View Full Version : Tsue-jo Castle Town, Kaidan

07-26-2009, 09:52 PM
OK, this is the roughest starting WIP for any project you've ever witnessed by me, because I seldom plan things to this degree. However, Tsue-jo is the destination castle town for my first adventure module, The Gift, for my Kaidan campaign setting. The town will be fairly complicated, but I want the design to make sense - historically and to help the story.

This is a rough pen sketch (and I mean rough!) showing several depicted views of the proposed castle town. The side view from the north (it says "west" but that's an error), at the top of this sketch tries to help show how the fortress sits high on a rocky hill, with the second bailley about 40 to 50 feet lower than the third/fortress bailley. The first bailley is separated from the inner bailleys by a wooden bridge built between two smaller fortresses. Then a bridge separates the first bailley from the main town area, with the samurai district being closest to the natural moat.

Essentially its a single rocky island near the mouth of a river with two fractures dividing the castle itself from the remaining first bailley and the town itself.

A rough road plan for the town shows a maze-like approach to the castle from the main town entrance with a 3 arched stone bridge from the north bank.

I'm sure this will be my toughest map to create for the adventure - but its got to be done.

I have some other work to do, so I'll get back to this in couple days.


07-26-2009, 11:18 PM
I like it so far, very cool. I can already see this in my mind and can't wait to see how you do it.

Steel General
07-27-2009, 06:26 AM
Looking forward to seeing this one 'come to life'.

07-27-2009, 04:41 PM
Maze-like structures are very Japanese indeed (as I'm sure you know). It would, perhaps, be even more appropriate for the castle-on-the-hill to be surrounded by a maze-like city, so the castle's residents could see an army approaching.

It occurs to me that a river-moat may be more of a liability than a defensive structure. A moat is a problem for terrestrial attackers that don't have a boat, but a river-moat may well just make it easy for an enemy to pull a boat full of army up to the front door.

Nevermind, I'm an idiot: its on a bluff.

That said, its fabulous, and I love it. Can't wait to see what sort of gorgeous map you produce this time.

07-31-2009, 01:23 AM
How do get all those straight hand drawn lines? Do I use a ruler? Heck no, I cheat. First I create a Xara object styled map of the area I plan to hand draw. So the reference only has the castle area, which is what I'll draw first. Then this is printed, placed on a light table and traced.

I'll try to draw each section as a letter size area, that will take multiple sheets to complete, and just overlap each slightly so I can line things back up. This way I can keep my drawn lines at a consistent size.

All the detailing will be completely freehand, but the basic shapes are easier to trace first, then detail fill the interior.

I will continue to update this guideline map until the entire city is created, but I'll hand draw in parts as I get this map completed phase by phase.

So nothing artsy yet, just making two rough maps for tracing, one of the planned town entirety and one of just the castle...

Now to begin tracing!


07-31-2009, 01:59 AM
Nice! Makes me want to finally build the light table I've been designing on and off for the last 12 years :)

(heck with these little 12" jobbies, the one I want to make is 3'x4' heh)

Looking forward to seeing the final result..

07-31-2009, 02:04 AM
Looking awesome so far :)

07-31-2009, 02:04 AM
Nice! Makes me want to finally build the light table I've been designing on and off for the last 12 years :)

(heck with these little 12" jobbies, the one I want to make is 3'x4' heh)

Looking forward to seeing the final result..

My light table is almost that big - probably 22" x 34" in size, its an old one, but a commercial grade light table.


07-31-2009, 02:22 AM
Yes, I'm jealous.
My first light table (that inspired me to want a huge one) was made from a large pane of storm window that was resting flat over the space between 2 desks (if you follow what i mean), with a 200W bulb under it, in a white box so it would direct the ambient light upwards as well. I could use 80lb paper as tracing paper (heh), and while I was working on 22"x32" and such paper, it was nice to not have to be able to move things around, I could just tape everything down until I was done :)

07-31-2009, 08:46 AM
How about my full 4 foot by 8 foot painting table :) I use it for painting my church work after I have drawn it. 1/4 inch thick clear glass on top of a frame of two by fours that I hammered together myself, with all of the airbrush equipment underneath. I was a skater in high school...go big or go home :)

07-31-2009, 09:28 AM
Yes!! That's exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about!! Of course, i want mine to tilt when I'm done with it :P

I miss my drafting table. I always kept it at an angle to keep the cats off it :) That's actually what killed my drive for doing art for the longest time, I was working on a 2'x3' massively detailed carpet page (on a flat surface), and one of the cats knocked over the glass of water I was using for the brushes. Turns out the inks that were SUPPOSED to be waterproof when dry weren't so waterproof when dry. I was about 4/5 done after working on it for almost 6 months, and it was RUINED. I was so devastated it was almost 6 months before I picked up a brush again, and I found i just didn't have the inclination to continue or recover the piece (at the time, I've since scanned and cleaned it up).

Anyhow I got me a pair of cat fur slippers, and thanks in part to this site, I'm feeling artistically inspired again (after a ten year hiatus).

But yes, a tilted table is a must :P

(woops, sorry, didn't mean to hijack the thread)

08-19-2009, 01:18 AM
Hey don't worry about, thread jacking, I do it all the time! :P

OK, I decided to try and tackle this now. For the time being, I'm only working on the castle portion of Tsue-jo castle. First I recreated my hand-drawn sketch of the castle walls only. I also did a quick rendition of the castle fortress by itself.

Image 1 contains the hand-drawing, and the hand-drawing enhanced castle.

Not shown here, I copied the castle object, selected the top 3 roof levels and cropped the rest away for use as smaller towers.

Image 2 contains bevels I created for the walls.

Image 3 added a couple of brown bridges, added drop shadows then placed all beneath my hand-drawing. In Xara, I can make images become transparent, works best with lineart like the drawing.

Next I'm going to create the beveled land stack in Xara with drop shadows, then print that out on my laser printer. I'll then use tracing paper to use the laser print as a guide then texture with pen the rocky island bluff walls. I'll include trees as well, when I do that - that's next!


08-19-2009, 03:27 AM
First two bluffs, not finished but well on its way. Have to fill in the forests as the one are on the second bluff. Still need to place additional buildings, walkways and grassy areas within, a pond in the administrative area, a better job on bridge shadows. Some of the slope I didn't ink properly, so got to get to that too.

Once all the forest/trees and the rest of the structures are placed it look much better.

Once I finish the castle, I have to start hitting the town - long way to go.


08-19-2009, 05:52 AM
looking great...It is proven Gameprinter style and coming better and better all the time. can't wait till you hit to the town part.

Steel General
08-19-2009, 07:21 AM
Coming along nicely...

08-19-2009, 11:36 AM
Really love the pastel/watercolor style on the land there, GP.

08-19-2009, 02:47 PM
Great stuff GP! That castle almost looks mazelike.

08-19-2009, 03:01 PM
Agreed. You've really made that pen and ink / computer combo your own. Gives it a really nice feel.

08-20-2009, 12:20 AM
Thanks for the comments.

Computer crashed when I chose a wrong line setting, and I was finished with the Samurai District, now I have to start again. :x I did save the last update to the castle before I started on the Samurai District. Oh well, I think I'll go it a bit different then what I had anyway. Got more ideas as I went along, in some cases too late for the design - so since I have to start over, I'll follow the new ideas.

@Gandwarf - you think the castle is maze-like, wait until you see the rest of town. (Too bad my PC crashed, I was getting wildly maze like in the samurai district!)

Anyway, in this update, I finished the trees. Placed lawned areas, walkways, ponds, tweaked the outer edge of the rocky bluff island, threw in some blue water just to enhance the current look (I'll do water differently, this is just to test.) Added the complete palace, residence and administrative center for the castle, in the second bailley just below the fortress on the hilltop.

My plans: north of the Samurai distict, I want to place the Hachiwara Kata - fighting school for the samurai of Tsue-jo. To the south I will place a cliffside Holy Shrine park. To the west of the entry into the Samurai district, will be a large Zao Temple, separating the castle and samurai distict from the merchant area of town, probably also separated by a wall and gate.

[Now I've got to restart the samurai district, a different way...]


08-20-2009, 11:52 PM
Combined samurai and temple district - still need to place samurai homes, trees, and the island beneath of course, but I'll do that last, once most of the town is complete. The streets are slightly maze-like, not overly so, but the town will definitely keep the maze-like quality of Tsue-jo.

By the way, "Tsue" mean cane, as in "walking stick". I was hoping to make the island, "cane shaped" as well as providing a cane-crafting industry in town.

Anyway, next update...


08-21-2009, 01:24 AM
A different tactic for creating the island. I did imagine that the only slopes of the island bluff from east to west are from 150' down to about 30 or 40' above the river level. So instead of drawing one gigantic island, I can draw in stages as the town drops in elevation. Where the castle sits at the highest point. The samurai district further down from the castle, still sits above the town level below. Note I even placed a hill-like structure within the samurai district to further indicate the slope (and the samurai district looked to flat to me anyhow.)

This is a lower res file, I will upload an appropriately sized final map at some point. Again the blue water here is temporary, just checking...

Now I have to start thinking about the layout for the rest of town. I also want to create some building types, both shops and residences, as well as individual trees, especially for the slopes beyond the walls of the town.



08-21-2009, 03:42 AM
Great stuff...you sure are master on making this hand draw style.
There is something magical with the hand drawn style in general. Imagination starts to run and it makes me wanna roleplay.

08-21-2009, 03:49 AM
Very compact and self contained, lovely work GP.

Steel General
08-21-2009, 06:16 AM
You're hybrid hand-drawn/digital style is getting better and better.

08-22-2009, 04:30 AM
Didn't get as much done as I wanted, but I took a long nap - I needed it, for all the late nights I've been putting to this and other projects.

I created some samurai homes and trees and placed them into their respective walled sections. I filled in some forest on that undrawn slope on the castle isle to fill up the empty space.

I've already got a city design in mind, more winding zig-zags on the road, several additional walled and gated sections, I plan to put more maze-like dead-ends in order to emphasize the maze defenses of the city layout to enahnce castle defenses. There's going to be a further slope from north to south, where the southern end bank will be the portage area. All the city will sit on higher ground, but a road circling around the city wall from the south bank wharf, west around the far end of the isle to the north side with a stone arched bridge reaching the north side of the river. The Floating World red light district will lie on the western outside the wall region where the entry road travels across.

More coming soon.


08-22-2009, 08:09 AM
The amber roofs make it pop, nice. The buildings up and down the left side are grainy, though, and the one in the bottom left doesn't have any outline.

08-24-2009, 02:47 AM
Next update. The following is just the digital beveling for the rest of the island as well as walls, gates, and one level of building layout. No surface texturing, roads, grassy areas, trees, inner walkways, but a good start.

I've actually already hand-drawn the entire island edges at least and all the walls, I still need to add detailing, shadows, cracks - as in the other finished islands along the isles edges. So once I complete that, I'll scan it in place it on the map and go for the finish. I've also created lots of differing building types ready to copy/paste and move around, so it doesn't look repetitive. All the buildings are individual objects easy to move, slightly rotate and rescale.

Another day to place all the buildings and island detail, then the bridge and both banks with some villages, farms and rice paddies. I got some finishing touches I want to add after that in the form of descriptions and illustrations, butalmost done say two days, three at the most and I'll be complete.


08-24-2009, 03:26 AM
That is so incredibly cool. I can't wait till this is done, I want to keep it around for inspiration! :)

08-24-2009, 10:49 PM
Almost done!

I need to add docks (on south bank in those small inlets), need to place a 3 arched stone bridge reaching the north bank (from the nub sticking out in the center of the north bank of the island). North bank with village on opposite side of bridge, roads north and east/west along river, some high ground and some terraced rice paddies.

The open spot on the western side of the island, that first elevated district, above the dockside city, is going to get a hand-drawn kirin rising statue and some parkland around it.

I might place some boats and ships on river and docks as well.

I hope to finish tonight, but in case I don't - this is my update so far!


08-25-2009, 02:43 AM
I've just got to put in the docks and maybe some illustrations... almost done!


08-25-2009, 02:58 AM
Looking good!

08-25-2009, 08:19 AM
I say this a lot but I like the colors, good stuff.

08-25-2009, 08:49 AM
Hey, GP, this is a pretty awesome-tacular map you've got going here. You're really showing the skills that are going to make your Kaidan project shine. I'd rep you, but I haven't yet spread it around enough.

08-25-2009, 05:14 PM
I think I'm done, perhaps I'll add a border before publication, but no time to do illustrations - so this is it.

I have to get back to working on the Kaidan RPG Alpha rules - lots of work to do there.

Now I'll go post this in the finished maps forum.