few others that I have started, but have a long way to go. I'm also thinking that, once I finish the Bridge District, I will post it as a standalone Finished Map. The reason is that I'm going travelling later this year, and so won't be able to work on Birdseye for several months. Before heading off I want to leave Birdseye with a bit of a bang (I do intend on finishing the city, though, even if it takes a lifetime; which it probably will).

@Scoopz: I personally don't see the similarity between Birdseye and Lordran (which I'd never heard of before), but thanks for mentioning it.


03-06-2014, 09:56 AM



You did all that in Sketchup?! The biggest thing I've made in that was a model of my living room to mess around with different decoration options. I doubt I'd ever even consider attempting anything more complex than that... These are ridiculously awesome.