View Full Version : Stone Age Dwellings and a Pet

02-04-2014, 01:18 AM
So this weekend and tonight I've been scratching a Stone Age itch with a Round House that could fit: late Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age into the Roman Period of Northern Europe (or any barbarian area for most any RPG setting). After creating the round house, I felt Neanderthals were getting the short end of the stick, so I created a cave dwelling. Finally, tonight, thinking something was missing, I created a necessary accessory for the genre, a Mammoth map object.

Of course everything created here was done in Xara Designer Pro 9, even the mammoth.




Cunning Cartographer
02-04-2014, 02:44 AM
Mammoth looks really great :)

Only constructive criticism I would say is consider your light sources more as your shadows are a bit all over the shop. It's clear you've used some form of single directional drop down shadow (dont know the software so I only have Photoshop to go off) so for example on the fire you have shadows on the rocks on the inside of the firepit, where all the shadows should be cast outwards away from the fire. Not sure whether Xara has similar features to Photoshop, but when putting a drop down shadow in PS you can uncheck the "use global lighting" so that each item can have it's shadow going in different directions (useful if your lightsource is at the center of the map or you have multiple sources).

Also check the size of your spears in pic 2, in comparison to your other items (animal skin rug, tools on the rug, campfire) they seem to be pretty big (though with no scale I'm not sure whether they're really big or everything else is really small).

Other than that, as far as a battlemap goes, it's a pretty good layout and packed with features that would make any battle here interesting, so it definitely work for the purpose.

02-04-2014, 02:55 AM
Thanks for your comments, CC!

I totally understand your point of view regarding direction of light and shadow. However, in all my maps the information to the reader of what terrain lies above the other for game playing purposes is more important than maintaining proper shadow direction. In addition, most maps of this style would most likely be used in a virtual tabletop application. In those applications, light sources are located in the hands and visual range of the PCs with fog of war effects (what is outside their visual range is blacked out). Predefined directional light is less useful when a map is used in VT app.

I've used 3D applications for 10 years, though much less so in recent years, so I am very familiar with proper light and shadow based single and multiple light sources, ambient light, reflective light - which I consider great training in the understanding of light and shadow. So I understand what some terrain should appear under proper light and shadow. However, even for my photo-realistic maps like these, they are intentionally informative game maps first, and photos of some piece of terrain second. Conveying the information of what sits above the other (ledges, cave walls, building walls) casting some shadow on the floor/wall beneath is more important than maintaining directional light and shadow.

The mammoth you'll notice has a glow type shadow (though a slight drop shadow is in there too). Glow shadows are especially useful for objects for VT apps - again in an effort to not predefine light direction.

The mammoth, like the maps are beveled vector shapes with fur image fills (fractal cloud color on the tusks) and shadowing.

Its not because of a misunderstanding of directional light, my shadows are done this way intentionally.

I do, however, create maps with proper directional light and shadow - when the effect of doing so is informative for a particular map (especially when I want to show shape of object detail in shadows of trees, columns, buildings and other verticle objects). If I'm not shooting for that effect, I do what you see in these maps.

Aside from not being able to do actual image editing and bump mapping - yes, Xara can do most of what Photoshop can do with layer effects.

02-04-2014, 10:20 AM
I like how the roof just fades away so I can see :P

02-04-2014, 11:38 AM
I like how the roof just fades away so I can see :P

I wanted to do a kind of cut-away design of the round house, but use of transparency and a fade rather than a hard cut cut-away. I think it worked!

02-04-2014, 03:26 PM
Love the mammoth. ^_^

02-06-2014, 01:23 AM
I decided to attempt one more Pleostocene mega-fauna object, a Wooly Rhino, something I always thought was a cool creature, and something I've always wanted to try and make. The head and horns were the toughest part, so I did the head in 3D, and tilted the head slightly to show-off the horns (which I couldn't think of a better way to depict it).

I will eventually be creating more of these, perhaps both sexes and a young member of each specie for a Pleostocene Map Object set.