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View Full Version : June/July Lite Entry - The Unangan Empire



Lingon
06-23-2013, 05:39 AM
Alternative history! Irresistible. And after some thinking, researching, and going through old ideas, I've come up with something that I really want to make.

The currently most popular theory (I think) about how the first humans reached the Americas is that they came from Asia across the Bering Strait on a land bridge that has now disappeared under the sea. Some stayed, some moved on southward. The map I'll make for this challenge assumes that many more stayed, and that the Aleut people (who call themselves Unanga, hence the title) built trading city-states and eventually an empire in the region, with trade routes to China, India, the Inca empire, etc. Everything I know about this subject is from Wikipedia, so it might not become the most plausible alternative history ever constructed, but I like it :P Hopefully I'll have time to do some more thorough research and make a timeline… hopefully…

Here's what I have so far. I used the simple world map overlay found in G.Projector and made it azimuthal equidistant (because I have a thing for that), then I printed it in three A4 sections, cut into templates, and traced them onto aquarelle paper. For the rivers and lakes, I looked at Google Maps and tried to copy the biggest ones. Not a very accurate method, so that's another thing that is alternative in this map: the rivers took slightly different paths. Anyway, I "inked" the lines with acrylic paint, and that's where I am now. I think I'll be trying a modern atlas style this time.

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Diamond
06-23-2013, 02:57 PM
Wow, you don't think small, do you? :D This should be awesome. And a cool idea!

arsheesh
06-23-2013, 05:06 PM
Great idea, and a very nice sketch. Looking forward to watching this develops.

Cheers,
-Arsheesh

Lingon
06-25-2013, 05:10 AM
Thanks, guys! The bigger the better, right Diamond?

Working on the basic coloring now, hopefully I'll have an update tomorrow or even tonight.

Lingon
06-27-2013, 05:22 PM
So, here's the first of probably many deviations from the plan: it's not very modern atlas-y in style at all any more. In fact, it turned out more like an abstract color study. But, could work too.

I failed big time on the piecing together of scans, I scanned it in five sections but I'll probably need six or seven to get rid of the ugly seams and blurriness. But for this early WIP it's good enough, right? :P

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And maybe a legend is needed: Yellow-green is farmland, green-green is forested, pale green is land outside of the Unangan Empire's borders, and the grey parts are (drumwhirl) mountains. I'm not happy at all with how the foreign territory turned out, too high contrast, so I'll see if I can tone down the mountains in those areas with a thin layer of white acrylic.

leen
06-27-2013, 05:45 PM
Very nice style!!! love how you did the mountains, maybe some little with tops, so that they stand out more?

looking forward to more updates!

Cheers

Lingon
06-29-2013, 10:02 AM
Thank you, Leen! I don't think I'll push the highlights on the mountains any further as I want the cities, roads, borders etc. to be in focus in this map, and I think it could be distracting if the mountains stand out more than they do.

I'm probably done with the foundation for the map now; I've painted the sea, pieced together the scanned segments more carefully, added a new graticule (G.Projector-generated, not my sloppy handdrawn!), decreased the contrast and saturation in the whole map, and toned down Russia and Canada. The sea was the only of those things I did by hand actually. I'm going more and more digital :P

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I'm thinking of placing a cartouche with a legend in the middle of the Bering Sea, a timeline below the map, heraldry of the Unangan provinces above it, a title above that, and a border around everything. About two weeks left now, right? No problem…

WillP
06-29-2013, 03:12 PM
I love the colors on this thing. Is it hand-drawn with pastels, because it really looks that way.

Diamond
06-29-2013, 04:38 PM
I'm thinking of placing a cartouche with a legend in the middle of the Bering Sea, a timeline below the map, heraldry of the Unangan provinces above it, a title above that, and a border around everything. About two weeks left now, right? No problem…

Like I said, you don't think small... :D

Looking completely fantastic so far.

Lingon
07-02-2013, 04:05 PM
@WillP:
Thanks! It's mostly watercolors, and acrylics for the mountains (as I needed higher opacity there). Pastels could be really interesting to use for mapping though, should give some nice textures. I'll have to try it sometime!

@Diamond:
Thank you! I read sometime about an architect in medieval Constantinople who drew a huge mosque for the sultan (or whatever the ruler called himself), but because it's dome was smaller than Hagia Sofia's dome, his hand were cut of for lack of ambition. Wouldn't want that to happen :shock: :lol:

And on the topic of… well, the topic, here are the cities and roads of the Unangans (or unangax, if I've understood that bit of their grammar correctly). Also tweaked the colors a little again, warming them up just a tad. I think I'm happy with them now.

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Diamond
07-03-2013, 02:30 PM
Wow, this has got my vote for sure.

Lingon
07-06-2013, 08:38 AM
Thanks Diamond :blush::D

Labeling this thing took way longer than I thought. I found a couple of PDFs on the Alaska State Library site, an Aleut dictionary and a list of ancient Aleut names (apparently almost all were forgotten after the Russian missionaries converted the Aleut to Christianity in the 18th century, and no-one knew anything about how their naming traditions used to be until 1992 when an old list of tax payers was found), and took words with appropriate meanings and assigned them to my city dots. Most of the words are descriptive of the city's relation to nearby cities or it's surroundings, and those beginning with Tanak or Ulakidaq are named after people (not real people though, just random names from the list). I also fiddled a little with the roads and added a placeholder shape for the cartouche, to check the composition.

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There are a couple of things I'm uncertain about. I made up Unangan names for Russia and Canada to keep it consistent, but maybe I should just write them in English instead, as it's intended to be an English-language map? Also thinking of skipping the translations of the names for seas, bays and straits; I figured these would have English names and that an English-speaking cartographer would like to put them on his map, but it's maybe inconsistent with the city names, which are not translated? Or maybe I should focus on more important things, like finishing the map in the way to few days that remain? :P

Diamond
07-06-2013, 02:11 PM
I dunno, I think the text/labeling is fine as-is. The translations are a nice touch.

You could say that the map-maker didn't want to **** off Unanga because they discovered and exploited their oil early and so are an important regional player. Sort of an arctic Saudi Arabia. :D

jbgibson
07-07-2013, 03:27 AM
You have a decent solution already - putting the English names for those, with Unangan versions larger, above. That's a standard atlas-y way of dealing with widely divergent / multilingual names for the same feature. And you don't HAVE to say "English" in each such subtitle - if the map is for an English-speakking audience, that would be assumed. But it looks fine where you have it that way.

It's beautiful, by the way. I'd lose all motivation to finish my entry, if I were only driven by competition :-).

Lingon
07-08-2013, 12:48 PM
Thanks for the feedback! You are right, I should leave the labels as they are. Moving on to the cartouche then!

WillP
07-08-2013, 04:01 PM
Very impressive map, Lingon. One question: What is the meaning of the large triangle in the center?

Lingon
07-08-2013, 04:36 PM
That will become the cartouche :) It's just a placeholder shape I put in to see how it would flow with the landmasses, I wasn't sure it was going to look good with a big text block dead center, but after testing with the placeholder, I think it will. I'm going to paint it by hand separately and paste it in over that triangle, and put a legend inside. Oh, and thanks :lol:

Lingon
07-10-2013, 04:45 AM
Here we go:

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I kept it plain and undetailed to not take so much attention from the map, and to save some time ;) Couldn't stop myself from including the little smiley face though, it's a common feature in Aleut/Unangan imagery and it did fit rather nicely :) There are a couple of things in the cartouche that will be explained by the timeline, which is next. It'll also tell why Russia is called USSR on the map. Oooh, the suspense… :P

Caenwyr
07-10-2013, 05:23 AM
Yup, you sure have my vote!

- Max -
07-10-2013, 05:23 AM
Not convinced by the place of the cartouche, it distracts the attention from the map imo. Otherwhise that's a nice map overall.

Diamond
07-11-2013, 01:27 AM
I disagree with Max; I like the placement and 'feel' of the cartouche. To me, it balances the whole map quite nicely.

You've got a typo in the cartouche though - you've misspelled 'remaining' in the 'cities with 100-200 inhabitants'. And in no way is THAT ominous! :D

Lingon
07-12-2013, 01:32 PM
Thanks guys! I can see how the cartouche is distracting, but personally I think I like it like this. And Diamond convinced me about it :D And thanks for pointing out the typo!

So, I'm pretty much done now, except for any tweaking I can squeeze in before the deadline. I'll have to skip the heraldry I mentioned, there's just no time for it! But I managed to finish some decorations I had planned, and the timeline. Now, if anyone thinks there's even more that distracts from the map now (Max?:P), you're probably right. Composition is still something I have to get better at. It looked balanced in my head but that transferring-it-to-the-map part is hard… Anyway, I'm fairly happy with it, but feedback/criticism/bashing is still welcome!

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- Max -
07-12-2013, 02:08 PM
Yes for me, the composition is very unbalanced. The clouds/mountains decorations just kill the map :( Don't get me wrong, they're nice but way too big and not consistent regarding the map size (same for the cartouche - but this one can go well with another placement on the map imo)

WillP
07-12-2013, 03:48 PM
I'm afraid I have to agree with Max. The clouds / mountains add nothing to the map but they do pull the eye away from the focus of the map. I think your thought was to frame the map, but they are way to prominent for that. I do like the compass cartouche, however.

Diamond
07-13-2013, 01:50 AM
Yeah... I hate to agree, but that was perhaps a step too far. I do like the inclusion of the timeline though.

rdanhenry
07-13-2013, 03:27 AM
I largely like the composition, but suspect that it would be improved by muting the color on the lower mountains-and-city so it didn't compete with the map so much. I'd try that before getting rid of it, as shape frames the map nicely.

Lingon
07-13-2013, 05:43 AM
I guess I went overboard a bit then :lol: Thanks for the feedback everyone, I've made a couple of adjustments. Nothing major; I planned these decorations from the beginning, so if I removed them the map just wouldn't feel complete to me, but I lowered the opacity and intensity on them and also pushed the title and timeline closer to the map so I could crop away some clouds and mountain. I do value your opinions a lot, you are all much better cartographers than I am and I will keep the comments in mind for my next map, but I want to do what "feels right" too, and for this map, I just want some really big decorations… Sorry if anyone was disappointed.

I made the cartouche a bit smaller too, by the way.

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Freehand 5.5
07-13-2013, 09:11 AM
Nice map.
I like it if there is some text content on it.

I got some typographical points:
- The sub-headline should get the space it needs. The liaison of the longer letters with the p of the headline is to be avoided. *forget that point, you did it allready*
- Also avoid the separation of words in ragged margin if they could be written in one word in the following line (e.g. recor- dings).
- The choice of the three main typefaces doesn't look very pleasing to me as grafic designer - but that is a question of style.
Especially the bulky nation font isn't really mappy.

The cloud and the mountains take a lot of space. It would be cooler if they are drawn a bit less boring. Invest more time in it.

I like the idea of the cartouche in the middle, because in this map with the ocean in the center it makes sense.

WillP
07-13-2013, 10:10 AM
Lingon,

Addressing Freehand's second point. In your timeline descriptions, I'm not sure if you are using PS or GIMP. With PS, if you are using the "Block Text" function (Where you drag a box with the type tool and then type within that box) there is a button on the menu bar to format paragraphs. Click on that and change the justification to "full justification" without hyphens. You don't even need to highlight the text, just click on the text layer, click the text tool and the menu should appear. Make the changes and it will change for that layer.

That should clean it up in about 3 seconds. I don't know about GIMP, but I would only assume it has a similar function.

Lingon
07-13-2013, 12:25 PM
Thanks, Freehand and WillP! I removed the word-breaking, I actually wasn't aware of the possibility but it does make it much more readable. Also put a yellow layer set to multiply and very low opacity over everything, it's hardly noticeable but I think it added something.

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Freehand, about the boringness of the clouds and mountains: more detail would make them even more distracting. I made them very simple and stylized so they would function as a frame and not an illustration, but apparently it was to much even for that to most people! I guess it's good that the deadline is in a few hours; if it was longer, I wouldn't know what to do, but now I don't have time to do anything major so I'll just leave it the way it is (which is also the way I want it…:P)

Freehand 5.5
07-13-2013, 02:21 PM
No problem. It's a good map. I like it.

Diamond
07-13-2013, 03:37 PM
I actually like it MUCH better now. The clouds and mountains aren't nearly as jarring. Thumbs up from me! :D


Lingon,

Addressing Freehand's second point. In your timeline descriptions, I'm not sure if you are using PS or GIMP. With PS, if you are using the "Block Text" function (Where you drag a box with the type tool and then type within that box) there is a button on the menu bar to format paragraphs. Click on that and change the justification to "full justification" without hyphens. You don't even need to highlight the text, just click on the text layer, click the text tool and the menu should appear. Make the changes and it will change for that layer.

That should clean it up in about 3 seconds. I don't know about GIMP, but I would only assume it has a similar function.

Holy sh!t!!!!!! All these years of using PS and somehow I never knew that. Thanks!

rdanhenry
07-13-2013, 05:04 PM
I haven't time for a full read-through, but I did spot an "it's" for "its" error in the 1541 section.

Lingon
07-13-2013, 06:24 PM
Thanks Diamond and Freehand, that's very nice to hear! And good find, Rdanhenry!

Here's probably the last tweak, I'll be going to bed now and I think the threads will be locked when I wake up. I fixed the "it's" error, made a couple of other adjustments in the timeline (mostly in the last entry), made the edge of the mountains and city a little fuzzier to blend together with the rest a bit more naturally, and added 2% of opacity to the yellow filter.

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