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Thread: Critique and feedback please?

  1. #1
    Guild Novice Thegn Ansgar's Avatar
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    Map Critique and feedback please?

    Well, this is basically the second map that I've ever done and felt confident enough in it to share here (I'm quite shy when it comes to this sort of thing). I have done other maps before, but none that I've felt were even remotely pleasing to look at for myself. Basically this is a map that I've done for a close friend of mine for an island region that his character is the lord of in a Role Play (the names and placements of rivers/mountains/cities/castles were all done by him with a rough draft).

    The Heraldic devices were all done by me, except the gauntlet holding a lightning bolt which my friend made in paint, although I turned it into the actual shape that you see on the map. The other four were created mostly on a whim. My friend told me what the families were like and the colours he wanted, and left the design and charges to me (although I know they don't exactly follow the rules of tincture, such as the one for Skyguard, where it is colour on colour which is a no-no, but this is a fantasy world so I figured I could bend the rules in that regard).

    Obviously from the maps that I've seen here and on DeviantArt, I'm not the greatest at cartography, but it's something I've enjoyed and I want to get better at it, so I'm asking for a critique and some feedback on this map. I know there are certainly things that I can improve on with it, but if I could perhaps be pushed in a proper direction (since most of this is just feeling around for me), that would be awesome and most appreciated.



    Thanks in advance to any who can give advice and feedback.

  2. #2
      Freodin is offline
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    That's a very nice map, to start with. Nice layout. Good set of colours, good background texturing. Fine choice of icons for mountains, forests and settlements... though - minor detail - they are not consistent in lighting. This is always a problem when you work with different brushsets.

    There are two major points that I would like to see changed on this map. First and most important is the layout of your rivers. Canals or magical occurances excluded, water always flows from high ground to low ground and thus never ever in its natural state crosses an island. See the standard tutorial on this topic for more detailed informations.

    Second point is the labeling. I'd say you went a little to far with the curved text. It is in placed quite difficult to read, and more important, difficult to attribute to the corresponding feature. Here is another good and extensive tut on the question of labeling. Very in depth... but basically you might consider to keep curved text reserved for linear geological features: rivers, mountain ranges, even regions and countries. Settlements should keep their straight levels.

  3. #3
      Korash is offline
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    Yup, nice map. Don't be shy showing what you are doing, because I think you have some talent that is just waiting to blossom. The Guild is a most furtile soil for budding Cartographers such as yourself, and we should be able to help you get to where you want to be in that regard.

    As for the critique, I have to agree with Freodin on his two points. The rivers are really the only thing that detracts from the map itself, but rivers are always one of the hardest things to get right in the beginning. Just remember that as stated above that they flow from mountains to sea/lake/ocean and not ocean to ocean and you should be well on your way to figuring them out.

    For the labeling, atm it is sometimes confusing me if the names are for locations or rivers, or mountains. As Freodin said, text on path is better used for rivers and such. If you have text that overlay terrain like at Wintergate and FallDragon Point, it is better if you give them a glow of some sort to make sure the text is visually sepperated from the features underneath. When it comes to the town text itself, I like what you did with Iron Hill and West Vale by curving the label under the symbol and think that is a decent way to do town labels...if it is consistant throughout the map. It is the consistancy of labels that make it easier to understand what they mean. I also find it hard to figure out that the differnt sizes of text signify...if anything. If the size indicates importance, it might be an idea to have a legend that indicates what size means what.

    All in all, I like what you did, and can see some nice maps in your future, so please do take these crits as they are intended...as advice (not demands) to help you on your way. Remember, the map that is done to the best of your current ability, and to YOUR satisfaction, is a good map. And don't be shy to show it.

    ***EDIT...Gee...not like me to forget to do this, but Diamond made me all shame faced...I ntended to rep, but forgot, so here it is belated ...
    Last edited by Korash; 11-26-2012 at 07:30 PM. Reason: forgot to rep... :(
    Art Critic = Someone with the Eye of an Artist, Words of a Bard, and the Talent of a Rock.

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  4. #4
      Diamond is offline
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    That's a really good job, especially for an early attempt. I agree with the points that Freodin and Korash made r.e. rivers and labeling, and I'd like to add a suggestion of my own: while the colors that you've chosen are good, what about blending them more where they join? Maybe a more transitional color (or colors) between the forest and the plains, and at the base of the mountains where they join the plains.

    Nice choice of icons. I especially like the mountains; I use those myself from time to time. One other thought, speaking of icons: are you sure you even need the shadow behind the towns and castles? There really isn't any major shadow apparent on anything else, and it's kind of jarring. I'd either tone it way down or get rid of it altogether.

    Still, very nice map, clean, in a style that I love. Repped!
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  5. #5
    Guild Novice Thegn Ansgar's Avatar
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    Wow, didn't expect all this so soon. I'll definitely take all this in and improve upon it for a future creation. The rivers aspect I realized would be picked up on (I actually intended to have it go from high to low points), but when my friend first saw that draft he didn't like it and asked me if I could have the rivers splitting up the island as he had showed in his original rough map, hence why they are the way they are.

    Otherwise, the rest of the feedback was certainly helpful, and thank you all for the encouragement and rep.

    (PS: Diamond, I was in part inspired by the style your Altamira and Kingdoms of the West map. I saw them on deviant art and absolutely fell in love with that art style, and wanted to kind of emulate it. So the fact that you commented on mine means quite a lot to me. But I appreciate all of your comments; Freodin and Korash too.)

  6. #6
      Lyandra is offline
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    Really nice map! I have nothing to add besides what others have already said and that I would love to see an updated version. The coats of arms are great btw. They really add to the map.

  7. #7
    Guild Novice Thegn Ansgar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lyandra View Post
    Really nice map! I have nothing to add besides what others have already said and that I would love to see an updated version. The coats of arms are great btw. They really add to the map.
    Well, I'm not certain if I will be doing an update of it, simply on the basis that it was made specifically to the way my friend had asked me to, and I was more asking for feedback on it to improve my own style. Although it may happen one day, if I'm feeling bold enough to go back to it (or my friend asks me if I can make him a new one). That being said, a lot of the comments in this thread I took to heart and helped to create what I posted here:

    Atlindowa

  8. #8
    Guild Journeyer kestrelgrey's Avatar
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    I like the style. I agree that some transition between colors might help, but another option would be to keep the colors of the mountains and forests a little closer/more within the icons themselves. Not sure if you have a specific style (or a couple styles) you'd like to try and emulate, at least to figure out what you like and what not? But the way you've done this map, I'm actually kind of reminded of those hand drawn maps that have been "painted" in a sort of water color style. Even if you kept the brighter/more opaque colors, it would still look good.
    Another thing is that your icons look smoothly painted, almost vector-like, but the 'paint-outside-the-edges' look of the mountains and forests doesn't quite seem to "match". Your font works beautifully, though, although I do agree the frequent use of curved text does make it hard to pinpoint which feature a label belongs to.
    One final thought on style - the forest and mountain lineart is colored a darker color of the paint color, but the coast line and 'waves' around the coast are black. Maybe change the coastal lines and waves to a dark blue?

    Overall, though, I like what you have here. Definitely looks like you've got a lot of potential, with this map and future ones! Good luck ^-^
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