I suffer from the same issue, but there are ways to minimize the work.
The shadows don’t have to be spot on. You can rotate the house about 45 degrees to either direction without a need for redoing them. But the need for changing the light direction still exists.
I have created all the houses in one PS file where all similar items of every house are in the same layer. I mean all roofs facing one direction are in one layer, all roofs facing other direction are in another layer and all chimneys etc. are in yet in another layer.
By changing the direction of the global light source you change all drop shadows and bevels at the same time. Then you just need to change the exposure of the adjustment layers to get the roof shadows right.
It takes just one minute to make all the changes and it applies the changes to all of your houses in one go.
If you could invent a way to do the roof lighting in a way that it would rely on PS global light source as well, the problem would be solved. You could have all your house layers in your map file itself and you could rotate them as you like and the lighting would work.
Here is an overall map of the crater lake surroundings. Next I'll add more details and habitation.
I second what everyone has said so far - this is wonderful work.
A view of the entire area, with the houses very little down there makes the landscape appear much more impressive. That set of mountains and the slopes toward the lake must be an oasis of greenery in an otherwise dry region. I truly truly like it.
It's such a beautiful map pasis! I love your texture work. Thank you so much for sharing more of your technique too! I've always wondered how you get the houses to look so realistic. Never would have thought it was such a relatively "simple" process. They actually looked to me like photos of real buildings cut out from some satellite photos. ;) The clear water effect looks spectacular. I like it much better than if it was a flat texture. I'm curious, how do you get the waves to look so convincing? Is it just more texture painted in? Those waves visibly breaking on the shores of the bodies of water add so much to your maps. It's one of those little details that makes them look all the more like actual satellite photos of real world places. :)
Thanks Lyandra and Pixie for your kind comments.
Lyandra - Yes the waves are indeed just another texture. The texture is a closeup from an ocean foam and with few modifications I managed to turn it into waves :)
This will be the last WIP for a while so I attached a full resolution version. I will continue after few weeks but as I'm quite far with this already it shouldn't take too long to get it finished...
Jesus. That style was something I originally wanted to achieve sometime until I decided against it for practical reasons (e.g. lack of skill ;)).
I don't have the time to read throughn the whole thread right now, but I take it you're using lots of textures? Also the lighting effects that come with Photoshop?
Anyway, that's really impressive.
Continuing this project by adding various details pretty much everywhere. Here is a small sample without and with the added details.