View Full Version : The Mountain Realms

03-08-2010, 05:03 AM
My first digital map ... not counting the lite challenge this weekend :)

So, thanks to an inspiring tutorial by Pasis I am working on converting my skecth of "The Mountain Realms" to a real and colorful map. Its the setting for a Dungeons & Dragons Campaign and the characters a currently residing the the City of Breakwater which is the only seaport on the map. There are 4 countries in the setting, one in each "corner" of the map. The biggest taking up almost half the map (political borders comming later on). Right now Im trying to figure out how big this map is so I can set a scale. I'm sort of working out from the desert which is a country in it self, and thus need a size to qualify for that (yep, I know not all countries are big - I'm from Denmark my self *lol*) ... I'm thinking 14 days travel from the coast to the mountain in the middle would perhaps be a nice size - but not really sure... feel free to offer advice on this ... and of course please comment on the map too :)


03-08-2010, 05:39 AM
Really nice map, I like the colours and textures chose.

Concerning the scale, and by considering that the territory’s divided in 4 equal parts, 14 days seems to me to be good (nearly 7 days per country). It represents little countries but it’s correct. On my map, the Pays de Ta (which is a little country) can be crossed in 5 days. :)

Concerning your map, I just see something that seems strange to me. It’s the end of the sea in the corner on the top at right. The angle that makes the coast is very “marked”.
I like very well your colours but the blue of the sea is perhaps slightly too “strong”.
Otherwise, it’s a beautiful map ;)

03-08-2010, 06:14 AM
thanks for your advice. I was thinking 14 days to the middle of the map - then 7 more days to the other edge - but that doesn't sound so much off what you yourself have done then :)
yep - that is blunt end to the sea - I'll fix that ... classic-my-map-is-bigger-than-my-screen problem *lol* and a deeper blue for the ocean sounds good too :)

03-08-2010, 02:11 PM
pretty cool Pasisean map ye got there! some remark: the river in the desert reminds me a little of the nile and (depending on the scale) you might wanne add some vegetation around it. also i would expect them to flow to the sea but maybe they evaporate before that (dunno if thats possible tho but probs some experts in the guild know this ;) cheers!

03-08-2010, 02:14 PM
thank you, yes some vegetation around the river might me a good idea. I didn't let the rivers flow on as I thought they probably wouldn't survive the trip through the desert :)

03-08-2010, 02:59 PM
hay... nice map... only thing I can see is as allredy mentioned, the color of your waters. i have noticed that the rivers "sink" into the sands of the landscape... is this on purpose or?

Besides that... nice kort. og rart at se jeg ikke er ene viking p dette forum :)
*Nice map, and nice to ti see im not a lone viking(dane) on this forum*

03-08-2010, 04:32 PM
tak med-viking :)
The sinking of the rivers are on purpose, and I'll work on that color :) ... so I'm also guessing that three weeks journey to cross the land (horseback) doesn't sound way off?

03-10-2010, 07:56 AM
So, newest version of the map - now with a darker ocean and some snow and threes to the north. Also added a temporary scale to the map :)


03-11-2010, 01:07 AM
Dude... nobody's repped you yet? For shame! :D

I like the way that's looking so far; the overall layout seems a little artficial to me, with the ring of mountains, and the desert nicely separated by more mountains, but the details are awesome. Damn good work with Pasi's tutorial.

03-11-2010, 04:55 AM
thank you very much Diamond, both for the comments AND my first rep :) ... It's an old campaignsetting that I'm spicing up for new players. I guess the ring of mountain just came from "containing" the game.. I have thought of loosing the lower ones or breaking them up. The mountains around the desert where mostly done in thinking that there would be some sort of border to "stop" the desert - don't really know much of geography/meteorology and whats it all called - so Im flying by the seat of my pants here *lol* ... would it be better if those mountain where remove totally or reduced to hills?

03-11-2010, 07:50 AM
Maybe if you diversified the mountains a bit? A the moment the mountains round the desert is barely "line" mountains, and while they do exist I believe they're usually straight and not so neatly curved. Maybe some "breaking up" would make it look more believable. Just a thought, otherwise, nice job!

03-11-2010, 10:49 AM
thanks ... concidering the remark from Diamond earlier, I've been thinking of changing the circle to two chains of mountains that meet instead - so slowly but surely I hope to get there. Right now Im working on making some mountains look higher :)

03-12-2010, 05:14 PM
So, I've changed the mountains and expanded the desert. I tried to place a scaled down rough copy of the city Breakwater (link in signature) but when I calculate how big it should be, I end up with only 2x2 pixels - so I'll go for some symbols instead... to bad... :(


Kaiser MacCleg
03-12-2010, 05:33 PM
I have to say, I really like the style of this map. I'm glad you decided to break up the ring of mountains, too - I like maps to make sense, which is probably why Mordor, with it's very own ring of mountains, was my least favourite feature on Tolkien's maps. Have some rep. :)

03-12-2010, 05:35 PM
Still like it. :)
Do i cant help thinking about the "oasis" in the dessert. i just think that soem trees ther wuth workout good? where there is water ther eis life, and the dessert has alot of nutrisem for plants if just water is added....

Just a tougth...

To bad about the scale and you city. but ho knows, migth be that icons will make you just as happy :)

03-12-2010, 05:37 PM
thanks Kaiser, yeah.. when I actually started to think.. I had to agree the the voices of reason in here... no circle *lol*
ZB, thanks again - yep I'll add some threes there... and there will also be a city next to it... as a symbol... ;)

Al. I. Cuza
03-12-2010, 05:54 PM
Maybe you could work on the rivers a little. Other than that, top!

03-12-2010, 06:17 PM
thanks - would you be so kind as to tell me what you feel could make the rivers better? :)

03-12-2010, 06:26 PM
Your main river seems to straight, Tilt. I'd throw in some curves and bends to follow the terrain, other than that, this is looking fine!


03-12-2010, 08:09 PM
I like the new version better. Don't be afraid to run some forest along the rivers. Riparian areas are more common than not.


Al. I. Cuza
03-12-2010, 08:37 PM
Your main river seems to straight, Tilt. I'd throw in some curves and bends to follow the terrain, other than that, this is looking fine!


I subscribe to that. The rivers look unnaturally straight.

03-12-2010, 09:37 PM
This version looks much better; the mountains seem to 'flow' more naturally now. As far as the desert - there's nothing wrong with not having an imposing barrier separating it from the rest of the map; in fact to me it looks better this way. I know its hard to do with that tutorial, but maybe add in some kind of transitioning terrain between the deserts and the plains/grasslands? Some kind of drier steppe-like terrain? Also, vary the shape of the desert a bit from an oval - it'll look more life-like.

You could still have mountains separating the desert from the rest of the map; deserts do often form in the rainshadow of tall mountains. If you avoid that almost-perfect oval shape when you place the 'barrier mountains', that could look cool too.

03-13-2010, 01:18 AM
thanks for all those good pointers... I'll get to work on it just after the parchment for my lite challenge.. :)

03-14-2010, 02:13 PM
I know its hard to do with that tutorial, but maybe add in some kind of transitioning terrain between the deserts and the plains/grasslands? Some kind of drier steppe-like terrain?
Oh, I've let go of the tutorial now, but it definitly got me started right - it had just the look I like :) ... so now, Im improvising, and it more the geographical than the technical issues that have me thinking. For instance - should my general ground be greener as there is a lot of grassland - and finding a nuance for stepp-like terrain would be easier if there was a greater span between the desert and the grasslands. I've only worked with pen on paper before this map - so I'm easing my way into colors *lol*
For now - I'll twist the rivers :) thank you all for your comments :)

03-14-2010, 03:40 PM
newest version - now with twisting rivers :)


03-14-2010, 07:22 PM
Yes, I like those rivers much better now! :D

As for the grassland color - personally, yeah, I tend to go for greener colors, although I guess it would depend a lot on latitude and temperature and the actual plant life found there. If it's a 'true' grassland or steppe, like central Asia or the US's Great Plains, then a tannish color seems more apt. But if it's more like a semi-wooded grassland, then more green.

Kaiser MacCleg
03-14-2010, 07:35 PM
Yeah, I'm in agreement with Diamond. You could always use different shades of green for different areas of the map, too, just to give it a bit more variation. It's looking great, though!

Al. I. Cuza
03-14-2010, 08:00 PM
The green should definitely be deeper.

03-15-2010, 07:40 AM
Green, green grass of home... So, I've
• changed the hue of the grasslands
• added some steppe territory
• changed the shape of the desert
• added some greeenery to the oasis (will change it later on to a more palmy look)
• cleaned up the plain of the hand (middle north)

Am thinking about
• adding more forest
• adding fields close to cities (sometime after I've placed the cities)
• finding fitting symbols for cities
• adding more varians to the grasslands
• adding roads
• adding texture/hills to the desert
• adding symbols for mines
• adding symbols for ruins etc
• political borders
• names
• compas and scale
• taking a nap *lol*

I hope you enjoy - please come with suggestions :)


Al. I. Cuza
03-15-2010, 08:37 AM
This looks way better. Good job!

Maybe change the color of the rivers a little? And perhaps make them a little less visible.

03-15-2010, 11:11 AM
thank you, I do think its slowly getting there... :) .. its been really fun to make and remake... and remake... can't wait to get a good big print of it to show to my players for next session ... if it's done then... *lol*

03-15-2010, 01:42 PM
so, instead of doing any of the poits on my todo list for the map - I made some fjords instead :)


03-15-2010, 02:54 PM
A Scandinavian without fjords in his map is like a rainstorm with no rain: inconceivable! :D

I do like that a lot better, althought maybe the green and yellow are bit too vibrant now...

03-15-2010, 03:31 PM
*lol*.. yep, even though we don't has as many in Denmark as they do in Norway, so these are modelled norwegian style :)
from one to the other - I'll guess the final adjustment will be somewhere out in the future... a little up a little down... thank you photoshop for adjustment layers :)

03-15-2010, 05:28 PM
So, I've adjusted the colors some more and added a symbol for a harbour at the east of the map - I would appreciate comments on the symbol before I make any more :)


EDIT: just added a second version of the city/port symbol with a white backround, to see what you like best :)

03-15-2010, 07:43 PM
Second version of the symbol is better, definitely. The white makes it stand out much more. I like the overall style of it; if you plan to use that style on all the cities/keeps/ruins/etc, its really going to look nice...

Oh, and the colors look MUCH better now. :D

03-16-2010, 03:03 AM
thanks, I thought the second one was better too - made it after staring at the first one for a while and feeling as you, that it didn't stood out enough. So now I just have to figure out symbols for the other cities/town/landmarks :)

03-16-2010, 01:45 PM
You could do something like crossed shovels or picks for mining towns, a sheaf of wheat for farming villages, etc, if you're planning to symbolize everything according to highest function of the location.

03-17-2010, 03:24 AM
I was thinking more of a shield for fortifications, a crown for the capitol, and of course the anchor for port citys. But those are good ideas for mines and towns - although they would have to be simple as the symbol is smaller... gotta think some more.. I think... *lol*

03-31-2010, 05:44 AM
so - all the mayor cities and towns has been placed... 4 different colors for the 4 nations involved. Now I have to draw the roads and place some mines and other relevant locations on the map.

03-31-2010, 07:56 AM
There's some very nice texturework going on in this map and I *really* like the symbols. the white background was an excellent choice.

Makes me want to do a satellite styled map again :)

And the snowy trees is very nicely done!

03-31-2010, 08:06 AM
thank you - I started with pasis tutorial and expanded from there. Made my own style for the cities going for symbols instead of "picture", especially since the cities aren't real-size anyway. Saw your beautiful artwork with the mountain yesterday - and you expressed working with layers instead of brushes. Well, I love layers.. don't know how many layers my map is at the moment but I'm guessing I've crossed 100 ;) ... and I also use the copy-then-move-layer technique for lots of stuff - works fine for me :)

03-31-2010, 08:26 AM
I keep an eye on this map since you began and I really like the evolution, the textures, the symbols, etc.

Bravo :)

03-31-2010, 08:34 AM
thank you very much... I try to work on it in between making tiles, a city map, participating in the lite competition ... oh and real life work *lol* ... I feel its progressing nicely, a little more details and its done :)

05-15-2010, 02:34 PM
so, I finally gotten around to working on this map again. I've added mines, and roads and some more forrests.. getting ready to add names

05-15-2010, 09:44 PM
What's the black cross on that mountain near the desert? A Temple of Unholy Doom (and Really Bad Blueberry Muffins)? :D

05-16-2010, 02:55 AM
Its Necropolis - a huge graveyard, centuries old, with lots of spooky things and ghosts and unholy Blueberry Muffins ;)

Aval Penworth
05-16-2010, 04:28 AM
Hey, coming along nicely. No crits yet. Great little symbols.

05-16-2010, 04:31 AM
thanks ... I'm contemplating to add symbols for ruins and such... but I'm not sure I want them on the map - so names and perhaps borders will probably be next .. and last :)

05-17-2010, 10:17 AM
I've added a compass and a border - would love some comments on those :)

Aval Penworth
05-17-2010, 11:13 AM
Compass looks fantastic, looks like a piece of jewelry. Are you able to give the border inset the same glossy, 3d effect?

05-17-2010, 01:44 PM
Agreed. That is a nice compass. I also really like the icons you are using to represent civilizations.


05-17-2010, 02:45 PM
thanks Aval and arsheesh - I'm rather pleased myself but nice to hear the same from my peers. And I have been thinking about "gem-i-fying" the border too ... and then I just have to make up 40-50 names and I'm set for my DONE stamp :)

05-19-2010, 04:21 PM
So, last post before the map is done - which means that I believe it is done now - but please tell me if something should be changed before I "let it go" ;)
So the last things I've done is add texts, bevel the border and add very discreet letters to the compass. Hope you like it :)

Aval Penworth
05-19-2010, 06:44 PM
Very nice. The elements seem to fit nicely. Time well spent, I'd say.

The frame looks pricey, reminds me of the inner door trim of a Maserati.

05-20-2010, 02:15 AM
the frame should look pricy - its the finest artist in th country that was commisioned to do this *lol*