Are you talking about the ring around the star or the general illumination? I made that by using the Supernova filter in Gimp and then set the Layer Mode to Grain Merge. I thought it sort of washed out the colors a little, but without it the map would be very dark. I turned down the Opacity on that layer a little to diminish the wash out, but it still tends to show the rays. And as a neat little side effect, that ring around the star pretty well marks where it would be a less than stellar* idea to travel. I was thinking about trying a Foreground to Transparent Gradient with a near white color to see if that has a less "ray-like" effect.Not really a crit on the map, since I think it looks just fine as-is, but aren't the "rays" on stars a product of seeing them through atmosphere? Again, I'm not suggesting you take them off, I think they add something artistically that would be lost without them. Just musing.
And I thought of something that needs adding so I am not truly done yet. Since I built this map specifically for an actual space opera campaign I've been running, the legend should have some indication of the Jump Point distance. For a Sol type star, that distance is 1 ly. This star is a bit brighter so the distance is a tad farther along.
So I suppose I am not completely finished yet. Can't do any updates here at work, but I should be able to post a completed version no later than Thursday and probably much sooner than that.
Great explanation CM, I hadn't thought about lenses and windows/viewports.
Looking forward to seeing the final, Nolgroth!
Really, Truly, Honestly Final Update
- Changed the legend to add Jump Point Distance, Insterstellar Imports and Insterstellar Exports.
- Attempted to try a white to transparent gradient with truly awful results. Stuck with lighting the way it has been since the get go.
I realized after I looked again that I had merged the entire legend together for easy movement. Stupid, stupid, stupid. So I had to rebuild from scratch. The first time I literally made each item its own text layer and manually pieced them together to form the legend. I took a shortcut this time and split the legend into a sort of table, with the categories in two text boxes (GIMP doesn't handle different sized text in the same box) and the data in another text box. Worked out pretty well though there is an ever so slight offset to a couple of the lines. It is subtle though and I don't think it detracts from the map.
I drew the information for the planetary zones for the star type from the Star HERO book. I based Jump Point distance off of the stellar mass of the star. I figure that will be standard on any future planetary system maps I make.
Planetary Distance was measured by using the Measure Tool to figure out the distance from one object to the next and dividing the number of pixels by 100. Those results were then added together. While not exactly following Bode's Law, I think the planetary spacing is approximate enough for anything but the hardest of hardcore Hard Science games.
The map is more "busy" than I thought it would be. I was considering writing some sort of extract or summary into another text box, but I think that would lead to an outright cluttered appearance. As is, I think the map is complete. I am happy how it turned out at any rate and will probably use the same basic technique to build more of the type in the future.
Build Time: Roughly 15 hours of combined work spread over three days. Future builds will be less time consuming now that I have the techniques down.
Tools Used: Gimp 2.6.6 with a Science Fiction Script-Function to build the planets and star.
Copyright: Copyright © 2009, James Cook. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States license.
EDIT: Fixed shadow on Peresei.
### Latest WIP ###
Last edited by nolgroth; 10-14-2009 at 04:28 PM.
There is so much I love about this map. The semi-transparent info boxes (should the lettering be semi-transparent too?), and particularly the font you've used. The planets are rendered beautifully (although I think Peresei might be missing a shadow on the night side). I just can't help thinking that it needs just one more thing to make it a 'killer' map. I've been racking my brain as to what it might be and the best I can come up with (which is vague at best) is some sort of interaction to show how the trades work - something dynamic - or put another way, something which brings all the facts and figures to life. --- but I don't know what that 'something' is!
It's a fantastic map as it stands though!
All the best
I have thought long and hard on how to demonstrate actual trade routes. With a map like this, you essentially draw/capture a snapshot of one moment in a very dynamic environment. I imagine that, unlike a static continent arrangement, the trade routes adjust to the position of the planets. I honestly don't know how I would roll one out.
Now you have me thinking again and quite probably going to make me a liar again as I fiddle some more. Not to mention I want to adjust the Opacity on the text layers too. Just to see.
RE: Text transparency; just doesn't work for me. It doesn't truly make the text transparent until the Opacity is so low that it is barely visible. All it does is make it a dull gray color.
RE: Trade routes; still haven't come up with a solution as yet. I have a few days left in the competition to mull it over. If I come up with something particularly clever or innovative, I will update. If not, then at least I have this as a finished project.
Thanks for the kind words and suggestions.
Very nice. I'm not sure I love the texture of the star, but I can definitely live with it.