View Full Version : Another New Guy

12-03-2013, 01:14 PM
Howdy, All. When I registered I was encouraged to post here, so...

I cannot over-emphasize what a delight it was to find this site. I'm now an old guy, but used to play RPGs back in the day and still dabble by reading mostly GURPS and CoC products, though not playing. I've always had a vague interest in mapping, originally stemming from the RPG thing as a young-un, then reinforced by an interest in military history (I'm a 20-year Army veteran), and also by my enthusiastic hiking hobby (I currently live in Colorado).

Now, following some of the simpler tutorials here, I'm working on what I consider to be outstanding some maps. (I'm certain that they are pathetic by your standards, but I'm thrilled.) I've started a project on a terraformed Venus, and I have a question posted in "How Do I" about it. I'm certain that my career will slow progress on it to a crawl, but I'm happy puttering around with it in spare moments.


12-03-2013, 02:22 PM
Welcome to the Guild acrsome! It's great to here that you are thrilled with the results of working through some of the tutorials here. Might I recommend displaying some of your work here, whether in a work-in-progress stage or in the finished stage (in which case it should be displayed in the "Finished Maps" section). This is a good way to glean advice from more experienced guildies.


12-05-2013, 10:32 AM
Brother, I'm still very much in the "Learning How to Use Gradients, Masks, Etc. in GIMP" stage. I spent two days just getting a gradient seascape that looked decent. And then another attempt last night that utterly sucked- though admittedly part of that was the monstrously huge file I was working with (36" x 92" at 300ppi). And I'm convinced my the Cloud Noise in my GIMP works differently than everyone else's or something...

So, I have yet to produce anything that is:

1) Remotely finished. Most still have large transparent or black-and-white areas.
2) Capable of being viewed by anyone here without causing them physical pain.

I'm still very much getting my legs under me, by playing around in my limited free time. Heck, I did my first Gaussian blur last week, and didn't know that masks existed. Thrilled with results so far, yes, but still learning basics. I have a dysfunctional need to understand what is going on when I'm going through tutorials, rather than just following a list of instructions. This leads me off into the weeds a lot, and slows me down. Frankly, it would help if the tutorials including basic premises like "we will now create an image where the sea is black and the land is white" or "select the land and remove it from the image, leaving the land area transparent" or "we will now blur the image, and convert the black part into a blue sea gradient that will be lighter close to shore and darker out to sea" and then explain how to do that rather than just listing cookbook instructions as many do. If you miss one thing while following follow cookbook instructions and keep driving on you get a mess. Cutting/pasting/filling I grok- I just like to know what the goal is supposed to be. A truly exceptional tutorial author might include a brief discussion of how overlays work and such, with worked examples, but when it comes down to it I guess I can RTFM. :) Or search around on this site. But as I said, this slows me down.

Soon, though.

12-05-2013, 11:19 AM
Hey acrsome, sounds like we are in about the same place in getting started! I also just started out but I do have some background in Photoshop and like tools. Not professionally but from just dabbling and from when I had a side gig as a photographer. I'm looking forward to seeing what you have created!

12-05-2013, 04:56 PM
I get great enjoyment from viewing WIPs that cause pain! Please do share!

12-07-2013, 09:36 AM
Huh. I can't seem to upload an image. I select the file and click "Upload Image" but nothing happens…

Is there a size limit or something? My file is 32MB.

12-08-2013, 01:03 AM
Yeah, 32 MB is a bit large. The forum's limit is more like 4MB - it says somewhere.....

12-08-2013, 11:58 AM
Aha. Ok… After some pretty brutal file-shrinkage, here is my pain:

Well, I'm basing a map on a terraformed Venus. I'd been toying with the idea of a fantasy game set on a terraformed Mars, but Mars has it's problems. The first is that any scifi fanboy who saw a map of the planet- or even just of Marineris or the great volcanoes- would recognize it immediately. The second is the low gravity, which is also sort of a give away. Venus gravity is close enough that you could reasonably ignore the difference.

So I got ahold of a set of large 300ppi USGS topo maps of the planet based on Magellan data, which I pasted together and masked to get rough coastlines. Here's the black sea mask on top of the USGS topos:


The sea level pretty much sets itself- any lower and you have a large planet of land with only a few scattered seas, and any higher and all the land is mountains. So this is approximately the only aesthetic option. It has some interesting characteristics. The large world-spanning continent is Aphrodite Terra, and note the large inland sea, over-done trope though it is. Technically, the two eastern islands that help form it are part of Aphrodite, too, but they are called Beta Regio (north) and Phoebe Regio (south). At the northwest edge of the map you can see the southern coast of another significant continent- Ishtar Terra. This map only goes to 57 degrees north and south, but there is a lot more of Ishtar up there, and it includes the most spectacular mountain ranges on the planet including the highest, Maxwell.

Here is one with the sea and land crudely colored:


It looks awful, but in my defense in the full-sized file when you zoom in a bit the sea gradient looks a little better. But the size of these files is a problem. When I turn off a layer it takes two minutes just to re-raster, and applying a significant Gaussian blur can take 20 minutes.

Here's a regional map of southern Aphrodite:


Southern Aphrodite includes an immensely huge rift system called Artemis Chasma, which is lower than my set sea level but doesn't connect to it. (You can find it on the first map.) It'll be a large semicircular lake, probably. It is just far enough south not to be in a desert zone, and would get some sea-effect precipitation.

Probably my best work thus far, and that ain't saying much. You can see some artifacts around the edge where I missed single pixels of white or something.

This map is going to be for what will probably be a very long project setting an ultra-low-fantasy on a post-apocalypic terraformed Venus. The terraforming culture was incredibly high-tech, and the apocalypse was a war heavy on the cyber component, but since almost everyone had extensive cybernetic brain enhancements essentially no one escaped without massive memory loss and/or insanity. Result: collapse. My "races" will be viable genetically engineered parahumans from GURPS Bio-Tech, and a few of my own design. (I love the Talislanta idea of a race of individuals who look identical, and differentiate with body paint and tattoos.)

One of my own design is that I wanted an orc- or goblin-equivalent, in that I wanted something heartless and aggressive that PCs have to worry about running into in wilderness areas. Inspired by some Stephen Baxter works I came up with the "Gleaners." Mass cyberwar-induced psychosis at a remote and self-sufficient lab led the staff to try to 'save the human race' by engineering a eusocial parahuman. In madness there is inspiration- they were wildly successful, and churned Gleaners out of their forced-growth tanks in large numbers before their creation destroyed them. Gleaners look like naked potbellied human children of about 8 years old, of both sexes. They mature fast, stay at a physiologic 8 years old, and die young (maybe around 30?). They can digest almost anything short of cellulose, and then regurgitate some to other Gleaners back at the hive. The females have spermathecae, and there is one queen per hive who progresses to physiological maturity and mates once, becomes endlessly multiply pregnant and nearly-immobile, and after an initial gestation of six months or so delivers about once a week for the rest of her life. A queen lasts about 3-4 years before she is used up and dies, then the lack of pheromonal signals causes another female to mature, which in turn causes a male to mature to impregnate her (and who is then outcast). A lone female Gleaner won't mature- they must be in pheromonal connection to at least one other Gleaner without pheromonal connection to a queen for about a week before one will change. (This leads to a disturbing practice of selling lone female Gleaners to pedophiles as sex slaves in some degenerate cultures.) Large hives undergo fission. They are pre-vocal, but have an extensive repertoire of calls. They have a Neolithic technology, with clubs, throwing sticks, hand axes, and slings, but nothing as abstract as a bow. They do use fire, but have good night vision and green eye shine. And they hunt and forage in large packs, and they move like lightning, and of course they are quite happy to eat other hominids. Venus is full of underground works from the high-tech culture as well as lousy with lava tubes, so Gleaners tend to live underground, but they occasionally make wicker frames and slap mud/adobe on them aboveground.