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Thread: Middle Sea Region Map

  1. #1

    Post Middle Sea Region Map

    Hello, everyone!

    This is my first post in the 'Finished Maps' section of the forum. For those who do not know who I am (I am very new, here) my name is Justin David Russell. I'm a freelance illustratour working in traditional media (in most cases. Though this map is a slight deviation from that theme). So, without further ado, my map...

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Middle Sea Region Map - Colour.jpg 
Views:	1471 
Size:	2.10 MB 
ID:	37596

    Above you see the finished version. I am going to give a quick tutorial for this piece.

    Part 1. Ideas: Before I start any project, I think of what I want to say and how I want to say it. First, I knew I wanted to create a world I could run an AD&D campaign on. I have been listening to the 'Krull' soundtrack for many weeks, and had that concept of high adventure stuck in my brain. The feeling for this world was very specific. I wanted to use the traditional AD&D rules, so there was some familiarity for the players (who are strict D&D-style archetypes people). I wanted a world that had a clear division between evil and good. Traditionally I stray from the conventions of many AD&D rules since I like to create unique and captivating environments and situations (as well as creatures) for my players. But this world I wanted to represent a classic feeling of epic adventure and questing. Now, normally, I draw the map, first, and write the rules, later. This time I started writing, first, and let the words define some of the boundaries and feel of the place. Throughout the process of creating worlds like this, establishing and maintaining a ambiance, or atmosphere, is paramount. I strive to make sure the text and world map gel and support one another. Creating a fantasy campaign is not just about the art, or the writing. It's both. I make sure, the entire time I am working, to surround myself with material and music that 'puts me there'.

    Part 2: Picking Out The Land Mass(es): Many times in the past I have struggled over what to make my worlds look like. How to define their coasts, &c. However, lately, I have begun an interesting method that works for me very well. I find maps of my favourite places on the earth, or flip through atlases, until I find something that strikes me. I then take a portion of that place, or a combination of places, and use that for the world. Of course, I fill the land mass(es) as I see fit. I always make sure that I am 'in' that place, and keep myself open for anything that strikes me. Sometimes the maps I look at can give me great ideas for stories and land features. If I really like something, I will include it. As an example, a recent map (I will not include it, here) was a portion of the Isle of Skye. This map, is a combination of ideas inspired by images in an 'Ultima' atlas and some maps for the 'Redwall' series. Once I have my ideas, and a feel for the landscape, I start drawing.

    Part 3: Drawing and Inking: In this stage I pick a piece of paper to draw on. Sometimes the paper plays a role in the feeling of the map, but not always. In this case, Photoshop provided me with the finalized look. I start with the map, drawing a loose, gestural representation of shapes for the land masses. Then I define the coasts, in a general way.

    Once I have the basic outline or gesture done, I begin filling in the land features based on the writings I have done and inspirations from many sources. Like I said earlier, I like to surround myself with inspiration. At this point, I actually don't look at maps that much. I look at paintings from illustratours I like, or photos, that strike me, and draw inspiration from those. These provide me with a feeling of a place so that when I draw it on the map, I have a better idea of what I want there and how it relates to everything else. When I am done, the piece is a line drawing on paper.

    Then I choose ink. In all cases it is something waterproof and professional in quality. Here, I used Microns. Typically I use a crow quill brush and 'Speedball: Super Black India Ink'. At this stage it is very important to keep myself in the 'zone'. Once the inking process is complete, the map looks like this (in this case):

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Middle Sea Region Map - B&W.jpg 
Views:	1238 
Size:	1.34 MB 
ID:	37597

    Part 4: Scanning and Colouring: When I am done inking, I scan the image into the computer. With the Hellfrost map, it was so large I had to scan it in pieces and put it together in Photoshop (that was all traditional, so I didn't do that till the end).

    I opened the file in Photoshop and adjusted 'levels' to clean up the contrast. Then I made a separate layer and started colouring. I laid down the darkest areas, first, just like an oil painting, and layered the lights and other colours on top using 1oo% and 5o% opacity. I zoomed in and out, constantly, to get a feeling of how everything worked with its surrounding elements.

    When I was done painting, I found a parchment background I have saved in my 'Reference' file. I placed it behind in a new layer and set it to 'multiply' so the colour and inks seemed to just 'sit on top' of the parchment. Yet, the parchment background was visible, and offered a nice texture in addition to what I had already made with the 'paintbrush' tool. I adjusted the parchment colour using 'colour' in the 'adjustments' menu. And, voila! A map!

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Middle Sea Region Map - Colour.jpg 
Views:	1471 
Size:	2.10 MB 
ID:	37596

    Thank you all for reading. I hope you enjoyed it!



  2. #2
    Professional Artist Facebook Connected Coyotemax's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009


    Wonderful! Interesting - the style you have is what I'm working towards lately. You've really got me rethinking the amount of linework i use.
    That's awesome, thanks for sharing your process.

    My finished maps
    "...sometimes the most efficient way to make something look drawn by hand is to simply draw it by hand..."

  3. #3

  4. #4


    Thanks for noticing the line work, Coyote. I've been experimenting with minimal line use. It's a new direction for me. I typically have a heavy handed high contrast approach with my ink work. But, lately, I've been looking at the work of Tony DiTerlizzi in more detail (esp. his early Monstrous Manual stuff). He uses almost no line and lets his painting define the form, for the most part. The lines here are still thick. I was using an o3 micron pen. I'd like to experiment with more ephemeral line work in both map making and my illustrations. This was a very interesting experiment. Also my first attempt at digital painting. So, this piece was a deviation for me in many ways.

  5. #5
    Guild Member Valtharius's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Frozen Wastes of Northern Minnesota


    This style of mapping reminds me of the old Robert E. Howard "World of Conan". I love the style and coloring. Great job!

    "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"

    Argontath Map Finished Thread

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  6. #6
    Guild Journeyer Quabbe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Essen, Germany


    I love these maps. Beautiful, repped!

  7. #7

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