View Full Version : First map! The Country of Maze

08-22-2009, 02:55 PM
So, time for showing some work, shall we? This is the map I could make by using two great tutorials: the one present in Jeremy Elford's portfolio and the ones given by Ascencion.


The original file is bigger: 3000x3000, 300dpi. This is the country of Maze, a medieval stage which originaly is supposed to be a Spain-oriented land. The map presents the version I am working on so far, making this country more diverse. The country remains mainly a spanish medieval country, but now is divided into 5 provinces: Madrid, a purely Spain; Andalucia, which reflects more the spanish colonies (Mexico, many on South America, etc...) Madeira, more oriented to Look like Portugal & colonies; Roma, an italian (and of course roman) province and Atenas, the Greece contribution. The cities names (yet to be positioned), cultural aspects and other minor details will reflect each influence. But the spanish is still the most dominant culture, because it is the most frequent everywhere, forming a squeleton which binds everything together (and prevents the country from tearing into 5 nations). The colorless landmass at northwest is Kahun, a different country which shares borders (and a lot of mutual resentment) with Maze.

The map itself was made using Photoshop CS4. There are no cities because my Inkscape just decided to go nuts and don't cooperate. I am not satisfied with the current result and will warmly welcome any suggestions and criticisms.

UPDATE: Maze 1.1


This is the first update to the map of Maze. First off, I took care of announcing the archipelago of Ve. These islands actualy are part of the original land, and I worked on them right from the beggining, but as an epic example of "d*mn I'm tired"-ness, I ended up uploading a version of the map without them. Don't ask me how I did it. This island, for the sake of curiousity, acutaly is not a province as the others are. Instead, the area is pretty much a headquarters of the country's most proeminent religion. Sort of a Vatican-like municipality.

Following, some minor alterations to the texture. I was kinda annoyed that a map whose border had gemstones was made in such a crappy paper. The texture is the same, but smoothier (and also makes easier to notice the "fiberish" texture. The new compass is one of the C.M. Perry's pack. The "ocean lines" also were remade. I even tried to make them look a bit less precise, by adding a very brief ripple filter. The last minor alteration is that the provinces' colors faded a little bit. I am having some serious issues about leaving them colored, but I can't see a better alternative for differencing them.

Now, the mountain ranges. Thank you guys! The tip was worth my weight in gold. I used Saadek's pack, which looked good enough. D*mn, I realy want to use that fantastic tutorial ironmetal250 gave, but I lack a good scanner (and patience) at the present moment. Maybe in the future, in another map.

So... suggestions, criticizes. Anything, please. I'd like specialy to have some River Police evaluation. The "minor sea veins" re not much of concern (my commmunity likes to leave the least important concerns vague, giving players more freedom to set their scenarios). The big deal are the "reference points", the Rivers Azul and Verde. Here, a brief description of each:

The river Azul (Blue) is born at the "Presas Blancas", or "White Fangs", as you may preffer (worthless note#1: trying to find it an alternative, greek term, as the range is Atenas' territory). basicaly it's a long, broad snake which cuts the ocean 'till reach Lake Esperanza. It is suitable for navigation in most sections (although in others the current and bottom makes it too difficult).

The River Verde (green, because its color is more teal), despite what it looks, actualy is born at some no-name mountain at north (and not at the Gigantes Vacios, the Hollow Giants). The river , when reaching the range, does not go uphill. Instead, the highly porous terrain makes the waters to sink. Them, the river goes underground (the range has many, many caves. Hence the name). Eventualy, the water returns to surface through the many springs at south. From there, the waters goes to Esperanza. Also enables navigation.

The Largest lake in the country, Esperanza actualy is a huge crater flooded. At south, it leaks, forming the River Esperanza, which meets the sea.

UPDATE: Maze 1.2


What changed: With a very few exceptions, I had to start all over again. Blame the messed up rivers I made. Due to situations beyond my control, currently I am being forced to use this old trackball mouse I (luckly) had here. So, tapering rivers was what hystory experts categorize as "Spanish Inquisition torture".


Making rivers took a significant amount of time and failures. But after reading a great tutorial for tapering rivers with Inkscape, I think I finaly made it. I love this site. If it was a girl, I would marry it. Ladies and gentleman, let's give Hai-Etlik a big hand, and some rep as well. I just had to follow his tutorial and roughen the lines a little bit, as I don't like much perfectly drawn river borders. But that's just me.

I don't know if the rivers are alright this time, but they were much easier to do. I tried to follow the suggestions given carefully. You can see that the tributaries now are as much as pointed, giving the rivers a bit more zig-zag (but not too much). For the lines, I did the Smooth selection trick, but added a weak Liquify for messing them up. For the country's divisions, I tried copying the continent shape and them go Jack on them. This way I can keep shapes for any future projects concerning this map.

Othen than that, I just tried to give the paper texture a little less "clouds" and a touch of "Fibers". The province of Andalucia was renamed to Durango for Role-playing purposes (now it will reflect Spain's colonies, while the center is more a pure Spain), blah, blah blah blah blah, and the like. As usual, suggestions and criticizes are warmly welcomed.

Random humor: I planned to post that pic while going crazy about the rivers.

UPDATE: Maze 1.3


This one is a small one. Only tilted the colors very briefly and reworked on the frame. I think the gems are better now.

Steel General
08-22-2009, 03:16 PM
Looks pretty good so far, though I don't think the mountain and forest symbols you've chosen "mesh" well with the map style.

08-22-2009, 03:39 PM
I'm with Steel on the mountains but damn dude, that's pretty nice.

08-22-2009, 10:37 PM
I am terribly stuck and can't find any solutions. Can anyone give me a tip about which style suits better?

08-23-2009, 12:57 AM
Well, the thing is that they all look the same...some bigger some smaller but all carbon copies (or very close to being that way). Try varying what they look like, give them some different shapes for the peaks and ridges. Also, add some rounded foothills. Lastly, and this is my opinion that no one ever listens to, you might want to make them the same brown as on the coastline since you are using that as an outline (ie hand drawn with pen and ink) color. Take a look in the Mapping Elements section for a thread by Wag on mountains.

08-25-2009, 10:18 PM
Map updated. Please see first topic.

Steel General
08-26-2009, 06:18 AM
I like the update, though your labels on the mountains could use some kind of glow or stroke - they get kinda lost in the symbols.

08-26-2009, 01:25 PM
The map looks great so far. The color palette is fantastic!

The land lines around the continent are a little "generated" looking to which I sympathize. It appears you used the "expand selection" technique from Ascension (which is a fantastic look) but has some difficulty in making it look natural. I've had some luck with the "liquefy" filter and messing with the area to take away any straight lines and add a more natural look. I would suggest giving it a shot.

I also see you're giving my mountains a trial run. One thing to keep in mind is that you can erase parts of the mountains after you've placed them. For instance where your rivers start you could use a soft eraser to remove any overlapping mountains. This also works where you have the mountains placed very near each other just to clean up any overlap.

I would maybe try firmer borders between colors as well. Slimming them down to give them slightly more definition on the border itself and possibly feathering out the shadows of the borders a bit more.

I know it might be a lot of work, but I think a little more taper to the rivers from start to finish (just the big ones) might lend itself well. Also more defined river beginnings might aid in a more natural look. The current fade out works ok, but doesn’t look very natural by comparison with the rest of the map.

It's a fantastic start thought, keep up the good work!

08-26-2009, 03:57 PM
Something that I've been messing around with on those ocean lines is when you make a selection, on the selection window there is a function called Smooth...this reduces the jaggies and rounds things off. Then you can expand the selection, turn it into a path, and then stroke it and not get the straight lines.

08-27-2009, 09:05 PM
Somebody help me __ __". I am trying the suggestions given. Wag, I hate you. I know the rivers are pretty suckish but I everytime I sit down for starting them (even the border ones, even if you didn't said so) I get one of those lightning bolts. Result: more zsnes procastination. I swear that if I keep like this Crono will reach lv. 99 before saturday.

Anyone, I beg with all my essence: a good river tutorial/trick for photoshop which may help me without trashing the map and starting all over again. Or, if you don't, at least some words of motivation.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v299/GrizzlyVR/hack.jpg (http://www.lackadaisycats.com/)

Oh, my God. I'm becoming Tracy Butler.

PS: About the others' suggestions, I will try them as soon as I solve this dilema.

08-27-2009, 11:33 PM
I know it might sound silly, but in my experience with rivers, getting out the ole pencil brush in PhotoShop and reducing the size to a single pixel can yield a good start to a river. I usually magnify the image to about 300% at that point and then just start to draw something of a random line. You can widen it manually as you go if you so desire.

I'm not going to pretend that the rivers are any good, because mine could sure use some work. If I find a more effective method I'll let you know. Maybe Ascension has some better methods. I always struggled with rivers, so you are certainly not alone.

BTW - I love you too ;-)

08-28-2009, 12:24 AM
I don't have much to offer in the way of science, just my own way of doing it. I start with a general layout with a fat 19 pixel tip and then I just find a deep bay and start a river there. I keep to the the valleys and plains and rough in the main channel and major branches in straight lines. Lower the opacity, make a new layer, zoom in (so that I can see the lay of the land) and grab a 5 pixel tip and then I go back over the layout for a ways (starting at the coast) then switch to a 3 pixel tip and make some branches. I do the smaller rivers in a 1 pixel tip and put a lot of those in. What I end up with looks similar to a tree or lightning bolts, but a lil smoother on the squiggles and less jagged. Finally, I use the smudge tool on the ends to fade them off into the distance.

Every river that I draw gets at least 2 branches or else I'm not drawing it...it will just be one single squiggly line and that looks odd to me. For every major river (5 pixel) I put in at least 4 minor rivers (3 pixel) and 8 small rivers (1 pixel) that connect to the coast...that way they aren't all the same size at the delta. I also make sure that the rivers have a varying width, skinny parts and fat parts...looks a lil more realistic to me and a tablet is a big help there. I'm not afraid to have straight areas so long as I have enough loopy parts (big wide bends) to counter-balance them.

If I feel that there are too many then I go back and start erasing but I tend to not erase enough and always have lots of rivers. My river systems aren't technically correct...just what I think the water will do. For me it's about getting the aesthetics right and not worrying too much about the science.

08-28-2009, 11:56 AM
I think what bugs you with the rivers (lightening look) is caused by their overall and regular shape.

Most of the tributaries are short and straight.

Most of the tributaries are at a fork, where the tributary is in line with the downstream river, and the upstream makes a bend. This gives the river a zig-zag look. I have emphasized this in the drawing with red.

The blue river is what I would suggest, with a less zig-zag look. Note the tributaries are longer, and not straight, and where they join, the main channel is obvious, and the tributary connects.

I plugged in my tablet after Istarted so the pressure sensitivity was whacked up, so no tapers for you. I would suggest that the tributary should be narrower where it meets the main river than the main river is at that point.

Plus the usual, flat areas have slower, curvier rivers, and steep areas have straighter, faster flowing water.

PS. forget the question about River Verde, I hadn't read all the ext at that point... ;)

-Rob A>

09-04-2009, 09:14 PM
UPDATE. Check First topic.

I know, I know. Sorry for taking so long, but the update worths the spent effort. At least I hope so.

Steel General
09-04-2009, 09:17 PM
By jove I think he's got it! :)

09-04-2009, 09:30 PM
Wow, that fast?

But so... you think it now is worth of a Cartographers'-Guild-Thumbs-Up-Seal?

09-04-2009, 10:57 PM
But so... you think it now is worth of a Cartographers'-Guild-Thumbs-Up-Seal?

I can't speak for the Guild as a whole, but I can give you this:

09-07-2009, 02:58 AM
Hey, thanks. Only four more and I will stamp this map as Complete.

Anyway, there's a new (final?) update. check first topic.