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Steel General
07-09-2008, 10:01 AM
Ok, here's my first crack at a city map. I used Pyrandon's "Artistically Accurate" tutorial ( Thanks Pyrandon :) ).

Take a look, tell me what you love, like, don't like, hate, etc.

As always suggestions, etc. are more than welcome.

Here's a little background that I had written a long time ago...

Raedis - This Maydarin Elf city lies on a peninsula jutting out from the western shore of the Bay of Fyngold, and is the one place on Telperion where outsiders are welcomed. On approach to the city, two buildings immediately catch one's eye. The temple of Elvaara, whose golden spire gleams in the sun, and the Fortress Eroth, which rests on a promontory overlooking the entire bay. Raedis is home to all embassies of other nations and only here may they meet with various governmental officials.

thebax2k
07-09-2008, 12:27 PM
Very nice map Steel General. I like how the fields are illustrated and the buildings are no so "plasticy" that they jar with the map. Well done.

Now for the brickbats ;) First--too few buildings. I understand that this is an elf city and that if these are typical rpg elves, they live more in tune with nature, but for a city that's supposed to have embassies and be open to outsiders, the city has too few buildings. Start by asking yourself, "how many people does my city have"? If its 1,000-3,000, the number of buildlings does not see too off, but if its 15k or more, you will need more buildings, a lot more.

Many of the neighborhoods appear to be randomly distributed over the map. Take what I assume is the warehouse district on the south side of the map with the docks. There's nothing around it! No flophouses, taverns, bordellos, merhant businesses or support businesses (such as coopers, shipwrights, carpenters, blacksmiths, etc.). Take a look at the map (http://www.greenronin.com/freeport/2007/03/freeport_the_city_of_adventure.php) of Freeport by Andy Law--now that is a map of a port city and world crossroads that feels much more natural and realistic.

Second, where did the city "start". Granted, elves may do it differently, but all cities have an area where they were founded and grew out from. In the real world, the southern tip of Manhattan, the City of London (no, I'm not talking about the entire metropolis, but the old medieval core where Wren's cathedral is located), the top of the peninsula that San Francisco is located on, all these were locations where their respective cities started and began growing from.

I would pick Fortress Eroth as the start point for Raedis. It may have been millenia since the land was tamed, but when the elves first showed up, I suspect there were some nasty critters nearby. Your city should radiate outward from it.

Third, where are the ghettos? Now granted, this is an elf city, but there should be older, more densely built up sections that represent some of the oldests part of the city. Also, given how Raedis is constrained by water on 3 sides, I suspect the density would be quite high indeed.

Think of the city as a tree, with the fortress, temple, or citadel where it started as the beginning, then a ring of government buildings and possibly temples, then the oldest residential sections of the city, then newer sections and possibly mansions and chateux on the periphery (although a separate noble quarter deep within the city near the start point is feasible as well). Sprinkled throughout at strategic junctions should be wells, markets, and possibly public institutions such as theaters and an arena (skip the arena if the elves prefer other diversions, but I suspect all the outsiders in the city would want a dueling/fight ground).

Fourth, where's the road grid? You've got roads that go over the river at one point, but if this is a sizeable city, there would be far more bridges and the roads would form some kind of rudimentary grid.

Given that Raedis is a place where the elves meet other peoples, it would be likely that there would be an embassy quarter and one or more foreign quarters (such as a section for gnomes, halflings, etc.).

You are off to a good start Steel General. If you want to keep it as is, fine, but I think Raedis can be turned into a really snazzy map with some more work.

Steel General
07-09-2008, 01:21 PM
Thanks for taking the time to look thebax2k...Let me start by saying I pretty much agree with all of your "brickbats". I'll address each of your points below;

1. Too Few Buildings - I just wanted to start somewhat small and sparse at first, see what people thought and then move on from there. It definitely needs more buildings though.

2. Distribution Of 'Neighborhoods' - The buildings currently on the map are located in the larger 'open' areas. I didn't want to go crazy and have buildings on the middle of steep hillsides etc.

3. Warehouse District - You pegged that one correctly. The elves don't allow the various flophouses, etc. that are common to more 'human-centric' ports. However there does need to be some additional smaller building such as taverns/inns, etc. added in the general area.

4. "Where Did The City Start From?" - Again you are correct, the fortress was the first building (constructed 1000's of years ago). My thinking is that they would want to keep the area around the fortress relatively clear of other structures unless absolutely neccesary. The rest of the city came about more or less as; "This looks like a good spot for this, let's build here."

5. Ghettos - With the way elvish society has developed, there is no poverty, thus no ghettos. The city administration refuses to let buildings fall into disuse, etc. So run-down building are either quickly rejuvenated or torn down and something new built in its place.

6. Roads - I was trying to keep the roads to a minimum, but as I add more buildings the road grid will need to be expanded.

7. Embassy Quarter - Again you are correct, it definitely needs this. I just haven't quite narrowed down where I want it. Originally it was going to go on the ridge in the southwest portion of the map (and it may still).

So there you have it, again thanks for your comments I really do appreciate them. I'm still pretty new to all this map making stuff with Photoshop, GIMP, etc. But I think I'm getting better each time.

jfrazierjr
07-09-2008, 01:51 PM
Nice start. First things first, the praise.

* like the river. The banks look really nice
* LOVE the fields. Is that all hand drawn, and if so, can you put up some instructions?
* The elevation shading is nice, perhaps a bit subdued, but still gives as sense of rising land.
* I really also like the color transition from the sea to the land. Nicely blended.


Now, things I think you could improve on:

* The forests don't fit with the rest of map, especially at this scale. Try to find some individual trees, similar to what Torq did with his map for last months challenge.
* floaty structures (forests, buildings, and docks)
* perhaps some texture on the water? This is not huge thing, but might make it pop just a bit more. I am kind of mixed on this idea though as it is nice as is.

Joe

thebax2k
07-09-2008, 02:05 PM
Glad you found some use out of my suggestions Steel General. There were 3 or 4 of your points I did have further thoughts on.

2. I can see where you are coming from, but depending upon whether or not there were city walls and #4 below, the steep hillsides would have been eventually terraced and built upon. One thing that the map does not adequately convey (and I'm not sure if you need to) is elevation. Its obvious that Fortress Eroth is higher than everything else, but I have no idea how "uneven" the rest of the area is--are we talking something like San Francisco or old Seattle here?

4. I have some problem with the area to the west of the fortress being kept clear. Elves (and dm creations) can do what they want, but given how interior in the city the fortress now is, why would they bother?

The threat to the fortress seems to be from the sea, not land. So it would be seaward defenses that a commander might be more concerned about.

This ties into a second issue. Where is the wall or the remains of one? If the land is so unsettled that the elves would want to keep the ground west of the fortress clear, then there should be a large wall enclosing most of the built up area (relatively easy to do since there's water on three sides of Raedis). If there is a wall, then keeping a killzone near the fortress is no longer necessary. A wall is also going to cause the buidling density inside the protected area of the walls to be much greater than what's outside. If there's not a wall, do you mean to say the elves would let some invader overrun their city all the way to the fortress--phew, tough elves.

5. The term ghetto for me is not necessarily a synonym for "slum". Yes, its an older area, but not necessarily run down. Think the Latin Quarter in Paris, the French Quarter in New Orleans, or the Casbah in Cairo. Ghettos to me are vibrant, tightly packed areas that sport a whole cross section of their cities citizenry. Regardless, while your elves would not permit areas to get run down, I still suspect that there are going to be quite a few densely built up areas in Raedis, especially if its been settled for millenia.

6. I can understand beings in tune with nature desiring to keep roads to a minimum, but for a city as old as Raedis seems to be, there's going to be a grid. Here's a thought, make the grid crazy quilt, curvy, with plenty of dead ends and cul-de-sacs, like the old European citys were, with roads following what were old trails, streams, and ridgelines. Not only does that look more "natural", but it can be turned into a nasty giant battle maze for any foe foolish enough to breach the walls--the defenders know how the city is laid out, but not necessarily the attackers.

One source to look at for inspiration for your elvish city if you can find it is MERP's Lorien and the Halls of the Elven Smiths. Although Amthor and Fenlon laid their elf city out on a rigid, geometric grid pattern, I thought that basing much of the "Elvish" housing and building design on Frank Lloyd Wright's aesthetic and design was an absolute hoot.

Steel General
07-09-2008, 04:46 PM
Joe...

as always thanks for your comments.

- I got lucky with the river, pretty much followed Pyrandon's tutorial, I put "dirt" along the 'banks' and then added a rocky pattern to it.

- The fields are a pattern that I downloaded (the site link is in the thread for that stuff) and then I put a bit of noise and a guassian blur on the edges. The "land" layer underneath has a pattern layer (I used the lichen pattern that comes with PS)

- The elevation shading needs to be darkened a bit I think, it is a bit more subdued than I originally thought.

- Your right about the trees, the longer I looked at them the more I disliked them. I'll check out Torq' trees when I get a chance - thx for the tip

- I didn't really think the buildings "floated", maybe I need to reduce the shadow some? But the docks definitely seem to float, need to remove the shadow from them completely or make it very light. Or maybe move the layer down lower in the "stack"

- I thought about a water texture, haven't quite got to it yet.


thebax2k...

Again great feedback, thank you. I'll definitely need to give some more thought about all of your points.

** Oh how I wish I had Photoshop at home instead of at work. **

jfrazierjr
07-09-2008, 05:20 PM
Joe...

as always thanks for your comments.


- I didn't really think the buildings "floated", maybe I need to reduce the shadow some? But the docks definitely seem to float, need to remove the shadow from them completely or make it very light. Or maybe move the layer down lower in the "stack"



No problem. I actually LIKE the idea of the docks (part over the sea) having the floating appearance as to some degree thats what they are doing. The houses, I no like for that same reason... they just don't look grounded.

Joe

Midgardsormr
07-09-2008, 06:54 PM
What jumps out at me immediately is that none of your buildings have been rotated at all. Every wall is strictly oriented along one of the cardinal directions.

Steel General
07-09-2008, 07:12 PM
What jumps out at me immediately is that none of your buildings have been rotated at all. Every wall is strictly oriented along one of the cardinal directions.

Yeah I know, I was having a hard time figuring out how to rotate them in Photoshop, so I gave up and concentrated on other things.

Midgardsormr
07-09-2008, 09:03 PM
I don't know what process you've used to create them, but if each building is its own layer, even if just at creation, you can rotate it with Edit > Transform > Rotate. You'll get handles around your object that you can use to free rotate, or you can use the tool settings at the top of the window to enter numerical rotation values (in degrees, I think).

Steel General
07-09-2008, 10:10 PM
I don't know what process you've used to create them, but if each building is its own layer, even if just at creation, you can rotate it with Edit > Transform > Rotate. You'll get handles around your object that you can use to free rotate, or you can use the tool settings at the top of the window to enter numerical rotation values (in degrees, I think).

Well unfortunately they are not. But now that I know how do do it, It should be easy enough to adjust to that.

Thanks... :)

Midgardsormr
07-09-2008, 10:41 PM
My pleasure! We don't get enough of those questions that are easy to answer, so I gotta pounce on them when I see 'em!

Steel General
07-10-2008, 02:46 PM
OK, I've done some updating to my first attempt, trying to take in all of the great suggestions, etc. you guys gave me. I left the border and title off of this version.

1) Reduced the drop-shadow on the buildings and docks (though it may need some more work - not sure)

2) Added a pattern overlay on the water (quite happy with this)

3) Redefined the "overland shadows" that define elevation

4) Added a patter noverlay to the 'paths' (small roads)

5) Completely re-did the forests using Ascensions tutorial

6) Added more buildings, roads, and paths (still more to be added now that the forests are there)

Fire away with comments, etc.

Redstar
07-11-2008, 03:58 PM
Yeah, that's definitely coming along! The water is looking really good and I think the river/rock/farms look killer.

My only comments: 1) The ports look a little static, too uniform. That could be due to the elven design, but I just wanted to raise that. 2) I agree with the comments before (and I think you already said you are intending this, so please take it as positive reenforcement ;) ) I would add more buildings if it is to be city.

Finis
07-12-2008, 08:16 PM
Yeah I know, I was having a hard time figuring out how to rotate them in Photoshop, so I gave up and concentrated on other things.

In photoshop, even if something is stuck on a layer with others (like buildings!) you can lasso around it and use the rotate tool for just that one object.

pretty much any tool can be used exclusively on something you have lasso'd. I do it all the time with the move tool especially.

Ascension
07-12-2008, 10:10 PM
Love the lasso and rotate. I spent 1 whole night rotating every single building once...very tedious, but the results look sooo much better. Then my power went out :( You can use any filter or transformation, as far as I know, once you have lassoed something and anything outside the selection is not affected.

Steel General
07-12-2008, 11:06 PM
What I've found that works is using the magic wand on individual shapes (buildings), I guess that would be the same as "lassoing" them.

Unfortunately I won't get more done on this for a few more days. I don't have photoshop at home.

Joram
07-22-2008, 08:59 AM
I think the map has improved a lot (if I compare it with the first drawing that is), the colors are nice, but perhaps I can add some comments on the design in particular.

1) Mostly Elven villages are build around some big natural object, like a big old oak tree, or a water element. Around that object is a central square and from there on the village expands itself. Now it just happends to be around a main road, perhaps it's possible to think about that. If the harbor is very important then the city should have it's front to that side and the boulevard should not be green.

2) there are a lot of small roads that end in nothing, perhaps these roads end in small squares and on the squares are some shops or something like that. I think it's nice that these squares will have another texture or color then the green. Or perhaps these small roads will make a small labyrinth or something like that. Dead ends are real killers in a Urban plan ;) ( http://shrani.si/f/2K/eO/4hNOTHPs/town-dion.jpg )

3) as said before the harbor is quite statick and perhaps a bit out of scale, also to protect the boats from waves and to make the city protected, most of the time the harbor is inside something, in bay by example ( http://lyberty.com/wow/locations/menethil_harbor.jpg ) Perhaps it's even possible to make the big building (on the eastern point) part of the harbor?

I hope my comments are usefull, keep up the good work.

Steel General
07-22-2008, 10:46 AM
Well I think I have done about as much on here as I care to. This was really a pretty darn good learning experience for me; what works, what doesn't work, etc.

I am happy with it, but there are some things that still could be improved;

- The buildings around the port are still to "planned" (for lack of a better word), I just don't want to redo the entire layer. Perhaps next time I'll split the buildings up into several layers.

So if anyone has a use for it, please by all means make use of it. If you'd like the .PSD file I can provide that to you also (~42MB).


@Joram - Thanks for your comments...

(1) I agree with you about elvish villages/cities being built around something, in this case it is the fortress on the promontory on the east side of the map. This whole little 'peninsula' the city sits on actually juts out from the western shore of a deep bay, so it is protected.

(2) Some of the deadend paths are there on purpose, they are ones that have fallen out of use, or the structure they once led to was demolished, etc.

(3) I know the docks look out of proportion, but they are intentially huge due to the exceptionally large warships the elves in my campaign setting sail.

ravells
07-22-2008, 12:22 PM
Please repost your request for people who might want to use the map in the CWBP forums...I'm sure someone will take it. I promise not to hoover it up like I did the rest of them!

The thing I love most about your map is the composition. The shapes and colours are really well balanced.

Steel General
07-22-2008, 12:37 PM
Please repost your request for people who might want to use the map in the CWBP forums...I'm sure someone will take it. I promise not to hoover it up like I did the rest of them!

The thing I love most about your map is the composition. The shapes and colours are really well balanced.

Thanks, now that I have one under my belt I think the next one will be better....and I'll put a post in the CWBP forum too, thx for the reminder.