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bengaijin
12-07-2009, 03:13 AM
This is the working base map for the world I intend to use for two separate campaigns in the new year. The world is designed to fit a disparate selection of published OGL material into a single coherent framework - you'll likely note components of Pathfinder's Golarion; WotC's Forgotten Realms, Red Hand of Doom, and Greyhawk; Necromancer's Rappan Athuk, Barakus, and Larin Karr adventures; and even the rather obscure "Drow War" saga from Mongoose Publishing. All nations/regions have been reconfigured, modified, and supplemented with my own creations.

Generally speaking I have made my own worlds from scratch, but I have come to realize that I don't have time to design both world and campaign to the level of detail I find satisfying, and I now intend to use published material as a base to build upon.

The map was originally drawn in AutoCAD, then was taken into Illustrator to be worked up with colour/lineweight/etc. I see this as a sort of informational base more than a finished product. I would like to use this as the substrate for trying out numerous different styles over the coming months.

_ben

Clercon
12-07-2009, 04:15 AM
I must say that I like this map a lot. It is clear and informative. Some small things could probably even make it better, maybe soften the change between grass and dessert. But that is just small things.

Great job :-)

Steel General
12-07-2009, 06:07 AM
I also like this. A straightforward and 'simple' design that clearly conveys information.

I agree with Clercon, a few simple changes could make this quite stunning.

Eilathen
12-07-2009, 06:42 AM
Very nice map. It evokes the ADnD World feel in a split-second, imho :)

Now, i'd really like to hear something about the world itself...some worldbuilding (History, kingdoms etc. ). If you have something like this, plz share.

Oh and repd!

hohum
12-07-2009, 08:27 AM
Great idea and a very nice looking map. I really like the font you used over the seas and was wondering why you didn't use it for the whole thing?

Also I would say that the drop shadow effect works well over backgrounds that are one color or not too busy. To me I have trouble reading the text over the mountains and the small island chains.

If I can figure out how to give rep, I'll give you some.

***Tanks IG, I didn't even see those icons before you pointed them out.***

ravells
12-07-2009, 08:30 AM
Really nice clean vectory feel and great colours / textures. Funnily it reminded me of Clercon's style in many ways :)

The drop shadow on the text is a bit too extreme for my tastes but that's just me!

Looking forward to seeing how it appears using the other styles of mapping presented here.

industrygothica
12-07-2009, 09:51 AM
Great idea and a very nice looking map. I really like the font you used over the seas and was wondering why you didn't use it for the whole thing?

Also I would say that the drop shadow effect works well over backgrounds that are one color or not too busy. To me I have trouble reading the text over the mountains and the small island chains.

If I can figure out how to give rep, I'll give you some.

See the attached screenshot, if you haven't figured it out already.


-IG

wormspeaker
12-07-2009, 10:25 AM
Maybe it's just me but that Azoth desert and the smaller one near it look really out of place. Feels like a desert wouldn't be in those areas naturally. Though this is a fantasy map, so who's to say it's natural.

bengaijin
12-07-2009, 01:58 PM
Thanks for all the feedback!

I've tweaked the map slightly in response to your comments:

-Desert and Steppe colours tweaked to be in closer harmony with general land colour.
-Jungles darkened slightly to differentiate them from forests
-Drop shadows brought in tighter to the text
-Nation Names switched to Treasure Map Deadhand. hohum, that's the font name if you're interested (free online)

Eilathen: I've got a ton of info on the world, but as of now it is quite poorly organized. I'm in the process of putting together a gazetteer, but it's got a long way to go. A couple of major points:

The west has been dominated for nearly a millennium by the island nation of Vardos, an aristocratic republic. Nearly all of the nations within a thousand miles were under Vardosi sway at its peak. A number of far-flung lands - Varisia, Sasserine, Sargava - are colonies from it's heyday. 35 years ago, an aristocratic house overthrew the Vardosi Senate with diabolical assistance and declared themselves as the first imperial line. Almost immediately, Andoran, an old and wealthy vassal state, declared itself an independent democracy and won an improbable war against Vardos. In the aftermath, every other northern territory declared independence, and Vardos found itself greatly reduced. The west is now full of fledgling nations rife with internal conflict and renewed border enmities.

The East, while quite diverse, has its principal conflict in Azoth, formerly a much smaller desert within the empire of Ai Tun. 200 years ago, Ai Tun fell under the sway of a cabal of chromatic dragons bent on the destruction of Xiu Ha - the millenia-old human/metallic dragon empire. In an attempt to summon an unprecedented demon army, the metallic cabal achieved the unthinkable, ripping a full layer from the Abyss into the Material Plane. Ai Tun was instantly destroyed and Xiu Ha was forced to retreat behind a great wall. The Bright Cities were founded by survivors of Ai Tun's fall as a celestial theocracy and have waged an endless crusade against the demon-haunted waste ever since.

There's a lot more going on in the world obviously. I'd be happy to answer any specific questions beyond that...

Wormspeaker: I guess that in part answers your question about Azoth, but for the sake of argument, let's say it IS a natural desert. What seems off about it? My geographic knowledge is fairly limited...

_ben

jfrazierjr
12-07-2009, 02:18 PM
Wormspeaker: I guess that in part answers your question about Azoth, but for the sake of argument, let's say it IS a natural desert. What seems off about it? My geographic knowledge is fairly limited...

_ben

In most cases, a desert forms when wind (bearing moisture) encounters high mountains that disrupt the wind patterns. Rain/snow generally falls on one side of the mountains and the other side gets far less rain resulting in a dessert.

Davros01
12-07-2009, 02:43 PM
A very nice looking map. The only suggestion I would make is to soften the map a bit. Since you are using a faded parchment type background, a slightly softer look to the actual map may work better. This way you get a worn feel all around. However, even with out this, its a very nice map.

Marc

alexandream
12-07-2009, 03:04 PM
In most cases, a desert forms when wind (bearing moisture) encounters high mountains that disrupt the wind patterns. Rain/snow generally falls on one side of the mountains and the other side gets far less rain resulting in a dessert.

I believe that, if the tropic of Arvad has the same properties as our tropics, in terms of high cold air coming from the equator usually "lands" around it, Aznoth's and the smaller desert near it are perfectly explainable.

My biggest concern here is actually with the one along what seems to be the planet's "Equator". That is a zone where usually we have enough evaporation and the air flows up, chilling fast and raining. The wind coming from the sea in the west would most likely carry enough water to make that desert unlikely.

But then again, it IS a fantasy map, so if you want a desert, then let the desert be :D

Just for future reference, this site gives two examples of reasons for deserts forming. while there are others, these two are the most frequent.

http://weathersavvy.com/Q-Climate_DesertsFormed.html

jfrazierjr seems to be referring to the rain shadow effect, but I believe that wouldn't be much of a problem in the landscape you're building. Except that I'm not sure where the winds would be flowing: In a basic fashion, you'd have wind from world rotation going west, but being a coastal line, difference in temperatures during different times of day would make wind come and go from the land to the sea and the other way around.

bengaijin
12-07-2009, 04:20 PM
My biggest concern here is actually with the one along what seems to be the planet's "Equator". That is a zone where usually we have enough evaporation and the air flows up, chilling fast and raining. The wind coming from the sea in the west would most likely carry enough water to make that desert unlikely.

jfrazierjr seems to be referring to the rain shadow effect, but I believe that wouldn't be much of a problem in the landscape you're building. Except that I'm not sure where the winds would be flowing: In a basic fashion, you'd have wind from world rotation going west, but being a coastal line, difference in temperatures during different times of day would make wind come and go from the land to the sea and the other way around.

Interesting... I didn't think about world rotation as a determinant of prevailing wind direction (though I think in some vague way I did know it was a factor). I was aware of rain shadow effect and did factor that in - my concept was that the wind prevailed from the southeast, making the windward sides of the continents along the Shining Sea predominantly jungle, and the leeward sides desert. Azoth (the eastern waste) would have been much smaller naturally, but since it was grafted with a full plane of the Abyss, it has been expanding into its semi-arid neighbours.

Actually, I suppose I could argue that the Bahranni Desert also used to be smaller, as in my mythos it is at least in part a result of the battle between Aroden, God of Destiny and Father of Humanity, and Rovagug, the God of Hunger, the Destroyer. This is centered on the Pit of Gormuz, where the two gods slew each other.

But it might just be a result of wind currents. Could go either way ;)

_ben

ps. Those who know the Pathfinder setting probably recognize the names Aroden, Rovagug, and the Pit of Gormuz, but know that my narrative diverges from the original significantly. History is getting the same mash-up treatment as geography here. I love the source material, but really feel confined by a strict canon.

alexandream
12-07-2009, 10:13 PM
As I said, I'm not entirely sure of the wind patterns there. The globe rotation would actually give you winds coming from NE and from SE in the Equator, if I recall correctly. Looking at it like that, the rain shadow effect would be a reasonable explanation for that desert.

I just think that there would be more to the wind patterns there than simple globe rotation: Water and land heat at different speeds, so usually coastal areas have a wind pattern that comes from the sea at some time, and goes to the sea at another. So I believe there would be a regular flow of of moist wind on that part of the world.

But then again, I was just mentioning it for consideration. As you said: It *is* a fictional fantasy world. With magic and other sorts of things taking place, it's best to keep with what suits the story/campaign better, anyways :D

Eilathen
12-08-2009, 03:39 PM
Eilathen: I've got a ton of info on the world, but as of now it is quite poorly organized. I'm in the process of putting together a gazetteer, but it's got a long way to go. A couple of major points:

*snip*

_ben

Cool, thanks a lot. I'd like to get my hands on the gazetter, if you're ever finished (read: satisfied enough to put it up here or something like that) ;)

Are you planing on doing detail-maps of some (or all) of the regions?

Redrobes
12-08-2009, 05:37 PM
Like the map a lot. I'm with ravs that the drop shadow is quite far offset. The text is hard to read in many places cos its black on shapes with a dark brown edge. The bottom islands look like the "Isles of E" to me. Perhaps moving the text into the sea or having a fade around the black or using a different color would help with this. Its probably a lot of work to fix any of this on this map but bear that in mind for next time.

rdanhenry
12-08-2009, 09:44 PM
I preferred the original text, largely because Treasure Map Deadhand doesn't seem to look good on a curve (I, too, like it on the seas). The original text shadows really made the labels float well above the map, but it was done consistently and it worked. I wouldn't have changed it.

There are deserts that pretty much go down to the sea. Just because there's liquid water, doesn't mean there's a load of moist air set to precipitate (and you can have a fair amount of water pass over a desert if the conditions to have it actually rain there aren't present -- cloud seeding would never have been invented if it weren't possible to have substantial amounts of water pass overhead without getting any to the ground.)

bengaijin
12-08-2009, 09:52 PM
I'm with ravs that the drop shadow is quite far offset. The text is hard to read in many places cos its black on shapes with a dark brown edge.

Is the drop shadow still too far off in the second iteration? I tried to pull it in tighter. Maybe it wasn't enough...

What if I did the drop shadow in a white instead? Would that just look bizarre?

Maybe I'll replace it with a glow. Or do a glow and a drop shadow. I'll play with it.

As of now, this map is still a live vector file with everything split into layers, so the types of modifications you're talking about should be relatively easy.

Also, what do people think about the font switch? I think it looks good from afar, but I'm worried about legibility.

bengaijin
12-08-2009, 09:54 PM
I preferred the original text, largely because Treasure Map Deadhand doesn't seem to look good on a curve (I, too, like it on the seas). The original text shadows really made the labels float well above the map, but it was done consistently and it worked. I wouldn't have changed it.


Nice one. I was typing about this issue and you answered my question preemptively.

bengaijin
12-08-2009, 10:03 PM
Cool, thanks a lot. I'd like to get my hands on the gazetter, if you're ever finished (read: satisfied enough to put it up here or something like that) ;)

Are you planing on doing detail-maps of some (or all) of the regions?

I would be happy to share the gazetteer whenever it is at least somewhat done. I'll include references to which published adventures fit where, if that would be helpful. As long as that doesn't set me up for a lawsuit with all of the material I've ripped from other places...

I figure I will do detail maps as my players adventure in specific regions. Right now, I'm very happy to stay at this zoomed out scale as it gives me plenty of leeway to insert campaign-appropriate stuff as the plot shapes up.

bengaijin
12-09-2009, 10:47 AM
I've spent a fair bit of time working on the map's aesthetics - still in Illustrator. I've tried to replace the vector-heavy quality of the original with something a bit richer and more naturalistic. To do that I've done a lot of work with inner and outer glows of various sorts, feathered edges, colour adjustment, and line quality. I've also added another layer of overlaid texture to the image and punched up the text by turning it white and pulling the shadow in tightly to frame it. A little bit of the depth of the image seems to have been lost in reducing the file down to a practical size, but I suppose that's standard.

I'm pretty pleased with it. What do you all think? What more should I do?

industrygothica
12-09-2009, 10:23 PM
I love the feel of this map. The colors are wonderful, and I love the clean lines. The only things I'm not really feeling are the forest and mountain textures. Don't get me wrong--it's a good map like it is, but I think it's got the potential to be truly great with a little more attention to those areas. Again, that's just my opinion; the next guy may completely disagree with me.


-IG

bengaijin
12-10-2009, 04:37 AM
The only things I'm not really feeling are the forest and mountain textures. Don't get me wrong--it's a good map like it is, but I think it's got the potential to be truly great with a little more attention to those areas.


I agree. They're a bit clumsy in relation to the subtlety that is emerging elsewhere on the map. They suited the original vector model fine, but their time is past. I think I would like to replace them with something a bit more painterly, maybe a bit more literal. I'll sift through the tutorials and see what I can find... It seems like most of the other maps on this site are oriented to photoshop/brushes as a way of achieving textures. Is there a strategy better suited to illustrator that anyone knows?

elemental_elf
12-10-2009, 04:52 AM
I really like this map. My only glaring issues would have to be the forests (which you said you shall correct) and the mountains (they feel a bit repetitive currently, I think the map could be truly stunning with a little more variety and some clever use of shadows).

EDIT: Opps, I mean repetitive, not represent, lol (stupid spell check)

industrygothica
12-10-2009, 08:55 AM
I agree. They're a bit clumsy in relation to the subtlety that is emerging elsewhere on the map. They suited the original vector model fine, but their time is past. I think I would like to replace them with something a bit more painterly, maybe a bit more literal. I'll sift through the tutorials and see what I can find... It seems like most of the other maps on this site are oriented to photoshop/brushes as a way of achieving textures. Is there a strategy better suited to illustrator that anyone knows?

Is there a reason you don't want to do the mountains in Photoshop? I think Pasis's mountains (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=4405) would look really great on this map if you could find the right texture.

Ramah
12-10-2009, 12:37 PM
I don't mind the forests, I can see how they suit the style of the original you did. The mountains could do with work as you know but the thing that I would change the most on this would be the little spotty texture you have for the desert. I dunno, it just makes me think of 8 bit computers or Atari 2600 graphics or something.
Other than that I think it's a lovely map. I really like your landmass shapes. :)

bengaijin
12-10-2009, 02:27 PM
Is there a reason you don't want to do the mountains in Photoshop? I think Pasis's mountains (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=4405) would look really great on this map if you could find the right texture.

The only reason I would be looking to continue in illustrator is that I have everything neatly layered and easily editable in that program. I'm afraid that I will lose all of that if I switch it over to photoshop. There isn't a way to keep layers between platforms, is there?

...Just looked up how to export a psd. I'll move it to photoshop.

ps - desert dots are fixed. I'll post once I've done some work on the mountains and forests

industrygothica
12-10-2009, 03:06 PM
The only reason I would be looking to continue in illustrator is that I have everything neatly layered and easily editable in that program. I'm afraid that I will lose all of that if I switch it over to photoshop. There isn't a way to keep layers between platforms, is there?

...Just looked up how to export a psd. I'll move it to photoshop.

ps - desert dots are fixed. I'll post once

Glad you figured it out. I have no clue how to do anything in Illustrator. I was actually considering hitting you up for a tutorial when you were finished. ;)


-IG

bengaijin
12-11-2009, 12:34 AM
I have no clue how to do anything in Illustrator. I was actually considering hitting you up for a tutorial when you were finished.

I'd be happy to set one up. Though I don't really know what I would include. I'll think about what might be useful and look at some other tutorials to get an idea of how to structure one.

su_liam
12-11-2009, 01:43 AM
I really like the continent shapes, although, to my mind, they look like some sort of polar azimuthal projection with the (north?) pole being centered roughly at Absalom island.

I'm moving in the opposite direction. Trying to integrate Illustrator into my very raster-oriented approach. I've been inspired by the HandsomeRob tutorial and atlas, although my work is still very different.

bengaijin
01-23-2010, 12:06 PM
Hi all,

I've been away from the forum for a while and thought I should check in to show what I've been working on. It is far from done, as I hope to apply a pretty high level of detail, but I think it is far enough along that you can get a sense of where I am going with this iteration. Taking cues from Tear's exceptional Saderan tutorial, I am trying to make a richly contoured, painterly/realistic iteration of the Known World. This has so far been a major Photoshop learning experience for me - I'm amazed at some of the painting techniques possible with that program.

21358

Happy New Year.

industrygothica
01-23-2010, 12:40 PM
Looks fabulous.

Ascension
01-23-2010, 01:30 PM
Yeah, might be the coolest landmasses I've seen around here.

altasilvapuer
01-24-2010, 05:58 PM
Oh my.. I think the bottom just fell out over here. I can't wait to see where this goes; I'm quite intrigued.

-asp

Steel General
01-25-2010, 09:18 AM
This is quite nice so far, looking forward to seeing it develop.

Rongar
01-27-2010, 01:29 PM
Yeah, might be the coolest landmasses I've seen around here.

Agreed. How did you make their shape? They look very realistic.

Oh, and have some rep!

bengaijin
01-28-2010, 12:29 AM
Honestly, I just drew them by hand in my notebook when I was supposed to be paying attention in a particularly dry meeting. Then later I scanned my sketch and added a fair bit of detail tracing it in CAD. That's my method in total.

-ben

ravells
01-28-2010, 06:12 PM
Decidedly yummy.

bengaijin
03-10-2010, 12:29 AM
I've had little time to work on this map, and it seems to be evolving in actual geological time. So here is an update a very long time coming.

The map background is very close to done. All that remains is the insertion of a number of rivers, and some polishing of the coastal shelves in the seas.

The labelling will be an entirely separate exercise. I am still on the fence as to whether I should do all of my labelling and notation in photoshop or illustrator. I have all of the labels completed in an illustrator base file, so it would really be a quite simple matter to bring the jpeg in underneath them, but I wonder if I will be able to achieve the same level of richness/subtlety with text and icons as I would in photoshop. Any thoughts from the jury?

_ben

22700

bengaijin
03-10-2010, 09:06 PM
So...

I believe this is the fully finished "painting" of the Known World. Rivers have been added, continental shelves drawn in, colours and textures tweaked. I would love any feedback. How can I improve this thing?

On an unrelated note, I recall seeing a thread recently (last couple of weeks) where someone was converting a continent sized hex map to a more realistic style, but today when looking for it, I found nothing. My recollection was that the landforms were pretty cool, and I wanted to look at it again. It seemed like a fully fledged campaign world, not so much a work in progress from the world-building side. Does this ring a bell? Can anyone point me towards a map that meets this description?

Anyhow, here's the current update:

22755

bengaijin
03-10-2010, 10:21 PM
As a preliminary labelling, I've simply integrated it with my labels from my AI file. I know it deserves better, but to do that I think I'd have to work through photoshop, and I'll need more time for that. Regardless, this one should give you all an idea of what goes where in the known world.

22756

(Please ignore the legend. It is completely out of whack with the current map)

Eilathen
03-11-2010, 05:19 AM
Very, very nice. I like it a lot. I hope you get around to doing all the labelling in PS (not that it looks bad right now, mind you). I think this one would look awesome as a huge poster on the wall.

Ghostman
03-11-2010, 05:42 AM
That's some rep-worthy work there :)

Looking forward to see what you can do with those labels.

Steel General
03-11-2010, 07:15 AM
Nicely done...

silverhead
03-11-2010, 01:25 PM
I've just stumbled onto this map. Awesome, and very very clean. Good job!

bengaijin
03-12-2010, 09:32 AM
I'm having some trouble figuring out how to make appropriate city, fortress and ruin icons in photoshop. Are there brushes out there that can help with this sort of thing?

The city icons I've most liked (for this map type, at least) are those used in Tear's fantastic rendition of Westeros (see 'finished maps'). Any recommendation on how to make icons like those?

Steel General
03-12-2010, 10:09 AM
He may have included his method for creating them in his "Saderan" tutorial, you might check there.

tilt
03-12-2010, 02:36 PM
beautiful map - repped (or as close as I can get)