View Full Version : January Entry: City of the Old Ones

01-21-2009, 02:48 PM
A late entry (sorry but I only just found this site/joined). I am very
pleased to meet you all (so to speak)!

This is was designed to be a large continous battlemap depicting a
section of a "courtyard/urban dungeon for 4E D&D" that I call "The City
of the Old Ones". I started this map about two weeks ago, without any
knowledge of this competition, with the aim of producing something that
would be printable on A0 or ideally on 1M x 1M format, so this
competition is perfect! I hope it is OK to enter the competition on this
basis but apologies if I have broken the rules in any way?

Background; I hope to publish this city as a module, with full interior
and some underground maps and monster statistics, though the GSL delay
has me worried.

I would really appreciate the comments of people on this board as you
all seem to know alot more about cartography than I do! I wish I had
1/10th of the texture knowledge that some of you display; your knowledge
is simply staggering.

I built all the objects and layers on this map in Photoshop CS4 from
scratch; except for the Dragon (stolen to show scale) and the gravel
layer (stolen from the Photoshop default fill layer). The actual map is
12000 x 12000 pixels and my computer hates opening it (the PSD file is
2GB). Unfortunately, this file has a pixel density of 4000 x 4000 and so it doesn't look nearly as sharp as the original, but the site would not upload anything more dense.

The figures on the map are golems and there are six, including two on
golem horses. To see the scale to human size, look for the six bodies
sewn into yellowish sheets in the top left hand courtyard.

I hope I have time to finish this before the judging starts; still alot
to do!

### Latest WIP ###

01-21-2009, 03:31 PM
It's never too late to enter!

Well...except after the challenge is closed ;)

Best of luck!

-Rob A>

Steel General
01-21-2009, 04:34 PM
Hoo-rah! Another new entry...

01-21-2009, 05:07 PM
Don't mess with guys from Birmingham...that's where Black Sabbath is from...they'll carve you up. I always love the detailed maps so I'm diggin this, nice job.

01-21-2009, 06:37 PM
Great to see another new entry into the challenge!

Comments (forgive me if they're not all complimentery - but we are all here to learn) are as follows:

1. You're attention to detail is fantastic (I really like the missing tiles on the towers), but overall, the map is (imo) a bit too 'blocky'. I think part of the problem is that for the map to have a consistent feel, if you're going to lavish lots of detail on one bit, then you're in for the long haul and have to lavish detail on all of it. So, the crennelations (sp?) on the walls need the same variation you've lavished on the towers for example (although this extends over all the elements in the map).

2. Colour. A bit too saturated for my tastes it almost looks like the CC2 default pallete (I think the CC crowd are going to lynch me now). Unless you're really going for a *really* cartoony look, desaturate the colours. For me this is the biggest change you could make to see instant results. If you need colours, grab a google earth image, use the stained glass filter to distill it into a few colours and use that as your pallete by using the eye dropper tool.

3. Scale. There's a mismatch in scale (for example the flowers in the moat are huge) and I think there are too many of them. They'd be more effective if there were fewer and not clones of each other.

4. Textures: Check out the 'mapping elements' area of the forum and grab some of the textures from there. If you're using PS CS4, you can really go to town on the texturing, duplicate layers, use a layer mask and let different textures show through. Break up the paving a bit with sploges of grass to give it 'used feel'. (Like you've done with the grass in the NW internal part of the castle).

5. I really like the effect you've achieved with the submerged objects.

6. Layer styles: it looks like you've used a drop shadow / outer glow layer style on the entire wall. The problem with it is that it gives the same amount of shadow for all the elements regardless of their height, so the crennalations (sp?) have as much of a length of shadow as the walls themselves which means the illusion of relative height is lost. Try putting the crennalations on a different layer and give them less shadow (it will also help with the blocky feel). I can't quite put my finger on it, but I think that a really big problem with this map for me might be that you're not really clear on where the light source is coming from.

7. I love the edging around the moat.

Hope this helps...this is on the edge of being a really nice map, but I fear the composition is also a little plain, but to get that right you'd need to start from scratch again.

01-21-2009, 08:38 PM
Hey Ydars this is a great effort well done. What I particularly like is that you create your own icons when you need them which is a big leap some don't take. Obviously your not phased by large map sizes either which is a bonus.

A Brummie too eh ? I lived there for a few years - wow has it ever changed in the last few tho. We have a members location map where there is a link in my sig so you can add yourself in if you like. You'll find me scrumpin' due South :P

I always rep a new member who submits a map but I could have repped you for the map alone. Nicely done - you'll fit in just fine 'round here.

01-22-2009, 05:25 AM
Hi there and thanks for all your comments.

The saturation issue with colours is really annoying me. I don't know how to calibrate my monitor (I do this on a laptop) and there the colours look OK but when I move the file to another computer it looks like "loony tunes" so I do have some serious desaturation to do.

Not sure I have time to start again from stratch :lol: but I will bear the advice in mind for future compositions.

I have no idea about textures and so I can see I need to hit the tutorials section.

The water plants were meant to be big; I recently visited the old Summer Palace in Beijing and you should have seen how big the lake plants there were; metres across with huge flowers. Since the plant in my dungeon is a major food source, there needs to be lots of it; I am constrained by the fact this map is not just for aesthetics but is actually underpinning a game/story. Still, I know what you mean so I will have to think of a way around it.

As for detail on the stonework and the shadows, I think both of these will be addressed once I have all the elements in the picture. I am a novice with shadows and do it all by hand; there is no clever automation (does anyone know any nice methods for creating good looking shadows in Photoshop?) and so I will leave this until last. I haven't finished adding things to the walls yet.

IThe stone-work is easy to make rough with a bit of overlaying, though I should have done it at the start. The problem with this map is that I have learnt so much from doing it that now I am at a totally different level from when I started and I think it shows. Since I did the stone stuff first, this is the source of the problem. Still, I think I can cure some of the concerns by roughing things up with a few layers and some mossy treatment.

Thanks again for all your comments.

P.S. I only live in Birmingham; I hail from London/Kent originally so only a Brummy by proxy.

01-22-2009, 05:55 PM
My pleasure

The problem with this map is that I have learnt so much from doing it that now I am at a totally different level from when I started and I think it shows.

Heh, I know that feeling sooo well!

01-23-2009, 02:37 PM
(does anyone know any nice methods for creating good looking shadows in Photoshop?)

It depends on how your objects are constructed. If they're built in such a way as you can apply a drop shadow to them, then you could try a motion blur technique. http://www.cartographersguild.com/showpost.php?p=22914&postcount=18

If you just need to darken some areas, you can try out Torstan's shaded relief approach of a 50% gray layer set to overlay, and then use the dodge and burn tool. That's more useful for making hills and gentle curves, but it can do shadows, too, if you're determined.

Hoel recently mentioned a 3d approach using an extrude filter, if you happen to have one. I think Photoshop CS4 has some rudimentary 3d tools built-in, but I haven't had the chance to experiment with them, so I don't know how or how well they work.

01-24-2009, 12:41 PM
I have managed to work a few textures in, although the file is now so big that it doesn't really display here properly anymore and a better version can be found here


I have added a stone-ike texture to the walls and other stonework and also made a grass texture (my very first) using a tutorial I found on the net. There are also some new courtyards down in the bottom right, one of which looks a bit like a homage to one of the UK's incessant gardening programmes :D