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Thread: Critique and advice please!

  1. #1
      Timo is offline
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    Help Critique and advice please!

    hello folks, first of all I’d like to thank everyone here for being so awesome, and secondly I’d like to submit my first map to the scrutiny of this community!

    I followed pasis’s tutorial for the mountains and trees and ascension’s antique style tutorial for the overall look, so thanks to those guys for making that available. I am quite happy with how it turned out!

    I find myself in need of several points of advice from the knowledgeable on many things I think. The map is a depiction of a land that is behind a story I’ve been developing for hundreds of years – almost! There are locations that exist in my mind and on paper but have no geographic place as of yet. they’re vague which is fine on paper and “in theory” but now I have something to look at I am becoming quite obsessive about the logic of placements and trade routes.

    The basic idea here is the sea level has risen and broken the continent into islands, I wanted them close so that they could be linked by great bridges that were constructed by a more advanced civilisation that came from the east from a land that is only assumed to exist because these folk must have come from somewhere!
    The first settlers came from the west, so their movement across the islands eastward would have some effect on where major locations would be(?)
    Then later when the second settlers came from the east, their movements westward would also have more of a drastic effect because they came to dominate(?)

    1. I would like any comments as to where you guys would logically think capitols and major ports and trade routes would crop up
    2. I don’t want to add deserts simply for regional variance, my understanding is that many things are responsible for the formation of deserts and landmass is one of them(?) I’m not sure if deserts would form because none of the landmasses are big enough

    Any river comments will be acted upon straight away, if it means changing a river entirely I would appreciate any advice as to where great rivers could go – I like ‘em long!

    The UK is there for scale as well as actual geological position, this came about by overlaying the map on the earth and lining the UK up, if I move the UK down any further then the northern islands go too far north and they’re supposed to be Scandinavian in climate and if I move the UK up then the southern portion ends up even further into north Africa!

    Please graffiti on it and say anything you want – even if you hate it, I’m going for realistic here and if a complete change is necessary then I will change it – to a degree, I still want it to be a series of islands that are almost touching!

    There is one more thing! On the eastern most island there is a small collection of high lakes – these are plot related and I would like any advice on natural circumstances that would facilitate their existence, they’re not mountain top lakes, just lakes in mountains!

    ps: i wasn't sure about image size, read that there was a 4.7mb limit on uploads so i just shrunk the amount of pixels and made the rivers red so they all stood out better - the original is 6k by 6k 300px/inch

    Critique and advice please!-1-sub-.jpg

    can anyone tell me how to make the image clearer or larger to view, i suck at compression stuff!
    Last edited by Timo; 08-05-2013 at 09:33 AM. Reason: came up as "Link" instead of "Help"
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  2. #2
      Jaxilon is offline
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    Wow, cool looking formations, I really like it.

    As for rivers just remember that water flows downhill and combines with other rivers to become one on it's way to the sea. It seldom if ever branches and if it does it soon comes back together. There is a link around here on "How to put rivers where they belong". The only thing I noticed and at the level I can zoom in I can't really tell it seems in some areas you have rivers running from one side of the continent to the other and then vice verse which could happen if the land actually slopes in opposite directions. I go by feel on these things but others here really get into the math.

    Hubs of activity will be based on ease of transportation in most cases. It sounds like you have Seafarers so I would say your main cities will be coastal with decent harbor areas to keep ships safe from storms and so on. Just remember what people need to live and you should do alright with anything else. (ie, source of fresh water, fertile land, defensible locations when possible).

    You don't have to have deserts but it's worth keeping in mind that mountains create their own weather so it's typical to find one side of a range greener than the other. Obviously if there is enough rainfall both sides can be lush. If you have strong winds from the Sea the trees can also be a bit wind battered and that might change the look of the forest from other places.

    If you are using Photoshop the easiest way to upload a large image is to save as.. <.jpg> and lower the quality which does a pretty good job of keeping your details while shrinking the file size. Once you are inside of that 4.7mb limit go for it. I know I would like to be able to zoom in on this a tad more.

    Great job!
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  3. #3
      Lingon is offline
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    That's awesome! Fantastic formations, and great landscape textures. The map really gives me a feel of what it'd be like to visit the place.

    The only suggestion I have is to remove (or decrease the opacity and number of) the woodcut lines around the coasts; with such complex coastlines and so many islands almost touching, they become rather confusing. The land and sea colors are different enough to clearly show where the coasts are without the extra lines.

    As for where the cities would be, I imagine those huge bridges would be the starting point of quite a few. River mouths and protected fjords are always good places too, and smaller villages tend to form at distances from each other of one or a half day of travel.

  4. #4
      Azelor is offline
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    You did an amazing job for the landscape. But I have to admit that I don't like your background. Maybe it's the color of the fact that there seems to be a repeating pattern, not sure.

  5. #5
      Timo is offline
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    yeah, i was just going to leave the background until everything else was done and finished!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaxilon View Post
    Wow, cool looking formations, I really like it.

    As for rivers just remember that water flows downhill and combines with other rivers to become one on it's way to the sea. It seldom if ever branches and if it does it soon comes back together. There is a link around here on "How to put rivers where they belong". The only thing I noticed and at the level I can zoom in I can't really tell it seems in some areas you have rivers running from one side of the continent to the other and then vice verse which could happen if the land actually slopes in opposite directions. I go by feel on these things but others here really get into the math.

    Hubs of activity will be based on ease of transportation in most cases. It sounds like you have Seafarers so I would say your main cities will be coastal with decent harbor areas to keep ships safe from storms and so on. Just remember what people need to live and you should do alright with anything else. (ie, source of fresh water, fertile land, defensible locations when possible).

    You don't have to have deserts but it's worth keeping in mind that mountains create their own weather so it's typical to find one side of a range greener than the other. Obviously if there is enough rainfall both sides can be lush. If you have strong winds from the Sea the trees can also be a bit wind battered and that might change the look of the forest from other places.


    Great job!
    Here's the best i could i do for full size!

    Critique and advice please!-01.jpg

    This i think is one of the more offending rivers, I hadn't put any thought into rivers before making the map, i just kind of knew that "this place is on a river" and "this place is at the mouth of a massive river" - things like that, so i looked at other maps for river ideas and ended up deciding that Westeros' Trident was may favourite, so this one is inspired by that - it does kind of give me a headache trying to figure out how it curves like it does! the branches are supposed to flow down from coastal mountains where the coast kind of leaps out of the sea, but now i think about it they're probably not really necessary and maybe they do reach too close to the edge of the land

    Critique and advice please!-04.jpg

    the other two rivers in the image i think are ok(?)

    the river on the right of this image looks a bit dumb now too, and maybe should carry on down to the inlet like the one next to it

    Critique and advice please!-06.jpg

    I think the rivers here are ok too, but taking into account the high mountains there is a potential for some dry arid land? if oceanic weather comes in from the west the mountains will potentially buffer it, does that mean it could go back to being greener again to the south of the range - kind of like a low angle of light making a shadow? and also could that mean the branches coming off the mountains would actually be on the other side?

    Critique and advice please!-05.jpg

    And finally, here's where i imagine the hub of trade and commerce to be as the main islands pretty much converge into this body of water making it easy for everyone to have access to everyone else, but saving the eastern and western outer coasts for trading with foreigners!

    Critique and advice please!-03.jpg

    @Lingon; i took the lines away and you were right, it did look better! here's something i trouble over about inland villages and such, how do they get their water? do they have to buy it? do people collect it from rivers or springs and take it to them (like mail)? if they have to collect it themselves, how much would they have to carry back each day? or would they simply rely on collecting rain water?


    thanks again for all the feedback and advice
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  6. #6
      - Max - is offline
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    Very nice job so far, nice landscapes and shapes. Though I like the texture you put on the map, I think it's a bit too strong. I'd suggest to lower its opacity a bit.

  7. #7
      Lingon is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timo View Post
    @Lingon; i took the lines away and you were right, it did look better! here's something i trouble over about inland villages and such, how do they get their water? do they have to buy it? do people collect it from rivers or springs and take it to them (like mail)? if they have to collect it themselves, how much would they have to carry back each day? or would they simply rely on collecting rain water?
    Well, most villages form on rivers, so it's rarely a problem Wells can of course also supply a small settlement with enough water, but hardly a big one. I'm not very into the math stuff of world-building, mostly I just paint/write what feels right, so someone else will surely be able to give a much better answer! But if a village has to be far from a water source, then I suppose the inhabitants would be forced to do those things you suggest. There are villages in the real world located in very dry areas, so the people have to walk miles every day to fetch water and carry it home, so it's not implausible, but in what essentially is a huge archipelago, I don't think anyone would do that rather than just move to someplace where they have closer to the water

    On another note, I agree with max about the texture. It's so heavy it distracts from the beautiful map!

  8. #8
    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
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    You might be surprised at how much a well can supply. There aren't many rivers to speak of across Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma, but most of those states are well-irrigated from the massive aquifer underneath the Great Plains. A little too well-irrigated, really. That aquifer isn't recharging as quickly as the water is removed.

    Also, just because a river isn't shown on the map doesn't mean it isn't there. A map of an area this size is only likely to show the most major watercourses, specifically those that are navigable or are wide/deep enough to serve as barriers.

    Inhabitants of very arid areas can get moisture in nontraditional ways, too. There is a nomadic pastoralist culture in North Africa somewhere that gets moisture for drinking from bleeding their cattle. And they wash their hands in the cows' urine. Of course, they don't form settlements, so that's of limited usefulness for this particular question, but the point is not to underestimate peoples' ability to get what they need from environments that seem inhospitable.
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  9. #9
      Timo is offline
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    That's interesting stuff, i love hearing about little things like that - and it can definitely be put to use for peripheral peoples, although this is the only land i have put any work into so far there is still a continent on the left edge that i would like to add at some point

    so here's the map with the overbearing texture toned down! i was worried initially because it started to look like painted plastic - all shiny and weird!

    i've also added desert, i was thinking it was pretty unavoidable!

    something else i've started doing as i work on it is trying to figure out how the rivers got to the sea before it rose! is this a normal level of pedantic-ness?!

    Critique and advice please!-nine-styled5.1.jpg

  10. #10
      Osprey is offline
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    I think it's very well-crafted, and I personally like all the detail and the natural-looking proportions. The close-up regional maps sort of remind me of the Middle east as it transitions into the Mediterranean.

    If you want to be picky about geology, I'm wondering about the formation of the dense, fjord-shaped inlets in the north-central "latitudes" [for lack of a better word] on the eastern and western coasts of your continent. You have 2 others which look more or less similar, too, and they are located on the north side of your southernmost landmass. I would say the latter example (the sawtooth fjord-like coasts on the southern landmass) look more natural, just because they're closer together, which suggests similar geological processes (glaciation maybe?). And the offending river system looks a lot better now that you cropped off some edges. As for desertification and greenery, I'd keep in mind that rivers tend to "green up" adjacent land due to erosion and groundwater absorption, especially mature rivers which have formed their own valleys. I understand it doesn't always happen that way, though. I really like the northwestern archipelago, too Hopefully this all makes sense, I can't post images yet!

    Oh, yeah- and I agree about the riverside villages. A single, medium-sized river is usually good enough to sustain a small town; that is, if there aren't too many issues with drought. And if you want, you could always put an aquifer in a particularly dry region; like the Ogallala in the Great Plains.

    Great work, overall

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