View Full Version : Giau'Rexan, Imperium Haereticum Jugis Redigis, WIP

Gregorus Prime
09-09-2009, 02:29 AM
For those of you not fluent in horribly inaccurate Latin, that bit on the end there roughly translates to "Heretical Empire of the Lesser Continent." The first part is my Dragonborn nonsense language, carefully constructed (by which I mean randomly slapped together) in such a way that avoids sounds that involve the lips... Dragonborn not having very full lips, you know, being draconic and all. This translates to "The Temple of Rexa." They're a monotheistic theocracy/caliphate, believing that there is only one true god who created everything. I'm not sure how I'll mark down the objective truth on that, whether their god will truly exist or just be a name assigned to a re-interpreted pantheon, and if it is a single god I'm not sure how powerful he'll be in the grand scheme of things. But anyway, on to the map...

It's going to be a large desert continent, as you've probably already guessed from all the sand. I plan on putting down some rocky ground in the northeast and southwest and a few green areas near the southeast coast (the caliph/emperor has to have his/her summer palace somewhere, after all) with the northwestern area blocked off from the rest of the continent by a deep canyon and some very craggy mountains. Politically the majority of the place will be the territory of Giau'Rexan, with the Saerdastian Empire (human empire) encroaching on the northwest, blocked off from furhter conquest by the natural barriers and rough seas, as well as the incredibly zealous and vigilant military of the Dragonborn nation. So there will be a few forts and cities clustered along either side of the canyon, some cities centered around large oases in the central-east desert, and quite a few on the coast.

Looking at it now, I'm thinking I should probably add some small islands off the southern cape of the continent, and a very large one in the southeast. As far as scale goes, I'm thinking about half to two-thirds the size of Australia, as I want it to be smaller than the main continent, which will be roughly equal to or slightly larger than the United States in size.

EDIT: Attached revised version of map. Feel free to comment on both.

EDIT: I accidentally saved over the old version. Que sera sera. Please give your criticisms anyway.

09-09-2009, 03:43 AM
I like the overall shape of the landmasses, but the outlines seem too smooth; not enough natural jaggedness, inlets, fjords, whatever. That sand texture is groovy though; good base for everything else.

Gregorus Prime
09-09-2009, 04:16 AM
How about this, then?

Re-did the land mask (and by necessity, the beach water mask) to try and make it a bit more jaggy.

EDIT: And once again. RobA's tutorial is a bit off in the text descriptions. To get a really nice jaggy coastline, you need to Make Seamless and then Small Tile map the land noise layer, and play with the levels a bit as well.

Small Tile is fast becoming my new best friend in GIMP. It's critical for my water ripples as well. :idea: Also: Fjords? Really? On a desert continent? The world hasn't changed THAT much in the millions of years since the [war between old Lovecraftian races, summoned a God who wrecked everyone's **** maybe?].

EDIT: Before I hit the hay, I was wondering if anyone could direct me to the best tutorial for making craggy mountains and canyons in GIMP (or Photoshop, I'm sure I could figure out the UI differences as long as there's not too much automation involved)?

Steel General
09-09-2009, 08:21 AM
The new coastline is definitely better, though I think the ocean/sea could still use a bit of work (still looks like blue clouds - at least to me).

For the mountains, I suggest you look over the various tutorials and decide which version is most appealing to you as they are all pretty darn good.

Gregorus Prime
09-09-2009, 02:37 PM
Used the Lighting Effects Filter to bring out the watery attributes of the water a bit more.

Gregorus Prime
09-12-2009, 06:02 AM
Nobody is telling me how much my map sucks :(

Anyway, finally got around to adding some mountains and some desert sands in the middle. This thing is a long way off from completion but it's starting to take shape at last. It still looks a bit too plasticy for my liking, but I suppose I can worry about that when I get the shape banged out. I can always go back and modify the masks, after all. Just might have to for the grassy areas. I'm also not really liking the mountains, given the scale I want for this map (frickin' huge, it's a continent after all).

Speaking of which, any advice on creating the illusion of sparse vegetation in the rocky areas?

09-12-2009, 06:29 AM
It's coming along..

What I do for sparse vegetation (photoshop) is use one of the spatter brushes, usually the 59, and resize as needed to drop in vegetation a single click at a time. I'm using layer effects for the most part, along with the pattern stamper (a la pasis) so it tends to work out pretty well.

For the mountians, you could give them some more valleys so they don't look 50 miles in altitude :)

But it looks like a good layout and shape to me.

Gregorus Prime
09-12-2009, 06:42 AM
I'll probably have the continent be 1500 miles or so across, so there will need to be a lot more noise on those mountains. I'm thinking of either doing them in layers for different ranges (which would probably be a lot of work) or just using the same method I did before (RobA's multi-layer embossing method) but with much thinner ranges pretty much hand-painted with relatively tiny brushes. Either way it will be a pain in the ass. The desert is bugging me too and I'll have to re-do the height map for it because right now you can hardly make it out.

Steel General
09-12-2009, 08:44 AM
OK first off...don't get discouraged if you don't get any feedback for a day or two - it happens. :)

Couple things I noticed...

The wave pattern in the oceans is a little over done (at least for me)
@1500 miles across I would definitely make the mountain chains thinner - more snake like (for lack of a better term)
I would reduce the drop shadow on the mountains
Add a slight drop shadow to the forests, and maybe even some inner shadow.
Coyotemax's suggestion of using the spatter brush is a good idea as well (something I often forget)

Gregorus Prime
09-12-2009, 02:33 PM
OK first off...don't get discouraged if you don't get any feedback for a day or two - it happens. :)

Couple things I noticed...

The wave pattern in the oceans is a little over done (at least for me)
@1500 miles across I would definitely make the mountain chains thinner - more snake like (for lack of a better term)
I would reduce the drop shadow on the mountains
Add a slight drop shadow to the forests, and maybe even some inner shadow.
Coyotemax's suggestion of using the spatter brush is a good idea as well (something I often forget)

I happen to like the waves, but I suppose I could lower the opacity on that layer and see how it looks. And those aren't forests, they're supposed to be grasslands. I guess I need some spread on the grass mask, and a retexture couldn't hurt.

Gregorus Prime
09-14-2009, 01:15 AM
Bumping with an overhauled map.

I put together some noise layers with some transparencies on them and overlaid them to try and get a good vegetation effect going. I redid the grass with new textures and added a simple height map to the desert. Mountains, rivers, lakes, etc. are going to be a long time coming. I'll probably reduce the opacity of the desert's height map to make it less pronounced when I get a chance to work on this again, and I'm re-thinking the scale for simplicity's sake. 800-1000 miles across. That still makes for a pretty freaking huge desert and will still require thin, sinuous mountains drawn in layers (layers of layers, actually) but means I have to place fewer cities and forts.

Gregorus Prime
09-17-2009, 10:49 PM
Le bump.

I've cobbled together some mountains and I'm not sure I like them. They're better than they were before and I'm not sure I can improve upon them any more. Any advice you guys have would be helpful.

09-17-2009, 11:46 PM
Just examples, no advice. Here are a couple of large basins mostly surrounded by large mountains.

The California Central Valley is a little smaller than you had in mind, but if the whole area were flipped 180 degrees around I would expect some fairly harsh deserts in the valley area rather than just the basin/range province to the East. Speaking as someone who live on the downwind side of those mountains in their current configuration, it's prettty harsh.

The Taklimakan basin is probably closer to what you had in mind. It's more of a cold/dry desert than hot/dry, but it's fairly close in side to what you were describing. The high mountains and thin rivers threading out from them are great fun to look at from stellite photos.

09-17-2009, 11:52 PM
Mtns look pretty good. Look like keepers to me. The only thing that I could suggest for them is some color variation...they're all brown. Toss in some blacks and grays here and there or maybe some green forests climbing the slopes.

Gregorus Prime
09-17-2009, 11:56 PM
They're about as good as I'm going to get them for the amount of work I'm willing to do. These were never meant to be fully representational maps to begin with, just pretty-looking abstracts.

I've added some lakes and rivers. The rivers are a bit too thick, I think. I'll have to re-do the layer mask and the shores after that. There will be some greenery surrounding the oases in the desert and along the mountains once I get to working on it again. I'm feeling kind of burned out on maps for the moment and will probably spend the rest of the evening hammering out some more backstory. :mrgreen:

EDIT: I lied. One more version with thinned-out rivers.

Gregorus Prime
09-20-2009, 02:15 AM
Tentative final map. Starting labels.

Steel General
09-20-2009, 08:46 AM
It's come a long way, looking forward to seeing it completed.

One thing that I noticed is that the forests look flat - you might try a slight drop shadow on them to give them a sense of 'depth', and I think I would drop the ocean texture on the small lakes and just go with the solid color.

09-20-2009, 10:04 AM
As SG stated, this map has come along way!

Looking great.

-Rob A>

Gregorus Prime
09-22-2009, 12:55 AM
Wow, praise from Caesar.

Did a bit of work on the map itself but the bulk of my work over the past two days has been the placement and naming of cities and forts.

I post this rough version here to ask if anybody can see any glaring flaws in those two things.

Steel General
09-22-2009, 06:17 AM
Some of your text labels are 'bleeding' into the background, you might try a thin dark stroke around your text to help eliminate that.

Gregorus Prime
09-22-2009, 01:45 PM
It's just a rough. All of those labels and dots will be gone in the final version. I'm more worried about the actual placement and the names themselves.

09-22-2009, 02:20 PM
I would say placement isn't so much a problem. But to echo SG, some of the labels are difficult to read (especially blue on blue). If you've got a plan to take care of that, grea. Otherwise, I'd agree with SG's assessment that an outer stroke/outerglow is in order to help make them readable. I believe RobA's tut covers that.

Gregorus Prime
09-22-2009, 03:13 PM
A simple semi-transparent black layer underneath the whole thing does the job, I think.

Gregorus Prime
09-25-2009, 06:56 AM
Well, I went ahead and cobbled together some icons from various sources. Some of them are dingbat fonts, some are symbols found on the Internet and butchered by the GIMP (that sounds pretty twisted, huh?).

Anyway, a simple two-layer glow effect of different colors for the forts, ports, towns, and villages to bring them up. I made the forts a different style from the towns because I really wanted them to stand out, but I may have to add another glow layer underneath them to make them more noticable. I made the ziggurats and the rowboats from scratch. Tell me how you think they turned out.

After this, I start on labeling. That's gonna be fun, and by fun I mean tedious.

Steel General
09-25-2009, 07:01 AM
Love the scimitar icon! :)

Gregorus Prime
09-25-2009, 03:30 PM
Yeah. I found a scimitar icon online, filled it in black to make a silhouette... and then decided that I didn't like it black, hollowed it out, and filled it in again. The end result looks better than the original, but still kind of a weird way to go about it, huh?

Steel General
09-25-2009, 07:10 PM
Whatever works... :D

Gregorus Prime
09-26-2009, 12:41 AM
I'm getting reeeeeeeeal tired of GIMP's bulls***. I stupidly went to work labeling without saving and the damn thing crashed when my screen saver went on, killing about an hour of work. I had the entire Imperial section labeled, all the towns, forts, ports, regions, everything. Also, "Text to Path" is really only good for writing along a very simple arc, and "Path to Selection"-ing the text-adapted paths either takes ten minutes to process or just crashes GIMP entirely. Why the hell didn't they include text manipulation as a built-in feature? Freaking Microsoft Word has had built-in text manipulation since the nineties.

Ah, this is just me bitching. I need a new computer. My 2 GHz dual-core and 2 gigs of RAM aren't going to cut it much longer. At this rate I'll have to do a simplified big continent and then detail each quadrant of the Imperium individually. You can sort of see the thing I'm going for with the labeling here, the Dragonborn areas using an Arabian Nights-flavored typeface while the human areas have a good old fashioned Roman font.

EDIT: A bit of tinkering around in Inkscape has shown me the light. I accept Inkscape as my personal savior, and it is through this program that the grace of tracing text along a path and exporting it as a PNG shall be delivered. Kyrie eleison, amen, allahu akbar, etc.

Also, a bit more research has shown me just how rusty my Latin (and how non-rigorous my translation process) is. What I wrote as the thread title was "Heretical Empire of the Continuous Reduction." Terrae minorae means "of the smaller/lesser land," so I'll go with that for the final labeling. I need to brush up on this stuff.

EDIT: Updated with all the stuff that I lost. Feedback would be appreciated.

09-26-2009, 02:33 PM

Inkscape is the bee's knees for text on a curve, bezier handling, and general drawing. Much better than gimp imoo.

You might have interest in a little script I wrote for gimp to implement "file linked layers". It was requested on the gimp mailing list here (http://lists.xcf.berkeley.edu/lists/gimp-developer/2009-June/022567.html) and my response is here (http://lists.xcf.berkeley.edu/lists/gimp-developer/2009-June/022605.html).

I use it by saving a png from inkscape, then loading it as a file linked layer into Gimp. Then any time I change it in inkscape and re-save the png, you can use the "reload" command to pull the layer back into Gimp. Saves a bit of time.

I used it extensively in my last map (the woodcut style).

-Rob A>

09-26-2009, 07:34 PM
A file linked layer in gimp?? That would be so awesome for the 150 labels I'm currently polishing ... how do you do that? I've been saving versions with tons of layers, then merging the layers in my working file, which leads to a LOT of closing, opening, merging and importing. A file link would be just what the dr ordered.

Edit: READ the post, Gidde. Disregard the how to question, I'll go get the script :)

Gregorus Prime
09-28-2009, 10:12 PM

Now all I have left are roads/paths/sea lanes and finishing touches. This should be done pretty soon.

09-28-2009, 11:51 PM
And Octoclops replied "Let there be REP!"

This map has really moved along in a good way. It started off with somethng that I had to work at to see potential (possibly your brilliance was confusing me?) and it's turned into something that i look at and go "hrm. yeah, i could run a party through there, easy. Where's my dice!!" lol


Gregorus Prime
09-29-2009, 12:59 AM
Roads/paths/sea lanes finished. I have decided that, for reasons completely unrelated to my laziness, the Rexani (Dragonborn) do not name their roads, and instead simply refer to them as "Origin/Destination Road" whenever somebody asks on what road they found that one big rock that kinda looks like Fonzie.

I'm not crazy about the sea lanes. Any advice there? Once those are squared away it's a simple matter of throwing on my finishing touches and finally deciding what the actual size of this continent is going to be. I'm thinking somewhere from 800-1200 miles across.

09-29-2009, 01:06 AM
I might suggest making them a bit less whelmng. Even in the thumbnail, they dominate the map. Something about the size of your red and blue roads perhaps?

Gregorus Prime
09-29-2009, 01:20 AM
Adjustments made. I just might steamroll on through and finish this damn thing tonight.

Then I need to figure out how I'm going to map out the BIG continent. That will be a pain.

EDIT: Tentative final version added.

Steel General
09-29-2009, 06:32 AM
This has turned out nicely, and the sea lanes look much better now.

I'll admit that I'm not a big fan of the font you used - but that's more of a preference thing, I find it a bit difficult to read.

As for mapping your large continent, maybe break it up into what you feel are manageable portions, perhaps in 'tiles' similar to this in size. You can always 'assemble' them in a larger map later.

Gregorus Prime
09-29-2009, 10:38 PM
I was thinking of doing that, but in reverse: a single large and less detailed map to show the very limits of the continent which I will then use as a basis for developing the details of the individual quarti of the Imperium. (Four big sections, you see, easier to divide further into smaller provinces.)

Anyway, I'll posting this map in the finished forum just as soon as I can think of an interesting way to present the fluff. Thanks to everyone for your suggestions and comments.