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Jharviss
05-13-2007, 03:58 AM
I'm going to be running a new campaign over the summer and for this campaign I've drawn up a map of the setting, the island nation Khemli. While I would normally say it's done, I would love to hear what you cartographers have to say on the subject.

If you see anything you dislike, let me know, tell me what to change, and I'll see if I can't make this map a little better before the campaign starts.

Robbie
05-13-2007, 11:03 AM
Very interesting approach to mountains...I never would have thought to use that style. My only critique is that the mountains do appear too glossy. Maybe if you could somehow overlay them with a rough pattern or texture to kill off the shine of the bevel? Other than that its a pretty neat approach!

pyrandon
05-13-2007, 11:27 AM
Hey, Jharviss:

Well done! This is bright & vivid & full of interest. I must admit it is just a tad too bright for my tastes--feels neon & out of keeping with what I assume is the medieval setting (is it? If sci fi don't change it). I would subdue the colors a bit, but that's 100% a matter of taste.

I am not sure of the scale of the map, but I'm assuming this is either a continent or a very large island? If so, I wonder if you could/should increase the number of geological features--if you think you can do it without cluttering the map. Additionally, the manner in which you rendered the mountains give the impression there are only three or four mountain peaks vs. them being mountain ranges. Finally, do you think you show enough rivers?

I would also play with the shadow/bevel on the continent itself give the appearance that the place is floating over top the water, vs. rising from it. Was that purposeful? This may be the same reason the texturing "pops" out at the viewer, seeming a bit artificial.

I really like the flow of the composition, & I like the placement of your cities; very believable. Your players are lucky to be able to play in this world! Great start!

HandsomeRob
05-13-2007, 12:24 PM
I would definitely put a scale on the map, somewhere, and a compass rose if north is not up.

The style is unique - not for everyone, but personally I like it. My impression is that this is a volcanic archipelago similar to Hawaii, with a handful of large, solitary peaks and a basaltic bedrock.

Nice placenames, too.
-Rob

Jharviss
05-13-2007, 12:46 PM
Awesome critiques. Here's my responses and a Version 2--

The mountains always feel a bit glossy and it's hard to change. It's one of my biggest qualms with this style. I duplicated the mountain layer, took away the bevels, and then peppered it. I put it over the mountain layer with about 25% opaquity. I'm wondering if that just made them seem blurry rather than getting rid of the gloss.

I also put a light gray film over the water. The water in this map was largely a test in using what I learned from the city tutorial Pyrandon graciously supplied. Hopefully that will keep the water without getting rid of its pretty contrasts.

After I posted last night I realized there were several things I hadn't done. One was the scale, and that's a huge point for this map. Handsome Rob is pretty much right--Khemli is an archipelago of three islands that aren't very far apart and so just fused. The scale will show that Khemli is only a little over 300 miles across, and very small compared with the rest of my world.

MittenNinja
05-13-2007, 02:54 PM
Very interesting labeling style! Although it may be a turn off for some, I really like the way that the labels seem to actually be a part of the landscape.

RobA
05-13-2007, 08:00 PM
I really like the forest texture. I think I'll have to steal that look :)

-Rob A>

Jharviss
05-13-2007, 08:26 PM
I use photoshop, and for the forest I use the airbrush with the dissolve form at about 25% strength, and then I bevel that layer. The thicker the forest the more it pops. I think it works well.

heruca
05-13-2007, 11:40 PM
The second version is looking much better, IMO.

It may just be me, but one of your fonts seems a little too "Flintstones" for a fantasy map.

To get rid of the "gloss" of your mountains, you might try duplicating that layer, inverting it, and playing with the compositing style and opacity of the new layer.

Jharviss
05-14-2007, 12:38 AM
I knew somebody would mention the Flintstones feel of that lettering. I was thinking the same thing, but by then, I just didn't care. In a way, it's kinda entertaining. And fits the map (it's a nation of humans and ogres, and you can see for yourself the type of names they use). Odds are good that I'll change that font eventually.

palehorse
05-27-2007, 05:25 PM
The mountains always feel a bit glossy and it's hard to change. It's one of my biggest qualms with this style. I duplicated the mountain layer, took away the bevels, and then peppered it. I put it over the mountain layer with about 25% opaquity. I'm wondering if that just made them seem blurry rather than getting rid of the gloss.

You might try this:

Ctrl-Click on the mountain layer thumbnail to select just the mountains.

Create a new layer, and in the new layer fill the selection with a neutral brown. With the selection still active, Add Noise to this layer (just a bit; around 5-10% should be plenty). Depending on the resolution of your original image,you might need to add about a half-pixel Gaussian Blur to soften it up a bit, too. Change the Blend Mode of the layer to Multiply, and adjust the Opacity down a bit if need be. (You could do with a solid color, instead of adding Noise, but IMO that'd probably end up looking too flat.)

Not sure if I can do 2 attachments on one post, so I'll put the After up in a sec; this is just a quick example of what I'm talking about.

palehorse
05-27-2007, 05:26 PM
And here's the after. This is at 100% opacity, which is probably too dark, but is easy enough to fix!

RobA
05-28-2007, 08:48 AM
A combination of those two (before and after) along with a layer mask makes for a nice mountain as well. I tried to apply the "lighter is higher" visual rule.

I might have gone overboard (the mountains might not be snow topped :) ) but most mountains are lighter (bare/rocky) at the peaks.

-Rob A>

pyrandon
05-28-2007, 10:44 AM
Nice mountains style, fellas, but I have two questions:

1) I don't like how the mountain "ridge" is a straight, unbroken line; do you know any way to break that up, add variations, etc.? Right now that appears far too "computerly" to my eye.

2) the "feet" of the mountain just end quickly; is there a way to broaden the slope out so they stretch out? (Even if it means repeating the process at a lower "elevation" & superimposing it?)

Thanks for this sweet add to Jharviss's thread!

RobA
05-28-2007, 11:42 AM
For reference -

Here is a grab from google-earth of the Rocky's just south of Banff.

The mountain ridge lines do look very similar to what was shown on the map, just a bit more "jagged" rather than smooth.

-Rob A>

pyrandon
05-29-2007, 03:24 PM
The mountain ridge lines do look very similar to what was shown on the map, just a bit more "jagged" rather than smooth.

Great reference shot--thanks. The straight lines still jar my eye as too "virtual", but I'll play with this style. I like it & think it has tons of potential--plus, the way Palehorse and RobA have listed it, how much easier can you get? :)

Jharviss
05-29-2007, 06:42 PM
Those changes look pretty good. I like the way it blends in at the edges; it would make it a lot easier to make without the edges of the mountains being so harsh.

I'm always going back and forth with the straightness of the mountains. There are a ton of mountain ranges that do have pretty streight rows, just like those you showed. And those make sense if you look at your plate movement and know where the earth is buckling upward. On the other hand, less perfect mountains are also rather common, especially with volcanic activity. I think a mixture of the two would be the most realistic, personally.