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Thread: Testing map style for a fantasy setting

  1. #1
      Ghostman is offline
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    Post Testing map style for a fantasy setting

    This is an experimental map for a fantasy setting of my creation, called Savage Age, which I'm working on at the Campaign Builders' Guild. This regional map shows the southern portions of Euria. Most of the space is hogged up by the southern lands of the Argyrian Empire; only the lands to the east are free from it's domination.

    There are still many locations left unnamed. The "town"-level settlements will probably never be named, and smaller towns aren't even shown on this scale. The road network only shows the major, highly trafficked roads. I used Wag's brushes for the mountains.

    Some things I'd especially appreciate feedback on:
    • Do you think that the rivers look good? I tried to make them more clearly visible by making a copy of the blue river layer, coloring it black and blurring it, then placing it under the original layer. But I think it's making the narrowest rivers appear too dark.
    • Is there too much variation of fonts and text colors? I've used different fonts for the names of seas, mountains, land areas and cities/other symbols. I've also made use of different letter cases (for example, capital cities have their names in caps, other cities in lowercase).
    • What do you think about the combination of textured landscape & forests with symbolic mountains? I haven't been able to come up with a method to create good-looking mountains without going for a "satellite photo" style (which I don't want to use because I don't think it sets the right kind of feel), but I didn't want to resort to black & white hand-drawn style either. This is the best compromise I've managed so far.
    • Are the forest edges too blurry? Would tree symbols work better than textured forest for this style of map?
    • Should I add texture or do other things with the sea? I'm not going to represent variations of depth in any way, but maybe a covering pattern representing waves, or some faded striping by the shores could make it look nicer?

    Be warned that the file is fairly big: 4000x2200 pixels.

    (EDIT: updated map)
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Testing map style for a fantasy setting-sa-euria-south.jpg  
    Last edited by Ghostman; 08-09-2009 at 03:51 PM.

  2. #2
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Steel General's Avatar
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    Looks pretty nice so far.

    Here's my opinions on your specific questions...

    1. Rivers - Though I only did a quick scan of the map, everything seemed OK - no major 'violations'
    2. Fonts - My opinion is you try never to use more than 3 different fonts, and you should limit the variations in font size to as few as possible.
    3. Textures -vs- Symbols - Personally I would stick with one style or the other.
    4. Oceans/Seas - You could try the wood cut effect many folks use to great effect.
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      AslanC is offline
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    It looks awesome! I love the way the coastline flows.

  4. #4
      cereth is offline
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    Do you think that the rivers look good? I tried to make them more clearly visible by making a copy of the blue river layer, coloring it black and blurring it, then placing it under the original layer. But I think it's making the narrowest rivers appear too dark.
    Honesty, I think the rivers are a little too close to the land color (shade-wise I guess) and are a little difficult to see. Maybe if the the landmass was just a touch darker maybe the rivers would be easier to see. The blur you put around the rivers helps, but they are still a little hard to see I think.

    Is there too much variation of fonts and text colors? I've used different fonts for the names of seas, mountains, land areas and cities/other symbols. I've also made use of different letter cases (for example, capital cities have their names in caps, other cities in lowercase).
    I like the text. The different fonts and colors work for me. The text with the white outline really pops.

    What do you think about the combination of textured landscape & forests with symbolic mountains? I haven't been able to come up with a method to create good-looking mountains without going for a "satellite photo" style (which I don't want to use because I don't think it sets the right kind of feel), but I didn't want to resort to black & white hand-drawn style either. This is the best compromise I've managed so far.
    The combination works fine for me. I like the forests...I still think the landmass color needs to be slightly darker. This would make the forests, coastline, and rivers all pop more. Maybe a similar bluring technique like you did on the rivers would help the coastline as well.

    Are the forest edges too blurry? Would tree symbols work better than textured forest for this style of map?
    Maybe a tad too blurry, but it's not a deal breaker for me. I think the slightly darker landmass might negate it a little too.

    Should I add texture or do other things with the sea? I'm not going to represent variations of depth in any way, but maybe a covering pattern representing waves, or some faded striping by the shores could make it look nicer?
    I like the really basic sea with just the linen texture. There's enough else going on in the map that I think anything more added to the sea might just be distracting.

    I really dig that Imperial Eagle symbol thingee over that capital city, and the other little images. They really add to the flavor of the map. I like the border a lot as well, Though I would personally tone the shading around the border down a notch or two.

    Very consistent, strong looking map overall!
    Last edited by cereth; 08-02-2009 at 01:32 PM.
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      Eilathen is offline
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    Nice map, i dig it.

    Can you link directly to your thread on the CBG? That'd be great.
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      töff is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steel General View Post
    Rivers - Though I only did a quick scan of the map, everything seemed OK - no major 'violations'
    Estuaries

    Ocean has a light blue outline. River has a dark outline. Trouble at the meet!

    Should I just make myself an "Estuary Police" badge?

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      Ascension is offline
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    I'm fine with everything except for something that I am of two minds about...the forests. Since you are using icons (spearman, knight, winged staff) and continuing that over with the mountains - the style would dictate the use of icons for the forests as well. Here's the rub, though. The green color really makes the map pop. So how to combine the two and make it just as nice. Surely you could just color in the leafy parts of the trees but that might look weird. So my thought is that you should leave the forests as is and concentrate on the mountains. How to do those and make them fit? I dunno, my brain is sorta fried right now. I'll try to get back to you tonight after my brain relaxes. Overall, though, it looks very nice.
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  8. #8
      Ghostman is offline
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    Thanks everyone, for your replies!

    Quote Originally Posted by Steel General View Post
    Fonts - My opinion is you try never to use more than 3 different fonts, and you should limit the variations in font size to as few as possible.
    Textures -vs- Symbols - Personally I would stick with one style or the other.
    Oceans/Seas - You could try the wood cut effect many folks use to great effect.
    Currently I'm using 4 fonts:

    * Dalelands Semi-Expanded for overland placenames,
    * Aniron for mountain ranges,
    * Bard for seas and lakes, and
    * Verdana (Bold) for cities and symbols

    I want to avoid confusion between political/place names and the names of mountains, so I want to keep these as different fonts. Cities and symbols need to use a font that remains readable at small size. That leaves the bodies of water as the sole candidate for a font change. I guess I could use Aniron for them too - going with the theme of geographical features. But I really like the "maritime" vibe that Bard gives me. Variation in font size is pretty much inevitable, since the size of the geographical features varies so much, and the labels need to communicate (roughly) how far those features extend.

    Perhaps I should give symbolized forests a try. The landscape will remain mildly texturized though. If only I could make mountains like Pasis...

    About the woodcut effect - do you know any tutorials for that? I've seen it used in many a great map here, but I haven't figured out exactly how they do it.


    Quote Originally Posted by cereth View Post
    Honesty, I think the rivers are a little too close to the land color (shade-wise I guess) and are a little difficult to see. Maybe if the the landmass was just a touch darker maybe the rivers would be easier to see.

    [...]

    Maybe a similar bluring technique like you did on the rivers would help the coastline as well.
    Thanks for the comments! I'll try and see what I can do about this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eilathen View Post
    Can you link directly to your thread on the CBG? That'd be great.
    Sadly, I'm quite disorganized as a world builder, so my stuff is spread out over many threads. Nevertheless, here's some CBG links for you:

    Random Savage Age Stuff
    Religions
    Technology and Civilization
    Races
    The Seven Elements

    Quote Originally Posted by töff View Post
    Estuaries
    What's so bad about estuaries? They're cool features

    Quote Originally Posted by töff View Post
    Ocean has a light blue outline. River has a dark outline. Trouble at the meet!
    Putting that same dark outline to the coasts might solve this. I do prefer to keep the rivers at the same shade of blue as the coastal waters, though.

  9. #9
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Steel General's Avatar
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    Check Ascension's Antique map tutorial, I'm about 99% sure he uses the woodcut effect in there. I'm sure there are several other tutorials as well.

    The 3 font "rule" is just my personal preference - if 4 fonts works better for you then by all means use them.
    My Finished Maps | My Challenge Maps | Ghoraja Juun, my largely stagnated campaign setting.

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  10. #10
      Tear is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steel General View Post
    The 3 font "rule" is just my personal preference
    I'm in the same boat.

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