The legend is beautiful, the decorations look so authentic! I really like how you inserted those segments from the map too.
I'm not sure about the city icons though, I think they are a bit big and take to much attention from the landscape. Maybe it's just because I love the mountains and forests and steppes so much, and because I'm used to seeing it without icons, but I think smaller cities would fit the map better. It would also make it less crowded. Choosing a simpler font for the city names would allow you to write smaller labels too, which might be needed if you do shrink the icons.
Hi Viking, I just popped in, but I can't keep myself from telling you already how much I love this map. One of the best!
Lingon: Thank you so much :) I'm glad you like what I've done so far! The only downside with my mountains has been painting each one individually haha.
I appreciate your suggestions and tried making the icons and all the text smaller and it looks like this:
I have yet to experiment with other fonts at the moment and I didn't change the abandoned city icons yet so maybe that is still too distracting but I did a print test and while the new and old maps look great and clear on the screen they are a tad small when printed so I am trying to figure out the best way to upsize them, which is always dangerous with rasterized images!! hahah I may try keeping the larger font (of the two) since it is legible and keep the legend a similar size to how it is now while resizing the rest of the map a tad. We'll see I guess! I feel the need to do something with the borders but I'm not sure what. I want something simple and clear.
Caenwyr: Thank you :) You're very kind my friend!
Labeling surely need some more work to be clearly legible. I think this is the weak thing on the map. The choice of gothic font doesn't really make it imo and the colors make some labels really hard to read (especially the mountains ones, the smaller labels on sea and the brown tan labels on lands). Also using a large number of different colors is kinda distracting aswell.
Hmm. Max does have a point about the labels.
The colors + contrast do tend to hide some things and make other things stand out maybe too much.
I'm also not personally fond of the haphazard layout concerning the label directions but if you like them that way then it is perfect. I prefer not having to cramp my neck everywhichway when there is space to lay a label horizontally and the artistry won't be murdered by doing so.
I do like the font (hand-painted maps should have beautiful lettering, in my opinion) but, perhaps... I've seen a lot of old maps that make use of different fonts for different sizes so that they remain clear but still have a nice touch of flair where it matters. Maybe save the really interesting fonts for the larger labels at sea and go with something less dramatic and straighter for the smaller things and--especially go with something straighter for the location names; straighter fonts are easier to read at small sizes and that may help with your printing conundrum.
Out of curiosity, how large is the whole print? You might also be able to get away with reducing the resolution a bit to scale things up depending on the paper quality and intended viewing distance. The rest of the map is really quite nice... I very much love the hand-painted mountains, am glad you decided to spend the time to make it that unique... It shows your dedication to quality and it certainly gives the world more dimension. Do you do commissions? If not, you might consider it.
Perfect icons! I think you can keep the abandoned cities the way they are, they are so faint so they work at that size. And I agree with everything Chashio said about fonts :)
Max and Chashio: Thank you both so much for your feedback as I see it's all well founded. I've tried to address a few of those things over the past day or so.
I've given the gothic font the boot. I've given all the geological features one font, which is clearer than the previous gothic one.
For the different bodies of water I've given them a stroke on the inside which at first I resisted and tried to use an outer stroke but the inner stroke is clearer when the font is small which also makes them look black but I think I can accept that for now. The city fonts have benefited a great deal in terms of clarity from moving away from the script like font and heading to the straighter Gabroila though it still looks like it was writte by hand which is something I want with this map.
I've limited the font colours to 4, one for water, one for landmasses, one for mountains and one for other features though I may further merge the last two to a single colour. It has been tricky to get text over mountains to show up due to the high value variation on the mountains themselves but I think I'm getting closer, even if it means a 2 pixel wide stroke lol. For the water labels this meant I needed to also increase the size of most labels as it did thin them out.
Taking your suggestion to hear about horizontal fonts being more easily read and taking away little from the artistry, I have tried to make all fonts as horizontal as possible except a selection of instances where I felt it was hard to avoid.
I ditched the navigation system I had with all the different paths and their associated numbers. I realized it was a huge problem in terms of clutter before and I think it is a lot cleaner and more subtle now with the less frequent dots. My new system simply involves counting the large dots as each day and estimating the distances. As the dungeon master I'd decide how long things take anyways so the dots would just be guides of travel times with average conditions.
It made me feel dirty doing it but I upsized my entire map except for the city font titles and city icons which were legible already on my print copy and I wanted to make the land feel roomier. I cry for the lost definition of my border and all the illustrations and their single pixel details! :(
The image that I originally was working with was 300 DPI at 5917 by 4651 pixels or 19.723 by 15.503 inches.
The current image is still 300 DPI but at 6852 by 5400 pixels or 22.84 by 18 inches.
By comparison the image I'm attaching below is 2900 by 2285 pixels as it has been reduced. So try to imagine the final image being a tad more clear I guess as it is reduced by half essentially.
The reason I aimed for those proportions is that fits snuggly in a poster size I have the option to print. I am not even sure that will produce a large boost but it will be better than previous. 23 by 18 inches is a fine size for any map I think though I have the problem where only a portion of my map needs that detail lol.
Lingon: Thanks man! I meant to say in my previous post, both city icons were small but I think I'm happier with the dots too. It's a funny thing what I've done though. Usually maps have a single symbol for a capital city (or varied symbols based on size) but I have two icons pulling that duty. The blue if alone in a nation and the yellow if there are multiple cities. It's kind of messy to explain I think lol.
Part of the reason I am taking so long on this is because I don't want to have to print it out twice and I think a lot about the long term implications in terms of story etc. My next map I probably won't be so fussy about. :)
Chashio, I will consider doing commissions after this is done thanks for suggesting it :) I have done a number of commissions for portraits of people as I do that quite a bit.
Some good improvments on labels! :) Though the red brown ones on mountains are still a bit hard to read, but that may be the 50% size of the map. Usually I personnaly use some light color font for mountains labels (especially on colored/contrasted ones) with some dark color outerglow set to normal mode and a bit expanded to fade well. Don't know if this would fit your labeling style though.
Thanks Max! I'll try to lighten up the font for the mountains with a harder outline as you suggested. As much as I hate to do it I may change the font to something simpler too.
Not a great fan of "hard" outline because most of the time it doesn't make labels very legible, especially zooemd out or at some distance. And yea, "simpler" and solid font is often better and more legible than fancy ones, especially and full color maps.