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Lord Herman
03-11-2009, 10:31 AM
First of all, hi! I'm Lord Herman, and I'm new here.

I've been working on this map of the area where my 4E D&D campaign takes place. It is centered around Silverhelm, the northernmost outpost of old Nerath, built to protect the empire against the hobgoblins to the north.

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I made the map with Campaign Cartograper 3, with some finishing touches (mostly the canvas effect) done in Photoshop. I mostly just used the symbols and textures included in CC3, but the forest and sea textures are from these boards, and I drew the compass rose and the scale thingie in Illustrator.

Any advice and critique is appreciated. I'm not sure if I got the mountains right; I don't get to see too many of them in real life, seeing as I live in the Netherlands.

Steel General
03-11-2009, 10:56 AM
Welcome Aboard!

For showing us a map in your intro post have a bit of what we around here call 'rep' *bonk*

I'm not a CC user, but there are plenty here as well as some really great tutorials.

Your map is pretty nice - I think it could use some blurring where the different terrain types come together so that the transition isn't so 'sudden', but not sure if that can be done in CC or not.

We have several other members here who are also from the Netherlands.

Flaterectomy
03-11-2009, 02:29 PM
Welcome! A fellow Dutch new-comer like myself, maybe we're a virus that is spreading. ;)

Having no experience with CC at all, I can't really give advice on the practical aspect, but like Steel General has said, the terrain transitions are pretty sudden. You could use photoshop to blend it somewhat, though I don't think that's a small task, and it limits adaptability if you plan to change things around still.

The smaller fonts over the forests are a little difficult to read, and it might be cool if the origins of the rivers forks together from out the mountains. Aside from that, it's a pretty cool map!

NeonKnight
03-11-2009, 03:20 PM
Ok, (rolls up his sleevs and gets out Ye Old Book of CC3 effects).

The map is indeed good, but to my eyes, everything is as said before to 'sudden'. Now if that is the 'stylized' way you are going for then all is good. BUT, you could apply some of the following:

First. If you to change all those straight edged mountains to nice curves use the STRAIGHT TO SMOOTH tool (see example 1 below). Now you will end up with some odd looking mountains (see example 2) but that can be fixed. Myself I tend to draw thing like the Mountains and forest and other things that will go off maps by drawing my paths (straight or smooth) from an edge of the map around and then ending at another edge, then joining those with straight paths (lines) to form the edge of the map and then using the multipoly tool to join them together into a single polygon. It may be too much for you to apply the smooth effect right now, so if you feel like experimenting let me know and I can help further.

The best method would be to apply the EDGE FADE INNER to the mountains. Unfortunately, this ALSO will require some work for you. You will need to make a separate sheet for each contour level for the mountains. and apply the edge fade to each. (See example 3)

Failing that, you could simply play with the BLUR effect to the whole mountain sheet. This closely emulate the Edge Fade, but unfortunately applies the blur to the whole sheet and so can distort the bitmap.

Again, some things to think on and play with. But the map does indeed look really well done!

Lord Herman
03-11-2009, 05:30 PM
Thanks for the welcome, the rep, and the advice! :)

I've made a few changes to my map. I smoothed the mountains, gave them an inner fade effect, and coloured the lower slopes brown. I also fiddled with the edges of the forests, giving them a greenish fade.

The photoshop effects are a bit different this time, since I had to redo them completely. I haven't been able to figure out how to make photoshop do the same exact things to the picture every time; any tips on that would be most helpful.

So here's the second version of Nivian Valley:
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Edit: D'oh! I just printed this version of the map, and realised I messed up with the creases. They're all straight, while I should have mirrored the horizontal creases over the vertical one to make it fold correctly.

Bohunk
03-12-2009, 01:43 PM
Nice map Herm! I liked your first version as well. Might wanna fade the color a bit if ya want that worn look.

Lord Herman
03-15-2009, 09:42 AM
Here's a new version. I drew some more rivers, which should give a clearer contrast between the relatively fertile Nivian Valley and the barren lands surrounding it.

I found a way to save the filters and stuff I used in photoshop, so this is probably the last time I'll have to draw those creases and tears in the map. Huzzah!

I'm not sure about the photoshop effects I used this time, though. I used some faint lighting effects to give the canvas some depth, but I had to make sure everything remained legible. Tell me what you think.

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Steel General
03-15-2009, 09:46 AM
Very nice, the only thing that "bugs" me is that the lakes in the valley are 'to smooth'. Now if that's intended then just ignore my blatherings. But I think I would 'rough-up' the edges a bit.

Ascension
03-15-2009, 10:33 AM
Whoa, unique, colorful and artsy. I'd call this done and conduct further experiments on something new. Only thing buggin me is the beveling of the mountains...edges are kinda straight.

gidgetmj
03-15-2009, 01:27 PM
wow this is really cool!! I love the canvas feeling to it!

CartoGeo
03-15-2009, 07:56 PM
Here's a new version. I drew some more rivers, which should give a clearer contrast between the relatively fertile Nivian Valley and the barren lands surrounding it.

I found a way to save the filters and stuff I used in photoshop, so this is probably the last time I'll have to draw those creases and tears in the map. Huzzah!

I'm not sure about the photoshop effects I used this time, though. I used some faint lighting effects to give the canvas some depth, but I had to make sure everything remained legible. Tell me what you think.

11289

I like specific things going on in your map, like for example the obvious river valley with raised land or slightly higher next to land that is a deeper greenish color that illustrates lower river valley land. IN my mind the forests could have been 'smooth' polygons in CC3 (i use it also) with more variation on the edges (undulation in areas), even. I really like the color choice as it seems very appropriate for this map. The sea/water body could have a lighter area near the shore and that would be easy to do in CC3. As for the mountains I think in my mind they might be more fractal polygons perhaps (emphasizing details at the edge) or smoothed polygons with undulations in the edges. Don't get me wrong, I like your map, but I just think you should explore the less straight edge approach. ;)

Lord Herman
03-17-2009, 12:20 PM
I've changed the compass and the ruler, as I thought the metallic look didn't really fit the style of the map.

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I think I'll call this map finished, and go work on something else. I have a city map of Silverhelm in the works, and I've also been thinking of making a larger-scale map of the continent this valley is on.

Kingbreaker
03-17-2009, 12:48 PM
I like it!

I particularly like the color choices combined with the finishing effects in photoshop. Very tasteful and tasty. Then again, I am colorblind so take that with a grain of road salt.

(Here's a guess - are you using FilterForge? Good stuff if so.)

Here is a workflow question rather than a question about the map itself.
What are the advantages of using CC? I ask because you have industry-standard vector and raster software and you clearly have a lot of knowledge about both.

I tried CC and the interface was so counter-intuitive that I tried about 1 map before thinking of alternatives. This is just my working style though - I am really curious about the advantages of CC because I own it and haven't really explored it.

Lord Herman
03-17-2009, 01:32 PM
I don't know FilterForge; the effects I use are standard effects from Photoshop CS2, and some simple stuff with brushes and different types of transparency.

I'm relatively new to CC3 myself. I've used Adobe Illustrator extensively for other sorts of art, but so far, I find CC3 more suited for making maps. The different interface takes some getting used to, but I do like the fact that it's very easy to make your own tools to use and re-use. In Illustrator, I often ended up having to repeat several steps each time I want to make a certain map element, while CC3 can do most things in one step once you've made the tool you like.

I think raster software is great for applying effects to a map, but I wouldn't use it to draw the map itself. That's mostly because I like to tweak things after I've drawn them. I've seen some gorgeous maps made in Photoshop (pasis' maps, for instance), but you really have to decide in advance how you want your map to look, and it's hard to change anything afterwards.

Kingbreaker
03-17-2009, 03:06 PM
Thank you! This was exactly the sort of thing I was wondering about.
Once I finish/get tired of my current maybe I will re-install CC and give it a whirl.

Lord Herman
03-17-2009, 03:46 PM
Glad to be of help. :)

If you're going to try CC3 again, you might want to take a look at the tutorials on Profantasy.com. There's a video tutorial that explains the interface quite clearly, and walks you through the creation of a simple overland map. Linky! (http://www.profantasy.com/community/user_tutorials.asp)

Flaterectomy
03-17-2009, 04:06 PM
(...)

I think raster software is great for applying effects to a map, but I wouldn't use it to draw the map itself. That's mostly because I like to tweak things after I've drawn them. I've seen some gorgeous maps made in Photoshop (pasis' maps, for instance), but you really have to decide in advance how you want your map to look, and it's hard to change anything afterwards.

This is true for many of the methods you can use in Photoshop, but there are ways to keep your options open. If you're interested you can check out these video tutorials (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KO4XZfaSAoA&feature=channel), as they explain some of the ways in which you can keep things easily tweakable.

Kingbreaker
03-17-2009, 07:55 PM
In terms of getting the most bang for the least software, I have always liked Fireworks. Vector shapes + raster effects and textures = win. Of course it's got the jack-of-all-trades problem, but for my amateurish work it's just fine.

It absolutely rocks for drawing heraldry too.

Jykke
03-18-2009, 03:27 AM
I tried that same forest texture on one of my maps, but here it does seem to fit in much better than in my map. :) And I like the idea of the roads running along the river, it looks very natural.

Lord Herman
03-19-2009, 09:28 AM
I've been working on a new map in the same style. This one is set in another part of my world; Tol Ajan, an island formerly inhabited by wizards of Bael Turath, and still filled with the results of their magical experiments.

The island is now inhabited by lizardfolk, which I've given an aztec-like culture, and the nearby mainland houses an arabic culture of humans and humanoids.

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CartoGeo
03-20-2009, 10:24 PM
Thank you! This was exactly the sort of thing I was wondering about.
Once I finish/get tired of my current maybe I will re-install CC and give it a whirl.

CC3 (which I also use) IS built on a CAD engine, software similar to AutoCAD or what you would expect Architects and Engineers to use when creating production drawings. I was in the architectural profession for 10+ years and having been drawing on CAD for longer, I know my CAD ;)

Anyways... having said that, CC3 is good at what it does, but has limitations in what and HOW you can do something. CC3 has some great specialFX filters that are totally worth while to get to know... also it can create some high quality maps with less effort then what you might have to apply in other packages or software. The learning curve isn't as hard in my opinion then for example the experience curve (as in, knowing what to do) in Photoshop CS4.

Being a CAD software it has things like symbols (blocks in AutoCAD terms) which are usually PNGs with an alpha-transparency... or something along those lines. I relate Symbols to blocks since BOTH symbols and Blocks use only the original symbol for memory, so adding more of the same doesn't inflate the file to huge proportions (not supposed to at least)... Just keep three things in mind... one, Photoshop is a pixel based program, Illustrator is a Vectorbased program, and CC3 is a 'vectorlike' program built on TurboCAD drawing engine.

Gandwarf
03-21-2009, 07:46 AM
I like your style Lordherman, have some reputation.
The second map looks good as well. The only criticism I can give is concerning the rivers in the second map:

- I would expect the rivers to start very near or in the mountains. Some of them start in the forest.
- Some of the rivers run into the sea and then continue. That looks weird.