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icosahedron
08-18-2009, 04:35 AM
Here's the Ice Tower floorplans, finally at a demonstrable WIP stage. Comments please on any and every aspect from drawing skills (which I know are minimal) to castle layout design.
Any suggestions for the empty rooms will be welcome.

I imagined this castle maybe thirty years ago and made a few rough sketches at the time, but I was limited by my lack of artistic ability. About 5 years ago I discovered Dungeonforge and attempted to recreate the castle digitally, but DF's zoom function wasn't up to the task, though it helped tremendously with smaller projects. Six months ago I discovered Viewingdale, and was at last able to begin a digital floorplan of this castle.
Now at last I can show it and get some feedback.

The outdoor map of the castle and environs is still on the virtual drawing board - rocks and snow are a nightmare to draw effectively - especially for a non-artist. :(


Scale: The castle is 100ft square, with 30ft towers and 10ft walls. It is 300ft high.

Copyright: I'm still hoping to use this in a book one day, so although you are welcome to make use of it in a personal game, otherwise all rights are reserved. Thanks.


Background:

Somewhere in the Frozen North, on a rocky knoll within the crater of an extinct volcano, stands the Ice Tower, built of white stone and covered in permafrost. This is the abode of the evil Ice Queen, and the lava caverns honeycombing the mountain beneath the castle are the (currently unmapped) lair of her orc army and other denizens of darkness.

Level -2:
The foundations of the castle hold the torture chamber and dungeon, with cells in the outer walls. A trapdoor in the floor drops into the caverns, whilst a wide stair joins the torture chamber to the throne room three floors above for the convenience of Her Majesty's entertainment. The only other exit is via the southeast tower and guardroom.

Level -1:
The basement holds the Queen's stables. The main stair does not connect with this floor, but passes through. The exits are via the corner towers and via a ramp to the courtyard.

Level 0:
The ground floor of the castle houses the workshops and the courtyard. The gatehouse holds a double gate, portcullis, drawbridged pit and a second portcullis.

Level 1:
The first floor contains the throne room, with a dais backed by a tapestry. Behind the tapestry is personal access to the Queens (northeast) Tower. Only the Queen and her most trusted staff have access to this tower. The guardroom above the gatehouse has murder holes. A wooden walkway lines the walls, connecting the towers, on each floor.

Level 2:
The Great Hall, with its huge U shaped table is the feasting and entertainment centre for the Queen's guests. The battlemented roof of the gatehouse forms a useful watch platform over the courtyard.

icosahedron
08-18-2009, 04:39 AM
Level 3:
The kitchen is the main food prep area and entertainment centre for the menial staff.

Level 4, Level 5, Level 6:
Staff Dormitory, Barracks and Armoury are self-explanatory.

Level 7:
The Guest Bower is the quarters for the Queen's guest of honour.

icosahedron
08-18-2009, 04:42 AM
Level 8:
The Audience Chamber is for private meetings with the Queen, more informal than the Throne Room. This floor also includes the Queen's library. When I find the right one, I'll decorate the floor of this room with a pentagram. This is where she performs her ritual magic.

Level 9:
The Queen's Bower and bedroom are the personal quarters of the Queen.

Level 10:
The battlements incorporate guardrooms in the towers.

NeonKnight
08-18-2009, 05:01 AM
looks pretty good there.

icosahedron
08-21-2009, 07:52 AM
Now at last I can show it and get some feedback.



C'mon guys,

twenty years mulling it around in my head, six months hammering it into the computer, a hundred people viewing it...

and just a single, four word comment? :((

Is it a decent layout? what does it lack? how can it be improved? Lead me on the road to cartographic excellence (or at least competence).

FEEEED MEEEE!

(Thanks Neon, no ingratitude meant - at least you responded). :)

Alfar
08-21-2009, 08:36 AM
Note that I've no idea what I'm talking about. I'm no historian, nor a castle designer or anything like that.

I think artistically it's ok, the resolution of the images doesn't give it the credit it is due, though.

However, I'm thinking it feels rather wasteful to have the courtyard enclosed by a 9 story wall. I'd think a wider, but lower layout would have made more sense. For example, having the kitchen on the same level as the dining hall would be rather practical. Same goes for the queen's library, bower, and bedroom, maybe with the audience room as well.

Barracks on level 5 - well, depending on what kind of troops you have there, I imagine you'd want them a) close to the courtyard so you can quickly deploy them there, and b) close to the stables so they can deploy as cavalry units. Also, armoury would be good to have close to your troops, preferably on the same level as them.

The winding stairs could become a bit of a bother, especially with troops going to their barracks on level 5, and serving staff going from the kitchen to the dining hall. Will they be able to pass each other? Will the trays of food survive? Is there another way of transporting food to the dining hall?

I'm not sure where the ramp from the stables to the courtyard is found - is that the red arrows? It'd have to be a rather long ramp or the slope would bother the horses, I think.

Oh, and having the stairway from the throne room to the torture chamber is a nice touch, but having it connected to the front door might not be a good idea from a defensive standpoint. If it's just for the queen's perusal, it might not need to be so wide as well. A closed off stairways embedded in the walls may be better - only leave exits at level -2 and 1, maybe with secret doors to level -1 and 0, but why would the queen ever want to go to the stables?

Escape routes may be useful as well - a secret exit from the castle somewhere that's easy to get to from where the queen usually spends her time, such things.

Again, I'm no expert, hardly even an amateur, and if you have a reason for making some of those design choices, you're most welcome to them.

Steel General
08-21-2009, 09:44 AM
C'mon guys, twenty years mulling it around in my head, six months hammering it into the computer, a hundred people viewing it... and just a single, four word comment? :((

Don't be disappointed by a lack of response, it happens sometimes. That being said...

I'm not an architect, and my own castles/keeps probably break all kinds of rules but I think this seems like a good layout.

I think what it lacks more than anything is some shadowing, etc. to give it some depth. Everything seems very flat.

Jykke
08-21-2009, 11:16 AM
It's a nice layout you have there :). But the two points where the roof intersects with the towers looks a bit odd to me. Is the top part of the tower spreading out above the roof, is the whole tower cutting through it? Some shadows (even soft ones) could do some miracles to the scene just like Steel General said. Keep up the good work! :)

icosahedron
08-23-2009, 10:52 AM
Cheers Alfar, some valid points there.

I've wondered on numerous occasions over the years about filling in that courtyard, but I'd already wriiten that section of story, and if the courtyard doesn't go there, I can't see how there could be one at all. Maybe I should fill in and rewrite.

Not disagreeing, just explaining my rationale, but although a wider, lower plan would be better for a real castle, this is a fantasy tower and I wanted a 'stone fang' effect.

Unfortunately, as you say, this leads to certain practical problems with layout, and feedback on that is part of what I was hoping to gain from showing it here.

I imagine the spiral stairs would get tiresome, OTOH real castles have lots of them, so maybe it's just something castle-dwellers accept as part of their environment? Any notions on that, guys?

I did check the width of the spirals - they're quite wide - I even placed a serving maid token on one of the middle floors, northwest stair, as a scale guide, so I think people could pass ok.
The drawing does lose something without Viewingdale's powerful zoom capability to see detail.

Good point about the main stair. I devised the transverse pattern before I'd really figured out where the lower level would lead to. Maybe that needs a re-think. I like the hidden stair idea. :)

I briefly considered escape routes, but since the castle stands in the crater of an arctic volcano, I figured by the time the enemy is beating the gate down, they'd have the castle surrounded. And the queen herself could simply cast a spell and fly away.


Cheers Steel General, I'm not sure that Viewingdale lends itself to shadowing (Redrobes may correct me there). So I think if I did any shadowing, it would have to be a final finishing touch in a Gimp 'arty adaptation' rather than the working map.


Cheers Jykke, the towers cut through part of the roof. They're pretty much straight. The original sketch didn't even have a walkway around the turret, they were fully enclosed by the pinnacle roofs.

Alfar
08-23-2009, 01:59 PM
Oh, I didn't so much mean that the spiral staircases would be tiresome, more that having to go up 4-5 levels to serve dinner to the queen in her quarters... ouch. ;)

Also, I didn't mean for you to fill in the courtyard - I was suggesting maybe leaving the walls around the courtyard lower (like, two levels or so?), and let the main tower grow above it.

As for escape routes, you do have the exit down to the caves below, yes?

I do think moving at least some of the troops to level 1 would benefit the daily life of the inhabitants.

How many people live there again? Maybe you don't need an entire floor for the kitchen.

icosahedron
08-23-2009, 04:33 PM
Hmm, I didn't think about serving the queen in her quarters, I figured she'd come down to the great hall. Shows I'm not royalty, eh? :)

Im just thinking, I could fill in the yard in the lower levels and have a courtyard above some of the lower levels, penthouse style. I'll have to ponder that. It'd mean a complete redesign though. Not sure I want to go that far. :(

Yes, there's an escape to the caves. I'm not too sure how many live in the tower. Any suggestions?

Alfar
08-24-2009, 02:21 AM
I'm appaled at the thought of having to descend even one level to get my breakfast, and I'm not exactly royalty. I extrapolated from that ;)

Another thing to consider with the walls: will people standing on the battlements on top of a 10 level tower (300ft. above the ground, you say) be able to accurately hit an attacker with any weapon in their possession? Otherwise, I'd say it's a waste to deploy troops there in the event of a ground attack. Of course, if there's a danger of aerial attacks, sure, go ahead.

Or maybe make the courtyard wall lower, the front towers lower as well, and add side-mounted towers (towers that don't go all the way to the ground) to the main building on the higher levels?

icosahedron
08-24-2009, 06:47 AM
I'm appaled at the thought of having to descend even one level to get my breakfast, and I'm not exactly royalty. I extrapolated from that ;)


LOL. Some of us have to do that every day.

But who cares how tired the servants get, so long as the food doesn't get cold? Make em run, I say, and woe betide them if they drop anything. ;)



Another thing to consider with the walls: will people standing on the battlements on top of a 10 level tower (300ft. above the ground, you say) be able to accurately hit an attacker with any weapon in their possession? Otherwise, I'd say it's a waste to deploy troops there in the event of a ground attack. Of course, if there's a danger of aerial attacks, sure, go ahead.


I think so. I'm no expert with bows etc, but I would imagine that someone who is could hit a man at that range - and if you have massed ranks attacking, you're pretty much guaranteed to hit something. Besides, you could always mount some light support artillery up there - and there's always rocks...



Or maybe make the courtyard wall lower, the front towers lower as well, and add side-mounted towers (towers that don't go all the way to the ground) to the main building on the higher levels?

I'd rather keep the overall shape of the building, even if it means raising the courtyard to the sixth level, or something.
I'm just not sure I have the perseverance to do that much redrawing. Maybe over the winter...

Perhaps the main gate could open directly into the enclosed workshop area, with the barracks behind and separated by the transverse stair. The two lower levels could remain the same, and the throne room and great hall could share a level. The main stair could T, with one arm wrapping round the hall and leading up to the kitchen, which could share a floor with the staff dorm.
Maybe the coutryard could be replaced with tiered terraces for the queen and guests. I'm starting to like the sound of it, but I'm not sure I want to draw it.

Just thinking aloud here. Thanks for the kickstart to my ruminations, Alfar, that's what feedback's for. :)

Alfar
08-24-2009, 08:36 AM
Yeah, I'm a bastard like that. ;)

I'm having trouble converting feet to meters, which is more what I'm used to. 300ft is, umm... 90 meters. I do suppose an archer should be able to shoot that far, considering most of it would be downwards. I just have this sense that if I'm on the 10th floor of a building, people will look rather small and difficult to hit with any certainty. Not that I can remember being on the 10th floor of a building. Ever.

True about the shooting into a crowd and other points, of course.

So the castle is 100ft square. That's... 30 meters? My house is 137 square meters, probably something like 13x10 meters. I don't think 30 meters is very wide for a castle. I may be wrong though. 9 houses the size of mine would fit in one level of the castle, and the courtyard is half of it, so for levels 2-10, that's space pretty much wasted. So 3 levels x 9 houses + 10 levels x 4.5 house, that's 27 + 45 = 72 houses.

Google says the largest castle in the world is in Prague, 570 meters in length and 130 in width. It doesn't have 10 levels though. ;)

Maybe if you adjusted the scale, you'd be able to fit in more rooms on each level without having to redraw anything but the innards?

icosahedron
08-24-2009, 01:12 PM
It's what I needed.

I'm comfortable with both measurement systems.

I based the plan on Harlech castle, which has a similar size & shape footprint, and based the profile on a side view of Tattershall Castle, which isn't that tall, but would be if it were scaled up to the footprint of Harlech. I've visited both of them - and Prague, too. :)

The castle would be a similar height to Aarhus Cathedral or the pylons of the Faro-Falster bridge, if that helps - or the Statue of Liberty for our cousins across the water. (thanks, Google) :)

The more I think about it, the more I think I'll have to redraw the thing and fill in that wasteful courtyard.

Jake Raven
08-24-2009, 07:10 PM
Good solid castle, you have most of the rooms you would need,

I'm having some issue with scale on these floorplan: I see horses and wagons that don't look like they will fit thru the doors and ramps(?) to their stables below the castle.

One really big question I have is:

Was this castle built by humans or some "ice/cold" based race? I don't see any fireplaces or ovens. Did I miss them? How about forges to make/repair weapons, tools and shoe horses. If it's magical or mundane you still need a place for fires, unless you are an "Ice Queen" ala the Cronicals of Narnia.

I did read that this is located in an arctic crater, correct?

Water is going to be an issue there... All of the water in an arctic climate would be frozen. You would do well to have a "boiler" system that could keep your castle warm and melt ice into usable water for the inhabitants. This can create a very interesting encounter location with the icey floors and steam pipes along the ceiling would create a natural "fog" in the area. Very cool for creating drama in an encounter.

One thing to think about:

The castle is 10 levels above ground and at 15 to 20 feet per level it would be 150 to 200 feet tall. At that height the courtyard would be a lightless well. At best the ground floor would have dim illumination, if you're going for effect, it would be very creepy to enter from the well light outside, to the dark courtyard light by torches and braizers even at midday.

Alfar
08-25-2009, 12:32 AM
The castle is 10 levels above ground and at 15 to 20 feet per level it would be 150 to 200 feet tall. At that height the courtyard would be a lightless well.

Actually, he said it's 300ft tall. Not that your point becomes any less valid. ;)

icosahedron
08-25-2009, 05:50 AM
Good points, Jake, thanks.

I had noted that the door to the workshop was too narrow to pass the cart through, but I made myself the excuse that it could be tipped on its side and manhandled through for the occasional repair. However, I hadn't noticed that the ramps were too narrow. I'll have to fix that one. The stables will have to be a little narrower to make more space - leaving just the dungeon and battlements levels to escape a redraw. Drat and double drat! :(

The Queen is Narnia-esque, though I have included a couple of fireplaces in the north wall on the kitchen level and the guest room level. There are braziers in the workshop and torture chamber (perhaps too small to see on this small rendering) but perhaps they should be proper forges (IIRC there's one in Torstan's dungeon set, I'll have to import it).

The steam boiler is a nice idea, thanks, but I probably won't have it inside the castle, I'll put it in the caves and give all those orcs something to do when they're not fighting (like the Morloks).
I'm not sure what they'd use for fuel, though. They might get enough wood to make water, but not for heating, I'd guess. Even a dwarf couldn't find coal in a volcano! :)

I don't think it would be dark enough to need torches in the courtyard. You need an amazingly small amount of light to see by. The parts that might need torches are the large chambers, with only a few arrow slits for lighting - especially if I fill in the courtyard, since currently I have larger windows looking out over the yard.

To experiment, take a sheet of A4 card (paper is too translucent) and fold it in half lengthways, then fold one half in half again. This will give you a J section wall roughly 300mm high with a footprint about 100mm x 50mm. Fold another piece of card the same and put them together to make a scale model of the courtyard. It's a little dimmer at the bottom than it is outside, but you certainly don't need a torch to see your 6mm figures. :)

Remove the second fold to produce a model of the whole castle in 6mm scale. You can probably guess I've been there, done that and worn out the T shirt. ;)

Remko1981
08-25-2009, 01:07 PM
All solid points about the castles layout. But where did you get the idea that people allways use logic when designing such a thing. I can fully see a monarch telling an architect where to stuff his regular commonplace design, and now build me the highest castle imagineble! Troops on the ground floor, they'd be way to far to protect me! And what do you mean horses cant be kept underground, no horse will tell me what to do!! Escape routes?! pah i'll never run away! And think about my birthday!!! of course i need such a big kitchen! Where do you expect me to publicly execute people if you take away my courtyard? Its so hard to find good architects these days, i have think of everything myself.

Granted though the defensivenes and survival chance drops significantly when you take this stance in designing a castle ;P . And it will see some refurbishing during an impending siege.

I like the design, it breaks away from tradition and gives a real fantasy feeling. Though i have to agree about the flat looks. By adding some shadow icons and maybe a little perspective on the walls you could ad a lot of depth.

icosahedron
08-25-2009, 01:41 PM
Hi Remko,

Yes, there's always royal fiat. :)

If shadows are possible in Viewingdale, it's an option I can look at. I prefer the 'soft' shadows in your first example, the second one looks a bit stark for my tastes. Did you make your own shadow icons? Presumably they're some form of transparent grey fade. I imagine you have to make shadow icons specific to every drawing, to get the sizes right?
I like your brickwork walls, too - looks better than my plain grey.

I can see a complete redraw approaching.

Remko1981
08-25-2009, 03:05 PM
Gimp, which i believe you allready use from reading your viewingdale forum post. Has a script for drop shadows which created the shadows in that first example. Can be done in under 2 minutes when you understand the script!

The bricks is just a tileable texture which can be found at a lot of places that building was made with googles sketchup (shadows with gimp).

I am working on making the building you saw into an icon set so you can vary its size and composition but still have to iron out some glitches. I made a little example which you (when the set is finished, if ever :( ) could use to easily soup up the walls. I activated the grid, made the icons 1 metre square and snapped the icons to grid and this is what you get(though the shadows arent correct yet)

icosahedron
08-26-2009, 09:30 AM
Ah, right, so you didn't draw that brick structure in Viewingdale.

Hmm, 'use' might be too strong a term. 'poke about with' might be a better description of my relationship with Gimp. :)

I think it would be difficult to add shadows to a Viewingdale map (other than by exporting a 'dead' copy to Gimp and using the drop shadow feature to 'finish' it as you suggest.

Unfortunately, my primary purpose in mapping isn't to create a work of art to publish, but to create a virtual game world in Viewingdale, so if the shadows aren't in the zoomable 'live' copy, they're just wasted effort from my POV. And even if you can get them in a 'live' drawing, I'm just not sure it's worth the effort for my purposes.


Your adaptation of my drawing is a start, but maybe a discussion of how shadows might be doable in Viewingdale should be taken back to the Viewingdale site to your thread or mine, or at least to a different thread here if it will be of interest to others.

However, my initial thoughts are:

You could maybe take a rectangular transparent grey fade and make a fixed size icon of it, but as I understand it from my blog correspondence with Redrobes the other day, you'd need to make separate shadow icons for every wall type. You'll have trouble with walls that meet at anything other than right angles, and you'd need different shadowlengths to suggest different heights of wall and the only way to do that is to make more icons, you can't lengthen a shadow 'in drawing'.

Maybe Gimp or Inkscape could be used to make a drop shadow around an object (say a grey rectangle, circle, inner and outer corner, etc) then delete the shape, leaving just the shadow. That could then be imported as a png image in Viewingdale, and should be interpreted as a transparency.

Unfortunately, my first attempt with shadows in Viewingdale was a failure: the dais in the throne room of my castle.
As I described in my blog somewhere, as you enlarge the steps, you also enlarge the shadow and this looks wrong because the shadow radius is proportional to the dais radius in a drawing, but proportional to the step height in reality. Consequently, the three concentric steps of the dais look like they're different heights as well as different radii.
(It's too small to see in the picture here, but there's a detail in my blog.)

You'd get the same problems with wall shadows. Almost every wall would need to have its own shadow icon generated, since they'd differ depending on the wall height.

It looks like a can of worms to me.

Coyotemax
08-26-2009, 09:57 AM
I had a thought about the steam-boilers for heating the castle, and the comment about what would be used for fuel - that can easily be solved depending on the underground geology of the area. If there are caverns under the tower (i believe you said there are) then it's possible there could be natural steam vents down there as with geysers and hotsprings. A little bit of geological activity nearby, you might even get a full out lava crevasse or something similar if you're going deep enough. Build a few vents that lead up through the caves, and voila - heating and fuel solved at one stroke. Plus rising heat/steam could be used to pump huge bellows to run the forge, and you'd have forced air heating for the minions, soldiers, and servants.

That would also have added to the initial appeal of locating the tower at this site - defensible location plus unlimited geothermal energy would certainly sell me on it :)

(you'd still need to have firewood and/or coal or whatever for the cooking fires and forge, but hey, what's the point in being a ruler if you can't get your vassals to pay you tribute, right?)

icosahedron
08-28-2009, 11:37 AM
Cheers Coyotemax. The castle is built on a volcano, so I was figuring it should be extinct. However, it could be just long-term dormant with some geothermal source deep in the recesses of those orc-caverns.

Yeah, I could see an army of orcs shovelling snow into nature's fire pits to create steam. Maybe even some Saruman-esque steam industry.

Neat idea.


Now, another question, guys.

I've spent a couple of days looking at the possibility of filling in the courtyard, and I've devised a possible new layout - essentially the same structure but with two accommodation areas on each floor instead of one.

However...

I can't get the ground floor figured out in my head. My thought was to put the barracks at the rear and the workshop at the front, but I'm worried about my honoured guests.

If there is an enclosed workshop between the gatehouse and the main door, with the updraft from the stables having no exit, it doesn't have much kerb appeal. Guests have to go through a noisy, smelly workshop before they reach the living quarters, rather than an open courtyard.

The alternative would be to leave the workshop at the rear and put the barracks at the front. I could even split the barracks into two halves with a corridor between going from the gate to the door. However, that would mean putting the ramp either in the barracks, or in the workshop and have horses going through the main door all the time.

The ground floor just doesn't seem to work without the courtyard. :(


At the moment, guests simply dismount in the yard, their horses are led down the ramp and they enter the door to the living quarters.

Unless I can figure out the ground floor, I might revert to the current layout but make a few of the rooms smaller so I can get two on each floor whilst retaining the courtyard (which I actually like, even if it is wasteful of space - maybe the Queen likes it too).

Maybe a smaller dining room and kitchen could share the same floor? I'm not sure how big the rooms should be. Maybe a 50ft square dining hall is fine.

Perhaps I should try a logical approach and figure out how many people live there before I start, but my mediaeval history/demographics is non-existent.

Jake Raven
08-28-2009, 06:00 PM
Stairs that raise! You get off your horse in the gatehouse, go up the stairs into the castle. After, the servents raise the stairs giving access to the workshop and stables.

Also, if the castle is attached, you can limit the access to the living quarters and force invaders to fight thru the workshop to the spiral stairs by raising the stairs.

Redrobes
08-30-2009, 08:45 PM
Been watching this thread and commenting more over in the sandman blog but ill mention shadows.

Yup they are a bit of a PITA. The main problem is that they involve knowing something about the 3D nature of the object for which we only have a 2D image. So we will always have to botch it up somehow.

The app can deal with shadow images but not generate its own shadows. You can set it so that the shadows are under the item or on top of the item. Most stamp based apps put a small dark halo about the item to make it look like it stands on top of what its placed on and it can do that no problem. If your looking for long shadows from tall items then you need to draw them up. The best example I can give is the challenge entry I did for the church in Fentor Cross.
http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=1998

I also did a main ViewingDale tut here...
http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=2182

...which had a movie showing shadows and how they interact with stamps.
http://www.viewing.ltd.uk/Temp/CG/VD_Demo2/Movie3.avi

But yeah I know that the app does not deal with shadows as well as a paint app or one where the 3D nature of objects is defined. I always recommend that you avoid strong shadows in stamp based app maps because they can be hard to deal with. If you rotate a stamp then the shadow needs to adjust and you don't have that 3D info to do it.

icosahedron
08-31-2009, 04:23 AM
Yeah, your 'small dark halos' or 'drop shadows' would probably be the way to go for me if I decided to do them at all, and as you say, they're not easy to do in stamp-based applications. - as I learned:



Unfortunately, my first attempt with shadows in Viewingdale was a failure: the dais in the throne room of my castle.
As I described in my blog somewhere, as you enlarge the steps, you also enlarge the shadow and this looks wrong because the shadow radius is proportional to the dais radius in a drawing, but proportional to the step height in reality. Consequently, the three concentric steps of the dais look like they're different heights as well as different radii.
(It's too small to see in the picture here, but there's a detail in my blog.)



Even a simple drop-shadow needs re-working for every permutation of the icon's use. I'd need 3 different circles with 3 different shadows in order to do the dais properly, depicting steps of equal height.

The dais example I mentioned in the quote is here:
http://www.viewing.ltd.uk/yabbfiles/Attachments/Throne_room_for_blog.jpg

Hence, as I also said:



You'd get the same problems with wall shadows. Almost every wall would need to have its own shadow icon generated, since they'd differ depending on the wall height.

It looks like a can of worms to me.

If I were creating a work of art - a map to be published or framed on a wall, I might go to the trouble of adding shadows (though even then, it might be easier to export the picture into Gimp and do all the shadows there), but for the purposes of creating my virtual world in Viewingdale, I can do without the hassle, so I don't think they'll be appearing on any of my WIP, though I might add them to an occasional 'Viewingdale-derived artwork' that I wanted to show off as a book illustration or something.