PDA

View Full Version : [wip] Spindrift



Municorn
07-07-2014, 12:24 PM
Hi guys,

I've just posted my Spindrift (http://www.spindrift-comic.com) map in the finished maps section, but I also wanted to show you guys the process in case anyone is interested to see how it came to be. Sadly - since the map is finished - I won't make any big changes based on feedback (unless you spot a typo or something like that :P) but I'll definitely use any feedback and pointers for future maps.

I'll work backwards in time, with the latest version on top:

Here's the finished map:
65561

Steps of the cartouche, from rough to sketch to final.
65566

This is a sketch of the entire realm, which I made to get a better overview/consistency and for story purpose. The other continents don't play as large a part in the story as the rest, so that's why the final map focuses on Central Orbani.
65563

This is what I had planned to use as final product initially. I actually put quite a bit of time into making this one, but I fell out of love with the result eventually. That, and I needed to update some of the geography because the story had evolved in the past years and some of the locations needed changing. I also really disliked some of the names I used here :P.
65562

Below are sketches of the map, which are what I used alongside writing the first draft of the story.
65564

65565

So yeah, I think that's pretty much all there is to show, unless you guys are interested in seeing the paper texture, portolan lines or compass in close up or something like that XD.


Edit: Eep, I seem to have forgotten to add the name of the thread after the WIP part, and I seem unable to edit that part. Perhaps a mod could shoot at it?.

Diamond
07-07-2014, 12:43 PM
Fixed your title for you; if you want it to say something different, let me know.

I'm very impressed with the cartouche; that is pretty magnificent. Your maps are great - I'll have to check out your comic now!

Municorn
07-07-2014, 01:13 PM
Thank you, much appreciated ^_^. Having 'Spindrift' in there is perfectly fine.
I'm happy to hear you like the cartouche. It was actually a lot more fun to draw than I had imagined, although it took quite a while to crosshatch all those lines *sweat*.

JonPin
07-07-2014, 07:50 PM
Great cartouche! Awesome :)

Domino44
07-07-2014, 11:11 PM
Some very wonderful work! I really love all of your mountains but especially in the finished map at the top. I'm looking forward to see more work from you!

Hai-Etlik
07-08-2014, 12:53 AM
Well, far and away the thing that stands out most are the rivers. They look nice enough graphically, but that big system in the north east in particular seems to be backwards. Rivers flow down hill and merge together as they do so. There's always a "most downhill" way to go at any point so the water goes that way. Bifurcations do occur, but it's always under special conditions, and almost always ends a short way on. The river system in the north east is particularly strange because you have a little stub of a river that branches into to larger rivers.

There are some odd situations where very large natural bifurcations occur like Divide Creek, or Casiquiare Canal. These are geologically VERY short lived, rare, and often subject to a great deal of seasonal variation. Your example just doesn't look like a natural water divide or an artificial canal (which would be linking between two natural rivers). The bifurcation north of Vinuros might make sense as a canal the one south of Pine Edge does not.

There are also some oddities with respect to the extent, scale, and orientation.

You seem to be spacing your parallels exactly 100km apart, which if they are the same as our kilometres, means your planet is slightly smaller than Earth (unless you are using a different form of angular measure than degrees).

The problem is that you seem to have put it at about 36 degrees south. That puts this map at about the same latitude as South Africa.

65581

You also have the latitude and longitude as an exact square grid. That only works right at the equator. As you move toward the poles, the meridians of longitude converge. at 35.8 degrees, latitude (north or south) the distance between meridians is 0.811 of what it is at the equator (the cosine of the latitude) That's enough to throw off distances, and way more than enough to throw off bearings. Viewed in a stereographic projection centred at 35.8 south by 10 east you get this:

65582

That's pretty much what the real shape of the land your map covers is, if those markings on the border are correct. However, if that's the case, then the scale bar, compasses, and rhumb lines are all wrong because the map does not preserve distances or bearings. If the scale bar is reasonably correct (it will never be entirely correct), then the border is wrong and the compass rose is maybe a bit questionable.

You also have the "done on a computer but trying to look vaguely old and fantasyish" look. You've done a very good job of that look and if that's what you were aiming for, then I'm not going to criticize that. If you were aiming to simulate a map crated within an actual fantasy world, then there are a few tells that this was done on a computer. The biggest are texture discontinuities at the coast, too perfect outset lines at the coast, perfect colour control and lack of bleed at the coasts, and the strong halos on the labels. Overall it makes the land look like it was cut out of another piece of paper and glued on. Thinking about how the notional cartographer created the map and trying to replicate the results of those methods helps with this, particularly if you think about sources of error and how much control/precision a technique allows for. Again, if you just want to evoke a generally "old fantasyish look" that's obviously done with a computer anyway, that's a perfectly reasonable way to go too. It's arguably the dominant style of fantasy map.

The colouring on the land is in the problematic grey area between decoration and content. Maps need to be very careful about that. You can present content in a decorative way, but you need to be clear about it being content. Your mountains for example do this nicely. Those greens and browns though make it very hard to tell what's just a blotch of colour, and what's supposed to mean something. One of the first rules I learned about cartography (back in GEOG 501) is don't anything in a map unless it's important to the map. If it's important enough to be in the map, show it clearly. If it's not important enough to make it clear, don't include it at all or it will just be a distraction.

The last thing is Labelling. Labelling is one of the things that distinguishes a Cartographer from a graphic designer who knows geography, or a geographer who knows how to draw. There are entire books on labelling maps. There are lengthy academic papers on it. One of my co-workers is going to give a talk to the company next Friday about map typography, and I'm eagerly looking forward to it. If you're doing a really good job, labelling will probably take as long as everything else put together.

A few things that stand out:

Be consistent. Label the same kind of thing the same way. Don't vary text size to "squeeze" or "stretch" to fit the size of the feature. Use letter spacing for that. Varying text size for different classes or ranks or thigns of different levels of importance is fine. A province should have smaller text for its labels than a country because it's a lower rank of area, not because it takes up less space. Also, if you use curved labels for areas, be consistent about it ("Central Orbani" vs "Khama Barren"). All areas should be curved, or none of them. The size rule breaks down a bit for water bodies as they tend to be ranked by their size but keep it within reason even then: Stick to a fixed set of sizes and use letter spacing more than glyph size.

Avoid multiple lines. This is probably the weakest rule of labelling but inline labels are just easier to read and look nicer.

Curved labels shouldn't curve back on themselves. If you end up with upside down letters, it's hard to read and not pleasant to look at. ("Northern Barrier", "The Three Sisters")

You didn't do this but it's worth pointing out, don't run labels along straight diagonals. They should either be straight horizontal or curved.

Oblique fonts , particularly with insufficient letter spacing tend to look squashed when put on a curve. And on that note, NEVER use envelope deform to curve text or it WILL be squashed and ugly. Always use text-along-path (or whatever your software calls the feature that moves ant rotates the glyphs to align them on a curve)

Also, all of the labelling rules sometimes need to be broken (except the envelope deform one) you need to know what they are in order to know when to break them though.

An excellent guide to labelling is http://www.cartographersguild.com/reference-material/12373-positioning-names-maps.html

DigitalFable
07-08-2014, 05:44 AM
I agree with others the cartouche is stunning! And I really like the subtle color tones looks beautiful! :)

Eilathen
07-08-2014, 07:45 AM
I love this thread :) If only more of the threads on here would show how the maps/world developed (if there is such a development, that is... ;) ).
Be that as it may, i really dig the style for your newest map, at the top of the thread. A bit sparse in landfilling (especially not much tree/forests and no hills and stuff) but it has its own charm. Is the region very dry or even desert-like? I just get that impression through your choice of colors (very yellowy aka sandcolored etc. ).

Addendum : Btw, i also really like the fourth map from the top, the one you fell out of love with. A very nice style in my opinion!

Have a Like and some Rep.!

And now i will take a look at your webcomic :)

Diamond
07-09-2014, 12:28 AM
Well, far and away the thing that stands out most are the rivers.
That bugged me too, but the map looks so great I didn't have the heart to say anything. I'll never join the River Police at this rate! :D

Hai-Etlik
07-09-2014, 02:43 AM
That bugged me too, but the map looks so great I didn't have the heart to say anything. I'll never join the River Police at this rate! :D

If it hadn't shown that much skill at the graphics I probably wouldn't have spent any entire evening criticizing the geography and cartography. I did that because I think Municorn could make some really spectacular maps with just a bit more knowledge of the subject. If mistakes aren't pointed out, they usually get repeated and I'd hate to see another map as pretty as this have rivers that distractingly wrong looking.

Municorn
07-09-2014, 03:26 PM
Eep that's a lot of feedback.

To clear something up first, I'm as much a skilled or experienced cartographer as I'm a graphic designer, basically I'm neither.
I'm an illustrator and storyteller before the other things in every case, and this reflects into the choices I've made in the map to some extend. There's also practical considerations of course, such as time constraints, but that's a different matter altogether.

That said, on to the feedback.

@ Eilathen:
The continent is indeed partly undiscovered/uncultivated/uninhabited, and you are correct on a large part of the area being dessert-like.
Also, thanks for the rep. No idea what it does, but thanks :D.


@Hai-Etlik
Thanks for that wall of text (I don't mean that sarcastically. Sincerely, thanks for the time and effort that went into that.) I've some thoughts and questions on the subjects you've touched.

- I see now that I've used the latitude and longitude incorrectly. Not that I didn't know of map projections or any of that, but I have made the grid (and the chart) with the idea of those regional maps in an atlas. I should have probably used numbers and letters like the atlas so I wouldn't confuse anyone.
In other words, I placed the grid as a tool to help find locations as if the map was part of a larger collection of maps with a register (to be able to say Brokers vale is on square 10,36). I wasn't at all thinking about them as longitudes and latitudes to be honest*sweat*.

I guess I can do two things, either change it to be numbers and letters like an atlas to prevent future confusion, or decide on what the entire planet looks like and figure out the proper numbers (as I haven't really. In the 3rd image from the top -which is the overview- I just drew what I needed for the story - I haven't at all decided if there are more continents or perhaps just a lot more ocean). The first option seems more foolproof to me. :P

- As for the Portolan lines and compas, I'll gladly admit that I've added them for their looks, and I wasn't entirely sure how I was supposed to add them correctly -since technically this chart doesn't have any other characteristic of a Portolan chart, they are out of place either way.

- I came to the same conclusion about the size of the continent (not so much the planet, since I haven't really drawn or defined the whole of it). It's still on the small side tho (Orbani is roughly the size of Scandinavia). In the reality there would be consequences of living on a smaller planet and continent of course, but since this is a fantasy world I decided that I could take some liberties for story purposes.

- The problem with the river system starting at Pine Edge, I fully recognize. I figured, since rivers always flow to lower grounds, the ground level at the source is higher, but I haven't done anything in the map to show that so I see now that it might look out of place, even without the split.

Would adding a few hills there to make it more reasonable? I could also split the river going East from Pine edge and the one going South from it into two seperate rivers. There's a minor story reason for the system to be like that, but nothing that I can't tweak.

- That it's recognizably made on a computer is bothering me to, to some extend - but from a practical point of view it seemed unavoidable. I could hand-letter and ink everything, but it would cost me days of extra work which I don't have. I could add some imperfections, but I fear it wouldn't make a huge difference.

- As for the coloring and content:
I agree. Entirely. Before calling the map finished I tried a number of things, having well defined Forrest areas, having tiny trees all over the place. It looked horrible, so I went with ascetics on this one.

- About the Labels:
I'll try to look at consistency again with different priorities if I find the time.
Although in one of your example I disagree. In importance, comparing Central Orbani with the Barren, would be equal to comparing North America to the Rocky mountains for instance. To me it makes sense they don't have the same size Label. I'll take a look at your link though, see if that helps me.

I have actually put all the curved labels on paths, but someone else also pointed out that the font looked distorted nonetheless, so same here: if I find some time I might take an other shot at fixing it.

So em yeah. I hope I don't sound too defensive on this, I do really value the input and I'll certainly consider it for future maps. I'll also see if I can make some minor tweaks on this one if I find the time, but I'm afraid that will be tricky. For me this is an extra thing to be doing next to my comic and commercial work, which are both a hand full.

Hai-Etlik
07-09-2014, 10:58 PM
- I see now that I've used the latitude and longitude incorrectly. Not that I didn't know of map projections or any of that, but I have made the grid (and the chart) with the idea of those regional maps in an atlas. I should have probably used numbers and letters like the atlas so I wouldn't confuse anyone.
In other words, I placed the grid as a tool to help find locations as if the map was part of a larger collection of maps with a register (to be able to say Brokers vale is on square 10,36). I wasn't at all thinking about them as longitudes and latitudes to be honest*sweat*.

I guess I can do two things, either change it to be numbers and letters like an atlas to prevent future confusion, or decide on what the entire planet looks like and figure out the proper numbers (as I haven't really. In the 3rd image from the top -which is the overview- I just drew what I needed for the story - I haven't at all decided if there are more continents or perhaps just a lot more ocean). The first option seems more foolproof to me. :P

I'd suggest going with a purely decorative border as it plays to your strengths and fits the overall style and purpose of the map. Locator grids have a rather specific purpose and that's for high density maps where you need to look up features by a non-spatial identifier (Streets on a street map). They really don't work very wall without a grid over the map extent. They don't really fit with fantasy maps like this, and they don't fit with the ruler/subdivision design you used which implies a coordinate system where dividing into smaller units makes sense (like Lat-Lon, UTM, etc) A straight border without any cartographic gewgaws is perfectly reasonable and doesn't make the map any less mappy. Adding "mappy things" to a map is rather like adding "vehicular things" to a vehicle: you might end up with the map equivalent of a sailing ship with caterpillar treads. If you don't add elements that imply precision you haven't considered, you avoid painting yourself into a corner (or contradicting yourself) Maps don't need to have everything and in fact shouldn't have anything that they don't need.


- As for the Portolan lines and compas, I'll gladly admit that I've added them for their looks, and I wasn't entirely sure how I was supposed to add them correctly -since technically this chart doesn't have any other characteristic of a Portolan chart, they are out of place either way.

This is another "caterpillar treads on sailing ships" thing as your map is a general reference map for land, but compass roses and rhumb lines are for aeronautical navigation charts. They can be used for decoration on maps that don't need them as decoration, but you do need to respect their meaning when doing so. Not all maps preserve bearing and those that don't should never have these elements. Roughly speaking, if northeast is always the same direction anywhere on the map (it's possible to preserve cardinal directions without preserving others) then a compass is OK.


- I came to the same conclusion about the size of the continent (not so much the planet, since I haven't really drawn or defined the whole of it). It's still on the small side tho (Orbani is roughly the size of Scandinavia). In the reality there would be consequences of living on a smaller planet and continent of course, but since this is a fantasy world I decided that I could take some liberties for story purposes.

Magic can excuse anything but its best used sparingly and for a reason. If the magic is making the world "work" while much smaller, it's worth thinking about why the magic is doing that. Just being a small area of an Earth sized planet lets you save your magic for somewhere else it might have more impact.



- The problem with the river system starting at Pine Edge, I fully recognize. I figured, since rivers always flow to lower grounds, the ground level at the source is higher, but I haven't done anything in the map to show that so I see now that it might look out of place, even without the split.

Would adding a few hills there to make it more reasonable? I could also split the river going East from Pine edge and the one going South from it into two seperate rivers. There's a minor story reason for the system to be like that, but nothing that I can't tweak.

I'd split them and extend them both. The east river northeast back toward those other mountains and the south river round the mountains ant into the adjoining valley. That will give both plenty of flow to be navigable at which point the fact that they come close together there would justify wanting to build an artificial canal, or to have a natural bifurcation that has been captured by the other river the same way the Orinoco splits off the natural Casiquiare Canal to the Rio Negro. A natural canal like that is likely to have a lot of seasonal variation, possibly drying up entirely in dry seasons. If a connection between navigable rivers as a justification for Pine Edge being there is the reason you need a link, then a portage road is another option if you can't justify a canal.

If it is a canal then it makes sense that other canals would be built elsewhere. The branch north of Vinuros is a possibility. I'd strongly suggest eliminating any bifurcations that don't need to be there for the story.


- That it's recognizably made on a computer is bothering me to, to some extend - but from a practical point of view it seemed unavoidable. I could hand-letter and ink everything, but it would cost me days of extra work which I don't have. I could add some imperfections, but I fear it wouldn't make a huge difference.

Yeah, this is hard to do and often the effort just can't be justified. The only map I'm all that happy with in this regard took me a month to complete, including making a font and all the symbols from scratch just so that everything matched.



- About the Labels:
I'll try to look at consistency again with different priorities if I find the time.
Although in one of your example I disagree. In importance, comparing Central Orbani with the Barren, would be equal to comparing North America to the Rocky mountains for instance. To me it makes sense they don't have the same size Label. I'll take a look at your link though, see if that helps me.

I wasn't talking about the typeface there but about being curved or not. Both are areas and it helps keep the map looking consistent if you either label all areas with curves, or all with horizontal labels. Giving them different typefaces to indicate that they are different kinds of area is perfectly reasonable. I was getting a bit tired when I got to labelling so I started to rush and wasn't as clear. Sorry about that.


I have actually put all the curved labels on paths, but someone else also pointed out that the font looked distorted nonetheless, so same here: if I find some time I might take an other shot at fixing it.

Yeah I thought so. It's the oblique font that's the problem. Italic works as the variant form let us know it's supposed to be slanted. Oblique is just the regular forms skewed and in combination with the curve it makes it look like an error resulting from writing on a curve.

Municorn
07-10-2014, 07:13 AM
Thanks that clears some of that up. If I find a free rainy weekend before I'm sending this map to the printer I'll take an other shot at it with your comments in mind.

Also, I hope I'm not the only one who thinks a sailing ship with caterpillar treads sounds pretty awesome...:x