View Full Version : WIP: The Western Realms

06-27-2009, 05:41 PM
Hi everyone!

The last time I posted was back in September, I think. Until 2009, I was preoccupied with other things, and about two months ago, I started to make a map.

Thing is, I feel bleh about the mountains. Haven't made any progress in a couple months; the map's been stale and I've been looking at it every day without knowing what to do.

Could anyone give his or her insight on my mountain problem, point me to some good brushes or textures, or maybe just give me some tips?

Thanks! :)

06-27-2009, 05:45 PM
Love the palette!

06-27-2009, 07:41 PM
Love the palette!

Agreed, and I rather like the mountains, actually. If you're really not liking them, there's a great tutorial on hand-drawing your own that might help you. If you've got a bit of dexterity and the right instruments, I bet you could hand draw the ranges in their entirety, without resorting to brushes. If you go that route, I'd print out a simplified full-scale copy of the map (use Posterazor, given that your map's bigger than a single sheet), just with information on where your mountains are supposed to go and the borders of the land and what not. You can use that as a guide for where to draw your mountain ranges. Then just scan them in, scale them to the appropriate size (or not, I do much of my work at 100 dpi because my computer is weak like a child, and my printer scans at 300 dpi, but if your scan resolution and the map resolution are the same, cool deal) and you're good to go.

07-14-2009, 09:18 PM
Well, I've decided to start from scratch, for two reasons:

- I think the previous design had a lack of focus. Getting rid of the western continent seemed to help create a focus. (Plus, all that land was intimidating...)
- I had gotten to a point in Photoshop where it was difficult to add rivers. Starting from scratch allowed me to fix my layers in PS.

Any comments on the changes or the rivers? Are they ugly? Are they OK?

07-14-2009, 10:18 PM
I like that thread thing, looks good. You might want to taper the rivers a bit by using a 1-pixel pencil at the ends but otherwise its good stuff. Oh and make sure that those rivers get filled in with gray all the way and some spots look blank.

07-15-2009, 12:13 AM
Quick update before sleep.

I threw together that horizontal line pattern in like 5 minutes, so I'll improve upon it later.

Please leave comments or ideas! :)

Steel General
07-15-2009, 05:59 AM
It's looking pretty nice so far.

The only thing I don't like is the background - it tends to take over and draw the eye away from the actual map.

07-15-2009, 10:11 PM
What's your opinion on colour-coding regional boundaries like this? Would it work better done as an outline (like this http://www.cartographersguild.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=14815&d=1247536980)?

I'm just brainstorming for the meantime... pardon my slowness.

07-15-2009, 10:52 PM
I like what you have there, but with the background pulling the eye so much you might want to add the outlined style on top of the filled style.

07-16-2009, 07:15 PM
Just thought I'd post two different paper textures so you can see why I chose the one that I did.

Yes, it's busy, but I think its colour goes better with the water texture.

I've heard it said that a map shouldn't be turned into a picture, but I think I'd pick the darker, busier paper.

What do you think?

07-16-2009, 09:13 PM

Sorry to post so many times in a row, but do you think that this mountain style is OK, or is it really too busy? I have never done an atlas-style map, but I'm thinking that if this becomes too busy, I might be better off switching... :?:

Any way to salvage this?

edit: that border is supposed to be behind the land...

07-16-2009, 10:07 PM
I think the mountains you have there work well with the rest of the map. If anything I think the 'busyness' helps them compete for attention.

As far as the colors to show national boundaries I like what you have. Take the color for your country and make a border to go around the colored areas that is a bit darker and see how it looks maybe.

I'm not a big fan of the drop shadow though. Makes your map look likes its floating over your paper rather than drawn on it.

07-17-2009, 12:09 AM
Nice colours on this map.. But I have to agree on Albrechtw4's drop shadow comment. You should re-think that effect, either scrap it or tune the effect so that it doesn't look like the continent floats. There's also some pretty washed out text on the paper texture. I am not sure if I have to be able to read it or is it just for decoration? :) I look forward seeing the labels for the cities etc. Keep up the good work!

07-17-2009, 10:19 AM
Overall, I think it looks good. Other comments made cover my only criticisms, at the moment. I like the washed-out text. It helps with the feel of old (possibly reused) parchment.

07-18-2009, 05:22 PM
Update. Let's hear the good and the bad!

07-18-2009, 05:42 PM
Actually, mostly good I think!

Really like the aged feel of the map, the border colors work well with the rest of the color palette and the mountain symbols are great. As is the legend (cute symbols :D )

As for the bad:
Some of the rivers worry me. Rivers mosly spring up near mountains and you have some rivers originating on what looks like plains.


Edit: just noticed a weird, thick black line on the scroll (almost near the map border to the south).

07-18-2009, 06:37 PM
Thank you, Gandwarf!

The mountain sketches are from ironmetal250's mountain tutorial (which is super), and the legend symbols are from a font called Imaginary Creatures.

I made the scroll from expanding a tiny vector image into a huge image. That odd line at the bottom of the scroll looked fine in the tiny image, but now that it's bigger, I see what you mean - it looks a little out of place. I'll try tinkering with it.

I do plan to put hills symbols in, but do you think it's necessary to put forests? Maybe if I fill the rest with cities and roads (actually, I'm not so sure about roads...), there will be no more room for trees.

I plan to use this map for a D&D campaign, and I'll have little sub-maps (probably done in CC2, for simiplicity) that go into the details (forests, roads, swamps, streams, forts, dungeons, etc.) of each region. This map is simply a world map, letting players know about the terrain & cities. Is vegetation a huge part of terrain?

07-18-2009, 07:04 PM
A lot of maps display both mountains and forests, so I think mappers consider them important features. I would definitely put them in my own maps. There's nothing like a few dark or mysterious forests in a D&D map. The naming is a blast, like "The Forest of Gloom", "Deadwoods" or "Silk Woods" (there be spiders there) :D
But it isn't necessary and also it depends on the scale and purpose of the map. Don't put them in if the map is getting too crowded with symbols. You can always experiment of course.

As for roads: not many maps display them. I wouldn't put them in, unless they are very important to your D&D campaign. Again, you could experiment.

Keep up the good work.

07-18-2009, 11:14 PM
Some more progress.

Truthfully, I'm having a lot of trouble with the forests. In your opinion(s), what style of woods do you think I should incorporate?

I'm happy with the city symbols, but I'm not sure about the town symbol. Currently I'm using a size 80 period in the "Dungeon" font. If you have a better suggestion, please tell me! Haha ;)

I opted for a simple font for cities/towns because the city symbols are exotic enough. The simple font helps address the background clarity issue - I think it's not too hard to read?

Anyway, that's it for now. I've got a lot of work to be done so I might not update in a few days. But thanks for the input so far - you guys are great! :)

edit: Thoughts on the changes to creatures in the legend? Was it better before?

07-19-2009, 05:44 AM
Well, you have some quite interesting city symbols :)
I wouldn't personally use them, but not saying it's bad or anything. I would probably go for more simplistic symbols, lik the dots you use for towns.
(didn't realise before you were going to use the symbols from the legend as city symbols).

I must agree the city and town symbols don't really work well together at the moment... at one hand you have some quite detailed symbols (cities) and then there are the more simplistic symbols (towns).

The font is a great pick.

07-19-2009, 05:59 AM
This is looking very good. I very much like it; I'd consider removing the black/white border, though, because it looks weird weaved under the scroll and lands and not really limiting the display at all.

07-19-2009, 02:14 PM
Syd, thanks for pointing out that my border wasn't being of much help. I'll keep all the towns & cities inside.

I've also made the city symbols a bit smaller... Don't know if it does much to help, but I think it's a wee bit better.

Now, for forests... :roll:

08-25-2009, 10:16 PM
Okay, I'm done. Haha 8)

If it seems empty, don't worry. I've made regional maps for the individual sections using the everpopular Pasis tutorial. They contain forts, forest names, mountain names, river names, villages, etc.; in general, they contain more detail. This big map is meant to display boundaries and not much more.

I'll likely post this in my game within the week; however, if you've got suggestions or criticisms, I'll certainly take 'em.

Thanks for being cool, patient (I am slow!), and thanks for all the support.

Steel General
08-26-2009, 06:21 AM
This came out quite nicely.

The only thing I would probably change (and this is just personal preference), is the border colors. They seem a bit neon to me.

08-26-2009, 01:50 PM
Damn, I realized I forgot a compass rose, or at least a N^ symbol. Where to put the :compass: :?:

08-26-2009, 01:58 PM
Smack in the middle where it says Sea of Fydd :)

Seriously, that's one of the places i would consider. Or move things around a bit in the lower right and put it right where it says Ralormit's Rim. That would balance a bit with the legend on the left..

08-26-2009, 03:55 PM
This map turned out great... even though progress was slow ;)

08-26-2009, 04:31 PM
I like it except for the scroll. It just doesn't seem to fit. Everything else is great, though.

08-27-2009, 01:38 AM
That's awesome. I actually love everything about this map - the colors, the way the northern lands extend past the long/lat grid border, the font, yep pretty much everything. :D

08-29-2009, 05:05 PM
Awesome! Thank you! I can't let you know how much your help means to me. If you look at the first post of this thread, you can see how much this forum has helped me. You guys rock.

Most of the reason that it was so slow was because I was learning a lot about Photoshop. I had to remake the map about 10 times because each time I did something, it wasn't be undoable or modifiable. I've learned to use masks and other flexible, editable techniques.

The finished map is in "Finished Maps." How fitting.

Thanks again!

08-31-2009, 07:32 PM
I really enjoy this map Pank, although I would change a few things. First, all of the bright or dark colors like the solid border and the outlines of the countries would look better if you faded them out a bit. Reducing the opacity to about 50% can achieve startling results. The map has a really old feel to it, and something that old is going to look weathered.

The background is also a bit too in-your-face. It's effective and interesting, but too bold. It would probably also benefit from some opacity reduction, or perhaps even more-sophisticated methods. I like the forests and the mountains are just great.

Lastly, I think your sea/ocean names could use a less "perfect" font, one that is more hand-written. Maybe your own writing would work, but if not, there are plenty of good ones out there.

All in all, a superb map in composition, with no objections at all to the hard parts. A little polish and you'd be looking at a masterpiece. Well worthy of my measly two rep points :)