View Full Version : October Entry - Siete Torres

10-11-2009, 02:26 AM
October has been a crazy month between work, school, planning for a trip to DC and taking the kids to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios in Orlando. That said, I finally got some time this weekend to put in some quality time with Photoshop, working on my challenge project "Siete Torres".

The basis for the project is Ascension's magnificent river in his city tutorial. I trimmed the banks down a bit and toned down the bevel, and made a dozen or so other adjustments that I could not possibly replicate.

The walls were inspired by CoyoteMax and his superb Cruzamento walls. I wound up using a stroke for the ramparts. Thanks for the stone pattern CM!!!

The best feature of this map, and what is taking the longest, is the shadows. City walls have never played well with drop shadows, and I have a whole bunch of interacting city walls on this map, so I decided early on that I would do the drop shadows manually.

You may notice that the same object can cast multiple different shadows on surfaces of varying elevations. I am seriously straining my Trig from college, trying to do interacting slopes on the monastery dormers and trying to keep track of the many levels and features of the church.

The map is less than a third done, so I have lots more work ahead. Suggestions and commentary is welcome!

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10-11-2009, 03:01 AM
Oh wow, that's gorgeous so far. i love the banks!!

ya dats lookin purty hot :)

10-11-2009, 05:29 AM
I am a huge sucker for cities and I love what you have so far. Can't wait to see some more housing appear! The banks, walls and bridges look awesome. Very crisp and clear!

Steel General
10-11-2009, 08:57 AM
A fine start...

I love the little symbols/icons next to the buildings, although that font at that size is a bit hard to read.

10-11-2009, 11:06 AM
Great start! I too love the banks, but the water texture and especially that bridge shadow also bear mentioning. I can't wait to see it grow :)

10-11-2009, 04:44 PM
The Cleric's Quarter is in. The winery, vineyards and barn complete the Church campus, with the nunnery not far away. A seamstress, bookbinder, team of scribes and cartographer/architect have also taken up residence of this little section of Siete Torres. Next to the wall, a herald/geneologist has hung up his shingle.

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10-11-2009, 06:55 PM
The force is strong in this one. The ruler for the nuns is priceless, gave me a loud guffaw when I zoomed in to look at what it was. Doing towns can be fun if you can put up with the drudgery of all the rotating of buildings.

10-11-2009, 07:50 PM
Beautiful work so far Imm, but at this level of detail, I hope you have the time to devote to the project - it looks like a huge undertaking.

10-11-2009, 11:20 PM
Last update for the weekend. I put in fish town where all the fishermen and fish mongers live. The fish market is also there, outside the walls and down wind of the city proper. Down-bank are the docks where the fishing boats are kept.

Also down next to the river is the grain mill built on a large wharf. It's a serious mill with three wheels.

I am also concerned about finishing in time Ravells. If I could drop a building without researching it first and then trying to imitate it accurately, it would speed things up considerably, but before I can ask you to like it, I have to like it. I don't always find a good example to imitate, but when I do, I try to make it as real as possible.

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10-11-2009, 11:28 PM
Your new houses and docks are green. If that's what you were going for then cool but since I know that you're r/g color blind you might want to fix that. Just look at the rgb in the color picker and swap the top two numbers (the third is blue).

10-12-2009, 07:45 AM
Thanks for spotting that. Curiously, both were in the green range on the color picker. I may not be able to see green correctly, but I know where it is so it's odd that I did that. Then again, there are a thousand ways to mess something up in PS so I shouldn't be surprised.

10-12-2009, 11:13 PM
Added bridge town and the low market, plus the wagoner's shop. Added the Dancing Bear Inn. The low market has the majority of the food sales in Siete Torres and boasts two eateries. Nobody leaves the low market hungry, unless they're broke.

Bridge Town is known for it's artisans. Between traffic from Bridge Town and the low market, the Dancing Bear has achieved a reputation of eclectic hedonism in the shadow of the monastery walls that is at least partially earned. The Dancing Bear is the most popular of the inns in Siete Torres for those without cash to spare.

I hope I got all the green out of Fish Town and the docks Ascension. Thanks again!

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10-13-2009, 04:57 AM
The docks do look better and I really like what you did to the town so far.

10-13-2009, 05:36 AM
Wow. I hereby claim this as my favorite city map ever. That is absolutely awesome.

Steel General
10-13-2009, 05:46 AM
Very nice so far, the shadow on the eastern bridge is very well done. The houses in the fish market are still green though, but I think they look ok.

10-13-2009, 09:35 AM
This is looking simply amazing. I'd like to give you something constructive, but ... I can't find a thing except the green that's already mentioned.

10-13-2009, 11:15 AM
One of the roofs (winery? oktoberfest hall?) is edging over the stone wall a tad.

I love the way this is coming along, makes me completely rethink my own city map :)

10-13-2009, 11:28 PM
Thanks CM. I'm constantly having to rearrange the layers to keep priorities straight.

Well I didn't like the thatch so I started over, keeping the old building arrangement. I like the fix much better. I also "fixed" the barn on the monastery grounds.

Finally, I put in all the buildings for Iron Town. This is where most of the smiths work since the slackers inside the walls have a hissy if anyone starts clanging a hammer on an anvil too early in the morning. Better breezes on the riverbank anyway and smithing is hot work.

Siete Torres boasts a host of smiths of all descriptions. Strictly speaking, there are more than a city this size could support, but such a volume of trade passes through the only practical east-west road in this part of the land. There are ferries in other towns both north and south, but ferries are a poor substitute for a proper bridge when you have thirty or more wagons to move across.

So folks come through Siete Torres. They pay their bridge taxes and resupply and repair their wagons. Teamsters can't wait to spend their pay on beer and weapons to defend their caravans.

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Steel General
10-14-2009, 06:30 AM
This is looking quite wonderful!

10-14-2009, 11:10 PM
I like the nunnery (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/nunnery) -- I wonder which sense of the word applies.


10-15-2009, 11:51 PM
I know what you're all saying.... he's never going to finish in time. Well I am going to finish in time. I just need to stop redoing things I've already done.

It was a busy day with work and trying to help my daughter find a different job and making dinner for everyone. I got my knew mobile phone after a very long time of using a crappy one. It's a Samsung Rogue and so far, so good. So of course I had to play with that.

The redo's today were the seven towers and wall and gate towers. That took little time at all.

The new stuff is Rosetown in the southwest corner. A lot of the stinky stuff went in here as the wind tends to blow south and east. There's a dyer here, and a soap maker, two chandlers sharing a sprawling complex with an oiler, two butter makers and their herd of happy cows and a roper maker with his seriously long building to protect his seriously long rope-making jig from the elements.

Just one more section to finish outside the walls, at least on the island itself. A good bit inside the city proper is residential, so that won't take as long as you might think. Of course there are still lots of businesses in there and some duplicates of things you see outside the walls.

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10-15-2009, 11:57 PM
Ok, the rope maker has got to be my favourite part of the map so far. Seriously, I'm still chuckling over it! :P

Is the soap icon from Fight Club, perchance?

10-16-2009, 12:47 AM
Dude, yer puttin me to shame with detail :) Lovin this, though.

10-16-2009, 06:30 AM
With each update I like this map even more, Immolate. Very nice job so far.
As for the deadline: I have been known to take bribes ;)

Oh, a question:
While I very much like the shields as labeling, I am wondering if you are also going to show us a version without them (maybe after the challenge)?

Steel General
10-16-2009, 07:11 AM
Just out of curiosity, is 'Oiler' the correct term?

I found this page (http://www.svincent.com/MagicJar/Economics/MedievalOccupations.html) which has a pretty sizable listing of mideival occupations - most have a brief description as well. I was thinking "Fueller" might be a better term. *shrugs*

10-16-2009, 07:39 AM
It does have something of a fight club flavor to it doesn't it? Maybe that's what caught my eye. But no, it was just a bar of soap with some bubbles.

Gandwarf: Yes sir, I'll post a version sans shields when I put it in the finished maps section.
SG: Thanks for the link. That one has some good odd-ball stuff in it too. I'll go through it later and perhaps make some changes. I'd always thought the term was "render" or something to that effect.
Ascension: Thanks for the praise! You've always been a fair critic so it means a lot coming from you.

10-16-2009, 09:06 AM
Looking absolutely beautiful! Great attention to detail!

I would go for the tallow chandler as the closest to an oil merchant but that's very Anglo-centric since vegetable oil was not really used (e.g. olive oil) during medieval times in England although it was used in the Med countries. This is all half guesswork on my part - might be talking total rubbish!



10-16-2009, 03:56 PM
Tallow would be a good guess both because of proximity to the oil renderer and the fact that the complex is relegated to Rosetown. Nobody works in Rosetown if they can help it. Even the rope maker only works there because there was a good stretch of flat ground there. I don't think olive oil is nearly unpleasant enough in smell to warrant exile to Rosetown, although I could be wrong. I know fat-rending is, however.

Oh, there's also linseed oil, flaxseed oil and probably a dozen other medieval sources for the precious lube. I think fat was just the easiest. Apparently there were a half dozen or so materials for candles too beyond just wax and tallow. I haven't really had time to do much research.

10-16-2009, 04:15 PM
I use the term oiler in my tut because it refers to whale oil used in lamps. I got it from a list somewhere long ago buried in my bookmarks.

10-17-2009, 12:32 AM
My rework project for the day was the boats in fishtown. I'm not sure if they're up to snuff now, but they are better than they were.

I did Wharftown, which is the area where the big boats come in from up and down the river, bringing their trade goods and loading up with some of Seite Torres' fine goods to sell elsewhere. Trade is driven here as it is everywhere. Some places have an abundance of a thing, but need more of some other thing. So the other thing comes in, and the thing that is surplus goes out. Siete Torres' claim to fame is their advanced industry. For a small city, they have some big-city goods.

Wharftown is more than just wharfs. it is also a series of large wharehouses, a large tanning operation which has made a stinky mess out of this part of town, and a currier who preps the leather for manufacture once the tanner is done.

On the other side of the island, I put in a paper mill where softwoods like pine and fir are ground into a very fine pulp for making paper. This is why many of the northern conifers are called "pulp wood". It isn't just a matter of grinding though. Chemicals are necessary, and they stink terribly, making paper milling an industry that everyone likes but wants done somewhere else.

You can find a number of towns in central Maine where there are paper mills, but you won't need to stop and ask the locals if there's one there. You'll smell it coming a mile outside of town.

Further up-river is a saw mill. It's a big one with four great wheels. Saw mills are necessary for board or "milled" lumber. And of course these aren't the seven to twelve-inch blades that we're familiar with, but big 50+ inch monsters that can split a good-sized treen in one pass. Big logs for the mill are difficult to transport. They didn't have tractor-trailer trucks and trains like we use today, so they would use horse teams and drag the logs to the nearest river and float them to the mill to be cut. We do the same today in some locations.

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10-17-2009, 12:41 AM
Excellent progress.

Minor typo - the easternmost "weaonsmith" may need a flogging until he gets his sign fixed :)

10-17-2009, 01:29 PM
Quick update, just replaced the Church and the walls/towers, thanks CM for the tips on the jaggies. Oh yeah, weapon smith relented after much flogging

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10-17-2009, 09:29 PM
One of the hazards of hand-placing shadows, besides all the math and having to draw each one a pixel at a time and having to deal with compound shadows etc. etc., it's also another place you can mess up if you're not paying enough attention.

To make roofs without hips and where the tiles align properly with the roof, you first must draw the rectangle of the building at a 90 degree angle, but longer than you actually need. Then you add the pattern, make it permanent by merging it into a blank layer. Then you take your rectangle and rotate it to the proper angle, then apply the bevel. Again, you merge the structure into a blank layer to make the bevel permanent, then you can "clip" the hips off the roof, leaving a classic gable roof. If that sounds like a lot of trouble, it is, since you have to do that with each individual structure. Adding dormers makes it all a lot more complex of course.

Well I did all that for the 13 manor houses. I wasn't thrilled with the roof effect, but you can't redo everything that you aren't thrilled with on a city with a deadline, so I was prepared to accept a less-than-ideal result. I then began the shadow process. It's simple enough once you're used to it and if there aren't any interacting layers that make it complicated.

To create the shadow, you create a new layer, then ctrl-click the structure layer. For each pixel of shadow (I have -45 globals and 45 degree angle of light), you move the selection one pixel up and one to the left. Then you shift-F5 fill with black. You repeat this cycle for however many pixels you need. With my globals, I need one pixel for every foot of height, so my hundred foot towers have to have this done a hundred times.

Well I did all that for the manor houses (as a group of course), with a height of 24 feet. Sometimes when you do this, PS glitches and jumps six or eight pixels. At that point I back up and hope I still have an accurate count. Only this time I looked at the layer I was working on and realized that I'd messed up and was drawing my shadows on the manor layer itself. Daggumit. So I started ctrl-alt-z, but of course I ran out of undo buffer before I got all the shadow off the build. Zoiks! There was nothing I could do. I had to scrap it all.

As is usually the case, I do a better job on the second go-round because I learned something the first time. They did turn out better and I hope you like 'em.

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10-17-2009, 10:11 PM
I feel your pain, bro. Which is why I have yet to go back and finish the tut with pics and edits. It takes forever. But it also looks pretty damn sweet (IMO). I'm glad that you're staying with it because you can learn so much by going high detail.

10-17-2009, 11:05 PM
Added outbuildings, six-foot walls around the manor houses and iron spikes on the walls to keep the riff-raff out. The coolest thing was using paths to draw the walls and then put the iron spikes on another layer using the same paths and brush dynamics. This is cool because it allowed me to put shadows of the spikes on the tops of the walls and sticking out over the wall shadows. They're hard to see, but they're there!

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10-17-2009, 11:07 PM
You know you're having way too much fun with this, right?

But still, it's definitely worth the effort so far!

10-18-2009, 12:55 AM

Wow just wow I wish I could get my maps that good...

10-18-2009, 01:32 AM
shantedracule: wow, thanks for the praise. The truth is, I'm not artist. I'm just determined and learning how to recognize good work and imitate it. The river, which is the anchor of this piece, was invented by Ascension. It struck me as beautiful so I put in the time necessary to follow his NRFPT tutorial and it worked! The city style, to a significant degree, was borrowed from CoyoteMax. Both of these guys are much better than I am. But I've put in a lot of time in the last five months and created a lot of maps, and every one teaches me a wealth of things about Photoshop and cartography. My goal is to someday give something of significance back to this community that has given me countless hours of enjoyment. Thanks again.

CM: I always try to have fun with these. This one, unlike Oten'Jo, has been a pleasure from start to now. I don't know if I can maintain that ease, but for now it's all good.

10-18-2009, 06:18 AM
Ah, finally you have reached the inside of the walls! Can't wait to see at least the city itself finished. I am very curious how realistic the end result is going to look like. You put in a lot of thought and effort.

10-18-2009, 06:43 AM
Immolate, this is looking so good!

This is a *really* tiny nitpick, but I wanted to help make it perfect ... the fields near the monastery are a great texture, but there's barely visible tiling lines in there.

I keep trying to rep you for this, and can't. I'll keep trying until I can ;)

10-18-2009, 11:21 AM
Gidde, thanks! Yeah I see it now. Unfortunately it's in an earlier version which I have since merged, so it will take some copy/paste gymnastics to fix it. Of course I preserved all of the original layers in another file, but I haven't figured out how to copy layers between files easily. I'll have to get to that nearer the end... too much to do by deadline :).

The original file has over 200 layers and had become difficult to work with.

10-18-2009, 11:23 AM
Wow. I start going merge-happy at about 20 or so.

10-18-2009, 11:34 AM
Imm - what I do is go back to the original (usually just terrain), make my tweaks, save it, flatten it, then select - all, copy, go to the new working image (buildings and stuff), then edit - paste just above the background. I usually have 3 PSDs for every map - terrain, buildings/roads and stuff, titles and graphics...then two jpgs, one for highest quality and one for posting.

10-18-2009, 12:57 PM
Easiest way I've found to move layers between PSD's is to load the backup (with the original still open) and then just select Duplicate Layer on the offending layer in the backup - it pulls a requester and you can choose which file to send the duplicate to. You can drag/drop the layer across too, but if you duplicate, it alse ends up in the exact same placement so you don't need to adjust it.

If you have memory issues (which I do on the laptop) I close the original, load thebackup, duplicate the layers to a new file (another option when duplicating), then close the backup, reopen the original, then re-do the duplicate from the new file to the original.

Hope that helps.. (and yes, I go layer happy as well, hah!)

10-18-2009, 07:18 PM
Hokay, lots new for this post.

First, tree trial in the upper left of the map. My wife likes them. I'm okay with 'em but not sure.

Also added a moat around the inner walls. It is created from multiple layers with the bottom a down-beveled dark-green, next layer is a swirly green with about 50% opacity. Next is the giant lily pads using a single brush and brush dynamics on a path. No, large lily pads aren't all that common, but they were more visually appealing than normal-sized ones would have been at this scale. Last layer was a 3-ft. wall around the moat. Can't have little tots falling in our stagnant water.

Last but not least, I added the business district. It went smoothly-enough but was still a major time-eater. Of course the most time was spent creating and placing the shields. For most of them, I had to hand-draw the image. For signs like the glazier, that isn't too bad. But for the sign for the One-Eyed Bull Inn and the magic armor shop, there are always a number of failures behind every final product.

The shed roofs around the main wall are city storage. These buildings are wood and affixed to the wall by iron pins which can be released using a special wrench on a large bolt in one of the nearby towers. This wrench is huge, weighing about two hundred pounds and requires at least two men to turn. Once turned a quarter turn, however, the bolt aligns with the iron pins and the sheds collapse, leaving a mess that has to be move out of the way rather than a place to hide from the arrows and stones of the defenders.

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10-18-2009, 08:02 PM
It looks like it is starting to get a lil dark. I might lighten the blue roofs and put more trees in so that the shadows don't overpower the image with darkness. Also, you could use some more sizes on the trees, they all look pretty much the same size.

10-18-2009, 08:25 PM
The trees are all the same size (at least, the larger green clusters appear to me to be groups rather than larger trees). At this scale and with this level of detail, you should have some little saplings at least and probably a few old, larger trees. Unless this entire stand was planted to feed the saw mill, in which case I'd have expected a bit more regularity in the placement of the trees. I'd suggest a fallen log, but any fallen wood would have been hauled for firewood this close to a large settlement.

The moat is great. I'm not sure what all of the shields represent, but most of them are very clear. This whole city is just amazing.

10-18-2009, 11:11 PM
I replaced the Winery in the monastery. It's nothing exciting, just more in keeping with the rest of the map.

(Oh! and replaced the vineyard pattern. I was using a real vineyard as the basis before but it was impossible to keep it from expressing patterns that were visible to the eye. Finally, I used paths and a three-leaf brush that I created to create the rows and a few thousand un-repeatable steps later, voila! I hope it doesn't suck.)

As to the trees, I went in a bit of a new direction and added multi-layer with conifers and broadleafs. It looks kinda cool to me, but you stare at these things for hours on end and your sense of judgement become very skewed. Color is always an issue of course, so I appreciate any pointing out where I made a dumb mistake.

Thanks for your help on this one again :)

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10-18-2009, 11:43 PM
Been watching this thread but haven't commented yet. Have some rep for hand-drawing lots of little commerce shields! :) What a pain that must be.

This is looking really awesome. The buildings are beautiful and I'm impressed by your knowledge of medieval professions! :)

Things that jump out at me: 1) the roofs are very uniform by district. Is that by design for visually grouping them? Even if so, maybe some slight hue/value variation? 2) Some of the shields are hard to see, as they fall under building shadows, etc. Not sure how to place them differently...maybe on the roofs?

No matter how you go I think this is going to look great when you're done. Looking forward to seeing it progress.

10-19-2009, 08:03 AM

It's more a practical consideration than any bow to realism. But your idea is a good one and I'm going to think about how I could implement it. I do think it would add a certain dimension to the city that it currently lacks.

10-19-2009, 09:14 AM
This looks good Immolate! The logos are a nice touch.

10-19-2009, 03:14 PM
I really like both the new vineyards and the new trees.

Also, I never mentioned it but one of my favorite parts of this entire map are the little buckets of color outside the dyer. Those tiny little details are what makes this one really special.

10-19-2009, 04:37 PM
When you get all of your roofs done here's what I do to add a tad of variety...a layer of clouds yay. Make copies of all of your roof layers (not shadow layers) and merge them together, put the layer above any other roof layer, ctrl+click the layer in the layer stack, hide the layer, make a new layer, do some clouds in your fave colors (that can vary widely depending on what you want and the blend mode you want to use), then deselect. Delete the layer of copied roofs if you want. On a new layer you can start to fiddle with things like burn holes, broken bits, etc.

10-19-2009, 05:30 PM
You know I love this map Immolate. The trees you have added look great!

However, I now have a point of criticism. The layout of the buildings you have recently added within the western walled district looks a bit messy and does not convince me at all. There's too many alleys and space between buildings. Buildings also seem to have been thrown down, while in my experience there's a lot of structure to walled cities. I think a lot of those buildings should be sharing walls and be aligned to the roads.

Looking at your map again I would also expect some of the industry to be located inside the city walls (the blacksmiths for example, but certainly the silversmith, it works with precious metals).

10-19-2009, 05:57 PM
Agreed on the aspect of them normally being more crowded and less space between the buildings. That was something of a compromise I made to accommodate the signs. There are probably other, better ways of handling that. As far as the lack of orderly structure, I took some inspiration from a gorgeous model of a city called Lahore in Pakistan. It has kind of a beehive appeal to it with the layout dictated by geography and happenstance, although it is as you suggest much more compact. (I would love to have a hundred of these models in a huge size :) )


10-19-2009, 06:09 PM
Beautiful model...
To my eye there's still a lot of structure. The houses form blocks penned in by roads and the buildings are mostly aligned to them.

10-19-2009, 09:46 PM
Again with the forest, although this time I'm not sure that I didn't go too far. This is a four-tier forest instead of two. I didn't have a lot of time to work tonight as I was busy packing for a trip tomorrow. Honestly I'm not sure how much time I'll have while I'm away but I'll be back by Thursday. I'm counting on the weekend to finish.

Thanks and, as always, your suggestions are invaluable to me.

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10-19-2009, 10:37 PM
I'm loving this map! The detail is amazing.

10-20-2009, 09:32 AM
Hey just somthing I noticed while droo... Admiring your map. The wall that surounds the NW portion of the city runs over the towers at the roughly 12 o-clock and 9 oclock possitions.

Great map, wishes I had just half your talent

10-20-2009, 11:40 AM
Absolutely beautiful, Imm!

10-21-2009, 12:09 AM
Hey just somthing I noticed while droo... Admiring your map. The wall that surounds the NW portion of the city runs over the towers at the roughly 12 o-clock and 9 oclock possitions.

Great map, wishes I had just half your talent

Ah thanks for the catch Shantedracule, another artifact of layer merging that I will address forthwith, but it's been a long day since my 4am start today and I need to rest before being savaged by my client tomorrow morning, so I'll take care of it tomorrow.

So no specific opinions about those trees and whether they've taken a turn for the worse? I have to tell you that I have some serious reservations after having craned my neck this morning on approach to Dulles so that I could study the trees from various altitudes. One thing I noticed was that in mixed deciduous/coniferous environments, the conifers tend to be a significant minority, although I expect the balance to shift further north. I'm not sure an even split between the two would ever be typical. Also, I saw no examples of a forest that you could see through unless the trees had been thinned by man for development.

Another thing that struck me: at 35,000 feet, the forests are by far the most prominent feature of the landscape below, and they are sharp and well-defined, and their drop shadows are clear. That is a much lower scale than 1px=1ft but it is instructive. I'll have to Google Earth something at 35,000 and see what the scale is. FYI it was a clear day and the low angle of the sun would have exaggerated the shadows. We landed about 10:15 Eastern.

10-21-2009, 01:35 AM
Wow, you got a plane flight so you could research mapping techniques??

That's dedication!!!!


neat observations though... And yeah, I should probably load google earth more often while researching.

10-21-2009, 01:19 PM
I didn't even notice the wall thing until it was pointed out...was too busy looking at the pretty textures and nicely done shields.

Google Earth is awesome. I had no idea what terraced fields should really look like from the air until I pointed it at Nowhere, China to see. I had gathered a bunch of ground-based pics as refs and mine would have looked silly if I hadn't taken a peek at the satellite view first.

10-21-2009, 05:49 PM
Lol... I wish I could have come up here just to research. DC is a wealth of architectural innovation and novelty, and a beautiful place outside the city as well. I lost count of the multi-million dollar homes I saw coming in.

So I blew off the quickie tour of the monuments and museums to finish some work and get back to my maps tonight. I fly back in the early morning. I spent 7 days touring DC and Philadelphia and Gettysburg back when I was a lad, so that box is already checked and I'm tired enough without painting the town red tonight. They kept me out late last night. We ate at an Italian place called "Paolo's" in Reston Town Center last night and it was pretty good. Tonight I walked over to a place that's nearby called "Generous George's". That was excellent. It's strange because it's in this huge, brand new area of upscale apartments and businesses, but there's nobody there. The streets were empty of people, cars or even litter. I kept expecting zombies to come around the corner and give me chase. They finished building the place just as the economy went south.

Time to roll up my sleeves and try to accomplish something tonight. Time is running out!

10-21-2009, 10:35 PM
I added tower tops to the great towers and a small castle in the city center. That was about all I had in me tonight. Catching up with me I guess.

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10-21-2009, 11:16 PM
I concur that roof areas seem a little dark and a bit too uniform, and that the trees might beneift from a slightly more random, organic set of sizes and shapes, but . . .



10-22-2009, 08:55 AM
Still looking awesome. Just one small thing ... wouldn't the castle be built parallel (or closer to it) to the wall behind it? It looks oddly regular, with everything else flowing around the city shape.

10-22-2009, 09:57 PM

I wish it was a small thing. The castle was created as an independent component, then copied into the map. It was made of many objects on different layers, with each layer having its own shadows that interacted with the other layers depending on their height. I made this map with hand-drawn shadows so that I could model that kind of complex relationship accurately. But that means that the taller an object is and the more layers, the more shadow interaction. So I had to go in an redo the shadows because once you pointed it out, it just looked wrong and I had to fix it. That's really why you guys and your advise is so helpful, because you help me look at my work from a fresh perspective. Helpful but painful in this case :).

So I fixed the castle and made some minor adjustments while I was at it. I added a stable, fence and servants quarters, plus some trees and a grand set of steps. I also added lines between the castle towers and the main wall towers and strung flags on them.

The lines and flags were done using paths. I created the straight path and then used the handles to bend the line to a prevailing northwest wind, then added the line with a brush stroke, then added the flags using a custom brush, color dynamics and some layer styles. That and some patience realigning the flags to the line since they would start centered instead of on the edge of the path.

Finally a put a large number of chimneys on the castle. If you look closely, you'll see that each building that should have a chimney or three actually does. I chose a fairly subtle method that doesn't make them stick out too much, but that was intentional. On some buildings they are more obvious: the smiths for example.

Thanks again for your help. More to come.

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10-22-2009, 11:00 PM

that is so Awesome i forgot how to type for a moment.

10-22-2009, 11:16 PM
The level of painstaking detail you're putting into this map continues to amaze. The castle does indeed fit much better now, and I love the lines and flags :)

10-22-2009, 11:23 PM
Those streamers kick much booty. Don't even attempt to do shadows for 'em ;) The pupil has surpassed the teacher, I'm very proud. :) You're even out-detailing me. Well done my friend.

Steel General
10-23-2009, 06:14 AM
This keeps getting better and better.

10-23-2009, 06:51 AM
This map is just totally awesome and keeps on getting better and better. :)

If I have one criticism/observation it's that some of the roofs, particularly those to the southwest of the nunnery have quite pronounced shadowing even when they are almost exactly in line with your light source. I don't think one side of the roof would be so darkly shadowed on those particular ones.

Keep up the good work. Great stuff.

10-23-2009, 07:53 AM
Good catch Ramah. You'll notice that most of the other sections of town are more subtly shaded. That's because I began using a better methodology around Irontown, which was to fix the pattern, then rotate the building to it's final angle before fixing and trimming the hips. That's more difficult because trimming hips on buildings at odd angles is tricky, but yields better results. As you can imagine, I'm at a point where fixing everything wrong with the map is no longer possible if I wish to complete it.

10-23-2009, 12:06 PM
This is a great map I love the icons you used for the shops.

10-23-2009, 08:42 PM
Thanks for the praise and the rep Xyll. This map has stayed fun throughout although I admit I'm in panic mode right now.

I have added administrative buildings in two styles: one is the standard barrack style and the other is modeled after the seven-sided tower tops. If you look closely, all of the round roofs in the inner city are seven-sided in keeping with the name of the city itself.

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10-23-2009, 11:26 PM
{smacks forehead}Wow. My grasp of romance languages is getting weak. Seven towers indeed. Never occurred to me that it was anything more than word-sounds...I've been so wrapped up in Chinese lately. To anyone less oblivious than myself I suppose the name is quite fitting! :)

This really is a great map. Really appreciate the level of detail you've put into it...especially as regards the shadows. We need a new badge: the shadow police. You can be the first member. Get patrolling!

Steel General
10-24-2009, 08:35 AM
I never caught the '7 Tower' reference either.

10-24-2009, 11:27 AM
West bank is done barring errors and I'm happy with how it turned out. Added some farm houses and tobacco fields, gardens, orchards and turnip fields. It takes a lot of food to feed a town the size of Siete Torres, but the farms shown are only a small part of what's out there. There are fields for miles around.

Oh, and I added shadows to the administrative buildings in the inner city.

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10-24-2009, 02:02 PM
East bank is complete. Although I always welcome criticism, I would especially like some impressions on the field and garden styles since they were something I just kind of stumbled into. The wheat fields in the northwest corner are pretty non-standard too.

Since I've made good progress, I think I'll go smoke a big cigar and then watch my daughter whoop much softball behind in a couple of hours and let my thoughts about the residential area of Siete Torres inside the walls germinate.

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10-24-2009, 07:36 PM
I think the trees are a bit neony as well as the fields in the east. Those central buildings are still quite dark too. That's all I got.

10-24-2009, 11:53 PM
Thank you Ascension for your handy advise. I hope that I have addressed the issues that you identified.

In the center of Siete Torres, much older than the towers that are the city's namesake, is an ancient cluster of buildings made from a substance called "coquina" or "little shells". It is a substance made from the shells of fragile shellfish that have accumulated over countless years and have formed a stone-like substance. This substance is valuable for two primary reasons: first, it can be found in places where actual stone is uncommon. Second, it is very tough, but because the shells are fragile on a micro scale, any blows damages only the area struck, and not the surrounding walls.

This beehive of clustered buildings is used by the city's inhabitants as a residential area, as the many terraces and patios make it an ideal place to spend leisure time. The streets are too narrow for wagons to pass, so business is difficult to conduct in what the residents call "Old Town".

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10-25-2009, 12:02 AM
Looks kinda Aztecy...way cool.

10-25-2009, 05:56 AM
Old town looks really smart but it doesn't exactly fit in with the rest of the town at all. Wouldn't some of the other buildings be constructed from the same stuff if stone is scarce? It just looks kinda placed there.

Was it always your intention to have that district in that style? I notice you went over the original roads you had placed there.

10-25-2009, 07:33 AM
I agree with Ramah. It looks cool, but doesn't really fit in. Are you panicking because of the deadline? ;)

10-25-2009, 07:38 AM
I'll just have to reiterate that this is my favorite city map ever. Wow. I love the agricultural areas a lot. If I had any complaints it is that the shields around the perimeter of the beige buildings are obscured. In fact, I think I would pull all of them "above" the rest of the map features. No biggie though.

Again great map. I foresee it winning this month's challenge and rightly so if it does.

10-25-2009, 09:18 AM
I was concerned about it not "fitting" as well. It wasn't panic as the stone city was a much-more complex concept than putting in something more traditional because of the insanely detailed interaction of shadow. Remember that each different elevation interacts independently with each higher elevation. In the old town, there are ten different elevations interacting--one at zero, ten, thirteen, sixteen, twenty, twenty-three, twenty-six, thirty, thirty-three and thirty-six feet.

Layer 0 interacts with the buildings at layers 10/13/16/20/23/26/30/33/36, so each of those building layers had to be shaded one pixel at a time. Layer 10 interacts with 13/16/20/23/26/30/33/36, and so on. The whole structure was enough to give me a headache, and had to be constructed on another PSD file because it was too much. It was something of a tour de force of my shadow method.

But all of that means nothing if it doesn't fit, and the consensus seems to be that it doesn't. I've put too much work into this map to let that stand, so it's back to the drawing board. I do appreciate your honesty guys. But don't worry, the traditional style is simpler and much quicker than this was.

Here is a demonstration of the shadows layer, which was put together initially at each elevation at 100% black opacity and then merged, the opacity lowered and blurred.


10-25-2009, 09:58 AM
Well, maybe if you have the time you could do an Aztec city in the future :)
It looks really great, just doesn't blend in too well with this map...

10-25-2009, 12:49 PM
I don't know. It does look somewhat incongruous, but the backstory explanation is quite plausible. Reading that, I can believe it.

10-25-2009, 12:56 PM
Thanks again for all of the help on this my friends. It is said that success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. I hope that it is an indicator that this project has been a success that there have been many fathers to it.

This is a release candidate I suppose, although there is still work left to do, the city itself is "finished", inasmuch as I can every be happy with anything. Please if you have a criticism, let me know. Today is the deadline for finishing this and I'm determined not to have to ask for an extension. Besides, my wife wants me to paint the house and I'm kind of thinking that she's been anticipating the end of this challenge as much as I have.

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10-25-2009, 01:05 PM
Looking good!

The only thing I can see is that the trees on the east bank don't seem to match the trees on the west bank ... they're all very green, where the west bank trees are a more natural mix of green and yellow.

I could also wish for more little buildings in the residential quarter, but with the limited space I could see townhouses/tenements taking over, so that's not too bad.

10-25-2009, 06:15 PM
Okay this is potentially the final version with frame and title. I reserve the right to tinker with it, but I think it's releasable as it. Please let me know if you see something that proves me wrong.

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10-25-2009, 06:22 PM
That's a very nice frame Immolate! And it does look like it's finished. Overall a stunning looking map. Love the castle with the flags.

My only criticism would be that the layout of the city doesn't look too convincing to me.

10-25-2009, 10:06 PM
Another kickass frame, very sweet.

10-25-2009, 11:05 PM
There was some repetition-induced stutter in the frame so I fixed it as best I could. Stretching a frame is always a bit of a challenge, but I admit it's easier in Photoshop than in real life. Good frame stretchers cost top dollar and they're constantly breaking down.

It's bed time and work tomorrow takes me right through the deadline, so I can safely say this is the last update. Good luck challenge participants!

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10-25-2009, 11:15 PM
Not that it is bad, but I can definitely tell that the houses you used to replace the ruins were placed in a hurry. Probably a little too much symmetry. It in no way detracts for the colossal effort and artistic merits of the map, but it is an amusing note.

Good luck Immolate. This is a beautiful map.

10-26-2009, 07:42 AM
Thanks Nolgroth. It took perhaps five hours to create and place the houses, which is pretty quick I admit, but the effect I think is more from a poverty of imagination rather than a shortage of time. I was trying to crowd as many of them into the space as I possibly could, but in the end I think the map would have been better served if I had focused more on varying shape and size, and not so much about crowding and spacing.

I guess it's like everything else we do in mapping--a learning experience.

10-26-2009, 01:10 PM
Nicely done!