View Full Version : Commission piece - The Shadowglade RPG Setting for Pathfinder

02-17-2010, 03:30 PM
I was commissioned to map out the world of the Shadowglade setting for Pathfinder - a new setting that will be coming out later this year. The developer was kind enough to allow me to make the work in progress public. To find out more about the setting and the company you can see the Facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/search/?q=roberts&init=quick#!/Shadowglade?ref=ts) or the website for the company - Neo Productions (http://www.neoproductions.net/).

Here's a quick run through the WIPs.





I'm currently at the point of adding in the forests and softening up the rivers. After that I'll do the roads, cities and labeling.

Note that this is a commission so all images in this thread are rights reserved.

02-17-2010, 03:54 PM
Nice. I see one river violation (the splitting up of the 2nd river from the east, at the lake) and a minor glitch (the river that flows out of the central north lake seems to flow up-hill for some time; it's just a misalignment though). Will be interesting to see this with labels and all!

02-17-2010, 04:02 PM
I can see how the central river comes rather close to the set of hills and could look like it's going uphill, but I can't see any river violations, and I've been trying.

everything looks kosher to me.

02-17-2010, 04:12 PM
I mean the bit marked in the attachment - looks like a big canyon to me, I'd say the entire lake should empty into it instead of flowing out to the west as well :-)

02-17-2010, 04:16 PM
Outstanding Tman. Looks like one of your finest (to me cuz I like this style). I think you might have a bit too much white snow but that's very minor.

02-17-2010, 04:51 PM
Ah ha, yes. That's not a canyon, but rather an escarpment. So the water flows over a waterfall and the runs to the sea. If it were a canyon you'd be dead right.

As for the uphill bit, there are a couple of places where it's questionable (for those that are very keen - there's a section where a river flows over the shoulder of a mountain) but I'l go in and fix those. That's the inevitable danger of drawing the rivers in first.

The snow is probably just a matter of me making my highlights too bright. There should only really be a suggestion of snow along the northern mountain range. I'll tone down the sharp bright highlights elsewhere. The mountains are supposed to be jagged and sharp as they were created recently. So I wanted them to have clean sharp highlights on the crests and edges.

02-17-2010, 07:06 PM
escarpment.. i had to google that one :) .. but a pretty awesome map this is. I love the mountains (especially zoomed in, amazing detail!) Also the dark terrain north of the mountains is pretty cool (great detail and color/texture). You plan on using that kind of terrain-technique for the entire map? cheers

02-17-2010, 07:10 PM
Really nice. I love the detail you get in these simulated aerial views.

-Rob A>

02-17-2010, 07:27 PM
Thanks guys.

@Djekspek: Nope - the region north of the border is blasted and barren so that's an area all of it's own style. It was done using overlay and soft light layers and a wonderful spatter brush. The rest was all (pretty much) done with a standard hard round brush.

@Rob - I like these too. The problem is that I initially started off wanting to do these as obviously hand drawn to make them nice and quick but still attractive - and over time they've got more and more detailed. Ah well.

Here's an update with the forests in and detailed as well as more mellow rivers, an overall coastal glow and some hills.


Next up - the swamp to the SW (with the meandering river), towns and roads, fix the odd uphill river, title, legend and done!

02-17-2010, 08:39 PM
really nice.. I'm a bit jealous at how nice your continental maps look.

did I say a bit. I meant grossly jealous.

02-18-2010, 12:53 AM
The mountains look fantastic!

02-18-2010, 02:03 AM
Hmm, I had the same observation regarding the escarpment myself. Just so I'm clear the right side of the escarpment is the raised cliff portion? It's the only thing that makes sense.

Looks a tad odd seeing the escarpment carry all the way into the everfrost peaks there. Otherwise everything is expertly well done.

02-18-2010, 03:26 AM
I love those mountains. I expect that there's an explanation for the escarpment. Gods, demons, dragons, comets, catastrophe... The stuff of legend!


02-18-2010, 08:45 AM
Yes indeed - the right hand side is higher. That's also why it stretches out into the sea. The cataclysm that caused that is responsible for the sharp new mountain ranges and the dark blight to the north.

No Canadians were harmed in the making of this map.

Thanks all for the compliments. The mountains took ... a while. I've got the style down now so it doesn't take nearly as long as it used to. I've still been meaning to get some satellite images of some different areas and do a quick practice of different mountain ranges at different scales. Perhaps a game for the weekend.

02-18-2010, 10:00 AM
A small update - base map is now finished along with some new town and city locations.

Not sure about the title bar along the bottom. Need to play with that - and find a way of including a scale bar in a consistent style.

Any crits much appreciated.


02-18-2010, 11:39 AM
The mountains do look great. This is gonna be a great fantasy piece.

02-18-2010, 01:14 PM
Let me just echo the applause regarding those mountains Torstan, they're some of the best I've ever seen. Likewise, the hills look really great as well. Much impressed. Have some rep.



02-18-2010, 06:34 PM
Thanks a lot guys! I'm really pleased with the forests on this one too. That's taken a lot of trial and error - and now a custom brush - to get to this stage. Still want to work more on them, but this is a good stride forward.

Here's the draft of the final:


02-18-2010, 06:42 PM
forgive my hubris, but why is a city named Northport nowhere near the ocean? (Have a little rep to make up for it) And I'd love to see a tutorial on this mountain style...


02-19-2010, 12:19 AM
A good question indeed! I'll ask the developer.

Yes, I should probably lay out that mountain method. Thank you very much for the rep.

Steel General
02-19-2010, 07:58 AM
Great stuff here Torstan, the mountains are especially good.

My only little nit-pick is the escarpment looks 'off' to me, don't know why and have no ideas on how it might be changed.

02-19-2010, 08:17 AM
Okay, you're the second person to point to that escarpment. Can you take another look and give me some ideas as to what feels off?

Steel General
02-19-2010, 08:20 AM
I think that it lacks a sense of 'height' - it looks more like a gash or heavy crease in the map.

Maybe add a bit of 'hills' leading up to it or something.

02-19-2010, 08:23 AM
Okay, I'll have a fiddle with that and see what I can come up with.

02-19-2010, 09:30 AM
The mountains looks great. Must have took a while to make. The woods looks good as well - I might borrow the style :)

The only possible improvement would be the rivers which sometimes seems flow uphill.

The escarpment could be made so that the cliffs were visible. Also try to make the "lower" ground a little bit brighter close to the cliffs. See my quick modifications below.

02-19-2010, 10:24 AM
Okay, any chance you can circle areas where you think the rivers flow uphill? I'll tweak any areas that you find. I'm not sure that lightening the base of the escarpment will work - it's not really what it would look like. My plan had been to show a bit of the cliff. I'll put a new version up with that later on.

02-19-2010, 11:14 AM
I must first say again that I love the look of those mountains. Are they "hand drawn"?.

I just meant that when you make the "lower" ground darken it might look like the ground are lower than the ground to the west.

Rivers can be somewhat of a personal opinion but I've attached my suggestions.

(The question mark: Only a minor remark/question: it seems unlikely that the river would flow into the hills from the plains (but it would of course work if the plains are higher ground than the hills).)

02-19-2010, 11:36 AM
This is fantastic. Both the mountains and the forests, especially, are beautiful.

02-19-2010, 01:34 PM
@Carnifex. I see your point. Thanks for the fresh eyes. I'll fix the hills around there to make it clear where the water would flow. I see what you mean about the gradual darkening towards the east looking like the ground drops off towards the escarpment. That would of course screw up the water flow. I'm not totally sure how to go about fixing that, but I have some ideas.

With the mountains - yes they are totally hand drawn with a standard hard round brush. They're made up of one overlay layer and two soft light layers where the light and shade and colours are built up over a parchmenty textured background.

02-19-2010, 01:47 PM
That kind of effect is hard to portray on this kind of map (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?8086-[Award-Winner]-Saderan-a-tutorial&p=101981&viewfull=1#post101981). I'll be interested in your solution since it may have an application in the project I'm working on :D

02-19-2010, 02:10 PM
So I googled around and found a satelite view of a large escarpment:


Now both sides of that escarpment are flat but they are totally different colours and shades due to the different foliage. It would be almost impossible to see the difference otherwise. I still want to place some visible cliffs in there to try to break it down a little.

@TM - good work on that cliff. They're tricky, and with so much of this sort of mapping the issue is to find a solution that reads well to the viewer even if it's totally unrealistic.

02-19-2010, 02:28 PM
Which makes sense when you think about it. There are two completely different ecological/climatological regions. You could also look at the North Eastern corner of Arizona. There's a long escarpment that is part of the White Mountains area called the Mogollon Rim (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mogollon_Rim), which doesn't reflect real well on Google Maps...


02-19-2010, 02:30 PM
Looks great, but where is the Scale Bar?

And why does it look like North America? ;) :P

02-19-2010, 03:10 PM
NK - it's in the bottom right corner of the map. You don't think I'd go throwing around a map without a scale bar? Make sure you're looking at the last one that I posted, rather than the version referenced by Carnifex. As for the North America reference - yep, it's very like NA. Poor Florida though. Seems it got sunk in the cataclysm - to say nothing of what happened to Canada...

TM - yep, that's another good example. Escarpments don't show up well on satelite views because the shadow is too small - or not there at all unless the sun is shining from the right direction. It's more a matter of foliage - in this case the forest.

02-19-2010, 06:21 PM
Okay so I fiddled with the hills around the mountain edges to help with the river path. I also blocked in a cliff edge on the escarpment. I'd be interested to see if people think that's an improvement?


02-19-2010, 06:28 PM
For what it's worth, I don't have any problem seeing it for what it is.


02-19-2010, 06:30 PM
great job on the forest Torstan! as for the escarpment, the last version looks -in my opinion- better, but am not an escarpment-expert ;)

02-19-2010, 07:24 PM
I like the map. It reminds me of the map from the gigantic "The Wheel of Time" by author Robert Jordan - may he rest in peace.
(I'm in the middle of book 7 at the moment :P if anyone wonders)

02-19-2010, 08:17 PM
The cliff edge does mage a difference, and the part below the lake/shadowglade looks really keen. The part above seems to get lost in the mountains and I think I know why. If you were to fiddle with the mountains so that the high/left side were to peak, then rapidly drop (forming the escarpment) it might look better. If you think about it, tectonically, one plate gets shoved under the other, causing the top plate to raise up, which Im sure you knew. It goes to follow, however, that the land closest to the escarpment on the raised side would be highest. Hope that makes sense.

Also, there's no "cliff-ness" on the lake portion, which sorta flattens it out. I realize also there is supposed to be some sort of water-fall there, so perhaps you could draw some kind of white haze/mist near where the river meets the lake, or some kind of ripple, or even both? I know at this level of view you probably wouldbe be able to see this, but it might help.

Just an idea >.<

02-19-2010, 08:39 PM
The part above is meant to get lost in the mountains. The mountain region has a smaller break than further south and it has degraded into the general terrain. This is a case where it isn't two tectonic plates, but instead a magical catastrophe. This has caused the two regions to shear and cause the escarpment. So the tectonic logic doesn't work. As it's a shear break, the land to the east isn't actually that much higher - especially not in the mountains where the rift peters out.

Good idea about the lake. I'll add some billowing mist. I think this map has reached the stage where it's finished enough for the commission. I'll wait for any final edits from the client and then post the final in the finished maps section.

Steel General
02-20-2010, 08:14 AM
Since I'm one of those that 'chimed in' that it looked off, I have to say that for me the latest version is much better.

Steel General
02-20-2010, 08:16 AM
Since I was one of those that chimed in saying the escarpment looked 'off' - for me this version is much better. It now has the sense of 'height' that I felt it lacked.

Love me some of that swamp in the south-east too :D