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Torq
06-21-2007, 04:45 AM
Working with small dungeon layouts and trying to apply the suggestions and help (much appreciated) from Kalmarjan and RobA, I came up with this. I have been checking out a lot of ancient rock art recently and I imagined this place might once have been some form of ancient burial area for an early civilisation, hence the artwork on the floors.

Its far from finished but I would appraciate any advice or comment.

Torq

ravells
06-21-2007, 05:57 AM
I love the little details like the stag and hand prints and the fallen rocks and little pebbles.

I'm not sure that the repeated tiling of the background does it for me, simply because if something is meant to look natural or organic and you can see the repeat tile, it doesn't look natural or organic anymore. Maybe just try a subtle speckled fill? Heh, you could embed fossils in it.

Question: what scale are you proposing to use the map at? It's just that you don't want to lose that wealth of detail if the scale that you print it out at or post it on the web at is much smaller than the image you've posted.

I like the sense of age and mystery the map conjures. What are you planning to put in it?

Ravs

Torq
06-21-2007, 08:45 AM
I agree, the background is a standard GIMP repeating pattern. It definately needs something else. Love the idea of the embedded fossils (maybe some human fossils). The map is for use in a virtual tabletop for rpg play (Battlegrounds) so the details should be noticed.

I'm planning to make it some sort of ancient burial chamber so some old, very weathered sarcophogi will definately feature. Dont want to make it too cluttered though.

Thanks for the kind words.

Torq

RobA
06-21-2007, 10:00 AM
Here is a real easy way to create a non repeating pattern similar to that built in pattern:

1) fill a layer with 30% grey
2) Create 2 new layers above that.
3) fill each of the new layers with Render->Noise->Solid Noise. Crank up the detail and the two scale sliders to the max, check turbulent, and randomize.
4) set the top noise layer to a difference blend mode, and merge the layers down.
5) invert the colour, then adjust the colour curve to get black spider-web lines on a white background.
6) optionally apply a small gaussian blur
7) apply this a bump map to the 30% grey layer.

HTH-

-Rob A>

heruca
06-21-2007, 10:36 AM
Looking good, Torq. Love the floor texture. Where'd you get that?

I agree with the comments about the repeating rock texture. RobA's tip for making it non-repeating is excellent. I'll have to try that out sometime. You might also try blending in a layer with Clouds or Difference Clouds to add a touch of random color to the otherwise monotone texture.

Are the handprints supposed to be actual handprints, or just painted designs? I ask because they seem to be out of scale if they're supposed to be life-size.

Looking forward to the finished version.

Torq
06-21-2007, 11:09 AM
Got rid of the repeating pattern. Thanks RobA and Heruca for the tips, they will definately be used. Here is the updated version. I have also added a few "fossils" in the walls.

Heruca I cant remember where I got the texture, but I tweaked it a bit, by changing the colour and adding a bevel. The hand prints are supposed to be art, not actual prints.

Torq

pyrandon
06-21-2007, 11:40 AM
Looking great, Torq. Those changes improved your map 100%. The new "tile" and the fossils are great additions.

I'm not sure I care for the handprints & drawings--mainly because I don't understand why they're on the floor. Maybe that's built into the concept of the dungeon?

Also something architecturally I don't understand, is why the walls are jagged, yet perfectly square, both of themselves and with the hallways and the other rooms; it seems if that talented of masons/builders had created this cavernous sequence they would have been more careful/exact? Again, that's just something to think about & be able to explain in your own mind. :)

Finally this is up for debate: the light source of these rooms is undefined. To make a photorealistic map of dark caverns is a ridiculous proposition, I know, but perhaps think about that too.

Overall, this is very, very impressive!!

Torq
06-21-2007, 12:04 PM
Point taken about the angles. I didn't even think of that before now. As regards the light source debate, I think its safe to say that in maps that are used as backdrops for fantasy worlds where mortals can cast mind bending spells, dragons live and every woman wears a D-cup, one can overlook a little unrealistic lighting.

The problem becomes particularly acute when maps (like this one) are designed to be used with virtual minis in a virtual tabletop who represent characters that invariably bring their own light sources into the darkened chambers, not to mention the few that have darkvision. The lighting challenges are simply (in my view) too immense to recreate realistically, so in exchnge I bleieve one should just go with a little atmosphere.

Thanks for the kind words, they are much appreciated.

Torq

RPMiller
06-21-2007, 12:07 PM
I agree with what Don said, and would like to add something else. The stairs in the bottom left corner don't look right. I can't put my finger on it, but I think it has to do with the lighting/shadow of them and the fact that they don't look "natural" or even as something constructed. I wish I could tell you exactly what it is, but I'm distracted by the wonder of the rest of the map. :D

Regarding Don's comment about the squareness of the rooms, that was something that struck me as very odd as well. You have sort of a curvy hallway on the bottom right, but the rooms are straight. Maybe different crews of people worked on it something?

ravells
06-21-2007, 12:25 PM
There's something not right about the way the walls meet the room that I can't put my finger on either (love the fossils, btw!).

I'd have to play around with it to find out. Maybe if you put a a very slight dark internal glow on the walls where they meet the room the transition between wall and room won't seem so severe...maybe that's it.

As I said, not sure (or perhaps I'm just imagining it).

Ravs

heruca
06-21-2007, 12:56 PM
This is looking way better now.

Two things I forgot to mention earlier:
1) Try making the wall/rock texture significantly darker.
2) Try applying a slight bevel to the wall/rock layer. This will hopefully make for an easier transition between the wall and floor layers.

RPMiller
06-21-2007, 01:57 PM
Point taken about the angles. I didn't even think of that before now. As regards the light source debate, I think its safe to say that in maps that are used as backdrops for fantasy worlds where mortals can cast mind bending spells, dragons live and every woman wears a D-cup, one can overlook a little unrealistic lighting.
True!

The problem becomes particularly acute when maps (like this one) are designed to be used with virtual minis in a virtual tabletop who represent characters that invariably bring their own light sources into the darkened chambers, not to mention the few that have darkvision. The lighting challenges are simply (in my view) too immense to recreate realistically, so in exchnge I bleieve one should just go with a little atmosphere.
This is an excellent point! It makes me think that if a map is going to be used in a VT that perhaps it should be drawn as if there was a full light source. That way as the GM begins uncovering the FoW it will look truly lit up. If you draw the map with your own shadows and dark corners it won't really look right when the figure carrying the torch moves over to the corner to investigate.

kalmarjan
06-21-2007, 02:21 PM
Very nice work. If I may make a couple of suggestions:

1) In perspective of light sources, I humbly suggest doing the following:
a) Lower the opacity of the shadows from the walls. Make it about half of what it is now. You want something that is subtle, and suggests there are walls there. The way the shadows are now, it almost looks like your walls are convex.
b) Try changing the color of the shadow overlay to a darker brown. If the option is available in GIMP, use the color chooser to pick a color from the earth texture, and lower the luminance a bit.

2) Are you using items from a program such as Dunjinni? The reason I ask is that while the rocks scattered around look rotated randomly, they also take away from your illusion of lighting. This may be because they already have drop shadows. So when you rotate them, the lighting looks "off". (This may be causing people to ask why it looks weird)

3) This is optional, but is there any way you can play with the lighting effects on the earth texture from GIMP? This would give some interest in the scene. I will append something to show you what I mean later. ;)

All in all, good work. Keep it up. It looks very good.

Sandeman

terrainmonkey
06-21-2007, 05:22 PM
i'll agree with everyone here and say great work, first off! i tried using dunjinni but couldn't get the hang of the interface and some of it really upset me. the java platform really doesn't do it for me but that's just personal opinion.

the shadows are a bit over the top and obscure a lot. try lowering them by at least half, maybe 75%. that way your floor texture shows better. i can also see what others are saying about the rocks. sometimes getting rid of them is a bit better. less is more, i always say.

are you going to be using this for a tabletop rpg or is this for battlegrounds or something online?

kalmarjan
06-21-2007, 08:48 PM
One other note:

Looking at your stairs, they look like they are carved in a straight fashion. There is not really any indication as to up or down. You could cheat and place an arrow, or you can try this:

1) Create a new layer over the map
2) Apply a mask
3) Cut out the area for the stairs
4) Drop a gradient, white to black over the stair in the direction they are facing.
5) Set the layer opacity to multiply
6) Play with the opacity setting until it looks right.

Hope that helps. ;)

Sandeman

Torq
06-22-2007, 04:34 AM
Thanks again everyone for the valuable feedback.


The stairs in the bottom left corner don't look right. I can't put my finger on it, but I think it has to do with the lighting/shadow of them and the fact that they don't look "natural" or even as something constructed.


I have removed the horrible stairs and replaced them with rough stairs made from the same rock as the floor.


1) Try making the wall/rock texture significantly darker.
2) Try applying a slight bevel to the wall/rock layer. This will hopefully make for an easier transition between the wall and floor layers.

I have darkened the rock texture and added a bevel to it to try and take away the jarring impression cused by the meeting of the rock texture with the cut-away areas.

I have also lowered the opacity of the shadow layer as has been suggested by several people.

I think these changes improve the map.

Torq

RobA
06-22-2007, 11:40 AM
Here is an example of a slight bevel (in gimp) similar to what dundjinni can produce... (non-bevelled on left, same with bevel on right)

I can give the 30sec tut if you want to try something similar to see if you like the effect on your map...

(of course, the width, intensity, and profile of the bevel is all adjustable)

-Rob A>

RPMiller
06-22-2007, 12:35 PM
I like the stairs a lot better now!

If you do the bevel, I would copy the background layer bevel the original and then put the copy on top of it after trimming away the interior of the copied background so that the edges of the map are not beveled but the rooms are.

ravells
06-22-2007, 06:58 PM
I like it so much better with the darker walls and the new stairs, it draws the eye to the rooms. Just looking at the pointing between the paving and the prehistoric feel of the cave network with it's floor designs just spells of very hard work well done. Very South African, where, I believe some of the oldest prehistoric caves have been discovered!

I think you have brought this up from 'pretty wonderful' to 'truly superb'

If it were me, I'd consider it done and ready to go.

Ravs

pyrandon
06-22-2007, 10:13 PM
Torq, this is an awesome little map! Wow--like close to pro quality! Great revising!

Torq
06-23-2007, 06:42 AM
You guys are too kind. As you can see though its really all down to the posters on this board who have helped me along the way. For me personally it shows why you should post your work in progress on this forum. The advice has been invaluable.


Very South African, where, I believe some of the oldest prehistoric caves have been discovered!


You are right about the caves. Latest archeological theory (backed up by DNA) is that humanity started in Southern Africa. So all you mappers are really South Africans, you just dont know it :shock: :shock: .

Thanks again.

Torq