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Thread: All about the contours

  1. #1
      whump is offline
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    Wip All about the contours

    OK here is my first attempt at making a map from scratch.

    I'm very fond of all the detail and contours in topographical maps and so I'm aiming for that kind of style. This is a fantasy world being used for a pathfinder campaign, so the style is anachronistic, but I like it and I want the precision of knowing where things are in relation to each other. The outline and placing of mountains/rivers isn't original but is based on the existing fantasy world of Allansia from the fighting fantasy books. I have heavily interpreted it though, and so it's not an attempt at making a 'canon' map of that world, as interesting as that would be

    It's being done in GIMP which I'm gradually learning the basics of.

    The contours are almost done and are all hand drawn lines in separate layers. I'm not sure if that's the most efficient way to achieve contours and I'd be interested to hear if anyone has other approaches to this. The coastline and estuary in the top left and the roads are stroked paths with the paths drawn by hand.

    Next steps are to finish the contours in the top left, then do the rivers and colour areas for forests and swamps. Then I will start tackling the labels and add a border and title.

    Thanks for looking!

    All about the contours-contours_upload.jpg
    Diamond, Pryme8, groovey and 3 others like this.

  2. #2
      Pryme8 is offline
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    wow. way to put lots of detail in! Especially for being hand drawn not programmatically generated.

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      groovey is offline
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    I agree with Pryme's feeling, it's amazing you did it mostly by hand.

  4. #4
      whump is offline
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    Wip Latest WIP

    Thank you for the kind words!
    I have managed to move on a little with it and so here is another work in progress with:
    - all the contours
    - rivers and another swamp in the bottom left
    - paper texture and border
    - a title and some labels, and a space for a key

    I'd be very happy to hear any critique or thoughts people have about it so far.

    The only other major change to the map now will be adding forests and labels. I might play around with the roads to get them looking prettier, and consider different sized town markers.

    What do people do for choosing fonts for labels? I had no idea it would be so fraught. Everything is slightly different and gives a different feel. The current fonts are just placeholders until I can find something that feels right.

    All about the contours-contours_upload2.jpg
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  5. #5
      groovey is offline
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    It's coming along beautifully. I like the paper texture a lot and the border looks fine to me. Did you do the paper texture yourself or did you get it from an open source? Because I've been looking for something like that but I must be searching in with the wrong keywords of the wrong places because I haven't stumbled upon it and it could really do me a great use for a regional map I'm working on privately.

    I'm loving the natural feel of the rivers too. What do the "dotted" lines mean?

    Wish I could be more helpful, but I'm really a helpless noob, so I can only say that the font on the top right and bottom left looks swell and fitting to me. I'm not so sure about the font inside the map, but as you said, choosing the fonts for labels is trickier than one might think.

    And since you talk about space relation, what's the scale?

  6. #6
      whump is offline
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    Thanks! The paper texture is this one: http://www.photos-public-domain.com/...paper-texture/ which is not quite big enough for this image so I tiled it.

    Dashed rivers are meant to be seasonal, but I haven't done the key yet! The dashed and solid black lines are meant to be main and secondary roads. Likewise a scale will be added. It is meant to be huge, around 1px=1km.

    The rivers were hand drawn with 5 different brush widths to get them to taper. Just the same as with the contours I couldn't work out an easier way to get the same effect.
    groovey likes this.

  7. #7
      Falconius is offline
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    I got to say those Dragon Rise Mountains are an intense piece of work. I'm curious what the height interval between the lines is?

    I like this map a lot.

  8. #8
      whump is offline
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    Wip Forests and some more labels

    Right, forests and a key are in, and I've started labelling. I'll probably use a serif font for the forest labels, and hope that everything doesn't get too busy once all the town labels are in.

    Thanks for the dragon rise comment! That was a lot of fun. The height interval is 250m below 1000 and 500m thereafter. When I first started drawing this I had the contours much further apart but then I realised that in real life you get fairly sudden transitions from plains to mountains, so I really tried to bunch them up. I have tried to get a climb of 3000m+ within 30km horizontally. That seems to be roughly real for a steep mountain/plains transition.

    I've also put longitudes and latitudes in, and here's where it starts to be really nonsensical - at this scale the curvature of the planet would be significant and I have just kept it on an equirectangular projection which of course makes the scale inaccurate. Messing around with projections will have to wait till the next map!

    What are people's experiences with labelling? How do you make labels stand out and how many is too many?

    All about the contours-contours_upload3.jpg

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      Llannagh is offline
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    Jesus. I tried something with contours once and almost jumped out of my apartment window because I found it so excruciatingly tiresome. Big respect for pulling that off! Also, the map so far looks terrific! This is already has the potential for an award!

    As for the font I have to say I rather like the one you're using right now. It's clear and informative, same as the rest of the map. I think if you were to pick a more artsy one that would make it hard to read in the end.

    Again, big respect! Have some rep.

  10. #10
      Corilliant is online now
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    Dayum. Contour lines are a nightmare.
    This is pretty darn good. Have some rep...

    Sometimes labels can be transparent. It helps, if you want to show information underneath the text.
    My only critique would be the key (and that's trivial), it's a little clogged up at the moment perhaps.

    Still. Dayum. :3
    Be afraid; be very afraid.

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