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Finis
06-24-2008, 08:47 AM
Greetings!

I am a Long (Loong) time Dungeon Master / Cartographer / Sociologist / World Designer (Lunatic?). I have recently (within the last two years) started switching from hand drawn pencil sketches to using Photoshop for my DnD props. I have been using photoshop for a long time now, and I've got a pretty decent wacom tablet (5x6); so I am no stranger to using it.

However the work and tutorials here shamed me! I was astounded at the quality of work here. Really stumbling onto this site when looking for 'Mountain tutorials' for photoshop was a godsend.

Here is a couple of regional maps I did for my game world a couple of years ago:

http://the-azarian.com/azariandnd/easterrealms_updated.jpg

http://the-azarian.com/azariandnd/southerncontinent.jpg

For a long time I'd been itching to put new photoshop skills to work in updating and improving these works (I've grown a lot in two years) so I set about looking around the 'net for good raster cartography tutorials, and found here! Lucky me.

Diving into the wealth of tutorials here, and mixing and matching techniques I've developed/learn on my own. I came up with this in about ten hours of work:

http://the-azarian.com/azariandnd/azarian_art-realism_map.jpg

Obviously some of the techniques are straight out of tutorials found here, some is my own hand painted work (I am particularly proud of the ice lake in the north)

I welcome any input. I consider the geography 'finished', barring glaring critiques, and will probably start labeling soon

torstan
06-24-2008, 09:01 AM
That's a great example of change between the maps. I think the early oneas a very clear and useful, but the later one is really pretty.

A note to the wise before RobA gets here - your rivers are in violation :)

Rivers don't branch (generally) as they go downstream. River junctions are generally two smaller rivers joining to become one larger river.

And welcome to the guild!

RobA
06-24-2008, 10:15 AM
I like the clean style of these maps. But the rivers (shakes head, crying softly into his oatmeal)....

-Rob A>

NeonKnight
06-24-2008, 10:17 AM
I like the clean style of these maps. But the rivers (shakes head, crying softly into his oatmeal)....

-Rob A>

Hey! I like his huge Delta System on this map:

http://the-azarian.com/azariandnd/southerncontinent.jpg

jfrazierjr
06-24-2008, 10:21 AM
Welcome to the Guild Finis! Very nice Map! As Torstan said, you might consider cleaning up the rivers.

You did a great job on the trees. The hills look very good and convincing. The water texture is spot on, and the transition between normal land and ice/tundra is convincing.

I would not mind seeing the line between deeper water and shallow softened just a bit, but that's not a major thing.

One thing you might want to consider is playing with the mountains. They look to uniform in comparison with the rest of the map contents. One of the things I have played with quite a lot when using RobA's angular gradient maps (as I assume this is what you have done) is to use the smudge tool with a fairly small fuzzy brush on the B/W version, possibly using some burn/dodge also (very lightly) and then smudging that so you can pull some blacks up toward the top and some lights down towards the bottom. This kind of helps rough up the sides of the mountains and makes it more irregular in texture. I would make a copy of the original B/W layer so you can go back if needed, then Bump Map that copy. I usually do a few strokes, select the color copy, and run the bump map filter to preview my work and then cancel and do some more. This is a lot of work, but in my opinion, well worth it. If you want to get an idea of how it looks, look for the "Playing with mountains" thread and check out my later posts.

Joe

RobA
06-24-2008, 10:28 AM
Hey! I like his huge Delta System on this map:

http://the-azarian.com/azariandnd/southerncontinent.jpg

I agree - the delta is fairly well executed. I think delta's are why many people mistakenly think that rivers branching is the norm, rather than the exception. It provides such a strong visual.

-Rob A>

Finis
06-24-2008, 03:12 PM
Thank you for all the responses and feedback :D

You know, after I posted and went to bed last night I thought of half a dozen ways to improve stuff as I was falling asleep (of course)

I'll defiantly try some of your suggestions out.

Finis
06-24-2008, 05:01 PM
Fixed the rivers, in the one instance where I kept the fork (important for the city thats built there) I hope I provided enough subtly geographical evidence to support it (w/e the heck that means)

The bulk of this repass though is looking at the mountains

http://the-azarian.com/azariandnd/azarian_art-realism_map-WIP.jpg

Finis
06-24-2008, 07:05 PM
I greatly disliked those mountains so I spent some time reading the "Playing with Mountains" thread, got inspired and made this pass at the two largest mountain ranges.

http://the-azarian.com/azariandnd/azarian_art-realism_map-WIP2.jpg

Muuuuuch better imo

Ascension
06-24-2008, 07:20 PM
Those mountains are coming along nicely. Good color palette as well.

jfrazierjr
06-24-2008, 08:56 PM
Fixed the rivers, in the one instance where I kept the fork (important for the city thats built there) I hope I provided enough subtly geographical evidence to support it (w/e the heck that means)

The bulk of this repass though is looking at the mountains

http://the-azarian.com/azariandnd/azarian_art-realism_map-WIP.jpg


Sooo.... I was about to say pretty nice mountains there.... and then...



I greatly disliked those mountains so I spent some time reading the "Playing with Mountains" thread, got inspired and made this pass at the two largest mountain ranges.

http://the-azarian.com/azariandnd/azarian_art-realism_map-WIP2.jpg

Muuuuuch better imo

WOW... so much better than good! "You have... rep."

Joe

jfrazierjr
06-24-2008, 08:59 PM
btw, if you would be willing, you can upload your maps directly to the site here and get thumbnails. I for one like to look at the thumbnails first. Sometimes things look much better (or worse) at thumbnail view that they do at full size. When you are posting, click the Go Advanced button and a few inches down from the text field where you enter comments is a Manage attachments button. You can upload up to 5 attachments and those that are jpg, png, or gif(I think) will get thumb nailed and shown inline below your comments and you can click to see the full size. If you like your copies to be on your site "in addition" you can even upload from a URL.

Joe

Finis
06-24-2008, 09:37 PM
The latest WIP

http://the-azarian.com/azariandnd/azarian_art-realism_map-WIP3.jpg

Naeddyr
06-25-2008, 04:28 AM
Very nice, though I personally think the grass and sand look kinda blurry, compared with the crispness of the mountains and the forests. :)

torstan
06-25-2008, 05:29 AM
That's coming along very nicely. Good work.

Karro
06-25-2008, 11:00 AM
Very good looking. I think there's still something odd looking about the two largest peaks. They look to be about 3 times taller than any of the other mountains around it. Also, because this is a north-south running range, I would expect most of the lower ridges feeding into these peaks to also run north-south, with only a few meandering side-to-side ridges, but in the case of these two peaks, the feeder ridges form a radial pattern outward, like a snowflake.

For these peaks (assuming you want to particularly tall peaks that rear above the rest of the mountains) if you want to maintain a certain height, you might try building a series of ridges and plateaus and have the taller peaks be ridge peaks that sit ontop of the plateau.

Anyway, the rest looks great. I particularly like the texture of your forests, and how it thins out at the edges, breaking off into little clumps of trees and copses at the edges. Those are awesome!

RobA
06-25-2008, 03:00 PM
What is the scale of this map?

-Rob A>

Finis
06-25-2008, 03:34 PM
What is the scale of this map?

-Rob A>

oops! the scale is on one of my hidden layers. >_>

1 inch = approx 200 miles

it's 'roughly' the size of france and germany with room to spare

Finis
06-25-2008, 03:56 PM
Very good looking. I think there's still something odd looking about the two largest peaks. They look to be about 3 times taller than any of the other mountains around it. Also, because this is a north-south running range, I would expect most of the lower ridges feeding into these peaks to also run north-south, with only a few meandering side-to-side ridges, but in the case of these two peaks, the feeder ridges form a radial pattern outward, like a snowflake.

For these peaks (assuming you want to particularly tall peaks that rear above the rest of the mountains) if you want to maintain a certain height, you might try building a series of ridges and plateaus and have the taller peaks be ridge peaks that sit ontop of the plateau.

Anyway, the rest looks great. I particularly like the texture of your forests, and how it thins out at the edges, breaking off into little clumps of trees and copses at the edges. Those are awesome!

Thank you, and I agree about the mountains. I probably spent seven or eight hours yesterday playing with Rob's technique, combined with some of the ideas in the 'Playing with Mountains' thread and a few of my own. The radial 'snow flake' patterns seemed to be the best way to get two distinct large peaks that were, at a glance, noticeably larger than the rest of the range, without dwarfing the rest of the peeks (if you think they are too big now, you should have seen my other attempts :p). I'm aware they don't look 'quite' right, but at this point I am not sure if shrinking them any more / changing the structure will have the desired effect I want.

I'll probably spend sometime looking at google earth today for reference and seeing what can be done :)

For the record, I live in the pacific northwest (near Seattle) and greatly enjoy my view of Mt Rainer on a clear day. Even though it's 80 miles away, towers above everything else in the skyline. Now I realize that Mr Rainer is only about 10-15 miles at the base, and the ones on my map are closer to 200 :p and thus would tower into low orbit; but I wanted them visible at a glance on the map..

Sigh.. not sure how to resolve it.

RobA
06-25-2008, 04:18 PM
The problem is that realistic satellite images at that scale don't have discernible mountains. In google earth or maps at that scale mountains look kile stretched out snowflakes, and not like mountains.

This begs the point of the map - is it there for information or to be realistic...

-Rob A>

jfrazierjr
06-25-2008, 04:41 PM
The problem is that realistic satellite images at that scale don't have discernible mountains. In google earth or maps at that scale mountains look kile stretched out snowflakes, and not like mountains.

This begs the point of the map - is it there for information or to be realistic...

-Rob A>

I agree. For all the playing I have been doing with this style, I have tended to split the difference with being equal parts realistic, artistic, and informative. The more you slant one way or the other, in most cases the other points "suffer", which is why I have spent SOOO much time (perhaps to much???) trying to come up with a mountain technique I like, even if it's not 100% realistic. The way I see it is that a map is meant to be informational first. Then the realistic and artistic components come into play in equal measure depending on the style of map you are going for.

Joe

Karro
06-25-2008, 07:17 PM
I agree. For all the playing I have been doing with this style, I have tended to split the difference with being equal parts realistic, artistic, and informative. The more you slant one way or the other, in most cases the other points "suffer", which is why I have spent SOOO much time (perhaps to much???) trying to come up with a mountain technique I like, even if it's not 100% realistic. The way I see it is that a map is meant to be informational first. Then the realistic and artistic components come into play in equal measure depending on the style of map you are going for.

Joe

Ditto.

I think it's possible to get noticeably larger peaks without their looking like, as you say, Finis, looking like they're reaching into low orbit... Admittedly, though, I haven't perfected it, yet.

Ascension
06-25-2008, 08:53 PM
I'm with JFJ on the representational realism. I like the big mountains since they look like mountains.