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Gamerprinter
08-30-2009, 06:15 PM
No map yet, just a placeholder, for now.

For a while, I've been wanting to develop the Sea Dragon Palace of Kaidan, as a place for the Sea Dragon god of the seas to inhabit, protected by Ryujin (sea animal shape-changers, dragon folk), same-bito (shark men), squadrons of sea turtles off the northwestern coast of Ryuki Island, on my Map of Kaidan (Ryuki is south of Yonshu Island, in the center lower left of map)...

Islands of Kaidan (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=4786&highlight=Kaidan)

In Japanese mythology, the Ryu (Sea Dragon god) dwells in a palace beneath the sea (location unknown), however sharks and sea turtles have significance in the legend.

Secondly, there's the existence of the Yonagumi Monument, a controversial set of rock formations 15' - 100' below sea level off the Coast of Yonagumi island, in the Ryukyu chain, south of Japan, that some claim to be "built by human hands", while others contend these are natural rock formations.

I'm going to borrow described structures of Yonagumi Monument and create a Sea Dragon Palace city, residence of the Sea Dragon god, royal family, royal guards, temple structure, near a reef, I see a possible submarine city location for Ryujin, same-bito, ningyo (Kaidanese merfolk) of several thousand.

I'm thinking some kind of cross between Japanese Castle town architecture and city plan, crossed with Yonagumi megalithic structures and use the reef/sea floor terrain to help define it.

Sounds to me like an interesting project, I will probably continue my hand-drawn digitally enhanced style to portray the Sea Dragon Palace & City.

Thoughts?

GP

Steel General
08-30-2009, 06:17 PM
Sounds pretty cool, look forward to seeing what you do for it.

Gamerprinter
09-01-2009, 02:07 AM
After some thought, I'm half convinced not to do this one hand drawn. Why? Two reasons. One, drawing all the detailed coral in the reef is going to be really tough, and in the end, the ink may distract from the intended beauty and semi-realism in my vision of the reef. Two, after playing with Xara, I've come up with some cool ways to create coral.

Below are several samples of coral I created using Xara.

Now the Brain Coral on the bottom right are 3D egg shaped objects I created in Izware Nendo, exported as 3DS objects, imported to Raydream. To the brain corals left is a texture I created in Xara referencing a photo of brain coral. Basically they are 8 point lines made into a web of odd shapes covering the square area for the texture. Then I grabbed all the lines, converted them from lines to shapes, then combined all shapes into a single object. Then I used a color picker and selected the ridges of the brain coral photo and applied them to the line-shapes. Then I applied a flat bevel, followed by a feathered drop shadow. Then I created a square to place beneath, used the color picker on the recessed areas of the brain coral photo and applied to it. Moved it behind, then exported as a JPG. Within my 3D app, I applied a spherical texture map, and used the JPG as the texture.

The purple stalk-like blobs are simply irregular round like shapes given the purple color, with a rounded bevel applied. A smaller irregular round shape is created then stacked with the previous. With 4 or 5 such stacked shapes, I selected all, grouped together then applied a drop shadow. Xara allows me to duplicate my grouped shape, rotate it and the shadows and bevel shadow remain on the same side, while the object faces elsewhere. Thus using the same stalk object, different highlights, rotations and sizes make them seem less like I copied it, although there's only 3 stalks created in the colony of them, with multiple duplicates of a couple of them.

The coolest discovery was that lichen like coral. I even created a mini-tutorial showing you what I did. Basically I created a squiggly 8 point line. Then using line shapes, I applied the pinched ends on the line. Then I converted line to shape, applied a tan-nish color, selected the chiseled bevel tool and applied the bevel. Then I cloned the shape, extended the bevel further outward and moved the cloned shape beneath the first. To each beveled shaped I applied its own drop shadow to simulate 3D. On the top left, I've created a group of six or so such lines, with all the steps above applied, then grouped and copied about six times, stacked, rotated giving the final result.

This experiment turned out so well, I think I'm going to do everything in Xara with 3D elements combined to create this undersea map, instead of going hand-drawn.

Thoughts?

GP

Jykke
09-01-2009, 02:28 AM
Looks pretty ok to me

Gamerprinter
09-01-2009, 03:55 AM
Here's a sample sea floor, using the coral objects I've created, plus some older 3D plants, with a sandy floor texture.

My plans are to create coral thickets, areas covered in sea grass, and seaweed groves, amid megalithic formations and the appropriate palace/fortress construction. In the deeper regions I will place a transparent blue layer to simulate the depths, which will get progressively darker, the lower the elevation, until everything is just a solid blue.

Coral needs more color though, more reds and oranges, some yellows, more coming soon!

The final map will be lots bigger of course and all this coral and seaweed much smaller, but the "city structures" must dominate.

Sea floor sample...

GP

Steel General
09-01-2009, 10:52 AM
Some nice looking stuff there GP.

Ascension
09-01-2009, 12:42 PM
Yeah, that's pretty funky and gives me some ideas. Neat stuff.

Gamerprinter
09-02-2009, 04:56 AM
More undersea stuff.

The Building Roof, and the already mentioned brain coral balls, as well as the reddish tree like coral and the weird objects in the top left are all 3D objects I modeled in Nendo, then textured and rendered in Raydream. Oh the rocks, the kelp in the lower center and the swirl of grass at the bottom are 3D objects too (ones I created a long time ago.)

The new anemone-like coral objects in the top center (red, blue, yellow and green patch) were created on an old program I had that I hadn't used much... Zbrush 1.13 - it was a really early version, but still could do cool stuff. Even that green scaly like thing.

Then everything else was created in PD Particles, a program I dabble with sometimes. Except for a few things like tree leaves, pine/spruce needle tree/bushes and sea plants, I don't think its realistic enough for my style. However, undersea animals like anemone, corals, sea slugs, worms, crinoidish creatures, PD Particles can make some alien looking stuff and seem very appropriate in this case.

I started the ground layout a couple times and scratched them all, they weren't "flowing" for me. I finally started to make one then Xara crashed. So I have to start again, but I'm starting to get some ideas. To save me from future hassles, that first lichen-like coral I converted to a transparent PNG file, rather than a set of stacked bevels that was causing the crash problem. Problem resolved I think.

Anyway next update.

GP

msa
09-02-2009, 02:22 PM
Those are some nice design elements for the map. I can't wait to see how they play out in execution. My one thought, with no idea what you are going to do, is that the vivid colors contrast in my mind with an underwater scene. Although its certainly accurate once you take the water out of the equation, the map might be more evocative to a surface-dweller if you washed over everything with a murky blue and dulled down some of the colors.

Gamerprinter
09-02-2009, 02:56 PM
@MSA - when I do underwater map design, especially in this more realistic style, between layers of higher and lower elevation ground, I place full page sheets of transparent blue with 50 - 80% transparency. As they stack the "color" objects located towards the bottom begin to gain bluish monochrome effect, expecially under several layers of transparent blue layers. They start to become more difficult to see, but that adds to the feeling of depth. Thus the objects located at higher elevations maintain their color more distinctly.

Its part of the plan, so I try to emulate the vibrancy of the colors as would be seen above water, then work the map to emulate depth, and so the bright colors work in my favor, and can be more easily seen way at the bottom.

Gamerprinter
09-02-2009, 03:04 PM
@MSA - when I do underwater map design, especially in this more realistic style, between layers of higher and lower elevation ground, I place full page sheets of transparent blue with 50 - 80% transparency. As they stack the "color" objects located towards the bottom begin to gain bluish monochrome effect, expecially under several layers of transparent blue layers. They start to become more difficult to see, but that adds to the feeling of depth. Thus the objects located at higher elevations maintain their color more distinctly.

Its part of the plan, so I try to emulate the vibrancy of the colors as would be seen above water, then work the map to emulate depth, and so the bright colors work in my favor, and can be more easily seen way at the bottom.

Currently I am 3D modeling rocky structures with ledges and caves pitted all over, to simulate "homes" for various undersea denizens of the Sea Dragon City in various districts. I'm thinking four distinct styles of habitations.

1. Cave and ledges cut from verticle formations - shark people maybe.

2. Organic tube like structures at the base of the verticle formations sticking out at 45% angles from verticle. The open holes are entrances to undersilt lairs for wormlike beings, or other not-yet-determined monster race.

3. Unmortared stone dome houses, like bronze age homes in parts of the world on Earth, for the merfolk (Ningyo) more like ape mermaids.

4. Either a submerged fortress/temple/city of human make, or an undersea creature made version that emulates Kaidan architecture for official buildings.

I'll use coral thickets, sea grass lawns, kelp groves, and implied road like areas cleared of bottom debris.

Anyway, lots to do, and I have to go back to work now...

GP

msa
09-02-2009, 04:53 PM
@MSA - when I do underwater map design, especially in this more realistic style, between layers of higher and lower elevation ground, I place full page sheets of transparent blue with 50 - 80% transparency. As they stack the "color" objects located towards the bottom begin to gain bluish monochrome effect, expecially under several layers of transparent blue layers. They start to become more difficult to see, but that adds to the feeling of depth. Thus the objects located at higher elevations maintain their color more distinctly.

OMG! I love it!

Also, I <3 Sahuagin.

The only other seapeople I ever consider are Kuo-toa because they remind me of lovecraftian deep ones.

Gamerprinter
09-03-2009, 03:16 AM
In this update, I've created 3D merfolk hovels in bronze age dome structure style, I also used a sand texture with bump, that I might use a texture elsewhere to fill between the merfolk homes. The larger one with the blue light inside, is the merfolk leader, temple or other major merfolk structure.

Same model I just rotated it for multiple versions for layout in a precinct of merfolk.

Enjoy!

GP

Coyotemax
09-03-2009, 03:20 AM
Those are nice! Can't wait to see everything laid out, this is gonna be good :)

Gamerprinter
09-03-2009, 11:00 PM
So I'm finally getting somewhere in the under sea city map and more ideas are being generated. Ryukyo literally means "sea dragon city".

I wanted to show MSA what I meant by with the transparent blue layers and depth effect, so the Merling hovels seem to prefer to be in the surroundings of flora, more so than corals. Notice the three depth levels (actually more if you count those on the ledges above the main area, and higher up on the canyon wall.

The Merling district exists from say 100 feet deep at the top portion, with the canyon 50 to 80 feet deeper than that. If you look in the murky depths beyond another scattering of merling huts and another large "blue lit" hut exists as well.

This really gives a sense of depth.

Next, I plan to bulid a rise of rock and great coral thicket in the upper left hand corner of the map. In the bottom left corner, I plan to place an ornate stone work cavern entrance to represent the actual Sea Dragon Palace. Working on it as we speak...

I may change the deep water, but this is it for now - more ideas perculating!

More coming soon!

GP

MysticMagellan
09-04-2009, 12:45 AM
This is pretty darn cool. I have a couple questions and one minor suggestion.

1. It appears like you put paths on the main layer weaving between the coral hovels. Would underwater creatures need or use them?
2. Are you scaling the three sections at different sizes to help give the perception of depth? Because the top sand layer on the left looks to be at a larger scale because of the plants and rocks.
3. Just a suggestion on the blue transparent layers lower down. I really like them, but I think the lowest one could be a little more transparent, and the one above a little less. And maybe a tiny touch of blue on the layer above that to separate it from the top.

Gamerprinter
09-04-2009, 04:18 AM
Thanks, MM, noticed that too did you, I've been thinking about lightening that lower layer just a tad, haven't done it yet, next update, maybe.

Would merlings need paths? Of course not, but lets say Ningyo, Kaidanese merfolk, whose males resemble monkeys on fish lower bodies, while the rare females look human and fish, like a European mermaid. What if at one time these merlings were surface dwelling humans, but cursed into their current state from the same incident the founded the cursed empire of Kaidan in the first place.

Since they were once humans, their living hovels, village layout and the paths are rememberances of times lost, but helps them psychologically deal with their curse.

Regarding the sand to the left, as you notice in this update, that was temporary, the present terrain and an entire city is going here.

I'll tweak the various blue transparent layers tomorrow.

Lots of assumptions, I know, but it makes a nice storyline. :P

For this update: I created the coral thicket hill, with the very top actually peaking above the water's surface, with a surface wave level haloing around the top rocks - all this in the top left of the map.

I wanted to do the Sea Dragon's Palace as an entrance to an underground lair so I modeled the gate in Nendo, rendered in Raydream, along with a rolling sands foreground. Then I imported to Xara, cut the image to fit the corner and placed it there, then proceeded to cut the hillside and place coral and flora to decorate it.

Next I plan to place a city with at least four more districts - different life forms. And a market area, a few prominent secondary structures. I'd like to create a towering structure rising out of the depths near the cliffside, we'll see. Moving right along.

GP

Jykke
09-04-2009, 04:25 AM
Nice work GP. But I coudn't help noticing that the lighting (shadows) is a bit inconsistent on some parts of the map. Not a major issue though..

Coyotemax
09-04-2009, 04:27 AM
That is bloody gogeous so far. I might have one comment, but I suspect you'll be addressing it soon enough so I'll hold my tongue:)

Impressive!

msa
09-04-2009, 09:13 AM
I wanted to show MSA what I meant by with the transparent blue layers and depth effect, so the Merling hovels seem to prefer to be in the surroundings of flora, more so than corals. Notice the three depth levels (actually more if you count those on the ledges above the main area, and higher up on the canyon wall.

I imagined it would look pretty damned awesome. As usual, you delivered!

Gamerprinter
09-04-2009, 01:19 PM
@ Jykke - yeah, some of the objects were created in 3D and I didn't have a consistent angle on all the 3D objects, I tried to get them the same, but there are slight differences. Whereas all the other objects have hand-pulled drop shadows instead, so I didn't quite match all the shadow angles. I might fix that.

@ Coyotemax - don't leave me in suspense, if you have a critique, please tell, unlike popular belief, I am not "all knowing!"

@ MSA - I am to please!

GP

Coyotemax
09-04-2009, 01:41 PM
Ok, fair!

Looking at the areas that are poking out of the water, i think they
would look really nice with waves lapping up against the shore.

That's all :)

Gamerprinter
09-04-2009, 02:28 PM
Ok, fair!

Looking at the areas that are poking out of the water, i think they
would look really nice with waves lapping up against the shore.

That's all :)

Yeah, the thought occurred to me too. I was thinking of creating a 3D fringe of surf, maybe use the turbulent sea foam image I have as a texture, then make it transparent at the center and invisible at the edges. Doing it so the coral near the surface isn't covered up is my primary issue in doing that, but I may just do something like that. Good suggestion!

GP

PS: I already adjusted the transparent "layers to blue up" the canyon layer and lighten up the one beneath that. I'll post an update this evening.

Gamerprinter
09-05-2009, 03:29 AM
OK, moving right along, I'd say, I'm about four fifths done with this map. I need to fill in the bottom center area on the main city level, also want to create some large structures going from the bottom cliff shelf up to main city level, and fill in the rest of the bottom level.

Pretty much all the buildings were done in 3D as well, for one I wanted varying shadows and tall/long shadows on that spiral set of buildings. Thought using a spiral seemed rather "undersea" in thinking.

For Coyotemax, I placed some ripple waves on the part sticking above the water in top left corner, for scale, I even placed a large sailing ship (though perhaps its too close to the shore.) also notice its drop shadow on the coral far beneath the ship (40' down?)

Almost done, I'm very happy with the way its turning out. Oh and lightening the transparent layers really helped it visually.

GP

PS: now that I look at it, the rock formation on the bottom right of the map looks like a Grouper's (ocean fish) head with the crevasse being its mouth and the large stone structure with the blue light looks like its eye. Though that wasn't intentional it seems appropriate as well, so I'm not changing that! :P

Gandwarf
09-05-2009, 06:19 AM
The ship's too much I think. Or it's too close to shore, like you already said. Otherwise, very nice.

Coyotemax
09-05-2009, 06:21 AM
wow, that just keeps looking better and better!

You're right about the grouper shaped layout, I had thought that to be intentional :)
Maybe it was just a subconscious thing while you were creating? :)

the ship is a neat addition, right now it does look like it's overlapping the shore - but that's ok, maybe it's grounded :) It actually does help in that it gives a good reference point for scale. That having been said, the urns underwater seem rather gargantuan, or are those some odd shaped coral formations?

Gamerprinter
09-05-2009, 11:24 AM
There supposed to be a crinoid shell for some kind of sea worm race - yeah, I know they look like urns or bottles or something.

GP

Gamerprinter
09-06-2009, 08:18 AM
Finally finished this map!

GP

Steel General
09-06-2009, 09:23 AM
Very nice GP! I especially like the gateway/tunnel thingie.

One little thing that seemed 'off', near the ship there is a vertical line (I'm assuming it's some kind of depth change indicator), it just looks weird because it is so strait. Not a big deal really, just thought I'd point it out.

Go0gleplex
09-06-2009, 02:22 PM
looks awesome.

Gamerprinter
09-06-2009, 02:44 PM
Very nice GP! I especially like the gateway/tunnel thingie.

One little thing that seemed 'off', near the ship there is a vertical line (I'm assuming it's some kind of depth change indicator), it just looks weird because it is so strait. Not a big deal really, just thought I'd point it out.

No I created a small piece that covers just beneath the islets and above the coral, but the image ends just past the shape and you see the verticle edge of the photo of the water's surface. Looks like I'll have to extend the image and fade to transparency before the end is seen.

There is no verticle depth indicator - so I need to fix that.

5:00 am when I finished this, I didn't notice that.

GP

Gidde
09-06-2009, 02:44 PM
This looks fantastic! Everything is really well done, but oddly enough my favorite part is the compass rose. It's the little details that really make the map.