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Jaxilon
12-10-2009, 12:34 AM
I created this using GIMP which I am still learning.

This is a local region map for an area I GM a group of friends in when we have time.

Eventually I want to do my entire world so this is kind of a proof of concept for me. I haven't been able to get the bending of text to work for finishing the labels so very little is labeled as of yet. Also, I had no brain on starting with the right DPI scale so it is what it is.

My wife is probably tired of my asking, "What looks better?" and "What is wrong with this picture?", so feel free to C&C me you experts.

Pretty much the whole dang thing is hand painted because I can't seem to follow a tutorial, LOL.

One final note, thank you Ramah for the Markers you posted for use in the elements section. I tweeked them a little (just cleanup and painting) but I'm sure you will recognize them.

Working with a mouse sucks...I need a tablet.

Ascension
12-10-2009, 01:26 AM
I like what you've got going on here style-wise. Keep at it and you'll refine it in time and be teaching us.

Coyotemax
12-10-2009, 03:29 AM
First off, I'll second what Ascension said, this is great, I haven't seen anything quite like it, and I'm looking forward to giving it a shot :)

Secondly, since you asked for it.. C&C (as gently as possible)
Your river mouth seems to be covered by the beach.. easy to fix :)
Your streams in the mountains appear to start on the ridgelines ('m assuming that's what the lighter strokes are). Most streams would come down through the valley portions of the mountain slopes, unless I'm mistaken.
I might recommend tossing some trees in the mountain valleys, trees are notorious for liking to live in those kinds of places :) You say you're still learning so I'll mention that you might want to consider a layer set to multiply (i *think* gimp can do those if i recall) so the trees follow the slopes (though might take some tweaking to get the colours to match your other forests).
I was thinking the forests looked a tad blurry at first, then i realized I didn't have my contacts in, so that's my bad :P

The only other thing I can think of is that the icons' don't really fit the style of the map as they are, not sure what i can do for suggestions there. I think what's happening is the the icons look very sharply defined, while everything else is a bit more soft and shaded.

I do like the shadow on the town, that's nicely done and fits with the rest.
I love the way you did the oceans and the islands! I like the plains, the forests are great, the roads and bridges work well. The mountains I have no trouble believing (and am looking forward to hearing how you did them!).

This is all my own personal take of course, take or leave what you will :)

Jaxilon
12-10-2009, 04:30 AM
Thanks for the encouragement.


Your river mouth seems to be covered by the beach.. easy to fix
Your streams in the mountains appear to start on the ridgelines ('m assuming that's what the lighter strokes are). Most streams would come down through the valley portions of the mountain slopes, unless I'm mistaken.
I agree absolutely with you on this. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I stroked those rivers in. It was around 3am when I did it. I'll have to fix that. The river was more of not knowing exactly how I wanted that to look and then forgetting about it. :)


You say you're still learning so I'll mention that you might want to consider a layer set to multiply (i *think* gimp can do those if i recall) so the trees follow the slopes (though might take some tweaking to get the colours to match your other forests).

I vaguely know what you are refering to and yes there is a multiply feature...not sure what it does (like so much of the rest) but I will take a look at it and see if I can use it.

I see what you mean about the icons not fitting the style - I was going back and forth on the color for the tower but now that you mentioned it I might be better with some simple symbols for the locations. Eventually I will do my own brushes for this type of stuff but I'm not taking that on with my mouse. I'll be looking into a tablet soon I think.

and finally-

The mountains I have no trouble believing (and am looking forward to hearing how you did them!).

arrg, the mountains...those are first of all a botched attempt to follow RobA's mountain tutorial. After I got fed up with the crappy result I kept ending up with (I'm sure it's my doing something wrong by the way) I just gave up and hand painted them.

Once I make sure I can repeat them I will explain how. I think I can streamline it so they don't take quite as much time as I spent on these.

Coyotemax
12-10-2009, 04:53 AM
Glad you found the critique useful :)

Basically what the Multiply feature does is "multiplies" the values of th pixels under it with the values of the ones over it - in effect it is slightly transparent and sort of textures the layer underneath with whatever is on the layer over it. In this case, what it would do if you painted forests overtop of the mountains while set to multiply, the forests would follow the contours of the mountains. The ridgelines would show through, you would see the forest textures, and you would also see the mountain textures under it - though green. Really, the best way to understand it fully is to play around and experiment a bit, but at least you have the underlying theory behind it :) Different blending modes do different things of course. It's always fun to experiment, and one of the things I typicallt do while looking for something that gives me the effect i want is just to take the layer I want to do something with, and cycle through the blending modes. you can get some interesting effects that way, let me tell you :)

I think you can get those icons to work with the map, btw, maybe just soften them up a little. not sure, really. I'd have to play with it a bit, but I have so many things going on right now (2 maps, plus RL intruding for once).

I look forward to your mountain explanation.. though i'll admit just looking at the current ones is giving me some ideas already that I may have to try out soon.

Keep up the great work, i look forward to your next upload :)

Jaxilon
12-11-2009, 01:58 PM
Ok, I can now put names on paths...seems like a pain but alright.

I changed the color on the Keep and softened up the town icon a bit. Still not sure if it's what I want but..

I have to put some names on the forest road and I'm not sure how it's going to look since it's kind of dark I am unsure of how the effects work/fail on pathways so that will be my next experiment.

I also moved the rivers off the highpoints so hopefully those make more sense.

I really appreciate the helpful suggestions guys, thanks.

Gandwarf
12-11-2009, 03:37 PM
Wow, this is pretty cool! Have some rep.
I really like the style. Love the mountains, forests, little islands and the symbols you used for the town and keep (did you make those two yourself?). You might want to post a tutorial yourself... I am sure people would like to mimick this style. It's very painterly.

Labeling is still basic and uninspiring I think. There are better fonts out there... also, I wouldn't use a very obvious drop shadow.

Coyotemax
12-11-2009, 04:02 PM
The icons are definitely working out better.

Everything else is progressing nicely :) One of the things you can do to offset dark text on a dark surface is to give it a bit of a glow.

I know there are some people who will comment on your use of red text against a green background. It can be made to work, but it takes a certain finesse, otherwise you can still lose it against the green, even with emphasis.

Steel General
12-11-2009, 04:05 PM
I know there are some people who will comment on your use of red text against a green background. It can be made to work, but it takes a certain finesse, otherwise you can still lose it against the green, even with emphasis.

I am one of those people :P

But in this case, the red is so dark (nearly black) that it doesn't suffer from the 'bleed-in' problem that a more typical shade of red would create. Though I think this could still use a bit of a glow to set it off. :)

RobA
12-11-2009, 05:48 PM
Ok, I can now put names on paths...seems like a pain but alright.

I agree. The workflow for text on a path in Gimp is poor. I like to export my maps as a jpg, then import that into Inkscape, do my labeling there, then export the SVG text out as a transparent PNG and back into Gimp (or just use open as layers with the SVG file.)

-Rob A>

Jaxilon
12-11-2009, 06:50 PM
RobA > Thanks for the method of moving between Gimp & Inkscape, I was wanting to try but didn't know the best way to go about it.

Gandwarf> The icons were originally made by Ramah and posted elsewhere on this site. I did clean them up a bit, warped the tower a tad, painted them added some shadows, then blurred them up a bit but they are pretty close to his. I could draw my own but I'd rather not do it with my mouse. I hope to get some better input devices in the future.

The red lettering believe it or not is actually the Leather pattern in Gimp. I used the default drop shadow but I'm not married to it although I kind of like the way the floating words left the image of the painted map intact...at least that's how I saw it. Almost as if they are not really part of the picture. Then again, I have yet to put it over that forest there and I'm not sure how that's going to pan out. I'll try that glow effect next.

Jaxilon
12-13-2009, 12:14 AM
I like to export my maps as a jpg, then import that into Inkscape, do my labeling there, then export the SVG text out as a transparent PNG and back into Gimp (or just use open as layers with the SVG file.)


I seem to be having issues making this happen...I have Gimp 2.6. From Inkscape the only export I see is as a bitmap. I'll keep trying but for now I have my labels in Inkscape and can't seem to get them back to Gimp.

I did get the .PNG file to open in Gimp but the colors on the labels were all toast. Do I just use Inkscape to make the fonts on the paths and then re-color them in Gimp? Only problem is the .PNG has no layers so I'm down to having to try and scrape the letters off the page to manipulate them :(

Jaxilon
12-13-2009, 03:24 AM
Well this is the PNG I exported out of Inkscape...unfortunately although it is 2 layers in Inkscape, after saving it and then trying to open it in Gimp it comes in as only a single layer. I suppose I could just make more layers and keep going but there is no going back to the various layers I had before.

Juggernaut1981
12-13-2009, 07:47 PM
Jax> Will Illustrator allow you to "Save Visible"? If you can, then you just show each layer as visible, save them, then open them as new layers in GIMP.

RobA
12-14-2009, 09:11 PM
Sorry I could have been more clear (I have explained my workflow a couple times in other threads and forget some people may not have read EVERY post here ;) )

I make my entire map (or as much as I can) without labels, icons, etc in gimp.
I then do a save as to a jpg.
I import that jpg into inkscape, select the image, then size the canvas to fit the jpg. I lock the background layer (where the image is), and create new layers for things like city labels, rivers, titles, etc. I use layer visibility to reveal only the layer I want, and export it from inkscape as a png.
In gimp I use Open as Layer to bring in that png for final compositing (drop shadows/glows, etc.)

If I want to change text, I flip to my inkscape file and modify it there then delete the existing layer and again us Open as Layer.

When I know I'll do this a lot (like in my recent woodcut map) I used a linked layer set of scripts for gimp I reference here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?p=81481#post81481).

If there is interest, I can make a quick tut on it.

-Rob A>

a2area
12-14-2009, 09:23 PM
I like your mountains but I LOVE the waterline and water effects.. how'd you do that?

Jaxilon
12-14-2009, 09:51 PM
Thanks RobA I will try this again.

I think I was on the right track - I created a jpg, used it in inkscape, then kicked out a PNG and was able to open that in Gimp. Now I see that I can open my .xcf in Gimp and bring back the .png from Inkscape as a layer and use it with my original. <-- That's the part I was missing.

Well that and I didn't know to lock the layers in Inkscape, believe me I was getting ****ed about having to redo stuff because it kept flipping back to my background layer when i wasn't paying attention :)

a2area> Being a noob I will have to see if I can recreate that effect. I do know that I worked it over pretty good. I used a brush that either came with Gimp or I got from here called Pencil Sketch (1,2,3) and stomped tracks all over both dark and light and then blurred things. Most likely the ocean started as a fall out project going through one of RobA's tutorials. For some reason I never get exactly what folks intend from those things so I end up going through the forest swinging my machete manually. The upside is it's possible I will discover something new.

For anyone who cares, I will say that I use the Burn tool like a fiend to darken and lighten up areas. I used the burn tool on 'dodge' setting to lighten up around the coasts. I probably do things the hard way but so long as I get closer and closer to what I want to see I'm happy.

The other most used tool for me is 'smudge'. It's almost like sculpting you just keep pushing the paint around. I love it.

Diamond
12-15-2009, 04:06 AM
The water-color look of this is awesome, man. I love the subtle cross-hatching look on the grassy areas, and your beaches look fantastic. (Why does it always sound so suggestive to compliment someone's geography? ((See, even that sounded wrong.))?) :D

The only thing that looks a bit off to me is the forests. There is some sharp pixellation going on there that makes those areas stand out too much from the rest of the map; kind of a jarring effect.

rdanhenry
12-15-2009, 04:50 AM
If there is interest, I can make a quick tut on it.


I, for one, would love to see a tutorial covering labeling a map with GIMP/Inkscape.

Jaxilon
12-15-2009, 05:15 AM
Thanks for the nice comments.



The only thing that looks a bit off to me is the forests. There is some sharp pixellation going on there that makes those areas stand out too much from the rest of the map; kind of a jarring effect.

I know what you mean about the forest areas. It kind of bothers me as well but for the moment I haven't really come up with a solution. I'm still trying to get my mountains down and make sure I can duplicate the ocean look again.

Eventually I will start tweaking on the forests but tend to agree it is a little off from the rest.

jfrazierjr
12-15-2009, 10:40 AM
For anyone who cares, I will say that I use the Burn tool like a fiend to darken and lighten up areas. I used the burn tool on 'dodge' setting to lighten up around the coasts. I probably do things the hard way but so long as I get closer and closer to what I want to see I'm happy.
Note sure if you know this or not, BUT my normal workflow for things like this is to NOT modify the original layer, but to create a new layer above set to 50% grey (hex 808080) set to overlay mode and then use the burn/dodge tools there. This allows you to keep the original layer intact in case you want to add some colors, etc. This also helps me at least since many times I end up blurring the dodge/burn layer to get the changes in highlights/lowlights to blend more seamlessly and doing the blur on the original layer instead would hose up the image. This is especially important when you open up a png or jpg file and want to add some high/lowlights. If you were to do the whole thing as a single layer, then the blurring would hose your line work.




The other most used tool for me is 'smudge'. It's almost like sculpting you just keep pushing the paint around. I love it.My fav tool also....

Jaxilon
12-15-2009, 03:02 PM
You just taught me something that will save me a lot of hassle. Thanks for the tip. I remember reading that somewhere but it didn't click until you said it here.

Thanks so much!

Jaxilon
12-18-2009, 03:46 AM
Ok, I got back to my forests here. I game them a good work over and may have found an interesting method that may develop into something better for next time. We will have to see.

At least now there isn't that pixelation I had before.

Ramah
12-18-2009, 06:48 AM
I like this map. It has a very painterly feel to it which is great. The only thing I didn't like before was your forest but now you've changed it it's thrown up another problem for me and that's your mountains. Even though I really like the style you've used for them they don't tie in with how you've done everything else. You've used iso icons, your forest is viewed from a similar position but your mountains are dead-on top-down. They don't seem to gel with the other elements so to me, either they or your new forest style needs changing.

Gandwarf
12-18-2009, 07:05 AM
I love the style of this map, as I stated before.
Also, I am not as bothered as Ramah with the trees/mountains perspective. I think it still works out, although I agree changing the perspective so they match might make the map better.

Jaxilon
12-18-2009, 11:57 AM
Yeah, I was asking myself the same thing as I was posting it.

This whole thing was kind of a proof of concept for me and learning the Gimp & Inkscape. While I'm pretty happy with how it turned out I see exactly the same thing.

I may just redo the forest another time and see what happens. I don't think I can really change the mountains and I do like the way they look. (I tried to add trees to them to see if I could tie them in better but they never looked right).

I'll think about this and see what I can come up with.

Ok, here are 2 versions and I'm not sure if either is better :) Only thing changed is the forest areas.

Diamond
12-18-2009, 11:16 PM
Much MUCH better on the forests. I like the looks of the one on the left (the more pine-tree-y one) better, but the one on the right seems to complement the mountains better.

Jaxilon
12-18-2009, 11:26 PM
Much MUCH better on the forests. I like the looks of the one on the left (the more pine-tree-y one) better, but the one on the right seems to complement the mountains better.

I think you are right. Individually I like the forest on the left but to go with the mountains I guess the one on the right is better. I still wonder if I could do a "flatter" looking forest if it would look better. I haven't mastered that technique yet.

In my mind I sort of have 3 styles going on in this map which sort of makes it hard to finish. I think I'm done with the mountains because they just took me so much time to get as they are, LOL. I may shelf this project and try a new one at this point to see how I do now that I know a little more about using Gimp. I might actually be able to follow a tutorial now :)

Thanks for the comments everyone who has helped point things out. Looking forward to next time. Maybe I can even get in on some of the challenges.

Jaxilon
04-23-2010, 06:45 AM
Ok, I know it's been 4 months now and I dropped this while I worked on learning more about the digital tools at my disposal. I have learned a bit and even finished a piece or two but in the back of my mind I knew I hadn't finished this one. Probably, because I know this is only a small section of a much bigger map I want to do I feel like I need to put it to rest.

So here it is, I think I'm done unless anyone sees anything glaring that I need to change. I would have just created a finished map but I wanted to get these Kale forests checked out first, LOL, yeah baby, that's Kale!

Oh, I did some mods on the river as well and added the Map legend. Feel free to go nuts but I think I mainly want to archive this one and move on.

### Latest WIP ###

Ramah
04-23-2010, 08:35 AM
Hmm, well I reckon you have a problem with your shadows on this. The icons show a very definite light source coming from the top right of the map. But I'm struggling to get that on the mountains. The right forest seems to have a soft shadow to it but the left forest doesn't seem to have a shadow in the small area I would expect one. Your river is the biggest offender though, with most of the shadowing on the left side, in view of the light source and giving it a kind of upward bevelled effect that makes it look to me that it is above the land.

I still really like the painted look you have to the map though. :)

Jaxilon
04-23-2010, 03:35 PM
You are absolutely correct and now that I look at it I find it completely unacceptable. Thank you. Here is what I had time for this morning. I reverted the river and added shadows to the others.

Thank you for your attention to detail. Let's see if this is any better. I'm off to work now have fun.

### Latest WIP ###