View Full Version : WIP - Velaedin Empire

11-04-2009, 04:55 PM
I'm a top-down worldbuilder, so now that I have my continent done I'm ready to zoom in and start detailing regions.

This is the next level of zoom on the Velaedin Empire, where most of the novel takes place. I'm branching out into a totally different style here; after drooling at Ramah's Vaniya/Aronbor maps I decided to make an attempt at a handdrawn map in the same vein. Plus, this is the type of map the folks who live here would probably have access to.

Here's the first rough. I have the inner border, coastlines, and rivers in, a paper texture so that the first line drawings wouldn't be all white before I started messing with color later, and I've started on the mountains. They're all handdrawn using Ironmetal's tutorial (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=5664).

I'm a little concerned that I've overdone the mountain detail a bit. Does it look like it's going to be too busy once I go over everything with watercolor-ish color?

11-04-2009, 05:41 PM
With that level of detail, I think it could be highly dangerous to start tossing colour all over it. That's looking really nice hand-drawn kind of thing and I look at that and think "Wall Sized Parchment/Vellum"

11-04-2009, 05:43 PM
I would say that the mountains look very good at the moment. I'm not sure how it would look when you put watercolour over it, but at the moment the mountains look very pronounced, and really stand out (mind you, there isn't anything around them), but based on what I've seen other maps of that type look like, I would say it is an excellent start

11-04-2009, 05:53 PM
Thanks Rythal :)

@Juggernaut: That's exactly the feeling I was getting :(

What I'm trying for is an ink-and-watercolor-on-paper look, and that means simpler mountains, I think. Harrumph. Well, before I go back to the proverbial drawing board, I'll try to get the color in, and then I can redesign to match it if necessary.

Steel General
11-04-2009, 06:00 PM
Splash some color on there and post it up, the worst that can happen is we say it doesn't look good. :)

11-04-2009, 06:40 PM
Good point, SG :)

Here's a quick pass at the color. It lacks finesse, but effects to make it look actually watercolor-painted can wait (if I can ever get them to work). I had toyed with the idea of coloring mountain/hill areas brown, but I think simple blue and green are plenty. To make it as good a test as possible, I also did a little ink-bleeding.

In case anyone's wondering what the crazy creases are, it's to simulate a rolled map rather than a folded one. I used the very scientific abuse-a-sheet-of-paper-and-scan-it method.

So, what do you think, guys? Mountains good as is, or should I go simpler?

11-04-2009, 07:26 PM
I like 'em...Ramah-esque. And that's a very good thing.

Steel General
11-05-2009, 06:00 AM
The colors are very 'subtle' and work well with your existing mountains.

Map On! :D

11-05-2009, 06:54 AM
Thanks for the feedback, guys. Full speed ahead with shading mountains :)

11-24-2009, 11:21 PM
Well, I had every intention of waiting until the mountains were done before I posted an update, but this is glacial. Had to post up some progress to keep myself going.

More mountains done here, and some color tweaks.

11-24-2009, 11:53 PM
Ramah-esque with a Tear flair...so far looks good.

11-24-2009, 11:59 PM
Thanks much! Probably obvious, but this one is indeed heavily inspired by Ramah's Vaniya/Aronbor maps.

11-25-2009, 02:09 AM
That's really cool...you seem to have a great grasp of how mountain ranges work. Looks like real geography.

11-25-2009, 05:43 PM
Cool, I've never had a "esque" before. :)

I sure feel your pain regarding drawing mountains, Gidde. Well, actually it wasn't the mountains that were bad on Aronbor, they are a quick and easy style, but the hills took me hours and hours. It's the reason I posted so many updates on Aronbor - each post is like a mini-goal that you've reached and it makes you feel like you are actually achieving something even though the work may appear minimal to others.
Your mountains look really good though so I'm sure that in the end your labours will be worth it. :)

I prefer the darker blue you now have for your seas btw. Looking forward to watching this progress.

11-25-2009, 07:48 PM
Next update: finished the mountains and started the hills, wanted to post it up for comment before I went too far with hills.

@Kronski: Thanks! Especially since I live in one of the flattest spots in the US ;)

@ Ramah: That's really funny, because I seem to be having the opposite experience; just started the hills and they're going a LOT faster than the mountains did. Thanks for the words of encouragement!

01-20-2010, 06:19 PM
Holy wow! Take a little break and they change the whole forum on ya! ;)

After much fussing and a dead end on city icons, I've got my tree brushes done and started filling in forests. Also did some more light coloration here and there.

01-20-2010, 09:13 PM
It looks great so far! The level of detail is stunning and definitely requires the full-view. Everything looks like it was carefully penned in ink--though I think the rivers are a little too smooth. You have a rogue hill on the top border!

01-21-2010, 07:47 AM
Thanks! That's exactly the look i'm trying for. I noticed that rogue hill right after I posted, it's gone for the next post. I'm not quite sure what you mean by smooth, but I do plan on aging/bleeding the ink for the final. Would that help, or did you mean smooth as in their course rather than their depiction?

Steel General
01-21-2010, 10:04 AM
I like it, but what appears to be a crinkled/wavy look to the map is a bit distracting.

01-21-2010, 10:46 AM
Thanks SG, and I think you're probably right ... I'll take the crinkles out for now and wait to put them in until I do the rest of the grungifying work at the end, if then.

01-21-2010, 11:44 PM
Fixed the rogue hill issue and put shading on all of the existing forest (plus added a bit). I also got rid of the crinkly-parchment texture and put a generic canvas texture on it temporarily. The final will have a parchment-type texture of some kind, this is just a working texture because without anything it was jarring.

01-22-2010, 11:49 PM
This map is still looking awesome. You're tempting me to make one like it for my wall!

What I meant about the rivers is that they are a bit smooth in their depiction--they need some bleed lines to look penned. Slight pixelation may do the trick, but I'm no expert on filters. Maybe play around with various noise-generating techniques?

01-24-2010, 03:14 PM
Thanks! And cool - that's what I was hoping you'd meant. I have a plan/technique for bleeding everything, just waiting until the line drawing is finished to implement it, so that it's all consistent. Now back to place more tiny trees ....

01-24-2010, 03:47 PM
Aren't forest placements the most fun part?? WHEEEEEEE

Okay, sarcasm aside, i love the way this is coming along. I look forward to seeing how you approach the ink bleeding effect.

And in regards to forests, you might seriously want to consider checking out Fluesopp's (and ramah's variant of) automatic forester. I'm about to give another test myself and see how the latest version does.

01-24-2010, 10:34 PM
Thanks :) And I saw that automatic forester thread after I had already done half my trees, so I figured I may as well finish them. It's crazy how much the guild has grown the last couple months, I'm finding it hard to keep up with all the posts even after I marked everything read that I missed over the holidays. I'll definitely be checking it out before I do the next hand-drawn map.

05-01-2010, 11:54 AM
Well, Ramah, it turned out that you were right. Those hills were such a pain that I lost my momentum for a while there. I finally waved the white flag and made up some brushes.

Hills, forest, and the first pass on cities/labels done in this update.

05-02-2010, 08:55 AM
It looks great, but it's very dark. Perhaps lighten things up a little?

05-02-2010, 09:01 AM
Holycrap, I love the detail in this. partly because it reminds me of Ramah's maps, partly because it reminds me of my own :)

And yes, the quantity of hills you have in here would have driven you insane if you tried doing them all without using brushes.. and there's no room left in the asylum for you :P

[edit] on closer review, i noticed that the one mountain range (center top) is darker than the others, like there's an extra level of shading detail in there that's not present in the other mountains..

05-02-2010, 11:27 AM
Thanks Soixante, and I agree -- it's way too dark. Comes from doing the color on a monitor with the brightness set too high. I'm working on that next.

CM, your eye is good --- too good. Those were the first mountains I did, and as I grew into the style, they got lighter. I was hoping it wasn't too noticeable, since I really didn't want to redo them, hehe. I'll put that on the list for tweakage.

05-02-2010, 11:34 AM
I suspected as much, I've done the exact same thing - And hated the thought of redoing them.. Yeah. I know the road you're on!

05-02-2010, 02:01 PM
That's fantastic work. The level of detail you can cram into something like this and still have it be legible is what makes maps like this so awesome IMO.

05-02-2010, 09:25 PM
Thanks, Diamond!

Ok, here's another try at color/texture. Does this look better? Should I go back to the green land fill (but lighter)?

I also did some ink bleeding .... could probably use more but it hurts to grungify this thing after so much hard work ;)

05-02-2010, 09:46 PM
Love the muted colors on this one, very nice.

05-03-2010, 02:18 AM
I really like the green - but I totally fell in love with this version! The rough edges seem a bit too rounded/beveled to look like torn paper (do you really need them?) , but the rest of the map.. yow. I would be totally proud to call this my own, if I were the one doing it :) Makes me think I should go back over some of my recent maps and give them this treatment...

05-03-2010, 02:54 AM
Great stuff here! I am a fan of the recent one myself, well done!

Steel General
05-03-2010, 06:44 AM
This newer, 'subdued' version is quite stunning.

05-03-2010, 08:17 AM
Thanks everyone! I'll definitely keep this color/texture. CM, I agree on the edge issue, it's because i used robA's tut but only did about 10% of the grunging. I think I may just crop the edge off.

05-03-2010, 02:09 PM
Wow Gidde! This is absolutely beautiful work! I also like the way that you have made the fonts appear to slightly bleed into the parchment, as real ink would. Great job on this man. Repped.


05-03-2010, 04:34 PM
Looks good.

05-03-2010, 06:32 PM
Ok, here's another try at color/texture. Does this look better?
In a word: YES!

Should I go back to the green land fill (but lighter)?
No, definitely stay with this; it's gorgeous.

05-03-2010, 10:05 PM
Thanks Arsheesh, Boslok, Diamond :)

Some finish work done here; added a legend and replaced the border with a hand-inked version. Starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

05-04-2010, 01:48 AM
This looks really great. Hand drawn style is always a bonus and this one is stunning.

05-04-2010, 08:48 PM
Thank you pasis!

Added the compass rose and some border shading for the 8 districts of the empire. All I really have left to do is fix those mountains (groan), although I'm not happy with the big blank areas in the western sea/coast and the southern grasslands. I just don't know what to put there ... they're pretty much unsettled wilderness.

05-04-2010, 09:31 PM
You could just label it 'Here Be Unsettled Wilderness'... ;)

05-04-2010, 10:11 PM
Very nice map Gidde! The color scheme is very calming. The only thing i see that breaks the continuity, and this is a very small thing, is the comparative sharpness of the icons... and scale legend... with the exception of the district capitals icon. Maybe slap a 0.5 gaussian blur on them.

05-04-2010, 10:21 PM
Thanks! From A2 itself, or the surrounding area? I have family in Saline :)

05-04-2010, 10:34 PM
Yup.. back in Ann Arbor again.. after 13 yrs. in the desert... I wasn't just wandering around.. i lived in Phoenix (0:

05-05-2010, 12:37 AM
"Here there be big scary lizards" ? Or more specific text about the unsettled lands? Or maybe slap on some insignia of the empire?

05-05-2010, 02:12 AM
Hey this is excellent! I did notice that the "drop shadow color thingy" on the right side middle set of mountains, is a lot darker and yellow then the rest of the mountains, donno if its been mentioned but thought to poke in and say great job!

05-06-2010, 09:29 PM
Thanks for the compliments and suggestions!

Went through and hand-inked the city icons and scale legend, and fixed the mountains. They're too light now, but I just don't have it in me to redo them again :(

Once I get some marginalia in to help the big blank spots, I think this will be done.

05-07-2010, 12:08 PM
This is gorgeous. I love the color tone of this map and there is so much in there. High quality!

05-07-2010, 04:17 PM
I noticed that some of the mountains were lighter, some darker - but to be honest, that actually makes them look all the better at this stage. i wouldn't change them. I'm anxiously awaiting the finished map so I can steal it for my inspiration folder!

05-08-2010, 12:07 PM
Well, I think this is done, but if it looks like it's missing anything or I took a wrong turn, please speak up.

Added here are labels for monasteries and rivers, and some terrain features.

05-08-2010, 08:58 PM
Seeing no comments, the finished map thread is here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?10275-The-Velaedin-Empire&p=110934#post110934).