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Thread: [wip] Spindrift

  1. #1
      Municorn is offline
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    Default [wip] Spindrift

    Hi guys,

    I've just posted my Spindrift map in the finished maps section, but I also wanted to show you guys the process in case anyone is interested to see how it came to be. Sadly - since the map is finished - I won't make any big changes based on feedback (unless you spot a typo or something like that ) but I'll definitely use any feedback and pointers for future maps.

    I'll work backwards in time, with the latest version on top:

    Here's the finished map:
    [wip] Spindrift-spindrift-final-map.jpg

    Steps of the cartouche, from rough to sketch to final.
    [wip] Spindrift-cartouche-steps.gif

    This is a sketch of the entire realm, which I made to get a better overview/consistency and for story purpose. The other continents don't play as large a part in the story as the rest, so that's why the final map focuses on Central Orbani.
    [wip] Spindrift-spindrift-continent.png

    This is what I had planned to use as final product initially. I actually put quite a bit of time into making this one, but I fell out of love with the result eventually. That, and I needed to update some of the geography because the story had evolved in the past years and some of the locations needed changing. I also really disliked some of the names I used here .
    [wip] Spindrift-spindrift-old-map.png

    Below are sketches of the map, which are what I used alongside writing the first draft of the story.
    [wip] Spindrift-spindrift-first-draft.png

    [wip] Spindrift-spindrift-rough.png

    So yeah, I think that's pretty much all there is to show, unless you guys are interested in seeing the paper texture, portolan lines or compass in close up or something like that XD.


    Edit: Eep, I seem to have forgotten to add the name of the thread after the WIP part, and I seem unable to edit that part. Perhaps a mod could shoot at it?.
    Last edited by Diamond; 07-07-2014 at 11:40 AM.

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      Diamond is offline
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    Fixed your title for you; if you want it to say something different, let me know.

    I'm very impressed with the cartouche; that is pretty magnificent. Your maps are great - I'll have to check out your comic now!
    "I like a look of agony, because I know it's true."

    -Emily Dickinson

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      Municorn is offline
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    Thank you, much appreciated ^_^. Having 'Spindrift' in there is perfectly fine.
    I'm happy to hear you like the cartouche. It was actually a lot more fun to draw than I had imagined, although it took quite a while to crosshatch all those lines *sweat*.

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      JonPin is offline
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    Great cartouche! Awesome

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      Domino44 is online now
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    Some very wonderful work! I really love all of your mountains but especially in the finished map at the top. I'm looking forward to see more work from you!

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      Hai-Etlik is offline
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    Well, far and away the thing that stands out most are the rivers. They look nice enough graphically, but that big system in the north east in particular seems to be backwards. Rivers flow down hill and merge together as they do so. There's always a "most downhill" way to go at any point so the water goes that way. Bifurcations do occur, but it's always under special conditions, and almost always ends a short way on. The river system in the north east is particularly strange because you have a little stub of a river that branches into to larger rivers.

    There are some odd situations where very large natural bifurcations occur like Divide Creek, or Casiquiare Canal. These are geologically VERY short lived, rare, and often subject to a great deal of seasonal variation. Your example just doesn't look like a natural water divide or an artificial canal (which would be linking between two natural rivers). The bifurcation north of Vinuros might make sense as a canal the one south of Pine Edge does not.

    There are also some oddities with respect to the extent, scale, and orientation.

    You seem to be spacing your parallels exactly 100km apart, which if they are the same as our kilometres, means your planet is slightly smaller than Earth (unless you are using a different form of angular measure than degrees).

    The problem is that you seem to have put it at about 36 degrees south. That puts this map at about the same latitude as South Africa.

    [wip] Spindrift-spindrift-winkel.png

    You also have the latitude and longitude as an exact square grid. That only works right at the equator. As you move toward the poles, the meridians of longitude converge. at 35.8 degrees, latitude (north or south) the distance between meridians is 0.811 of what it is at the equator (the cosine of the latitude) That's enough to throw off distances, and way more than enough to throw off bearings. Viewed in a stereographic projection centred at 35.8 south by 10 east you get this:

    [wip] Spindrift-spindrift-stereo.png

    That's pretty much what the real shape of the land your map covers is, if those markings on the border are correct. However, if that's the case, then the scale bar, compasses, and rhumb lines are all wrong because the map does not preserve distances or bearings. If the scale bar is reasonably correct (it will never be entirely correct), then the border is wrong and the compass rose is maybe a bit questionable.

    You also have the "done on a computer but trying to look vaguely old and fantasyish" look. You've done a very good job of that look and if that's what you were aiming for, then I'm not going to criticize that. If you were aiming to simulate a map crated within an actual fantasy world, then there are a few tells that this was done on a computer. The biggest are texture discontinuities at the coast, too perfect outset lines at the coast, perfect colour control and lack of bleed at the coasts, and the strong halos on the labels. Overall it makes the land look like it was cut out of another piece of paper and glued on. Thinking about how the notional cartographer created the map and trying to replicate the results of those methods helps with this, particularly if you think about sources of error and how much control/precision a technique allows for. Again, if you just want to evoke a generally "old fantasyish look" that's obviously done with a computer anyway, that's a perfectly reasonable way to go too. It's arguably the dominant style of fantasy map.

    The colouring on the land is in the problematic grey area between decoration and content. Maps need to be very careful about that. You can present content in a decorative way, but you need to be clear about it being content. Your mountains for example do this nicely. Those greens and browns though make it very hard to tell what's just a blotch of colour, and what's supposed to mean something. One of the first rules I learned about cartography (back in GEOG 501) is don't anything in a map unless it's important to the map. If it's important enough to be in the map, show it clearly. If it's not important enough to make it clear, don't include it at all or it will just be a distraction.

    The last thing is Labelling. Labelling is one of the things that distinguishes a Cartographer from a graphic designer who knows geography, or a geographer who knows how to draw. There are entire books on labelling maps. There are lengthy academic papers on it. One of my co-workers is going to give a talk to the company next Friday about map typography, and I'm eagerly looking forward to it. If you're doing a really good job, labelling will probably take as long as everything else put together.

    A few things that stand out:

    Be consistent. Label the same kind of thing the same way. Don't vary text size to "squeeze" or "stretch" to fit the size of the feature. Use letter spacing for that. Varying text size for different classes or ranks or thigns of different levels of importance is fine. A province should have smaller text for its labels than a country because it's a lower rank of area, not because it takes up less space. Also, if you use curved labels for areas, be consistent about it ("Central Orbani" vs "Khama Barren"). All areas should be curved, or none of them. The size rule breaks down a bit for water bodies as they tend to be ranked by their size but keep it within reason even then: Stick to a fixed set of sizes and use letter spacing more than glyph size.

    Avoid multiple lines. This is probably the weakest rule of labelling but inline labels are just easier to read and look nicer.

    Curved labels shouldn't curve back on themselves. If you end up with upside down letters, it's hard to read and not pleasant to look at. ("Northern Barrier", "The Three Sisters")

    You didn't do this but it's worth pointing out, don't run labels along straight diagonals. They should either be straight horizontal or curved.

    Oblique fonts , particularly with insufficient letter spacing tend to look squashed when put on a curve. And on that note, NEVER use envelope deform to curve text or it WILL be squashed and ugly. Always use text-along-path (or whatever your software calls the feature that moves ant rotates the glyphs to align them on a curve)

    Also, all of the labelling rules sometimes need to be broken (except the envelope deform one) you need to know what they are in order to know when to break them though.

    An excellent guide to labelling is Positioning names on maps
    Last edited by Hai-Etlik; 07-07-2014 at 11:56 PM.
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    I agree with others the cartouche is stunning! And I really like the subtle color tones looks beautiful!

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      Eilathen is offline
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    I love this thread If only more of the threads on here would show how the maps/world developed (if there is such a development, that is... ).
    Be that as it may, i really dig the style for your newest map, at the top of the thread. A bit sparse in landfilling (especially not much tree/forests and no hills and stuff) but it has its own charm. Is the region very dry or even desert-like? I just get that impression through your choice of colors (very yellowy aka sandcolored etc. ).

    Addendum : Btw, i also really like the fourth map from the top, the one you fell out of love with. A very nice style in my opinion!

    Have a Like and some Rep.!

    And now i will take a look at your webcomic
    Last edited by Eilathen; 07-08-2014 at 06:48 AM. Reason: Addendum
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      Diamond is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hai-Etlik
    Well, far and away the thing that stands out most are the rivers.
    That bugged me too, but the map looks so great I didn't have the heart to say anything. I'll never join the River Police at this rate!
    "I like a look of agony, because I know it's true."

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      Hai-Etlik is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diamond View Post
    That bugged me too, but the map looks so great I didn't have the heart to say anything. I'll never join the River Police at this rate!
    If it hadn't shown that much skill at the graphics I probably wouldn't have spent any entire evening criticizing the geography and cartography. I did that because I think Municorn could make some really spectacular maps with just a bit more knowledge of the subject. If mistakes aren't pointed out, they usually get repeated and I'd hate to see another map as pretty as this have rivers that distractingly wrong looking.

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