View Full Version : Westcrown - After-the-Fact WIP

09-05-2009, 11:17 AM
Here's a retrospective WIP of a map of the region of the country Cheliax surrounding the City of Westcrown that I did for Paizo's Pathfinder Companion: Cheliax, Empire of Devils.

This commission arose as a direct result of the proposed map of a fire shrine that I submitted to Paizo to illustrate my manuscript for my adventure "Beyond the Chain of Fire" in Pathfinder #23. I posted that map in the thread Azer Spire Shrine and Magma Chamber (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=6968) in the Finished Maps gallery. Wes Schneider, Managing Editor and friendly dude, liked the shrine/magma chamber map and, a couple days later, emailed to see if I could do a half-page regional map for Cheliax, Empire of Devils on a rush basis.

The moral, I guess, is that we need to get our work in front of publishers any way we can, be professional and friendly, and then always, always be available and eager when they call.

Wes emailed me a draft of the manuscript describing the local area and directed me to the Cheliax map on page 69 of Pathfinder Chronicles: Campaign Setting. The region of the Campaign Setting map that Wes wanted me to enlarge and explore is tiny, maybe an inch-and-a-half wide. The manuscript adds numerous locales and environmental features not on the Campaign Setting map.

Wes didn't specify the style for the map, so I decided right away to create two maps showing him that I could work in multiple styles.

The first thing I did was scan the tiny portion of the Campaign Setting map that Wes wanted me to enlarge (image 01 below). I opened the scan in Photoshop and used the Clone tool to paint out the tags (image 02). I used the Text tool to add my own tags, creating each on its own levels so that I could manipulate them later (03).

All images that I post in this thread , except the first map immediately below, are copyright 2009 by Edward J. Reed, all rights reserved.

09-05-2009, 11:49 AM
Next, I repainted the land and water (on new layers) in my own colors using the brush tool (the first image below, file 04).

In 05 (the scond image below), I changed the colors of the tags and arced some of them using the Create Warped Text tool that appears when working with the Horizontal Text Tool. I created a selection with the Lasso Tool marking the edges of the coastlines and river banks, saved it, and outlined these coastlines with Edit/Stroke. I blurred the stroke a tad so its edges didn't look overly sharp at turning points.

I drew each roads with by drawing a selection with the Lasso Tool. I then smoothed harsh turns by clicking on Select/Modify/Smooth. I then stroked each road onto its own layer (Edit/Stroke), and blurred them slightly.

I made some simple city and town markers using the Elliptical Marquee Tool, and drew a star on Egorian's marker. I created small arrows pointing to small but important landmarks using he Custom Shape Tool.

(Tip for making arrows quickly: Create a new, empty layer. Make sure your Paths window is open (select Paths in the Window drop-down menu.) Click on the Custom Shape Tool in the toolbox. A drop-down window appears up top. It contains a handful of nifty shapes, including a couple arrows. Click on one, then click and drag your stylus/mouse across your image. It draws that shape as a new Work Path. At the bottom left of the Paths window is a small half-white/half-black circle icon. Put your cursor over this icon and it reads, "Fill path with foreground color." Pick a color and click that circle. Voila! Now left click on the new path in the Paths window and delete the path. The arrow now sits on its own layer. You can resize and orient it like any other image with the Edit/Transform feature, Sweet and fast.)

09-05-2009, 11:51 AM
I next played with the water. I copied the existing water level into a new file, expanded the new file's height and width with Image/Canvas Size to be about 25% taller and wider, and painted in more water to fill the new, empty ocean space. I filled the empty area where the land would be with my palest blue, so the whole picture plane was filled with color.

I duplicated the layer. I then broadened the contrast with Image/Adjust/Brightness-Contrast. I then applied a filter using Filter/Distort/Ocean Ripple. I usually reserve the Ocean Ripple filter for larger scale maps like flooded buildings or dock wharves, but thought I'd see how it looked at the regional level. I found the result too dramatic, but copied it over and dropped it under the land layer in the original map file. The result is the first image below (06).

I next clicked in the opacity box of the Layers Palette of my new, overly dramatic water layer and reduced the dramatic layer's opacity to 40%. This allows the unfiltered water layer below it to show through, reducing the visual effect of the Ocean Ripple swirls and the high contrast. I merged the two layers and blurred its sharpness down with Filter/Blur/Gausian Blur. This created the second image below (07).

One could certainly argue that this result would feel more appropriate in a larger scale, more close-up map. But I liked it.

09-05-2009, 08:57 PM
Looking excellent so far! And thanks for the mini-tutorial; as a PS sort-of-novice, you've already given me some valuable tips in just three posts.

09-05-2009, 08:58 PM
Next, I attacked the land.

I pushed back the edges of Barrowood with my Clone Tool, using one of the brushes from the bottom of my scoll-down library of brushes whose icon is a broken circle of dots. I used it at 50% opacity to leave some dark green bleed in the lighter green of the plains abutting the forest's borders.

On a separate layerm I added color to the central swamps, "The Dhaenfens," with the Brushes tool using a similarly broken brush tip.

I then duplicated my basic land colored layer, my forest layer, and my swamp layer. I merged them all into one new land layer,

Next, I copied the new land layer into a new file. I then shrunk the file to 25% of its original scale with Image/Image size. I duplicated the land layer once, creating two identical layers.

I then "texturized" each layer using Filter/Texture/Texturizer/Texturizer/Sandstone and/or Filter/Texture/Texturizer/Texturizer/Craquelure. I added the most texture to the bottom layer and the least to the top. I resized the image to be 400% larger (that is, back to its original scale) using Image/Image Size.

I copied both of these textured layers and pasted both on top of the new land layer in my original file. I then erased much of the top, most textured layer using the Eraser Tool with a broken, spotty tipped Brush at 33% Obacity. I made several passes, erasing out some areas altogether, whie leaving some areas, like the swamp, fairly textured. I then did the same with the less-textured layer below. This left some areas highly textured, some less so, and some areas in which the underlying, smooth ground layer I'd started with showing through.

Next, I created a new layer for hills. I used the Brush Tool at low opacity to add lighter and darker areas overlapping he brown of the hills. I copied this layer out and subjected it to a more limited version of the "texturizing" described above, then copied and pasted it back in the original file.

The result is the first map below (image 08).

09-05-2009, 09:02 PM
I then followed similar techniques to add more hills to the eastern hills, more texture to the forest, and more contrast to the swamp.

(I created the additional hills on a separarte layer than the existing hills. This proved wise. I ultimately decided the easter hills drew too much attention and delated that layer, as I'll show two posts dowm.)

09-05-2009, 09:22 PM
I decided the heightened contrast and drama of the evolving map had begun overwhelming the tags. So I stroked them with black.

Let me be more specific. I first duplicated all of the separate tag layers and then merged these new duplicate layers into a single layer combining all of the tags. I then clicked my Magic Wand Tool outside the tags area (thereby selecting everything EXCEPT the tags). I inverted the selection to select the tags instead of the empty space around them, using Select/Inverse. I chose black as my Foreground Color and stroked the selection (put a line around it) using Edit/Stroke. In the Stroke drop-down window, I set the width of my stroke as 3 px (if memory serves) and the Location as Outside, so that the Stroke function drew its 3-pixel-wide line outside the existing selection of letters.

I'd now outlined my tags with black. But the outside edges of the black outline were clunky and sharp in places. So I decided to blur them as follows.

I duplicated the merged tags layer with its new black stroke, and pasted the duplicate layer UNDERNEATH the existing merged tags layer with stroke. I blackened the letters and strokes on this lower layer. To do this, I used Image/Adjust/Hue-Saturation, and I pulled the Lightness slider all the way to the far left. I then blurred this layer with Filter/Gausian Blur. The soft, blurred edges of this lower level expanded out from underneath the original merged, stroked tag layer above it, seeming to soften the edges of the higher layer.

I painted in the three waterfalls in white, using my Brush Tool. I built and added a rose compass (too complicated and dull to describe here). And I added more contrast to both the woods and swamp, eachon its own layer. Here's the result.

09-05-2009, 09:26 PM
As I stared at what I'd hoped was my final color version, I decided the hills on the eastern side of the river were too detailed, drawing too much focuse from other elements. So I deleted the layer adding the last measure of contrast and details to that area.

And this became my final color version. But NOT my final version . . .

09-05-2009, 09:36 PM
So there's the first half of this project. But, as I mentioned, I hoped to use this project to demonstrate a bit of my flexibility as a cartographer. So I'd decided right away to produce a black-and-white (or sepia) version of the same map with a more hand-drawn feel.

I worked on the B&W version (as I'll call it for the sake of convenience) at the same time as the color map, or maybe a step or two behind. After I'd warped the tags in the color version, I saved a version deleting all of the other elements and turned the white tags black, shifting their font to Parchment (which always feels like ancient, cracked lettering to me). I then used the saved selection of the coastline and river banks to stroke a black border separating land from water (see my tricks for stroking a smooth edge, above). I blackened and added the town markers and arrows, and hand drew in some trees for Barrowood.

I created all of these B&W elements on their own, separate layers, and made all layers transparent so I could later add graphic elements on layers beneath them that would show through. (I've added a white layer below them here so you can see them.) Here's the result of this first series of steps.

09-05-2009, 09:44 PM
Next, I added a layer below the words and lines already existing. In this layer, I used my saved selection demarking the water from land to select the water areas, and used Edit/Fill to fill the land area with black. Then I reduced the opacity of the black layer to 20%, using the Layer Palette to make the change.

I then created the swamp's area with horizontal, opaque slashes with the Brush tool (on its own layer, of course!)

09-05-2009, 10:05 PM
Here it gets fun. Understand that all layers I'd created so far were black lines or words on transparent fields or, in the case of the water level, a translucent gray through which we could see anything underneath.

I opened one of my many existing files of "old parchment," saving it as a new file. I then dragged all of the layers of my B&W map over to the new parchment file.

(Hint: to copy multiple layers from one file to another without having them splay out of orientation to each other when you paste them in the new file, don't copy them one-by-one. Hell, don't "copy" them at all! Drag them.

Open both files side by side on your screen. Go to the Layers Palette of the file whose layers you want to copy over. (If it's not open, click Window/Layers.)

Next, select ALL of the layers you want to copy over. To do this, first move the layers up or down in the Layers Palette (by clicking and dragging them up and down across the Palette's drop-down window) until all of the layers that you want to copy to the other file are oriented on top of each other in the Layers Palette. When they're all together in a stack, click on the top layer in the Layers Palette you want to copy. Hold the Shift key down and click on the lowest layer in the Layers Palette you want to copy. This will select (highlight in blue) the entire block of layers for transfer.

Now just click on any one of the selected layers and drag your cursor over to the open window showing the OTHER file into which you want to copy them. Release the clicker. The dragged layers will drop into the OTHER file. Once dropped, they remain all selected (and thus move together) in the other file, so you can use the Move Tool from the toolbox to slide the set of layers around to where you want them.

Note that, at any time, you can Link any layers together with the Link icon that looks like a three chain links at the bottom of the Layers Palette. This locks them together with respect to their position in the picture plane. Once linked, if you move one layer, all layers linked too it also move. I usually link layers I'm dragging into another document before I drag them to the new file. You can unlink them after you drag, drop, and orient them.)

09-05-2009, 10:16 PM
Next I started getting funky and added a scroll.

I created the paper rolls out of rectangles copied from the parchment layer. To color and shade these rectangles, I mostly used the Quick Mask tool and Gradient Tool to make graded selections, and then adjusting the graded rectangles with Image/Adjustments/Hue-Saturation, Image/Adjustments/Color Balance, and Image/Adjustments/Brightness Contrast. I added some colors and shadows directly with the Brush Tool set to a low opacity. I then warped the edges of the rectangles using Edit/Transform/Warp to make them look like bulging cylinders.

I photographed the tops of the spindles on our four-poster bed, opened the photo in Photoshop, selected and copied the spindle tops, sized them, and pasted them behind the scroll roll layers.

I created a simple background layer grading from a blue gray with hints if purple at the top left to a teal gray at the bottom right and added texture with Filter/Texture/Texturizer, selecting the Sandstone filter.

09-05-2009, 10:22 PM
I then tilted and zoomed in on the image, reaching what I hoped was my final B&W version.

09-05-2009, 10:26 PM
So here are the two files that I originally sent to Paizo. I hoped they showed some of my versatility. I asked Wes which he preferred, hoping my job was done.

No such luck.

09-05-2009, 10:48 PM
Gracious as ever, Wes thanked me for both and asked for a close up of the B&W version without the scroll, which he said looked too muc like a player handout.

(He was right, of course. He could have added that the scroll was hackneyed, cheesy, and not all that well done, but he has too much class for that.)

I asked if Paizo would distress the edges of the map like they often do for published adventures. He said maybe, and I offered to do it for them. He suggested sending distressed-edge versions along with a plain one, if I wished.

Off to the races again!

I went back to the manuscript to check everything before creating my new finals and realized I had a mileage problem. In essence, I needed to zoom in more to keep the waterfalls and their adjacent towns relative to each other. And I needed to draw in hills. I did so, creating a new base map with no edge distressing (the first one below, image 07). I drew in a mileage scale. I lightened some of the name tags, leaving in black only the names of locations described in depth in the manuscript, to draw attention to those highlighted sites. I lightened the coastal outline under the cliff tags to make those tags more legible. I found the symbol for Cheliax in the Campaign Setting and drew it into the compass rose.

Then I mocked up these two extra versions with distressed edges, wrinkles, and dropped shadows. (Note that these were created against transparent backgrounds, not white, so Paizo could drop any one on top of whatever page color it chose. I put them on white here merely for convenience's sake.)

I sent them all to Wes.

09-05-2009, 10:50 PM
He liked the simple version.

I went back and eliminated the Cheliax symbol behind inside the compass rose because, with fresh eyes, I found it distracting. I balanced out the contrast.

And here's the true final map (copyright 2009 by Edward J. Reed, all rights reserved).

09-05-2009, 10:58 PM
Wes loved it. It proved to be a great follow-up for me to my adventure manuscript.

What did I learn?

Keep it simple. Keep it clear. Keep it clean.

The elegance of black and white can be more engaging than all the colors on the palette.

Ripped edges, scrolls, dropped shadows, and the like have been done so often that we'd better do them extraordinarily well, or find a way to make them original, or they'll just look cheesy to experienced eyes. Experienced editors look for the quality of the map itself, not its packaging. Even if done well, goofy edges are more appropriate for maps intended to be player handouts than for GM maps or maps in a book.

Do use job offers to show versitility. But don't offer multiple options unless you're sure you can complete them all by deadline. (I did, but it was too close!)

Although we must always remain professional (no stupid jokes!), make sure editors see our fun and our passion for our work! Passion is infectious, and those who share our passion will respond to us.

09-06-2009, 03:15 AM
Great advice and awesome maps. It's good to hear someone in the industry give such a detailed example of the process of creation as it applies to professional publishing. I look forward to more of your posts and insights.

On a side note, I looked through your portfolio website and noticed the Wolf Nomads and Cold Marshes maps you did and realized I used them in one of my games a while back to great success.

09-06-2009, 03:22 AM
Hmm... I kinda liked the "scrolly" versions though. Especially the last version you did, on the crumpled and torn paper.

Steel General
09-06-2009, 09:43 AM
Cool stuff...thanks for sharing.

09-06-2009, 10:20 AM
On a side note, I looked through your portfolio website and noticed the Wolf Nomads and Cold Marshes maps you did and realized I used them in one of my games a while back to great success.
Wow! Fantastic! Thanks for sharing!

That was my second map for the old Dungeon Magazine. Mike Schley was my editor, another great guy (whose astonishing work I saw yesterday in Barnes & Noble in the new D&D 4.0 Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide). I wanted to try a unusual approach to a regional map, something like some National Geographic maps I'd seen. Mike let me fly with the idea, and Dungeon published it.

I got very mixed feedback. Nobody had a neutral opinion. Some loved it. Others hated it, noting that computing accurate distances across the map face was impossible and saying it looked like an overly saturated satellite photo rather than a genuine gaming map.

But I loved making it. I should do another thread on that map. Lots of lessons learned! And I could tell the story of the vignette illustrations surrounding a later version of the map. But here's the basic map Dungeon published (copyright 2005 by Edward J. Reed, all rights reserved):

09-06-2009, 10:24 AM
Great advice and awesome maps. It's good to hear someone in the industry give such a detailed example of the process of creation as it applies to professional publishing. I look forward to more of your posts and insights.
Thanks, man! Compliments like that make me want to keep posting! Now I need to get back to work on posting my retrospective WIP on the Haunted Mansion, a task so big and daunting I've been avoiding it. You've just given me the incentive to try.