View Full Version : The Civilized World and Known Parts of the Wild

07-19-2013, 12:33 PM
I've hit a bit of a roadblock in the steampunk map I started a little while ago (one could even say I lost steam), so I've started a new wip. This one is for a story I'm writing; first I didn't think I would need a map as it is set in a rather small area, but it grew quite a lot while writing and I'm beginning to feel the need for some organization of the locations. It's an alternate history story that takes place on the Kola peninsula, so I took a screenshot of a section of it from Google Maps, outlined the coast and rivers, printed, and transferred it to aquarelle paper with an improvised light box. Then I looked where the mountains are, and drew in the ranges (returning to the style I used in my first map, after some experimental maps of varying success…). I began inking too, but then I decided some opinions might be good before I make something irreversible.

So, here's what I have so far:

I'm planning to cover most of the map with forest, and I want it to look really dark and dense and vast. But maybe it's too crowded with rivers and lakes for that? Maybe I should remove some of them. And the mountains, are they big enough? Thinking of increasing their size to make them look more intimidating, but I don't want them to be too out-of-scale either…

Well, those are my main concerns, and the rest should come later :lol:

Miranda Hartrampf
07-19-2013, 03:53 PM
I like what you have so far, but it just seems soooo busy with rivers and its a little distracting However its a little difficult to tell what kind of scale this is going to have.

What kind of populus is this going to have?

- Max -
07-19-2013, 04:15 PM
Seconded. The bunch of rivers make it hard to "read" for now. What's the scale of it?

07-19-2013, 05:01 PM
Yeah, that's what I thought. Thanks for the quick feedback! I'll start removing rivers tomorrow :D The scale just happened to become a nice 1cm=10km on the paper, making the map about 380x280 km. The "civilized world" in this setting is very small :P

Populus… means something about people, but that's all I know… English isn't my first language, I feel the need to say ;) Maybe I'm not answering your question here, Miranda, but the region will have a single city and a few small villages – if you were asking about something else I'm really sorry!

07-19-2013, 05:18 PM
I'd suggest staying away from Google Earth/Maps for a data source. They probably aren't going to take notice but you are violating their copyright (or rather that of whoever licensed the data to Google). There are other data sources you could use instead that are public domain or under open content licenses like OpenStreetMap (CC-BY-SA) or Natural Earth (Public Domain)

Miranda Hartrampf
07-20-2013, 03:33 AM
Populus… means something about people, but that's all I know… English isn't my first language, I feel the need to say ;) Maybe I'm not answering your question here, Miranda, but the region will have a single city and a few small villages – if you were asking about something else I'm really sorry!

You answered it perfectly. That seems like a good size for where the map seems to be heading - design wise. If you had anything more than a single city i would be concerned!

07-20-2013, 03:40 AM
@Hai-Etlik: Really? I know nothing about this stuff, but it sounds extremely odd to me. I mean, a satellite picture is just a photo, and I'm just using the photo for reference to draw the motif, and they can't claim copyright to the face of the Earth… But, I'm sure you are right. Do I have to redraw the map based on some free source then? That would give me exactly the same result for a lot more work, so I'm not really eager to do that… Is there some other way to get around it?

@Miranda: Great, thanks!

07-20-2013, 11:53 AM
Maybe I'm being stupid now, but I can't see how using satellite pics as reference could be a copyright violation (though I appreciate the warning, Hai-Etlik!) so I decided to keep working on this version and ink the rivers and lakes that remained after hitting the map with an eraser. Also made the mountains slightly bigger and added some higher peaks to make them more interesting.

07-20-2013, 01:38 PM
Permission Guidelines for Google Maps and Google Earth (http://www.google.com/permissions/geoguidelines.html)

I couldn't find any specific info about using satellite images for art reference (either at the link above or with a Google search), but if artists are permitted to use Street View for commercial artworks, I really can't see them having a problem with satellite photos used as reference. Although, you never know... :?:

Unless you're planning on using this for commercial purposes, I wouldn't fret about it too much. But if you want a solid, official answer, just ask them directly:
Google Contact Page (http://www.google.com/intl/en/contact/)

Your map is looking very nice so far! I love your mountains. They look really good! Not so sure about the rivers, though. They look very...squiggly. :P Looking forward to seeing how this shapes up, especially once you start colouring it! :)

07-20-2013, 01:58 PM
Very Nice This is a nice post!

07-20-2013, 03:44 PM
@Neyjour: Thanks, that's very helpful! There was actually a paragraph in the guidelines that said we can't trace Google maps, but to be technical I don't think I did, I only followed it roughly but the detail on the coasts and rivers are my own (as the inhabitants of the setting wouldn't be able to make completely accurate maps). And anyway, if the novel ever gets published I'll probably have to draw a new map, in a simpler style than I'm planning for this one, so yeah, I think I'm safe :) And thanks for the compliments, I'm glad you like the mountains! Rivers are squiggly, yes :lol: I guess i like them that way. Colors will be coming soon, just have to ink the mountains first :)

@Mwmagro: Thank you!

07-21-2013, 11:19 AM
Got the mountains inked today:

Also decreased the image size a little, it won't be extremely detailed so it doesn't have to be so big. It's still way bigger than the actual drawing though!

Thinking of putting a cartouche in the upper right corner, where there's nothing going on, though I don't have any ideas for it yet so maybe I'll get started on coloring instead and paint a separate cartouche later, and place it digitally.

07-21-2013, 11:27 AM
This looks very cool so far Lingon. This lmakes me think of some place in south east asia from the river patterns. A cartouche in the top right makes sense and I would definitely advice placing it later digitally OR drawing it on a separate sheet of paper and then scanning it in so you can place it digitally later and have the bonus of it being consistent linequality wise to the rest of the map as it will be a hand drawn element instead of a digitally created one. :) Do you plan to print this at all?

- Max -
07-21-2013, 11:57 AM
I may be wrong, it seems the perspective looks very odd. Some rivers going straight up to bottom doesn't make the pseudo-iso perspective you used on mountains to draw them.

07-21-2013, 04:42 PM
@Viking: Thank you! Drawing it by hand was what I meant, and probably the path I'll take :) Not planning to print it at the moment, but it depends on how much stuff I end up adding digitally. If the final version becomes very different from the one I'm painting and scanning, I might at least check how much it would cost :)

@Max: Yeah, you are right as always :D I don't really know why I chose to do it that way, I guess I didn't think it through enough. Do you think I should try to do something about it, does it look really bad? I could probably paint white over some parts and repaint them to make the rivers more iso-ish… just not sure if it would be worth it?

07-22-2013, 12:31 AM
You're welcome, Lingon. :)

Love the new update! I've been looking at a lot of regional/world maps lately, and the one thing that fascinates me the most are the mountains, and all the different styles and techniques. And I really love the style of yours for this map. They're looking even more wonderful now with the additional shading! :)

- Max -
07-22-2013, 04:15 AM
@Max: Yeah, you are right as always :D I don't really know why I chose to do it that way, I guess I didn't think it through enough. Do you think I should try to do something about it, does it look really bad? I could probably paint white over some parts and repaint them to make the rivers more iso-ish… just not sure if it would be worth it?

Not sure it worths it, that would probably need some heavy erasing/ re-drawing work and I'm not sure the inked hand drawn style can handle it :/

07-24-2013, 04:33 AM
@Neyjour: Thanks, man! I love experimenting with mountain styles, and the type I'm using here is the one I'm the most happy with :)

@Max: Yup, lots of redrawing. I'll take the easy way this time and leave the rivers as they are, I think. But I'll definitely keep your point in mind for my next map. Thanks for the feedback!

I had a cartouche idea so I sketched it in, posting it here before inking to check if I'm mad or if it works :P Also drew a border (each segment is a day's ride, or 30 km), a small decoration in the lower right corner, and a test title. I think I should add a decoration in the lower left corner too, for balance, but that I'll have to draw separately as I've already inked some stuff there. This is just the right half of the map, by the way, as that's where the interesting things are ;)

07-26-2013, 04:42 PM
Well, no loud objections anyway… so I guess it's good enough? :P

I'm taking a break from this map now, to work on a commission. I'll be back, and any other over-used movie references that might be appropriate.

08-03-2013, 04:46 PM
Project resumed :)

I colored the mountains and painted in a base tone for the land. The green is very uneven, but most of it will be covered in forest so I'm not so worried. Will touch up the coasts and river banks a bit though. I also inked the cartouche and corner decoration, and failed at inking the border, so I painted white over it and will add a new one digitally, I think.

There are a couple of things I'm not sure about now, so I'm posting what i have before moving on. For the cartouche, I was thinking of painting the curtains a very muted red, but maybe that will stand out too much no matter how muted I make it? Don't really want it to become brown… Maybe blue could work, as that will be balanced by the water when that's colored? And the second thing, around the edge I plan to have the map fade into some parchment color, and here I was thinking of going more grey-brown than yellow – would that complement and balance the grey mountains, or make the map too grey? I sorta know what I think myself, but a second opinion is always good :)

Oh, and I also tested some labels on dark, highly textured backgrounds (read forests), inspired by how Max does it on his Oraven maps. The text is in swedish but it's just nonsense so it doesn't matter ;)

08-03-2013, 05:08 PM
As far as the text goes, I think the bottom one is my favorite.

I like the idea of fading the map into parchment/etc at the edges. I'm more partial to sepias and tans myself, but grey might work too as long as it's not too dark. For the cartouche, blue colors seem like they'd work well; you could do some purplish-red shadows on the folds of cloth to give it more color and depth, and that might not overwhelm the map as much as only reds would...

Oh, and the map is looking awesome. :D

08-04-2013, 01:52 PM
Thanks, Diamond! Blue and purple together is a very good idea! And I have the same label favorite as you.

The client I did the commission for just asked me for a second map, so I'll be taking another break here :P But one more update first. I colored the water, tinted the coasts and riverbanks yellow to increase the contrast there, and toned the mountains a bit more green. Also experimented some more with the text, lowering the opacity of it.

08-04-2013, 02:20 PM
Great work Lingon! Again, I love that cartouche. My only advice would be to try to make the mountain tops look like they have less vegetation on them as they look a little green. I don't know how much work that might be for you though.

08-04-2013, 07:48 PM
This is very pretty so far, Lingon. Is the commission piece also hand painted?

08-05-2013, 04:11 PM
@Viking: Thank you! Glad to hear you like the cartouche, it was a bit of an impulse :D Good point about the mountains, and it wouldn't be so hard to fix; some highlights with light grey acrylic paint would do it. I think I'll wait until the forests are done though, as that could give enough contrast between the vegetation and the mountains.

@Chashio: Thanks! The commission is also hand-painted. The first one is here: http://www.cartographersguild.com/finished-maps/24199-lacertus-%96-commissioned-map-novel.html. The second will be in the same style, and I'll probably get permission to post that one as well :)

08-11-2013, 10:09 AM
Side project done (http://www.cartographersguild.com/finished-maps/24296-lacertus-new-world-%96-commission.html), so back to this :)

I've been practicing pine forests. This one, heavily influenced by Torstan's beautiful forests, is the best I came up with, I think. Shouldn't take more than… three, four years to cover the map in it :P

08-11-2013, 11:51 AM
I love it. I wish I had the aptitude to draw so that I could do isometric stuff like this!

08-11-2013, 12:23 PM
Your forest look really good Lingon but they really take that long to make ? :o

08-11-2013, 02:33 PM
Your forest look really good Lingon but they really take that long to make ? :o

Trees can take a long time to draw. And paint, with multiple coats and waiting for things to dry. Longer if they're at a rough scale relative to the mountains... 11x14 inch paper... terribly tiny trees.

Lingon, I'm curious what's your technique for the forest test... would you mind sharing?

08-11-2013, 04:01 PM
Looking really nice man, keep up the good work!


08-13-2013, 02:46 AM
Thanks guys, I'm glad you like it :)

I of course exaggerated the time it will take, they are not that time consuming ;) But as Chashio said, the trees will be very small, and then I plan to cover pretty much all the land in the map with them, so it'll be a lot of trees.

Chashio, I'll gladly share it! I haven't decided on the best approach yet, but in the test I did it this way:
1. Over a dry background color, paint a zigzag outline for the forest, with all peaks pointing up and down. I did this with black ink, bit it would probably work just as well to paint it digitally.
2. Extend the peaks in the front and on the sides of the forests with quick, tapering strokes, creating overlapping cones. Paint some more cones inside the forest randomly.
3. Color the forest (I think I used a mix of Viridian Green, Indian Red and a small amount of black, if there are other watercolor users out there), blending the color into the background in the front and sides and keeping a sharp line at the back. With a clean, moist brush, rub out some highlights to make the green less monotone.

I don't think I'll be able to do it this way on the actual map though, as I stupidly used acrylic paint to cover some ink mistakes, and watercolors refuse to cover acrylics. So I'll probably have to use acrylics again for the forests, which would require a different approach, and possibly not blend very well with the rest which is why I'm also considering oils. I'll have to test both methods before foresting the map.

08-13-2013, 05:44 PM
Cool! Thanks for sharing that. I use acrylics when I'm doing real painting, mostly transparent single pigments... plus an opaque yellow ochre and titanium white. I don't have any green, though... prefer mixing my own. :) Have you any acrylic gesso on hand? It might work better for covering mistakes. in theory.

08-17-2013, 08:26 AM
No problem, I'm happy to contribute with something :) I have some gesso actually, I made a quick test but unfortunately the watercolors dislike that surface even more:
For some reason they behaved a lot better over normal acrylics here than on the map; the line of white beneath the green is hardly visible in the left one… but none of these are suitable to paint watercolors over, I think it's safe to say!

Here are some new forest tests, with acrylics this time. Mixing in some extender give them slightly more watercolor-ish properties, it looks like.

I also colored the cartouche and border.

08-17-2013, 05:06 PM
It would almost be worth it to put the jawbones on the ground beside the book :) no, not really, but it's amusing to think about. Very nice cartouche. That and the border definitely brings the map together.

What extender were you using with the acrylics? I always just use water to thin the paint (transparent paints), but I've also not been aiming for exactly watercolor handling properties. The gesso test actually doesn't look horrible in itself... it could maybe find a use for pre-highlighting / half-masking effects, if they were planned for at the start. I may try something like that myself and see how it works. :) The map is looking good. I do like that third forest best... but you might want to do some testing on top of a darker value... since your map is already darker green in places.

08-17-2013, 05:46 PM
Beautiful work, Lingon. I'm stumped on how else to say.... I love it! :D

08-17-2013, 08:57 PM
This is coming along well Lingon! :)

08-19-2013, 03:27 PM
Lol, I have to put the jawbones somewhere! Was planning an animal skull in the lower left corner, but not anymore! *Morbid laughter* :D
I'm using Folkart's extender. I actually picked it up very recently, was also just using water before. I really like how it works, but I haven't found the perfect mixing proportions yet. I think I'll keep the extender ratio a little lower when painting the forests on the map, because as you say it's a lot darker so the forests will need better coverage.
I actually had the same idea about the gesso! Covering either the water or land in it and then painting watercolors over everything might look pretty good…

@Diamond and Viking:
Thanks guys! :lol:

I still haven't begun working on the real forests, but I have found a perfect font. It's called Roman Antique, by Dieter Steffmann (his fonts are free for personal use, here: Dieter Steffmann @ typOasis (http://www.moorstation.org/typoasis/designers/steffmann/index.htm)). I haven't applied any filters to make it blend in yet, but here's what the cartouche looks like with it:

I have a feeling I'll be over-using this font for a little while…

08-19-2013, 11:18 PM
Yup, that font is awesome; I've used it on quite a few of my maps. And it does look spectacular on yours.

08-25-2013, 09:54 AM
TREES! Well, their outlines anyway. Still have to color them. But, update!

The fuzziness is awful in places, I know… My scanner is not feeling well, it seems. I hope it's better when the next step is done.

08-25-2013, 01:38 PM
Oh, this is gonna be good!

08-28-2013, 12:57 PM
Let's hope so :lol:

Forests colored, which means all the work I'll be doing by hand is done… probably.

And here's an experiment with an added texture and some color tweaks. Good or bad idea?

08-28-2013, 01:44 PM
Wow, I really like this!

Kudos for doing it all by hand, that must've taken a lot of planning to get the right order of the layers. Also dig the forests.
Regarding the rivers: In my opinion squiggly rivers are more natural, as most rivers nowadays are straightened (i think).

The textured + color tweaked version looks better to me, it gives it a more... steamy style! ;)

Looking forward to how this'll turn out in the end. And good luck with your story!

08-28-2013, 02:15 PM
Beautiful! I like the way the textured one pops the contrast and colors, but maybe the texture could be less obvious or is even unnecessary... Have you tried with a similar adjustment without using the texture?

Also, have you ever done any calligraphy or lettering, by chance? because you could do that by hand too and have a really complete handmade map to hang on the wall. :)

08-29-2013, 04:17 AM
Thank you! It did take a lot of planning, yes… more than I like, actually. After this is done I'll probably do something more spontaneous and improvised, to relax a little :)

Thanks! I like the contrast too. I tried lowering the texture's opacity, which turned out much better! I think it's a bit too cool to remove completely though… :P And calligraphy, I'm working on it actually, but my handwriting is absolutely horrible! It'd be nice to be able to make a finished map completely by hand (even though I'm not so much into hanging my own paintings on the wall ;)), but it might take a while before I get there! At the moment it'd look like I had handed the map to a kindergarten group when it was time for labeling.

Here's a little update, with a less in-your-face-y texture, plus the title and a label test added (close to the center, if it's hard to see. There will be a city in that river fork.) Not sure if I should keep this label style or go with simple, plain black text like in the title? There won't be very many labels, so I don't think it'd be too overpowering, but maybe it's a bit too flashy?

08-29-2013, 04:35 AM
I think a plain black label would be harder to read than the one you're using now. It sets of nicely from the somewhat dark green of the forest.

08-29-2013, 07:29 PM
I've spent a lot of time recently with lettering, for a commission and general practice... my natural handwriting is also incredibly atrocious (maybe we could combine ours and make a font ;)) so I figured it'd be a good way to improve it... hasn't really improved my handwriting because when I'm just writing I don't care enough, but my lettering is getting better. I started by lettering on a separate sheet of paper and scanning it to put into a digital commission, but pretty soon I'm going to have to get around to finishing a gift map for my brother and it is pen on paper and has a lot of very tiny labels spread all across it.

The label color does stand out on the forest, though you might run into problems elsewhere. The style is not so much 'flashy' as digital. You could probably nix the outer glow and it would show up just dandy on top of what's there, but then again... elsewhere. If you change the color to something not used in the map itself (you have some reds in the cartouche decorations, for example) it would work just as letters without needing extra stuff to make it legible. It's not bad as is (and I like the fact that you went lighter and not just black), it's just definitely digital with the glow around it. The title is nice and I do like that font very much :) Only suggestion I might offer there is maybe rasterizing the text when it's all finished and hit it with a touch of unsharp mask to bring it into focus with the inked artwork.

08-30-2013, 02:51 AM
Good point, the text has to be light to be visible. Thanks.

That could be the awesomest font ever :D
Digital, yes… Very digital. I had an idea in my head, something like white letters printed on top of black letters, but either I'm not good enough with Photoshop or it just wouldn't come across like that no matter how it's done. So, black glow removed :) I tried red and blue for the text color, but it looked pretty artificial too, so I think white is the way to go.
The title actually has a bit of Gaussian Blur on it, but I increased it somewhat, and that was a good suggestion.
Also added a few more labels, to see what they'd look like at different sizes, opacities and backgrounds. I think it works. I'll add blur to these as well and maybe adjust the kerning, but roughly:

By the way, I feel the need to point out that the latin is thematically appropriate… Not trying to be cool or anything ;) If anyone actually speaks latin (I don't), feel free to point out my errors!

08-30-2013, 10:39 AM
White letters on top of black letters.... two text layers, the top one white/light color. Rasterize the bottom black text and select pixels, then make a new layer above that and with the selection create a new layer mask. Fill the layer with black and then refine the mask edge to expand just a little bit further than the white text or as much as you want.

Did I say blur? I meant sharp. Ah well.

08-30-2013, 01:06 PM
That sounds like it'd do the trick! But I've come to like the plain white now :P I added a few more labels in the update below, and some city/village icons, and I'm getting more and more sure that I should keep the text simple. Also painted a couple of jawbones :D

08-31-2013, 06:26 AM
Huh, I think I'm done. Didn't see that coming.

I put in the last labels and icons, blurred them a little, decreased the size of the jawbones, added a border (one segment = a half day's ride), and… that was all I was planning to do, I think. Maybe I've forgotten something, or maybe there's something that should be there that I didn't think of, and maybe there's something I must tweak, so I won't call it definitely finished yet… but pretty much.

08-31-2013, 12:44 PM
Wow, I really like the way the moutains rise in the forests. Impressive work !

08-31-2013, 02:16 PM
THAT is gorgeous. The one tiny little thing I don't like is your city/site icons - they're blurry, drab, and IMO don't work well at all with the other awesome 99%.

09-01-2013, 04:20 AM
Thank you very much!

Thanks, glad you like it :) Now that you point it out, I agree about the blurriness. I always blur things too much! I have sharpened them and made them a little smaller now, and I think that made them fit better, but if you have an idea for something less drab to replace them with I'd love to hear it! (I was planning to make some pretty elaborate icons to begin with, but I don't think it'd work so well anymore as the houses would have to be bigger than the trees to even be visible, and that'd work against my goal with the forests.)


09-01-2013, 05:21 AM
That's better. I guess to me, the symbols kind of blend too much with the text; what about giving the symbols a very light/irregular outline/stroke of a pinkish or maroon color, just enough to give them some oomph to stand out from the lettering?

Just noticed the jawbones in the lower left too. Awesome.

09-01-2013, 06:01 AM
Looking fantastic Lingon! Really lovely work.


09-01-2013, 06:47 AM
Great idea! That was what this map needed to become finished! The jawbones where Chashio's idea, and I'm pretty happy with how they turned out :D Thanks!

Thank you! :blush::)

So, here's (probably) the final version, though I'm still open to suggestions!

09-01-2013, 02:58 PM
Yep, I think you got a winner there. Repped.

09-01-2013, 04:34 PM
That is just lovely.

09-01-2013, 04:59 PM
That's odd, can't see the map because I'm getting a message that it contains errors. Anyone else getting this?

09-01-2013, 05:09 PM
ravells Seems to be working now but earlier I couldn't get the attachment manager to accept a PNG for upload and my type was converting from uppercase to lowercase ? Seems there may be a transient gremlin hanging around !

09-01-2013, 05:19 PM
Still giving me the error...naughty gremlin!

09-02-2013, 01:48 AM
Thanks guys, I'll put up the finished map thread now then :) I have no idea what the error might be, the file works normally for me… Both when I'm logged in and out. Hopefully it's just something temporary.

09-02-2013, 10:42 AM
Beautifulness! :)

09-06-2013, 02:43 AM
I love the feel of the map. Well done, you just need to touch it up and remove the mountains going over the line in the upper left corner.

09-06-2013, 02:51 AM
Thanks, Chashio and Tyjah!

The mountains "crossing the line" were intentional, I don't know why but I want it that way :P Anything in particular that you think needs touching up?

09-06-2013, 03:19 AM
The frame line behind the mountain the top center of the map. If you wanted? I am new to the site, I have done a few maps, all pen and ink from The Lord of The Rings, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion. Working on one of The Isle of Numenore now. I will be posting a 4 or 5 of them soon. Thanks for posting, this inspires me to try some different styles, and maybe some concept maps from my imagination.

09-06-2013, 12:39 PM
Go for it Tyjah! We all thrive on inspiration around here.

Lingon, I like how you handled the border around the mountains. At first maybe not as much, but it grows on one. I think I won't make any more comments about mixing digital and traditional components in a map... especially when it turns out so very nice. Just a personal hangup of mine that truly needs disappearing. ;) Thanks for that.