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silvonus
07-22-2009, 03:38 PM
Hello everyone. Well, this is my first real map project. I've been wanting to be able to create maps now for some time, and I eventually came across ZombieNirvana, and so I though that I would have another go at it. Interestingly enough though, my computer's sound card is broken, and I can't get it fixed for another month or so, so I've been going off of the videos alone. And so, I though I might show the fruits of my labor so far, and my continuing efforts.

So this is a "Glorified Test". This map is very slow in the making, as I'm going through each bit slowly, drafting, revising, and seeing what looks good. This map hopefully will by the end be a really good map with some semblance of realism. Though, even now, I would approach this map in a different manner than what I have so far. I hope that many of the smaller details by the end will be somewhat real, but I will inevitably see that parts where they don't line up, where there are small errors that are inevitable.

Right now, it doesn't look like much, and in-fact, there is a lot that isn't on the map yet. I've plotted my fantasy (but trying to base off of some realism) air currents and ocean currents. Fault lines and which directions they are moving in. I've maped out the basic geography. I did a color and font test for countries. All of this and more, and all that can be seen is the background paper, continent outlines, a little color, and some hand drawn mountains. Well, as we all know, there is a lot more that goes in the making than seen in the final result.

Ultimately I want to turn this into a PDF or something where layers can be applied. So that you will have the map base, and then can just see the countries tab, or apply the geography on top of that etc. A really interactive, friendly map.

So, I'm going to explain my process a little so far, and explain some of the smaller things. I really liked the hand drawn, but not to hand drawn, look of ZombieNirvana, and am kind of morphing it into my own style. I wanted to create a large world map, and then move on to smaller and smaller maps. I decided that if I was actually going to do this, to make an effort, and make it BIG, which a ~3700x2900px at 114dpi will do (my monitor resolution, and the size of 4 8.5x11in papers combined at that resolution).

One of the problems I found out at that size was "render clouds". Instead of getting a nice pattern with just a couple of peaks and troughs, you get a jigsaw puzzle. So I spent a long time playing with that, taking a small render and enlarging it, creating an automated action to make a map and apply a step gradient to get an elevation map (which I ultimately tossed out, I didn't like the look). Offsetting and blending to create a seamless "globe" (also eventually threw out and didn't matter, as the map is now placed such that nothing runs over from edge to edge, but this was still when I was creating an elevation map). Eventually, I tossed out most of my work, and burned and dodged until I got some shapes I liked and then arranged them as I wanted.

Made a mask, applied some color, made some outlines (with noise and median added) and voila! I had something that started to look like a map. Played around with color for quite a bit as well, changing the layer style and colors to see how it would look ,and look when other things were applied to it. One of the things though that I'm still thinking about is the color for the water. coloring every bit looks excessive, and I'm somewhat satisfied with how I've painted it so far, but still feel that something is not quite right. Again, trying to go for a hand-drawn / watercolor look. Also, picked some colors for eventual countries which I am happy about (red, blue, yellow, green, and purple). Played around with borders to make them organic, but I need to redo them, as I hadn't made any mountains or rivers yet.

I added the rhumb lines. Which, serve no true navigational purpose here, also, they are intentional this time, as I created a mock campaign, which ultimately is the search for an island. So that is why some of them look a little off when they should meet (they should all neatly meet, but this is a test, and I would redo it for a final). The players start in the bottom-right corner, and each of those navigation compasses are waypoints, or where a certain point or item of interest is (though they don't know the ultimate goal at first). Each compass leads to the next one (each compass shares a line with the next, and previous except for the first and last points). Then, if you plot them all together, you'll notice that they all intersect at an island in the top-right, the goal. Of course, in the map the players have, that part might be uncharted, or ripped off, and they might find out the significance of the waypoints not till quite late. So yeah, quick campaign idea, and I liked the idea of incorporating it into the map, so that I think that I might include some riddles or something onto the map as well.

Next was all of those fault lines and currents that I had mentioned before, and in hindsight, those would be the first things that I would have done, instead of making them conform to what I already have, and making some things that don't match up. Also, I wanted to go against the typical thinking of Earth, so, most of the land is in the south, also, the planet rotates West to East (nothing the map would show, but affects the winds and trade routs, which I hope to eventually map), and so on. I haven't decided on a scale yet (which I should have), but I don't know if I should make this the whole world, or just a part of it. But hey, it is fantasy, and a dash of it can't hurt. So if the deserts and tropics don't exactly match up, well, my world is a bit smaller or larger than Earth, and I'm making all of this with my uneducated idea of where the rainshadow effect will happen and so on.

With all of that set, I starting making my mountains. I made a pattern at first, but I didn't like the look, and it didn't give me enough control, so I resigned to making them all by hand. So, I only have a small part done so far. Hard part here were brushes. I never realized all of the control and variance you can have in photoshop, and so, I spent a long time playing with different shapes and setting, till I got one that I though looked hand drawn, and gave a good look for shading (I use almost the same brush for the outline and shading).

So that is where I am so far. Rivers, lakes, and other geographical features are next on the list, followed by countries and names, towns, roads, misc. the list goes on. This is going to be very slow going as I don't have much time to work on it, but slowly, ever so slowly.

So, again, hello everyone, sorry for the long post, but I wanted to share my experiences as it is the process that makes the final result. Please give me your opinions on how it looks so far, and please critique! This is a test, so feel free to rip it to shreds (I might not change anything, but improvement is always good). I will keep posting my progress, but it is going to be very slow going. I'm hoping to have most of the elements done in a month, but it might take longer. After this, I hope my future maps won't take as long.

Attached are my current map with some mountains, and a slightly older one with the now outdated countries and names.

Ascension
07-22-2009, 05:08 PM
Look pretty good to me.

Gandwarf
07-22-2009, 05:38 PM
That's one huge wall of text... and I had to push myself to read it. It's a good way to give insight into the mapping process I guess.

Anyway, repped you for posting your first map on this forum. Now let's see you finish this baby :)

t÷ff
07-22-2009, 05:58 PM
Nice color scheme.