View Full Version : WIP: Forests

03-21-2014, 11:04 AM

Have you ever had one of those maps that started off so clear and easy in your head and then, for some unknown reason, you slam head-first into the brick wall of "It's not working"?

Yeah - that's me with this map.

As you can see it's a fairly easy map. I'm just illustrating an inland lake with a major river coming in from the north and a minor river heading out of it to the south. There will be a few settlements around it which I will indicate with some tower icons I used in a previous map.

Here's my problem(s):

1. I hate forests now. Caves were so much easier. I could just throw a black layer on, darken it, throw in some highlights and some texture and voila; dirt & rock. Forests, however, never seem to look right. For most of my map work they are simply expressed with "Blobby masses of dark green surrounded with a black border". This is, essentially, my way of expressing the idea of a dense forest (with a lighter green layer around it to show the less dense forests). There HAS to be a better way.

2. Labeling. I've been reading up on the forums and even found a tutorial from Torstan (his name be praised) about how to add a 'halo' effect behind the letters to pull them off the page. I totally love the look but my problem is positioning. In the above map you'll see that I have one river label on the river itself, and the other is next to it because the text is too large to fit within the boundaries.


Anyone have any handy tutorials or tips for how to render forests without going all three-dimensional, isomorphic and such? I just need a way to render 'dense' forest. I think I've gotten the hang of water and rock (for dungeons least) so I assume that there's got to be a similar technique for making 'green blobby thing' look like woods.

Any pointers for label positioning?


03-22-2014, 01:24 PM
Have you ever had one of those maps that started off so clear and easy in your head and then, for some unknown reason, you slam head-first into the brick wall of "It's not working"?
All the f&!*%ing time... :D

What software are you using? On most of the vector and raster-based programs, you can arc and warp text to make it fit better. My suggestion on the Red River would be to shrink the text a bit and give it a slight path or arc that would let it fit in there without touching the banks. I'd also give the other river's name a bit of an arc as well, so they match aesthetically.

I do have a comment about the rivers themselves: Why is there a big river entering the lake, but only a small one exiting? Shouldn't it be the other way around?

As for forests... can't help ya.

03-22-2014, 01:31 PM
I've never attempted anything like that so normally I wouldn't be able to help at all here, but I saw these two tutorials a few days ago and thought they were pretty good:

On the style and rendering of trees (http://www.fantasticmaps.com/2012/02/on-the-style-and-rendering-of-trees/)
How to colour quick trees for RPG maps (http://www.fantasticmaps.com/2012/02/how-to-colour-quick-trees-for-rpg-maps/)

I think style number 1 from the first tutorial used as a repeating texture over the top of what you've got now might look nice, plus the end result of the second tutorial looks awesome so maybe you could do that! :D

03-22-2014, 02:45 PM
I'm on Gimp.

You do raise a good point about the size of the rivers. The water flows from north (top) to the south (bottom) and I should reverse the sizes or at least make the Red River larger - which will fix the labeling problem.



03-23-2014, 11:11 AM
Something like this? (only do it as layers, not directly to the map, so you can fix overspray and other oopses.)


If so, I did it in Gimp. Used the default bristles 01, brush, size 25, jitter on at 3.0. I overlayed with the green from the grass, a 63943f medium green, a light pass with the dark green you have already in the woods, and finished with a very light pass of b09433 light brown.