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View Full Version : Testing map style for a fantasy setting



Ghostman
08-02-2009, 12:51 PM
This is an experimental map for a fantasy setting of my creation, called Savage Age, which I'm working on at the Campaign Builders' Guild (http://www.thecbg.org/news.php). This regional map shows the southern portions of Euria. Most of the space is hogged up by the southern lands of the Argyrian Empire; only the lands to the east are free from it's domination.

There are still many locations left unnamed. The "town"-level settlements will probably never be named, and smaller towns aren't even shown on this scale. The road network only shows the major, highly trafficked roads. I used Wag's brushes (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=4571) for the mountains.

Some things I'd especially appreciate feedback on:

Do you think that the rivers look good? I tried to make them more clearly visible by making a copy of the blue river layer, coloring it black and blurring it, then placing it under the original layer. But I think it's making the narrowest rivers appear too dark.
Is there too much variation of fonts and text colors? I've used different fonts for the names of seas, mountains, land areas and cities/other symbols. I've also made use of different letter cases (for example, capital cities have their names in caps, other cities in lowercase).
What do you think about the combination of textured landscape & forests with symbolic mountains? I haven't been able to come up with a method to create good-looking mountains without going for a "satellite photo" style (which I don't want to use because I don't think it sets the right kind of feel), but I didn't want to resort to black & white hand-drawn style either. This is the best compromise I've managed so far.
Are the forest edges too blurry? Would tree symbols work better than textured forest for this style of map?
Should I add texture or do other things with the sea? I'm not going to represent variations of depth in any way, but maybe a covering pattern representing waves, or some faded striping by the shores could make it look nicer?

Be warned that the file is fairly big: 4000x2200 pixels.

(EDIT: updated map)

Steel General
08-02-2009, 02:16 PM
Looks pretty nice so far.

Here's my opinions on your specific questions...


Rivers - Though I only did a quick scan of the map, everything seemed OK - no major 'violations'
Fonts - My opinion is you try never to use more than 3 different fonts, and you should limit the variations in font size to as few as possible.
Textures -vs- Symbols - Personally I would stick with one style or the other.
Oceans/Seas - You could try the wood cut effect many folks use to great effect.

AslanC
08-02-2009, 02:16 PM
It looks awesome! I love the way the coastline flows.

cereth
08-02-2009, 02:30 PM
Do you think that the rivers look good? I tried to make them more clearly visible by making a copy of the blue river layer, coloring it black and blurring it, then placing it under the original layer. But I think it's making the narrowest rivers appear too dark.

Honesty, I think the rivers are a little too close to the land color (shade-wise I guess) and are a little difficult to see. Maybe if the the landmass was just a touch darker maybe the rivers would be easier to see. The blur you put around the rivers helps, but they are still a little hard to see I think.


Is there too much variation of fonts and text colors? I've used different fonts for the names of seas, mountains, land areas and cities/other symbols. I've also made use of different letter cases (for example, capital cities have their names in caps, other cities in lowercase).

I like the text. The different fonts and colors work for me. The text with the white outline really pops.


What do you think about the combination of textured landscape & forests with symbolic mountains? I haven't been able to come up with a method to create good-looking mountains without going for a "satellite photo" style (which I don't want to use because I don't think it sets the right kind of feel), but I didn't want to resort to black & white hand-drawn style either. This is the best compromise I've managed so far.

The combination works fine for me. I like the forests...I still think the landmass color needs to be slightly darker. This would make the forests, coastline, and rivers all pop more. Maybe a similar bluring technique like you did on the rivers would help the coastline as well.


Are the forest edges too blurry? Would tree symbols work better than textured forest for this style of map?

Maybe a tad too blurry, but it's not a deal breaker for me. I think the slightly darker landmass might negate it a little too.


Should I add texture or do other things with the sea? I'm not going to represent variations of depth in any way, but maybe a covering pattern representing waves, or some faded striping by the shores could make it look nicer?

I like the really basic sea with just the linen texture. There's enough else going on in the map that I think anything more added to the sea might just be distracting.

I really dig that Imperial Eagle symbol thingee over that capital city, and the other little images. They really add to the flavor of the map. I like the border a lot as well, Though I would personally tone the shading around the border down a notch or two.

Very consistent, strong looking map overall! :)

Eilathen
08-02-2009, 03:00 PM
Nice map, i dig it.

Can you link directly to your thread on the CBG? That'd be great.

töff
08-02-2009, 03:58 PM
Rivers - Though I only did a quick scan of the map, everything seemed OK - no major 'violations'

Estuaries :(

Ocean has a light blue outline. River has a dark outline. Trouble at the meet!

Should I just make myself an "Estuary Police" badge?

Ascension
08-02-2009, 05:11 PM
I'm fine with everything except for something that I am of two minds about...the forests. Since you are using icons (spearman, knight, winged staff) and continuing that over with the mountains - the style would dictate the use of icons for the forests as well. Here's the rub, though. The green color really makes the map pop. So how to combine the two and make it just as nice. Surely you could just color in the leafy parts of the trees but that might look weird. So my thought is that you should leave the forests as is and concentrate on the mountains. How to do those and make them fit? I dunno, my brain is sorta fried right now. I'll try to get back to you tonight after my brain relaxes. Overall, though, it looks very nice.

Ghostman
08-02-2009, 05:40 PM
Thanks everyone, for your replies!



Fonts - My opinion is you try never to use more than 3 different fonts, and you should limit the variations in font size to as few as possible.
Textures -vs- Symbols - Personally I would stick with one style or the other.
Oceans/Seas - You could try the wood cut effect many folks use to great effect.


Currently I'm using 4 fonts:

* Dalelands Semi-Expanded for overland placenames,
* Aniron for mountain ranges,
* Bard for seas and lakes, and
* Verdana (Bold) for cities and symbols

I want to avoid confusion between political/place names and the names of mountains, so I want to keep these as different fonts. Cities and symbols need to use a font that remains readable at small size. That leaves the bodies of water as the sole candidate for a font change. I guess I could use Aniron for them too - going with the theme of geographical features. But I really like the "maritime" vibe that Bard gives me. Variation in font size is pretty much inevitable, since the size of the geographical features varies so much, and the labels need to communicate (roughly) how far those features extend.

Perhaps I should give symbolized forests a try. The landscape will remain mildly texturized though. If only I could make mountains like Pasis...

About the woodcut effect - do you know any tutorials for that? I've seen it used in many a great map here, but I haven't figured out exactly how they do it.



Honesty, I think the rivers are a little too close to the land color (shade-wise I guess) and are a little difficult to see. Maybe if the the landmass was just a touch darker maybe the rivers would be easier to see.

[...]

Maybe a similar bluring technique like you did on the rivers would help the coastline as well.

Thanks for the comments! I'll try and see what I can do about this.


Can you link directly to your thread on the CBG? That'd be great.

Sadly, I'm quite disorganized as a world builder, so my stuff is spread out over many threads. Nevertheless, here's some CBG links for you:

Random Savage Age Stuff (http://www.thecbg.org/e107_plugins/forum/forum_viewtopic.php?63214)
Religions (http://www.thecbg.org/e107_plugins/forum/forum_viewtopic.php?64340)
Technology and Civilization (http://www.thecbg.org/e107_plugins/forum/forum_viewtopic.php?60970)
Races (http://www.thecbg.org/e107_plugins/forum/forum_viewtopic.php?59851)
The Seven Elements (http://www.thecbg.org/e107_plugins/forum/forum_viewtopic.php?59585)


Estuaries :(


What's so bad about estuaries? They're cool features :P


Ocean has a light blue outline. River has a dark outline. Trouble at the meet!

Putting that same dark outline to the coasts might solve this. I do prefer to keep the rivers at the same shade of blue as the coastal waters, though.

Steel General
08-02-2009, 07:04 PM
Check Ascension's Antique map tutorial, I'm about 99% sure he uses the woodcut effect in there. I'm sure there are several other tutorials as well.

The 3 font "rule" is just my personal preference - if 4 fonts works better for you then by all means use them. :)

Tear
08-02-2009, 08:31 PM
The 3 font "rule" is just my personal preference

I'm in the same boat.

Diamond
08-02-2009, 08:41 PM
I think it's hands-down fantastic. I personally like the way you combined the mountain icons with the more 'naturalistic' forests, and I think the fonts look great as is.

The only thing I'm unsure about is the rivers. Maybe make them a little darker overall, and as you said, that under-layer makes the smaller rivers look a bit too dark compared to the larger ones.

Eilathen
08-03-2009, 09:11 AM
Sadly, I'm quite disorganized as a world builder, so my stuff is spread out over many threads. Nevertheless, here's some CBG links for you:



No problem ;)
And i have to say "Cool Stuff!" ... i like your vision of this world. I also dig the worldmap...i hope we will see some more detail-maps and, maybe someday, the full worldmap in detailed fashion.

Ghostman
08-03-2009, 02:25 PM
** UPDATE **

I tweaked the rivers to make them more visible, added a dark outline to the coasts and reduced the blur on the forest layer's mask. I also experimented with replacing textured forest entirely with Wag's tree brushes.

töff
08-03-2009, 02:43 PM
Thumbs up on the estuaries! Love it.

I think if you go with the tree icons, they need to be smaller.

Ghostman
08-09-2009, 05:01 PM
I updated the first post with a new version of the map. In case you're wondering about scale, here's a simple world map with the boundaries of the regional map highlighted.

AslanC
08-09-2009, 05:18 PM
That's an impressive looking world sir. Kudos!

Ascension
08-09-2009, 05:56 PM
Since it's the very first thing that caught my eye I should mention that you might want to move the word "Empire" up above "The Sea of". I was reading it as "the sea of a empire" and saying to myself that's a typo it should be "an" until I realized the word "Argyrian" up top. Otherwise, looks good.

Ghostman
08-09-2009, 06:16 PM
They're written with different font, color, size and case. Why would you interpret them as one label :?:

Ascension
08-09-2009, 06:28 PM
Because the human brain does that when things are close together.

Diamond
08-09-2009, 08:28 PM
In case you're wondering about scale, here's a simple world map with the boundaries of the regional map highlighted.

Wow, you don't think small, do you? Are you going to eventually have the whole world mapped? That'd be a sight to see...

Oh, and thanks for the inspiration. This map is influencing mine quite a bit.