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Asharad
12-28-2008, 12:40 AM
I'm trying to develop my own style, and would appreciate some criticism. I know it's not much, but I have grand designs for an ultra-large online webgame. This image would be the first of 256 game tiles. Before I get too far along, I wanted to get some criticism. Text has been intentionally omitted.

****EDIT****
This update adds the 3rd and 4th tiles, and my first attempt at mountains. I've also included a thumbnail of the tiles glued together.
The final product will include 256 tiles, each at 4096x4096 px. The tiles I'm presenting are reduced in size and quality.

MadLetter
12-28-2008, 01:31 AM
Looks good to me.

How did you create the trees?

Asharad
12-28-2008, 01:43 AM
I built a photoshop brush, and then turned on jitter for size, angle, spacing, and color of the brush. Then I placed the trees on 2 different layers (for depth) and applied a drop shadow to both layers.

For the hills, I'm playing with shaded relief just a tad. But I'm not good at it yet, so I'm starting with one of my flatter areas. There should be a hint of hills via shaded relief.

NeonKnight
12-28-2008, 04:47 AM
I looks cool. But something I think would REALLY make it pop, is if there is a way to make a few other layers, because when the trees join together, they blend, and lose the individual 'definition'.

Gandwarf
12-28-2008, 06:12 AM
Yeah, I think it looks good. But as you requested criticism, I would smoothen the coastline a bit. In some places it doesn't look natural.

Hoel
12-28-2008, 08:30 AM
I really like the trees. I'm going to try it out and play around with it in my current project. I think they look a little too blobby and blurred in some places.

The coast line could use some smoothing in some places but also some fine detailing in others. If you got the layers set up nicely tou should just be able to go over it with a fine hard edged eraser.

I'm my self trying to learn the art of ground relief and you done a good job, better than mine!

You should add some texture to the gound thou. Maybe some sandy shore, cliffs, muddy areas or different hues of grass.

Steel General
12-28-2008, 09:50 AM
Can't offer many more critiques other than what the rest have already said.

I think you've got a pretty good handle on the shaded relief for an early attempt. That's not something I've tried as of yet. Did you follow a tutorial somewhere? I wouldn't mind having the link to it if you did.

Korash
12-28-2008, 11:04 AM
looks good

Aside from the above critiques, I would only add that the the hills under the trees to the north are only visible where the trees are not. As you are trying your own techniques here, I would suggest finding a way to give the trees over the hills some impression of height or elevation. I have no suggestion as to how to go about it except maybe through shading and lightening the trees on the hills somehow.

Ascension
12-28-2008, 11:14 AM
All I would do is make the trees a bit darker...they look quite bright.

ravells
12-28-2008, 11:34 AM
My suggestion is to put some noise in the sea to make it a little less 'flat'.

Midgardsormr
12-28-2008, 12:20 PM
The first thing that jumps out at me is the artifacts from jpeg compression. I'll bet if you save it out again with a quality level of 80 - 90% it will look much nicer. I'm guessing this one is around 50 - 60%? Jpeg doesn't like areas of flat color very much, which is interfering with the clarity of your coastlines.

I don't know how you're approaching your shaded relief, but if you're doing it with the overlay and dodge/burn trick, put your relief layer above the trees--that way the trees will appear to be on the slopes also.

Beyond that, I agree with Ravs: some variation in the sea would be very nice. Make it subtle, though--you don't want the water texture to overpower the details of your land.

Asharad
12-28-2008, 12:20 PM
Did you follow a tutorial somewhere? I wouldn't mind having the link to it if you did.

I found a tutorial hidden on shadedrelief.com. I had been to the site many times before I found it. Here is the direct link.
http://www.shadedrelief.com/retro/index.html

Asharad
12-28-2008, 12:26 PM
The first thing that jumps out at me is the artifacts from jpeg compression.

oops. :oops: I didn't even look at that. Never fear, the uncompressed full-rez file runs about 107MB.

Midgardsormr
12-28-2008, 12:34 PM
Very good site. I just skimmed the article, so I apologize if what I am about to say was already covered there. Torstan suggested an improvement to this technique some time back--create a layer and fill it with a medium gray: 127, 127, 127 in RGB. Put that layer above all of your terrain layers and set its blending mode to Overlay. The new layer should vanish--all of the gray pixels are now transparent. Do shaded relief manipulations on this new layer, and they'll affect all the layers below them but they will not actually change any of the other layers. Your shaded relief will be completely non-destructive, and if you decide to add new features later on, they'll automatically receive the relief treatment without you having to do any difficult matching later on.

For an example of how this looks under the trees, take a look at this image:

aiRo25
12-28-2008, 06:59 PM
This is very nice. I especially like the trees and the rolling hills.

landorl
12-28-2008, 08:26 PM
There are a couple of points along the coasts and rivers that have some pretty straight lines, or sharp angles, which do not look quite natural, but I like the trees a lot.

What is the scale that you are looking to do? It looks like a pretty small area based upon the trees.

Hoel
12-28-2008, 08:52 PM
I've used your trees in my project, check it out and see what you think
http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=3782

Asharad
12-28-2008, 09:59 PM
What is the scale that you are looking to do? It looks like a pretty small area based upon the trees. This is a small area of a bigger map. I haven't put a scale too it, but I think this map is roughly 3500ft square. I plan for at least 256 more tiles, so the finished area would be about 10 x 10 miles (If I survive to see it finished - the task is looking larger and larger). I want enough room for 1000 players to live and explore, so I might have to make it larger.

Asharad
12-28-2008, 10:01 PM
I've used your trees in my project, check it out and see what you think
http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=3782

Nice job! :)

Ascension
12-29-2008, 01:45 AM
Looks pretty good, I like that water.

Sigurd
12-29-2008, 11:40 PM
I think Ravell's comment is on the money. Also, vary the blue fringe of the shore a bit and maybe make a beach or two. If the scale permits a rock or an island, a compass rose, or a decorative graphic would also be appealing.


Sigurd

Asharad
12-30-2008, 12:08 AM
Try this revision:

Hoel
12-30-2008, 07:14 AM
Great! It's getting better all the time.
If you want more variation with the trees set a dark and a light green of slightly different hues as forground/back color and go to brush settings, set the color dynamics to have 50-100% for/back jitter, 20% hue jitter and 10% for the rest. If you want more uniform, lower the values. That's how I did.

You could sharpen up the shores a bit too...

Asharad
12-30-2008, 07:48 AM
You could sharpen up the shores a bit too...

Lol, after everyone said the shores were too hard, did I go overboard trying to make them soft?

Gandwarf
12-30-2008, 08:15 AM
Lol, after everyone said the shores were too hard, did I go overboard trying to make them soft?

They are a bit blurry right now. The most important part is, you don't want too many hard lines in your coast. That doesn't look natural, unless they are cliffs. The land just below the middle river to the left for example has a really sharp point. You should soften it a bit. Not by blurring it more, but by rounding the edges. Water tends to smooth stuff like that.

Korash
12-30-2008, 10:02 PM
yeah that them thar hills under them thar trees !! :D

looking better

Asharad
12-30-2008, 11:08 PM
The land just below the middle river to the left for example has a really sharp point. You should soften it a bit. Not by blurring it more, but by rounding the edges. Water tends to smooth stuff like that.

I was thinking that points add realism. Examples below.

Asharad
12-31-2008, 12:01 AM
I've revised the map again, to make the beaches less blurry, more sandy.

Ascension
12-31-2008, 12:30 AM
Very nice, me likee.

Gandwarf
12-31-2008, 06:58 AM
Yep, you have improved your map again.
And nice pictures (from Google Earth I guess?). Somehow they don't look natural to me either, with those sharp points :P

Hoel
12-31-2008, 07:06 AM
I'm not complaining about the sharp points but if you study the GE screens, you'll se a sharpish edge between the water and land, it doesnt really fade into eachother that much. I thought your beaches was a nice tough thou. Try changing them to light blue and they will make excellent shallows...

Asharad
12-31-2008, 07:55 AM
study the GE screens, you'll se a sharpish edge between the water and land, it doesnt really fade into eachother that much.

Lol, I know. But all the comments on page one and two suggested softening the shorelines, hehehe. I'll work on it some more tonight. Thanks all.

Hoel
12-31-2008, 09:49 AM
If you want some more extra work, you could go over the entire shorline and make it more detailed, not the beaches and soft slopes, those should be rounded, but if you have a sharp cliff or slope down into the sea it will create a very jagged shoreline. The fractal nature of the shoreline of england..

Asharad
01-01-2009, 03:35 AM
I truly appreciate all the feedback on this project. I feel like I've come along way since my first attempts. Based on the last feedback from Gandwarf and Hoel, I've tried to sharpen the shore and eliminate the points. I've also changed the shallows effect. Is this better?


PS - I rep'd everyone who commented!

Hoel
01-01-2009, 08:28 AM
There you go! Nice work.
So.. is there going to be any other terrain elements (buildings, ancient ruins, dragon caves) in this tile, or do we have for the others?

Gandwarf
01-01-2009, 08:38 AM
There you go! Nice work.
So.. is there going to be any other terrain elements (buildings, ancient ruins, dragon caves) in this tile, or do we have for the others?

Agreed, I like the coastline a lot now. Good job. Also curious if you are going to add any other stuff.

Asharad
01-01-2009, 12:04 PM
Thanks guys.

Most of the structures will be player made, and won't be seen in these pictures. They'll get added by mapping software as players construct them. I do plan on a few pre-existing towns, one of which will be a harbor.

My next step is to move eastward towards a mountain range. I'll be looking for help designing mountains. :) I've attached a conceptual of where I'm going with this. The tile I've been working on is in the northwest corner.

jfrazierjr
01-01-2009, 12:17 PM
Thanks guys.

Most of the structures will be player made, and won't be seen in these pictures. They'll get added by mapping software as players construct them. I do plan on a few pre-existing towns, one of which will be a harbor.

My next step is to move eastward towards a mountain range. I've attached a conceptual of where I'm going with this.


ooo... purdy!

Asharad
01-02-2009, 01:35 AM
The 2nd tile is complete. I'm working my way towards the mountain range. Please see the OP for the latest update.

Gandwarf
01-02-2009, 07:29 AM
The 2nd tile is complete. I'm working my way towards the mountain range. Please see the OP for the latest update.

So, how much time do you plan to spend on each tile? :)
And they all have to link up?

I love the forested hills in your second map! This is something I have been struggling with myself.

Asharad
01-02-2009, 07:41 AM
So, how much time do you plan to spend on each tile? :) As long as it takes. I've been working on this for 9 months already. :)


And they all have to link up?Yep


I love the forested hills in your second map! This is something I have been struggling with myself. Thank you!

Redrobes
01-02-2009, 12:51 PM
Well dont forget to look at the August challenge where we made map tiles for our challenge. Some of us made scripted ones so that you just defined some basic properties and get the computer to do the hard work. Anything more than about 3 and I would go scripting if that was me.... just sayin' :)

Hoel
01-02-2009, 06:37 PM
Excellent!
The style is consistent, and looks really nice. I want to see you tackle the mountains and other terrain too.

Asharad
01-03-2009, 02:56 AM
I've added tiles 3 and 4, and a thumbnail of all 4 tiles glued together. It's my first attempt at mountains, so suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Gandwarf
01-03-2009, 07:19 AM
The glued together result looks good!
I am not so sure about your mountains yet. Unfortunately I have never really done mountains myself, so hopefully someone else can give you a few helpfulp pointers.

Hoel
01-03-2009, 07:41 AM
Looks good. The heightmap is great. I'd like to see a bit more rocky texturing thou, the mountains look a bit too smooth. Try going over it with a jagged randomized brush and add hard chiseled bevel to it maybe. Use grays and browns with some color randomization...

Midgardsormr
01-03-2009, 12:41 PM
Looking very nice! Your shaded relief looks terrific. I agree with Hoel--those mountains need some kind of texturing. Right now they look more like sand dunes.

Asharad
01-03-2009, 08:46 PM
Right now they look more like sand dunes.

I agree. I'll spend some time on these mountains before I move to the next tile. Here's my 2nd attempt. I'm not happy with it.

Gandwarf
01-03-2009, 09:48 PM
I agree. I'll spend some time on these mountains before I move to the next tile. Here's my 2nd attempt. I'm not happy with it.

You're improving, but you haven't hit the sweet spot yet I think. Keep working on it.

Hoel
01-04-2009, 07:43 AM
Love your project asharad.
You need to really get in there and break those mountains up, make them jaggy and rocky.
I see grey hills now, I want to see cliffs and rocks!
Keep it up!

Ascension
01-04-2009, 09:35 AM
I'm with Gandy and Hoe...yer almost there. This looks really nice and is just a step or two away from being totally sweet. Nice job and I'll add another "keep going".