View Full Version : I'm not sure what I am doing, but I am not going to let that stop me!

05-01-2013, 03:46 AM
I have been trying some new techniques, looking to make a different sort of map - what exactly I am looking for, I am not certain. The map is not finished, but I'm uncertain whether I am ready to move on to cleanup & labeling, or if I need to fix the current styles - and how. I need a proofreader, because it is easy for me to tell what is depicted - after all, I made it. Please examine the map below, and tell me if the nature of the given areas is clear to you.
Textures are courtesy of Coyotemax, base layer by Donjon.com (although heavily edited)

05-01-2013, 10:27 AM
It's a fleck of some blue mineral in a rock? Some sort of alien hoofprint? An open-pit mine? A large valley surrounded by high mountains with some forested areas around a lake at the center? I really can't say for sure what it's supposed to be until I know the approximate scale. That's the nature of fractal things.

Cues like a scale bar, labels on features, rivers (if applicable), or roads (again, if applicable) would all go a long way towards helping me to understand your intent here. A label that describes the purpose of the image would be very helpful (e.g. the mineral type, animal type, mine name, or valley name) to helping me, the reader.

I'm not a big fan of the "blobs of noise" mountains style (which is ironic, considering the tools I make). I also find the color a bit bright. However, it is something a bit different than what I usually see around here. As a WIP, it's undoubtedly a good first step.

05-01-2013, 10:35 AM
It's all a bit noisy and saturated to my eye, but my preferences lean the other way. Are those brownish black things mountains, with glacier fields on top? I really can't tell what it all represents as of yet, without some point of reference and scale, though I applaud you for experimenting with new styles and textures. Keep going.

05-01-2013, 01:32 PM
The extreme contrast between the mountain and lowland regions, combined with the odd texture you chose for the mountains, reminds me a lot of the Ar Mountains:
File:G06 s65 63158.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:G06_s65_63158.jpg)
With less saturated color, your map would resemble an oasis in such a region. I don't like the style of the white areas. Their edges are so smooth and soft that they look like clouds (which only reinforces the satellite image look you have going), but then the dark markings appear to be on top of them.

05-01-2013, 01:40 PM
Thank you all for responding. Although I expected the "i see a bunch of colored blobs" response, everyone who responded did get the general idea, which waldronate put quite well;
"A large valley surrounded by high mountains with some forested areas around a lake at the center"

Before I go adding rivers, roads & other details, I'd like to clean up what I have here. I'll add a scale immediately. Then, I'll look for a better snowcap texture - any suggestions? Also, I'm not really sure about my forest texture, as it doesn't blend as well with the other colors - but maybe if I desaturate them as advised above, that will cease to be a problem. I will play with the saturation levels, and sharpen up the snowline a bit, and try to get a new version posted this evening.

05-02-2013, 09:15 PM
I have been playing with layers & masks. I have some more cleanup to do, and haven't yet found a new snowfield. Also I need to figure out what to do with the yellow areas; they are an artifact of the generation process that should be removed. Ideally, I have hills in the yellow areas, and replacing the mountainous areas not near a snowcap - but I haven't figured out how I want to do those.

So, here's what I've got so far; any thoughts?

P.S. The map is about 300 mi across

05-09-2013, 10:03 PM
First update in a while, been playing around with things. Tell me what you think - better or worse? What did I do right, so I can keep doing them? I need alot of feedback on this one because the style is so unusual, I need to know what it looks like to the casual observer.

BTW, the map is 300 mi wide and shows the 'valley' between converging mountain ranges.

05-09-2013, 10:21 PM
it's interesting, but, for 300 mile wide and at the height to see that much area, I personally would reduce the texture size and maybe its a bit too vivid in color, at first glance it gives the impression that the land is even with or higher than the mountain texture, light should hit the mountains more than the valley I think. I would isolate the land texture and try to make a gradient mask, dark in the middle and lighter to the edges which would i think give the impression of depth in the middle, more experienced hands would say exactly and accurately but i believe its a simple radial gradient, maybe a shaped angular in hard light mode, try to get a darker center with a sense of valley walls rising up and blur as desired to soften the walls. ;) i usually try every mode till i get what looks close to what i want so off hand i can't just pop out a mode to suggest.

05-10-2013, 10:28 PM
I tried to follow your advice, but I'm not sure the gradiation came out right. What do you think?
I upgraded the mountains with shading, to accentuate the gradiation of the valley (which is mostly hilly, not flat). Then I remembered the advice to shrink the textures, so I did that with the mountains to see how it looked. With the shading, it looked awful, so I included both versions; old texture shaded, and altered texture.

05-11-2013, 08:25 AM
I like, you're on the right track hmm, the one on the left is better i think.

05-12-2013, 04:39 PM
I prefer the mountains on the right - the shading makes them stand out, while the same shading contrasted oddly on the left-hand side, and so was omitted.
So, I have re-done the shading to suit the finer texture. Here are the results.

Does it look to anyone else as though the mountains are floating? That's been bugging me for a while.

05-12-2013, 08:39 PM
Sorry I am Afraid so. It appears that the mountains have a shadow "Beneath" Them so yes they appear to float ! Lose the shadow and feather the transition into the surrounding terrain and that will "Ground" them. Else-wise it is shaping up rather nicely !

05-13-2013, 02:56 PM
It appears to be coming along very nicely indeed!

I see what you're talking about. I think the floating effect is partly due to the pale grey line that is highlighting the mountain edge. As lostatsea mentioned above, feathering the transition between mountains and grasslands should help.

05-13-2013, 11:57 PM
Alas, I know the cause of that shadow. It is the feathering that causes it. The layers are bound by masks and under effects, and that shadow is caused by the interaction of the mountains' color burn effect with the grasslands. When I move the mask, I am creating either a shadow or a light, fuzzy border. I will look for some other solution to the problem.

And thank-you to all for your input and support!

Edit: I have found a fix for the shadow, although one I do not like to use. In a separate document, I created a carbon copy of the Mountain & Grass layers, removed their layer effects and the grass mask, and merged the mountain layer down onto the grassland one. I then re-applied the grassland mask and repatriated it into the original document, applying the alteration layers to the result that were previously attached to the constituent layers. The border issue is improved with the loss of the shadow, but I kept the original layers, just in case. Let me know what you think:

05-16-2013, 02:01 PM
I want to address water next (marshes, swamps, lakes & rivers). To begin doing so I hid the existing wetland layer to examine the layers beneath.
As a result, I began playing with the layers & discovered some interesting options.
Each of these was created by the inclusion or removal of one or two of two specific layers. I am considering now which version to move forward with.

05-18-2013, 04:43 PM
At this point, I am going with the image on the right. Starting rivers, which are always the hardest part for me, because I don't know how to draw them (place them, sure - but drawing them is hard).
Here's what I have for placement. I have used the light/dark bits as elevation guidelines. Does it look right (i.e. natural) to you? Once I am happy with the layout, I'll worry about how to draw them.

05-18-2013, 05:15 PM
Looks natural to me, the lake could have an "output" as well but I think it'd work like this too. I really like this map by the way, the mountains and the colors are great!

05-19-2013, 06:42 PM
Looks natural to me, the lake could have an "output" as well but I think it'd work like this too. I really like this map by the way, the mountains and the colors are great!

My current plan is for the lake to let out through subterranean tunnels - but if you can point out a place where it might naturally flow out (& where it would go) I would appreciate it. A large part of this project is getting feedback on how the map looks, as opposed to wat I was thinking when I developed it.

One possible issue is that range of hills east of the lake. It looks to me like it represents an elevation change, so that's how i've represented it - is that how it looks to others?

05-19-2013, 08:17 PM
Here's my first attempt at rivers. I would really appreciate any advice on making them look 'better,' as river art is entirely foreign to me.


05-21-2013, 12:46 AM
Nice work so far. I'm not sure if it is what you intended by right now the centre lake does not seem to drain. Either evaporation would take off the water at a rate equal to its accumulation or it would have to seep off underground. Otherwise i'd probably full up the valley till it finds a place to flow out of. I recommend attaching the river on the right to the lake to suggest it is a drainage river from it. I'd also be careful how far up the mountain you make the rivers go as it sometimes visually flattens them the mountains. Especially if they are straight up the mountain. I suppose it also does depend on how small or streams you care to show on your map as most maps don't bother to register the tiny little ravines and tributaries. I would guess usually only those streams that have a significant impact on human life would be registered such as rivers large enough to traverse by boat or can present a challenge to pass over perhaps
Just as an example I've attached an image of what I mean regarding the rivers not going too far up the mountains and the river being able to drain to the ocean somewhere (again unless you had something else in mind)

05-21-2013, 03:30 AM
Thank you for your input. In several places, your rivers seem to ignore what appear to me to be hills, hills systems, or ridges. For example, the system to the right of the lake composed of n/s running shadows that suggest folded land, and are why I didn't put rivers there. Does it look flat enough for rivers to you? That system is the primary reason I have the lake draining through a subterranean river.