My first map - Kyrta
So I finally sat down and got started on my first map, with a LOT of help from Ascension's amazing guides. I'm pretty happy with it so far.
Of course the rivers and lakes prove to be exceedingly frustrating. First off I know very little about how they form, so I can't fall back to knowledge on that. I used some reference photos, but I just can't get them to look natural. Any advice would be awesome. My second question is about scale. I know I want it to be very large. Like, transversing the continent is a heroic task. I was thinking that villages and cities could be linked with ancient teleportation circles to make conventional travel possible and not as frustrating for players. Trade hubs and large cities would have larger teleportation circles so more goods could be sent at once or something. However, many locations would be cut off or not close to a circle, obviously, so there is still ways to make players have to work to get places.
I was thinking crossing the continent could be 3-4 months on horseback, but I have no clue how big that is, honestly, and I can't find much medieval info on such things (though likely horses haven't changed that much, still I would think that it would be a bit different). (I want to look at this from both a DnD 3.5 and real perspective as well).
Anyways, feedback and comments would be appreciated so much! As I said this is my first map and post, so be gentle :)
Have some rep for posting your first map!
Looking pretty good :) Rivers generally start in high areas (i.e. snow melt in the mountains) and flow toward the ocean along their easiest route. Yours are pretty good in that respect, but they need more ... squiggles. (yeah, that's the technical term hehe). Usually they flow straighter while higher up and then start meandering like crazy once they hit low ground.
A fairly standard convention is that a man can walk 10 miles a day, horse can go 10 leagues (30 miles). 3 months is roughly 90 days. 90 times 30 = 2700 miles. 4 months is 120 days = 3600 miles. Boston to LA is 2983. Your image is 3000 pixels wide so I would say the scale is about 1 pixel per mile.
Rivers do not split as they go downstream, they join. They may go around a high place or hard rock but they join up again fairly quickly. However, in deltas they do split because they meander all over a flat plane and constantly shift their course. Think of your river backwards, starting at the ocean, as a tree...the delta is the roots, the main trunk is the main river, and the branches are all up near the mountains.
When doing lakes I would suggest first drawing in all of the rivers and then find a few places where it looks like they might pool and put a lake there...small lakes near the mountains and large lakes on the plains. To make a good looking lake, use a cloud brush in Pencil mode. If you don't know where to get cloud brushes, or how to load them into PS, or just don't find any that you like then try this:
1. New layer, fill it with black, using white draw out some rough looking blobby lakes.
2. Filter - Pixelate - Crystallize = 12. Do this again but at 6, then at 3.
3. Image - Adjustments - Brightness/Contrast = max out both.
4. Make black the foreground color. Select - Color Range = set the fuzziness at anything...black will be the color.
5. Hit the Delete key then deselect (ctrl-d).
6. Now you have rough-edged lakes instead of smooth-edged lakes.
Map looks pretty good otherwise, so nice job.
For distance and travel time measurements, I look to the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) and the usual travel times on that. It's a trail that follows the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges from Mexico to Canada. It's about 2600 miles long, and usually takes 5-6 months to complete. Most people cover around 20 miles a day. However, speed hikers often attempt an extremely light-packed version of the trail, taking barely anything with them, and some average 35-40 miles a day. For horseback, 20 miles a day is apparently considered leisurely (though I'm no equestrian, so take that with a grain of salt), and it seems that a horseback speed of about twice that of walking is reasonable. The record is, I think, just over 66 days walking. When thinking of heroic adventurers on an epic quest, I tend to judge their physical fitness, the distance required, the amount of gear required, and their haste, and use empirical PCT numbers to estimate their travel time.
Originally Posted by Ascension
All of that is to say, Ascension is essentially right; a scale of 1 mile:1 px is probably what you're looking for. I really like the look of this map style, and it seems that you've got it down pretty nicely. Well done.
Great start!! One thing I would take a look at is the rivers. I'm not sure Ascension is the expert, but the river paths look a bit artificial to me. I would make em meander a bit.
Travel times vary a lot according to conditions. How good is the road/trail, or does one even exist? How frequently are there stops to resupply? How much energy to do have to reserve to be on the look out for bandits or monsters (including watchmen at night), or to possibly fight them? Is there cargo? Do they know exactly where they are going and how to get there? What technological or magical aids are available to make travel easier? How extreme is the weather, and how predictable is it? If taking horses, how much grazing is there?
Well-equipped modern hikers have the better side of most of these variables. Modern light-weight, high tech equipment and high energy foods. Few concerns about bandits. Bridges over most if not all watercourses. And our trails are better than most mediaeval roads, which were usually plain dirt, with lots of foot traffic, which turned to thickly churned mud with rain.
Ascension's estimate is better as more of these variables are less ideal, but of course if you start staking the cards against your travelers, travel could become even slower.
I agree, and I wonder if they could do with varying a little more in width as well. Ascension's advice sounds ace, though - rivers as trees; I like.
Originally Posted by Davros01
I like the overall look of your map, and love the colours! I also confess a curiosity as to what lays in that looming, dark crater at the continent's centre...
Well everyone else has mentioned the rivers so I won't bother. Otherwise I'd say this looks like a good use of Ascension's tut. A great start, especially given that this is your first go at mapping. Look forward to watching this one progress.