View Full Version : Various Regional Maps (need help with roads please)

07-14-2013, 06:55 PM
I need some help with my roads, please.

At the moment, this is what I've got (see attachment). They're just 2 pix lines drawn with the pen tool (in PSP 8 ), coloured, and with a small drop shadow added. But I'm not happy with how that looks, so I've been fiddling with them, trying to make them look better.

On one of my other maps, I added an emboss effect and changed the layer mode, which made the roads look like they had been carved into the ground. It looked much better than what I have now, but when I tried doing the same thing with my other maps, it didn't work. They're all different terrains, with different colours and lightness/darkness...and I couldn't get the same effect.

So, I really need some help/ideas on how to represent the roads, but with a technique that will look good and consistent across ALL of my maps.

This is the first time I've made maps at this scale, and I'm really stumped on what to do about this...

07-15-2013, 01:29 PM
Is this for your project you've been posting on Deviant Art, with the different pieces you can buy?

I'd think that simpler is better if that's the case; if you get too fancy, there's more room for disparity and inconsistency across map segments. Have you tried something as simple as just a dark red or maroon line, maybe drawn with a soft round 1 or 2 pixel brush to avoid pixellation?

07-15-2013, 08:26 PM
Hey Diamond. Yes, that's the one. So whatever I do, it does need to look fairly consistent for all of them. :)

I've tried using a simple line (with and without the drop shadow) in various colours, but it doesn't look right/good to me. It just looks like...a line drawn on the map. I've also tried various degrees of blur, to soften them up a bit, but again...it's just looks like a slightly blurry line. I don't know, maybe I'm being too picky, but I really want them to look like roads, you know? :P

That's why I was so happy when the emboss gave me a carved-out effect. It looked more like an actual road, which I really liked. I decided to give it another try again, on one of the darker terrain zones, and got some better results than my last attempt. It doesn't look as good as it does on the lighter terrain, but I think (or rather, hope) it might be close enough to work. Of course, I still have an even darker terrain that I still haven't done yet (a very dark brown/black barren, lava zone) which will probably be even more difficult...

As for width, I've tried 1 > 4 pixels, and the 2 pixel width definitely seems to look the best for this scale. It's just so frustrating, working with something so small and trying to get it to look like what it actually is. LOL!! :P In the MMORPGs I've played, the roads on zone maps are usually just lines, that really stand out and contrast with the terrain, which is understandable for game-play purposes. But I really want mine to look a bit more "natural" and aesthetically pleasing...

I'm attaching portions of the 3 zones I've done so far, with the embossed roads. The winter and desert terrains were easy to achieve (and look pretty good IMO), but it's the darker one (the green swampy/plains) that I'm not so sure about. Do you think it looks close enough to the others to work? Or is it too different, or just doesn't look right?

- Max -
07-15-2013, 08:34 PM
I don't think roads with a "carved" look looks very natural :/

07-15-2013, 09:34 PM
I don't think roads with a "carved" look looks very natural :/

If you have suggestions for a technique that would look better, please let me know. :)

07-15-2013, 10:06 PM
I also like the carved road look on this map.

The only problem I would foresee is if you decide to add rivers to the map (which the carved effect is often nice for) people might get the two confused...in which case you might want to just go with the tried and true little dots/dashes to convey road.

BTW...big fan of all the artwork you've posted on the dunjinni forums and your encounter maps are always amazing

07-15-2013, 10:48 PM
anomiecoalition, thanks very much! I'm very glad you like my mapping freebies and battlemaps. :D I've got a new map I'll be releasing soon (just need to get all the promo work finished before I can upload it), which is my first attempt at a building interior (other than the couple dungeons/sewers I've done previously). It's a tower room that's a nexus of teleportation portals. Had a bit of a tough time with it (natural outdoor settings are much easier for me) but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. :)

I'm glad you like the carved roads. I had given some thought to using dotted lines for the roads (or at least, for some of the little side roads and paths), but some of the terrain textures I'm using are very dark and "busy", and I was worried that they might not show up too well, especially if I end up going with this carved look. Rivers and such are also something I've been thinking about. The bodies of water that I have so far are all part of the textures I've used. The desert zone has a lake. The swampy/plains zone has some swamp, a huge lake with rivers, and some smaller pools. And the desert zone has pools and rivers of lava. I had thought about trying to draw some rivers and such myself (because there are some areas that seem to be a bit lacking in lakes/ponds/rivers/streams/etc), but they'd probably end up looking a bit odd...like they don't really match the style of the "texture" bodies of water. I find it really easy to manipulate textures, but when it comes to hand painting/drawing, I have very little experience and minimal skills. So I'll probably just stick with textures. Easier for me, and it'll keep everything looking more consistent. :)

07-15-2013, 10:51 PM
I don't mind a slight bevel on roads (even though I agree that if one is going for realism this is a cost), but the bevel on these looks too steep to me. I would recommend trying to reduce the opacity of the bevel and emboss by about 50% or so and see how it looks.


07-15-2013, 11:04 PM
Thanks very much for the suggestion arsheesh! I actually had to do that with the swampy/plains zone, because the white part of the road was much too prominent against the green and didn't look right. I'll experiment with that with the others as well...see if I can get them to look a little more subtle and not so steep. :)

07-15-2013, 11:42 PM
Here's a quick update on the barren/lava zone.

I thought the darker texture would be more problematic, but it wasn't... Not sure if I did something different, or if it's just because of the colour. I'm gonna go back to the swampy/plains zone and try again. I might have missed a step (been tinkering with these so much that I haven't made notes of what I did). :P

After that, I'll start experimenting with the opacity on all of them.

- Max -
07-16-2013, 06:25 AM
If you have suggestions for a technique that would look better, please let me know. :)

Did you try the dots roads with a little outerglow? With this, you may able to vary color/opacity/blending modes of the outerglow to fit your several terrains styles.

07-16-2013, 07:12 AM
I'm really liking the carved effect I've got now, but I'll give the dots and dashes a try. If it works out well, I could easily offer both versions of the roads, so people have a choice of which one they prefer.

Also, I was thinking...after drawing the dots/dashes, I could duplicate the layer and gaussian blur the one underneath for the outer glow. That way they can be manipulated separately.

Thanks! :)

EDIT: I just gave the dots/dashes a quick try and I'm running into a very strange problem. As I'm drawing the lines, the dots/dashes are visible, but once I start using the Knife tool, to cut away the filler pieces (I'm not sure what the right term is for that), the line turns solid... Any ideas what I'm doing wrong, or how to avoid that? (I'm using Paint Shop Pro 8)