View Full Version : [WIP] Ascension style continent

11-20-2008, 12:54 AM
Hey all. Here's a a new one. I'm kitbashing a new release from Catalyst Game Labs that covers the Draconis Combine capital Luthien. I've been fumbling around for a technique or a workflow that will re-create the planets to my taste using Blue Marble style artwork.


Much work to continue, but I've finally made the switch from CorelDraw to Illustrator and I like some of the changes, don't like others (can anyone tell me how to automatically snap objects to other objects? I need that capability to align things quickly and vertical/horizontal guides take too long).

I followed Ascension's tutorial with a few tweaks. Some of the gradient colors were changed to taste, I used a different mountain color, only used the ocean layer to create reefs, and used the reef layer for other landscape features.

I'll post exactly what I did in Ascension's tutorial thread.

Suggestions welcome, especially on how to get the mountains a little more white and sharp. Contrast?

11-20-2008, 07:34 AM
Looks very pretty.

Nice to see an SF type map for a change.


Steel General
11-20-2008, 10:44 AM
Appears you have made good use of Ascensions tutorial, keep up the good work.

11-20-2008, 10:44 AM
For the mountains to get whiter/sharper here's my initial thought: Make a new layer above the mountains, repeat the steps for doing the mountains but add many more difference clouds, then crop and color/blend to suit. The additional diff clouds creates many more ridges and much more contrast between black and white at a smaller scale.

11-20-2008, 11:31 AM
I'll keep experimenting, but I did realize I could just lower the light source altitude of the bevel style (I'd been using global light). It doesn't make em white, but it does make the relief stand out.

11-23-2008, 03:46 PM
Here's another update. I redid the background and a good bit of the foreground. I've got more planets to make and about 3 more continents, but the workflow is beginning to come together.

11-23-2008, 04:11 PM
Those mountains look real nice.

11-23-2008, 05:26 PM
How do the nebula colors grab you?

11-23-2008, 06:58 PM
The teal one in the lower right looks great...the others seem like candy-- too many colors. That is by no means a criticism, just a personal taste :) So maybe just use like 1 color per nebula since there are enough nebulae to have numerous colors. It's nice as it is so it's not even necessary.

11-23-2008, 07:19 PM
Well, something still isn't working right for me and I can't quite place it. The old map (my introduction) was too bright and cartoony; I also went way overboard on brushing cottonballs into the nebula. This one is nearly the same image reconstructed from scratch, but much subdued. Though stars have glow, they no longer have twinkle trails like from a bad soft focus photo of a christmas tree. Heh, so it's more like what a guy with bad LASIK would see. :D

If I were to start over, what do you think thematically would work? We've got

1) a pseudo blue-marble style I'm more than satisfied with. Not completely realistic, but not cartoony either.
2) The fictional Inner Sphere forms a 2-d blob of space on our arm of the Milky Way (a fraction of the Star Trek alpha quadrant if you will).
3) This map is of the Draconis Combine capital; a neo-feudal society with heavy Japanese influences (they're big on Bushido... cheesy but, hey, that's the world MechWarrior occupies).

I'm looking for something 60-80% realistic. Fantastic and striking, yet subdued enough to stay in the background behind the map hexes. Very high quality "artist's interpretation" is what I'm shooting for.

Also it should suffice for any future maps I do. Ideally, I'd just be switching out continents, planets, and jump point locations.

edit: This looks intriguing but may be too much for a background... dunno I like the idea: http://blog.hexagonstar.com/galaxy-tutorial/#

Steel General
11-23-2008, 09:23 PM
That's the same tutorial I used on my Challenge Map for this month, it's a great tutorial; and fairly easy to follow.

Now whether it will work for your purposes is hard to answer, you could always try it and then turn the opacity way down so it just kind of 'lingers' in the background.

11-23-2008, 09:26 PM
Got it. I think I may use a starfield plus a cinematic background using warships, dropships etc against the spacey part. So a planet approach will play a role... maybe some orbital bombardment... this could be really hard but awesome.

11-27-2008, 03:58 PM

Totally new background and I'm really liking the results.

11-27-2008, 04:28 PM
Ooo, very nice. I'd bonk thee with some rep but it appears I need to bonk some others first.

11-29-2008, 09:37 PM
Well I started working on the second continent and ran into trouble. The emboss layer style isn't behaving as I wanted.

As you can see on the first image, I pasted a layer from my first continent. The other layer is meant for my second continent and on it I get a plateau effect. On the first continent layer, I don't.

Looking at the second image you can see that there isn't a substantial visual difference between the two when the layer styles aren't applied.

I'm at a loss as to what gives and I'd like to get rid of that plateau.

My emboss settings are thus:

inner bevel;
chisel soft;
100 depth;
size 6, up;
angle and height, 135/16;
linear gloss;
highlight screen, 100;
shadow multiply, 100;

They are the same on each layer.

11-30-2008, 11:31 AM
Are you sure that the second one has any layer styles on it whatsoever? It does not appear to (to me) because the first image has a color overlay and the second one does not. The second one looks to be just a copy/paste of the mountains before styling. I like the plateau thingy, though, and might have to incorporate that into a regional map. Secondly, the plateau effect is caused by the size of the bevel, here it is 6. Change it to 1 or up the softness.

11-30-2008, 02:20 PM
Oops. Unclear antecedents. The original mountains are the first circle in the first image. The new mountains are the second circle in the first image. I have turned off the layers in the second image to demonstrate that the two mountains are remarkably similar but that you get a plateau in the second circle of the first image.

.... I don't know, THIRD BASE.

Anyhow, it doesn't matter. I decided to start all over and just do the whole world at once.

12-01-2008, 10:04 PM
All done! (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?p=39911#post39911) (I like it.)