View Full Version : Grackslu WIP

10-07-2009, 06:03 AM
So, here's the map I was talking about a few days ago. Got to change the dark water, it looks crappy, draw rivers, and then forests, cities, borders, maybe armies. And I'd be grateful if someone told me how to add patterns to photoshop. And if anything looks strikingly odd


Steel General
10-07-2009, 06:52 AM
Not to bad so far...

1) The darker water isn't that bad - but if your not happy with it then change it.
2) Some weird stuff going on in your lakes
3) I like the hills/mountains but they have a little to much white in them I think.
4) Your 'roughed in' rivers don't seem to be breaking any rules

To add a pattern in photoshop is easy...

1) Open the pattern/texture file you want to add
3) Give a name to the pattern and click OK

This will add it to the current pattern 'group'

10-07-2009, 06:57 AM
okay, thanks!
The mountains... yes, they're white, because i thought that adding a double light effect would make them look taller, and they're supposed to look really tall (it's a fantasy world, right?). But they don't. Any idea how to fix that without redrawing the map?

Steel General
10-07-2009, 07:02 AM
Well it looks like you are using Ascensions continent tutorial (been awhile since I went thru that - he may be better able to offer ideas).

You could try 'stacking' another layer on top of the existing mountains. With the right layer effect settings it may help give it some more 'height'. But I do things much differently than Ascension does so that may not work.

10-07-2009, 07:16 AM
You can get some height effects out of bevel properties. I did that on a map called "Laramis" in the finished maps section. On the other hand, I've had good results from Ascension's tutorial on atlas maps on a world titled "Eldimar". The mountains don't look monstrous, but keep in mind that at 1 px = 1 mile scale, they should not. If your scale is more zoomed-in than that, you should adjust the underlying technique accordingly.

10-07-2009, 09:49 AM
When i was trying to make mountains look taller I went into the bevel and emboss settings on the mountains layer and increased the depth. This makes the shading on the mountains more noticeable making the highlights look higher up in comparision. Also, duplicating the mountain layer and just leaving it on top of the orginal can work too, although you may have to fiddle with the colour if it comes out to dark.

Hope this helps.


10-07-2009, 01:42 PM
if anything looks strikingly odd.
In the middle of the map, I would expect the river to flow into the lake instead of just barely missing it. It's not impossible, but it is odd.

10-07-2009, 06:07 PM
Water looks good to me. If you want bigger mountains then scale them up. Edit - transform - scale = 200% (for example). This gives them a bigger "footprint" and you will also have to readjust the bevel numbers. Stacking works sort of like bump mapping and makes them look taller as does fiddling with the bevel. You could also duplicate the mountains layer, and then get rid of the layer styles on this second layer, then set this second layer to overlay. Overlay mode, and stacking this layer a few times, darkens the darks and lightens the lights producing a faux exaggerated height.

10-08-2009, 11:29 AM
1. Made the rivers using the brilliant "experiment" method :)
2. repaired the lakes (I hope they look repaired)
3. Fixed the mountains. Didn't like the brown look so I gave it a shade of gray, played with the light render to eliminate the "snow" (and added a second layer)
4. Stretched out the dark water (in the corners, the feather modify was visible, in the previous edition)

your opinions?


10-08-2009, 12:15 PM
I notice three oddities - one is the circular river (lake with a hill in the middle of it is maybe what you're after?) in the northwest quadrant, looks a little odd at first, unless you have a particular storyline reasoning for it :)

The second is just a little to the left, there's some squared off texture effects there, I'm guessing artifacts from resizing something on one of the layers. Easy to fix, looks like.

Third is the river bevel. it looks like you're following Ascensions tutorial which puts the mountains having lighting coming from the southeast - but the bevel on the rivers inplies the lighting is coming from the northwest. That makes them look raised instead of cut into the land in comparison to the mountains. Easy fix, again :)

I like the ocean before, but it looks good in this version too. And the mountians look much nicer with this level of white on them.

Keep going, this is shaping up nice :)

10-08-2009, 12:42 PM
The circular river has a 30% finished story, thought it would be interesting to have a high speed water perpetum-mobile (think of the possibilities!)
The sun for rivers was the same as for the mountains, although I have no idea why there was "emboss" instead of "inner bevel"
The square thing... not as easy as it might have seen, but manageable
The ocean had a change right after I uploaded the last one (the dark part seemed to sharp)
so, with this quick update comes a hard question:
where do forests grow?


10-13-2009, 08:26 PM
Well... Moving forward. Finished forests, borders, cities (goddamn making one brush 10 times to fit in those pixels), the net, will have to search for a method for roads, and then the naming process and finishing it. Oh and the scale is one square is about 50 miles

Any thoughts?


10-13-2009, 09:30 PM
In the middle of the map, just right of center, it looks like you filled in some lakes or something and that's producing a hard edge. You also might want to add a black stroke around your towns so that they don't get lost in the lighter colored areas. So far so good.

10-13-2009, 11:49 PM
Just noticed... suppose it isn't deliberate... but your rivers look like they are "blue lines of putty glued onto the landscape".

Steel General
10-14-2009, 06:37 AM
Looking good, couple of things I noticed...

1) You have some pixelization/noise around many of your lakes
2) As Juggy pointed out your rivers look like they rise up off the land. Not sure if that's do to the source of the lighting or not.

10-14-2009, 07:23 AM
Hey, I know other people have mentioned the rivers already but I had the same problem with mine. Here's the setting i used, maybe they'll work for your rivers too.

Set the fill to 0%.
Colour overlay of 110,160,200 at 50% opacity.
Bevel and emboss at chisel soft and direction down. Set the highlight of the bevel to 0 and size to 1.

Essentially the same as the rivers in Ascension's tut but with some slight tweaking, if the rivers turn out to bright, or not bright enough, just tweak the opacity on the colour overlay. The bevel doesn't really work if the rivers are 1 pixel wide but that shouldn't be a problem with your map. Where the rivers meet the sea, or a lake, lightly erase the edges with a small airbrush eraser to make them fade into the water.

Hopes this helps.


10-14-2009, 07:24 AM
The problem with the rivers is an inner bevel instead of an outer bevel.

10-14-2009, 04:04 PM
I tried to fix the lakes and the shores, somewhat worked (I hope), and I've fixed the rivers. Now I'm working on roads, then I'll try naming all that stuff... And then what?


10-15-2009, 02:47 AM
There's a rather interesting crop-circle in the southeastern forest. I assume that's intentional? Ancient elven ceremonial site, perhaps?

10-15-2009, 05:11 PM
At this scale (or what I presume this scale to be), that's a heck of a ceremonial site! I'd figure it to be the ruins of an ancient super-city.

10-21-2009, 07:34 AM
Yes, it's intentional. Like that river. And if you look closely there's a skull shaped mountain. Made the roads for it, all of them. When I created them I considered stuff like avoiding mountains, forests, hills and everything. I hope. I won't upload it, too little of a change, just an update. And a question: anybody has a font which doesn't look like one big pixel with the size's 4-5? Because that's what I'm using righ now and it does look like crap.

10-21-2009, 04:57 PM
The best fonts for that size are the sans serif ones...the ones like Arial and Comic Sans as they are the most legible. However, I often go down to 3 pts with some scripty fonts so it's basically a trial and error thing to see what you like best. PPI is also a factor in pt size (digitally) so 3 pts on 72 ppi is one thing but 3 pts on 300 ppi is quite another.

Steel General
10-21-2009, 06:00 PM
I'll also throw in Tahoma & Verdana as possible fonts to try...

10-21-2009, 06:51 PM
Keep in mind Pixel size is not the same as Point size.

I never realyl got the hang of how to work with points, so I always switch out to pixels and do it that way. That having been said, Arial and Verdana are decent ones for tiny sizes. Times new roman is decent, but you don't want to go under 8 pixels (10 is better).

Steel General
10-22-2009, 06:21 AM
Ugh! Times new roman, the most over-used font except for Comic Sans :(

10-23-2009, 11:05 AM
Goddamit. Anyone noticed how many towns cities and so on there is on that map?! That's gonna take years... Ah hell with it.

Thanks for advice, I'm going to use rather diverse set of fonts, but for now I have verdana for the smallest towns (all hail legible 2 pt), Morris Roman (a bit fantasy, but still legible) for the cities, something which is labeled as Microsoft Uighur (but it can't be it) and looks a little bit like times new roman for capitals. Thinking about sans serif for lands.
What do you think of themed fonts? Creepy font kinds for "places of interest" or some dangerous spots on the ocean (lost islands maybe?), "chiller" font?

10-27-2009, 01:44 AM
I haven't checked but the thing about the Uighur font is that it is actually activated properly through one of the specialist language options. I have Vista and I've got Jewish, Sanskrit, Chinese, Japanese, Turkic and a bunch of "other language" fonts. One of the ones I like is the jewish font Narkisim. Very nice little font.

If you're thinking of the "horror movie" chiller... it's a touch cliched. Also it does kind of scream "trashy".

10-30-2009, 09:43 PM
Got it. Not using that font. Here's how it looks, after naming all the cities and towns and all, every forest, some mountains and so on.
One question: how should I name forts? Like fort something or? Because I really have no idea. And there is a reason for such chaotic naming (that land is over 3500 years old, some names survived for more than a few hundred years, some for less than a hundred, some for all that time).
For me, this is the crucial map-creation time, soo... Any thoughts? Tips? Anything?


10-30-2009, 10:05 PM
Put a compass and a scale on it and call it done. Looks good to me, I like Smallfontville.

10-31-2009, 02:23 AM
Westfort, The Keep on the Verminlands, Blackwoods Fastness, Castle Bastardry, Fort Apatashi, Orcward Outpost...

10-31-2009, 04:55 AM
Castle Bastardry...

= best name ever. :)

10-31-2009, 05:39 AM
Ascension: oh it's far from finished. I'll be adding more stuff than a compass and a scale. Still thinking about a good name for it (because Grackslu is a continent, and this one is only a minute part of it) and there's more. And with the names... well, if you look really good you'll find more of villages like smallfontville (that was the test one for verdana) :)

su liam: thanks man. Without that i'd have "Fort 1" "Fort 2" "Fort 3", I've forgotten about the other "words"

10-31-2009, 06:03 AM
Wow. What a great map! Keep trucking because I would like to see this map in the Finished Map section.

Steel General
10-31-2009, 08:18 AM
Looking good, even the really small fonts could be read.

It appears to me that your 'icons' for your cities, etc. are a bit pixelated. You may want to check that.

11-01-2009, 05:41 AM
It'll be hard to change the symbols, because they are that small... I tried making them bigger, but then they appeared oversized. So I have no Idea how I could change that

11-01-2009, 06:29 PM
Got it. Not using that font. Here's how it looks, after naming all the cities and towns and all, every forest, some mountains and so on.
One question: how should I name forts? Like fort something or? Because I really have no idea. And there is a reason for such chaotic naming (that land is over 3500 years old, some names survived for more than a few hundred years, some for less than a hundred, some for all that time).
For me, this is the crucial map-creation time, soo... Any thoughts? Tips? Anything?

Just get the name of your location, badly pronounce it and add "Fort, Keep, Castle" to the end. If you can't think of something else, start putting a famous person's name to it.

For Example...

There is a keep on the Trout River. You could get: Truffort, Trafford, Fort Troutiver, Castle Midlands on Trout...

Shark Bay
Sharkfort, Sharktooth, Finn Castle, Sharrfort...

Winchester's traditional Castle
Winchcastle, Winchfort, Winchefort, Winfort, Castle Winchfort, Winfort by Sea....

It's a fairly "english" sounding result, but I'm sure you can do similar things in German, Dutch, French and Spanish to get different sounds...

11-01-2009, 07:09 PM
I'd like to second what Juggernaut just said ... I used this method with a mix of English and French words to name most of the stuff in my latest map.

11-01-2009, 09:16 PM
Done with the naming, thanks guys for the tips.
Now, I'll have to find a way to create that box around it I've dreamed about. And it's going to be difficult... It's going to be a somewhat wooden frame with more space on the left of the map for the compass and some notes, along with the name and some other stuff. Gotta figure it out.
Here's the (hopefully) final version of the map itself.


11-03-2009, 12:47 PM
Looks pretty good. Although it's kind of a strange mix of decent sounding fantasy world names and a few tongue-in-cheek names.

11-06-2009, 07:04 AM
what do you mean by tongue in cheek?

and by the way, the plan was to create the whole scene in 3d (you know, map on a table, compass by the map and stuff) and while modeling all of the additional stuff was not really a problem, I don't think my machine could pull of a 6000x4500 resolution render with a lot of additional lights, gloss and everything (well, maybe if I put it out the window it could, but I won't risk an overnight freezing). So, most probably, you'll be seeing the photoshop version in the finished section somewhere today/tomorrow.

11-06-2009, 09:55 AM
I guess mostly I meant the "Random Peaks", which I interpreted as "Here's a random name for these mountains, just to be funny". I thought I had seen a few others, but probably just the name "Random Peaks" primed me to interpret other names like "Unpassable Mountains" in a more tongue-in-cheek fashion as well.

11-07-2009, 12:34 PM
Sorry for that impression, but they change their height so seems like random enough for me.. right?

Anyway got a really important question to all of you who use photoshop. And I mean Important, with capital I. In Ascension's tutorial, he uses light effect render to create mountains. I need to know if there is a way to get those sharp edges, rocky edges without any shadow. Imagine a mountain side which is directly under the sun, so the effect would be that what is higher is white, and what is lower is gray, without casting a shadow behind the mountains. Is it even doable? (yes, I know that in photoshop it wouldn't or shouldn't resemble real mountains, but I need that for an experiment). Please help a newbie...

11-07-2009, 02:19 PM
If you put enough lights (probably omni lights) on it then that would cancel out the shadows.

11-07-2009, 03:52 PM
Is there any chance that I'd be able to make that adjustments to those (Grackslu's) mountains? And many wide or many small omni lights?

11-07-2009, 09:20 PM
If you have the original clouds and difference clouds layers then you can.

11-07-2009, 09:34 PM
Aaaand that means I'm screwed. Well, a pity. I'll try to figure it out, I'll give a sign if something changes