View Full Version : The Independent Dominion of Princelless

07-14-2009, 11:13 PM

I am new here, and I just posted my introduction in the new members forum. I found CG mainly thanks to the internet and this thread: http://www.cartographersguild.com//showthread.php?t=1150&referrerid=11683

I spent about 8 hours over the past two nights working on this city map for an Exalted campaign I am running.

Background: The IDP is a dominion whose history dates back at least 600 years or more. During its early days as a small settlement on the Upper Prince River, this settlement was a small logging and farming community. Many of the loggers at this time were aware of a local god name the Cutter of the Forest. They prayed to him and offered regular sacrifices in order to gain his favor and blessing in their logging pursuits. After a 100 years or so the third Realm invasion occurred in the Scavenger Lands. After the invasion ended in failure for the Realm, some of her legions splintered and elements, scales, talons, etc. were left stranded in the Scavenger lands. One talon who was lead by a Dragon-blooded Outcaste, Charron Nevel, decided that Prince (soon to be known as the Independent Dominion of Princelless) would make him a nice petty kingdom. Subsequently the petty tyrant wasn't well-received by the local wood-cutters and their patron god, and also by the Guild that had recently set up shop in Prince. Thus he was overthrown, right off the bridge in fact in the ravine of the Wood Dragon's Gorge. Since then this settlement has been known as the Independent Dominion of Princelless, and the locals plan to keep it that way

Map: I have tried to capture all the elements of the background-story in the map. Personally, from a storytelling perspective this settlement is only a waypoint in terms of the larger story. I only plan for one to two sessions to take place in this location. Thus I decided the map didn't need to be extremely detailed.

I like the effects in the river, and the forest, but I would like to make the houses and the terrain stand-out more. What Photoshop techniques would help with the houses in my next map? Any tips regarding the terrain? And one other thing, I would like to get better at doing elevation in PS. I wanted the river to flow from the NW corner of the map to the SE corner, where the river was flowing into a steep canyon or gorge. Is there a better way to do this than layer on layer of shadows in PS? Sorry if these are all newb questions. Thanks.

07-14-2009, 11:14 PM
Also, I forgot to mention that this is the first time I labeled a map. Obviously some of my labels are too small. I am not quite happy with the labels for this map.

07-15-2009, 12:08 AM
Everything looks fine to me but if you want to keep the drop shadow then you need to put a stroke around the letters so that the shadow doesn't interfere so much. Nice job. As far as the houses...well, cities are the hardest things we do so there are about as many different ways to do them as there are stars in the heavens. The easiest thing would be to put a low opacity stroke around them or maybe a black inner glow, or make the drop shadow darker. The terrain, well render some clouds, then set the layer to overlay. If you want something to be lighter or darker, then use an airbrush and manually paint in those places. There's about a million different way to do these things so I would suggest reading through the other tutorials and see what grabs ya.

Steel General
07-15-2009, 06:21 AM
I think everything on the map is pretty good, I played around with that tutorial a bit myself when I first started.

The one thing I don't care for to much is the labels (which you mentioned yourself), it seems like you've moved the drop shadow away from the original characters to much. However, if you prefer them that way then I second Ascension's comment regarding the stroke around the letters

07-15-2009, 07:56 AM
I think adding a stroke to your buildings would make them stand out more, just 1px or something and if it's too harsh, lower the opacity until you're happy with it.

You could also try playing with the contrast settings, to see if that does anything to make various elements stand out.

07-15-2009, 10:00 AM
Nice bridges!

07-15-2009, 01:04 PM
Thanks for the helpful comments. What exactly is a `stroke'? Is this done with the paintbrush, a filter, or a layer effect?

For the bridges I made 2 layers of objects. The first layer was for the metal base of the bridge. I did that with the shape tool and selected a dark gray metallic color. then I bevel & embosed just slightly and added a (stock) metal texture. Then I made another layer above the metal layer, for the wood part of the bridge. I use the same layer style, except I used a wooden texture, one I found on the internet. Then I merged the two layers, did a slight Gaussian blur (no more than 2px), and played around with the opacity a bit. I also tried different blending options until I found one I liked. For these bridges I used multiply. The trick was to put the bridges below the roads layer, which I used overlay for the roads, and I copied the roads layer and for the copy I used multiply. I played around with the settings until I got what I wanted.

Steel General
07-15-2009, 01:19 PM
A stroke is a layer effect, by default when you turn it on it will put a 3pxl red outline on the the layer, it is especially helpful with text layers.

07-15-2009, 02:47 PM
I added a stroke to the layer with the labels and I reduced the size and opacity of the shadows. I also did a very small Gaussian blur on the labels after everything else. I think it looks a lot better.

Is white always the best color when labeling maps, or would grays or other colors work as well?

I think this is all I will do with this map but I will add some new techniques to my next.


07-15-2009, 03:13 PM
I prefer white (or off-white) with black outline myself, but you can use any colour really, as long as you can contrast it against the map.
The easiest way to do that is to use a stroke, but you can also use an outerglow layer style as well (which is something I often do) to make it stand out from the map itself.