View Full Version : Nocturnal Scenes

11-01-2008, 02:45 AM
Haven't got the Halloween out of me, even though its just past... I wanted to experiment creating encounter maps at night. I know this isn't too VT friendly, since VT's like to apply the darkness/shadows through the VT itself and not the map. But I just wanted to play.

Here's a ruined wilderness (or something) with a skeleton at the doorway. Light is cast be the moon, but whether the shadows created are of trees higher up or cast by clouds, I haven't decided.

This was an hour playing around in Xara Xtreme... what do you think? Too dark or otherwise unrealistic?

I think this is experimenting towards creating a village at night. Next I'm going to create some buildings with interior light and window shapes cast by the windows onto the ground surrounding it.


11-01-2008, 08:00 AM
Great - almost photographic. The thing that gives it away the most is the skeleton cos it has a dark halo around him and I bet that token came with that halo as part of it. Another thing might be to desaturate it a bit because eyes don't see color so well at night that everything turns monochrome. Its well moody tho and I bet if you had some low level skeletons they would give more creeps to players than if you had that map in daylight. Its not something I have considered in the past but I bet theres a subliminal effect that a GM can exploit.

Steel General
11-01-2008, 08:10 AM
Very nice GP! I had to look at it a second time to see the halo on the skeleton that RedRobes pointed out.

Lighting and shadows are definitely some of my biggest weaknesses on any of the stuff that I've done.

11-01-2008, 10:30 AM
The Skeleton object is mine, I created it for the Underhalls (dungeon tiles challenge) and repurposed it here. So I put the halo in and can remove it. I actually placed the skeleton above the shadow layer, so the white in the bones can stand out better. I thought about desaturating it as well, so I'll try that this afternoon and repost.


11-01-2008, 10:42 AM
Cool. Don't get me wrong - I am being extremely picky here. That map would be good enough to win a monthly challenge with a suitable requirement for it.

joćo paulo
11-01-2008, 12:29 PM
beautiful artwork

very good

...this gives me fear:twisted:

11-01-2008, 01:12 PM
OK, I desaturated the color somewhat - I didn't want to go completely monochromatic, so there is some level of color still. I altered the overlay nighttime shadows and I removed the halo from the skeleton, using a very slight drop shadow instead.


EDIT: oops, forgot to upload the image, here it is!

11-01-2008, 01:48 PM
fabulous - really looks moonlit now. Could be a real place or photo of a model.

11-01-2008, 03:06 PM
Much better with the desaturation. Looks really atmospheric. My only very minor critique is that the leaves (oak leaves by the look of them) are enormous.

11-01-2008, 05:53 PM
The issue with the leaves of course is that its a non-seamless texture, rather its a photo of leafy ground. Like using masks, I placed a rectangle of dried grass, with a rectangle of the leaves on top. Then a transparency cloud filter was used on the leaves to show the ground from beneath.

Had I decreased the size of the leaves, the repeating pattern by the non-seamless texture would become too obvious. I could possibly play around with the texture to make it more seamless or I could add some additional detritus to cover glaring non-seamless joins.

At the scale I made them, seams are more or less invisible. I'll dabble some more in the wee hours of the morning - I've got some gaming to do in a few...


Steel General
11-01-2008, 06:39 PM
You know what they say Big Leaves, Big.... err Trunk? :D

Looks fantastic!

11-01-2008, 07:32 PM
OK, one last update of the map, before I go gaming...

I made the leaves considerably smaller, so I think it is better now. I think in desaturating this version, I did it less so than the previous, so I may still need to desaturate some more.

And don't worry about the criticizms you're throwing at me, because, as I said this is more of an experiment to get that "nighttime mood" right with a tangible feel.

I plan on using the techniques learned with this project to create a village - village hall, tavern/inn, a few shops and several homes, a chapel, a creepy cemetery, maybe a small bridge crossing a black creek, and a road through the village, all under the moonlight.

Its giving me all sorts of ideas for gaming - goblins in the night, undead walking, a serial killer on the loose last seen on the road to the village, ghosts and ghoulies, or perhaps an accursed witch's hometown.

I think I've just about got the techniques mastered. 8)


11-01-2008, 08:00 PM
Much better with the desaturation. Looks really atmospheric. My only very minor critique is that the leaves (oak leaves by the look of them) are enormous.

I do have to say, comparing them to the skeleton size, those leaves are totally in the realm of possibility. Granted, I am not a tree expert, however, I spent many years working with my stepfather logging, so I can say I have a bit of experience in this area.

11-01-2008, 10:59 PM
Perfect! Great work (as usual) GP!

11-02-2008, 03:23 PM
I thought the leaves were large as well, but only because I'm assuming normal size trees. An oak leaf is generally the same size as your palm. I think the new size is better and you have pretty much nailed the effect you were after. Well done as always!

11-03-2008, 12:46 PM
NIce stuff! The most recent version is a good mix for the leaf size/desaturation debate that you have created.

The colors on this are amazing

11-03-2008, 01:16 PM
If ever you are unsure of the scale for leaves in a scene or general tree info, you can look here: http://www.ag.auburn.edu/hort/landscape/leafid/list.php?vwi=bm9uZQ==

11-03-2008, 02:08 PM
If ever you are unsure of the scale for leaves in a scene or general tree info, you can look here: http://www.ag.auburn.edu/hort/landscape/leafid/list.php?vwi=bm9uZQ==

Nice find. rep++

I was thinking something along the lines of a cross between a Pin Oak (http://www.ag.auburn.edu/hort/landscape/dbpages/102.html) (6 in. per the site) and White Oak (http://www.ag.auburn.edu/hort/landscape/dbpages/85.html) (8 in. per site). I KNOW I have seen some type of Oak leaves with the shape of Pin Oak leaves (and the reference image by GP) but with 8 inch or so leaves as I mentioned before, which seems about right for GP's image scale.

11-03-2008, 02:24 PM
These are lovely. Great work on the colour scheme.

11-10-2008, 12:30 AM
Absolutely amazing... It really does look like a photograph.


11-15-2008, 02:42 AM
So onwards with the Night time experiment!

Welcome to Nocturne Cemetery - in the land of perpetual night, where all food is imported from outside this cursed district. When its time to go, the villagers of Nocturne give you a nice place to rest.

Still you can expect ghosts, grave robbers, and the occasional ghoul at this final resting place. ;)

Is this too dark?


11-15-2008, 03:10 AM
Seems fine to me. Looks really good, nice job.

Steel General
11-15-2008, 08:54 AM
I think it looks fantastic GP!

11-15-2008, 11:02 AM
Looks great! The only nitpick I can find is the fence seems to have perspective, but the rest of the scene is top down. It could just be the shadow fooling me though.

11-15-2008, 11:17 AM
RP, the fence is top down, what you are looking at is the shadow cast by the wrought iron fence on the ground - notice that the shadow follow the cast direction of other shadows in the map. That was one effect I was going for, since I am creating directional shadows in this map, versus top down halo shadows.

Note the straight lined object between the stone fence posts - that's the actual fence.


11-15-2008, 11:49 AM
That's what I thought. :)
Here's another nitpick, discovered the shadows don't seem to be coming from the same light source. I drew red lines over the edges of the shadow casts.


11-15-2008, 12:17 PM
Yeah, I need to tighten them up. 3 different shadows were applied separately. The drop shadows off the trees were created first. The shadows of the wrought iron fence and post came second. I created the shadows off the tombstones in 3D and tried to similate the same direction for light.

But you're right its off a bit. Since my 3D shadows are more difficult to fix - I would have to rerender with a new light source, I will realign the drop shadows in the same direction as the tombstones.

Because these were created in separate applications - as 3 separate thoughts I ought to focus in one direction for light.

Good eye, RP!


11-15-2008, 12:38 PM
No problem. Like I said, it was a total nitpick. I think overall it is a great image.