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Thread: A map to accompany a story

  1. #1
    Community Leader Gracious Donor ravells's Avatar
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    Post A map to accompany a story

    In another post, we were bemoaning the fact that the quality of maps that you generally get in fantasy books is pretty dire. So I decided to start writing a story and illustrating it with a map at the same time. The idea here is that there are going to be a lot of text labels which I will fill in as the story continues. I would like the reader to to be able to find the location of every significant place mentioned in the story.

    In terms of style I went for something quite simple, but I hope effective. I'm still debating whether to keep the blue of the sea or to make it white. I've been wanting to use the Caledra font for ages, so here it is. It's not the clearest and only does capital letters (which means one less means of distinguishing places by type - (e.g. using all caps for say, regions and upper and lower case for cities) but in this case I actually quite like the fact that the reader has to actively search out locations in the map. I've only used Caledra for the place names. The title and the legend, symbols on the right are in a font called Flat Earth Scribe which is also on Blambot.

    In terms of the map itself, I used Fractal Terrains to generate a coastline I liked (although I wish now I had used RobA's threshold technique which would have given me more control over the shape of the coastlines) and then after some touching up in PSP imported the basic coastline into Serif Drawplus using the autotrace function so the coastline was a vector shape. In my usual lazy way, rather than drawing the areas of woods individually, I filled the entire coastline shape with the wood fill and used a seamless tiling transparency mask which gave quite pleasing organic type shapes. Same with the mountains where I made a seamlessly tiling mountain pattern using the woodcut tutorial Don posted a link to. That tutorial is serious gold dust.

    I've attached the beginning of the (hackneyed, badly written) story, so you can see how I intend it to come together.

    C&Cs most gratefully received!

    Ravs
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails story.pdf   Click image for larger version. 

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    Community Leader Torq's Avatar
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    No crits. Just want to say what a great map that is. Love the understated palette. Havn't read the story yet, but I'm about to.

    Torq
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    Community Leader Gracious Donor ravells's Avatar
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    Thanks Torq! I've coloured it, but think it's better as it was before. Three different schemes. I think I prefer the second one.
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    Community Leader pyrandon's Avatar
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    Excellent map, Ravs! I'll read that story ASAP, but just wanted to chime in that I like the map a lot. I think the vividly colored version (if desaturated just a tad) is my favorite.

    The "squareness" of the forest edges is a bit distracting; they look like giant pixelations, which contrasts with the organic feel of the coasts. Also, the forest fill itself is a bit to much like static for my tastes. The font choice is a good one, though, and adds a lot--as do the dual compass roses. Very nice! Also, I have no idea what "annual windages" are, but I love that aspect of the map! Intriguing.

    Great job (as always), Ravs! Nice post.
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    Community Leader Gracious Donor ravells's Avatar
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    Thanks Don! When seen up close the forest edges look horrible, I'll repair that with the clone tool in PSP after the map is done otherwise I'd have to pretty much start over - pixellation seems to be an occupational hazard with vector drawing programmes. I might use the woodcut tutorial to make a handmade forest fill to see what that looks like - that tutorial is sooooo handy. The 'annual windages' was just an idea I had to add lots of little symbols, charts and tables down the right hand side of the map, that one shows wind direction prevalence for each month of the year.

    Cheers!

    Ravs

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    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
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    I like the month icons. Are those original?

    And since this map uses those navigation lines, I am prompted to ask: is there somewhere I can go to learn what those mean? I have not much knowledge of nautical lore, unfortunately.
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  7. #7

    Info I clean up vector traced outline graphics

    I often use the "Autotrace" feature in Xara, which like Serif will create ugly pixelized edging sometimes. If a portion of the outline is extremely "pixelated", I view all the points created in the polyline shape and search for ones that need deleted or moved to an improved shape. Sometimes I use a combination of hand-drawn shapes within the vector application as well as relying on "Autotrace".

    Just a suggestion.

    Nice maps Ravs!
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    Guild Adept Valarian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ravells View Post
    Thanks Torq! I've coloured it, but think it's better as it was before. Three different schemes. I think I prefer the second one.
    I agree with you. I like the second one best. The muted colours work with the style of map. I don't necessarily agree about the maps drawn by authors being all bad. Janny Wurts draws all her own maps and illustrations for her books. This is an online example of the Paravia map for her Wars of Light and Shadow series, which I can heartily recommend. Personally, I think it has elegance in it's simplicity.
    Last edited by Valarian; 10-22-2007 at 07:03 AM.
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    Community Leader Gracious Donor ravells's Avatar
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    Midgard: No, the symbols actually come from a font, but as I'm at the office I can't look it up here. I'll tell you the name when I get home although I can't remember where I got the font from. I find that symbol fonts are a real underused resource in maps. As they are vector based you can expand them all you like. The navigaion lines are called Rhumb Lines. If you wiki them, you 'll get more info on them.

    Gameprinter: I should go through the map and deal with the pixellations, but I was too lazy! Interestingly, the forest pixellation didn't come from the auto-trace, but the bitmap mask I used which was 512 x 512 - I guess I should have used more resolution. I tend to draw my maps over an A4 size document which I think is a mistake, as although this doesn't affect the vector part of Drawplus, the bitmaps look pixellated over large shapes.

    Valarian: Sorry I didn't mean to imply that all maps drawn by authors are awful. The Hilderbrant brothers (although they were more artists than authors) produced beauties and I've seen a few that I really like - that Paravia map is beauty, very evocative. That said there are a lot which are really pretty bad.

    I think one of the restrictions one has to work within is that the map will be printed in black and white on at best two facing pages of a paperback. This map is already looking like it has too many colours in it to be printed in a mass produced cheap paperback. I believe (maybe gameprinter can help here) that putting in one monochromatic colour would still be possible without pushing the cost of the book unduly high. This was why initially I started by just using a pallette of black and green, but more an more colours snuck in.

    Ravs

  10. #10
    Guild Adept Valarian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ravells View Post
    I think one of the restrictions one has to work within is that the map will be printed in black and white on at best two facing pages of a paperback. This map is already looking like it has too many colours in it to be printed in a mass produced cheap paperback. I believe (maybe gameprinter can help here) that putting in one monochromatic colour would still be possible without pushing the cost of the book unduly high. This was why initially I started by just using a pallette of black and green, but more an more colours snuck in.
    I've just done a quick greyscale conversion of the second image and it looked fine. I wouldn't have thought there'd be a problem with printing a colour inset for the map. The colours would probably have to be on the Pantone palette to print well.
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