View Full Version : Max's Workshop

- Max -
06-25-2014, 06:29 AM
Hey everyone,

So welcome to Max's Workshop! Since I can't open a WIP thread for each map I'm working on, I've decided to open this thread to throw in some samples of my current works, test styles, doodles and stuff. I'll try to regularly keep it updated, so take a seat and enjoy your stay ( you should find some chips and cookies right here) :)
All material in this thread is M.PLASSE - All rights reserved unless specified in a different way.

Let's start it today with some stuff I'm currently drawing for some running commissions:

A central part of a map:


A couple Coat of Arms :


06-25-2014, 07:20 AM
Very cool idea, Max! I will take that chair over there by the fireplace :D *munches some chips and cookies*

06-25-2014, 08:31 AM
Great idea Max. That impact crater is excellent.

- Max -
06-26-2014, 05:38 AM
Thanks guys. Here's the Coat of Arms from yesterday now colored:


And a sea monster drawn on a commissioned map:


- Max -
06-26-2014, 01:39 PM
I was drawing a few mountains to practice and I figured I would share a bit of the process here:

The steps:
1. Moutains main outlines on some texture
2. Adding Ridges
3. Adding detail ridges
4. Painting light shadows
5. Going deeper in shadows
6. Painting highlights
7. More highlights
8. A very slight touch of grey/brown and green colors.


06-26-2014, 06:33 PM
Max this is excellent! Thank you for sharing your techniques. Another thread to subscribe to!


06-27-2014, 06:06 AM
Excellent idea, I'm gonna loving this thread!

- Max -
06-27-2014, 08:37 AM
Thanks Meshon and Ilanthar! I figured this kind of thread could be useful, interesting, fun or whatever else :D

06-27-2014, 10:24 AM
Really awesome stuff, man!

- Max -
06-27-2014, 12:56 PM
Thank you Cereth :)

Here's a sketch of a top down style test


And with some colors (very) quickly thrown in


06-28-2014, 11:24 AM
Max, with the mountain process, how many layers does it end up being? (and what layer blends do you generally use? :) )

- Max -
06-28-2014, 12:41 PM
In this case, I have 10 layers (one for each process stage). If I had to use them on a map, I would probably end up with 6 (1 merged outlines layer - step 1,2 and 3, 1 shadow1 layer, 1 shadow2 layer, 1 highlight1 layer, 1 highlight2 layer, 1colors layer), this will allow flexibility to play with the depth of shadows and highlights if needed. As for layers blend, you can either use normal mode with a high range of contrasted colors or use multiply for shadows and screen for highlights.

- Max -
06-30-2014, 06:45 AM
Here's a WIP map building commission I'm currently working on:


06-30-2014, 12:24 PM
Respect! After doing the roofs on the Ledge and Dairy Inn (http://www.cartographersguild.com/building-structure-mapping/27481-ledge-dairy-inn.html) I have a new appreciation for those shingles. If you ever feel like it, I'd love to see the steps you go through making a map like this building, I really love the look. I think my current lite challenge entry is pretty much an attempt to emulate your style...


- Max -
07-01-2014, 09:04 AM
Thanks Meshon :) Here's a small map with a couple of buildings and a pdf with my process on it.



fabio p
07-01-2014, 09:31 AM
Max, this workshop is a dream that has come true; digging even a bit in your works in progress is a constant source of inspiration and a learning experience. Keep it steadily up!

- Max -
07-01-2014, 06:41 PM
Thanks Fabio, glad this is inspiring :)

- Max -
07-04-2014, 07:32 AM
A sketch of a current island map commission:


- Max -
07-04-2014, 09:09 AM
And a 10 steps process on a small personnal map (with the final version in the finished map thread here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/finished-maps/27585-duchy-meliend-fantasy-map.html#post248251)) :


07-04-2014, 10:07 AM
Great tutorial Max. It's amazing you can do this so fast.

07-05-2014, 07:09 PM
Loving this thread. Great stuff, Max. Nice to see all the steps.

07-06-2014, 09:34 AM
Very good idea, Max! This thread has already proven to be useful! Thanks for the insights into your work.

Do you draw all your mountains individually or are you using cloning?

- Max -
07-06-2014, 05:40 PM
Thanks guys :) Mountains are drawn individually here.

07-07-2014, 10:42 PM
And is everything drawn using a tablet or most of it on paper than scanned ? If it's on tablet would you mind sharing your settings on your brush ?

- Max -
07-08-2014, 03:44 AM
Everything's drawn using a tablet. As for the brushes settings, I don't use the same depending on what I want to do or the brush I use but basically I use some standard setting (pressure control, sometimes opacity control) with a basic hard round brush for almost all my outlining work.

07-08-2014, 03:08 PM
Thank you for starting this thread and sharing some of your workflow with us Max! I really like the look of the rock formations in the first post. The finished Coats of Arms and the sea monster look gorgeous too. :) I find the tips you've posted here very useful. Thank you again!

07-08-2014, 04:22 PM
Man, great stuff. Thanks for posting!

07-08-2014, 04:51 PM
If you don't mind me asking, what kind of tablet do you use Max? I used to have a wacom intuos 3 but sold it. Now I'm getting back into digital drawing and am thinking about buying a new wacom tablet.

- Max -
07-12-2014, 10:35 PM
Thank you guys.
@JonPin : I use an Intuos4.

- Max -
07-13-2014, 11:18 AM
Today, some samples of a map on which I am currently working :

65702 65703

07-13-2014, 12:28 PM
Max, this is just glorious. Thank you so much for sharing your techniques! I want to live in your workshop!!!

p.s. do you think this should be in the tutorials section as there is tutorial gold here?



07-13-2014, 12:42 PM
Absolutely marvelous, Max! And a very large Thank You for sharing all of this!

- Max -
07-13-2014, 04:40 PM
Thank you guys !

p.s. do you think this should be in the tutorials section as there is tutorial gold here?
Actually I don' t really know, this is more some workflow/process sharing than some real tutorials (tat would need more detailed explanations).

07-14-2014, 06:42 AM
Wow, those newest samples are absolutely stunning. A very nice new style. Looking forward to the whole map.
Have a Like.

- Max -
07-14-2014, 08:03 PM
Thanks Eilathen. Actually it might take time before you'll see the whole map since it's involved in a commissioned project :P

07-14-2014, 08:58 PM
This thread is great and very enlightening.

Max: I am curious about what sort of settings you generally use for the brush tool and such so I'd love to hear some of the details if you don't mind!

07-15-2014, 05:15 AM
Thank you guys.
@JonPin : I use an Intuos4.

Yesssss. Tell us your secretssss.
(I bought one of those the other week...)

- Max -
07-15-2014, 01:58 PM
Thanks Guys :)

Max: I am curious about what sort of settings you generally use for the brush tool and such so I'd love to hear some of the details if you don't mind!
On any map in particular?

Today, some fun with a little B&W map drawn only with mouse, playing with the fade option of the opacity and sizes jitter in the brushes settings.


07-31-2014, 03:33 AM
Thanks for encouraging the noobs like me with only mouse maps. Talent is what we need, not tools.

I'm gonna try it right now. ;)

Edited: Tweaking with Illustrator and of course only mouse...
66174 and final!! 66179

- Max -
08-05-2014, 11:36 AM
No problem Meriba, glad it helped :)

- Max -
09-08-2014, 02:04 PM
A few samples of some WIP maps I'm currently working on.

Some mountains :

67198 67199

A city map in progress :


09-09-2014, 03:23 AM
As usual, very nice work.

I'm curious as how your brush settigns are. Hoe do you achieve that quill-like look? Meaning the interrupted strokes and irregular thickness. My guess is that your brush tip is something like a rectangle and is set to rotate, which would achieve the variation in thickness, but I'm not sure how you got the interruption in the lines... unless you just lift the tip of your stylus. ;)

Also, so you have problems keeping yourself from putting too much detail into your mountains? Because I frequently get lost in drawing too many details but find it hard to stay away from it. In my opinion your mountains contain just the right amount of detail, without having too much.

- Max -
09-09-2014, 05:18 AM
Thank you Llannagh. Actually I just used the basic PS round brush (here with some noise brush setting and the usual size pressure setting). The irregular thickness and interrupted strokes were just made by controlling pressure and lifting the tip of the stylus indeed :)
About mountains details, I'm always thinking "print size". I draw a couple of mountains, then check how it looks at the final print size to be sure that they're still "legible" and convincing. Obviously, you have to adjust the level of mountains depending how big the print will be.

09-10-2014, 08:34 AM
I love those mountains, there are full of details! The city is very promising too, the view makes me think of Prague.

- Max -
09-12-2014, 02:08 PM
Thanks Ilanthar (hehe well spotted ;) ).

Today, a part of some commission sketching:


Some commission WIP outlining work:


And more sample of a finished commission (coming in the future in the finished thread) :


09-12-2014, 02:22 PM
Nice maps Max!

- Max -
09-13-2014, 10:03 AM
Thank you Bogie

09-13-2014, 12:36 PM
Man, I really love that relief style you've been perfecting. I need to learn how to do that...

09-14-2014, 08:30 AM
That last sample looks amazing! Looking forward to the finished map.

- Max -
09-15-2014, 02:25 PM
Thanks guys ! The rpg for which the last sample map was done shoul be released in a couple of weeks, as so the whole finished map ;)

- Max -
09-23-2014, 04:35 AM
Outlining work sample on a commission (I previously posted a sketch above ) :


A couple of mountains and forests on another commission :


And a 7 steps process on how drawing a colored parchment. Not specifically a mapping element but it can be used as a title/key/informations frame. I've drawn this one for the Deeps of Khor (http://www.cartographersguild.com/finished-maps/28323-deeps-khor.html)


09-23-2014, 07:05 AM
Can I just sit and watch over your shoulder? I'll pay! These step by step processes are really inspiring and helpful, thanks so much for sharing your talents. Seeing a master at work is really helpful, I want to skip work today and do a map.

- Max -
09-25-2014, 10:46 AM
Sure Snosdy, take a seat, there's some chips and cookies right there ;) Thanks by the way ! Here's some current experimenting with some isometric hand-drawn modular dungeon (no colors, just outlined elemetns at the moment) :


09-27-2014, 12:35 PM
Reminds me deeply of Hirst Arts blocks, only in drawn form. It's pretty neat.

- Max -
10-01-2014, 11:08 AM
Thanks Falconius. here's some small samples of the tweaked and colored version of the iso dungeon.

68066 68067 68068 68069

10-05-2014, 03:04 AM
Wow, Max. The iso dungeon is looking fantastic! Will we see the final color version?

- Max -
10-08-2014, 09:53 AM
The final color version will probably be available to purchase soon, along with other isometric dungeons maps ;)

- Max -
10-10-2014, 01:19 PM
And here's another isometric dungeon map with this kind of modular material :


- Max -
10-13-2014, 08:28 AM
Some coloring work:

68334 68335

And iso linework for some building maps :

68336 68337

10-14-2014, 05:13 AM
You put so many details in those buildings! The bridge is just awesome.

10-14-2014, 12:02 PM
Max, You are amazing. I would like to discuss a commission with you. The contact form on your website was not working for me.

10-14-2014, 12:29 PM
This is great stuff. I find it personally very inspiring, in that it makes me envious of your skill and your eye for detail and composition.

10-18-2014, 03:04 AM
Did you have professional training, btw.? Went to a school of arts or something? Or did you teach yourself?

- Max -
10-18-2014, 11:10 AM
Thanks much guys, glad you like it !
Lhannag, actually I came to cartography and drawing pretty late so I didn't have the chance to study art in school and I taught myself (well I'm still doing it anyway :) )

10-18-2014, 06:01 PM
You definitely are talented! :)

Same thing here, I'm just now learning to draw, being in my mid-thirties, but I guess things happen when they happen! C'est la vie, right? ;)
Anyway, I need to sit down and bring up the patience and tenacity to learn how to draw things like the bridge you did there, that's just fantastic. I'm kind of glad you taught/are teaching yourself, that gives me hope and you another level of respect.

Thanks again for giving insight into your working process, this has definitley been of help to me.

- Max -
10-22-2014, 05:59 PM
Well I guess it's never too late to start ;) Anyway I'm glad that my works help :)

ok so here's a WIP map with some advanced sketching work on an isometric island :


- Max -
12-29-2014, 10:36 AM
It's been a long time since I've updated this so this have to be fixed :)

Here are some samples of a couple of maps on which I've worked lately/still working. they should be published/done early 2015.

69903 69904 69905 69906 69907

- Max -
01-29-2015, 09:48 AM
And here's the quick 10 steps process for a map I've done lately. WIP thread here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=29439) and finished map here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=29506&p=261252#post261252).


02-01-2015, 12:21 AM
Just looking through this thread and wanted to say thanks for sharing Max. Your work is really inspiring.

- Max -
02-08-2015, 07:11 AM
My pleasure Nightshade !

08-29-2015, 12:13 PM
I 2nd what Nightshade400 said, your work is inspiring. Just starting to get into map-making.