View Full Version : The Darklands

12-06-2009, 07:55 AM
Working on another project, yay!

Going back to my roots for this one, the good old antique hand-drawn style. I'm still deciding on how to represent the mountains, forests, and other terrains - so far I haven't been happy with my sketching results. They just don't give the right feel yet. I don't have any terrain on the map yet since I'm waiting on geographical details, but that didn't stop me from getting the basic layout :)

This world is a very dark one, so instead of going for the soft and light colours I'd originally started with, I let the saturation creep back in. I plan on doing the terrain and labelling in a style similar to what I've done around the borders. This way it will also be consistent with the other artwork in the project.

I'm especially happy with the way the oceans turned out!

Steel General
12-06-2009, 08:32 AM
The coast seems very 'smooth' (but maybe that's intentional?), other than that looks good so far.

12-06-2009, 09:09 AM
I would say you are off to a great start. I like how the sea came out and the color contrast between the land and the sea gives it some punch. The coast does look a little too "fluid" to me, but it just might be because the map is in its early stages.

12-06-2009, 09:59 AM
Ocean looks great, has a bit of a look sort of like flicking water drops onto a water color painting in some areas. I might even suggest a lil bit of light green around the coasts to pop it some more and a lil bit of dark steel blue in the depths for contrast.

12-06-2009, 03:04 PM
Thanks for the suggestions, I think that'll be a good route to go.

Yeah I know about the coastlines :) I'm about to go over the edges to make it look a tad more hand dawn. That or I'm going to redo them completely, I'll have to see how patient I feel today.

Incidentally, the water was the easiest thing ever to do. I took one of my parchment textures, used the clone stamp, patch tool and the spot eraser to clear out the worst of the folds and crinkles, then inverted the colour. that gave me a really good base to work with and I just tweaked it a bit from there. I got the nice gradient by a combination of hand brushing with a low opacity/flow 300 soft brush for the edges, and taking a light blue land shape and guassian blurring at 250 on it's own layer..

12-07-2009, 01:14 AM
Ok, so I plopped in an overlay layer of light teal near the coasts and a grey-blue overlay for the depths, it does help pull things out a bit, though I'm still fighting to keep the contrasts from going too far. I think this pulls it off nicely.

I finally gave in and admitted to myself that sometimes the most efficient way to make something (ie the coasts) look drawn out by hand is to simply draw them out by hand :P

Steel General
12-07-2009, 06:09 AM
Oceans look great, and the coastline is much better.

That nearly closed off sea/bay in the south looks like it'll make for some interesting background/fluff.

12-07-2009, 11:51 AM
I'm looking forward to seeing how the world develops. I have a pretty free hand in creating this time, so I have a list of regions and what they're like and it's up to me to put them where they will fit best :) I kind of like that bay myself, it should be interesting to see what the other developers do with it :)

So in the spirit of the other Necronomicon styled drawings, I figured I would make this one look inked in blood as well. I borrowed the trees from Ramah's big layer for the testing, though I'll likely do my own for the final run. I started working with those mountains too, but I've come to the conclusion that to get things looking just the way I want them to, it's best to give in and do by hand (much like the coastlines). I am using Ramah's mountains to lay out the basic mountain chains, though :)

12-07-2009, 02:45 PM
This is looking very good so far.

And hey, even if you go and replace those trees the fact you are using them to plan out your map still means they are getting used so that's cool.

12-07-2009, 04:23 PM
Thank you very much for sharing them! It's not that there's anything wrong with them, in fact for most purposes I would likely give in and just use them. But for this map, I need the consistency in style.

And if nothing else, once I'm done my own tree layer, I'll share that alongside yours :) The more the merrier! And honestly, I wouldn't have thought of doing that without your offering. I know I do forests with masks on the sattelite styled maps, it just vever occured to me to do that for hand drawn styles.

I wonder if one could set up mountains for that too...

12-07-2009, 05:05 PM
I considered it but unless you have a very uniform pattern of them I can't see how it would work if you want the range to be a specific shape. Besides, you don't typically need thousands of mountains on one map so brushes are probably much easier.

Now... hills is a different matter and might be worth trying out. :)

12-07-2009, 09:04 PM
Looking good. The continent looks a little like a coiled dragon. I've always thought it'd be (a little) interesting to have fantasy folk living in a land with an unnatural shape. Be like the people living on the islands in Ringworld that don't know they're living on a manmade structure; until they developed advanced cartography, of course...then they'd have a lot of fun figuring out *why* their continent just happens to be in the shape of an orc face.

12-07-2009, 10:01 PM
This is looking great so far. Just the kind of quality I have come to expect from you Coyote. Keep it up!

12-08-2009, 02:12 AM
Locution: thank you!

Ramah - funny you should say that, I was trying to think of ideas for an interesting continent shape, so I did a quick 5 second sketch of a dragon attacking a knight, then used that basic outline along with the rendered clouds/threshold adjustment layer process. So far you're the only one who's put that together, or at least commented on it :)

The only problem is once you've seen it, it's hard to unsee. heh!

12-08-2009, 09:42 AM
This is coming along pretty well. I love the ocean background. The only reservations that I have at this point is about the colors of the land. The ocean is very colorful and well done, but it looks as if all of the land colors are all the same color grouping (sort of sepia colored).

However, at this point I have only seen the small area that you have shown, so it still might work as a whole.

12-08-2009, 12:18 PM
I've made the same observation :)

There is some mild mucking around for the land layer already (if you see the second image I posted, you'll see it. actually i'm pretty sure it hasn't changed since the first one).

I wanted to get the terrain layers, placements, texts etcetera added in before I do too much working around with it. i'd hate to go through all the work only to find out it's conflicting with the stuff being drawn in.

So yeah, good point, and I'll make sure to remember not to forget the background when I'm done the other elements. Thanks for the reminder :)

12-08-2009, 09:19 PM
mmkay, mountains/hills are done.

Next up, trees. this is gonna be tedious, but hey.

Then i can get the fun stuff placed and start on labels!

12-08-2009, 09:57 PM
Just my opinion here but I think the mountains might be too big and kill a lot of space needed for other stuff like rivers, lakes, towns, and labels. I'll have to wait and see, though.

12-08-2009, 10:24 PM
I'm thinking you might be right.

I've always had a problem with scale when it comes to drawing in the mountains. I go way bigger than needed.

I turned these ones into brushes (and used the clone stamp method) so I may muck around and see about shrinking them some. Hopefully that works without making them look off.

12-09-2009, 12:04 AM
As much as I love your ocean (and I know you do too) I am not sure it goes with the "inked with blood" theme you are after. It's nothing major (and really just my opinion) but I think the colour may be a bit too vibrant. However, it looks so good I would be loathe to change it myself were it my map. :)

12-09-2009, 12:10 AM
I actually played around with tossing a layer over the ocean to turn it blood red. it looks kind of creepy, but might be overkill :)

We'll see, I'm tossing around a few ideas right now. The best part of the process is that I can change pretty much anything as I go without affecting anything else.

Redoing the mountains isn't quite so easy, hah. Right now Im taking a break from actual work though, trying to come up with an idea for the december challenge!

12-10-2009, 12:02 AM
It's maps that look like this that keep me motivated to keep working.

Thanks for sharing!

12-10-2009, 01:07 AM
I'm re-planning out the land features.

And while I did that, I had to tweak the colour palette one last time.

I'm still trying to decide wether to continue the blood theme, or let it go off on it's own at this point and just do that for the labels. Or basically consider the dark red as the black, and everything else derives from that. I'm tending towards the latter.

As much as i liked the previous oceans, I LOVE this version. Basically a rendered cloud layer above everything that used 2 of the parchment colours from the base, set to multiply and faded a bit so it's not so whelming. really brings it back in together.

Steel General
12-10-2009, 07:08 AM
I'd like to see you continue the blood theme, you can always go back and change the colors later for another version.

12-10-2009, 07:16 PM
Working on another project, yay!

Going back to my roots for this one, the good old antique hand-drawn style. I'm still deciding on how to represent the mountains, forests, and other terrains - so far I haven't been happy with my sketching results. They just don't give the right feel yet. I don't have any terrain on the map yet since I'm waiting on geographical details, but that didn't stop me from getting the basic layout :)

This world is a very dark one, so instead of going for the soft and light colours I'd originally started with, I let the saturation creep back in. I plan on doing the terrain and labelling in a style similar to what I've done around the borders. This way it will also be consistent with the other artwork in the project.

I'm especially happy with the way the oceans turned out!

I also like the oceans, like the contrast and saturation plus the underlying textures in the ocean... what texture(s) did you use for it? Large scaled Cloud Textures in Photoshop?

12-10-2009, 08:30 PM
Nope, I used one of my scanned parchment textures as a base, inverted the colour, and then adjusted and painted over with layers set to multiply/overlay/whatever effect got me what I wanted :)

When this is all said and done, I may do it up as a tutorial assuming I remember the steps :)

12-11-2009, 02:09 AM
I'd love to see the name "Another Ocean" survive to the finished product.

12-11-2009, 03:32 AM
While I may do a theme map along those lines some day, that will be an unlikely occurrence for this particular one :)

12-11-2009, 05:44 AM
I think the mountains work a bit better in this one.
And I gave the clone stamp a workout. It was a bit tedious to do, but it really did give some great effects. And with some strategically placed overlapping, it gave some very unique hills, it's not so easy to tell it was brushes :) I just remembered I have to clean up a few small bits where the mountains overlap onto the land outline and such, but that's minor.
Starting on the forests next!

I also moved a few of the places around to make more sense with the politics and history of the regions. (forgotten lands are now way off where no one goes, instead of in the middle of a heavily trafficked area, etc)

I also haven't done the blood splatter layer this time, I'm going to wait till i'm done everything to be sure the effect is consistent throughout.

12-11-2009, 06:34 AM
The mountains do indeed look a lot better. They fit in snugly with the rest of the map.

12-11-2009, 07:59 AM
Yep, they do fit much better...in fact I'd say that they fit perfectly. I'm wondering about the colors from underneath showing through and thinking that maybe you need a layer just underneath the mountain lines so that the mountains can have their own colors apart from the land/grass. Just wondering, might not work, shrug.

12-11-2009, 08:43 AM
Well, what's going to happen next (just finished the forests) is that I'm going to go through and work up the text, mountains, and forests so they get the same kind of effect as the characters on the border.

Once that happens, i'll decide on whether I'm keeping it, modifying the ocean again, or scrapping the idea and going down a different route entirely.

12-11-2009, 09:14 AM
And.. here's the test. Definitely changing the font, this one gets the idea across but I need something thicker to look just right.

gotta play around with the forests and mountains a bit.

Steel General
12-11-2009, 09:20 AM
Can you just 'bold' the font? Or maybe duplicate the layer and offset one of them a few pixels.

12-11-2009, 11:21 AM
Yeah, that works.

I did both, actually :) Faux Bold, then copied and transposed 1 px down and left.


And after a lot of fighting with the oceans again, I finally decided to let the ocean locations blend in instead of doing the blood text there. I jsut gouldn't get it to look right and still match the land based text.

I'll probably go around and curve some or all of the water locations. It may also seem odd that there is a lack of rivers, but those are not a focus for this map.

I think it's starting to approach finished, yay

Steel General
12-11-2009, 12:00 PM
Cool beans, I actually had an idea that worked! :P

One thing I noticed is just of the Stormlands you have the "Sea of ??", just wanted to point it out in case you overlooked it.

12-11-2009, 12:04 PM
Yep, there's a few water locations that are yet to be named.

Just waiting for input from those involved directly in the process :)

And while I do that, I can get back to the lego map :)

12-11-2009, 04:21 PM
I think you're puffy trees might be a lil big...sitting right next to the mountains makes em look huge.

12-12-2009, 06:16 AM
how the heck did I not see that.

Blah! Well, at least the forests weren't has hard to do as I expected. 100% manually placed, but I found a few ways to make it seem less tedious (plus I have about a dozen of each type of tree to spread around, woot.)

Thanks for pointing that out.

12-12-2009, 06:41 AM
Yeah, I agree with Ascension. Trees should be a bit smaller...

12-17-2009, 01:58 AM
Well, it's been almost a week, and i've got a little work done, enough to repost.

I kept trying to do the trees, redo the trees, redo them again, scrapped that and redid them yet again... and then realized i wasn't getting anywhere. Plus I started getting feedback from others on the project (finally!) regarding placements, so i figured i'd work that in before i try the forests yet again. (might work better if i'm not in a drug induced haze while working, that can get get very tedious, heh - and for those who don't know of my situation, that's not as bad a statement as it sounds at first, lol)

Anyhow, reworked a few mountains, added some rivers, readjusted the scale (it's now approx the size of africa in square miles rather than europe, asia, india and greenland all mashed together). Also named everything but one ocean, and reworked the Kraken Islands to be ground zero of a massive comet impact. Oh, and redid the compass rose, I rather like it now.

Looks like a lot more work than it is when i write it out like this :)

12-17-2009, 02:59 AM
That's awesome, man. I love the hanged Lovecraftian creature under the Scale marker. :D

This has the look of a very dark world/setting...

Steel General
12-17-2009, 05:59 AM
Ooohh butt cheeks & tentacles, that's a new one :)

12-17-2009, 06:03 AM
Diamond: yes, it will be dark. And we've decided to not tone it down either - it'll be a very scary place when all is said and done, i think.

Steel General: Ok, I hadn't quite thought of it in that particular way.. but whatever floats your boat :P

Ramah: I have to admit something here. I put together a layer of trees much like yours, and they have both been re-sized so the trees have come out quite a bit smaller (i was using yours as a test, if you recall). Somewhere along the line I lost track of which layer was which - my hand drawn trees look amazingly like yours at this scale. The evergreens are mine, I know that, but the deciduous ones could be either. I forgot to rename the layers properly as I went, so they're both labeled "forest", plus i keep re-ordering things while I work on them... it's been a strange week. I recall you saying that the brushes and such derived from your maps are free to use, but I figured I better toss out props to you while I still remember, seeing as there's about a 50% chance they are yours, hah :)

(i'm gonna blame the meds for this one)

12-17-2009, 06:43 AM
Hehe. Well it's fine if they're the ones I posted. It's what I posted the layer for in the first place. You could have saved yourself the hassle of doing it. :) And if it was anything like when I did mine, it was a long and very boring job.

12-17-2009, 06:50 AM
Well, as with most things, I like the satisfaction of being able to say "that's all my own work". But really, when you can't tell apart, you're right. :)

12-17-2009, 07:00 AM
Yeah, I understand what you mean. I'm of the same opinion.

12-18-2009, 04:01 AM
Ok, I think i'm ready to call this puppy ready for labels (towns, important locales, etc)

We settled on a different scale (half the previous) which places this at a similar square mileage to Africa (actually works out to 84px=100mi, which is on the scale marker).

I think I'm finally ready to stop fiddling with the ocean layers :)

Redid the compass rose lettering to fit in a bit better.

The most obvious move will be that I've finally finished the forests. Plus I went through and gave the blood smudges, then redid the coast outline with a different stroke and overlayed another layer where it has the coastline penciled in to give it a more hand-traced look.

I wasn't expecting to make this much progress this quickly, I think taking the pressure off from the competition is what let things open up again.

12-18-2009, 05:02 AM
holy jeev's that is excellent. My only criticism would be the location names, but that doesn't change the fact that this is an expertly crafted piece. Good job!

12-18-2009, 05:26 AM
By criticism of the location names, are you refering to the actual names themselves, or the style they're done in?

If the former, well, they're not my names, my job was to get them to fit into the world geographically speaking :)

Thanks for the compliments though!

12-18-2009, 05:32 AM
The names themselves, but seeing as they're not yours it's irrelevant. The map looks REALLY good, which is all that matters :)

12-18-2009, 05:44 AM
I think maybe he was referring to the font, not the names (edit: i posted this one second after he replied so please ignore). The font looks great but it has a certain amount of fluffiness that makes it look a bit off for some reason. Great map man, repped.

P.S.: Really liking your new avatar.


12-18-2009, 06:06 AM
Glad you changed the size of the trees. This works out perfectly!
Font looks pretty good as well I think...

12-18-2009, 07:59 AM
Very minor but my eyes are drawn to the redness of the trees. I know you're going for the inked in blood thing but blood doesn't stay red forever, it dries a dark reddish brown. I think you could use a bit more brown in the outer glow there. Like I said, minor, shrug.

12-18-2009, 08:30 AM
No, you're right. It's the same colour I'm using for the mountains, so I didn't think much past that, but the thicker lines of the mountains keeps it the deeper colour on that layer. The trees are a little more transparent, so the red is showing more. It will be adjusted for the final version, thanks!
I just set the opacity from 75% back to 100% and it does look better. Incidentally, the base colour I'm using for everything is 530200 set to multiply. I'm not actually using any layer styles on the inked layers btw. What I did was copy each layer, then ran a Jiggle filter across (I could screenshot the settings if anyone really wants it) and followed by a gaussian blur at 1.0. That layer goes overtop of the original layer, also set to multiply. Looks like if I set the original layer to 75% opacity, it keeps some of the reddish, at 100% it's completely dried, as it were :)