View Full Version : Hand drawn style?

08-20-2009, 09:44 AM
I'm shooting for a hand drawn style here using Wag's lovely mountain symbols...does it work? (Still playing with the style) C&Cs welcomed. The full size of the map is huge, about 6 or 7 times what is shown but I've just cropped the area I'm working on at the moment.

Should I reverse the glow? Does the sea look like it should be land and vice-versa?



08-20-2009, 09:59 AM
I recall on the first map I posted, I had about 12 comments in a row commenting about the shading being on the landward side, so expect a few comments, I suspect :)

That having been said, it does look like it's coming along nicely, and I think the mountain symbols work well. I like the forests, and the font is particularly luvverly :)

08-20-2009, 09:59 AM
I think you should add something to the water to indicate it's water, maybe waves or something like that.. because the land-water effect can pretty much go either way at the moment, gradient inversed or not. What I noticed about the coastlines.. that the roughness difference is huge compared to the symbols used here. It might be a closeup from the original map, but this might be something to work on at some point of the map creation process. Other than that I think it's coming together very nicely. :)

08-20-2009, 10:19 AM
Thanks guys, it might be time for the old woodcut sea effect.

The background has been done in raster and imported into Vector for the mountains, labelling - pretty much everything else. I think I'm going to have to increase the resolution of the raster image to get rid of that horrible jaggy coastline effect.

Thanks chaps!

Steel General
08-20-2009, 10:24 AM
You could always post up versions done both ways and let people vote/comment on which they think is better.

08-20-2009, 10:31 AM
Yes, you definitely need to address the resolution.

To me, it looks a bit as though the land is "bubbled" up above the water. Like there's a very steep but rounded slope going down to the water all the way around. It looks more like a bevel than an edge gradient, really. It's hard to say what you need to do with it, or even if it's really a problem, without seeing the smoothed version.

Suffice to say, I read the land as land in this map. So far, at least.

08-20-2009, 10:45 AM
My thoughts are already covered above. Good start, though.

08-20-2009, 11:59 AM
Think I've solved the resolution problem...sort of kind of. Is the style working? Does it look coherent?

That bubbly problem with the land was an inner glow which I've now made much more blurry which I think has got rid of it. I think I'm now happy that the sea looks like the sea although I may test with a wood cut sea thingy later.

As you can see the full size image is a bit big, but I'm having fun with the symbols (my crappy drawing skills permitting).

08-20-2009, 12:18 PM
In my eyes it still looks a bit like the land and sea have switched places. I think its due to the colors used. You have done so many great maps that I’m sure you’ll make it right.
I like the mountains and that there are enough variations to break possible repetitiveness (is that a word?). I’m also glad that your trees are small enough as it makes the mountains look more…well…like mountains.
Great start and by looking on the size of it you don't have to worry about what to do on you free time :)

08-20-2009, 12:19 PM
The overall style looks quite nice actually.

What if you resolved the roughness issue by resizing the land layer to 2x it's current size, add gaussian blur with 7-8px blur (if it's on transparent layer, merge it with a complete white layer), adjust exposure to around +(2-3), offset (same place as exposure) to around -0.5, adjust the rest blurryness to reasonable level with curves (output 0, input 200), select color range (land layer color) and adjust fuzziness so that all land gets selected, inverse and delete the white part out. Resize back to normal.. and you should have a sharp coastline. Downside is that you might lose some minor detail with the technique. OR, you could just leave it as it is :)

08-20-2009, 12:21 PM
I'll admit that the first time that I looked at it I didn't even see the mountains because my eyes were looking at the lightest part as being sea, not land. Once you add the woodcut, that will go away.

08-20-2009, 12:49 PM
Thanks for all the advice guys (Pasis - you have more faith in me than I have). Believe me, once the baby arrive all my free time will vanish (i'm on a semi-break right now) so I'm making the most of it while I can.

Jykke thanks for the tip, but I'm not using photoshop but Drawplus X3 - it's not bad, but it doesn't quite have all the little bits and peices that PS has (including exposure correction) and has a tendency to crash if the filesize gets too big. I've put in some sea lines...any better?

All the best

08-20-2009, 12:57 PM
ah, I just assumed so as you have Photoshop CS2 listed on your software :) And it's looking better now I have to say. I can imagine that the full size map will be just awesome!

08-20-2009, 01:07 PM
Ah I need to change that. I'm waiting for CS4 but until it arrives I'm stuck with Photoplus...which is a pretty good package for the price!

Greason Wolfe
08-20-2009, 02:10 PM
Looks to me like you're on the right track for what you want to accomplish. No real concerns, but there is a curiosity.

Assuming you're going for the parchment look and all, I like the subtle shadows going on in the background. I'm also seeing horizontal lines (again, shadowed) that are occurring with a pretty regular frequency. An intended effect or an artifact of some sort?


08-20-2009, 02:16 PM
Thanks GW, it's intended, meant to be the grain of the paper...perhaps its too obvious.

Greason Wolfe
08-20-2009, 02:19 PM
Thanks GW, it's intended, meant to be the grain of the paper...perhaps its too obvious.

Naw, don't think it is too obvious, at least not for most, I sort of fixate on things like that from time to time. :lol:


08-20-2009, 02:32 PM
LOL well it's less obvious when you look at the map full size (you're looking at a crop of a small part of it).

08-20-2009, 03:30 PM
Just going generally mad now...a break called for I think.

08-20-2009, 03:48 PM
Ok I'm starting to see where you are aiming at...Looking good

08-20-2009, 03:55 PM
It's slowly gelling. What I think I'm after is a map which a DM can hand his players and which they can pore over. I'm begining to think that for RPG purposes it's almost the lack of information and tantalising clues which make a map more exciting and says something of the information the mapmaker had to work with. This map looks (to me) like it's been drawn by someone from say, Jartor or Baladum whose knowledge runs out over distance.

Anyway I think that's where I'm going.

08-20-2009, 04:00 PM
Lookin pretty cool so far big R.

08-20-2009, 04:21 PM
Thanks big A!

I've never done a symbol driven map before (at least for many years when I was using CC2) so this is a new experience for me. I think it's much more fun than those sattellite maps from an RPG point of view it allows a more individual hand, but I'm new to this and need to think about it more.

08-22-2009, 02:39 PM
Love the style you are mapping with. Where did you get the brushes and symbols... or did you create it on your own? You using Photoshop?

08-22-2009, 04:10 PM
Hi CartoGeo and thanks...The Mountain Symbols came from Wag, who kindly posted them up in the Mapping Elements forum. The pictorial symbols are from fonts. The anchor symbols are Ascensions and the City symbols are also posted in the Mapping Elements forum (although I think I might start making my own for this map).

I'm using Serif Drawplus (a vector with raster bits bolted on) and Serif Photoplus (poor man's photoshop) to make these.

I wasn't really happy with the mountains though and I've started them from scratch...would appreciate thoughts on whether they look better shaded (south) or unshaded (north).

I'm still learning how to draw the mountains properly but I think with a bit of practice one can have much more control using this style of mountain.

08-22-2009, 04:38 PM
I wasn't really happy with the mountains though and I've started them from scratch...would appreciate thoughts on whether they look better shaded (south) or unshaded (north).

I like the South Mountains (shaded) better then the Northern version.

08-22-2009, 06:30 PM
I'm a little late in the game on this one, but in the earlier images, the only thing indicating where the land was to me was the mountain placement; otherwise I would have swapped them.

After you added the woodcut, that completely reversed, though, so now I see the seas as seas, despite the gradient still being in the same place. Very interesting..

I think I also prefer the shaded mountains in the South.

The symbols in the latest map are pretty amazing, as well. Are these ones you made, yourself? I especially like the texture-symbol used for the marshes; very nice.


08-22-2009, 08:25 PM
Thanks Alta, most of the symbols are taken from fonts or stuff posted on the guild in the elements forum.

latest here...it's begining to settle into place now. This map is pretty much an experiment to nail the style and technique, and then I'm off to draw some maps of Hyperborea as I'm re-reading the Conan books at the mo.

08-23-2009, 05:48 PM
Thanks Alta, most of the symbols are taken from fonts or stuff posted on the guild in the elements forum.

latest here...it's begining to settle into place now. This map is pretty much an experiment to nail the style and technique, and then I'm off to draw some maps of Hyperborea as I'm re-reading the Conan books at the mo.


Would you consider making a tutorial on what you used in Photoshop to make the map. I am new at mapmaking in Photoshop... and new to making maps since I was a little kid, although I have a drawing and design background professionally.

Just do a step-by-step in a post if you would, unless you want to make something more involved :) , but anything you can post is appreciated. Also, please include how you made the woodcut effect in the seas/background. How did you structure your layers?

Thanks for the info ahead of time :)

08-23-2009, 06:43 PM
There's not much to it, although most of this is done in Vector (an illustrator clone)...the woodcut effect was done using Alienskin filters which don't come with photoshop, but check out the India Ink filter by Flaming Pear which has a free try before you buy download - that will give you a woodcut effect. Also check out this link (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=547&highlight=Woodcut+tutorial)for a step by step woodcut tutorial in photoshop.

All the best


08-25-2009, 07:07 PM
Just saw the progress on this map myself. I'm very happy to have been a (small) part of the creative process! The new mountains look fantastic and I agree that the shaded ones are the better of the styles.

I'll be the first to admit that my brushes aren't perfect, but hopefully they served their purpose. You may have better luck using them if you made them smaller. The original brushes were done quite large and don't take on a very hand-drawn appearance until they are relatively small. It helps with all the smooth edges.

I didn’t have any difficulty distinguishing water from land in the first images and can't imagine anyone would have trouble with it now. I was also concerned with the resolution and pixilation of the borders but once I saw that it was simply part of a larger map those fears melted somewhat.

I would just keep plugging away. You seem to be finding what works slowly but surely. I've been down (still down?) that road.

I'd give more specific advice, but I'm really only familiar with photoshop. Good luck!


08-26-2009, 12:05 PM
I think it looks pretty gosh-darn good, myself. That's the style that I'm usually most comfortable with - lots of icons, 'artsy' mountains, etc, so you've got one big fan here. :D

08-27-2009, 05:53 AM
Thanks guys. Wag, I think your mountain brushes rock but I was struggling to find a style of mountain that fitted with the map I was drawing and I think for this map, this style works quite well and (with a bit more practice) putting them down shouldn't take too long at all.

I'm begining to find that making convincing and pleasing hand drawn symbol type mountains depends on three things: Scale, placement and character.

If the scale is tiny (i.e. the area of the landmass is huge) then symbols should be small to reflect this (mutatis mutandis if the scale is larger.)

In terms of placement, I think that a range should be no more than 2 or 3 symbols wide. Any more than that and the effect starts looking a bit dodgy (see the mountains on the top left of the map for an example) - narrower ranges seems to be more pleasing than wide ones. On small scale maps (tiny symbols) maybe no more than 1 or at the most 2 wide.

Character is the hardest thing for me to nail down. That means making the mountains look similar but different and introducing features like cliffs, cyms, gradations to hills etc.

I might put this all down in a tutorial, but I fear that it might just be a case of stating the obvious.

I've now got a commission to test this style but I'm not sure how easily it will port as the size of the landmass is huge (about 5 times the size of North America).