View Full Version : WIP : Port Sol

05-03-2009, 03:35 PM
Hello fellow cartographers, I'd like to point your attention to my first WIP-thread on these boards of talent and knowledge. Until now, I only posted finished maps, but as I just sat down o create a new map for my homebrew game, I decided to do a WIP-thread. This will allow me to make use of useful advice while still creating the map and it might be a scource of inspiration too.

Okay, on to the map. This will be a mp for an important city in my homebrew world of Angraenor. It's called Port Sol and is a nearly lawless town, run by a council of pirate kings, that divided the quarters of Port Sol between the most powerful captains. It's a haven of trade for all kinds of illegal stuff - drugs, poisons, contrabands and the like.
Port Sol was founded on the southern peninsula of a big, tropical island, that's mostly overgrown with thick rainforests. The port city was built on the ruins of a far older civilization, that was long gone by the time the irst of the ambitious pirates showed up. There's not much known about these people, but they must've been of giant kin or descendants of titans, because the structures that are left over from these ancient times, indicate that they were far taller than humans. The only buildings that are still standing today, are parts of a massive city walls and several temples, dedicated to dark and long forgotten gods of the sea.

I'm creating the map in GIMP. This time, I didn't draw the map by hand as I usually do, because I want to do it entirely in GIMP.

I already did the land using the TLS technique. It is attached as a thumbnail. This will be the base for building up the city.

In the second attachemnt, you can see a sketch-layer that I added to see, where roads, important buildings and the left-overs of the giant wall will be placed.
Now, I have to decide, which step to take first. I'm thinking about doing the roads first, but that's just an idea. There are several things I want to do. First and most important, I want to make sure, that the wall will look gigantic. I don't know how I'll manage it, but time will tell... :)
I want to use nice looking textures for the roads and building and I already downloaded GV 3 to toy with textures, but I don't really get how this works...
As you can see, this will not only be a WIP in map-making by a clueless newbie, but also a WIP of an idiot trying to figure out, how software works and what really can be done with a disturbingly limited amount of brainmatter... At least, it won't get boring! :D

I don't know, how fast this map will pogress, as I'm kind of busy at the moment, but I won't back down and will hopefully have a finished map of Port Sol in the Finished Maps-section of the board in a few days or weeks.

05-03-2009, 03:39 PM
Those walls are huge. You could put entire villages on the top of them.

05-03-2009, 04:34 PM
Yes, you're right! They're that large, that the citizenz of Port Sol built whole palaces inside the walls! The halls within the walls are sealed since some terrible things happened in the past).
Right now I'm thinking about the right way to make them actually look that way. I guess I'll built a few newer structures on top of them (the keep of an excentric pirate captain, for example).

05-03-2009, 05:38 PM
Interesting backstory to the city. I am interested to see where you are taking this.

05-04-2009, 02:47 AM
Gandwarf, I'll post more details about the city's story, if there's interest. Usually this develops as the map takes shape.
In the attachement you can see, that I put the walls on the map. I also created the docks and one of the bridges. The bridge looks a little too small, so I guess I'll do it again... I didn't add the sketch-layer to the map for this attachement, so don't be confused.

I don't know what would be the best step to take next. I guess doing the roads and then the buildings would be a good idea. I don't exactly know how to do nice loking roads. Any advice would be appreciated. I want them to look like they were carved into the land, if you know, what I mean...
A little advice on this would be helpful. Why isn't there a Road Police, when you need one?! :D

Btw, does any of you know of a nice tutorial to learn how to use GV 3?

05-04-2009, 02:52 AM
Very nice, though way too many docks, even for a port. If that's part of the local flavor then no problem. Just want to let you know in case you didn't realize it.

05-04-2009, 09:33 AM
I can't help you with the roads, as I use Campaign Cartographer 3. But I think it would be a good idea at this point to lay down some roads, yes.

I agree with Nomadic that there are *many* docks. Not sure if it's too many though... it depends on the amount of ships and traffic. It could be an enormous pirate town. If it's smaller I would recommend fewer docks.

And I am always interested in the backstory.

05-04-2009, 11:18 AM
Thanks for the comments. I didn't provide a scale yet, but Port Sol will indeed be a very large city. Each pirate captain has his own dock, so having many docks were necessary. But maybe I went a little too far here... :)
I'll wait and see how the city quarters will turn out and maybe I'll go back and remove some of the piers then.

05-04-2009, 07:19 PM
Time for another update. I added a light bump map on the wall to give it an aged, jaggy look. In the next step I'll add some more fortification stuff to make it look more wall-like.

I then did the roads. I'm not really pleased with how they turned out, but it could be worse! :)
The next will be the buildings (the horror!) and vegetation and, after that, stuff like shading and so on. There has to be something done about the sea too. It looks just too flat and solid. I'd like to have an effect of reflected lightning, but I have no clue how to do something like this.

But, seriously, does any of you have the feeling to save time when doing maps entirely in GIMP? I get the feeling, that I would already be done with the map if I'd have drawn it by hand and later reworkd it in GIMP... :)
It sure looks nicer than anything I could come up with going the old-school route, but man, this s*** takes time... :D

05-04-2009, 07:45 PM
I think the roads look quite all right.

I am more worried about the docks, their style doesn't really mix well with the other realistic styles you used for the land textures (grass, roads, etc). Everything can still turn out ok, though, once your map gets filled with stuff!

05-04-2009, 08:01 PM
Yes, I know that the docks look a little strange at the moment. I hope that it'll look better after I did the buildings, which will be in a similar style at the moment. I'm still looking for a style to combine my "free-hand drawing" (though done with a digital pen) with stuff I can only do in GIMP. I tried the same in my map of Xurmak's Nest (http://www.cartographersguild.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=10633&d=1235347424). Well, let's see how this one will turn out...

06-09-2009, 03:44 AM
This is just a quick reply to let everyone know, that this one's still in progress. I didn't touch it for at least two months, as I'm very busy on the job right now. But if anyone got curious about how this will turn out, I'm very sorry for the delay. I hope that I'll finish it soon, as my schedule has cleared up a bit and I'm looking forward to a long weekend with lots of spare time. Yay! I'll fire up da GIMP then...

As you can see, I already added some buildings to it. Well, I guess there's a less time consuming method for doing these, but it's fun too, so I don't mind that it takes that long.
Some of you pointed out, that the docks don't fit with the more realistic looking backgrounds. I hope the addition of the buildings shows, which route I'm aiming for. Please feel free to post feedback, critique, comments and so on!

06-09-2009, 04:03 AM
I like it a lot but I have a question...what are the gravel patch things? I was thinking that maybe you could blur out the edges to soften the edge but I'm not sure if they are for roads or something.

06-09-2009, 04:14 AM
I guess you're referring to the areas that look like rubble or...yeah...gravel. :D
These are the remains of a far older city of giants, that once inhabited this place. The huge walls are the only structures from these days that still exist. I've written more about the story behind the map in my initial post.
I'll add fragments of walls and other ruins into the gravel areas when I'm done finishing the buildings, so that this will hopefully be more recognizable.

06-18-2009, 10:35 AM
Hello, I'd like to post another update as the work on the map is slowly (but steady as well) progressing. On this one, you can see that I added most of the buildings in their rough shape, did additional roads and squares and a broken wall, that parts the eastern docks from the rest of the city.
Any comments, suggestions, advices and so on would be very helpful on this stage! I'd especially like to hear/read suggestions on adding textures or other structures to make the buildings look better.

The next step will be doing the ruins on the rubble areas, adding some minor stuff here and there (like walls). After that I'll move on to trees and vegetation and then it should near finishing! I hope it doesn't bore you that this one takes that long, but I guess it's better this way than going the usual route of opening up an enthusiastic WIP thread and then never seeing anything finished... :)

06-18-2009, 10:53 AM
Its a very nice map. The only thing it is missing, is the one thing I see missing far too often in Digital maps. A Scale Bar. How far is it from Here to There? How wide ARE those walls.

I know I see people who make these digital maps, and in the past when I ask "What is the Scale?" I get answers of 10 pixels to the feet/mile/yard, etc. But that sort of scale only works if one downloads the picture then opens in a graphics program, looks at the size of the image, etc. Doesn't work if I print it out on a sheet of paper.

So, please put a scale bar on the map.


06-18-2009, 11:37 AM
I totally agree with you, Neon Knight, and I promise, that I'll add a scale bar to the final piece! I usually add stuff like this (along with labels, a frame and so on) when everything else is finished. So, expect to see a scale bar in the final map!

06-18-2009, 09:46 PM
So far, so good. I'm curious, though, what are the walls made from? Because the way you've described them so far makes them sound exceedingly large, and yet they are (apparently) cut from one massive, continuous piece of stone.

Your shadowing is a step in the right direction, though you've got some alignment issues there (a cast shadow not attached to a wall, shadows that don't follow the entire wall, etc.) Consider a bump map on the walls that sit upon the walls to distinguish them from the rest of it. You'll probably be able to do away with the gray outline then as well. Give it a nice textural bump map as well.

06-19-2009, 05:48 AM
Thanks for the advice, Alecthar! You're right about the shadows. The current shadow layers were only done on the fly and I played around with the alignment of the layers to see how it'll look later. I'll probably erase them completely when all the structures are set up and do them all over again. You won't see these mistakes then, as it gives the impression that the buildings are somehow floating...:)

The wall is indeed huge (as will be seen in the final piece after I add the scale bar NeonKnight requested...)! It was built out of a single large meteor rock, that was just a fragment of a far larger meteor that fell down some thousand years ago and that had a huge impact on how the world we play in looks nowadays. The rock does have certain effects on the population surrounding it, but I haven't given this aspect more thoughts yet. Gladly, I still have some time left until the campaign will turn to Port Sol to figure these things out.

06-19-2009, 05:54 AM
Oh, I totally forgot to post the update, I intended to post! :)
I found some free time yesterday to work on the map. I added most of the ruins. I'll probably finish them today and add some structure to the Tower of Screams, which is the largest still standing structure from the days of the giants.
I'll move on to do trees and stuff later. There's still lots of work left on the houses too, but I see lights at the end of the tunnel! :D

06-24-2009, 09:18 AM
I really like the technique you are using on the various buildings. It is a nice approach to adding color. I am curious as to how you are doing it - is it entirely by hand?

06-25-2009, 04:46 AM
Katerek, I guess you're referring to the houses, that have a different colored border/frame to make them look like buildings with flat roofs, that have a low encircling "wall" that surrounds the roof or terrace. I'm just using selections to create them. When I've done the outline, I'm just resizing the selection (making it smaller) and then just drop the lighter color into it. I'll add shadows to the darker, encircling sections in the end, to hopefully make it look more like roof terraces.

Now, there's another WIP update. There aren't many exciting changes in this one, but the ones that can be seen, were time-consuming nonetheless. :D
I finished the ruins (and am quite pleased with them, which might be the main reason for posting this update...:) ) and the walls surrounding some of the buildings. I'll finish the buildings next.

07-01-2009, 04:47 PM
Well, it's time to post another update. In this one, a lot has been done. I finished the buildings and their walls and then I did the trees.
The trees were pure horror! I tried about a dozen approaches to doing them while in the back of my head I tried to put together a believeable reason for why there's not a single tree in a city at the coast of an island that's covered with jungles... :) I failed a whole lot of sanity checks in the two dreadful nights I took on this thrice-cursed and rotten vegetation. Well, as you can see, it hasn't gone that far...
I managed to get some trees done and they're looking kinda okay I guess.
I also did the shading and hopefully corrected all the errors that were pointed out earlier in this thread.
There are only a few things, that need to be done and then it's off to the finished map secion! Yay!

But first, I need an advice. I don't know how to do realistic looking dome-structures. As you can see, there are several dome-like buildings, that just look flat now. I tried using the globe creator plug-in, but I couldn't come up with nice results. Does any of you know a nice way to create domes or temples or similar buildings? I don't need anything fancy, I just need a technique to do the shading in a way, that makes it look dome- or globe-like. I couldn't find a tutorial for something like this on the net.

Steel General
07-01-2009, 04:56 PM
Well the easiest way would be to download a mostly clear dome already done from someplace like the Dundjinni forums, then apply a texture to it.

Or you could use circles with a bevel applied and then adjust the shadow/highlights until you get what you like.

There's also a way to do it with Dodge/Burn - but I'm not that familiar with that one.

07-01-2009, 06:26 PM
Looking really good. I still think it would be worthwhile to give a bit of texture and bevel to your crenelations (that's what the extension of a wall like that is called right?). Just to set them apart from the rest a bit more. It's slightly odd to have the stone-like wall with the texture-less stuff atop it.

07-01-2009, 06:36 PM
This is turning into a very beautiful map, with some great features. I especially like the map when I am zoomed out. Then it looks really cluttered and organic. Great layout.
Zoomed in it loses a bit of its charm.

Have some rep!

07-02-2009, 03:44 AM
Thanks for the kind words, fellow guild members! Alecthar, I don't know, what you mean by "crenelations". Leo.org doesn't even know this word... :) I guess, that you're referring to is the parapet of the giant wall, right? That's one of the remaining things, that need to be done before the map is considered finished. I'm also toying with textures to apply to the roofs, but I couldn't come up with nice looking ones yet.

Steel General, many thanks for your aswers! I'll take a look at the Dundjinni forums. Maybe there are some ships too, that could be used to make the harbour look less deserted.
I don't get the bevel-technique you described, but I'll look into it next time the Gimp is running. :) And Dodge/Burn sounds like an option! Thank you!

Gandwarf, I agree. The way uploaded files are displayed by the board software isn't that nice. Either you get it in a size too small to make out details or - when zoomed in - it's far too enlarged (about 150% I'd guess). The map was created to be printed in A3! In this size, there are enough details to reognize without "losing it's charm"...

Steel General
07-02-2009, 09:14 AM
@Absinth - You're welcome...for an example of the beveled option I brought take a look at the WIP thread for my Vale of Tears Map (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showpost.php?p=43128&postcount=1), there's a bit of a discussion on how to get it to look decent.

07-02-2009, 01:48 PM

Here are the basic steps in Gimp I use:


Note: You can also make nice "pointy cone" shapes by using the "Conical (sym)" gradient shape and the attached (zipped) gradient:

-Rob A>

07-02-2009, 03:21 PM
Wow, RobA, thanks for the advice! You even provided an example using my own map! I'm stunned... :) This is exactly what I need! Thanks a lot!

07-02-2009, 05:55 PM
Wow, RobA, thanks for the advice! You even provided an example using my own map! I'm stunned... :) This is exactly what I need! Thanks a lot!

No problem. And if you are doing this on the whole map, I'd suggest creating a new transparent layer, setting it to overlay mode, and do it there, so you can always turn off/change the effect at a later date.

-Rob A>

07-03-2009, 03:36 AM
Oh, I'll certainly do so... This map has more layers than the multiverse! :D

07-03-2009, 06:44 PM
I misspelled Crenellation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crenellation).

But parapet was the word I was desperately searching for in my head and failing utterly to find.

07-04-2009, 04:04 AM
I love watching this city take shape. Can't wait for it to be complete!

07-06-2009, 04:16 AM
As am I, Phantos! This takes way tooo long! :)

07-31-2009, 05:51 AM
It is nearly done. This is a tough and busy summer for me and I'm working my *** off to fill in for people that are on "well deserved vacations". :) Still I managed to find a little time here and there to work on this map. I finished nearly all of the buildings, added some structure to the walls parapet and several other, smalle things :)
I'm so glad that it's nearly done and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. If I'd do it anew, I'd do some things differently (it looks way too crowded), but overall I think we'll have fun using it in the game (which is still it's main purpose!).

I'll add some finishing touches tonight (like a scalebar, labeling and a few other things like finishing the docks...) and will post the final piece into the finished maps section. I guess that's how it's supposed to be done, right?

07-31-2009, 06:03 AM
Ah, I was wondering why there was so little progress. Cursed holidays and colleagues going on vacation :D

Still love the map. As I said before if I zoom in too much it loses some of its charm, but a bit zoomed out and it looks brilliant!
Those walls *are* huge by the way :P

And yes, if you think your map is finished, you post it in the finished maps section.

Steel General
07-31-2009, 07:49 AM
This has come along quite nicely.

07-31-2009, 10:32 AM
Looking awesome!

-Rob A>

07-31-2009, 10:43 AM
That is looking pretty darn cool! nice! and it was fascinating reading through the process to get to this point too..

08-01-2009, 11:21 PM
Oh wow, I remember first seeing this and wondering how it would turn out with those enormous walls. But it looks really awesome.

08-10-2009, 03:05 PM
It is finally done! You can see the map in all its finished glory in the Finished Maps section of the boards: Port Sol (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?p=74471).