View Full Version : The world on a cog

02-20-2009, 10:58 AM
So this has been keeping me out of trouble for a while. I was commissioned to produce a world map for a world on a cog, with the elemental planes surrounding it also made of cogs. The elemental planes define the seasons. The map is for a new rpg that is in development. It won't be out for a while, but the developers allowed me to post this now that it is finished. This map remains rights reserved.


I've posted a small version at web resolution. The full size one has three times this resolution and will print at A1.

If anyone has C&C I'd be more than happy to hear them. This was my first attempt at a world map, and my first attempt at any image of this scale. There are certainly things I will do differently the next time I do this and I'd be grateful for any advice from the people here.

This was created for Jiwei Games: www.jwgames.com

Steel General
02-20-2009, 11:14 AM
I think it looks really good.

The only thing (after a fairly quick look) I think needs to be changed would be to reduce the highlight on the mountains (it's very white and bright). Maybe lower the opacity a bit or change the color slightly.

Another thought... I would think that the 'elemental cogs' would be more more Earth, Air, Fire, Water related than what they currently are. Or is it supposed to be Spring, Summer, Fall & Winter?

02-20-2009, 11:20 AM
The really white mountains are snowy, but that may not have come across properly. I'll have a look at that. The elemental planes are actually physical planes so couldn't be a ball of fire, globe of water or similar. So the order is Air (top left), water (top right), earth (bottom right), fire (bottom left). They correspond to spring (air), summer (fire), autumn (earth) and winter (water). These planes are considered to be more representational than actual maps.

Thanks for the comments.

02-20-2009, 12:58 PM
Mucho Cool!

02-20-2009, 04:31 PM
The only thing I might think about changing is the black compass lines to a low opacity white due to the overall darkness (which I love by the way). My brain isn't working right now (spent the day listening to my coworkers talking pop culture, actors, hip hop, and other such frivolity) so maybe the white wouldn't work, I dunno. Looks way cool, excellent job.

02-20-2009, 05:23 PM
I love how "web resolution" is >2000 px square for us.

I concur with Ascension--the graticule gets lost in that dark, dark ocean. Lightening that would help it to be more visible over the water.

I am given to wonder now: does the world drive the elemental planes, or do the planes drive the world?

02-20-2009, 06:11 PM
@Neon - Thanks! It was fun to do.

@Midgarsomr - I love the sig comment - I really didn't expect that starvation motivated comment to come back and bite me everyday :)

As I understand it, the cog moves the outer planes. There are three lower cogs beneath that the particularly enthusiastic viewer should be just about able to pick out. I put them in, but didn't want them to be a major feature so they are subtle. Perhaps too subtle.

As for the resolution, the full size version is ~9000 by 7000. I had to borrow a colleagues quad core power mac to do this in Gimp. The time may well have come to upgrade my hardware. As the screen of my (fixed!) laptop has started flickering today, I might be upgrading sooner than I might otherwise hope for.

@Ascension - yep, it's dark alright, but I'm hearing that from quite a few people so I may lighten it a little (including GP who I'm talking to about a print out of this). The commission was for dark and gritty, so I turned my normal levels way down. I wanted the lines to be very subtle, so they are black lines at low opacity set to multiply. This does get a bit lost in the sea, but I'm not sure if that bothers me at all. I might play with a version with white lines set to overlay over the weekend.

The labels are going to be low opacity black with a white overlay glow so they will lighten the map quite a lot. I'll play around and see.

02-26-2009, 11:31 AM
Yeah, I think it looks good, and is a pretty good concept.

Although, I'm pretty sure there is already a novel based on this concept (though I've not read it) where the world is actually a piece in a giant clockwork universe or orrery.

[russian-accented-soup-nazi]no rep for you; is need more spready first[/russian-accented-soup-nazi]

05-19-2009, 04:01 PM
Honestly, I'm shocked how sparing the praise here has been. This is truly beautiful work, just went through every finished map on the forum, and this is easily my favorite. Well done. The attention to detail is great too, with the wisps of ash even spinning with the cog and such...

05-19-2009, 04:17 PM
Thanks! I had a lot of fun doing this, and the touches with the volcano ash were very enjoyable. The drifting cascades from the waterfall were good too. I was even tempted to animate it through 1 year....

The original is *really* big. The game developer got one printed out and laminated and I'm told they use it with whiteboard markers to block out the game setting. That I would love to see :)

05-19-2009, 04:27 PM
Just so you know...I'd LOVE to make a 3d model of this...it would be VERY easy to do, AND to animate. SO...if you could sketch out roughly the linkings of the lowe cogs and whatnot...I'll do it...and animate it. I'll also need a heightmap for the mapped cogs, but thats not entirely necessary.

PLEASE! That would be soooo awesome to see.

05-19-2009, 04:38 PM
Well there's exactly no structure of the lower cogs defined so far, so this can be modelled as a very simple system of 4 linked cogs. It's even easier because each tooth covers 1 degree - so the cog turns 1 degree a day and the year has 360 days. The smaller cogs obviously have fewer teeth to fit the structure.

I can knock together a height map, but that could take a while. What would you need? I'm pretty certain there are no legal issues around it, but I'll certainly check with the people making the game. I'm pretty sure they'd be overjoyed with this!

05-19-2009, 05:17 PM
I'll throw something together then for the structure and show ya what I come up with tomorrow probably.

As for what I would need...just a medium-high res height map for each of the 5 cogs (white=high), and the highest resolution of the map you can provide for texturing.

If the height map can include water depths/channels that would be awesome, because then I can use water surfaces, but I dunno if I'll be able to get the water to flow off the edges of the cog without a good bit of work.

05-19-2009, 05:32 PM
That would be cool. I'll see if I can get an example heightmap to you fairly shortly for one of the smaller cogs.

05-19-2009, 05:35 PM
For the heightmap is 50% grey sea level, or would that be black?

05-19-2009, 08:07 PM
sea level can be whatever you want to be, depends on how much undersea detail you want...I would reccommend maybe only 10% grey being sea level and leave the rest to be above ground...due to the scale of the final model...I just need to know which value you make as sea level so I can set my displacement center accordingly.

05-20-2009, 04:43 AM
Hello folks,

I'm the designer of the Divine Mechanism, as it is known in the New Epoch RPG.

I'm glad you like the ideas -I sure was happy with Torstan's work on this one, and wish we had stacks of money to throw at him for more great maps. Interesting that Arcana's pic is the exact structure of one side of the Divine Mechanism... Cool for you!

The New Epoch RPG and Divine Mechanism are property of jwgames, but I'd still be very interested in seeing any work you made for personal use :-) In fact, I'd be willing to offer you help too if we could include your model on our website (once it's finished).

There's a bit more maths to it -all detailed in an upcoming world codex. If you're into pen and paper rpgs and love maps as much as I do, you'll be fascinated by the cosmology -we're really pleased about how everything ties in together for this world.

Anyway, feel free to email me about it.

05-20-2009, 01:09 PM
Masden, any help you want to give info wise would be welcomed...I'd love to make it for you to use on your website. I'll email ya later probably.

05-20-2009, 02:14 PM
This is truly beautiful Torstan!!! Lovely work.

05-20-2009, 03:54 PM
So I don't have to count...how many teeth are on the main cog? I'm guessing 180. But I'm not sure.

Nevermind...I just did an Array in 3d studio and figured it out...Its 180.

05-20-2009, 04:21 PM
Indeed, it's 180.

05-20-2009, 09:22 PM
Check it out...Made the basic cogs, and wired them for animation. Thank you sooo much designers for sticking to an easy 4 to 1 gear ratio. I hate calculating gear ratios.

Can't wait to get height map and other coolness on there, as well as the lower cog elements.

Download this swf and play it in your browser if you have flash installed.

05-20-2009, 10:45 PM
Cool Robbie!

Hey Torstan and Robbie

There is an outer ring on this thing, as demonstrated on this quick reduced jpg. Our other artist did this at home, but didn't have enough time to detail the outer lands.

It's be easiest explained in a 3dsmax file. I use 2009. Which version are you on?


05-20-2009, 10:46 PM
P.S. Don't worry jon, we wouldn't edit and publish your work -Bren was just playing around with your map :-)

05-20-2009, 11:03 PM
I'm not complaining - that looks awesome! You can post a larger version of that, I certainly won't complain :)

Short update - I have sent Robbie a version of the texture for the Earth cog (without all the mountain shadows) and a heightmap that I knocked together. I'll be very interested to see what it looks like after he's had a play with it.

I've edited the OP to include the (new) website for the company.

05-20-2009, 11:44 PM
Fantastic map, torstan. As always, I am in awe of your work. I tried to rep you but I need to spread it around a bit more. ;)

05-21-2009, 12:18 AM
Takes planetary gears to a whole new level.

05-21-2009, 01:00 AM
I have both 2009 and 2010 so feel free to send it, but I think I understand already...i'm just using wire parameters and animating the main gear, the others follow suit....

got the emails and pms but won't be able to do anything til tomorrow (on my phone now)...I can't wait to put some more depth to the world. i'll respond more tomorrow.

05-21-2009, 11:23 AM
Here's the Earth Cog early displacement map. I'm going to have to manually displace it instead of using a dynamic render-time displacement, because without manual I can't specify the sea-level value. I've also not spent much time on mapping the texture, as you can tell it doesn't wrap around the gear teeth at all now. But the heightmap looks pretty cool.

Masden, if you could give me some insight as to how the sun works, and maybe how many teeth that greater outer wheel outside of the elemental gears have (or a gear ratio amount) that would be helpful ;)

05-21-2009, 11:35 AM
Uh oh...I just tried making the outer cog have 270 teeth, and it fits in the tooth slots of the elemental gears perfectly, except for the fact that there's no way to ratio that number to all 4 gears properly...I don't think. Still fooling around with it, but if you've got any specific math for the number of teeth or gear ratio of outer ring, that'd be great.

05-21-2009, 11:44 AM
I certainly didn't plan on a large outer cog so I didn't ratio it appropriately, so no help from me. I'll think about it though.

I love the heightmapped version. I'd probably suggest using one of the darker textures for this cog as the fire one will be the lightest - and looks a little like desert which will be pretty close in colour to this. Also, the mountains can certainly be sharper.

This is great!

05-21-2009, 11:50 AM
Here's a visualization of what I'm talking about. I'm not sure what to do about it though. I'm not a gear mechanic lol.

Note how the top right and bottom left cogs are ok...but the top left and bottom right don't line up, and they're perfectly placed equidistant from the center and from each other.

The outer ring has 270 teeth in this model.

180 to 45 to 270

05-21-2009, 12:16 PM
Ah, I see. Yes, the gearing will only work if the outer ring has either 180 or 360 teeth. But then of course the number of teeth will be out, so their width will be out. I guess the teeth of the smaller cogs could be more angled so that there's a little more flexibility in the size and spacing of teeth they mesh with. Failing that (which I think will probably fail) I'd have the cogs have two levels. One on the top for meshing with the internal cog. One on the bottom to mesh with the external cog. Does that make sense?

05-21-2009, 01:45 PM
Does the outer cog really need all of the teeth to fit in every tooth of the smaller cog? Couldn't it have some sort of displacement so that the outer cog teeth hit like every other or every third tooth of the smaller cog?

05-21-2009, 06:49 PM
Does the outer cog really need all of the teeth to fit in every tooth of the smaller cog? Couldn't it have some sort of displacement so that the outer cog teeth hit like every other or every third tooth of the smaller cog?

...the engineer in me shudders....

-Rob A>

05-22-2009, 03:33 AM
it's quite a nasty piece of spirographic math indeed. We struggled with it for some time. Our DB engineer reckons he's got it.

Prime Material 90 diameter, 90 teeth
Elemental Planes 30 diameter, 30 teeth
Outer Planes (ring) 150 diameter to inner facing wall, 150 teeth

in one "Chronicle" (a mechanical year), there are:

+5 full rotations of the prime material
-15 full rotations of the elemental planes
-3 full rotations of the outer ring

And yes.... I wasted a good 2 days thinking about it.

To complicate the mathmatical nightmare, we are only talking about the "material planes" here. There is a complete reverse side: the prime immaterial plane, and the 3 ethereal planes.

Lastly, there is an outer ring again, known as the Celestial Ribbon, upon which the sun and moon revolve. I've almost finished a 3d model, animated for your convenience.

Torstan, do you think we could make the elemental planes a little more representative?


05-22-2009, 03:37 AM
oh btw, that math doesn't hold true with tor's map, as we weren't sure about the number of teeth back then ;-(

Such a pity, but I think the elemental planes can be tweaked to hide the old teeth.

05-22-2009, 03:49 AM
Oh, I'm stupid....

Just realized that you could easily double the number of teeth with no change to the ratios noted above

05-22-2009, 04:25 AM
here's a jpg of the full mechanism, without the celestial ribbon

I can't do a good elevation map -not my strong point. :-/ so no uvw map or materials on the gears yet.

05-22-2009, 11:33 AM
Thats quite awesome actually. AND if you want to send that to me for the elevation portions or whatever we can collaborate on it, and I'll even render out a nice long movie because I have a render farm here for that purpose (not sure if you have access to a render farm or not)

Since you've done the modelling already I'm going to cease work on mine.

05-22-2009, 11:34 AM
BTW...do you have that wired for animation?

05-24-2009, 05:13 AM
Yeah, it's already wired and animated. Just no elevation maps. No textures at all actually.

Should I send to your email Arcana?

05-24-2009, 10:38 AM
Sure, only if you want to. If you've got a grand vision already I don't want to take that away from ya, know what I mean?

05-26-2009, 02:25 PM
Wow, I go away for the weekend and this really takes off! Looking good all round. It looks like I'll need to make a couple of adjustments to the map, which I am more than happy to do. David, let's discuss this further off the thread.