View Full Version : March Challenge Entry: Iwaizumi

03-02-2010, 11:13 PM
I've learned a lot since the Oten'Jo challenge. That was a grueling monster of a contest, and though my muse came and went a hundred times during the birthing process, mostly it stayed away for fear of the pain. The chap who invented the phrase "genius is ten percent inspiration and ninety-percent perspiration" must have been a cartographer.

In Siete Torres, my muse showed up early and hung out. The map was a joy. It was at least a hundred hours of work and probably a bit more, but I was excited and interested the whole time. I'd dream about it at night and couldn't wait to work on it. That's the kind of thing I was cartography to do for me. I sincerely hope this one is more the latter than the former.

As always, criticism and commentary are welcome, and especially help to keep me honest with the colors.

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03-03-2010, 10:58 AM
Actually I like the colors and think they're not unreasonable for a nice wet spring vegetation look. More of an issue for me is the grain on the ground texture...it's very noisy looking at full zoom. Not sure what to suggest there, or if I've even described what I'm talking about well enough to act on it :) I like the shading you've got going on with the hill in the corner. Looks steeeep. Looking forward to seeing it develop.

03-04-2010, 01:18 AM
mearrin... I get what you're saying. That was the last thing I put in and I'm not settled on it at all. It was very much kicking this and that around looking for a good dead-grass feel. I'm not sure how much winter is going to sit atop all that or what form it will take. The village is only 100 meters above sea level and eight or ten miles from the Pacific so I'm not sure how much snow they keep. I know the storyline is that the adventuring samurai are snowed in for the winter, so that seems to give license to taking a Tibetan approach, but I strongly doubt it is anywhere near that severe in fact.

Right now my focus is on getting the river right. I'm not sure how I feel about it at this point but I really haven't had time to really tinker with it or vet it against some real-world examples.

Thanks for your critique and it will surely factor into my thoughts.

03-04-2010, 03:14 AM
I didn't read the challenge requirements too closely. If it's supposed to be winter I'd definitely brown it down, then cover a lot of it with snow. I'm picturing those landscape paintings where you see the mostly snow-covered ground with tufts of longish brown grass sticking out of drifts in places...and maybe some areas where the snow has melted out and you can see the ground and deadish grass underneath.

On the stream I think the thing that gets me with it is that the banks are maybe a little too uniform. If you can vary the height (and slope?) it might be a little more convincing? Also, maybe you can make some vegetation hang over the banks in place, add some rocks and shoals to create interest in the stream itself, etc.

Just some thoughts. Hope they help.

03-04-2010, 11:25 PM
There's a lot of effort involved in my methodology on this map, but it isn't really very artsy. First, you take Google Earth and scale it until it matches your requirements. In this case, I wanted one pixel = one foot, a scale I'm quite familiar with. The way I did this was by taking a screen print and then pasting it into Photoshop. Then I'd "measure" the scale using the measuring stick and then try again until I got it right. Once right, you simply avoid zooming and methodically take screen shots of every part of the map you need to cover your canvas. This take patience, this "stitching" process, but it gives you a good understanding of scale and proportion.


Next, I went to Google maps and repeated the process twice more. Once with the topographic view to get the relief, and again with the map view to get the river. This was less difficult than the satellite view but still requires patience. The river didn't line up well enough, so I took the warp tool out and realigned it to the satellite view.

Anyone is welcome to use the satellite and river pictures if they wish. The topo has a great deal of post process work so I'd prefer others do this for themselves.

The topo...


And the river...


These are the basis of the map although the satellite will never be an actual part of the product and the river is only use as a model. Here is where I am at the moment, having browned up the grass and darkened it a tad, roughed up the river bank and made the grass more vertical.


03-05-2010, 05:31 PM
Sorry about that, I think that last WIP was the same file as the previous. Part of the benefits of being colorblind is that green and brown look very much alike. Shadows don't lie though :)

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03-05-2010, 07:19 PM
LOL. I wondered about that. Like the colors of this a lot better for winter. River banks look better too.

My grandfather was colorblind. He was also a printer. He could tell two colors were off from each other when I couldn't see the difference. :)

03-06-2010, 08:41 PM
Here's a bit of an update. I added some snow and left some spots bare, but didn't like it and decided it would be better to remove snow once I knew more about the rest of the map. So for now it's just a lot of snow.

I added a foot crossing made of pilings, a proper stone bridge and a bunch of rocks in my river complete with turbulence as I spied in the Google Earth picture. I mocked out some roads and paths and roughed in the town square.

I have a road going down to the tannery, which is further down-river than any other structure, as proper. There is a road leading to points west, and another leading up to the caverns. From the town, another road heads off east to the shore, which is about eight or ten miles from Iwaizumi, so in all honesty, our heroic samurai characters aren't really completely snowed in. It'd be a slog to go eight miles through deep snow, but definitely within the realm of do-able.

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03-07-2010, 10:57 AM
Looking good. I dig the bridge; nice shadow. I hadn't looked at the Google stich-up job you did until now. The rocks you've added to the stream (river?) go a long way toward making yours look like the real thing.

03-07-2010, 02:36 PM
Another update. This time we have terraces for the rice paddies. An irrigation ditch is dug into the stream, channeling water into the paddies. The intersection over the ditch is elevated slightly to clear the ditch and a low stone wall has been built to keep carts from slipping off the side and to keep the road from crumbling into the ditch. The paddies are encircled by mounded earth to contain the water and channel are cut in the mounds to cascade water from one to the next, and one terrace to the next. All of this is rather subtle during the winter as everything is covered in snow and ice.

Also added compass at the top.

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03-07-2010, 05:14 PM
Compass change along with the addition of the shrine.

You'll notice the lack of the classic Japanese ribbed-roof architecture. The snow in the mountains is extremely heavy, resulting in a meter or more of accumulated snow on the roof. The traditional construction is not only far too gentle in slope, it feature a flare at the corners also known as "a snow catcher".

The mountain people compensate by using a very steep pitch of about 55 degrees, a style familiar familiar to those living in snowy northern regions as the "A-frame". Not only does this style discourage snow from gathering beyond a certain depth, but it also vastly increases the load-bearing capacity of the roof joists.

The other characteristic that was common in medieval construction was thatch. The roofs were constructed from a massive amount, a meter in thickness, which not only give strength, but also is an excellent insulator. With so much of the surface of the structure covered with thatch, it made for a very cozy place indeed. Also, a correctly constructed thatch roof would last forty years before it had to be replaced. Felt and shingle roofs like those on most homes in the US last around twenty.

Thatch roofs are vulnerable to fire, but warfare in medieval Japan generally avoided civilians and civilian structures. The walls around the Lord's home were meant to protect the warriors, not the peasantry. In a fantasy world, things might well be different with raiding hobgoblins delighting in torching thatch-roofed houses for the fun of it.

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03-07-2010, 08:46 PM
Here's an excellent illustration of a medieval farm house.


Lots of other good stuff at the link (http://www.sfusd.k12.ca.us/schwww/sch618/japan/Architecture/Japanese_Architecture.html).

03-07-2010, 09:02 PM
Nice link, IMm!


03-08-2010, 02:01 PM
aye great link! being inspired by it already :) as usual your map is coming along nicely. one little comment: the snow looks a little 'grey' in my opinion. cheers!

03-08-2010, 10:48 PM
Added skating rink, farm houses and a couple of markers. The rink may be a bit whimsical at first glance for the mood of the piece, but that's a heck of a mountain of snow piled up on the side. Anything could be hidden underneath all that snow. Anything at all.

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03-09-2010, 11:18 PM
Two buildings added but important ones. One is the mill, where grain is ground into flour beneath the heavy stone mill wheel. The miller would be one of the more prosperous members of the community by virtue of his importance.

The second building is the tannery. Tanning is a smelly process, using a number of foul substances that others in the village have no particular interest in smelling, so the tannery is well away from the rest of the village. No doubt the family that operates the tannery is no more popular, with prolonged exposure to harsh chemicals discoloring their skin and promoting a variety of health issues. Their function is vital, however, and nobody would suggest that they aren't needed.

The tanner is complete with tanning vats and stretching and drying racks. Waste products, of which there are many, are dumped into the river. The next village down tries not to think too much about it, just as the residents of Iwaizumi try not to think too much about the next village up-river.

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03-09-2010, 11:24 PM
Looking good. Love the signs. Where are you getting the proper characters and how are you getting them into PS? Just curious.

03-10-2010, 06:57 AM
http://www.saiga-jp.com/kanji_dictionary.html and the method is clumsy, involving screen-shots and select / color range.

03-12-2010, 07:01 PM
I love the terracing and the bunds on the paddy fields....beautiful.

03-14-2010, 05:07 AM
It's been a tough weekend to do much as we've been replacing the network for our call center in Costa Rica in the middle of the night Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and it's pretty much knocked me out. But after a nap today I managed to find a nifty example of a mountain thatch house that is interesting and different from my farm houses.


So I used this style for the village proper.

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03-15-2010, 04:23 AM
Yawn.... late night again.

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03-27-2010, 11:14 PM
Time to file my potentially final entry. Comments below so they don't imperil making the deadline.

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03-27-2010, 11:49 PM
Iwaizumi was a bit of a clumsy name for me. I wanted to pronouce it "eye-why-zoomy". In actuality, it is a compound word represented by the Kanji characters in the upper left-hand corner of my map. They are Iwa, and Izumi, which of course is pronounced "eye-wah-ih-zoomy". Iwa means bolder, rock or cliff. Izumi means spring or fountain. The bolder/rock/cliff part is obvious, but the spring comes from the pure springs found there. In fact, some argue that Iwaizumi has the best ground-water in the world.

The Ryusendo caves are also well known and quite the tourist attraction. It boasts the deepest cave pool in Japan at 396 feet. The cave is estimated to extend down into the earth about sixteen thousand feet, only half of which has been explored at this date. The caves are also known for their bats. Pretty much everyone who spends much time there gets "buzzed" by the rodent aviators.

03-28-2010, 02:48 AM
Is that an octopus in the lake with extra tentacles in the bottom border? Lots of style here, bro...nice.

03-28-2010, 07:03 AM
Looking terrific, Imm! And thanks for the extra background info on the real place. I would love to go to Japan.

03-29-2010, 10:21 PM
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03-29-2010, 10:33 PM
Is that an octopus in the lake with extra tentacles in the bottom border? Lots of style here, bro...nice.

Well... it's a flooded rice paddy used as a skating rink during the winter. Nothing could really fit underneath it. It's just not possible. What you suggest is... well... madness.

03-29-2010, 11:19 PM
Minor Change

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