View Full Version : Year of the metal dragon

02-04-2014, 04:17 PM
When I first heard about the three shapes challenge I was playing the history of the three kingdom mod for Civ4. I made a connection. At first I wanted to make three kingdoms, each one representing a shape, fighting for supremacy. Heretic movements like rectangles and ellipse (representing yellow turbans, barbarians and TaoistsÖ) would also be in the brawl to contest the other shapes. But then I realized that I was just making a silly copy of 3nd century China, so it might just be better to do the real thing. Less room for creativity but more challenging. Speaking of creativity, I used a couple of maps (no many maps) for reference. Most of them have more romance than history and there are no 3 kingdoms since the emperor of the Han dynasty is still in place.

Itís a map of the Han dynasty, around the year 200 (year of the metal dragon), just before the battle of Guandu. The Empire is still united; it will only be dissolved in 220, with the abdication of the last Han emperor. 220 marks the beginning of the three kingdom era. Right now, itís just a group of warlords fighting for power.

Itís mostly a layout, but at least I have the informationís right, I think soÖ

A couple of info about my map:

In white: the name of the 13 regions of the empire. I donít think I will keep that info because some regions are divided. They do not seem useful. (But they were for tracing boundaries)

Big black font: the names of the warlords; 9 in total (maybe more than 9 but the others are too marginal: Meng Huo?) and some surrounding kingdoms/people. Korea is not united, but when you are the center of the world, why bother with the little details. The Xiongnu and others nomadic people of the north are pretty important. They are the main reason why the Great wall was built by Qin.

Blue: river, lake, ocean

The rest should be pretty obvious and all the odd labels colors will changeÖ in time.

I made a political map but Iím not sure how I will use it. I need to find a way to show Ďípolitical boundariesíí but I donít want them to be overwhelming.

Iím hesitating between using pinyin or traditional Chinese. Pinyin is usually easier to read for westerners. Sadly most of the fonts used are not optimised for pinyin so it looks awful and apparently Chinese people donít understand pinyin very well. So I might go toward the traditional characters but I will keep the pinyin for reference. Some cities also have 2 names old/present name, it's also temporary.

There are still no triangles, squares or circles neither but they are coming!

Warning, there will be a lot of non Euclidean triangles!


02-04-2014, 04:41 PM
Awesome idea! Can't wait to see how it turns out :)

02-04-2014, 04:55 PM
I did a challenge map of Japan once showing the provinces of southwestern Honshu, the island of Shikoku and part of Kyushu, as participants in the Genpei War. As a way to politically define each province, as well as show which of the two sides in the conflict they supported, I included kammon (samurai house crests) as the political identifiers. So though you could use interior fills of each province with a different color, as you have above, you could create colored borders that work like the color fill to indicate the politics of a given province. Or, you could put in heraldic symbols, as in my example using kammon to differentiate each.

Here's a link to my Genpei War Map (http://www.cartographersguild.com/mapping-challenge-archive/4193-february-entry-gempei-war-5.html).

02-04-2014, 07:44 PM
Thanks, I'll look into it! Adding some sort of crest in not a bad idea but unless I create some of my own, current factions did not have crests. China's dynasties (Ming and Qing at least) used their name's character on the battlefield. Pretty straightforward since all Han chinese family names only have 1 character. It might be a good idea.

02-05-2014, 03:03 PM
Very interesting idea.

02-06-2014, 12:34 AM
The nine clans:

From top left to bottom right:

Yuan Shao, Gongsun Du, Zhang Lu
Cao Cao, Ma Teng, Liu Zhang
Sun Ce, Shi Xie, Liu Biao

and the other one is a dragon.


I might use them as city symbols.

tomorrow I will work on mountains/hills, they cover nearly half the map...

02-06-2014, 12:58 AM
Oh those are lovely!!

I think they'd make great city symbols too :) (Are those the actual translations from the real world? :D )

02-07-2014, 12:40 AM
The hills in Zhejiang, I think it needs a bit more:


oh the colors... I think it's because i'm not working in RGB and the guild converts the colors because it looked good on my computer.

I also worked on a frame but I will incorporate it later. The map is now a square.

@Jalyha: these are the real family names of the warlords that existed at that time. Well, they are recored in the Romance of the three kingdoms book that was written many centuries later...
Actually, some where not warlords by choice. Some where politician and aristocrat placed at the head of their province by the central administration of the Empire.

02-07-2014, 12:45 AM
The colors are different when I open it :)

And it's looking great! Circles... now a square... only triangles left (or did I miss something?? :o )

And cool... it sounds like it would be interesting to study!!

02-07-2014, 03:13 PM
The colors are different when I open it :)

And it's looking great! Circles... now a square... only triangles left (or did I miss something?? :o )

And cool... it sounds like it would be interesting to study!!

really, you can't see the triangles? It's okay, at start I wasn't sure they where considered triangles.

02-07-2014, 03:31 PM
Waittttttttttt let me look again D:

02-07-2014, 04:40 PM
bonus : 61138
think non euclidean geometry

And more hills, yea these are not mountains

02-07-2014, 05:21 PM
I'm not usually a fan of repeated over patterned fills but I love that ocean.

02-07-2014, 05:54 PM

I DID tell you guys I'm not the brightest :P

I see them now ^_^

02-10-2014, 12:27 AM
a small update

### Latest WIP ###


Yea China has a lot of mountains and many are still missing.

fabio p
02-10-2014, 05:40 AM
I like your non Euclidean mountain and hills!
The ocean pattern is more Japanese than chinese in my opinion; anyway, it gives that oriental feel that (I think) you’re aiming to.

02-10-2014, 11:56 AM
I think I saw that water pattern at multiple places, including what I think is an old chinese map and here on the forum as well. My initial pattern was somewhat different but as you said it fits the style and the contest since there all round shapes.

02-10-2014, 12:21 PM
I didn't like it at first... but it's grown on me. And looks even better as you add more stuff to the land :)

02-11-2014, 12:38 AM
I'll update tomorrow as I don't have enough time left right now.

I made my map border
Finished the mountains, but I still want to color them a bit
Added other things (The Not-so-Bad Wall...)

And I was wondering if I should add trees as well or if it's gonna be too much?

02-11-2014, 09:55 AM
lol notsobad wall.

um... i dont know if trees will be too much if you dont show us your update D:


02-13-2014, 01:24 AM
I will probably ignore the trees for now. I don't think I'll have enough time to figure how to do them. Ancient Chinese/Japanese maps rarely had tress.

I think I did something wrong, the quality of the map is poor but I think it's hard to notice at that size.
I redid the ocean to make the circles look like waves.


02-13-2014, 11:38 AM
Ancient Chinese (http://thebamboosea.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/ancient-chinese-map-shows-americas.jpg) maps might not have, but Japanese (http://www.davidrumsey.com/rumsey/Size3/D0005_JapanMaps/00053063.jpg) maps were often more decorative and included trees, birds, animals, even flowers, sometimes sacrificing accuracy for art.

Of course some were more militaristic/informative in nature, and I don't have any from the particular period you're referencing, And... I think you're leaning more toward the first style... but I thought I'd correct the generalization for future reference :P

In other news, I like the new waves a lot, And the mountains, but the clouds are *too* thick, maybe? It doesn't seem to fit the style of the waves/symbols/etc.. ?

And the border clashes, I think just because it's too bright.... I like it, but maybe duller reds? idk.


02-13-2014, 03:51 PM
Looking great, Azelor! Nice clouds! If I were you, I'd add some more contrast to the coasts to make them pop, as the land and water colors are quite similar. Darken one and lighten the other is usually a good way, and it'd tie in with the fade on the mountains.

Oh, and I agree with Jalyha about the red border. A slightly darker and duller color would draw less attention from the map :)

02-14-2014, 03:01 PM
still working on it, I hope to finish it soon (before 9pm pacific time lol)

Thanks for the comments, i'll see what I can do :D

02-14-2014, 03:06 PM
remember to update which pic is your latest wip!

02-14-2014, 11:21 PM
### Latest WIP ###


At last !
Maybe I will do another version with more informations and with pinyin so people can understand but I've been able to put pretty much all the stuff I wanted on the map. The head title might not be 100% correct but at least it's symmetric. It mean: Han dynasty Empire/Metal dragon (place/time) but I'm not sure it was the best place to put it.

Neaddyr's Touenkoku map was a great source of inspiration for me as well as many asian map out there.

Made with photoshop with the help of illustrator.

02-14-2014, 11:26 PM
Ohhhh that's 100% better :)

And I love the lettering on the frame! What's it say? :)

02-14-2014, 11:34 PM
Thanks ! I edited my last message ...

### Latest WIP ###

It mean: Han dynasty Empire/Metal dragon (place/time) but I'm not sure it was the best place to put it.

And the four symbols in the frame are the cardinal direction.

02-14-2014, 11:52 PM
Oh directions make sense!

(I r can reed gud!)

02-15-2014, 12:12 AM
I just noticed that the title of the thread miss the : January/February 2014 Lite Challenge:

oh well :?

02-15-2014, 12:40 AM
Nice. The mountains are really effective, as is the winding of roads and the wall behind some of them.