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Publius
05-28-2007, 04:11 PM
Hello all,

First time poster here. I have been working on a city map for a Serenity game (and sharpening my cartography skills, I am not getting paid for this one but it is always good to practice practice practice) and was wondering if I could get some input.

I use Adobe Illustrator for all my map work exclusively. I am self taught, which means I could probably do a lot more if I were to find out everything that the program can do :)

Here it is, for those who are not Serenity/Firefly fans this is an amalgam of scifi and western, so I was looking for something relatively modern but with a western feel. The layout is not intended to be balanced, as many of the buildings closer to the train-stop are either boarding houses or warehouses (along with bars and whatnot) and some of those further out are more focused on the community. The Bond Commons functions as a kind of 'city center' for example.

I'm wondering if I should not thin out some of the buildings located by the train stop.... I was planning on some of them being new construction (the town is a boom town in more ways than one).

RPMiller
05-28-2007, 04:33 PM
Welcome Publius! Are you the Publius from the Hero Boards?

I like the map so far. It definitely has the right feel for the setting.

The trees don't 'feel' quite right though. I think it may be the 'trunk' in the center.

If you want a bit more of a western feel the boardwalk should actually be broken up. Contrary to what some Westerns portray boardwalks never extended past the front of the building. That said it is still a future setting so it is likely they have learned that extending the boardwalks means less muddy boots. ;)

Publius
05-28-2007, 05:33 PM
Yup same Bad Guy :)

Yes, I know what you mean about the boardwalks. The buildings are too close together as well for accuracy. Of course as you correctly surmise, I'm not going for accuracy, at least not entirely. Instead I want to give it the feel of the Western, which for most players is the movie Westerns. But I do agree with you that that was the standard. I might break up the boardwalks a bit (which were originally, and still could be, sidewalks as well)

Bummer about the trees, I've never had luck with trees. In this case I hand dropped each (yeah I know that can be automated, but it is one of those things I do by feel) so I'm not likely to change them around this map. Next map however I could make some changes to the trees, what do you think would be the best approach? Just remove the trunk?

What do you think about the density of buildings on Brynner and Murphy streets especially... I can see the density of the buildings just outside of the railroad stop, the more I look at it the more it seems to throw the map off kilter. Anyone else get that feeling or is it just me?

Istarlome
05-28-2007, 07:26 PM
outstanding. you've got a unique style that is really quite nice. i'd like to see more like this.

RPMiller
05-28-2007, 11:18 PM
Yup same Bad Guy :)
Great! Did you find us via my sig?


Yes, I know what you mean about the boardwalks. The buildings are too close together as well for accuracy. Of course as you correctly surmise, I'm not going for accuracy, at least not entirely. Instead I want to give it the feel of the Western, which for most players is the movie Westerns. But I do agree with you that that was the standard. I might break up the boardwalks a bit (which were originally, and still could be, sidewalks as well)
I wouldn't worry about it. Most players aren't as 'retentive' as me. ;)


Bummer about the trees, I've never had luck with trees. In this case I hand dropped each (yeah I know that can be automated, but it is one of those things I do by feel) so I'm not likely to change them around this map. Next map however I could make some changes to the trees, what do you think would be the best approach? Just remove the trunk?
Ok, I looked them over very carefully and it is actually the dot in the center, and to a lesser extent the 'inner circle' as well. I think if you dropped both those and then used the same colors you are currently using to create a light side and a shade side it would give you a nice effect.


What do you think about the density of buildings on Brynner and Murphy streets especially... I can see the density of the buildings just outside of the railroad stop, the more I look at it the more it seems to throw the map off kilter. Anyone else get that feeling or is it just me?
Considering that most are warehouses and it is near the maglev I don't think that they throw things off balance assuming that there is a reason to have all that storage. If there aren't enough nearby businesses or manufacturing facilities, than I think there is too much. However I see the road to the spaceport so if this is near to the spaceport than it would make sense that this is a transfer point between spaceships and the maglev.

In western towns the saloons, and other 'entertainment' would front right up to the train tracks so that the cowboys coming in would typically see them right away as would passengers disembarking the train. Maybe you could move the buildings on the rail side of Hart St.?

Also, I discovered something else that was making my eye twitch. ;)

The boardwalks are offset from the roads and look to be over grass. I think removing the sliver of grass between the building and street would give a better reason for even having the boardwalks, again that is a very picky criticism and I don't think it is necessary to have it work.

RobA
05-29-2007, 08:46 AM
Also, I discovered something else that was making my eye twitch. ;)

The boardwalks are offset from the roads and look to be over grass. I think removing the sliver of grass between the building and street would give a better reason for even having the boardwalks, again that is a very picky criticism and I don't think it is necessary to have it work.

It does seem picky, but that was the same thing that bothered me.

Also, being a longstanding fan of both the movie and the series, the while map looks too green. Most of the towns were arid, dry and dusty... it might just be the choice of green.... too verdant, maybe?

-Rob A>

Publius
05-29-2007, 10:04 AM
Those boardwalks started as sidewalks, there was also a gap between the buildings and the sidewalks that I cut down. I think you are right, the gap does make less sense in a more western setting. That's why it is a WIP :)

As far as the color, what I wanted to do was to hit that with some effect that would variegate it more: brown it around the edges and here and there. The problem is that I need to transfer the finished map to another program (unless Illustrator can do that) which I will not do until everything else (like the boardwalks) is pretty much all done. Any suggestions on the best way to do that? I mean, other than just drawing it in with a dodge/burn.

HandsomeRob
05-29-2007, 11:27 AM
As far as the color, what I wanted to do was to hit that with some effect that would variegate it more: brown it around the edges and here and there. The problem is that I need to transfer the finished map to another program (unless Illustrator can do that) which I will not do until everything else (like the boardwalks) is pretty much all done. Any suggestions on the best way to do that? I mean, other than just drawing it in with a dodge/burn.

Just export the layers you want to work with into a photoshop document, do your edits, place the the psd back into your illustrator document, and turn off the original illustrator layers.

RPMiller
05-29-2007, 12:01 PM
As far as the color, what I wanted to do was to hit that with some effect that would variegate it more: brown it around the edges and here and there. The problem is that I need to transfer the finished map to another program (unless Illustrator can do that) which I will not do until everything else (like the boardwalks) is pretty much all done. Any suggestions on the best way to do that? I mean, other than just drawing it in with a dodge/burn.
I forget, can you add noise in Illustrator? If you can add noise to the green layer, I would add some brown-ish noise and then blur it. That might add more of the effect you are looking for.

Publius
05-30-2007, 09:26 PM
Updated version.
I used Photoshop to create a background, brought it into the file and then adjusted the transparency.

The road I did something similar, but within Illustrator. I combined all of the roads together with Pathfinder, then made a copy over top, then hit it with the Effects>SVG FIlter>AI_woodgrain and then toned it down using transparency.

EDIT: I went back after looking at this and altered the font slightly, using a bold version to make them stand out much better. The next time I load this map up you'll see the changes.

RPMiller
05-31-2007, 01:08 PM
Hmm... I'll have to consider this a bit. I like the change to the grassy areas and the boardwalks, but the road... I'm not really sure what it is, but something about it is bugging me.

I think maybe it is actually the buildings. I think the stark whiteness of the buildings is in such contrast to the road that surrounds them that it just doesn't seem to 'fit', if that makes any sense.

Publius
05-31-2007, 06:15 PM
No that does actually make sense, it is the same feeling that I have to some extent but it was late and I wanted to get to bed. When I made the roads darker than the original it did not look right either, ditto lighter. This road pattern I think might clash with the pattern for the grassy areas and that is what is setting off our "not right" response. I would have liked something that was more of an "inward gausian" effect but I could not button monkey my way to that.

BTW, I am so glad that I waited until everything was done before I added the backgrounds (and the textures to the road) as those are a bear to work with if you are making minor corrections and adjustments. Since this is a forum to discuss these sorts of issues, I thought I'd mention that outright.

Yes, I agree about the individual buildings now looking painfully vanilla. If this were for money I might worry about that a lot more :) Actually, it is also more my style to have eveything in more stark lines, I like the blueprint style for my own work rather than the photorealistic/rendered style. That just makes everything more simple for gaming purposes (I'm not even going to leave the background in when I print a version for the players to use when we game tabletop this weekend.

I might tinker with the map later, but I just got some paying offers so I'll probably just fiddle with the road and put a stake in this one and call it done for now. I'll post the last version if there is one. Who knows, maybe some day some unsupecting soul will remove that stake and cause this map to rise again...

RPMiller
05-31-2007, 07:01 PM
Ah, very good! :lol:

I think the road could work if it had 'rut lines' added, but than can be for when it rises again. ;)

So will you be sharing your paying work with us? At least snippets?

Istarlome
05-31-2007, 09:54 PM
it seems to me that what you've done to the roads makes them look blurred. the grass looks good but i didn't mind it before as i like simple.

Publius
06-01-2007, 07:23 AM
LIke you, I prefer a simple, straight map that can be printed in B&W and not kill a printer. Before I print, just turn the background "off" altogether (hide the layer). If I make any changes, I'll be sure to post the map in both B&W and color form.

RP, as far as sharing, I'm not sure whether that is Kosher? Never really had an opportunity to share before, so I never asked....

RPMiller
06-01-2007, 02:37 PM
You probably won't be able to share the whole piece for IP reasons, but a zoomed in section is usually allowed, with permission of course.