PDA

View Full Version : Haibianr - WIP city map



mearrin69
09-13-2009, 12:44 AM
Hi all,
I'm working on an Asian-themed RPG campaign setting and have been trying to get myself up to speed on mapping techniques. Posted the world map (showing the western hemisphere only) as a WIP here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=7065). Figured I'd post the city map I've been working on. Haibianr will be a Hong Kong-like city that serves as an introduction to the setting for "eastern" characters (our west). Here's the "boxed text" on the city:


On the mountainous north-eastern coast of the world’s largest continent perches a bustling trading port – a cosmopolitan city of twisting streets protected by ancient magic and modern might. Over the nearly two thousand years since its founding, Haibianr has evolved into a powerful independent city-state. Its masters pay no tribute to the feuding “Five Emperors” that rule the southlands, wielding Haibianr’s near-monopoly over trade with the rest of the world as a cudgel that guarantees freedom from Imperial dominion.

Also called Wanxiangshi, “city of ten-thousand alleyways”, this appellation is often rendered in a twist of words by the locals as “city of ten-thousand odors”, owing to the many curious smells that emanate from Haibianr’s harbor, a by-product of industries ranging from the distillation of rice and soy to the manufacture of explosives and fireworks. These products – along with fine silk, exotic spices, art objects, and the highly addictive “dream flower” snuff – all contribute to heavy trade with lands beyond the continent. Haibianr is the port of choice for foreign traders.


Like you care, right? :) Anyway, here's what I've done so far:

1) I started with a hand-drawn map of the city and surrounding areas. This was done a while back in my design journal with a mechanical pencil and filled lightly with colored pencils. Nothing fancy, just getting it on paper. I have attached the (poor) scan I brought into Photoshop to start the drawing.
2) First I tried Pyrandon's tutorial (results attached as "Haibianr-1.png"). I liked the style of his map and the hills/mountains turned out pretty cool - especially when I added highlights/shadows.
3) The elevations didn't look quite like I wanted, however, so I branched to another drawing ("Haibianr-2.png") and added more elevations. That didn't quite do it for me either, though the results are promising enough to try on another map, another day.
4) Part way through I realized I wasn't going to be able to show much detail in my city with all of the surrounding territory showing anyway so I branched to another drawing ("Haibianr-3.png") and cropped down to just show the city and important nearby areas. I decided to attempt a more hand-drawn style for the buildings and such but haven't gotten very far with it. I think it'll better match what I want to do with my close-ups and encounter maps than the Pyrandon style (though I love the look he achieves). The trees are hand-drawn but I need to shrink the texture to match the scale of the city.

A couple of notes. The map is actually upside down now, following my decision to invert the continent and place it in the southern hemisphere. Will fix it later but I'm used to looking at it this way so I've kept it for now. The scratchy bits you see in the water are the docks, the "junk islands", and ferry routes from my original sketch. The round thingies along the coast are ancient defenses (Haibianr isn't the first city on this site) used by the city. The southern island contains the governor's palace, government sites, etc. The string of buildings along the eastern road is the docks area and industrial sites. Most residences are on the eastern part of the city and the walled areas along the edges are larger manors. The western shore is primarily given over to trade coming south (north, really, with the flip) from inland. The walled compound on the hill is the "House of the Four Winds", the local monkery - source of much mystery and kung fu fighting. Up the hill from there is the "Temple of Heaven", which is sort of an arcane "warehouse 23", among other things.

Okay. I figure that's everything you could *possibly* want to know about my little city. :) Any comments, suggestions, critique, etc. will be much appreciated. I'll add updates here as I make progress. Thanks for reading my crazily long post!
M

Gandwarf
09-13-2009, 06:43 AM
Well, you are certainly getting some rep from me. It's always nice to see the different WIP's you have went through to get where you are now. The handdrawn map (the first) looks very cool already I must say.

Anyway, it looks like you are onto something in that latest version. The style is very pleasing to the eye. What I don't like though is that some buildings are red and most buildings are almost pink. I don't care too much for the pink color and it doesn't seem to mix really well with the other colors. Otherwise a very cool map so far!

Oh, and I have done many cities and have also find it very hard to suggest different elevations. Most of the time I don't bother :)

Steel General
09-13-2009, 08:39 AM
It's a good start, I've used that same tutorial in the past (and still use various techniques from it).

The pink/fleshy colored buildings that Gandwarf mentioned do seem strange, but easily changeable should you choose to.

Looking forward to see where you take this.

mearrin69
09-13-2009, 09:28 AM
Thanks very much for the comments.

Whoops. The reddish color is the one I'm going for...the pink is a layer style washout so I can see what I'm drawing over the top of the original building rough-in. The ones that are still reddish live on another layer (because I had clicked on another layer when I was drawing those).

So, pinkish is not a permanent design decision! :) I'm going to try to suggest chinese-style tile roofs, with maybe some wooden mixed in for variety.
M

Gandwarf
09-13-2009, 10:07 AM
Yeah, I was hoping the pink was just a placeholder, as is seemed kinda weird :)
You might want to experiment with some different tones of red for the houses though, so it doesn't look like they all have exactly the same colored roof. Mixing in some wood sounds like a great plan.

Steel General
09-13-2009, 04:26 PM
If you are looking at 'asian' style for the roofs, you may want to check out last months challenge maps for some inspiration/ideas.

mearrin69
09-14-2009, 02:08 AM
Thanks for the tip. Some great maps in that challenge...and your suggestion led me to the challenge archives, which I had missed before. A lot to look at in there.
M

mearrin69
09-21-2009, 02:27 AM
Hi all,
Little update. After playing for a long while with several "filter-generated" maps I've decided that I want to play with a more hand-drawn style.

I'm quite taken with the "Carthusal" map by Aerius (link (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=5920)). The style reminds me of a couple of illustrators' works from Heavy Metal (brain like a sieve...maybe a French guy).

Anyway. I'm not trying to copy this style 100% (not that I could) but I'm just playing around to see what I can come up with. This snip is a zoom in (200%) of the western island in progress. The buildings are roughed in using small square brushes on a layer with a stroke and drop shadow style. I kind of like the way the bridge walls turned out.

I'm not sure what the final look will be but I'll probably refine the shapes and then add details and shading to the roofs after I've got the buildings roughed in. Tried bevel but didn't like it so I will most likely shade by hand. I reckon this is kind of the long way around - I could probably just color in a big patch, remove "alleyways" with the eraser, and then recolor buildings...but I'm just playing around so I don't mind spending some time exploring.

Any comments, questions, or tips appreciated. Thanks!
M

Coyotemax
09-21-2009, 05:48 AM
I really like the way that's turning out. I'm a fan of the hand drawn look vs filter generated buildings myself, so maybe I'm biased. The bridges are fabulous, too. I think you're on to something!

Steel General
09-21-2009, 06:31 AM
Looking good so far.

You said that this is zoomed into 200%, and I'm assuming that it's a result of the zoom. But your bridge rails still seem very jagged - did you change the angle of the brush when you drew them on?

mearrin69
09-21-2009, 10:26 AM
Thanks. Hmm. Brush angle. Nope. :) I have to go explore how to do that. Thanks for the tip.
M

mearrin69
09-22-2009, 01:12 AM
Had some time tonight while waiting on a call so figured I'd try to finish up this island at least. I've got all of the buildings blocked in. Now to figure out how to finish them. For now I've put on a very light emboss...which doesn't look too bad I guess. I'm going to try to render some details on a small section to see how it turns out...but not tonight. Any suggestions welcome.

@SG: I haven't explored redrawing the bridges yet. Will give your suggestion a go when I do that.

@Coyotemax: Thanks for the rep :)
M

mearrin69
10-01-2009, 06:39 PM
Okay. So. I didn't like the results I was getting from my attempts to freehand the map in Photoshop. I started over, this time with good old pen and paper. This is drawn on 14"x17" smooth bristol using Staedtler pigment liners (0.7 to 0.1, mostly the smaller). I took it to Kinkos and had it scanned at 600 dpi...though they're going to rescan it in color for me because "greyscale" really turned out to be black-and-white halftoning.

My plan is to lay color (light watercolory feel) under the ink lines. I will likely separate the outlines into different layers for buildings, walls, vegetation, etc. so I can treat them differently. Looks like I have to redo the vegetation because my inking there really sucks. I also have to figure out how to convey the impression of the rising terrain surrounding (and under!) the city using color rather than lines.

I'm waiting on my new scan before I do too much work on this...though I'll probably play around with it some.
M

edit: oh, the funny things on the hills are terraced fields, mostly rice paddies.

RobA
10-01-2009, 07:14 PM
YOU ARE INSANE! How much time did that take with a pen? Did you pencil sketch first? Fabulous!

-Rob A>

Steel General
10-01-2009, 07:16 PM
Holy Poop!!

That is an immense amount of work in there, and it looks really good just like it is, fantastic!

Coyotemax
10-01-2009, 07:20 PM
is your hand okay? Did it fall off?

seriously, wow.

mearrin69
10-01-2009, 08:38 PM
Heh, thanks guys. I didn't expect so many replies...or the bucketload of rep. Much appreciated.

@RobA: I took my original scan (p.1 of this thread) and dropped on lines representing 1" squares on my 14"x17" paper used that to transfer a sketch of the coast, rivers, city outline, roads, etc. in pencil. I just roughly suggested the roads in the city area and then started drawing in buildings. Couldn't really sketch the buildings in pencil first as most of them are quite small. I didn't keep track of how long it took...maybe 6-8 hours?

My hand is surprisingly intact! :) My eyes on the other hand...

Hopefully I'll get a chance to try some coloring tonight.
M

Ramah
10-02-2009, 05:41 AM
That looks really great. I admire your perseverance with it. :)

mearrin69
10-02-2009, 10:20 PM
Thanks! Not sure if how often it's kosher to post WIP progress - if I'm overdoing it someone please let me know and I'll slow it down to significant milestones or something. This doesn't look like much but it actually represents several hours of work laying down some basic color, setting up layer masks for painting, etc.

The basic "vegetation layer" (essentially groundcover) is done and ready for fine detailing when I get the rest up to speed. I'm going to work on the underlying ground color next, trying to suggest terrain height and shape. Then I'll work on refining the ugly forests. Staying away from the buildings right now because I want to wait for my new scan - I think it'll lay over what I do here if I stay away from the niggly bits (another technical term).
M

Ascension
10-03-2009, 12:25 AM
Those colors are sweet! Mint green, steel blue, and grayish-teal...very nice eye.

Steel General
10-03-2009, 09:33 AM
I agree with the Ascension - very nice, subtle, easy-on-the-eye color scheme.

As far as posting WIPs, there is no 'rules'. Obviously don't over-do it (ex. ooh I added a single square let's post a WIP). Usually anytime I've made a significant step, or change something that has a large affect on the map as a whole, I'll update the thread. You can always go back and delete older WIPs if you want.

mearrin69
10-04-2009, 02:19 PM
Hi all,
I've done some "terrain shaping" in this version, painting on the various layers to try to suggest hills. They're not quite steep enough for my tastes and the forest is still too uniform. More work there I guess.

I'm making this post primarily to see whether you guys think I should go with the layer style I dropped on the forests and building (just walls for now) or go plain? It kind of ruins the hand-drawn look to some degree but it does look sort of neat. With or without it I think I've got a lot of painting to do to improve the look of the forests.

My last few hours have been spent painstakingly creating a mask for the buildings so i can paint in that layer without worrying too much about staying in the lines. I got the basics of the mask together by messing with my outlines layer but I've had to do a lot of hand-erasing to get it cleaned up. Need to learn how to do this stuff more automatically - I'm sure there's a better way than the ones I'm using.
M

Gandwarf
10-04-2009, 02:51 PM
I think this map looks great so far! My only nitpick would be that the forest looks a bit too beveled to my taste. The lighter edge almost seems to shine. But maybe that's just my eyes...

What are those dark blue patches with lines in it in the forest?

Ascension
10-04-2009, 04:43 PM
Whatever you decide upon I think it totally kicks booty. Makes me envious for sure.

mearrin69
10-04-2009, 08:53 PM
Thanks, guys. Yeah, I think the bevel is maybe too much too. I'll play with it a bit more as I go along. Still some work to do on the forest anyway.


What are those dark blue patches with lines in it in the forest?

Ah. Those would be terraced fields, mostly for rice production. That's not their final color...just one I selected from a Google Earth map of somewhere remote in Yunnan province. I'll vary the color a bit and do some texturing to suggest some plantings in some of them, etc.


...I think it totally kicks booty. Makes me envious for sure.

That is generous praise. :) I myself am still quite envious of your regional styles. Trying very hard to get some of your techniques down.

M

Ascension
10-04-2009, 09:42 PM
Don't bother, my tuts are for a totally different style. I'll be sitting in your class learning from you ;)

mearrin69
10-06-2009, 04:25 AM
@Ascension: Maybe I'll learn enough from doing this one to do a tutorial :) Probably take me a few more goes before I can "patent" any techniques though. The guy I wish would do a tut on this is Terry Maranda. I can't even begin to copy his style...which is why mine has been washed with layer styles. ;)

Anyhoo...been working on buildings and some other stuff. OMG. I thought drawing it was tedious. I created a mask so I could paint the buildings without worry (took forever but it was worth it) and then started laying down color. I'm using pretty saturated colors for now so I can see the variation but I'll rinse them out later. I'm also using an exaggerated layer style with bevel and drop shadow. I'll back that off later too.

I attached the latest WIP along with the layer mask in black and white...just because I thought it looks kind of cool. :)
M

Gandwarf
10-06-2009, 05:55 AM
The housing really looks amazing so far!
My only suggestion would be that in a city this large some of the houses would probably start sharing walls, as things get more and more cramped. It tends to make the city look a bit more realistic. But do what you want with this suggestion of course.

Coyotemax
10-06-2009, 06:22 AM
I can't help but think I'd hate to be one of the rich folk if this place came under attack. Living right along the walls, those look like they're going to be the first casualties. On the other hand, if the walls are more being built as a statement, it's going to be a lot cheaper since they only have to wall in 3 sides now :)

Darn nice map though!

mearrin69
10-06-2009, 10:43 AM
Thanks. Good points, both. I'll try to address them.


My only suggestion would be that in a city this large some of the houses would probably start sharing walls, as things get more and more cramped. It tends to make the city look a bit more realistic. But do what you want with this suggestion of course.

This one has been confounding me a bit. I don't have a scale defined yet (probably should have) but, if you look at the size of the smallest houses it's clear that there are some pretty large structures in there, especially in the city center and along the main streets. I had intended those to be individual buildings that had either merged together or were so close that the alleyways weren't apparent at the scale of the map. The way I'm coloring it, however, makes them look like monolithic buildings.

Scale-wise, I'm thinking that the large walls are on the order of 25'-50' thick. I'll have to see what that means for the various buildings and figure out what to do about the rooflines. I appreciate you calling this out, though, because it sort of gives me a poke to get that figured out.


I can't help but think I'd hate to be one of the rich folk if this place came under attack. Living right along the walls, those look like they're going to be the first casualties. On the other hand, if the walls are more being built as a statement, it's going to be a lot cheaper since they only have to wall in 3 sides now

Ahhhh. The city actually slopes up quite a lot towards those walls, a couple hundred feet on west side and less on the east. Steep hills continue up behind them - I have been, thus far, unable to indicate this on the map! :( So, they're not meant to repel typical medieval massed-attacks and siege engines...more for keeping out mounted barbarians (orcs riding worgs, in this case) and D&D-style monsters. Living near the walls is a status symbol, as it gets you on the hill with a view and away from the smelly harbor. Yeah, and a free (and impressive) wall, so you only have to build three more. :)
M

landorl
10-06-2009, 12:08 PM
One thing that might help a little with understanding the layout, would be to add contour lines. I know a lot of people don't like them, but it sure does clear things up. Just a thin line - Maybe a soft gray color so that it doesn't stand out too much.

mearrin69
10-11-2009, 05:25 AM
Hi all,
Didn't have much time this week to work on this but finally got a few hours tonight. Finished building colors and did some various cleanup and painting...some roads, tree stuff, etc. It's looking a little better now. Still a lot to do though. Back soon, I hope. Maybe I can finish it this week.
M

Gandwarf
10-11-2009, 05:31 AM
Looks good, at least you have colored all the buildings now :)
So is this walled building on the island to the north a palace or something?

mearrin69
10-11-2009, 11:26 AM
So is this walled building on the island to the north a palace or something?

It's actually the city's congressional/legislative compound. Most of the real work of running the city takes place in administrative buildings in the main part but this is where the shizhang ("mayor"), advisors, and the "city council" meet and generally hang out in the lap of luxury. The mayor and her family live in the mansion to the west of the walled compound. The large dock further west is for ferries from the mainland.

Some other points of interest, in case anyone is wondering:

1) Haibianr is built on the ruins of an ancient city from a much more advanced (techno-magical) civilization. The towers along the northern shore are artifacts of that people...arcane-powered artillery that keep the city safe. Most of them work. The rest are armed with rocketry...as are the many patrol boats. Some of the larger white buildings on the mainland are older buildings that are still in use...the rest have been scavenged.

2) The western coast, outside of the city walls, holds the main industrial area, docks, and shipyards. Most foreign vessels dock here. The large grey building is a fireworks/rocketry factory and the dots represent a shanty town.

3) At the top of the hills on the eastern side of the map is the House of the Four Winds, a monastic order of monks with a secret. To the south of that, further up the hills, is the Temple of Heaven.

4) The wierd steel-grey things are terraced fields...they'll hopefully look better when colored.

M

mearrin69
10-12-2009, 01:05 AM
Grr...hit Ctrl+something and lost my post. Hate that...

Anyway. This is getting to the point that I'm about ready to call it finished. I've got some more tweaking and a lot of texturing to do but I'm liking it pretty well at this point. There are a few areas I was hoping for advice on, though:

1) I can't seem to get the city, fields, forest, etc. to "read" as sitting on the sides of some pretty steepish hills. You can tell there are hills there but they just don't seem all that substantial. I'd rather not put contour lines or anything artifical but can't seem to make them pop.

2) Any ideas for the water? I've mushed it around a bit but haven't found anything I like...except the color.

3) The forests are very plain and I want to texture them some more. Played around with it a little bit on the northern island...just dabs of varying color. Any ideas for a better way to do this? I'm thinking I don't want to just overlay a repeating texture but maybe there's some cool technique of which I am unaware (hmmm, write awkwardly or end with a preposition?)

Any help with these issues - or other ways to improve it will be much appreciated. Hopefully my next post will be in the Finished Maps section. Thanks to everyone for their input so far.
M

philipstephen
10-12-2009, 01:59 AM
for elevation, how about a subtle gradient with darker shades being the low areas and lighter shades being the high? just put it in a transparent layer, and play around with overlay or multiply or some odd layer effect until it looks right...

just a thought...

i should double check what software you are using...

by the by, i am really digging the map so far... i hope it is okay if i might use it in a game.

good luck!

phil

mearrin69
10-12-2009, 02:23 AM
for elevation, how about a subtle gradient with darker shades being the low areas and lighter shades being the high? just put it in a transparent layer, and play around with overlay or multiply or some odd layer effect until it looks right...
I did this a little with just the terrain but I think it's time to give it a go over the top of everything. Thanks for the tip. I hope it works!


by the by, i am really digging the map so far... i hope it is okay if i might use it in a game.
Thanks, and you're more than welcome to the map for personal use. I'm just excited someone likes it enough to *want* to use it! :)
M

BTW, looked at your campaign site. Did you do the map of Istarnia? I like the style.

philipstephen
10-12-2009, 10:57 AM
Yep... that map of Istarnia on Obsidian Portal was one of my first photoshop maps. I just cloned black and white symbols from other maps I liked -- stealing a mountain here, a forest there... and then painted it in a layer and multiplied it so the black lines showed through...

After that I found Cartographer's Guild and realized how much cooler maps could be with a little effort...

and now i have been spending crap loads of effort, likely reinventing the wheel a bit due to my lack of skill at following instructions in tutorials... ah well, at least folks seem to dig my world map...

one thing you could do for your sea texture is have a faint halo around the land to suggest shallow water... there are likely multiple ways to do this, but i just had the land as a layer and gave it a glowing edge for mine. other than that, your colours and textures are just fine... and you could even do well without the glowing edge...

good luck and happy thanksgiving!

Gandwarf
10-12-2009, 01:22 PM
This map is really starting to come together! Are you going to label it also?

mearrin69
10-12-2009, 02:01 PM
@Gandwarf: Thanks. I do plan to label it...to some undetermined degree. It will carry some sort of logotype name at the top, some Chinesey marks (including my "chop" - signature block - in red), and a compass rose.

Not sure what else but I've seen some opinions on here that folks don't much care for numbered entries aesthetically. That seem right? This is for an adventure and campaign setting book and the GM will need to know where certain things are located. I might keep a "beauty" version and then create a utility version with the other information included.

I'm actually really looking forward to breaking out my wife's prismacolor markers some day and going to work on the paper version...hopefully suitable for framing if I don't screw it up too badly :)
M

mearrin69
10-15-2009, 04:01 AM
Okay. Well, apparently I wasn't as close to done as I thought. Messed about with suggesting terrain with light and shadow layers. Did a *lot* of texturing, to great benefit I think. The water is still meh...I didn't sell it. Oddly I still haven't done much with roads yet.
M

Coyotemax
10-15-2009, 04:04 AM
Just put a subtle ripple on the river section and the water should look perfect.

Overall i love this, very very nice.

Steel General
10-15-2009, 06:57 AM
Very nice, this keeps getting better and better.

Ramah
10-15-2009, 08:18 AM
Totally loving this map. :) Keep it up.

philipstephen
10-15-2009, 01:02 PM
i think it is brilliant! i just wish i could see the city buildings a bit better...

phil

rdanhenry
10-16-2009, 04:41 AM
I like the water. Well, mostly. The stream off to the right especially needs something to suggest flow. Maybe add rapids in a couple of places?

mearrin69
10-16-2009, 05:24 AM
Hi all,
Thanks for the comments. I've made some improvements to the water and (I think) finished texturing the rest of the map. The river on the right actually does have some flow texturing but it's not really visible at this magnification...I'll beef it up a bit so it shows.

Been working on a compass rose (complete with Chinese-style dragon wrapped around it), titling, etc. for a finished presentation of it. My finished-finished version will also have ships and maybe a rickshaw or two..not sure if I'll include those in the finished version I post here. What do you guys think? Would it add some life or clutter it?
M

Coyotemax
10-16-2009, 05:43 AM
try it with, and if it looks cluttered take them out :)

Really, unless you try it, you won't know for sure. I say go for it, myself.

Steel General
10-16-2009, 06:47 AM
try it with, and if it looks cluttered take them out :)

Really, unless you try it, you won't know for sure. I say go for it, myself.

Ditto that...

mearrin69
10-16-2009, 09:15 PM
Good call. No full-scale WIPs from now on probably...the details are too small to make much difference (which means I have to STOP soon).

BUT, I just had to share my compass rose, done today. I can't take credit for the design of the dragon itself, but the drawing itself and the rose "design" are mine. It was fun. I think it'll help give it some Asian flavor, along with my chop. How does it look?
M

Coyotemax
10-16-2009, 09:25 PM
oooh wow!!!! I love that! *totally jealous*

Ramah
10-17-2009, 03:40 AM
My word, that is gorgeous.

Gandwarf
10-17-2009, 04:57 AM
It looks incredibly cool!
Be sure to post up the entire map once you consider it finished :)

Steel General
10-17-2009, 09:03 AM
The compass rose is very, very nice - great job.

mearrin69
10-17-2009, 01:19 PM
Thanks guys - your encouragement has helped immensely during this project. It turned out to be a bigger job than I expected but I'm pretty happy with the results. Not sure when I'll get a chance to finish it up but will post it when I do.
M