View Full Version : WIP: Cavern with Stream

04-04-2014, 03:55 PM
So I'm back at trying to tackle running water as an effect within a cavern.


First step: Ya have to have a source.

For this map I came up with the idea of having a pool at one end of the cave that was the source of an underground spring. Water would bubble up (have no idea how to indicate that) and flow along a well-worn channel in the cavern floor .


Creating the effect of a sunken channel on the cavern floor wasn't that hard. I -think- that I achieved the effect that I was going for. I also added a water effect and some highlights to suggest that the water is more shallow on the edges and deeper in the center.


I'm not happy with the end result. I like the map (without the water). I'm stating to use a new technique on my wall-shadows to add darkness around the contours and then feathering and 'smearing' the color back from the edge.

What do you think?


04-04-2014, 04:20 PM
I rather like your new wall effect. For the water its usually enough to indicate direction of flow and not really indicate weather its bubbling up, running through cracks, or coming out of an actual channel (though coming up with some effects to indicate that might be nice). I few rocks in the water with some flow lines around them do a good job of this, but there are a number of ways. The tendency of the technique you are using on the waters edge to make white streamer like projections doesn't do much for me, its not bad per say but I think you could come up with something better. I do like your channel effect.

04-04-2014, 04:47 PM
I suppose the stream could be more visually appealing if it followed
a more interesting route. I think that, if I were to find an underground
spring somewhere in a cavern, the water would spread out over the
rock rather than carve a deep channel. Sure, it might etch grooves
into the rock, or follow any existing path, but what you're depicting
looks at least a foot down. Plus, your stream seems to barrel in and
out of the cave wall. Is there a tunnel for the water to go through or
something? If so, you might include that with a dotted line. What's the
slope in the cave aside from your trench?

Also, I can see where you intentionally widened the stream the further
it got from the source. While this would probably be pretty accurate on
a large scale, with something so small as this, the stream could be
deeper instead of wider. Would this stream have other sources?

Overall, I can see where what you've done looks nice in those close-ups,
but the stream might benefit from following a different path.

Best of luck, and hope my comments help

04-04-2014, 09:07 PM

Ok, so here's a re-work of the water details in the map. I've added some stones in the water's path and some white 'water trails'.


And then I thought to fill in some of the blank edges of the map with small stones - to suggest that the walls have crumbled here and there but the stones have been pushed back against the edge or something.

I like the use of the stones as a cool 'edge element' but I'm not sure how to use them yet.
Anyone have any ideas / suggestions?

Also - I want to add some other elements to this map to make it more interesting. I may toss in some extra elements in the various 'zones' created by this map but I'm not sure what to add.


The map, like other maps, can be easily compartmentalized into various 'zones'. Each 'zone' could have an element within it to give it more character / detail. Now, any GM could add in some encounter details (kobolds or something) but this is just for the map itself. This would be some kind of geological / Cartographic element:

1. Pit
2. Standing water.
3. Mold?
4. Slime?
5. Craggy / broken ground?

?? Anyone else think of some.

What would you add to the various zones?

Comments Welcome.

04-04-2014, 09:30 PM
I like the new stream detailing, the suggestion of lines to mark its course was an excellent one. As far as adding elements the two things that come to mind are either 1. details that point to a narrative or 2. details that make it tactically more interesting. For the first you have to develop a reason why someone is in the cave to begin with and it limits you to using the map for that narrative. For the second it keeps the cave more generic but makes it more fun to use: areas of mixed elevation, dangers, rough terrain etc. If option two I'd add a couple of raised areas or stalagmites to area G for a more interesting "final encounter", A hazard such as a thin beam or other element that will add a last minute challenge and make it hard to run to F, difficult ground for an encounter in E, and standing water in B for aquatic horrors. For the first option I'd need a narrative and theme the chambers along the way, but I'll leave that to you.

04-04-2014, 11:19 PM

This is my first pass at a combination of stalagmites and different elevations for area 'G' of the map that I've been working on (which turned out fairly well for having no idea how to represent them). I tried something new for the elevations this time, trying to use shadows on either side of the 'edge' to show the 'steps'.

I also added some stones along the edges of the walls for a bit more detail. I'm not sure what to do about the coloration of the stalagmites. Do I colorize them like the surrounding rock or leave them a fairly neutral color like the 'ground' layer?


This has another layer set above the stalag. layer of black set to soft light with a hint of the surrounding 'rock' texture.



04-05-2014, 09:00 AM

Well, here's the 'bridge' element for area F. I dropped the basic elevation of the area a little with two steps on either side. Then I added the bridge over the water but wanted to do something interesting with it so I made some boulder 'steps' that lead up to the bridge. One of the reasons why I dropped the surrounding area's elevation was so that I could lighten the steps a little to hopefully show that they were getting higher (closer) as you walked up them to cross the bridge.

Next up: Hazardous Terrain for area E.

Comments welcome.


04-05-2014, 11:36 AM
The improvised bridge element is excellent, I like your elevation work much more on this section than on the previous one with the stalactites where I have a harder time discerning which side is supposed to be elevated. I prefer the colored version of the stalactites the uncolored one looks too much like pits to me. You are definately honing your style on these, excellent work.

04-05-2014, 11:42 AM
I agree with Mad Cow - the coloured stalagmites are very very good.

04-05-2014, 06:42 PM
i think the stalagmites would be done in the same color as the walls, if they're obstructions.
i'd assume that anything ground-neutral in color is easily traversable.

if you've lowered your stream source here, make sure it's consistently lower downstream.
i'll second madcowchef, the elevation work is much clearer here.

04-05-2014, 11:56 PM
Funny that you mention that - Madcow...

I had already made the adjustments that you mentioned when I posted the second section (the one with the bridge).

Thanks for the comments folks!

04-08-2014, 11:30 AM

A chasm for area E.

The construction was basic and I used a lot of my new 'smear' shading techniques. I'm not really happy about the edge though. It still looks false...like it's just hovering there.

Any suggestions?


04-08-2014, 01:03 PM
Not sure weather it would be an improvement till I saw it but you could try shading the edges as if they were overhanging the chasm a bit in places. Might continue the ends a bit further, not as an open chasm but simple as a line to make its appearance less abrupt. I don't really have any problems with it as it stands though, looks fine to my eye and I very much like the shading at the bottom smudgy and a nice, but not to computer pure, gradient. The stream is looking oddly abrupt in some of these, maybe make it erode away a bit of wall as its flowing under it so that it bulges on either side where the stream enters and exits?

04-08-2014, 08:05 PM

Ok - I'm a bit more satisfied with the chasm now - adding the cracks to the edge seems to have 'anchored' it to the base level a bit more in my mind. I also added s stone in the path of the water and played with the ditch layer a little. I have a feeling that I'm going to have to re-do the water path once I'm done with all of the other zones.


04-08-2014, 08:37 PM

A small water feature in area B.

Easy pool. Not sure what more to add to it. I'm fairly ok with the border and depth shading.



04-08-2014, 08:48 PM
Seems a bit bright and saturated compared to the rest of the elements, but maybe that's just because I'm seeing only part of the map.

04-08-2014, 08:54 PM
I was trying to suggest that this pool isn't as deep as the other water elements. So where as the other water would be, say, waist-deep...this would be something like 'knee' deep.

Just not sure how to make that clear.


04-08-2014, 08:55 PM
Which is why I was making it lighter.


04-08-2014, 08:56 PM
Hmm I actually thought this looked deeper. Maybe showing some element on the bottom to indicate it is shallow? Not sure. Fewer water lines on it might help also.

04-08-2014, 08:57 PM

Here's a smaller version of the map with all of the elements to date. :)


04-08-2014, 10:01 PM

Here's my first whack at areas C & D. I'm not sure what to put here but the space seemed to lend itself to the idea of a jail cell.

That and I wanted to see if I could make walls look 'right' and add in a nest of hay for a bed.

Whatcha think?


04-09-2014, 10:24 AM

Same area though this time I played with the idea of a series of stone steps over pools of green, glowing slime.

The rock-steps are...'eh' but I'm not sure how to anchor them to the ground yet - to make them feel like they're flat-ish paving stones.

The green pools are just an experiment with layers of different textures and a glow effect.

Comments welcome.


04-09-2014, 10:48 AM
Lightning the tops and darken the sides if you want them to look more flat, or do sharper shadows on the edges. I'd say they would look more anchored if they interacted with the slime more, ripples around them or some sense they were affecting its growth or flow pattern.

04-09-2014, 11:10 AM

Added some slime growth on the stones and some ripples around them within the pools. Also added some shading to the stones to try and flatten them a bit.