Map (Click to enlarge)
Created in: Gimp
Our latest featured map, The Domains of Heva and Surrounding Lands, is drawn by Helium3. Helium3's objective was to create a map in the style of a coloured woodcut. The final result is a beautiful amalgam of Japanese Ukioye, traditional European Woodcut and Fantasy. The outstanding points to this map are the cartographer's individual style and the beautiful simplicity of the composition.
I suppose you could say that I started working on this map in January of 2007, when I put together a piece for ENWorld's map contest for their War of the Burning Sky campaign saga. I decided pretty early on while doing that piece that I wanted something that looked sort of like a medieval woodcut print. I did some google searching to get a better idea of what that might look like and stumbled across the famous Hokusai print "The Great Wave off Kanagawa." I had seen that image many times before but when I saw it this time, I knew that I wanted my map to have bold colors with no shading other than what could be done with black ink-like lines.
I was never very happy with my WotBS entry and kept playing with ways to make what I was imagining in my head real. After playing around I eventually fixed most of what I didn't like about the original piece by:
(1) Discovering the GIMP software package and using it to finally get my line based shading right (big thanks to S. John Ross for his tutorial on how to make woodcut style water.)
(2) Realizing how critical it is to keep the thickness of your line's consistent, even if you draw something larger and then scale it down.
(3) Working out a procedure that allowed me to draw something in Inkscape and then render it into what looked like a hand-drawn line, even though it wasn't.
As for what the map depicts, it's the basic starting map for a 3.5 edition D&D game I'll probably start running in January. I'm putting together a website for my players that will contain all the necessary character generation content. One of the things they'll need to decide on is where their characters are from, this map is for that section. Also, because I did it in an SVG program, I'll be able to zoom in and use it for smaller regional maps and other things.
I'm not quite sure what my next project is going to be. I just got a cheap copy of Illustrator CS2 off EBay and I'm itching to see what I can do with that package. I've got a couple of maps I need to put together for my Heva campaign, but there are some other maps I've wanted to work on just to play around. Only time will tell. I've been really impressed by the stuff that TheRedEpic has been posting lately, and I'm desperate to see if I can put together something that looks even a quarter as good. But, it would be a completely new style for me, which means another year or so to get to a point where I'm producing something I even like.
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