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Thread: First Map. Critique please.

  1. #11
      mearrin69 is offline
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    @GrimFinger: Your critique was good, and mostly insightful. Your choice of wording could have been improved upon. Edit: please don't just observe...you're welcome to critique my work any time you like!

    To the OP: It's a good first try at the Ascension style...and that's a tough tutorial to follow. I think enough has been said about rivers, so you've got somewhere to go on that. I agree with GrimFinger about the mountains. Maybe revisit the tut and make sure you do both the hills and mountains steps? It almost seems as if you've missed one or the other. My biggest issue with this one is the ocean/lakes/continental shelf. This is an important one to get right and a little tough. I'll again refer you to the tutorial...maybe try the steps again with your base map? I had to do this tutorial a couple of times before I got it right...so don't despair!
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    Last edited by mearrin69; 01-17-2013 at 01:16 PM.
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    looks awesome, the colors are sharp and clean! and the layout is believable. Some of the water stacks could be worked on, and if your showing that shelf might as well add a dropoff where the water gets some darkness to it!

    other then that, add some cities and some more texture to give it less of a uniform look and you got a winner!

  3. #13
      kaelin is offline
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    For your first go I'd say you've done quite well. I think it turned out rather well, given it being your first time and following a tutorial (never as easy as you would think it to be ). So good job!
    As for critiquing this, I'd say you hit all the major selling points on your own. The only thing I would add is the relative size of the three climate zones. Not having a scale doesn't tell us how large the land mass is, so it does make a difference, given the relative closeness of the desert to the snowed area. The mountains aside, the colors are good and the map as a whole doesn't leave me wondering what is what. I've found in my own project that mountains can pose a bit of a problem to get right.
    I would recommend going back through the tutorial step by step a time or three on practice runs. It's helped me immensely in my project.
    All in all, it's a great beginning and I look forward to seeing how it progresses.

  4. #14
      jbgibson is offline
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    Sorry - I missed this when you first posted, fifth. Nice start, and props for sticking a map right in your first post. We appreciate folks willing to contribute right from the start - and I'm serious about *contribute*. Y'see, like in a classroom, one ought not be shy about asking a question, since a dozen others may have been holding back on asking the same thing! In the case of a map, I figure I can learn from pretty much anybody's efforts; first map or thousandth.

    I don't use Photoshop, so my responses will be general & theoretical rather than recipes for success :-). First off, you have the shading set for light from the SE. While on a real globe, that may be a plausible direction for the sun, a more conventional light direction would be as though one were looking at a paper map on a table with a desk lamp, or one on a wall lit from above. Your continental shelf seemed to bulge instead of sink, until I stared at it and MADE the depths sink below the land. I wonder if your mountain visualization might have the same issue - can you switch the illumination to top left and see what that does? Ha - when I try to just turn it over on my phone, the dad-blamed thinks-smarter-than-I phone turns it back right side up. :-b...


    The rivers. Mmmmmm. Like has been noted, they ought to only join going downstream, or branch going upstream. That would fix a lot of their "something is awry here" impression. Take a look at Redrobes' Most Excellent tutorial about how to get your rivers in the right place - it should be stickied near the top of the tutorial forum. But another thing other than the slight "lying on top of the overall texture" issue, is that you're mapping a continent - your intent to show the width of the rivers varying results in them looking to be what, fifty miles across in places? SOmething a bit bigger than you intend, anyway. It's a tough trick, to show variations in a river - at this scale a satellite photo might show only a pixel or two of width, so it's pretty normal to generalize when symbolizing the watercourses: wide enough to be discernable, but narrow enough to look like a long river. Sinuous looping in the lower reaches of a flatland river has to be exaggerated ... subtly, and probably has to be shown in far fewer number than the real river's convolutions. <shrug> - it's a tradeoff.

    The suggestion to incise the river into the terrain by masking the surrounding texture must work - I see it on a lot of Photoshop maps (refer to previous assertion of PS naivite on my part), but even that needs to be done with a light touch - going ahead and beveling the land to further emphasize the channel works best on large-scale (equals small area, remember) maps; the impression on a continental scale starts to be "vast canyon" rather than "river banks".

    Did you create the big and small NW bays and the interior lake by erasing? With a circular brush? They kind of have that character. The outer coastline of the continent looks fine - maybe however you generated that, you could duplicate for the inland water, with some varied jagginesses?

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      jbgibson is offline
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    Oops -double post. But I do have another question. What scale do you have in mind for this? Considering that it's a satellite-view realistic style, maybe having an equivalent scale at which to examine views of Earth could help. Like, how far in or out one ought to zoom on the Amazon basin, to get more ideas of tropical coloring, feature visibility, and so forth.
    Last edited by jbgibson; 01-18-2013 at 01:30 AM.

  6. #16
      Jaxilon is online now
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    @GrimFinger - Please do not desist from offering critiques as I feel they are important for growth. I know I need more of them and I appreciate how much time it takes to put together a thorough critique and how difficult it can be to do so in a constructive manner. I've tried to write a few myself and they are time consuming. I also don't feel it necessary to "water down" your message when you have one to convey.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrimFinger View Post
    Since you did not bother to specify which specific instances of my critiques that you feel may be too harsh, I'm not sure what, specifically, that you would prefer that I critique in another, less harsh way.
    I was on my way out to work this morning so didn't have time for more and it's midnight now but basically it's the little comments around the good points you make that I think could be refined.

    2. Mountains? What mountains? You mean that there are mountains on this map? Oh, those things - those are mountains? How dreadful! I share your disappointment with them. I leave it to you to fix them, however. May I suggest that you obliterate these, and spend a little time crafting some real mountains - of the kind that will make men to sit up and take notice?

    Typically speaking, mountains should be the predominant feature on most maps. Yours are, well, what some might call blobs and squirts. They are unworthy of the title, mountains.
    He already admitted his disappointment, it seems to me you were needlessly rubbing his face in.

    3...Whatever were you thinking?...
    I don't see how this question helps. The rest of the point is ok but it's these little comments that sound condescending to me and that's when I start wondering what the goal is.

    8. That interior lake is atrocious.
    This point needs some direction to be of use.

    Honestly, if your critique were on someone other than a newbie's first map posting I wouldn't be saying anything. I know he did ask for a critique so it could be I'm wasting my energy. I certainly have other things I could be doing.

    My concern (and why I'm bothering) is that I don't want folks to be scared to ask for help when their projects don't turn out the way they want them. New artists are usually jumping a tall hurdle just to share their first creation. I know I was.

    Maybe all I'm really asking is to try taking it a little easier on newbies.
    Last edited by Jaxilon; 01-18-2013 at 02:29 AM.
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  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrimFinger View Post
    1. You lack patience. You posted your map, and a mere eighteen minutes later, here you go bumping this thread. A forgivable sin, to be certain, but a lack of patience will not serve you well, when it comes to cartographic undertakings.
    Not sure what you mean by that. I waited 4 days. Time stamps says so.

    You know. I had a point for point post typed out for you to combat your overall useless banter but it seems pretty clear you have no intention of offering me anything worthwhile and that a point for point is useless here. I'm fine with critiques. Love em. 4 years of an art undergrad and looking forward to a masters as well, critiques are pivotal in getting better and have been a very important part of my life. What you're doing is not a critique, especially when you offer nothing constructive or any source material to learn from.

    Good day sir.

    EDIT: I thought maybe you're a troll, just because of the theatrics and verbosity, and then I read your blog post on this site and I just can't even be irritated. You're either an a+ troll and I salute you or you're insane and I salute you.
    Last edited by fifthmanstanding; 01-18-2013 at 10:19 PM. Reason: update

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbgibson View Post
    The rivers. Mmmmmm. Like has been noted, they ought to only join going downstream, or branch going upstream. That would fix a lot of their "something is awry here" impression. Take a look at Redrobes' Most Excellent tutorial about how to get your rivers in the right place - it should be stickied near the top of the tutorial forum. But another thing other than the slight "lying on top of the overall texture" issue, is that you're mapping a continent - your intent to show the width of the rivers varying results in them looking to be what, fifty miles across in places? SOmething a bit bigger than you intend, anyway. It's a tough trick, to show variations in a river - at this scale a satellite photo might show only a pixel or two of width, so it's pretty normal to generalize when symbolizing the watercourses: wide enough to be discernable, but narrow enough to look like a long river. Sinuous looping in the lower reaches of a flatland river has to be exaggerated ... subtly, and probably has to be shown in far fewer number than the real river's convolutions. <shrug> - it's a tradeoff.

    The suggestion to incise the river into the terrain by masking the surrounding texture must work - I see it on a lot of Photoshop maps (refer to previous assertion of PS naivite on my part), but even that needs to be done with a light touch - going ahead and beveling the land to further emphasize the channel works best on large-scale (equals small area, remember) maps; the impression on a continental scale starts to be "vast canyon" rather than "river banks".
    My incomplete poorly thought out thoughts on rivers was this: start them near the mountains and have them move towards a body of water or the ocean. I wanted the middle of the island/continent to be the highest elevation but not in a volcanic or 'mountain range topped by one mountain at the center of this island' kind of thing. The original outline of the continent was created by the guy running my D&D game and I wanted to go digital with it, so keeping to his original creation I tried to topographically justify what he'd already made. The two major lakes were already created by him and somehow pivotal in what we are doing so I have to keep them. I figured thier creation would be dependant on either a glacier withdrawing in the days of old and leaving behind a deep lake bed with streams/rivers back to the mountains, or a trickle down of water starting at a mountain. Those ranges were set to sort of break up the zones he'd pre-created. So...the challenge at hand is keeping elements that are not topo/geographically sound but must be kept for story sake and still visually justifying everything in the form of a map. That being said, the logic used to create the rivers I feel (very ignorant of other princepals that may improve my logic, mind you) was that the island was high in the middle, the amazonian region was a low lying drainage basin that centered around the expulsion of waters into the ocean by use of a large lake, I was going for something between the basin around the lakes in the Congo and I wanted to illustrate the type of terrain by using a lot of rivers. I think more small 'pools of water' around the area are needed to illustrate the excess of water/swamp. As far as the southerly lake/rivers,what would be the guideline to determine the flow of water to create a river? It's south of a mountain range and the land, in theory, goes from mountainous to plateau and dips into the coast. tldr; what are the rules/algorithms/guidelines for determining (manually) generation of believable rivers?

    Quote Originally Posted by jbgibson View Post
    Did you create the big and small NW bays and the interior lake by erasing? With a circular brush? They kind of have that character. The outer coastline of the continent looks fine - maybe however you generated that, you could duplicate for the inland water, with some varied jagginesses?
    Yeah that lake is pretty starkly round. The coastline was generated using the cloud render as a layer and playing with it that way. I agree that if feels very 'streamlined' as a coast line and I think that comes from me being sort of scared to shy away from the tutorial videos too much. There is another huge group of islands/continents that I have to illustrate for my DM and I think I'm going to play with it a lot more to create a greater sense of jaggedness and randomly dispersed land. I think this map feels to fluid and too contrived to be believable.

  9. #19
      Jaxilon is online now
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    There are some great tutorials on making jagged coastlines that look realistic if you poke around in the tutorials area.

    There have been plenty of us who have had to make maps with unrealistic geographical locations due to a game or story already in progress. Those can be hard to deal with. You just do the best you can. Usually you can talk them into redoing rivers that are contrary to nature or at least that's been my experience.

    I also, would encourage you to not disregard everything that was stated in the critique as there are some useful things being mentioned. You might need to leave it for a day or two and then try reading it again though.
    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

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  10. #20
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    Ok. So I finally got off work and had some time to sort of illustrate my thoughts somewhat better and hopefully it will help me frame questions better. I've attached two pics.

    First Map. Critique please.-river-direction.jpg

    The above pic ( imgur link: http://i.imgur.com/Vs7OF8H.jpg ) is my attempts/thoughts on the river system direction as I was making it. Hopefully this illustrates the directions and the flow of the river better, I figured the rivers would run away/down from the mountains (greyed areas) and into the basins below them. With that in mind I would like very specific critique on that if anyone would be kind enough.

    First Map. Critique please.-mountains-view.jpg

    The above pic (imgur link: http://i.imgur.com/szMTcer.jpg ) is supposed to attempt to visually explain what I was going for in terms of placement and direction of the ranges. Like I said before: color and representation is horrible but until I get a better understanding of what does and does not make sense in terms of topography neither the mountains or the rivers, I feel, will be correct before I even begin to redo them. I want to make sure I pass the competency check on this before i ever put pen to paper/tablet.

    The circles are the three large mountains and the scribbles are the ranges they fall in. A mountain pass plays an important role in the storyline and needed to be illustrated so that lies between the two ranges and the two mountain circles on the mainland. I also included a sketch over top of what I was thinking the ground level view would sort of be if you were sailing up to the island/continent from the southern end.

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