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Thread: Dorrandin, a whole continent for roleplay in writing

  1. #1
      Mornagest is offline
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    Wip Dorrandin, a whole continent for roleplay in writing

    Hi, I would like to introduce my very first trial in cartography - maybe the only I will ever make... I reached the goal I targetted, namely to have a readable map. But its aesthetic could be improved, don't you think ?

    The context : I, with some friends, am roleplaying in writing on a forum, in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. We use, as geographical background, an unexplored continent that we drawed as we wanted.

    He is the old map we were using :

    Dorrandin, a whole continent for roleplay in writing-dorrandin.jpg

    As you can see, it is not really readable, even for French-speaking people. So I recently decided to remake it. After some trials, I managed to make this :

    Dorrandin, a whole continent for roleplay in writing-dorrandindefinitif.jpg

    (normally it has transparency but I had to convert the map in .jpg becuase of its weight, sorry). For our game, this is enough : readable, quite large, not too creepy... but I would like to have some advices to improve it, especially the different colors used (mountain brushes do not have the same colour than hill brushes, for example).

    To realize that map, I used brushes made by Gidde (trees) and Vhailor (hills and mountains). I made the canyon with a fault generated by an earthquake in Caesar III.

    What advices would you give me ?

    I thank you in advance !

    PS : please excuse my poor English

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      Mark Oliva is offline
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    The first map is simple but respectable and on my screen quite readable. The second is an entirely different style but certainly a somewhat more advanced map. However, for any of us to give you advice, one really needs to know what goal you want to attain. There are thousands and thousands of maps on this site with almost as many different styles and approaches as there are maps. How do you want your maps to look? Once one has an answer to that, some folks may have some good tips on how to get you there.
    Mark Oliva
    The Vintyri (TM) Project

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      Mornagest is offline
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    Hi, Mark, and thank you for your answer

    I think the most important thing for me would be the homogeneity of the elements : hills, mountains, trees, desert (around the central city called Melandis, it is supposed to be a rock desert ). As I had to use brushes that were made by different people, it necessarely is heterogeneous. Same thing for the canyon...

    I suppose the best way would be to create my own brushes I need, but I don't know how to have pretty ones.

    One example : the northern mountains are composed by hills and mountains, but I had to use some transparency to have the mountains at the same colour as the hills. But... you can see hills behind the mountains precisely becuse they are transparent. I do agree, this is not really important, but I would like to know if there would be a way to correct that (knowing that I'm a beginner). Having a bit more practice and knowledge would allow me to draw the second (and last ?) map I would like to draw, the map of the city called Melandis (the big city where my character lives, the only one amongst important cities that has no map at all).

    Another question would be : how could I figure the ocean ? I tried with some waves brushes but the result does not satisfy myself...

    Oh, and an important precision : I only use GIMP for the moment (never tried another software, in fact).

    Thank you again !

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      jbgibson is offline
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    You picked a fairly legible font. An easy tweak to get the map even more legible would be to move labels off of competing linework. For instance, no reason not to move the word Vys up a few pixels, and Anarelis to the right. Places like Helonna, you could break the coast line, erasing it out from under the label. That will be hard up in the Collines de Jahlin, where you have a nice continuous area of symbols, but you could put a little bit of a glow of the background color around the labels for Elgaro, and Tordo.

    Your scheme of sticking with one font and distinguishing type of feature by color makes sense. I'd shift any that are toward the light end, a bit darker, just for legibility.

    See if it looks any sharper by using crisp circles instead of fuzzy ones, for the cities.

    You might get the forest to match the mountains better just by very slightly blurring the trees. Color matters, true, but the level of sharpness might be enough to make them work better together.

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      Mornagest is offline
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    Hi, Jbgibson, and thank you for your advices

    I looked forward a modified brush ; I added some blur to the trees, managed to make them lighter and added transparency (they are white otherwise). I wasn't able to do this before because I didn't understand the principle of the layers ! Now it is quite clear in my mind.

    I will make a new trial soon... with layers, now : 'til now, I was only working with ONE layer... so I will probably have to re-make things that were OK on the map. Fortunately, I made multiple saves from the different steps. I will also try to use crisp circles, and maybe blur them a bit. I would love to have a small image for the cities, but I didn't find some that please me.

    Thank you again !

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      Mornagest is offline
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    Hi,

    Here's another version (in .jpg so the blank border is normally transparent), without red and green spots to figure the cities. I didn't find any convincing way to figure them, other than using the fuzzy brush, 'til now.

    Names are also missing but I do not think I will change their style so it doesn't matter.

    I maybe have to re-make grunge spots layer to increase readability...

    Am I going the right way ?

    Dorrandin, a whole continent for roleplay in writing-dorrandin2.jpg

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      jbgibson is offline
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    Yikes ; all one layer could be a pain to recover from. I bet you're already loving working on separate layers, eh?

    I dont know if this is much better - there is maybe some more evenness between differently sourced symbols, but it's at the expense of contrast.

    Your southern mountains seem to have some east-west reversal; see how the two biggest peaks are lit from the right, while everything else is lit from the left?

    Looking at the mountains I see just a couple in the north with sharp outlines... Have you been resizing these symbols? That'll leave them murkier than the original under most conditions. if you HAVE to resize them, maybe you can draw in thin, dark edges to "resharpen" them. Do you have access to a tablet and pen, or are you drawing lines with a mouse? A digtizer pen would make such enhancement easier.

    The desert wastes in the center are going to be tricky to get across to a viewer. One thing they need is for the river layer to go above the wasteland symbol texture. Another bit that might need rethinking - if it is arid, where did that lake come from, and how is it overflowing to start a river?

    I guess it does look older than your first parchment rendition, if that's what you want.

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      jbgibson is offline
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    Sorry - double post.
    Last edited by jbgibson; 01-21-2013 at 02:44 AM.

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      Mornagest is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbgibson View Post
    Yikes ; all one layer could be a pain to recover from. I bet you're already loving working on separate layers, eh?
    Indeed. Much easier to correct any stupid thing I could do, or something that doesn't match my wish.
    Quote Originally Posted by jbgibson View Post
    I dont know if this is much better - there is maybe some more evenness between differently sourced symbols, but it's at the expense of contrast.
    I tried to make the trees quite transparent, and added a 1px gaussian blur to them, so "normally" they have quite the same style as the hills & mountains.
    Quote Originally Posted by jbgibson View Post
    Your southern mountains seem to have some east-west reversal; see how the two biggest peaks are lit from the right, while everything else is lit from the left?
    Argh, didn't notice it ! Thank you !
    Quote Originally Posted by jbgibson View Post
    Looking at the mountains I see just a couple in the north with sharp outlines... Have you been resizing these symbols? That'll leave them murkier than the original under most conditions. if you HAVE to resize them, maybe you can draw in thin, dark edges to "resharpen" them. Do you have access to a tablet and pen, or are you drawing lines with a mouse? A digtizer pen would make such enhancement easier.
    No, I didn't resize them ; I chose different mountains to avoid monotonous pattern, but according to the previous point, it seems I didn't pay enough attention to them...
    Quote Originally Posted by jbgibson View Post
    The desert wastes in the center are going to be tricky to get across to a viewer. One thing they need is for the river layer to go above the wasteland symbol texture. Another bit that might need rethinking - if it is arid, where did that lake come from, and how is it overflowing to start a river?
    Yes, this is maybe the most difficult for that map : the desert, that is mainly made up of rocks and a bit less of sand (a reg, I think it is called). At my first sketch, I used colours so it was yellowish and so on, but for now I'm still looking for a good pattern that would match my idea.

    The hydrology of the continent was even strange before I re-made it (cfr the first map of the topic). I didn't think about that ; it is important that the city called Archik gets a river, AND that there is an oasis in the desert. But I think oasises may exist by a water spring ? Maybe it could stand all alone without a starting river from it...
    Quote Originally Posted by jbgibson View Post
    I guess it does look older than your first parchment rendition, if that's what you want.
    Too blur, "dirty", I think, after careful consideration. I thought it would be "as old maps" with a bit of blur, but this is quite eyestraining. I'll keep trying and look for examples of old maps. Or maybe make a non-blur version of this ?



    Thank you for your advices, anyway !
    Last edited by Mornagest; 01-21-2013 at 08:21 AM.

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