And I've added some labels and a title. I'm not sure the fonts are final yet. Right now I'm working more on history and story than the map itself, but adding additional snow and labels gives me a better idea of what the land really looks like.
Ahem.....Not so fast, not so fast!
Snow takes time to fall. It likely also takes time to get right. It looks like a rush job. It just isn't right.
I was browsing other maps, this morning, both on-site and off-site, and I came across the one in the link below, and it made me think of your map in this thread.
In your map, look north of Valkorheim, at the flat lands where you have brushed a swath of snow. Then, focus upon that snow-capped mountain range just south of Elfendahl. The snow on the mountains at Indarae, and the wide snow in the Valkorheim range, itself. None of them look good. The way that you are applying snow is a visual affront, for the concepts of more snow and thicker snow are two distinct things. On a map, snow should complement the terrain and geography. It should not be an end, in itself.
On the Eriond map, cast your eyes north of Mierodran. Look at how the terrain of the mountains is visible through the snow. But, also, look at how the snow sort of fades, as your eye travels down the mountains from the peaks to the valleys, below.
There are things about the Eriond map that I do not like, but by and large, it makes good use of snow.
Also, take note of the desert regions on the Eriond map. All of that sand colored area, with its light and medium browns and tans, render the resulting land mass more beautiful than your mono-colored green that is just everywhere, dominating to such an overwhelming degree that the end result on your map comes across as considerably less realistic.
Because, variety, and contrast, and blending all play a role.
Think of your map as music, and each component on it is the equivalent of a note or a chord. Currently, your map lacks harmony. It requires tuning.
Now, look again at the Eriond map. Look carefully, for the cartographer utilized lighting, of a sort, in various areas - notably, around the mountains. The end result is that the mountain ranges, themselves, contrast more when compared to the land that surrounds them. It's a technique that is akin to what many cartographers here utilize with coastlines, incorporating color to distinguish, which by its very nature is an inherent function of contrast to the human eye.
The texture of your land masses, I like. However, the Eriond map, while similar, builds upon the same basic concept. That building on a basic concept takes time. Your map could benefit from a similar approach.
Also, the text that you have overlaid your map with. The outer edge of it needs to contrast more against the background that lies beneath it. Those small visual touches are what brings a map alive, and imbue it with a sort of specialness that cause viewers, such as I, to pause and to gasp and to be struck with wonder by.
No good will ever come from rushing this map.
Ironically, the map that you linked is the one that inspired this project.
This is my first go using Arsheesh's tutorial and to be honest, my first attempt at digitally rendering a map. I followed the tutorial as close to the letter as possible, though I made a few adjustments to taste, once I had the original principle down and understood. The snow area in the flatlands is not necessarily snow, but a climate zone, and one of the adjustments I had made as I wasn't overly pleased with it being as lightly colored as the tutorial would have left it, had I followed the steps to the letter.
The intent of this map was to learn a new process and I've learned a great many things while doing it, again, many thanks to Arsheesh for his wonderful tutorial. I'm not pleased with the size of the map, in a digital sense, as it ended up much smaller than I had hoped due mostly to me not paying attention to dimensions and DPI, something I intend to go back and visit as I rework the map entirely.
As for the colors, I am quite pleased with how they turned out but am hesitant to go too far in one direction with either the deserts or the snow, though I am tempted to do a "Phagrea in Winter" map. I intentionally did not include larger, or more, deserts due partly to the impact elves have had on the 'world' and their foresting efforts. As it is, both desert regions are roughly 5-600 miles east to west, large enough for my purposes and I didn't want the map to become a quilt of colors, though I do see the value of diversity. The desert of Atl'aqar is right where it should be so far as the game world is concerned and I do not intend to move it. I did have some troubles getting the second desert layer coming in over that one due to similarity in color but did not really want to spread into the lower areas for the sake of that.
As regards the text, admittedly, it was just to add something to the image to see how it would look and how I would like it. I think that aside from the title, I may forgo text entirely and save the labelling for another map, but am always open to suggestions.
Please bear in mind that this is a continent simlar to, though roughly 2/3 the size of, North America, especially climate-wise. Again, the 30th parallel equivalent runs just north of the small archipelago in the south and the claw shaped inlet in the north is roughly equivalent to Hudson Bay. I am not quite ready to tackle an entire world just yet, as I am still in the learning phase. I'm fair certain this map will see more than one iteration and some things will change drastically. One of the things I'm keen on doing is reworking the mountains in Valkorheim and building them up further as that is the land of the Valkor (the dwarves in my world) and I'd like to have more mountains for them to play in. Admittedly, the flat area between the two ranges in the west looks a bit off, but I figure all that excavation has to go somewhere and it seemed to make sense in that context. I also want to rework Indarae as I had originally intended the southern range on the island to be farther north and have a nice little Italian plains country nestled there. Somehow that didn't quite come to fruition.
To put your mind to ease, GrimFinger, I am not rushing this map, I'm still learning how to make it and perfect it and will continue to do so. I do appreciate your input. Being a bit of a perfectionist, do not think that I shall rest easy because I had a nice map; I'll keep working on it until I think it's perfect.
Just as an aside, my game group thinks it's perfect. They really enjoyed it and said it really brought the game world into better focus for them, just being able to look at it.
I like the graphics very much.
This map should be completed by your hand under all circumstances.
More snow of the same might not be the solution though.
So I don't know if more snow was the best advice.
In real maps it is used very scarcely for zones where really is everlasting ice in summer and only if the map is big enough for it.
Keep in mind that the snow areas disturbs the map information about landform configuration.
The linear form of your snow areas looks far to artistic to be real. I would suggest to use the snow less regularly and linear.
The desert color contrasts not enough with the snow. A more yellowish color could be better.
Often the darker green is zones of lower altitudes than light green in real maps I know.
The color indicates the elevation an ranges from dark green at coast areas, lighter greens and sand to light brown and a more reddish darker brown for high mountain ranges.
I don't think that you had this in mind, but your map looks a bit like that. It has a very realistic touch, but at a closer look it doesn't. That kind of disturbes me.
Last edited by Freehand 5.5; 01-16-2013 at 09:30 PM.
Thank you, Freehand. Great suggestions! I do appreciate them.
I think I'm going to take a step backward at this point and start from the beginning. I see what you're saying about the area around the coasts. I'd noticed a few areas where there were ridges there and wasn't completely happy with them.
I would have to agree regarding the snow. I was intending to portray the areas with permanent snow cover in keeping with the climatic zones in the tutorial. I was having some issues with the closer view as well as it seems to be really grainy. I think this is due in part to the original resolution, so I'm going to make the map a bit larger and at the correct resolution. I'd really like to be able to zoom into an area fairly close without a loss of detail, personally. I think it would make for some great regional maps, myself.
I'm thinking that if I rearrange the order of the desert layers (there's two of them) that I'll be able to get a better blending of colors and have a more diverse looking desert region. I am also considering adding an additional land mass to the south and do this as a hemispherical view rather than just one continent. It'll also give me something more to work on in my spare time.
Also, I can revisit the mountains and place some of them more where they were intended to go!
Again, thanks for the tips and suggestions, they are appreciated. I will continue to work on this and keep posting!
This is my first time working with gradients as well, so I'm still learning a lot of different things.
I am really enjoying this style of map and have had a lot of enjoyment working on it. I can't say enough good things about Arsheesh's tutorial.
Okay, so having taken into account Freehand's comments, Grim's desire for more snow, and my own thoughts, I present the second iteration of Phagrea...
I'm still not in favor of a lot of desert overall, and using the scale, there's some decent turf taken up by the two that are there. The eastern one I would think would be more Columbia Basin-ish and the western one more Arizona-y. Those are my thoughts and original intent for the western one. Obviously, the eastern one has moved behind the mountain.
I will not be adding more snow as I think it detracts rather than adds to the map. Having a little trouble with those pesky coasts in places, but I'm pretty pleased with this iteration. Please let me know your thoughts and thanks for the tips and comments!
I like it. That's some pretty nice river work you've done there. I'm not great at rivers and don't know if yours are correct but they look pretty authentic to me...and that's after trying to educate myself by staring at Oregon's drainage basins for a while. I very much like your Phagrea logotype thing. Nice work overall. Have some rep.
Thanks for both the nice words and the rep, M!
Truth of the rivers is I did not do them myself. One of the nice features of wilbur is that it will do it for you. Once you've height mapped your drawing, the rivers go next and it uses the height map to generate 'real' rivers. Had I done them by hand, there would be 3 or 4 of them and no real drain basins whatsoever. I do enjoy the rivers, myself and increased the number of them a little bit. I think they really bring the map itself to life a lot more.