View Full Version : watercolour style mapping

05-24-2009, 08:40 PM
well i'm at an impass with my city, seems a contribiter has obsconded with some of my survivors... while this is not a big deal, i am in the process of tacking down a mapping style, looking for something thats quick, but also good looking, with a handdrawn feel. this has made me try out a watercolour look, but i cant seem to get it right... any suggestions on the methods?

05-24-2009, 10:23 PM
depends on what you are using.

If you are trying for the water color look on a computer I'm likely to be of very little help.

But if you are using brushes and pigments on paper then there I might be able to make some suggestions. As that is my favored media for map making.

There is just something cool about tactile maps.

The detail in experimenting with pigments and artificial aging, the folding and creasing if theye are desires. The staining and disintegrating corners.

The hand work in getting the details and the occasional happy accident.

Sorry I get a little carried away :oops:

05-25-2009, 09:20 AM
haha! no worries, this is a mapping site so if we didnt get carried away with maps we'd have problems.

as for me i am looking to do this on a computer, so things will be a little different.

05-25-2009, 09:24 AM
What software are you using loogie? Might be worth putting it on your details: Go to quick links at the top of the screen: edit details.

05-25-2009, 09:39 AM
iGd give nothing more then to be able to play around but with one computer... my wife hogs it
to her discredit she is a masters student and has not finished a major report that is due tomorrow... so i guess i'll let her have this one

05-25-2009, 04:52 PM
updated the software, also in the process of hand drawing the city which i hope to put on the comp and make it my first attempt at a style

05-25-2009, 06:33 PM
Well, in Photoshop, you'd want to use one of the wet media brushes with the opacity turned way down - 10% or so to start off with, and play with it from there - and with the brush's blend mode set to Multiply.

Depending on what sort of watercolor style you're going for, you may or may not want some texture and "glow" from the paper showing through using the Displace filter and, if you really want to get into it, Apply Image. I've got how-to's for all of that in my podcast: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=ZombieNirvana

05-25-2009, 07:25 PM
Are you able to find an image that shows the watercolour style you're after (be it a map or other?)

05-25-2009, 09:55 PM
i've been looking, but its quite annoying to do on my phone. as of yet my comp is still in disposed. i did see some nice tuts while my wife was on a bathroom break... i'll see if i can get at them tomorrow...

but basically i am looking for a style that lets me be vague without ruining the overall look... big strokes means fast, but also helps hide my limited skill in artistry.

05-25-2009, 10:13 PM
I was after something similar...this is what I ended up with (not quite watercolour, but that's just a few photoshop filters difference)... www.davidpiercey.com/maps/abebe ...hope it works on your phone

05-26-2009, 06:03 AM
looks good, but I'm going to try for a handdrawn maps, but its something to try out

05-26-2009, 07:24 AM
In the Stern's Bridge thread there was a point early on in my coloring experiments that onlookers were calling a watercolor look, and Torstan added this post (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showpost.php?p=49445&postcount=39). As far as a hand drawn look, the use of dark outlines tends to contribute to an illustrated look, IMO. I noticed this first in Ascension's April Challenge WIP (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=5111). Also worth looking at is Ravell's recent WIP, Greyscale Non-Destructive Experiment (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=5702). Note how the coasts and rivers jump, versus the forests and mountains. In his first color version he adds a dark outline to the forest, which, also IMO, made it more a part of what he was going for. There are other examples, I'm sure, just take a stroll through Cartographer's Choice Forum looking for hand-drawn or illustrated styles.

Edit- Of course, nothing looks more hand-drawn than drawing by hand, ;).

05-27-2009, 06:44 AM
Well I've been playing around, and heres my first result... I LOVE the watercolour because its nature is to be sloppy, you start out vague and work your way to detail... the only thing thats hard to do is on a canvas you have to make sure you leave your highlights blank (when painting in watercolour white doesn't do you much good, if you want crisp white, you have to leave the canvas blank in that spot)... something that is remedied in photoshop..

Anyways, heres my first results, a simple cabin, some boxes, and a wagon... I'll upload a big copy so you can see technique, but it is meant to be on a map and therefore small, so I'll attach another smaller picture with it the size I would expect to see it on a map. Let me know what you think!


05-27-2009, 08:26 AM
Very nice, what brushes did you use?

05-27-2009, 08:48 AM
thanks! they were defaults with cs2... under dry brushes (haha)... i found that they had nicer texturing then those of wetbrush... i used a charcoal brush for the buildings, and switched to a charcoalish brush for the ground since it was more textured.

tips i found useful... set your brush yo multiply... start with a large brush, low opacity... and slowly work to smaller brushes incrasing the opacity... finally use a small brush set to normal and colour white, low opacity to make some highlights...

only thing that worries me is if i ever try to make anything on a transparent bg for reuse,such as items for tabletop games etc... might take some doing, tho it may also be easy, i dunno!

05-27-2009, 07:46 PM
That is really impressive, Loogie!!! I must actually try to use photoshop for genuine painting myself (if i could draw...but it's always fun to try).

05-31-2009, 12:07 PM

05-31-2009, 01:49 PM
Great links! Thank you!