View Full Version : The New Empire - WIP

01-14-2010, 08:46 AM
Yay! I'm back on the tablet again! Life is starting to sort itself out a bit, and perfect timing - I was provided with another opportunity for a commissioned map.

This one will be based off a set of maps that was provided as reference for a published novel. We're going for the antique hand-drawn look again, and I expect to be heavily influenced by the work I did on the Barovia and Transylvania maps when all is said and done (in turn heavily influenced by the maps of Joan Blaeu).

I had a few false starts, the most promising of which seemed to be a layout in which I had the mainland in one area, the island in another, and and an inset showing them in relation to each other (a fullsize map using the provided scale at their relative locations would have a great deal of empty space). Sounds great in theory, I just couldn't get it to look right in practice. So I fell back on the multiple-page original presentation and added a divider :)

The land masses will be completely redone by hand, the current incarnation is scanned in from the appendix and placed for reference. there will be minimal adjustments to coastlines and mountains, and the political borders will stay more or less as they are.

I'll likely work over the parchment layer a bit more, but the inked portions will stay as one colour. Oh, and the whole thing is being done at 300dpi to be printed at 16x22" - the largest hand-drawn style map I've done to date :) I'll probably shrink down the WIP updates after this.

Feel free to offer suggestions on things I seem to be missing :) (though it might be a bit early for that now). I'm likely to go over the palace in the middle to give it a more hand-drawn feel (though I think it's got a good start considering it was originally a photograph) and may go so far as to draw over the larger labels too.

01-14-2010, 09:51 AM
Looking nice. New mountain style there I see.

I know that this is the sketch stage, so there's not a lot to say. The layout looks good. i like the large palace in the middle. Very cool touch. Is the border a piece of art off the web? How did you get it to fit the scale so well?

As for redisplaying it on the forum, I'd suggest downsizing it to 33% or 25% of the original before posting. That way when we click on it, we'll get it at the scale it's intended to be viewed at (on 90ish or 72dpi screens respectively). As it is we can either view it fit-to-screen or at 300%! Looks very nice at 300% though. Looks like you'll get a lovely map at the end of this.

01-14-2010, 10:07 AM
Yeah, i didn't realize exactly how BIG it is at full scale :)

The mountains will not stay the same, they are the ones from the original scan. Unlike the last few maps I plan on drawing out the mountains by hand for this one - there won't be nearly as many to worry about, plus I need to make more mountains for variety with my brushes :)

I liked the palace idea, I really needed something to separate, and the palace as described in the book reminded me a lot of Versailles, so I went with that kind of feel for it (I forget the name of the palace I actually used though). the border is from one of the Blaeu maps, I put a bit of effort into making it work - it's actually sections chopped apart and pasted back in to be continuous. i may not keep it as is, I'm considering working it over a bit more, but I think it worked out pretty well (and your comments make me even more hopeful, heh).

Well, i'm going to re-upload a smaller version overtop of the existing one.

01-14-2010, 11:02 AM
I think the border is great. Certainly worth capitalising on all that earlier work. My one comment at this point would be to make sure that the line weight of the map matches up with the line weight of the border, but from your other hand drawn work I'm sure you have that well under control. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

01-14-2010, 02:30 PM
That map is awesome. Pretty much has everything I mentioned to you in the other post .. So not to much to say but great job. Your artwork is pretty fantastic.

01-15-2010, 09:28 AM
Not as much progress as I was hoping to have by now, but I really want to make sure this one comes out *just* right.

Spent the whole night working on the coastline woodcut, I must have used a dozen different styles, then when I finally settled on this one, I must have spent 4 hours getting it to look just right :) Looking back, it might have been less consuming to just draw it all in by hand, hah! (the only thing that kept my sanity was listening to Blue Oyster Cult the whole time..)

Anyhow, The coastline has been broken up a bit, woodcut effects added, and a few other minor adjustments have been made. Next, geographical features - especially adding the rivers and forests to help explain some of the political boundaries...

01-15-2010, 10:50 AM
Looking good. I certainly want to know how you did the woodcut effect in the end. Are you going to go with woodcut lines for all the shading - for example on the mountains too?

I think you might run into some line weight issues. The coastline is currently a lot thicker and darker than your border. Possibly easily rectified by doubling your border layer. It's a little thing, but helps the consistency.

01-15-2010, 01:24 PM
Yep, I was noticing that too. I'll likely change the border completely, I was originally using this one for the mockup/planning, and considered keeping but there's too many issues if you look closely. I might keep the basic design of it. I really do like the look.

that's a good point about the woodcut for the mountains.. I just may have to give that a shot! The method I used for the woodcut effect is pretty easy to apply once you know the basics, but there's a few complicated steps. it involves an interesting photoshop quirk I'd found out quite some time ago while doing a text effects tutorial, then found it repeated in another mapping tutorial (I lost track of who it was though).

If I can remember...

I made a 500x500 pattern (larger to reduce the appearance of repeating patterns in the final product) of hand drawn lines, every 10px using a 3px brush (one of the Dry Media preset brushes). Turned that into a tiling pattern. Took the basic land layer to a new file, gave it a medium gray colour, then put a 100px stroke with a gradient fill, same grey as the land, fading to white. I then converted to Bitmap, and when the requester screen came up, told it to use a custom dithering pattern - the one I'd just created. That gave me the basic woodcut lines, and then I just put that layer back in the original file (after converting back to grayscale/rgb), set it to multiply, then ran a light gaussian blur and masked off the inner portion.

If you can follow all that... it's not as complicated as it sounds once you've done it a few times, and especially if you have some line patterns set up already. You can also adjust the apparent line weight by changing the DPI during the bitmap conversion, larger DPI giving a tighter pattern, and so on (at the risk of looking more tiled).

01-15-2010, 02:00 PM
My thought about the mountains was that if the mapmaker had used woodcut to shade the coastline then they probably used woodcut for the whole map. Why use one method in one place and another elsewhere?

Thanks for the walkthrough. There's some unfamiliar steps in there for me but I'll have to give it a shot.

01-16-2010, 01:19 AM
Well, I'm at the laptop right now, and all the work files are on the desktop (and I'm tired of waiting for stuff to move across the network) so i figured I would run a couple tests on the woodcut effect for mountains. I tried the brushes first, hey why not, but was not satisfied at all with the result.

However, I think I'm on to something else that's working nicely. I drew out the mountain chain itself on it's own layer, solid black. On a layer below, I used a soft brish with varying shades of grey to shadow the mountains. then I ran it through the woodcut process. It needs some tweaking when I'm back at the desktop, but I think this is on the right path.

<sarcasm> Can't wait to do trees like this :) </sarcasm>

Incidentally, I found the original tutorial that led me to the bitmap conversion technique, but I still haven't been able to track down the map tutorial version. I just scanned over the text effect one I found, and it goes into a lot more complication that is needed for the woodcut effect we're after (the text tutorial runs it through Illustrator to clean up the lines, for one thing) but the converting to bitmap is the part I recalled and extracted. I remember the map tutorial having a much more efficient way of describing the approach.
http://www.gomediazine.com/tutorials/old-school-type-line-gradients/ if you're interested.

01-16-2010, 08:25 AM
I updated the coast outlines a bit to look more woodcut along the inner portion of the line (rough seaward and smooth landward didn't feel right). I updated the borders as well, I really like the way they're looking, still some erasing to do. I will likely adjust the bars on the edges to match the scale marker too, I don't see why not, and I'll need something to do while I procrastinate on the forests. The mountains seem like they're going to work, the first set is placed in already. Still trying to decide on how to represent political borders though.
Terrain features are easy, forests, rivers, and mountains help define some of the borders, but I'll have to see how I can work it up so the boundaries don't get lost in the features. I may have to go a bit more sparse on the forests so things don't get overwhelming, especially on the islands where there's more towns named.

Once again didn't get as much done as I was hoping, but the wife has her own ideas on what constitues a priority on friday nights :)

01-21-2010, 11:01 AM
More progress. Finished the mountains, most of the decorations, updated the woodcut effect on a few things (though I may redo the compass and seals) and numerous other details fixed such as the borders.

Rivers next, then political borders (yikes, still thinking on those, but I think I have a plan) and finally towns and labels - then forests last, so I can place them around existing items for readability.

Getting close! I'm definitely getting the hang of the woodcut at this point, I'm not afraid to run it through at different resolutions to test it out before settling now that I have it down to a quick process. I'd like to set up an action button, but I need different dpi's for different elements, so it's hard to set a single one up. Doesn't take long at least now :)

01-21-2010, 11:30 AM
Looking good! Can't wait to see the rest.

01-21-2010, 01:01 PM
It's looking wonderful CM. I always prefer your hand-drawn and more experimental maps to your more sattelitey ones. Which is not to say the latter ones are bad, just that the former ones are always VERY good. :)

01-21-2010, 01:25 PM
I have a lot of fun with the satellite styled ones, but I think that's partly because I do have fun experimenting outside of my usual styles :) I've always preferred the hand drawn anyhow, but it's no fun if I don't push myself :P

And man, this is really looking good now the rivers and borders are done. Fleshed out the blank spaces well so far, but I'll finish the labeling before i post an update.

01-21-2010, 03:56 PM
Incidentally, with the resizing for posting on the forum, it's losing huge bucketloads of details. Attached is an unresized crop so you can see where it's heading :P

I'm almost ready to start on forests now, finishing the banners and embellishments now :) And I have to say, the tablet makes me SOOOO HAPPY. Sometimes the best way to make something look hand-drawn is to hand-draw it :P

01-21-2010, 10:59 PM
The forests were great before I slapped the woodcut effect on them
I seriously need to find another way to do them.

But, that's for tomorrow. I've been working on this for at least 12 hours now, time for a break!

01-21-2010, 11:12 PM
You might have to make them a bit bigger so that the woodcut doesn't interfere as much.

01-22-2010, 12:03 AM
I made a 500x500 pattern (larger to reduce the appearance of repeating patterns in the final product) of hand drawn lines, every 10px using a 3px brush (one of the Dry Media preset brushes). Turned that into a tiling pattern. Took the basic land layer to a new file, gave it a medium gray colour, then put a 100px stroke with a gradient fill, same grey as the land, fading to white. I then converted to Bitmap, and when the requester screen came up, told it to use a custom dithering pattern - the one I'd just created. That gave me the basic woodcut lines, and then I just put that layer back in the original file (after converting back to grayscale/rgb), set it to multiply, then ran a light gaussian blur and masked off the inner portion.

FYI, we refer to that as the S. John Ross Technique: http://www.io.com/~sjohn/uresia-maps.htm

-Rob A>

01-22-2010, 02:03 AM
Yes! That's the one. Thanks!

01-22-2010, 10:22 AM
I'm not sure why you would attempt to apply shading to line elements. The shaded lines around seas, for example, are a purely stylistic convention, not in any way related to the technology of woodcuts.

01-22-2010, 11:12 AM
Well in this particular case, while my terminology may be off, i really liked the effect from the shoreline, and wanted to carry that over into the rest of it.

01-22-2010, 07:48 PM
After letting that observation/comment sink in for awhile, I realized that it is likely i was going a bit overboard with the effect I was using. I've toned a few things back, and I have to say it really did help improve. Thanks for bringing that up, waldronate. I'd post an updated image but the wife is hovering next to me glaring at me because I'm still on the computer while she's waiting to go out for dinner. Priorities!! Sheesh! :)

01-22-2010, 10:17 PM
The nerve of some people :) Hi Mrs. Max.

01-23-2010, 02:18 AM
Thank you for saving me from a triple post :P Dinner was good. Finishing the map is even better! Well, I might be finished. I'm going to sit on it for a day or two before I make that final decision, but if it's not, it's pretty darn close. I can't see anything else that needs doing or adjusting, but that's also possibly because I'm too close to it and staring at it for too long. I DID catch an error I hadn't noticed over the last 2 or so weeks though, and it's one that made it through to the final publication of the book... From The Capital to Karlisberg is 175 on the original map, but on the second map, from Karlisberg back to The Capital is 135 miles. Woah. Anyhow, here goes, if someone sees something obvious, please say so :) And if anyone wants a zoomed in closeup of a particular region, let me know. The original is 4800x6600, shrunk to 2000x2750 (i think) for the upload version so it really is missing some detail.

01-23-2010, 06:27 AM
Totally redid forests using ramah's version of fluesopp's forest generator, and the Vaniyah tree set :) I chopped the forest layer into manageable parts (2 needed to be stitched together as they were about 1400+px wide) using the rivers and borders as separation points, so that worked out a lot nicer. I also went through and cleaned a few more things up, I'll likely change the background parchment tone, it's a little too orange for my liking right now. I have to say, i'm *much* happier with the forests now, and the process to create them :) Also including a cropped portion of the fullsize for detail comparison.

01-23-2010, 06:48 AM
From your fullsize images I would certainly agree that the new forests look better than the ones done from the tree layer, so I'm glad you've got the generator to work for you. However, from the zoomed in shot I can see that they also don't look right. It may just be that the problem is the shading is on the wrong side to the mountains and cities. Oops.
I also think it might be more than that though, the lines of the trees seem too fine compare to the mountains and cities. Not dark enough. Maybe if you duplicated the layer a few times to really darken them it would work? I actually preferred your earlier trees with the woodcut effect although I agree it was a bit too much. Any way to get somewhere in between?

Btw, if you decide to redo the forests (again :s ) to repair the wrong direction shadowing, you will obviously need edit the png files, mirroring the tress and alphas horizontally. If you do this, could you upload a zip with them in please so I can include it in the download?

Maybe if you do them again it might look good to add a Shadow1.png to tie them to the ground more? This would mean you would also need to recreate the original brushes too, with more blank space to allow for the shadow. A little hassle but might be worth it?

01-23-2010, 06:57 AM
l;ksjflskjhkrsjhkljg I so did not catch that *slap forehead) On the first test I did with the generator, i just flipped the alpha mask before generating, as I took the shadow direction into account. I was going to do that again, but my wife made me go out for a walk with her and the dogs, and when i got back i forgot. I still have the original png's so I'll likely just set up an action to flip them and batch run it. Heck, if I do that, i could probably use it to mirror the trees and shadows too and catch everything at once :) And this gives me an excuse to test my idea of shrinking the mask by a few pixels -- see the automatic forester thread for more info, (bloody heck, that's 2 hours of my life I want back!!!)

01-23-2010, 08:23 AM
Very, very nice Coyotemax. Glad to see you more productive again ;)

01-23-2010, 11:07 AM
Thanks! Well, I fixed the forest shading, made then just a tad larger, and added a but of the shading to them to help darken them a bit. I think I was able to avoid overdoing this time :) Here goes nothing.. if there's nothing else that needs adjusting I'll call it done when I wake up. The sleep calls to me, and i must attend before I pass out. There is a subtle difference between falling asleep and falling unconscious.. but it is there :P

01-23-2010, 02:34 PM
The shorter distance can be accounted for by going around terrain. Say like it's all uphill one way, 10 feet of snow, that sort of thing. On the way back you can take an easier route that's all downhill. :) If it's "as the crow flies" then yeah, gotta fix that.

01-23-2010, 09:00 PM
Well, it's sea travel. The wife came up with an idea though - as you travel there, you're going across the surface of the globe.. so 175. On the way back, you're coming back by submarine which has a straight line hole drilled through the crust :P Kind of like a Great Circle route underground, hah.

01-23-2010, 09:03 PM
Yeah, that'll work too.

01-24-2010, 09:48 AM
Ok, final map submitted. I made a few small changes, the primaries being the parchment colour (less orangeish) and the forest shadow/fill layer.


The client seemed very pleased, so that means I am too :)

01-25-2010, 01:19 AM
I assume your sea travel is using sailing ships. Those tend to be at the mercy of currents and prevailing winds. The trip there is 175 miles, unless you attempt a winter journey(!) in which case it's 215 miles and probably ends up in little pieces on the seabottom. The trip back is a mere 135 miles because the winds and currents allow a much more direct course. Now if you have one of those newfangled lateen-rigged jobs...