View Full Version : First serious attempt at a map

06-18-2014, 08:36 AM
Hello everyone!

First time poster here. Back before the days of Photoshop CS, I was big into roleplaying. Not in person, but in writing. This gave me the idea to make some maps for the stories I made with others. They were very bad (parchment texture with very round black lines to show land and roads and such) but it was fun to do. But after about 3 or 4 of these maps, I stopped and did not give it any more thought until about a week ago.

I decided to dust off the old Photoshop and start something new, figuring that now (years later) there would be much better resources available. And so there are!

Boring story is boring, here's the finished version of the map I made. Mind you, this is downsized because for some insane reason I decided to go for 4K resolution.


I didn't think to save if as a different file at multiple stages to show progress, since I wasn't planning on showing it to anyone. I only just now found this site. I started off with a very broad definition of the land mass, by using a very big round brush to make white shapes on a seperate black background layer. After this, I used a 4pixel eraser to define all of the land, including the tiny islands off the coasts.

After that I used a set of brushes to put in the mountains, trees and cities. There were later all colored in by hand. The trees made this particularly painful and I'm desperately hoping there's an easier way for it. The rest, I'm sure, is obvious to all you guys.

Anyway, I just found this website and have already found many useful links. So I thought I'd join! I'd like to know what you guys think.


06-18-2014, 08:51 AM
Nice map particularly for a first one, i really like the idea of your border made of clouds. The problem is that your image is too small, i want to zoom in to see more details but i can't:)

06-18-2014, 08:56 AM
With that being my first post, I didn't want to overdo it with the dimensions =P

Here's the full res version!


The idea of the clouds came from the map of A Link to the Past on the SNES. It used a very simple cloud border to show where the world ended, and it's kind of stuck with me.

06-18-2014, 09:20 AM
That's better now i can really see your map and.. it's really good! The ocean texture is original and unusual and works well for me, and again really nice borders, even more with such an inspiration;) A few things can be improved according to me (completly normal for a first map!) Your bevel effect on lands is a bit too strong, that's visible on your smallest rivers that are a bit too dark. I would also have hide the lines that starts from your north arrow on the lands, letting them visible only on water. Those are minors details on a good map, i wish my first map was as good as this one, hope to see more of your work soon!

06-18-2014, 09:25 AM
Thanks for all the input! I really appreciate it. Though this is my first map that I've put serious effort into, I did already have a fairly good grasp of a lot of PS techniques for these sorts of projects. And I agree on the bevel effect, but it never crossed my mind to just lower it a bit. I wanted my rivers to be even thinner at the source, but they'd just be a black line at that point. Lowering the bevel will probably help that a lot, so I will definitely give that a try, thanks!

06-18-2014, 09:27 AM
No prob with posting big maps- we *want* to see what all is going on, even to the extent of snapshots as you build a map (a work-in-progress thread). Thanks for jumping right in-- I appreciate substantive content from the start; in fact that's worth a bit of rep by itself. The map too is worth some kudos: nice start (or re-start :-) ). I love the clouds. You've scattered trees and grassland and marsh plausibly and pleasingly. As you guessed, there's an easier way - search the CG for "Tree Thing" - an amazing tree-scattering procedure.

Your rivers are drawn to match the overall style, if maybe a tad heavily. Their main issue is they choose some very unriverlike channels. You just don't see rivers making major splits and heading for opposite coasts. Take a look at the Most Excellent tutorial How To Get Your Rivers In The Right Place, stickied near the top of the tutorials forum.

The radial lines are called Rhumb Lines (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhumb_line). Their purpose was constant-bearing navigation on a map projection where constant direction is a straight line, like Mercator. You did see them radiating from a compass rose, but secondary sets would originate near likely destinations. And you wouldn't often see them cross major land masses and continue in distant bodies of water, unless to just 'look complete' (cartographers of old weren't immune to the form-over-function impulse)... Or I suppose unless one is depicting a nice steampunkish setting with widespread airship navigation? ;-)

Oh, and welcome to the Guild!

06-18-2014, 09:49 AM
Thanks! My next project will definitely have a WIP thing going on where I show what's happening, as it's happening.

I really appreciate the links to the tutorials you gave me. I wasn't too fond of the way the rivers turned out but decided that they seemed to go well enough with the admittedly cartoonish style of the map itself. As for the Rhumb Lines, I had never even heard of them before. I had seen them on maps before but I had no clue what their purpose was. I added them purely for looks.

I think that's probably the biggest flaw in the whole thing, looking back. I don't know any of the rules when it comes to cartography (like the bit about the rivers, I'm sure there's tons more like that) I'll have a look at the things you mentioned, and will browse the tutorials section of the forum for general tips and tricks.