View Full Version : I thought this would be a quick one-day project, but…

03-16-2014, 10:49 AM
I'm starting to be one of those with lots of unfinished WIP threads, haha… This one shouldn't be too hard to complete though, it's small and simple :) Here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/finished-maps/26499-semi-realistic-medieval-experiment-thing.html) is a style test I did a couple of days ago, and this will be a follow-up, more thought through and incorporating the feedback from that thread.

So what I'm trying to do is something more realistic than my usual fantasy maps. Something that could have been drawn by the inhabitants of a roughly medieval world, and give a feeling of a realistic, dark, gritty, no-elves fantasy world that everyone's digging now. I also want it to look decent in black-and-white as well as color, ideally with no difference between them except for the addition of color. I'm stuck on the mountains. Can't decide how to shade them, or if I should shade them at all. I've looked at old maps online, and I haven't found a single pre-renaissance mountain style that I liked… Maybe I'm just obsessing over details, it's not like I'm doing a faithful reproduction of a historical map and it doesn't really matter if the mountains are a hundred years newer than I planned… Or does it? I can't decide! Should I use the same look for the mountains as in the test? Maybe it looks ok without shading at all? Help me, Obi-Guild Cartobi, you're my only hope!

03-16-2014, 12:13 PM
I'd say if its not historical based then why use a style that doesn't convey the feel you are looking for? Anachronisms abound in almost every fantasy novel as getting it all right requires a ridiculous amount of research and ultimately it is fantasy. Showing off your ability to make historically accurate ugly maps probable won't help you attract many commissions from authors either.

03-16-2014, 12:30 PM
I'm with madcowchef on this.
Also, I really liked the shading style in your other map! I vote for using the same style :)

btw, love the general shape of the landmass!

03-16-2014, 03:55 PM
Was looking for a map I saw the other day that could serve as inspiration to your mountains, and found this one instead... seems roughly to be under the style umbrella you're aiming, and it has mountains/forests the way folks at the Guild like them.
Brazil in 1600's (http://www.history-map.com/picture/003/Brazil-1600s-in.htm)

03-16-2014, 04:11 PM
@Madcowchef: Thanks, but you misunderstood! It is historically based, and I'm not planning to use ugly mountains ;) My problem is that I don't know what to use instead; go with something more renaissance-looking, or just leave them as they are, or another way I haven't thought of.
@Lyrillies: Thanks for your opinion and compliments! :)
@Pixie: Those mountains are awesome! Thanks for posting. It's not exactly what I'm looking for though, they are too recognizably 17th century to me and don't feel like something medieval people would draw. I think I need something simpler.

By the way, I've added settlements and roads now, but I think I'll try to come up with something for the mountains before updating.

- Max -
03-16-2014, 04:25 PM
Hmm...kind of hard to help since we don't know what kind of historical style of mountains you find ugly.

03-16-2014, 07:04 PM
Fair enough ;) Here are some examples of what I don't want to do:
File:Abraham and Jehuda Cresques Catalan Atlas. Eastern Europe view from the south.G.jpg - Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Abraham_and_Jehuda_Cresques_Catalan_Atlas._Ea stern_Europe_view_from_the_south.G.jpg)
File:Claudius Ptolemy- The World.jpg - Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Claudius_Ptolemy-_The_World.jpg)
File:Martellus World-Map.jpg - Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Martellus_World-Map.jpg)

These are obviously enormously impressive efforts, but I don't find them very nice to look at… So what I'd like to do is find something that fits with both a modern and a medieval view of how mountains on maps should look. I've drawn the shapes, but I'm struggling with making them stand out more. Shadows? Completely filled with gray? Gray peaks, fading into white at the bottom, a little Asian-inspired? I think I'm leaning towards the last of those, but I don't really want an asian look here, so that doesn't feel perfect either… I'll do some more searching and reading and sketching, and post some options tomorrow… And suggestions are welcome and appreciated, of course :)

03-17-2014, 11:19 AM
I think I have my mountain style. It's probably not to everyone's taste, but I'm happy enough with it and I think it accomplishes what I aimed for. I've also decided to drop the colors on this one, it'll be a pure black and white. So now, onto labeling :)

03-17-2014, 12:09 PM
very nice, fits the map so far I would say.
I did like the overall look a bit better before you made the coastline/water-waves thicker, though.

- Max -
03-17-2014, 01:35 PM
The overall style looks nice though I can't help thinking something is wrong and doesn't make the overall style consistent. The icons? The font? Or something missing? Not really sure :(

03-17-2014, 03:41 PM
I'm not sure I like the ISO cities with those mountains and the coast. I love the mountains and coast though, so my vote is to keep them and ditch the city icons in favor of something more two-dimensional.

03-17-2014, 04:26 PM
IMHO this is far too accurate to resemble a medieval map, that's what strikes me the most. It looks nice and tidy, the mountains, the towns, the coast, overall... If you are aiming at something more primeval (even if not using the mountain styles of the examples you gave) you need to let go some accuracy.
Exactly what could go and what could stay is up to you I think.

(Edit: looking at the map again, the cities/towns could be changed, maybe making them a little bit like tapestry drawings and completely out of scale, maybe making rivers/streams quite visible and again, out of scale, maybe adding some decorative drawings, like vessels/peasants/knights. Just searched and found this nice map-in-tapestry, dating from XVI century: http://25.media.tumblr.com/bd8ab15eacf2ce63f589da0590a8dce7/tumblr_mfno0rlpeJ1qhsqm1o1_1280.jpg)

03-17-2014, 06:37 PM
Lyrillies: Thanks! I haven't made the waves thicker actually, only darker, but I guess that has that kind of effect. The actual coastline is a little thickened though, to make it stand out from the waves more.

-Max-: Thanks, maybe it'll be easier to see if the font is what's off in the WIP below?

Diamond: Yeah, I think you're right. Actually, you're definitely right. Madcowchef suggested the same thing, so now I feel stupid for not following the advice the first time I got it… Sorry, Madcowchef! I'll draw some 2d icons tomorrow. It should improve readability too, with the fewer lines. Glad you like the mountains and coasts, Diamond :)

Pixie: Yup, that's true. I think a problem here is that we are used to very detailed and accurate maps now, so a deliberately inaccurate one would come across as badly made… I tried to make a compromise, but yes, I'm aware that it's too detailed to look truly medieval. It's not something I can adress without starting over, and I honestly don't think I want to :P That is an extremely beautiful map you linked to though, I must say.

Here's an update, with labels. I like this font, it has the feel I want, but maybe it's not legible enough?

03-17-2014, 09:48 PM
Readability suffers a tiny bit with that font, but I forgive you because it looks awesome, especially the version on the seas. What font is that? It looks like one I sometimes use called Raspcallion.

03-18-2014, 06:31 PM
Haha, great :D It's Blackmoor LET, with a black "inner glow" on the seas. I looked up Rapscallion though, and it's really cool, so I grabbed it. Thanks for the tip :)

2d cities, a frame, and some minor name changes that no one except me will care about :P This one is close to finished now, I just want to come up with a more original name for the Middle Sea… Anything else I should rework? Are the new icons better? I think so, but I don't trust me…

03-18-2014, 06:49 PM
Looking good. The line work on the castle icon seems thinner than that on the rest of the map. The texturing on the border seems out of place with the rest of the map being exclusively black and white line work. And I still really love those ocean lines. The small "errors" you've included are excellently subtle and keep it from feeling machine made, nice work.

03-19-2014, 02:52 PM
I noticed the thinner castle lines as well, but maybe that's to distinguish them from the actual towns and cities? Those icons are MUCH better overall though. As far as the border goes... not a big fan, at least for this map. You've got bold black lines everywhere else, why not on the border too?

03-19-2014, 03:05 PM
I hate to say it, but I find the wave effect extremely distracting, at least on a monitor. Printed it might not do that, but even then... they create something of a "barren bowl" effect with waters on both sides and close together. They seem to overpower the mountains and pretty much everything else while not conveying a really important cartographical message. Still a good map, but had to put in my two cents, LOL.

Some of this also depends on the size I'm viewing at.

03-19-2014, 06:41 PM
Thanks guys, I've addressed the castle lineweight and the border now. Don't know what I was thinking when I made that border really… I've tried a few other variants now, but with bold lines it becomes too overpowering, and I actually think I like it better without a pattern at all. I made the line a little thicker, and that's probably all I'll do unless there's strong disagreement ;)
@Veldehar: I appreciate your 2 cents :) The waves indeed don't convey anything in particular, I just thought it would look nice… Plus, medieval maps are full of stuff that doesn't convey much, so it's thematic, isn't it? ;) But I have to say, I don't find them so distracting. If I use this style more I'll keep it in mind though, and try to make them thinner.

03-19-2014, 11:25 PM
Nice looking though I have to agree with Veldehar .The waves are distracting. . I think it's the density / Spacing of the waves. Further /more irregular spacing or simply less opacity/boldness might help ! Great and convincing otherwise !

03-19-2014, 11:52 PM
The waves are personally my favorite part, but not universally well regarded. Clearly we need to get a regulation chain to wrap wrists for the knife fight.

03-19-2014, 11:56 PM
I'll be your Second, sirrah! Vive la waves!!!!!

03-20-2014, 01:48 PM
Well, it's nice that I seem to have come up with something that everyone has a strong opinion about :D I'll take no part in the fight, but I'll go make some popcorn! Also, I'll call this map finished now :) Thanks for the feedback everyone!