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Thread: Regional RPG hex map

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    SJS
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    Wip Regional RPG hex map

    This map will serve its purpose, but I wouldn't mind tips on how to also make it look good. (Hence my question in How Do I? regarding nice borders and legends.)

    Regional RPG hex map-keyguardians-regional.jpg

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      Freodin is offline
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    Some things that I think you could do to make the map more appealing:

    1. Add a border. It can be a simple box or an elaborate pattern as in the map from your question-link: a border helps to set you map apart and it can provide some kind of "anchor" for things like the title or the key.

    2. Be careful with your text. I am referring mostly to your labels in this case. Deforming labels should be kept simple, if it is necessary at all. Dropshadows only fit within certain styles - not for a map that is kept simple as yours is, in my view. In this map, they also clash with the outer glow effect you applied to the labels. You should also avoid white for this outer glow... it stands out to much.

    The hex-map from your link is a good example of simple but effective labeling. It doesn't use unnecessary distortions and manages to make the labels visible without adding to much overblown effects.

    In your case, you could try several things.
    You could use the outer glow as a mask to erase / blend out the area surrounding the labels.
    You could go the way of the linked map: make the labels and the icons different in brightness... either by making the icons or the text a grey tone.
    Or you could colour the labels. In my view, a suble red or perhaps green would provide a nice contrast to the rest of the map.

    3. Next, you could add some texture to the map. A subtle parchment or paper texture - something with a little structure - can add a lot to the optics. Again, the map you linked to demonstrates it very well.
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    SJS
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    Thanks for taking the time to provide this feedback. These are really excellent suggestions. I really like your idea of "making the icons or the text a grey tone". I also like the idea of using "the outer glow as a mask" - presumably by setting it to that background yellow rather than white. I can see how that, and removing the drop shadow, would improve the readability of the map. Adding a subtle paper effect would be good too.

    The border is of course a good suggestion, though I might not implement it for this map. I need to print this one out, and I've foolishly put key areas very close to the edge of the paper, leaving little room for a border without resizing everything (a level of perfectionism not necessary for this project). But that's a good lesson for the next project. It may be worth putting a border around the legend though, for which there is room.

    I will also look at coloring the labels. I have a subtle color (a dark blue) on the river labels, but I could try green or red.

    Thanks for also looking at my other post. For the record, I'll add a link to the example map here just to have it. It's Skyradran and Surrounds, which I found in this site's gallery.

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    SJS
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    Here's a small update implementing some of the suggestions.

    Regional RPG hex map-keyguardians-regional-v2.jpg

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      Freodin is offline
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    That's looking quite nice, isn't it?

    Perhaps you should, for consistency's sake, change the numbered markers to the shadowless style also... and you might try to play with their colouration a bit (change the glow to the same red? Do the numbers in red and make the glow black?).
    (Question aside: is there a reason why the marker in the "Borderland" wood is called B2?)

    Also, you seem to have missed the "County Ironbroke" in the change of label style.

    But in every other regard, I'd say this is a very nice, clear and functional map now.

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    SJS
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    Quote Originally Posted by Freodin View Post
    That's looking quite nice, isn't it?

    Perhaps you should, for consistency's sake, change the numbered markers to the shadowless style also... and you might try to play with their colouration a bit (change the glow to the same red? Do the numbers in red and make the glow black?).
    (Question aside: is there a reason why the marker in the "Borderland" wood is called B2?)

    Also, you seem to have missed the "County Ironbroke" in the change of label style.

    But in every other regard, I'd say this is a very nice, clear and functional map now.
    Yes, I noticed I missed one of the labels - thanks for that. I also need to check that they are all the same font size, as I lowered the size slightly.

    As to whether I should change the numbered locations - yes I should, but I was also trying to decide at the same time how I wanted to handle the fonts map-wide.

    I have several different types of labels:

    1. General regions (e.g., "Misty Wood")
    2. Towns
    3. Rivers
    4. Keyed locations (the numbers)

    One option would be to render them all the same. Another option would be to render them all the same except for one feature (e.g., font size -or- color -or- layer style -or- font face). Another option would be to render them all different on more than one feature.

    I want to decide a theme before I make these adjustments, but some advice would be helpful. Currently there's no rhyme or reason to these settings. At first I went with wanting the font itself to indicate that there were 4 levels of labels, but not deciding on how they should indicate that, I made them all different on most features.

    I like the regional font face as it has that Lord of the Rings look, but it is an all-caps font and probably not appropriate for more specific features. The font I chose for the town labels has an old-fashioned, hand-drawn look to it, but it may not necessarily blend with the LOTR font. The other two fonts are plainer. A plain font is especially appropriate to the keyed locations, as it indicates something meta about the map, and wouldn't be on an "actual map" made within the world it represents. But still, there may be too much going on?

    As for B2, that was just a special location key. This is a regional map for D&D. It's a world of my creation, but that world includes some locations from TSR's published adventures, the one shown on this map is B2: Keep on the Borderlands (hence B2). I'm running a campaign for my kids, and they will have returned from the Keep to start a new adventure north of the River Misty.

    I agree the map is looking better and thank you for the help!

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      Freodin is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by SJS View Post
    I like the regional font face as it has that Lord of the Rings look, but it is an all-caps font and probably not appropriate for more specific features. The font I chose for the town labels has an old-fashioned, hand-drawn look to it, but it may not necessarily blend with the LOTR font. The other two fonts are plainer. A plain font is especially appropriate to the keyed locations, as it indicates something meta about the map, and wouldn't be on an "actual map" made within the world it represents. But still, there may be too much going on?
    I understand you totally. Getting the fonts right can be difficult, and it is aggravating when you have found a nice font, but it doesn't come in the font-stlye you need. (Do you know how hard it is to find a left-leaning font? ) This is especially true for the more "fancy" fonts, which usually only come in one variant.

    But in your case, I don't think that it should be that much of a problem. All of the fonts you used for the main map are variants of the classical antiqua type, and they don't really clash with each other. The only font that stands out is the uncial type that you used for the key. You might try to change that and see how it looks.
    For the rest of the labels, you could use some kind of standard font, and go for the "all caps", "plain" and "italic" versions to differate between regions, towns and rivers respectively. Best way to find out... try it and see if it suits you.

    But as I said: personally I think it is quite fine as it is now.

    As for B2, that was just a special location key. This is a regional map for D&D. It's a world of my creation, but that world includes some locations from TSR's published adventures, the one shown on this map is B2: Keep on the Borderlands (hence B2). I'm running a campaign for my kids, and they will have returned from the Keep to start a new adventure north of the River Misty.
    Ah, I see. I missed the "2" on your map initially (which shows that you really should change the style... or that I need a new pair of glasses)... so I wondered why of all the numbers, only the "2" had a letter before it.
    That could serve as a reminder for all map makers: Never underestimate the stupidity of your readers!

    I agree the map is looking better and thank you for the help!
    I don't think it was that much of help... sometimes it is just enough to have an outsider look at your work. And of course it helps as well that you started of with a pretty good map.

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    SJS
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    Definitely it is much help, for whatever reason. Thanks again!

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    SJS
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    Some of the above-discussed ideas have been implemented below, plus I fixed the lousy cave symbol (was blurry) that I had been using before.

    Regional RPG hex map-wx4wjic.jpg

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