View Full Version : September Entry: "Feeding Hills" Village Maps

09-20-2009, 11:50 PM
Here's My Final Map for Challenge Purposes! I'm posting it here as well as in the last post on this thread.

The text below is from my original post (but I deleted the original WIP image to avoid confusion!):

[Original Text from Original Post:]

I think I'm doomed.

I'll never finish by the 25th.

This "before and after" piece is part of a four-map commission for a D&D low-level adventure by one of Paizo's and Kobold Quarterly's favorite authors. I've crafted the four maps into two, full-page double maps. One double map, the one I'll post here, shows a village in a "before and after" format. The second double map, which I won't post here, shows the "dungeon" locus for the adventure, an underground complex viewed both in a side cross section (top portion of the double map) and in an aerial view (bottom portion of the map). Both the village and the dungeon double maps share the exact same border frame (colors and all).

In the "before and after" village map, the top portion shows a thriving farming community in summertime. I originally thought the bottom piece was supposed to be the same village years later, after it’s been abandoned and gone to seed, overtaken by the wilds. Then I read the adventure manuscript. The "after" village actually a duplicate village existing at the same time, built by the evil-doers to mirror the existing town for nefarious purposes, but gone to seed and overrun by nature. (I hope this doesn't diverge too far from this competition's "before and after" premise, but I have to do what the author and publisher demand.) I'll show the run-down village by moonlight to make it extra-creepy. I have an email out to the author asking if I can add some weird lights coming from derelict buildings to add color and develop the haunting effect I'm seeking.

Thevillage double map's deadline isn't for several months, and I should NOT be working on this now. I have other projects due MUCH sooner, projects I'm neglecting! But what were the chances I'd get asked to do a before-and-after-type project in the same month that a before-and-after challenge happens to be the Cartographer's Guild Mapping Challenge? I couldn't resist trying, so I banged away on the first half of the village double throughout the last couple of weeks.

But here we are, five days from the deadline, and I'm at least a day and a half away from finishing the first section. In this first section, I need doors, windows, slats and thatch (that go in the right direction) on each and every roof, and a church with steps, pillars, and steeple without missing sections. I need to correct every single building's shadow. I need bridges. I need to scroll back the saturation. I need to sink the far trees into the landscape so they don’t float above it like billious clouds (or just look incompetently cut out and pasted on). And then I need tags, a compass rose, and all of the embellishing design elements beyond simply painting the village. I need to make soooooo many changes my mind boggles.

And then I need design and craft the whole second map!

So I'm probably out of it. But it's not for lack of trying!

Here's where I am. This image is 2009 by Edward J. Reed, all rights reserved.

Steel General
09-21-2009, 06:47 AM
This looks nice already, hope you have time to finish it.

09-21-2009, 10:20 AM
Wow, every time i said, "hey, im getting better", i enter this forums and look at this wonderful maps and i have to get out by the rear door saying, "there are a long road to go". XD

What means... What an amazing work... XD

09-21-2009, 11:31 PM
Wow, thanks zenram! Your words inspire!

09-24-2009, 12:05 AM
I realized several days ago that I have little hope of meeting Friday’s challenge deadline. I'd need until the end of the month to pull off both halves of this "before and after" map. So I’ve shifted my focus to crafting the strongest double-map images I can for the publisher.

Now that I'm freed from the deadline, I'm indulging myself exploring a slew of different techniques that I've never tried before. I'm experimenting and inventing. I'm also foolishly obsessing on time-consuming details so miniscule that they likely won't be visible in the published product. I should abandon these tiny fixations, but they present brand new challenges, and I love trying to figure out how to do something artistic with no guidance or inkling how to pull it off. Creative battles that I don’t know how to win engage me the most. Once I understand a routine or set of procedures likely to produce successful results, I start to lose interest in it. So much for efficiency!

Here's a tiny slice from the developing map. This detail comprises about one sixteenth of the full map's area. Lost to do! No chimneys yet, or split-rail fences. The blur of the trees feels incongruous with the unnecessarily sharp clarity of the buildings. I've bungled the stone wall's perspective; it leans too far to the left in the sweep of its turn. The water ripples feel too large for the rest of the image's scale. Most of these imperfections seem less jarring when I pull back to see the entire image. But I'd still like to correct them before turning the map over to the publisher.

09-24-2009, 11:40 AM
Here's a broader view of the developing village (showing about 50%-60% of the complete map's area). Time to stop procrastinating on the church.

09-24-2009, 07:55 PM
Chimneys. I'm down to just the chimneys. And a fence or two. Then I can balance the whole image and post it!

09-24-2009, 08:24 PM
Did you lay out vanishing points or just eyeball it? Looks pretty sweet.

09-25-2009, 12:53 PM
Here's my final "before" image, a thriving farming community before the evil comes.

Please let me know if this looks oversaturated for you. I work on two screens. On my better screen, its subtle and perfect. On my newer, less fantastic screen, it's dayglow candyland. I can tamper back the saturation, of course, but I don't know how much to do so. So feedback please! I'm curious what others are seeing.

09-25-2009, 01:15 PM
Looks very good to me. Well done! :)


Steel General
09-25-2009, 01:17 PM
Looks good to me.

09-25-2009, 03:25 PM
Here are my very first baby steps building the "evil" side of town.

Making the evil side work as a night image is going to be a grave challenge. I asked the author if there were any haunting light sources I could add. He said no, not really . . . but I may add them just the same.

Next step . . . let's destroy some buildings!

As I mentioned above, I'd originally thought this double map showed one town at two different points in time, the first a when it was a thriving farming community, the second after it had been abandoned, become overrun by nature, and taken over by evil doers. Then I read the manuscript and discovered the two towns exist at the same time. The evil doers built a duplicate of the town for nefarious reasons, and the duplicate is falling into ruin and being overtaken by the wilderness. (The adventurers go underground, bad things happen, and they come up in what looks like the real town years in the future. They don't know they're only a short distance away from where they're supposed to be.) So some major topographical elements, like the lake and duck pond, don't exist in the second image.

09-25-2009, 07:10 PM
Trashing houses is fun! (Need's shadows.)

09-25-2009, 07:38 PM
That looks to be almost as cathartic as using a real sledgehammer, can't wait to see the whole thing :)

09-26-2009, 12:22 PM
The peaceful map is really beautiful; I think you've done an excellent job pulling off the colour palette and perspective. I have to remember to rep you once I spread it around some.

You mentioned before about the difference viewing it between screens; if this map is going to be printed I'd keep the saturation a little higher than looks comfortable - it's probably good the way it looks now. Low saturation pastel colours print inconsistently in CMYK.

09-26-2009, 05:27 PM
Question: Should I zoom in on the night scene in the bottom half like I've done here? I'm inclined to do so because I can show more details. But it won't balance in scale with the upper half anymore.


Still lots to do, buildings to destroy, three buildings to add, roads to erode, and trees, scrub, and vines to plant and drape over things.

Not enough hours!

09-26-2009, 07:10 PM
Please offer opinions on the question in my last post!

But moving on, check out the easy way I discovered to create deep grasses. (Youl'll have to click on the image to see the results; the thumbnail below is too small to reveal the effect.)

I built the buildings and stone walls on one layer, and the green background on a second layer behind it. I painted the green background layer in a variety of values of green to suggest changes in topography. Then I made grass-like patterns in one step with Image/Filter/Texture/Texturizer/Brush Strokes/Sprayed Strokes.

(Okay, that's a lie. I tried it that way, but it gave me grass-like strokes either vertically, horizontally, or at a 45 degree angle. I wanted something less than a 45 degree angle, so I copied the green ground layer to another file, rotated it 35 degrees, applied the vertical filter, rotated it back 35 degrees, and then dropped it back into the original file with strokes going diagonally from the bottom left to the top right at a 35 degree angle.)

That put the buildings and stone walls layer on top of the grassy layer. I then used my Eraser Tool, set to a tiny Brush size (100% Opacity, 100% Flow, 100% Hardness) to erase grassy lines into the bottom edges of each building and stone wall. This revealed the grassy layer underneath, suggesting the grass is in FRONT of the buildings and walls, not behind it.

The buildings and stone walls still need shadows, which will probably require me to adjust the process somewhat. But I'm pleased with the initial results. Sank those buildings right down into the overgrown grasses!

09-26-2009, 07:30 PM
The grass looks great. I'd be inclined to keep the scale balance, but I also space christmas bulbs perfectly evenly on the tree ...

You have an amazing vision. Follow your gut :)

Steel General
09-26-2009, 08:04 PM
I would have to say keep the scales between the maps the same. Otherwise I think you lose some of the 'before/after' effect.

09-26-2009, 11:15 PM
I'm having too much fun obliterating these buildings! Working out some kind of issues here.

I'm increasingly inclined to zoom in on the darker, "after" portion of the map. I realize it diminishes the clean comparison between before and after. But the author of the adventure focuses on a geographic area in the "Old Feeding Hills" (nighttime) section of the map that's much smaller than the daytime "Feeding Hills" map. If I include the full scope of the upper map in the lower map, the bulk of it, per the author, will simply be endless exapnses of trees. So I think I'll zoom in on the goodies. Like these here!

(Do click on the map. The posted thumbnail misses all the fun details. And there's lots to do yet!)

(This image, like each of the others on this thread, is copyright 2009 by Edward J. Reed, all rights reserved.)

09-26-2009, 11:53 PM
that is coming along very nicely!

09-27-2009, 09:20 AM
Amazing work. Have some rep.

09-27-2009, 12:18 PM
Thanks for the support and excellent feedback armoredgear7, Gidde, Steel General, Coyotemax, and Gandwarf!

Time to strangle these buildings in creepers and vines. I'm struggling to find the best approach (not that I need limit myself to just one!) and best volume of foliage to add. I'm drawing vine stalks on with my Brush tool and draping leave patters across with my Brush tool's pen tip shaped like a leaf.

Which images do you think work best? Do you like the serpentine vines? Do you like the absence of serpentine vines?

One disadvantage of clothing the buildings heavily in creeper foliage is that it makes the buildings overall more green. Given the darkness of my night-time palette, the added green makes the buildings disappear more easily into the field on which they sit. This isn't much of a problem when I zoom in closely (like in the images below). But, when I pull back so that you can see the whole map at once, the added green creates too much camouflage. If I let creepers strangle too many ruins, I'll need to strengthen the contrast throughout so that the village doesn't vanish altogether. But the higher contrast makes the image look less like moonlit night time and more like strangely green daytime.

Everything is a balancing act!

Please give me your thoughts!

09-27-2009, 12:28 PM
Well, zoomed in the creepers look awesome. Can we see a shot zoomed out?

09-27-2009, 12:45 PM
Perhaps a compromise, some more heavily covered than others? that would look a bit more natural too, I would think.

09-27-2009, 01:00 PM
Here it is zoomed out, so you can see the creeper's effects. I may not zoom out this far in the final because it leaves so much area effectively empty and reduces one's ability to see the nifty details.

And there's lots yet to do -- tree trunks, rolling hills under the trees, water management, shadows from stone walls, more creepers everywhere, small, stunted trees in the fields, and so on.

Hit me with your feedback!!

09-27-2009, 01:05 PM
The creepers don't seem to wash out the buildings to me, even at that scale. So I'd say full speed ahead.

Um ... and hurry! I'd love to see the final in the challenge :)

09-27-2009, 01:06 PM
Are all the buildings made of stone?

One might expect some to be of wood, leaving burned-out shells in the "after" version, perhaps with only their fireplace/chimneys left standing and almost whole.

09-27-2009, 01:38 PM
Creepers look properly creeping (creepy?) and totally perfect.

I like the idea of the wooden burned out buildings, but do you have time at this stage? argh! :)

09-27-2009, 02:04 PM
Wood Houses: You're all correct! It would be great, and I may do it for the published version, but I'm not going to undertake that task for the competition piece. Wood takes longer than stone. I can build stone swiftly with Craquelure and Texturizer/Sandstone Filters. Wood grain takes more care, and clapboard or shingles take even more care. Moreover, if I switched buildings in the deserted, nighttime village to wood, I'd need to switch them to wood in the daylight version as well, doubling the work.

Creepers: Good enough! Let the strangler vines arise!

09-27-2009, 02:56 PM
NOW it's beginning to look like an "after" picture!

(as always, copyright by me, now, all rights reserved, blah, blah, blah . . . )

09-27-2009, 04:53 PM
Now for the biggest challenge, the great balancing act. How do I keep the dark side dark enough to read as nighttime while still revealing all of its details and content?

Running out of time!

(Copyright 2009 by Edward J. Reed, all rights reserved)

09-27-2009, 05:05 PM
Oh, bite me! I completely forgot to attack the building on the far left. No rubble, no vines, nothing.

There's always something . . . :?

I remain unconvinced whether I should show the whole ruined village using the same scale as the prospering village (as shown in the map attached to my last post, above), or zoom in more like this to show more details amidst the ruins.

What do you all think?

09-27-2009, 05:23 PM
I, personally, would keep the same scale on both maps.
While it's tempting to show more detail and not waste space with all those trees on the second map it's a lot easier to get the change/difference if you keep it the same scale.
Maybe you can try to poke some ruined and/or overgrown roofs through the treetops instead to make it more interesting.

In any case, beautiful entry.

09-27-2009, 05:36 PM
Have you considered pulling the focus in for the first map? I understand that this is a map for a client, so the "before" picture has details the other map doesn't. But for purposes of this challenge, maybe crop it down so it matches the second picture in size and scale.

If anything it might look like more of a before/after type picture, appearing that the woods are encroachng as well.

09-27-2009, 05:46 PM
Maybe you can try to poke some ruined and/or overgrown roofs through the treetops instead to make it more interesting.

In any case, beautiful entry.

Now THATS a fantastic idea!

My instinct to zoom in comes in large part from constructive criticism I got from Wolfgang Baur, editor of Kobold Quarterly and Open Design, on my early versions of my "Birch Queen's Fair" map. My original version contained the final version within roughly 60% of the area of the picture plane, with the remainder comprised of a rolling forest bordering all sides and leaving the fair itself a smaller image in the middle. (I added vignettes to try to fill the empty space.) Wolfgang's dead-on criticism amounted to, "Why are you showing me so many meaningless trees?"

My "after" map of the Feeding Hill's Village feels so much like that earlier Birch Queen's Fair map that my instincts say, "Zoom in! Zoom in!" The difference, of course, is that here, with the Feeding Hills double map, the scale DOES matter because it creates that clear "before and after" feeling. In the Birch Queen's Fair map, there was no sibling map to which scale was linked. I should get over my angst about "too many trees" and, as Tear suggests, find better ways to make the sweeping image of the darkened forest work for me.

Lovin' this website! Such great feedback!

09-27-2009, 06:03 PM
The "good" village, bathing in the light looks awesome. With all those streams going on you need some watermills :)

09-27-2009, 06:13 PM
The adventure includes a saw mill (where nasty, nasty things can happen!). If time permits, I'll add the water wheel. But in all likelihood, that will have to await preparing my version for the publisher, not this competition. I'm so far behind that I likely won't have time, before the competition closes, to add tags, a rose compass, or any of the design elements I have in mind.

09-27-2009, 06:53 PM
You should write a tutorial on your process Ashenvale. The results are quite lovely and I think there is a sizable market for interest among the cartographers here.

09-27-2009, 11:47 PM
Wow, thanks Immolate! That's the best compliment anyone can offer!

09-27-2009, 11:55 PM
Here's my final for Challenge purposes. I can post higher resolution images of each section (top and bottom) if that helps. I have more work to do for publication, including dozens of tags identifying buildings and locations.

Context. Bear in mind that, in the adventure this illustrates, this isn't a true "before and after" setting. The "false" village in the lower half exists at the same time and not far from the real Feeding Hills. But when the adventurers come back up from their toils underground into the false village, they likely don't know it's not the real village, and it appears as if decades, if not centuries, have passed.

Gratitude! Thanks to everyone who offered support and assistance on this thread during this project! You folks rock!

09-27-2009, 11:59 PM
Don't forget the ### LATEST WIP ### tag so the thumbnail scraper can pick it up!

09-28-2009, 12:06 AM
What's the LATEST WIP tag? How do I attach it?

Babe in the woods here.

All alone.



09-28-2009, 12:12 AM
Whenever you put a new map in put ### Latest WIP ### just before you upload the map as an image attachment and then it should appear on the
thumbnails page (http://www.viewing.ltd.uk/Temp/CG/ChallengeTN/Challengers_May08.htm) of all current entries.

Quote is worth a thousand words and all that.

A lot of the voters will look at the thumbnail page that gets generated, and go from there, so you don't want to lose any potential votes because they had to work to find your map :)

09-28-2009, 12:19 AM
Oh, okay, thanks Coyotemax! Let me try posting my final again. The code goes straight into the text of the post, right? Let me give it a try.

Sorry for the duplication that's about to ensue! Hope I'm doing it right this time.

09-28-2009, 12:21 AM
Here's my final for Challenge purposes. I can post higher resolution images of each section (top and bottom) if that helps. I have more work to do for publication, including dozens of tags identifying buildings and locations.

Context. Bear in mind that, in the adventure this illustrates, this isn't a true "before and after" setting. The "false" village in the lower half exists at the same time and not far from the real Feeding Hills. But when the adventurers come back up from their toils underground into the false village, they likely don't know it's not the real village, and it appears as if decades, if not centuries, have passed.

Gratitude! Thanks to everyone who offered support and assistance on this thread during this project! You folks rock!

### Latest WIP ###

09-28-2009, 12:29 AM
Yikes! My name and a thumbnail popped up on the September Challenge page, but the thumbnail shows only a miniscule, random section of my map. Clicking on the thumbnail shows only a larger version of the same tiny snippet from the map.

I must be doing something wrong.

Any advice? How do I help the system create a thumbnail that shows the whole map or that links to the whole map?

09-28-2009, 12:41 AM
All is well for the moment. The last time the thumbnail script was run, that just happened to be the last image in your thread that it picked up, is all. When it gets run again (it usually does right before the voting starts, i believe it's a manual process) it will pick your tagged image and display that.

If i recall the thumbnail scraper will still nab images from your thread, but with the tag, you have control over exactly which image it will be.

09-28-2009, 01:00 AM
Thanks again, Coyotemax! It looks like it will pay for me to learn a bit more about the system here! I appreciate the heads up!

09-28-2009, 09:35 AM
This is beautiful. I'm glad you kept it at the same scale in the end, makes it easier to compare :)

09-28-2009, 10:28 AM
The thumbnail scraper got a kick and all is well now I think...
That robot is a bit lazy and needs a kick now and then.

Anyway, beautiful work Ashenvale. This is the best work I have seen from you.

09-28-2009, 12:36 PM
Thanks, Gidde! Thanks, Gandwarf! I'm happy too and had loads of fun working on it. My personal goal remains to develop maps that don't look like everyone else's maps, and I saw this as a chance to push myself in a new direction. I think that's perhaps this website's greatest strength: there are so many strong members with such divergent approaches to cartography, there's always something new to discover, draw inspiration from, or simply sit back and soak up in delight and wonder. (Edit: I don't mean my work! I mean yours.)

I wish I could show you some of my other more recent work. That's the nature of our business, though, isn't it? Nondisclosure agreements muzzle us during the creation process, and, even after completion, publishers don't like us displaying reproductions until long after their first publication run. So we have to market ourselves with out-of-date examples of our work. Stupid system.

I slipped this one through because the publisher hasn't sent me a contract yet, and because the map will likely change markedly before publication. The author and publisher will undoubtedly have changes they'll need before this goes out to the real world. But, for once, because of the Challenge, I'm months ahead of my deadline.

Of course, because of the Challenge, I'm now far, far behind on projects with more immediate deadlines. But I'll worry about that tomorrow.

I'm SO glad the actual deadline kicked from the 25th to the 27th. I had no chance of pulling a finished piece together by the 25th.