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View Full Version : Meyhovic House - Because Everyone Needs a Haunted House Now or Then



Ashenvale
08-16-2009, 12:42 AM
Here's my first map post as a new member. Please tell me what you love and hate!

I created this country manor ground-floor map in Photoshop for a one-session D&D adventure (with a strong Call of Cthulhu bent) that I wrote called "True Malice." It has almost seen publication twice. (I hate the word "almost".) As an RPG supplement, I designed each room after I'd written the encounter for each. Every room has one or more clues through which the players can unravel the arc of a horror mystery driving the adventure. With respect to the map's visual presentation, I focused on compelling light conditions. I wanted the map to remain dark overall, suggesting a house long abandoned by the living. Simultaneously, however, with isolated sparkles and pools of light, I hoped to present a full range of color that both suggests something terrible lingers here on the edge of life, and, from a purely artistic standpoint, supports the overall composition's rhythm and movement. I strove to make the image at once beautiful . . . and scary. I kept the word "haunting" at the front of my mind from the beginning to the end of the creation process.

The image I've posted here can't begin to reveal the details the original map contains. My website, however, has close-ups of all Meyhovic House rooms. Please, please, PLEASE check them out there! CLICK HERE (http://www.ashenvaleart.com/CartographyPages/M10MeyhovicHouse.html)to go to this map's webpage, and then click anywhere on the main map image. That will pull up a detail page showing the specific room on which you clicked. Then use the next and previous arrows at the top to scroll through the details, taking a tour of the ground floor of the manor. My hope is that you feel like you're inside each room -- and you're unsettled by the experience.

The big questions about the finished map (whose answers will greatly assist my second floor cartography project!): Do the walls confuse you? Are light conditions overdone? Is the excess of detail too distracting? Do you too wish your home looked like this? No . . . wait . . . that's a personal question for me and my therapist.

Jykke
08-16-2009, 03:54 AM
Quite nicely done! I wasn't bothered by any of the things you mentioned on your post. First the walls distracted for a second, but when I looked at them for a while, they just fit right in. Good work, have some rep!

Coyotemax
08-16-2009, 04:48 AM
That's great, i love it.

Looking through with a critical eye, the only thing I would comment on is that the floor tile grid shows through the bearskin rug on the one room.

That having been said, this is one fabulous piece of work, I think you've carried it off well. I myself might have used more muted and darker colours, some places seem a bit bright for a horror setting, but really, that's a personal preference. If I sat down at a table with this map, I woldn't think twice about going "eep"

Nice!!

Lwaxana
08-16-2009, 05:09 AM
I love the walls. Just irritated me for a second. Can't wait to see the 2nd floor :-)

Gandwarf
08-16-2009, 07:31 AM
That's awesome work Ashenvale!
I do think the walls are a bit too thick/much, but they don't really bother me. The layout of the mansion is great and I love all the stuff in the rooms.

Did you draw the symbols for the furniture and other stuff yourself or did you get them somewhere?
(always looking for more symbols :D )

Ashenvale
08-16-2009, 07:47 AM
Thanks, everybody!!


Did you draw the symbols for the furniture and other stuff yourself or did you get them somewhere?
(always looking for more symbols :D )

I did almost everything by hand, and all in Photoshop. I drew all the pots, barrels, pillars, tables, candles and light sources, books, potion beakers, windows, staircases, skeletons, the mummified cadaver, the harp, the piano, the chapel benches and altar, the front gates, the ghostly outdoor trunk, and so on. Many of the repeating forms, like the pots and barrels, lean different ways (each room has its own one-point perspective) or have different illumination depending on where they fall in each room, so I had little choice.

I downloaded chair photographs from the internet and then manipulated them in Photoshop. I did the same with the carpets, including the bear-skin rug, adding a translucent version of the floor grid to each. I likewise saved carriage photos from the internet and played with them to age and splinter them up. The wall paintings are all fantasy illustrations of mine from other projects that I warped into perspective (and to which I added frames) with Photoshop. I hung my camera over the stairwell and shot a photo of myself lying on the floor for the dead guy in the northwest tower.

I created the leaves inside the arboretum and everywhere outside using the leaf brush of Photoshop's brush tool. Fastest, easiest cheat I've ever found!

Edit: Wait! I lied! I created the upright pots throughout the map from scratch, but I shot photos of a couple pots around the house for the pots and urns lying on their sides in the aboretum, and then Photoshoped their colors, contrast, and dimensions, and added highlights.

Gandwarf
08-16-2009, 07:58 AM
Yeah, I kinda figured most of the stuff was custom made or at least heavily edited. It all fits in so well...
Great background story for the dead guy in the northeast tower :)
My favorite rooms are the one with the bear skin and other creatures (great lightning there) and the room to the northwest of it, with the pots and leaves on the ground. Love those leaves :)

Anyway, you can be insanely proud of this work. Must have taken quite some time to create this mansion!

Ashenvale
08-16-2009, 09:02 AM
Anyway, you can be insanely proud of this work. Must have taken quite some time to create this mansion!

Wow! Thanks!!

It's probably more accurate to say I'm insanely foolish to have taken the time to create this mansion. This one ate up some serious late-night hours. But the measure of detail let me do all the fun stuff, like hiding the skeleton in the courtyard pool, and etching the same arcane symbols on the coffin door that I inscribed in color on the ballroom floor. And I got to feature a handful of beloved D&D miniatures in a room as life-sized trophies! I want a REAL room like that.

Ascension
08-16-2009, 09:02 AM
Very nice. Must have taken forever to do.

Skaryn
08-16-2009, 09:38 AM
For a first map, that is just simply amazing. The fact you did it by hand is even more amazing to me. As I mentioned in another post, I am a programmer, so by law my hand drawn art skills are horrible :P Have some rep, you definitely deserve it.


This makes me want to stop working on my site and go work in dunjdinni now!!and I still have city designer 3 to play with still arghh! This is the mapstyle I plan to use for my PBBG game at the lowest level, something that you can move characters around on. Looking forward to seeing other maps you make :)

Steel General
08-16-2009, 10:29 AM
Stunning!

I dub thee newly 'repped' *bonk*

zelig
08-16-2009, 09:07 PM
Amazing work. I especially like the lighting of the various rooms.

I'm curious to how all those people died and what exactly happened at Meyhovic House.

Ashenvale
08-16-2009, 09:43 PM
I'm curious to how all those people died and what exactly happened at Meyhovic House.

I'd love to tell you! It's so cool!

But I'm new here. I don't know the rules.

I belong to an RPG writers' guild, the WereCabbages, in which we have strict rules on idea sharing and usage. We don't make personal use of, or share beyond the membership, any other member's ideas that could lead to publication. If someone shares or seeks advice on a idea, no one else can run with that idea. Ever. No piracy. Period. Violation of this mandate get's you expelled from the guild. Obviously, a writers' guild cannot survive without such a restriction. Without such a security measure, guild member writers wouldn't share their ideas, and, without sharing, wouldn't benefit from the collective insights and wisdom of the writers' guild through comments on those ideas.

It strikes me, however, that a cartographer's guild is somewhat different. A cartographer's work product is, by its nature, stylistically unique. The focus is also graphic imagery, not the protection of narrative ideas underlying the imagery. Carefully thought out limitations on narrative idea dissemination seem less necessary in a map-maker's forum.

Does the Cartographer's Guild employ a confidentiality mandate of this nature? I'd love to tell you what this haunted house is all about. But I haven't hooked a publisher yet. So I have to be somewhat cautious.

Ascension
08-17-2009, 12:41 AM
I don't think confidentiality would even be possible for us with 12,000 members...88% of which are lurkers. Lots of people put our maps in their own Flikr accounts and whatnot...thus the CC licensing things all over, but that doesn't really stop anyone. Guess we'll have to wait :)

Gandwarf
08-17-2009, 04:24 AM
And even unregistered guests can read all the text on our forum :) Try Googling some of the text you posted on this forum.
So don't share if you don't want the stories to be read by the masses.

Ashenvale
08-17-2009, 05:43 AM
Gotcha!

Thanks for the head's up, Gandwarf & Ascension!

Forgive my babe-in-the-woods naiveté. I'm accustomed to posting on a closed set of boards for 41 writers. 12,000 members! That's mind-boggling! The potential for objective feedback in a group this size surpasses my wildest dreams. But, like a squirrel that suddenly realizes it's wandered too far from any friendly trees, I feel strangely exposed as well.

Ashenvale
08-17-2009, 05:59 AM
I'm only a day old here, honored to be welcomed into this great forum, and afraid of making a social gaff. Please give me some guidance.

I see many threads in which cartographers share their work as it develops, soliciting and receiving meaningful feedback along the way. In these threads, we all benefit from the chance to watch the creative process in action.

Would folks be interested in an after-the-fact version of this evolution? I could post images of the stages through which I developed the Mehovic House map. I saved dozens of these stages, from initial drawings to final polish. I think I can present a clear sequence revealing my objectives, successes, and failures at each stage, if such a presentation seems desirable. It would, however, lack the real-time feel that makes the other threads I'm reviewing so exciting.

What do you think?

Alfar
08-17-2009, 06:38 AM
Definately! Always worth a poke through someone's mind. Especially with a nice map such as this.

Thanks for the offer!

Gandwarf
08-17-2009, 08:50 AM
WIP's (work in progress) are always nice as they give insight in the mapmaking process.

Ascension
08-17-2009, 09:33 AM
The creative process involves a lot of thinking and a lot of labor. It's always nice to see, or in this case read as well, the evolution and the process and the thinking behind the work as it develops and changes.

Skaryn
08-17-2009, 09:49 AM
I'm only a day old here, honored to be welcomed into this great forum, and afraid of making a social gaff. Please give me some guidance.

I see many threads in which cartographers share their work as it develops, soliciting and receiving meaningful feedback along the way. In these threads, we all benefit from the chance to watch the creative process in action.

Would folks be interested in an after-the-fact version of this evolution? I could post images of the stages through which I developed the Mehovic House map. I saved dozens of these stages, from initial drawings to final polish. I think I can present a clear sequence revealing my objectives, successes, and failures at each stage, if such a presentation seems desirable. It would, however, lack the real-time feel that makes the other threads I'm reviewing so exciting.

What do you think?


Let me think about this... Heck yeah! I think the sharing of processes helps the community overall. As you mentioned, the individual styling , usage of tools, and final render are unique to the cartographer, so sharing the process would be slick . Maybe you could make it into a tutorial :)

Ashenvale
08-17-2009, 09:55 AM
Okay, cool! Where's the right place to post it? In the Building/Structure forum? Is there a particular location or format for WIP threads?

Alfar
08-17-2009, 10:00 AM
When posting, you can select an icon for your post. One of them is WIP. Building/Structure forum is the right place, I think.

Another thing you could consider is write a tutorial for (or guide to) your style of work - there's a Tutorials section for those.

RobA
08-17-2009, 11:43 AM
Welcome Ashenvale!

I am happy you are willing to participate in the community, as your portfolio demonstrates a clean style and keen eye for detail.

I particularly like the way you are displaying your larger maps in sections on the web site. What software do you use to manage that?

-Rob A>

Ashenvale
08-17-2009, 12:03 PM
Thanks, Rob!

I do all of my website building in Dreamweaver CS4 and Photoshop CS2. To build the zoom-in function into the main image, I splice up the image in Photoshop and then switch over to Image Ready (Photoshop's dual program) where I can save optimized for the web with slices intact. Then I open the html file the optimized save creates in Dreamweaver, copy out the table containing the slices, and drop it into a seperate Dreamweaver file in which I'm building the actual page for the website. Pretty simple once I figured it out.

I'm competent with Photoshop but something of a hack with Dreamweaver. I learn only what I need to know to make the pages I want. I just rebuilt my fine art website from scratch because my older version wasn't professional enough. I spent all of last month learning about Cascading Style Sheets, transparent PNG files, and all sorts of new Dreamweaver functions I didn't use building my fantasy/cartography site.

Ashenvale
08-17-2009, 09:31 PM
I've gone halfway back through my files, flattening images and shrinking them to scale. I need to decide whether to explain things overall, in exacting detail, or somehwere in between. I hope to start posting images in a new historical WIP thread soon. Thanks everyone for the encouragement!

Aegeri
08-20-2009, 09:27 AM
This is such a gorgeous map!

cyderak
09-03-2014, 09:05 AM
Does anyone know if there is a high definition version of this map?






Here's my first map post as a new member. Please tell me what you love and hate!

I created this country manor ground-floor map in Photoshop for a one-session D&D adventure (with a strong Call of Cthulhu bent) that I wrote called "True Malice." It has almost seen publication twice. (I hate the word "almost".) As an RPG supplement, I designed each room after I'd written the encounter for each. Every room has one or more clues through which the players can unravel the arc of a horror mystery driving the adventure. With respect to the map's visual presentation, I focused on compelling light conditions. I wanted the map to remain dark overall, suggesting a house long abandoned by the living. Simultaneously, however, with isolated sparkles and pools of light, I hoped to present a full range of color that both suggests something terrible lingers here on the edge of life, and, from a purely artistic standpoint, supports the overall composition's rhythm and movement. I strove to make the image at once beautiful . . . and scary. I kept the word "haunting" at the front of my mind from the beginning to the end of the creation process.

The image I've posted here can't begin to reveal the details the original map contains. My website, however, has close-ups of all Meyhovic House rooms. Please, please, PLEASE check them out there! CLICK HERE (http://www.ashenvaleart.com/CartographyPages/M10MeyhovicHouse.html)to go to this map's webpage, and then click anywhere on the main map image. That will pull up a detail page showing the specific room on which you clicked. Then use the next and previous arrows at the top to scroll through the details, taking a tour of the ground floor of the manor. My hope is that you feel like you're inside each room -- and you're unsettled by the experience.

The big questions about the finished map (whose answers will greatly assist my second floor cartography project!): Do the walls confuse you? Are light conditions overdone? Is the excess of detail too distracting? Do you too wish your home looked like this? No . . . wait . . . that's a personal question for me and my therapist.