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Thread: WIP - Unnamed World Map

  1. #1
      DgtlDrgn is offline
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    Wip WIP - Unnamed World Map

    Okay, I'm brand new here, but thought I'd jump right in and seek some critiques. I've been working on this map for a long time - a few days here, a few days there, for about a year - and up until just yesterday I didn't have a clue where to go next. This is my first true attempt at creating a complete world map - all continents, all geographical features, political and regional markers, cities/villages/dungeons/towers... The whole shebang. So, before I get posting any images, let me outline my thinking (that way the smarter ones here can point out the flaws).

    Firstly, I wanted to have one document that contained the entire world map, in the highest resolution of the smaller maps. That is, if I want to show a close up map of a certain area, about as big as a country, I didn't want to have to make multiple resolutions of the same area and keep them in separate docs. So, I didn't want a 2000x2000 pixel document of my country, and a 2000x2000 pixel document of the world... I kind of just want a *looks at document* 24900x12000 document that I can zoom in on. Of course, this is probably an idiot move on my part, as the document is quite large (850 mb at last count), and sometimes heavy to work with. Thus far, it hasn't proven too much of a hassle, so for now I'll probably keep the humongous file.

    Secondly, I'm working in Photoshop CS5. It's always worked pretty well for me, and though there may be other programs out there, I like to stick with what I'm familiar with as much as possible (to save time learning new stuff). That said, I've been working pretty heavy layers, and generally keep a "backup" folder in my layers which contain original layers of things before they're merged. Just writing that tells me I should probably keep separate docs for that, instead of just having one massive doc.

    Hmm... Thirdly, I guess I'm trying to go for a certain look/feel to the map. I want something close in color-scheme and detail as the attached map of a place you probably recognize. I could not, for the life of me, figure out how the heck to do that... I tried going a different artistic direction at one point (as you'll see in later replies), but it just doesn't feel right in my gut. It was actually this pursuit of a more realistic map that led me to the Cartographer's Guild, which frankly is a Godsend.

    So, that's basically it. Please Examine And Critique Honestly (PEACH)

    WIP - Unnamed World Map-earth-color4096_small.jpg
    Last edited by DgtlDrgn; 10-18-2011 at 10:56 PM. Reason: added attachement

  2. #2
      DgtlDrgn is offline
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    Wip Stage 1

    Okay, so step one. Initially I had this great idea to make a whole continent in the shape of Scandinavia. That fell through on two fronts. 1) It's too recognizable as an actual landmass on Earth. 2) It kinda looks like genitalia; no offense to people who live there, but it does.

    However, back before I discovered this nifty way to make random continents (on this site, of course), I didn't know how to approach making landmasses that were natural and realistic and detailed enough. My first few attempts bombed. But then I hit on a new idea. I gathered a bunch of different maps of different landmasses of Earth, then scaled, rotated, skewed and flipped to my hearts content. Afterwards, I traced over them on a new layer to get the correct shape and maintain consistent levels of detail between, say, a tropical island that became a continent, and a continent that became an island. Afterwards, I made some custom changes to the shapes to differ them even further, and viola! World map.

    As you can imagine, this took FOREVER! Future maps shouldn't take near as long, thanks to tricks learned here. In fact, utilizing OldGuy's awesome technique, already the coastline looks exponentially better.
    Anyways, here's Stage 1:

    Attachment 39317Attachment 39318

  3. #3
      DgtlDrgn is offline
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    Wip Stage 2

    Okay, so Stage 2 was a little complicated. I want to make this world as "real-world" as possible. That required me to learn the how and why of climate, including air and water currents, and climate regions (polar, very wet, wet, transition to wet, transition to dry, and desert). This next image is just that, and it's included only because it may help explain why the step after it takes place. Also in this step I decided where major mountain ranges would go, as mountains are a huge obstacle for air currents, and can dramatically shift climate conditions.

    WIP - Unnamed World Map-climate-zones.jpg

    For those of you interested in learning more about this stuff, I recommend this amazing little PDF written by Joseph Browning - [ATTACH=CONFIG]A Magical Society: Guide to Mapping[/ATTACH]
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails WIP - Unnamed World Map-mapping.pdf  

  4. #4
      DgtlDrgn is offline
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    Wip Stage 3

    Next I did rivers and lakes, then I added mountains, jungle, deserts, and then plains and arctic regions. As you can see, it's not so good. I like how the textures kind of look, especially the jungle and mountains, but there's no definition of peaks, or trees, and the hard lines between terrain just won't do.

    I provide this as both a glance at where I WAS going, and a comparison for how things will change later. (And from now on, I'll just be including a close up of this region, so you can see more detail.)

    WIP - Unnamed World Map-preliminary-geography.jpg

  5. #5
    Guild Artisan eViLe_eAgLe's Avatar
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    Theres a bunch of Tutorials here if you need some more help. Btw, I really like your desert texture

  6. #6
      DgtlDrgn is offline
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    Wip Stages 4, 5, and probably 6

    Alright! It's been a long time in the works, but here's the lowdown on how things are going. First off, remember above when I said that working on a document 24900x12000px at 300 dpi was probably insane? Well, I was right. Actually, as I started to attempt things like Difference Clouds and Gaussian Blurs on the entire document... well, I crashed PS a couple times and decided that was enough of that.

    So, instead, I decided to create a grid of 2200x2200 pixel sections for the whole world, and work on each section individually, then once I'm done forcing a bunch of automations on PS, flatten and merge all the images together. I decided to go with a 2200x2200 grid so that I could have a 100 px overlap between grids, allowing me to smoothly blend the two as necessary. I'm really kind of worried, though, about things like rivers and roads that will be on the edges of maps... Hopefully, I can do enough cross-reference to make them match up fairly close, and then do some simple touch-ups... hopefully.

    As I began work on one section (29, because it had a variety of terrain to test my methods), I attempted maybe 6 or 7 different approaches proposed by several Cartographers in this guild for everything from texture and color to mountains and rivers. I decided on an amalgamation of 3 or 4, with a bit of my own methodology thrown in for good measure. After hours, possibly days, of banging my keyboard and cursing the skies above, I eventually settled on this:
    WIP - Unnamed World Map-sector_29_terrain.jpg
    Soooo... looking for some feedback, at this point, before I begin to attempt to duplicate this process for the other 77 sectors. PEACH!

  7. #7
      DgtlDrgn is offline
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    Wip Stage 6 - revisited

    I showed the map thus far to my mother, and due to her responses, I have made a few changes. I made the mountain ranges more pronounced, because apparently they didn't look like mountain ranges; I fixed up the coastline so the land and sea showed better contrast, and I cleaned up some problem areas on the rivers/lakes, where sub-pixels were causing stroke issues.

    PEACHWIP - Unnamed World Map-sector_29_terrain.jpg

  8. #8
      Ghostman is offline
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    That's looking pretty good - although the desert in the NW corner isn't quite recognizeable as a desert at a glance. I'm also getting an impression of the mountains sort of sloping down from the desert rather than being higher than it, although this effect doesn't seem to happen when looking at the thumbnail. Maybe my eyes are just being tricky today

  9. #9
      DgtlDrgn is offline
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    Do you think it would help to have some sort of bevel/emboss on the desert to make it "sink" down more? What do you think would help the desert look more like a desert? Coloring? Texturing?

  10. #10
      Ghostman is offline
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    Fiddling with the textures might be the best way to go about it. You could also try placing a rocky hills/badlands area as a buffer zone between the mountains and the desert, so they won't be right next to each other.

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