I think that the stains on the map are interesting without the explanation though they did seem out of place but with the information about the story I thought is was a cool idea. I do think that it would be better in color but that wasn't your choice and I think you did a good job with making the stains in black and white. I love the thumb print at the edge of the map I think that it is very cool. By any chance could you tell me the name of the book?
When something needs to be in black and white, I work back and white, because it's easier to get the values right from the start, rather than try and fix things after converting to grayscale.
I have done color maps. In fact I'm working on a color map for a graphic novel set in today's Tokyo.
When I can post some personal work, it will be in color.
This is a fantastic map, especially considering the stated guidelines you had to operate under.
I agree and disagree with some of the other comments. I did notice the exceptionally large delta in the west, but I think if you're focusing on the rivers too much, you're likely not looking enough at the rest of the map. I doubt anything like this would be mentioned in the book, but maybe the town of Kiln diverts some of the river to fuel surrounding farms, and that's why you'd have the river look that way. Also, the placement of the rivers looked accurate when you considered the surrounding mountains. (Again, I do agree that the deltas are too large and the backwards tributaries probably don't have an explanation (though they could).
But really I think people are focusing too much on the rivers. I really liked your compass (compasses can be tricky!) and the font that you chose/was given to you. Your mountains and the settlement icons are also very solid, kudos on that. I wish there was more forest on this map, in an area with these rivers, forests could really grow (Rivers again!). Some of the blood looks realistic, now that I know it's blood. The fingerprint does not, sadly.
Is that a smiling sea-monster!?!
Great map, despite a couple of its shortcomings.
The best maps are the ones we like the most after looking at the longest.
Graphically, quite nice. I particularly like the forests. As others have pointed out the splotch and thumb print hurt it, but if that's what the client wanted, that's what they wanted, and likewise for the wonky rivers.
The speckle effect around the edges also doesn't really make sense to me. It has a "computer artist trying to fill space" vibe to it rather than looking like it would be something that would occur on the "real" map. The white halo on the label for the Crestwall Mountains also has a strong "done with graphics software" feel to it.
Linear and area labels tend to look better with more letter spacing. Area labels in particular are good to stretch out to provide a suggestion of the extent of the feature. You should also try to be consistent about whether they are curved or straight. "Omn" looks like it's supposed to be an area label, but it's straight and horizontal like the point labels while all the other area labels are curved. It's also usually better to run an area label through the area rather than around it as you've done with the forests, although this is more flexible and what you have in this regard works reasonably well. Multiline labels are also best avoided if at all possible.
Finally, it looks like you're using envelope deformation rather than text on a path on at least one of the labels (The Northern Plains). That's really a bad idea. It is another thing that just looks "done on a computer" and hurts legibility. It's not too bad in this case but it's something to consider in future.
FYI, I didn't use a font, that's all hand lettering, and the details on it are my idea. Since the main character is an assassin, I thought that I'd incorporate the suggestion of a target.
The client was Orbit Books, not the author.
The texture is a combination of actual paper scans and watercolor. The glow effect around words is indeed digital, because you have to be able to read words. They wanted the option to remove the text and just have a map, so I needed to be able to have mountains under the text.
The mountains at the top actually have a different name, but aren't mentioned in the book. So there's not much space to put the name next to the mountains.
The texture around the edge was done with watercolors, and to help define the edge, so it pops more from the page.
I was given the next map for the next book the second I turned this in, and I've gotten several other commissions for maps since then.
Though all the feedback is certainly something to consider.
Last edited by TimPaul; 10-25-2013 at 08:16 AM.
I agree with GP and others. While I in no way am suggesting that anyone refuse a client's requirements, it never hurts to educate people. At least in this case, it's YOUR name on the map, not the authors and that can affect your reputation. For example, would you ever add mountains with lightsource on the left and forests with lightsource on the right? I hope not, at least not without the requester explicit asking for that and you explaining why he should consider it differently.
As GP said, if there is a real in story reason for some messed up rivers, deserts in the wrong place, or something like that, fine... the Author's imagination for how is world works should be able to explain it as part of the book(s) or at least reference the fact that it's a bit out of the ordinary. If the author has no plans to write about them, then geographical anomalies can just serve to make the artist appear uninformed to those who look for these detail(and sometimes, people can see something "wrong", but not be able to put their finger on exactly what!) and could potentially hurt your future commission chances.
FYI, a number of your other maps suffer from similar situations, I am sure due to the author's fault. But as noted, it's an artists duty to help steer the commissioner toward good artistic design elements as much as possible, similar to how you have to steer clients toward a fair(to you) price when they come in WAY under on their price proposal for what they are asking for. That might mean offering alternatives such as smaller size, no color, or whatever to get both of you to a closer price/effort agreement.
BTW, the map elements themselves look REALLY good. It's hard to believe you hand lettered this, Great job!! I am not that concerned with the fingerprint or drops at "full size", but it's rather dubious that the fingerprint at least will be discernible at print size. Granted, the client asked for it, but they may not be happy with it when they print and see that their "fingerprint" is nothing but a giant smudge at that size!
My Finished Maps
Works in Progress(or abandoned tests)
Explanation of Layer Masks in GIMP
How to create ISO Mountains in GIMP/PS using the Smudge tool
Unless otherwise stated by me in the post, all work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.