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Bald Man
09-04-2009, 12:09 AM
I recently joined up at the recommendation of a friend in my regular D&D group, and I am having a run at my fist regional map. This is my first map since drawing old school dungeons on graph paper back in middle school, and also my first delve into the GIMP. I have no immediate plans for the finished map at the moment; this is just an exercise in creativity and education. Suggestions are certainly appreciated.

I am walking through RobA's techniques, specifically his Artistic Regional Map Tutorial (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=1142) for the map elements and his Old Paper Tutorial (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=533) for the parchment. I started with an outline drawing of Europe and inverted the land and sea regions. After fiddling a bit with the continental borders (Italy was too recognizable, and the Irish are already so blessed it seemed unfair to include them here.) I colored the ocean and the land, and added a few major cities/fortresses and trade routes. For fun, I threw it onto the stained parchment to see how it would look.

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I envision this as an incomplete map; large areas unexplored or mapped via legend and rumor. I think my next step is to lay in some major geography: a dessert extending off to the SW; high mountains filling the NW region; somewhere where thar be dragons. After that, labels. Hopefully by then I'll have some sense of where "home" is on the map, and I can zoom in on the next level of detail.

Jykke
09-04-2009, 01:07 AM
Nice looking shapes you have there :). Only issue I see so far is the ocean. The border effect somehow rises it above the landmass. Maybe tweaking the effect will help, but applying a woodcut effect on the water might also resolve the minor issue. Good work and have some rep for posting your first map! Oh, and a higher resolution picture would also be nice :)

Diamond
09-04-2009, 02:16 AM
Nice antique-y feel; I like it. Good colors, kind of gives it a washed-out look.

Alfar
09-04-2009, 03:31 AM
Pretty nice! All that water does make the map seem a bit empty, though, so maybe add a bunch of islands? If no, maybe put some graphic in there?

I think the way the map is laid out, it'd serve best as a nautical map, showing the shipping routes and safe ways to cross the sea, such things. It could be an explorer having sailed along the coast and mapping what he can see from there, I guess?

Pank.HQ
09-04-2009, 11:14 AM
Having a lot of water is an excellent opportunity to throw in a legend/key. It's looking good, but I'd like to see it a bit bigger. You might find there's not much room for labelling on such a small map.

Diamond
09-04-2009, 11:38 AM
You might find there's not much room for labelling on such a small map.

That's a good point; you don't want all the text looking too cramped.

Bald Man
09-04-2009, 01:40 PM
@Jykke - When I was laying in the initial colors, I must have reversed my land and water. I see what you're referring to about the water "popping up." I'll think on that.

@Diamond - Thanks. I'm going for that "well-travelled, well-worn" look.

@Alfar - Good idea about the nautical map. I decided to start the map as a world/campaign building exercise, and the map features are starting to fill in some details on their own. Something - legend, compass rose, warning about dragons - will definitely fill the watery expanse.

@Pank.HQ - Hadn't given any thought to the actual size of the map in pixels, though I did notice that when I layered the map onto the parchment, I lost some of the map. (The two images must have had different dimensions?

I have been picturing the area as largely unexplored and thus lacking many labels, just a few coastal cities and the best known inland fortresses. On the other hand, the idea of an explorer's map lends itself to hand-written notes... which will need even more space. I'll have to see what I can do to make it bigger. If all else fails, I may start over; it's just more practice.

Thanks to all for the feedback.

Bald Man
09-06-2009, 11:46 PM
Apparently when I was layering the jpg of my map into the parchment for posting, I got my file names mixed up and managed to save over my original map file. FAIL!

So I started over. Same concept, only a larger file, showing the full region. The process of applying the parchment effect last time also cropped the map significantly; I'm leaving the parchment on the shelf until I get everything else done.

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Added:
Seaways

To fix:
SE-most city is not connected by sea to anyone else. They should be part of the neighboring alliance.
The outer border needs to be complete or completely eliminated. A couple of the the roads and seaways could be cleaned up in places... unless I decide to leave them looking a little choppy and hand-drawn
Perhaps some sort of solid background to the cites and fortresses, so they stand out a little. The roads travel through them at the moment, and they are a little too obscured.

To-do:
Labeling - A few place-names and explorer's notes.
Geographic features - Still trying to decide how I want to depict things like the mountains, the desert, and the swamp. I want it simple, like it was hand-written while on the go. Can't decide if I'll use some sort of icon or just labels.

The story is starting to come together for me, too. I LOVE how the map is a part of this. I have one or two ideas, so I shape the map appropriately. They the map presents one or two questions, so I shape the story. For example:

There is a small mountain kingdom in the NW, but why aren't there any trade routes to it? Someone unfriendly must control that region.
Why aren't there any settlements in the southern bay? Swampland is my answer, which means there must be prevailing easterlies to bring moisture and a mountain range further west that produces the SW desert I have already decided on.

Other questions remain:

There are two sites of interest, one in the central lake and one on the northern peninsula. What are they?
There seem to be four factions in the region: the NW mountains, the NE traders, the SE traders, and the western cities. What kind of states are these and what are their inter-relations?

Ascension
09-07-2009, 12:27 AM
You're not the only one to do that...overwrite the original. I do it at least once a month and still haven't learned.

Bald Man
09-07-2009, 12:29 AM
Fortunately there is no deadline. :P

Bald Man
09-08-2009, 11:15 PM
Latest WIP. The best part for me is two of my kids (5 & 8 ) have started doodling maps. I may have to scan my five-year old's in and post it if I can. Also, I figured out that I'm going to use this map as part of some D&D I started with them. A few weeks ago we played (mostly as an excuse for them to roll dice and move miniatures on a map): They had to venture into a cave and recover a key from around the neck of a kobold wizard. They brought the key back to the town's mayor who opened an ancient box. And in the box was... up until now nothing, but now I think there will be a map! :idea:

16697

Added:
Swampland and mountains. I originally made my own "cattail" brush for the swamp, but found another that looked good while googling for a mountain brush. I have Wag's brush set (available here at CG), but I couldn't thin them out enough to feel right.

To fix:
SE-most city is not connected the surrounding alliance of city-states.
The outer border needs to be eliminated. The map will just fade near the edge of the parchment page.
Perhaps some sort of solid background to the cites and fortresses, so they stand out a little. The roads travel through them at the moment, and I think they are a little too obscured.

To-do:
Place names & Explorer's notes - This means I have to settle on a homeland for the map's author.

Story Questions:
Who is the explorer who made the map, and is he or she of the same homeland as the adventurers who will find the map?
There seem to be four factions in the region: the NW mountains, the NE traders, the SE traders, and the western cities. What kind of states are these and what are their inter-relations?
What are the two legendary sites, and what adventures might they hold?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Steel General
09-09-2009, 08:34 AM
Great that your kids are getting into maps (even if its just doodling), maybe you should try and do a map with them - let them decide what goes where, etc.

Bald Man
09-09-2009, 08:51 AM
Do the river police offer leniency to minors? :P

Steel General
09-09-2009, 10:55 AM
Maybe... :D

Ascension
09-09-2009, 03:24 PM
I offer lots of leniency. My youngest niece draws morbid stuff like flaming feet falling from the sky and bonking people on the head while the other draws princesses and puppies. I just encourage them to draw whatever they think might be fun :)

Steel General
09-09-2009, 06:46 PM
Sounds like the one has been watching to much Monty Python or something :)

Bald Man
09-10-2009, 10:29 AM
Sounds like the one has been watching to much Monty Python or something :)

No such thing!