View Full Version : (WIP) An atlas-style map of Palamb

08-03-2014, 05:42 PM
This thread is to share work I have been making "in secret", to turn my original elevation map (http://www.cartographersguild.com/regional-world-mapping/25903-wip-ambitious-world-map-fictious-earth-like-planet-4.html) (which is only complete for one continent, the smallest, out of the whole world) into an atlas-style map, where I could include political and geographic features. I was also sure I wanted to use Nathan's tutorial (http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/26395-how-make-topographical-shadow-illustrator-layer-technique-1-a.html) to have a sort of relief shading on it, so the work-in-progress was also an effort to get that applied onto my own material.

The end result (a few posts below) leaves me very proud. It's not a finished map, though, as labeling isn't completed at all. I would really like some comments on my labeling as it is something I am pretty unsure of.

So, step 1:
I finished my elevation map for the continent of Palamb after tectonics for the whole planet (http://www.cartographersguild.com/finished-maps/27576-tectonics-map-maward.html) of Maward was complete.

This is a scaled down version of the image. At this time, I cropped this part of the world-map onto a new file, and wrote down the exact coordinates (latitude/longitude) of the map limits. The new file still had the elevation layers separate, as that is needed to create the shaded relief.

08-03-2014, 06:02 PM
The second stage of the process is to create a shaded relief, so I could drop the original colors of the elevation map. The original file was enlarged 300% and then I went through a number of trials until I found nice "bevel and emboss" parameters for the relief. I found the right parameters depend on the scale of the original elevation layers. In this map, bevel was at 10%, 3 pixels wide, colors for shadow depending on heightlevel), but as I said, it is a matter of trial and error.

Once this was done, I had the land mass colored in a solid neutral color and traced the main rivers (which were drafted already in the original file, by the way).

The file is large, so I am posting only a reduced and cropped image of the result.

The shaded relief is really beautiful in my humble opinion, and I felt pretty excited with it, but it was very "bland" at this point. One of the things I would love to do, since I am working on climates (http://www.cartographersguild.com/regional-world-mapping/27118-wip-sort-tutorial-climates-applying-geoffs-cookbook-detail-some-5.html) at the same time, is to use Natural Coloring (http://www.shadedrelief.com/natural2/pages/africa1.html) on top of this. But having a mouse to paint and not being an art-trained person, this was just too difficult for me and I ended up giving up on it.

08-03-2014, 06:07 PM
After some frustrating attempts, I left the "natural color" project in the back burner and decided to go for pastel colors, based on height.

I had this map from the Pyrenees (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:Location_map_Pyrenees_topography) to use as reference for some time, so I took the color scheme from it (but not its relationship with elevation, as my map has mountains way higher than the Pyrenees) and tried it. From start I knew I wasn't going to re-color all the original layers, just a few, so again it was a matter of trial and error until I got something I was happy with.
The result was a very traditional looking map, definitely atlas-style, with rivers, lakes and shaded relief added to a basic height coloring.

As before, this is a reduced version of the image I work on.

08-03-2014, 06:19 PM
So I was keen to label this baby by now, but there was still one more task before that... turning this cropped part of a global plate carrée projection into a proper atlas projection. That's why I had noted down the coordinated for the map limits (I also had this to use the map as an overlay on google maps, but that's another story).

Uploading the image in G.Projector, I went through a lot of different projections. Palamb is a difficult continent to project because it's very bulky close to the equator, but it also spans all the way to 70º South, if Taupland (those islands in the south) is included, and at the same time, it doesn't really spans very much east-west.

Once I found a nice projection (sort of, I don't think it is absolutely brilliant) I exported it with as much resolution as the program can do, with and without graticule.

And this was the image that I started labeling.


I retraced the graticule, labeled main features and added cities and political borders... This is the current stage of the project. I don't want to clutter it too much, but I think I can add more labels. However, as I said before, I am unsure of my labeling choices (fonts, orientation, colors).

Any thoughts?

(EDIT: attachment fixed)

08-03-2014, 07:34 PM
The atlas style map look very detailed!

Unfortunately, the last attachment is invalid.

For labeling, to make a long message short, I would recommend that you read this : http://www.cartographersguild.com/reference-material/12373-positioning-names-maps.html
Fonts should be easy to read and consistent but this is often more complicated that it looks. Usually it's better to use font similar to those you would find in a book. It does not have to be Time New Roman or Helvetica but certainly not too fancy either but I can't find a counter example right now.

08-03-2014, 09:22 PM
I think looks awesome , but how you did the mountain ranges and the several inlands of the mountains if you didn't use wilbur?

08-04-2014, 06:48 AM
I think looks awesome , but how you did the mountain ranges and the several inlands of the mountains if you didn't use wilbur?

By hand.. layer by layer... as I said, I am a bit of a freak ;)

08-04-2014, 06:53 AM
By hand.. layer by layer... as I said, I am a bit of a freak ;)

Are you kidding? You did draw by hand every inlet? but it looks so natural and geographically fractal , how u did achieve that lol , you have a fractal mind? spent a night only for a single border ? what did draw ur idea for following such patterns? using a wacom or mouse? I do nto mean mostly the levels of colored layers but the really the in and out of the mountains :) ... I can't believe u did all by hand if so I want to see you drawing ^^ ...

Abosultely anyway its a gorgeous job absolutely realistic , sorry to compare but even light years ahead of the tutorial you were following and I love it ^^ ...

first time I see something I woudl rep more than once ...

08-05-2014, 05:52 AM
Thanks for the compliments. Yep, it's done by hand and it was a long learning curve until I can get this level of realism. There's a couple more continents to work on and I just started to on the largest one. I still have plenty of opportunities to make a small video of the technique.... actually, I had promised it before, so I guess I'll make it happen someday.

And yes, sometimes it is a whole night job to get a mountain range or a river basin right ;)

08-05-2014, 05:54 AM
Any more comments on the graphical layout of this map? choice of projection, labeling, borders to use or captions...?

08-05-2014, 12:04 PM
What is the projection of the map? Maybe you could add a title with the name of the projection.

And how many layers do you have? I'm asking because the color progression is very fluid from my point of view.

And maybe you could make the ocean colors less contrasted ? Unless you were going to make the ocean topography afterward.

08-05-2014, 06:07 PM
Her pixie. I really like the map, it looks very good and I don't really see any problems with it. It looks like I belongs to a world atlas book.

08-06-2014, 05:58 AM
The projection is Breusing Geometric, centered slightly south of the equator. I'll see how a lighter and more pastel blue works - ocean topography is not a project at the moment.. can't bite more than I can chew.

The color progression is merit of the color scheme mixed with the progressive relief shading by Nathan. It just worked out, much to my surprise as well. Thinking about it, exploding my topographic may have also added just the enough amount of "feather" in all the solid color layers.

08-06-2014, 11:14 AM
I'm almost ashamed to say this, but I think it looked cooler before you applied the shading. I mean it's gorgeous in the current state, and looks exactly like something from an atlas, extremely realistic… but the raw, hand-drawn elevation map has something that just sets it apart completely from every other atlas-style map. It's unique and it displays the intense amount of work you've put into it, which I kinda think gets hidden when the shading is applied.

But! It's your map, so I'll stop now ;) About the labeling, projection, etc, I like all your fonts except for the city font, which I think should have either pretty pronounced serifs to match the area labels, or no serifs, to stand out from it. It's somewhere in-between right now, and oddly, that looks mismatched in my eyes. The projection is interesting, and it works well for this shape. Some more longitudes and latitudes could be shown, in my opinion; the continent is pretty big, and wide spacing in the graticule makes the land appear smaller, at least to me… Also, one thing that would look good in my opinion would be to curve the straight labels along the graticule.

08-06-2014, 12:30 PM
Have you used the smudge tool much? It might be useful in your endeavors to create the natural coloration version. All of this looks amazing, by the way!

08-06-2014, 12:51 PM
Great work Pixie. I've spent much time doing similar work.
I think you did a wonderful job on this. I look forward to seeing you work with this style. :D

- Max -
08-07-2014, 06:46 AM
Nice stuff Pixie :) I though agree with Ligon about the cities labels font. Also the coastlines looks a bit poor resolution.

08-07-2014, 12:01 PM
As others said, very nice map. I think you got just the good color palette and mountain style. It would just perfectly fit in an atlas.

08-09-2014, 08:12 PM
Thanks for the compliments and the ideas for improvements. I will eventually try your suggestions and revive this post. But for now, holidays :D

08-28-2014, 05:12 AM
Holy gee! I missed this thread completely. What a nice surprise.

Palam looks amazing Pixie. I was wondering what you were up to all these weeks because I only checked your other older threads which I have bookmarked, and there you were pretty quiet. I can't believe all the progress you've made on the cute penguin, great work.

By the way, have you noticed one of the short rivers near Melankien, in Hakam, does not reach the sea or lake?