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Thread: Looking for some critical feedback on Star Wars maps

  1. #1
    Guild Novice Maveritchell's Avatar
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    Map Looking for some critical feedback on Star Wars maps

    Hi,

    I've recently been trying my hand at making some top-down maps for a campaign I'm GMing in Edge of the Empire. The community around that game isn't much of one for using maps, and so I'm dying trying to get a little feedback on my work.

    I'm not a great artist, and so my style for the maps has been adapted into a looser (more cartoon-like) style than I often see in maps on this forum. If anyone has any thoughts on what I'm doing right/wrong and where I could improve, I'd appreciate it. Below are a couple links to galleries of maps I've already made and used.

    Bendu's Shadow - Imgur
    Stalitz Flight - Imgur
    Mos Shuuta Expanded - Imgur

    Thanks in advance for any feedback!

  2. #2
    Guild Novice Maveritchell's Avatar
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    Since appear to have found another forum at which I am obviously barking up the wrong tree looking for feedback, does anyone have any recommendations for a forum that is more receptive to giving feedback to a newbie? I'd just like the opportunity to learn, and it's very frustrating not being able to find the right place to learn from. Thanks for any help!

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      Freodin is offline
    Guild Adept Freodin's Avatar
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    Don't get upset... sometimes it takes a little for a thread to produce responses.

    As for "critical" feedback: sorry, I cannot offer a lot. Your maps look very nice: clean and professional. You have obviously put a lot of effort into them. There seem to be some little inconsistenies with the shading of walls, but otherwise I'd say they are great.

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      Bogie is offline
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    As Freodin said, some threads take longer to get a response. Posting the pictures directly on the thread instead of a link to an offsite photo site helps a lot.

    Many of the people here are more into maps than top down battlemaps but there is a good crew here that do make them. As far as constructive criticism, I don't do Sci Fi maps, but again I agree with Freodin, your maps are nice and clean and professional, the ships look very good. I would call your style more architectural rather than cartoonish, and that works well for the ships. The main advice I would give you is on the underground maps. The lighting should not extend out over the wall.

    Like this: Looking for some critical feedback on Star Wars maps-wall-lights-2.jpg Not like this: Looking for some critical feedback on Star Wars maps-wall-lights-1.jpg

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    Guild Artisan Jacktannery's Avatar
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    I really like your maps Maveritchell. I hadn't seen them before because I rarely go to the Sci-Fi forum. I agree with Bogie that if you post up your pictures here on this site its easier to get comments and I also agree with his critique.

    I would also add:
    -I particularly like the falling-lights effect and transparent walkways in Stalitz Map 5.
    -Although I really want to like Stalitz Map 4 because of its Picasso-like trash, the corridor texture doesn't really work and it is difficult to see what's going on at a glance (ie to differentiate between walls and passages - its only the lights that tell you which is which). But I still love it.

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    Guild Novice Maveritchell's Avatar
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    Thanks, and I hope I didn't come across as too whiny there - I'm a little frustrated for having spent as much time on these as I have and getting basically nil community response (from the game's community). There's a little (undue) spillover here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogie View Post
    I would call your style more architectural rather than cartoonish, and that works well for the ships.
    This sort've gets closer to where I feel my weakest abilities lie. "Architectural" is a good adjective, and like you mention, it works fine in a deckplan. The issue comes when I try to work on exterior stuff. E.g.

    Looking for some critical feedback on Star Wars maps-ty_woodlands_sm.png

    When I move to more natural settings - and this is a personal weakness of mine in 3D modeling as well - I have a hard time working with the fluidity of more organic objects (trees, rocks, statues, etc.) and naturally capturing how lighting/shading works on them. In the above images, making rocks gave me fits - I ended up having to find specific rock images to use as reference (which is fine for one or two, but if I want to make several variations it becomes an exercise in silliness). I had similar issues with trees, to the point where I ended up making only one "type" of tree. A lot of this is because I lean so heavily on a schematic-type drawing, and I don't know what the best way to meld that style with some of the more organic components of maps is.

    The other big thing is that I find myself leaning heavily on real textures for natural floors/terrain. I don't know if there's a better way to integrate that "natural" ground in with my style, which uses a prominent (and obviously unrealistic) border. You can see the issue in the above map as well - I'm really light on the foliage and the terrain can feel barren.
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    Guild Artisan Jacktannery's Avatar
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    Yeah I see what you mean - your rocks are brilliant but your trees need a bit of lightening up - why don't you try reducing the thickness of the black lines on the trees by 50%.

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    Guild Member Scot Harvest's Avatar
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    Is this a play surface of just a representation of the area for players to get a feel? No hexes?

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    Guild Novice Maveritchell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scot Harvest View Post
    Is this a play surface of just a representation of the area for players to get a feel? No hexes?
    It's (optionally) gridded (64*64 = 5'x5' grid). I only uploaded the non-gridded pictures to the albums because it's hard enough to get people that play EotE interested in maps, much less tactical maps. When I'm working with metal/tile floors, you can usually see some hint of the grid even if there's not a grid overlay - most floor tiles end up using 64*64 or 128*128 anyway.

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      atpollard is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maveritchell View Post
    I'm really light on the foliage and the terrain can feel barren.
    So much of what you are asking comes down to personal taste, that it is hard to know what will help you.

    So I will start with some general advice that works for me.
    ... check out the maps of buildings and villages done by others. Don't worry about whether their subject matter is even remotely related to what interests you, just SEE the variety of graphic styles and techniques and let that stir your imagination to the possibilities available to you. I like the WIP (work in progress) threads because they let you see HOW it is created. If you spot some interesting technique on a drawing that you like but don't really see how they did it ... then ask them. That's how I learn new things here, and the primary reason that I like to come here. I don't really draw many medieval/renaissance maps on aged parchment ... but I can see and learn new things even by studying how other's create old parchment.

    Three specific examples, to illustrate the above:
    1. I saw a technique on a border for a map that looked like words carved into marble. I asked the artist how he did that and he gave me some photoshop advice. Create the text in white and set the layer to 'darken'. This makes the text invisible. Now apply features like bevel and emboss to the text. The text is still invisible, but the effects are visible and the words are carved into the background. Here is an example of how I used the technique to create a key for a larger map:
    Looking for some critical feedback on Star Wars maps-1-carve.jpg

    2. The same techniques that make parchment look realistically aged (multiple layers of 'grunge' overlaid at a very low opacity) will work for making the metal floor in a starship cargo bay look aged. Like this:
    Looking for some critical feedback on Star Wars maps-2a-metal.jpgLooking for some critical feedback on Star Wars maps-2b-platetexture.jpg

    3. The tutorial for creating a medieval fantasy map of a continent, can be used to create a planet for a space opera game. Like this:
    Looking for some critical feedback on Star Wars maps-3-samplemap.jpg



    Now for some specific advice for your plants:
    This is something I did for my last project ... they wanted a spaceship crashed on a barren world with mutated forest of giant ferns spreading from the crashed ship ... so the colors are probably not something that you will want to reuse, but the technique might give you some ideas (or you will decide that this is not the look that you want, so then go check out the other village maps and find a style that is what you are looking for).

    1. start with the sand/dirt that the plants will cover:
    Looking for some critical feedback on Star Wars maps-1-sand.jpg

    2. add some sort of groundcover. Note that the layer is not 100% opaque so the sand can still show through ... nature likes to blend patterns and textures and colors on subtle layers. One thing that I tend to like in photoshop is to use the render clouds filter to create soft light and dark areas in each layer ... experiment to find what you like.
    Looking for some critical feedback on Star Wars maps-2-groundcover.jpg

    3. create a pattern for plants; notice that it is not particularly realistic to any individual plant, the goal is to create naturalistic patterns of light, dark and shades of color. Create a stamp for the plants and use that to make a black and white mask for the plant pattern layer. Apply the mask to the pattern and add and special features ... I often like to add a small shadow to just hint that the plants are above the groundcover. Depending on the type of plant, you might want to set the layer at less than 100% opaque. With some plants, you catch glimpses of the ground below them through gaps in the leaves.
    Looking for some critical feedback on Star Wars maps-3a-plantstexture.jpgLooking for some critical feedback on Star Wars maps-3b-plantsmask.jpgLooking for some critical feedback on Star Wars maps-3c-plants.jpg

    4. next I place a white grid set at 15% opaque. I adjust the opacity of the grid so that it is as light as I can make it and still keep it usable. The exact opacity is different for every map ... some are even as low as 2% or 3%. As a rule, I tend to prefer black grids over a light background and light grids over a dark background, but always as faint as I can live with. In this particular case, I placed the grid above the plants/shrubs and below the fern trees because I didn't want the grid to distract from the trees. If the shrub/plants had been more scattered, I would probably have placed the grid under the shrubs as well, but these shrubs were too close together, so I moved the grid up a layer.
    Looking for some critical feedback on Star Wars maps-4-grid-15pct.jpg

    5. Repeat the same technique as the plants/shrubs for the trees. Texture. Mask. Shadow. Note the shadow is larger and the trees are actually 90% opaque. I had to make them fairly opaque because the trees were so light and the plants so dark. Normally, I would make the trees more transparent and the shrubs much lighter ... so you could see both.
    Looking for some critical feedback on Star Wars maps-5a-treetexture.jpgLooking for some critical feedback on Star Wars maps-5b-treemask.jpgLooking for some critical feedback on Star Wars maps-5c-tree-90pct.jpg



    Another tree technique that I used once and liked was to create opaque tree trunks (like for a battle map or a typical plan view of a column), then overlay each trunk with branches at around 50% opaque (so you could see both the branch and what was below the tree), and then I overlaid the branches with a top view of a tree at about 25% opacity.

    So there are some ideas.
    I hope they are helpful.
    Last edited by atpollard; 09-23-2013 at 02:20 PM.
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