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Klaus van der Kroft
12-01-2013, 12:27 PM
Well met!

A few days ago a good friend of mine asked me to help him with a map for his own campaign setting, Equilas. While not much of a mapping expert myself, I decided to give it a try.

He handed me his original hand-drawn map (the black and white one) and asked me to slightly distort its shape, in order to disguise a bit the star shape while still maintaining it.

Here's the original map, for reference:

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Here's the first modified version I drew yesterday. I tried to vary up the coastline without going too far away from the original:

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And here's the testing I've been doing today with mountains, forests and a bit of colour on a corner of the picture. Never actually used colours before on a map, and the forest style is an experiment I'm trying for the first time (based on Torstan magnificent tutorials), so I defer to your better judgement and humbly ask for opinions. The portolan lines were drawn using Gidde's rhumb line diagram for the strokes:

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Here's the download link for the full-sized version (13mb): Download Link (http://s000.tinyupload.com/?file_id=32266302832974650322)

Any and all opinions are more than welcomed. Thanks beforehand!

A.Woods
12-01-2013, 01:54 PM
I think you were definitely able to maintain the general star shape while making it appear more realistic. I feel it could use some refining though, the bottom right point in particular seems a bit off.

As for the details, in my opinion your forest experiment is a success! I think they look great and I like the colour. That's my two cents anyway, really good solid start on this map, looking forward to seeing the final product.

Diamond
12-01-2013, 03:33 PM
Now THAT is cool. I think you did a good job with the shape. Those forests and mountains look amazing. The only thing I'm not sold on are the multi-colored portolan lines; they're kind of distracting.

Freodin
12-01-2013, 04:47 PM
Wow...

I'd say you did very well with the overall shape and your forest "experiment". But while I am really impressed with your forests, the way you did the frozen/snow/ice area impressed me even more. You really captured the cold and snowy look without having to resort to "pure white".

I am really looking forward to see how this completes.

Ilanthar
12-02-2013, 04:10 AM
I'm not fond of the general shape, but I really like what you did with you mountains and forests. And as Freodin says, your snowy zone is particularly well done!

Eilathen
12-02-2013, 05:09 AM
I also think that your shape looks very good. It is recognizable but way more map-ish (if that makes sense ;) ) than the original. Looking forward to the progress.

Klaus van der Kroft
12-02-2013, 10:46 AM
Much appreciated, guys. Thanks.

Regarding the portolan lines, yes, I think you are right about them being too distracting, Diamond. My friend thought so too, so I'll be moving into a less invasive wind rose.

I'll try to have some progress done once I get home this evening.

Lingon
12-02-2013, 11:41 AM
Very cool land shape, very nice mountains :) For the lines, you could try lowering the opacity and applying a small noisy blur to them, and perhaps also removing a few?

Klaus van der Kroft
12-02-2013, 07:18 PM
Thank you very much, Lingon. Regarding what to do with the lines, I'll be trying some permutations with some different styles, but my friend seems not very convinced about using portolan diagrams.

Here's a small update; started working on the mainland mountains. Also deleted a few mountains from the island, as I had made a mistake reading the original map (left some room for a few cities later on).

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Klaus van der Kroft
12-05-2013, 08:48 PM
Got a bit more work done today; added some lakes, rivers and forests. The reference map said "Cloudy Forest", so I tried playing a bit with fog. Does it look like fog/cloudy forest? Or just a bunch of cotton candy trees?

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Viking
12-05-2013, 10:40 PM
I like what you're doing here Klaus. It is really interesting how you've taken such an unnaturally perfect shape and kept its essence but made it feel plausible. Not an easy task!

Diamond
12-05-2013, 11:52 PM
Beautiful! I really dig that misty forest...

Ilanthar
12-06-2013, 08:32 AM
Yes this is looking great! What kind of background texture did you use? It's a kind of linen, right?

Eilathen
12-06-2013, 09:35 AM
The forest is really cool. I do think that the mountains could use some...depth...to them. They seem a bit flat and simple imo (especially in contrast to the really "alive" forests).

WillyWombat
12-06-2013, 10:40 AM
I'm very much a fan of that more natural star shape.

Diamond
12-06-2013, 11:40 PM
The forest is really cool. I do think that the mountains could use some...depth...to them. They seem a bit flat and simple imo (especially in contrast to the really "alive" forests).

Yeah, but if he gives them TOO much detail, they'll unbalance the map. Right now, everything is really well balanced; no one type of terrain or feature hogs too much attention.

Klaus van der Kroft
02-27-2014, 02:14 PM
I'm still alive! Generally speaking, at least, since I can't exactly feel my arms; moved to a new house. It's amazing how much stuff one can accumulate without even noticing. On the bright side, I found some long-lost chocolate bars from a stash I had forgotten about; on the not-so-bright side, they tasted like sawdust.

Drew the general layout of the main mountain ranges. Might change some of them around before adding colour, since now I need to include the huge chasms that criss-cross the continent in my friend's original map and I am not yet entirely sure how to do that. Will report with the results of the experiments.

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For the full-sized version, click here (http://s000.tinyupload.com/?file_id=60192558342393149128).

Klaus van der Kroft
03-09-2016, 10:58 PM
After a long pause while my friend decided on the definitive features (he's getting the story published, in fact! Got news from the publisher last month), we're finally working on this map again.

I've finished giving shadows to the mountains and adding the remaining lakes. I also added two important features: The chasms that criss-cross the continent and the huge southern glacier/ice wall.

It's the first time I've drawn those sort of things in this fashion. I'm making stuff up as it goes along, but it's a fun challenge!

Tomorrow the plan is to focus on adding rivers, some smaller chasms in the northern peninsula, maybe add some small cracks around the big chasms for good measure too. If I survive the two wedding parties I have to attend this weekend, I'll be hopefully moving onto forests and jungles on Sunday.

Here's a small version; for the full size, you can find it here: http://s000.tinyupload.com/?file_id=43776482821740677617 (17mb, 5000x3000px)

Lingon
03-10-2016, 06:18 AM
Cool to see you working on this again, and it's still looking great! :) One thing that make chasms almost always look strange in fantasy maps is that they appear to be lower than the sea level, so it looks like there's a magic wall keeping them from flooding. If I were to use chasms that go right up to the coast, I'd elevate the landmass with some cliffs at that point, so the bottom of the chasm comes to sea level.

Klaus van der Kroft
03-10-2016, 10:01 AM
Thanks, Lingon! Much appreciated. I'm also glad to be working on this thing again. It's been a lot of fun trying out new styles.

Regarding the chasms: They are supposed to meet the sea, where big waterfalls are formed (I'm not yet sure if said waterfalls are noticeable, though). According to my friend's specifications, these chasms are impossibly deep and the seas drain into them. Where does the water go, why don't they fill up, or where is the sea getting all that lost water from are anybody's guess!

Do the chasm look like they are "very deep"? I tried using using small amounts of black instead of a solid colour in order to give the impression of "mysterious, maybe kinda nebulous darkness", but I'm afraid they ended up looking like regular canyons filled with ash or something.

Klaus van der Kroft
03-10-2016, 09:00 PM
Got the rivers in. Also added some cliffs around the place (mostly in the mid-western section) and a jungle squished between them. Friend asked me to add some sort of "Valley of Monument"-style formations atop one of the highlands.

For the full-size version, click here: http://s000.tinyupload.com/index.php?file_id=23669509155226579060

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Climate has been a big concern with this map, as originally my friend had put very little thought about it and had jungles next to snow and hot regions in further latitudes than cold regions. I've been trying to move him into making things a bit more balanced and, though there's still a weird pattern (hey, it's a star-shaped continent, after all), we've at least established that ice goes on the edges and the mid section is for jungles and deserts. I've also managed to convince him to remove some rivers so as to avoid every single region of the map being flooded by them.

Lingon
03-11-2016, 12:48 PM
Thanks, Lingon! Much appreciated. I'm also glad to be working on this thing again. It's been a lot of fun trying out new styles.

Regarding the chasms: They are supposed to meet the sea, where big waterfalls are formed (I'm not yet sure if said waterfalls are noticeable, though). According to my friend's specifications, these chasms are impossibly deep and the seas drain into them. Where does the water go, why don't they fill up, or where is the sea getting all that lost water from are anybody's guess!

Do the chasm look like they are "very deep"? I tried using using small amounts of black instead of a solid colour in order to give the impression of "mysterious, maybe kinda nebulous darkness", but I'm afraid they ended up looking like regular canyons filled with ash or something.

Ah, I see! Then you're on the right track ;) They don't look so deep, though. The horisontal lines on the bottom of them, while I get what you wanted them to do, make it look like that is the bottom. Let the vertical lines on the sides continue all the way down and they'll look bottomless, and the nebulous darkness could be shown with some gradual shading instead, or perhaps some smoky cloudy effect.

ChickPea
03-11-2016, 04:23 PM
This is looking great so far, though I would echo Lingon's thoughts on the chasms. They're nicely done, but a little bit more work will really sell the idea of bottomless cracks in the earth.

Looking forward to your next update. :)

Klaus van der Kroft
03-15-2016, 11:17 PM
Thanks, guys!

I followed your advice and tried removing the visible bottom from the chasms.

I also got the swamps done, added a few more forests, one of the world-trees my friend requested inside a cloudy forest, chasms and obsidian formations in the north, and a desert. Hopefully I can finish all the remaining forests tomorrow (there's a lot of forests in this map, it seems!).

For the full-size version of the map, click here: http://s000.tinyupload.com/index.php?file_id=02469449012934076468

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Josiah VE
03-15-2016, 11:42 PM
Looks epic! Those are some killer chasms.

Out of curiosity, are those mountain brushes you used? Or did you draw it all by hand. Did you draw that tree from scratch? Looks nice. I must say.... that is one MASSIVE tree.

Lingon
03-16-2016, 04:32 AM
I can only agree, those chasm are killer :D

Klaus van der Kroft
03-16-2016, 09:34 AM
Much appreciated, Josiah, Lingon!



Out of curiosity, are those mountain brushes you used? Or did you draw it all by hand. Did you draw that tree from scratch? Looks nice. I must say.... that is one MASSIVE tree.

Everything is drawn by hand. Whenever I try to make brushes, they end up looking very odd, so I have no option but to draw everything individualy (except for the depth lines around the shores, which are made with selections and strokes).

As for the tree, aye, drawn from scratch. I still have to draw another one on the south-eastern peninsula that has dried up, though I might be lazy ("time-efficient") and copy the trunk from the other one as a base.

The part I'm having the most trouble with is icons for cities and such, which my friend really wants to include, at least for the key locations. With big stuff I can somewhat hide my poor hand skills, but when it comes to drawing small castles and towns they always end up screwed. How do you guys make those? I've been trying with hard brushes, bristle brushes, fading brushes, even pen brushes, and I still can't find a way to make them look nice.

Klaus van der Kroft
03-16-2016, 10:51 PM
Didn't get as much work done today as I hoped, but progress is progress.

Added the Great Wall of Not-China, did the tundras and plains surrounding it (also finished adding the plains up north), added more forests, the second world-tree, and some decorations here and there.

The full-size version can be found here: http://s000.tinyupload.com/index.php?file_id=09518925457894857096

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Simonson
03-17-2016, 09:33 AM
Looks really nice!

GnomoGrapher
03-17-2016, 02:14 PM
Great work, indeed, I think that the zone that I like most is the eastern coast of the map. also, is an amazing scale, the map looks huge. looking forward to see more of it!

Ilanthar
03-21-2016, 02:07 PM
I agree with the others : very nice chasm! I like that "great wall" too. I'm not so sure about the south ice cap, too much lines maybe?

Rancool
03-24-2016, 08:12 AM
Incredible work! I really enjoy the way the eastern desert looks like you can feel the heat just from looking at it. Cant wait to see how the north eastern arm turns out as well! Keep it up! :)

Klaus van der Kroft
04-02-2016, 05:51 PM
Sorry for the two-week pause; we're right in the middle of the nut harvesting season over here and I had to oversee the works at the farm.

Finally got all the geographical features drawn and the land painted. Tomorrow I plan on focusing on adding towns, roads, and labbels.

The version below is at 50%; for the full size, you can download it here (15mb): http://s000.tinyupload.com/?file_id=12331905709355755726

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Looks really nice!

Thank you, Simonson!


Great work, indeed, I think that the zone that I like most is the eastern coast of the map. also, is an amazing scale, the map looks huge. looking forward to see more of it!

íMuchas gracias!

The continent is supposed to be about "the size of Europe", but I advised my friend to avoid putting a scale since the climate patterns would be odd with such as small world (as both top and bottom are supposed to be near the poles).


I agree with the others : very nice chasm! I like that "great wall" too. I'm not so sure about the south ice cap, too much lines maybe?

Thanks, Ilanthar!

Regarding the ice cap, I was trying to convey the feeling of snow and ice piling up and mounting into massive formations beyond the ice walls. I'll try giving it a few new spins to see what comes out, though.


Incredible work! I really enjoy the way the eastern desert looks like you can feel the heat just from looking at it. Cant wait to see how the north eastern arm turns out as well! Keep it up! :)

Much appreciated, Rancool!

The north-eastern arm is rather simple, I'm afraid; mostly a huge forest next to a huge plain and a lot of desolate islands. Though I try to add variety where I can, since the book is already written, I have little wiggle room. After this one, though, my friend asked me to work on an underground map of the world; that ought to be an interesting challenge, I say!

Klaus van der Kroft
04-04-2016, 11:29 PM
Alright, got all the stuff done, so technically the map is, at long last, finished. There might be some extra additions such as compass, title, and stuff like that, but that's still left undecided (my friend is not yet sure whether he'll use the full map or bits and pieces of it); I'll add the legend afterward as well. Another friend who's an actual artist is taking care of drawing logos and the like. I'll leave the map rest for a few days before giving it a last pass, in order to better notice mistakes and oversights.

Wrapping it up, it's been a really interesting project, from having to work with a star-shaped continent to actually using colours on a map for the first time (I'm not used to painting these things!). Many lessons learned experimenting with drawing styles I'd never tried before.

Thank you all very much for your ever helpful comments and observations!

Here's the final version of Equilas, at 50% size:

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The full sized version was uploaded here (Devianart) (http://mcmagnanimus.deviantart.com/art/Commission-Map-of-Equilas-601125404?ga_submit_new=10%253A1459826781)

Falconius
04-05-2016, 02:54 AM
Oh! Very nice. Congrats on completing it that's a big accomplishment.

Josiah VE
04-05-2016, 08:17 AM
Very nice! A big project like that always feels nice when you complete it.

Warlin
04-17-2016, 11:54 AM
Lovely final product. All the many feature are well executed and i like your city icons. Great job on this.

J.Edward
04-17-2016, 12:26 PM
Looks great Klaus.
And I love that big crack in the world. :)