View Full Version : Work in Progress - Map of High City

12-25-2008, 12:43 AM
I was instructed as a newbie to start a work-in-progress thread, so everyone could see my feeble attempts at capturing my first map. So here goes.

Objective: A usable map of High City, complete with sectors, flyways, key buildings, and surrounding geography.

Difficulties: High City is the capitol city of the only remaining country on Lavuon. The geography is rather unique and requires a more subtractive approach. Most of the land is a wide plateau known as the Clifftop Plain about 5 to 10 miles above sea level with a few mountain ranges rising significantlyhigher than that. (To put this in perspective, Mount Everest is about 5 miles tall).

Life runs in three types: on the Plain, in the cliff walls, and at the bottom of clifflines (long gorges). High City is at the foot of a cliffline.

Step One: I'm going to try to paint in my landscape and create some objects to work with. Let's see what happens. ;)

Scale: (Ah! the decision!) I'm working with huge places, so I think I'm going to try a 53 pixel per mile scale—and hope I'm not nuts. 1 pixel = 100 feet.

Dimensions: The city is going to be approximately 37 miles long and 13 miles deep, slightly larger than NYC in sq. mi. This means (allowing myself some extra room: I'm playing on a 2385x2385 pixel canvas to start with. I want to show the Plain on either side of the Lowlands where High City lies.

Since beginning writing, I've been revising plenty, so be aware that these are the final dimensions I decided on after tweaking my initial lines a bit on my grid.

I'm saving the file as a .psd for working because it's unflattened [I]and uncompressed.

Creating screencaps as I go. I think I'll just dump all these in a word doc and attach. I already do not like my Clifftop Plain's texture and will need to change, but will probably do that later.

I got excited and really got going, but here's what's in so far.

12-25-2008, 01:00 AM
You ought to export your map as a JPG file at medium compression then upload the map directly with the "paperclip" in the Reply menu. Or go to Manage Attachments and upload directly. That way a thumbnail is generated and we can see the small version or click to view the full version. It makes it easier for us to see your work.

Just a suggestion!


12-25-2008, 06:04 AM
You ought to export your map as a JPG file at medium compression then upload the map directly with the "paperclip" in the Reply menu. Or go to Manage Attachments and upload directly. That way a thumbnail is generated and we can see the small version or click to view the full version. It makes it easier for us to see your work.

Just a suggestion!


Agreed, opening a DOC files makes me nervous :P
Anyway, interested to see where you are going to take this.

Steel General
12-25-2008, 08:28 AM
I look a look at your .DOC file and from what I could see you have a pretty good start on this.

I too would suggest what GP said... uploading the screen shots into your post is a much better way for us to see your progress give you feedback.

12-25-2008, 09:00 AM
I took a look as well, seems solid and thought out so far but I'll have to see more to really understand where this is going (style-wise). My only question at this point is how do you want your cliffs to be? Are they sort of sloping or are they more straight down?

12-25-2008, 10:18 AM
Yeah, by 10:45 I figured out how to do attachments finally, but I was too sleepy to change it, so here goes!

12-25-2008, 10:20 AM

12-25-2008, 10:21 AM
To answer the forgotten question. These cliffs are pretty sheer. Very little in the way of gentle descent.

12-25-2008, 09:39 PM
I'm about ready to kill scale. I have NO clue what I'm doing on this point when it comes to the largest building. The capitol building is called the Emerald Dome. It dominates the city. You can see it practically everywhere because it's on the highest point. From standing on the edge of that middle cliff at the bottom, it looks like the whole city was built around it. My problem is scale. No matter how big I make it, it seems swallowed up by the surrounding map. If I calculate how big it is, it seems too big to me. Argh!

Would it work to ignore scale for one part of the map and have the rest be to scale? That sounds so wrong to me, but I'm having a hard time figuring out what to do.

12-26-2008, 12:00 AM
Go with a too big a capital building for now. If you keep that as a separate object (?) you can always resize and replace. It will either work in its larger scale or you can have outer walls, a yard, garden or other landscaping between the rest of the city and the final building size.

Also if you insured major avenues all lead to the capital building from different sides of the city the capital building is further emphasized and kept from being lost in its surroundings.


12-26-2008, 12:16 AM
You had said that the scale was going to be 53 pixels per mile...roughly 1 pixel per 100 feet. At that scale most buildings would not be seen and large buildings would only be a few pixels at most and certainly you could not put in roads. I would suggest increasing that scale so that you can fit in more detail. However, if you're not going for total accuracy then the topography can be one scale and you could do the city at a different scale. It looks a little cartoony or video-gamey but I've done it recently...I say scale shmale. Another option is to do the city as an inset map (in a corner or something) and do whatever scale you want there.

12-26-2008, 12:41 PM
Yeah. I had decided to blow up the scale, which I can safely do to 1000%. 1 pixel = 10 feet.

Thank you all. I'm going to try working on it again shortly and incorporate your suggestions. :D

Try to update by Sunday.

12-28-2008, 10:20 AM
Right now, I've temporarily set aside the background. I'm creating pieces of everything which I'll either scale onto the map later or... I'm not sure.

I decided to start with paletting my map (which included creating a texture for the cut stone they use in building), and forming a rough outine of the section containing the Interguild and Trader's Alley.

I'm working on a 6x6 pixel grid. Image is 600x600 pixel. 6 pixels = 1 foot. So far, so good.

This is a work in progress, all right (including the palette) and the images reflect that.

12-28-2008, 11:00 AM
Got really busy. Nonrandomized roofs. Matched stone on a lot of parts, didn't jazz up any walls but the Interguild. Completed palette.

12-28-2008, 11:44 AM
I am clearly having too much fun. :D

Here's randomized with some drop shadows.

12-28-2008, 12:05 PM
Here's a temporary final image.

12-28-2008, 12:22 PM
Don't know if anyone even cares about these: but this is the final palette.

12-28-2008, 03:46 PM
I've started to stretch out some from my original choice of start and does anyone know the best way to extend my background into another part of the map or create the next part separately, safely?

I don't want to hurt what I've got going, but as you can possibly see, I'm about to break the 600x600 box.

12-28-2008, 03:51 PM
Anyone know how to make a good grass texture in raster?

12-28-2008, 08:36 PM
Anyone know how to make a good grass texture in raster?

Theres a thread (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=1373) I wrote about generating seamless tiles using a base texture. I get a lot of textures from cgtextures.com and push it through that script.

12-28-2008, 09:59 PM
You're a lifesaver!

01-03-2009, 10:02 PM
I think you all kind of know that this is a love thing I'm doing on the side from actually writing the (horribly huge) universe, and I'm scratching my head over a thousand points, now that I've actually made some kind of progress. I have two major temptations and I'm not sure which is better.

1. Map something easier and learn a few things before having to scrap my possibly most complicated map (High City) and redo it.

2. Print this whole thing in black and white with minimal texture and draft in the major sectors of the city and see about going from there.

Any ideas? Should I forge ahead or try working my way up?


Thanks in advance for any suggestions, comments, or advice.

01-04-2009, 06:00 AM
Well, you can learn from your mistakes as well. But if you don't want to do multiple versions of your map I would suggest you start with something smaller. The first city I created was the capital of my world... I learnt a lot, but right now I am in the process of redoing it :)

01-04-2009, 08:39 AM
I would say do it in the hand-drawn style as those can be quicker to do (for me at least) than trying to do a cgi map...plus the eraser works faster as well. There are some awesome tuts here for doing it that way.