First Region Map - HELP!
My apologies if this is a very large file, but I've tried to include lots of graphical information on it. The map compass is cheap, but is based on a key element in the RP for which this map was created. Overall, this shows the primary kingdoms that my group has visited and was created to save our GM from trying to scratch out a map by hand every session as the scratch paper inevitably was always lost between sessions. I like some elements of it, like the way some of the colors and textures pop (forests particularly), and dislike other areas (the desert is supposed to be red, but always seemed overwhelming in that color) because they're not quite as I envisioned etc. The whirlpools are a lazy toss-in at last minute because I couldn't make them look good. The volcanoes kicked my *** when it came time to make them look distinct from the mountains, which is why they are all exploding on the map. The mountains are all drawn individually by hand, as are all the outlines, shadows, etc. Basically, only the textures were created in any stamp-like way and I'm okay with that overall. I'm okay with black dots for towns, etc. In the future I may include more representational things for larger cities/capitals, but for now it's not a priority. The small map that shows the kingdom boundaries was a toss-in, also, when I remembered it last minute.
My primary technique is simply layering - layers for outlines, layers for solid color fill, layers for textures, layers for color effects, layers for place names, etc. This particular map is approximately 90 layers, which is probably too many for most people but I find that I don't mind that much because I save the working file separately from the final flattened JPEG.
What I'd like to know is what tips can everyone give me for making a better map? What techniques can I employ to make things somewhat more realistic? I'm feeling partial to the somewhat cartoonish feel of this map, but would like to edge a little closer to realistic in texture and line-work. I don't feel the swamp areas come remotely close to representing real swamp and are hardly recognizable as such. What could I do to make them more accurate?
Hmm, if you want a more hand drawn looking map (old style), this is a good small tip on how to make a swamp (which I particulary like a lot), also, on this same post (Assorted tips and tricks, by torstan) you can find lots of small tuts to improve your maps.
Yet, something I would say is that you have some river issues, and reading this post could be good for you to know exactly how to place the rivers, and how they usually run down to the sea (they usually don't split like it is happining on some places in your map, for example).
PS: I like your desert :)
I appreciate the links. I've looked through them (and read most of it just now). It seems to me the main reason I'm not loving the swamps is that they lack the feel of water overall. A color and texture change (along with smaller waterways) might help with that. The rivers were not planned out on the map at all, but I'll be sure to plan them better for the next version. Really, the tips on plotting out rivers makes me want to smack myself in the face, but I didn't consider anything but the higher-elevation-to-lower-elevation concept when I drew them. Also, I live on the coast so I suppose I took for granted the way rivers fork and turn without considering/implementing why they do so.
Many thanks for the tips and liking the desert. ^_^
Any tips on the volcanoes and (what's supposed to be) the coral reef? Both of those had me so frustrated I nearly gave up on the whole map.
Pasis made a quick guide on blending textures that may be worth having a look at. You can find a link to it in this thread.
Thanks, Arsheesh. Both the thread and the texture tutorial are extremely helpful. I'm thinking I might go back and start this map from scratch (so I don't try to shortcut anything) and see what I can do with it in the next few months. I'm still not happy with the coral reef. Any help there?