View Full Version : New wannabe cartographer, first map

03-15-2009, 06:16 AM
Hello everyone,

A while ago I became interested in making my own maps for game use. I've since tried a few of the tutorials on this site, and finally I am now starting on the real thing. As with most starters, I am hungry for comments and suggestions as I go along.

For the most part, this is a map just to let me develope my style - it is not (yet) part of any game setting.

I seem to have a few style issues:

I like my maps bright and a bit cartoonish. I also like irregular coastlines and island groups. To make even the smallest islands visible, I've applied a high contrast style for the coastlines. On the other hand, my preferred style for mountains uses shading rather than hard outlining, and I've been going back and forth to keep the two styles from seeming mismatched when mixed in one map. Not sure if I've succeeded, but giving higher contrast edges to the mountainous terrain and putting plenty of irregularly shaped forest into the map seems to mitigate the issue.

I am currently working on this map using GIMP only, but I consider adding InkScape to my toolbox.


03-15-2009, 07:33 AM
Welcome Nils the Giant!

You're off to a good start with your map, I like the little islands and almost fjord-like jagged coastline. The mountains do seem a little separated from the surrounding terrain, my suggestion would be to have a more gradual process from plains to foothills to mountains to peaks. That applies to texture as well as colour and shading.

Another thing is that having the irregular coastline as well as equally irregularly shaped forests gives the map a busy, cluttered feeling. It might be worth looking into decreasing the irregularity of the forests (in parts, at least) in contrast to the coastline.

The last thing I can think of is maybe playing a little with the outer glow of the landmass into the sea. Again, a slightly more gradual fade set against the jagged coastline might look pretty neat.

03-15-2009, 07:42 AM
Yeah thats my immediate thought that with the black line around the land and then the aqua hard line its like a striped edge to the land. A slower fade on the aqua to the blue sea would make that look better I think. Still, I like the map and it does fit in with your stated aims for it so good job - and welcome btw.

03-15-2009, 08:16 AM
Flaterectomy, it seems that you really can spot other dutch-speakers with frightning accuracy ;)

Thank you both for the suggestions. I'm still spending some thoughts on what to do with the forests to reduce clutter, but making the fade from the coastline more gradual was simple enough and does give a slightly different feel to the map already. (attached)

03-15-2009, 09:11 AM
Rather than reduce forests, I've changed the map to use only shades of green on the land. It does seem easier on the eyes.. though this may be wishful thinking on my part.

But is it still clear enough where the highlands and mountains are? It may be too easy now to confuse the mountains for forests, and the forests for plains..

Definitely still a WIP.

Steel General
03-15-2009, 09:27 AM
Welcome Aboard!

Your map is coming along well, but what sticks out to me is the outline of your land masses. This causes a very sudden break from the land to the sea. Now if that's what you're wanting then its fine, but i think I would maybe change the color to something more in the middle to help ease the transition.

Map On! :)

03-15-2009, 09:27 AM
Yeah, it is easier on the eyes, but it does it at the cost of losing the mountains. If I were you, I'd have a look at some of the mountain tutorials in the Tutorials/How-To (http://www.cartographersguild.com/forumdisplay.php?f=48) forum. You should probably have the mountains appear from the heart of the forest where the tree line gives way to the peaks.

03-15-2009, 09:57 AM
First, welcome to The Guild. Second, I'm with SG...lose the black outline...it just jars too much with what is looking nice. Try an inner glow of black, go about 10 pixels and this should give you a nice dark lowlands around the beachfront. The water looks real nice. Land looks good with the varying colors. As for mountains, hit the tuts section and see what kind of style grabs ya. At any rate, this looks nice...you're well on your way to a fine lookin map.

03-15-2009, 10:35 AM
A big thank you to everyone for providing comments and ideas, your response has been very encouraging.

I'll go for the softer coastline a bit later on to see how I like that.. for now, I'm just posting an alternate look for those mountain areas.

03-15-2009, 11:01 AM
Here is without that black land outline that grabs the attention of so many posters ;)

Hm.. now without the outline to give them body, a few of the smallest islands are just vanishing from sight. Not sure if I am happy with this particular alteration.

Steel General
03-15-2009, 11:37 AM
Try Ascensions suggestion of the inner glow or if you like the outline/stroke, choose a color that's some kind of mid-point between the ocean and the land.

03-15-2009, 11:44 AM
That last version was with a black, 10 pixel inner glow, but I think I botched it :(

My guess is that the transition to forest is too dark and too close to the shoreline, making the glow on the lowland barely noticeable because there only rarely are enough pixels of lowland to appreciate the effect.

03-15-2009, 12:53 PM
Very nice first map. If the mountains are still a separate layer I might suggest adding a very light bit of noise. That will make them appear less blurry (not much, just enough to sharpen them up).

03-15-2009, 02:04 PM
or if you like the outline/stroke, choose a color that's some kind of mid-point between the ocean and the land.

Hey, that worked - I changed the stroke color to one closer to the lowland color, and the result came out looking pretty good to me.

If the mountains are still a separate layer I might suggest adding a very light bit of noise. That will make them appear less blurry

Oops. The mountain layer was not supposed to be that blurry, but I had the layer opacity set to 50% from an earlier stage :oops: Fixed that now.