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Thread: A Map of Ilaros

  1. #1
      Sular is offline
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    Wip A Map of Ilaros

    For the past many months I have had been working on a collaborative world-building project (under the name of Darth Syntax) both as a general contributor and as resident cartographer. When the project began, I had only ever drawn maps by hand (mostly in the margins of my class notes or on paper napkins in restaurants) and making the move to photoshop was both rather daunting and bloody confusing. However, after a rather drawn out learning process I believe I have finally crafted a regional map that I am generally pleased with.

    However, as I am no great expert with computer based cartography I would greatly appreciate any critiques, questions, and general commentary upon my map.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails A Map of Ilaros-new-ilaros-map-copy.jpg  

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      aeronox is offline
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    Very nice!

    I like the overall shape of the land, and the way you've illustrated it.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of Bevel & Emboss!

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      ravells is offline
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    Hi Sular, and welcome to the Guild. That's a fantastic map and it looks like you've tamed photoshop to your will - no mean feat.

    I'm curious as to how you went about doing the forests. Did you use a dedicated brush and then do a layerstyles bevel and emboss on the result?

    I have nothing more really to add except to say that this style of mapping (faux realistic) has become incredibly popular and you have done it real justice. How did you go about making the initial coastline and islands etc?

    Once more, welcome to our little corner of cartograph-dom!

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      pyrandon is offline
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    Hello, Sular! Hey, nice first post. Very nice. I definitely understand that steep PS learning curve (I'm still on it!!!), but I'm sure that like me you would attest to the power of this tool over hand drawn.

    My main issue with your map is that all the main features (esp. mountains and forests) appear to float above the land, rather than being part of them. The reason for this is, I think, twofold: first, the bright feature colors contrast so much against the land colors that the items themselves contrast; and secondly, the features' edges are so sharp (probably as a result of the bevel) that they do not flow into the land. So I wouod suggest playing with muting the colors or changing the palette slightly, and blurring or reducing the edges a bit. That may be a good first step.

    I do like this map. Nice work!
    Don
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      landorl is offline
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    First off, it's a very good looking map, but I do understand what Pyrandon is saying. It would be nice if there was a little more gradual transition between the different areas.

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      NeonKnight is offline
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    That is a nice map, and a great first post. Listen to the others, the know way more about that software than I do!
    Daniel the Neon Knight: Campaign Cartographer User

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      nikonguy is offline
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    I see where pyrandon is coming from. Using the emboss tool in photoshop sometimes has the effects of making things look "plasticy" and hover as he said. The trick to getting it look believable is is a combination of color, shading, setting the emboss settings so they are not drastic and obvious. Eventually you get mountains that slowly raise out of the landscape without becoming separated from it.

    As for the colors, and this is not a cheap shot at the CC3 crowd, just a gripe I've always had about some maps, they could use a little more muting. The colors are reminicent of CC3 style maps where everything is in Technicolor.

    I use CS3 and Illustrator to do my maps, so I know it is no easy task if you are not familiar with all the options and tools. I say keep it up and learning the various aspects and filters. Your already on the right track, now it's just a matter of refining the subtlety of color pallets and playing with the settings so everything starts to look like it is part of the scenery.

    One way to tackle the color problem is develop a file that is nothing more than a color pallete. As you find combinations that work, just paint small swatches of them and then label how you used them and with what brush. This leads to consistency. Then when you have a good deal of them, make a custom swatch set in PS that you can load up everytime you get the mapping bug.

    Another minor suggestion would be adding a little "flavor" to your ocean. Search around on the forums for the Grundge brushes, they are may favorite for laying down an ocean that has texture.

    But overall, I think the map is a great example of the abilities of PS as a mappers tool. It has an incredible coastal shape, one I think just about any of us can be envious of. I hope to see more of your work on this project and see how it develops. Just keep playing and making maps that YOU enjoy.
    Maps are fun, but photos feed me.

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      RobA is offline
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    Welcome aboard, Sular! and a great first post.

    First off - Love the rivers. Great shape, nicely merging, following the terrain, and widening as they flow downstream. They might be a bit on the wide size, but the map has no scale, so that is just speculation. Always a trade off on this type of map between scale accuracy and conveying information. The rivers also get a bit lost in the forested areas which could be due to colour choice. Lastly, consider a slight pillow emboss on the rivers so they seem to sit into the terrain, and not be painted on the terrain.

    I'll echo Don's comment on the transitions being a bit harsh. Along with thin might be to try a different texture for the hills. Currently they come across as small mountain ranges. Perhaps they are too "lumpy"?

    Finally a question - why the tipped orientation - not North up? Since the landmass is clipped off, I can't think it was to maximize the image on page size...

    -Rob A>

  9. #9
      Sular is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by ravells View Post
    Hi Sular, and welcome to the Guild. That's a fantastic map and it looks like you've tamed photoshop to your will - no mean feat.
    Thanks for the kind welcome.

    I'm curious as to how you went about doing the forests. Did you use a dedicated brush and then do a layerstyles bevel and emboss on the result?
    The forests were done with the maple-leaf brush that lurks in the brushes menu at 10px. Then the layers were beveled, embossed and generally styled to get something approaching what I wanted. Finally, the whole thing was set as an overlay.

    I'm still not completely happy with the forests, but it is much better than the old maps (which now seem to me to be rather embarrassing)

    How did you go about making the initial coastline and islands etc?
    The coast line and such were originally drawn with a 3px round brush in black and then later filled in with the color that is now doing time in the deserts. As the outline and the fill were on two different layers. For this map I simply used the fill layer as the basic shape, which has given the map its current outlineless character.


    --

    Quote Originally Posted by pyrandon View Post
    Hello, Sular! Hey, nice first post. Very nice. I definitely understand that steep PS learning curve (I'm still on it!!!), but I'm sure that like me you would attest to the power of this tool over hand drawn.
    It is a bit of a beast, but the existence of layers alone make it an indispensable tool.

    My main issue with your map is that all the main features (esp. mountains and forests) appear to float above the land, rather than being part of them. The reason for this is, I think, twofold: first, the bright feature colors contrast so much against the land colors that the items themselves contrast; and secondly, the features' edges are so sharp (probably as a result of the bevel) that they do not flow into the land. So I wouod suggest playing with muting the colors or changing the palette slightly, and blurring or reducing the edges a bit. That may be a good first step.
    I see what you mean, and the non-smoothness of the features has been something of a sticking point for me. I did manage to add a rather nice Gaussian blur effect to the hills which helped them out quite a bit. Sadly it so far has not fixed either the mountain or forest issues yet.

    As to the color palate: Yeah I know its a bit bright and I am attempting to tone things down a bit (this map is vastly more muted that my original ones so clearly I am moving in the right direction). If you or anyone else has some suggestions of what tricks might work to tone things down without a complete re-draw I would be grateful.

    --

    Quote Originally Posted by nikonguy View Post
    I see where pyrandon is coming from. Using the emboss tool in photoshop sometimes has the effects of making things look "plasticy" and hover as he said. The trick to getting it look believable is is a combination of color, shading, setting the emboss settings so they are not drastic and obvious. Eventually you get mountains that slowly raise out of the landscape without becoming separated from it.
    You both have provided excellent advise, and I will be tweaking the features over the next several days in the hopes of getting a more 'connected' looking map.

    As for the colors, and this is not a cheap shot at the CC3 crowd, just a gripe I've always had about some maps, they could use a little more muting. The colors are reminicent of CC3 style maps where everything is in Technicolor.

    I use CS3 and Illustrator to do my maps, so I know it is no easy task if you are not familiar with all the options and tools. I say keep it up and learning the various aspects and filters. Your already on the right track, now it's just a matter of refining the subtlety of color pallets and playing with the settings so everything starts to look like it is part of the scenery.

    One way to tackle the color problem is develop a file that is nothing more than a color pallete. As you find combinations that work, just paint small swatches of them and then label how you used them and with what brush. This leads to consistency. Then when you have a good deal of them, make a custom swatch set in PS that you can load up everytime you get the mapping bug.
    The color palate idea is an excellent one, I think I will go about creating one (along with a brush set and so on) so that I don't have to have several maps open to get all the features right.

    Another minor suggestion would be adding a little "flavor" to your ocean. Search around on the forums for the Grundge brushes, they are may favorite for laying down an ocean that has texture.
    I will be attempting to flavor the ocean a bit more (perhaps in a nice mint. . .) although that is rather lower on the priority scale than fixing the terrain features at the moment. Eventually I would like to attempt (once again) a sea-floor map, but that is probably a ways off yet.

    But overall, I think the map is a great example of the abilities of PS as a mappers tool. It has an incredible coastal shape, one I think just about any of us can be envious of. I hope to see more of your work on this project and see how it develops. Just keep playing and making maps that YOU enjoy.
    Thanks again for the praise of the coastline shape. I'm rather proud of it myself.

    --

    Quote Originally Posted by RobA View Post
    Welcome aboard, Sular! and a great first post.

    First off - Love the rivers. Great shape, nicely merging, following the terrain, and widening as they flow downstream. They might be a bit on the wide size, but the map has no scale, so that is just speculation. Always a trade off on this type of map between scale accuracy and conveying information. The rivers also get a bit lost in the forested areas which could be due to colour choice. Lastly, consider a slight pillow emboss on the rivers so they seem to sit into the terrain, and not be painted on the terrain.
    The rivers are more impressionistic than to full scale, but I am glad they look all right.

    As to the whole scale of the thing, I will be adding one at some point, along with a key. Just to get a rough idea however the whole map is (I think) about 5,000 miles or so wide.


    Finally a question - why the tipped orientation - not North up? Since the landmass is clipped off, I can't think it was to maximize the image on page size...

    -Rob A>
    The unusual orientation is an artifact of how the map for the whole project was originally laid out by the initial creator. The world was divided into triangular regions, each of which would be claimed by a different author. I have control of two contiguous regions in the southern hemisphere which make up the map here. The angle of the original map segments is what caused the usual orientation.

    --

    Thanks again for the critiques and comments. I shall be tweaking the map accordingly.

  10. #10
      ravells is offline
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    As a quick colour fix you could just use the desaturate colour adjustment on various layers?

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