This is just a small test map trying to nail down a style. I'm pretty happy with it. This took about two hours with writing down my steps for a personal tutorial. Please let me know what you all think about it.
My Finished Maps
Works in Progress(or abandoned tests)
Explanation of Layer Masks in GIMP
How to create ISO Mountains in GIMP/PS using the Smudge tool
Unless otherwise stated by me in the post, all work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
I like the style quite a bit, especially the look of the mountains. There is a disparity, though, between the detail level of the mountains and everything else. The mountains are excessively blurry in comparison to, say, the forests or the coastal lines.
Also, there is a definite texture to the water that makes it look painted on canvas, but the land doesn't have that texture. I think it would be more persuasive if either the texture was applied to the entire image or the land was given a very slight bevel, to make it look like the paint is thicker there. I'm not sure how well that latter idea would work, but it would be an interesting experiment.
I like the town icons, and most of your labels are very easy to read. Daleray should probably be moved off of the mountains--it doesn't contrast very well there, and I had to lean forward to read it.
I applied the sea texture to the land. I hadn't intended for it to look like it were on canvas, but I guess that's what I ended up with. See if you all can notice that it flows across the land now, too.
That's a big improvement to my eye. I'm not sure about the white stroke on your labels. It improves Daleroy (I now know that that's an 'o' and not an 'a', for instance), but the other labels have had their legibility reduced slightly. In this instance, I think it's appropriate to sacrifice some unity for the sake of legibility. That's just one opinion, though. I'd like to hear what some of the others have to say, especially those with better artistic sensibilities than mine.
Are you using Photoshop for this?
Yes I'm using photoshop. I'm happy with most the map and the labels can be changed pretty easily. The mountains look like an eyesore to me, though. I'm not sure why. It might be that they contrast way too much... I don't know. Any suggestions welcome
It appears that you have a drop shadow on the mountains, so I'd nix that as the added darkness draws attention. But mainly, I think that the only thing I really see wrong with the mountains is the color, it doesn't mesh with the others. As far as fixing that, well, that's personal taste but I would go for something a lil more orange and washed out. Looks pretty good though so my 2 cents can be put in the change cup at the gas station if you like.
If the radiance of a thousand suns was to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One...I am become Death, the Shatterer of worlds.
-J. Robert Oppenheimer (father of the atom bomb) alluding to The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 11, Verse 32)
My Maps ~ My Brushes ~ My Tutorials ~ My Challenge Maps
I think Ascension nailed it. The shadow makes it look as if the mountains are "Floating" above the ground. That should be an easy fix, but the shape of the mountains are great!
I like your woodland texture, and your icons for the towns.
The only thing that I would say as a criticism is that I think you should somehow show hills rising up to the mountains, because the rest of the map looks pretty flat.