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Thread: [WIP] Islands - Please Critique

  1. #1

    Wip [WIP] Islands - Please Critique

    Hello All,

    I have recently started mapping the world for my fantasy novel, and here is the first part. The world basically consists of two larger continents, and a number of islands varying in shape and size. This is one of the middle-sized islands between them, in a subtropical region. What I want to do is perfect this island to my needs, and move to other regions once I am happy with it.
    This map was done in Photoshop, mostly by following rpgmapmaker's excellent tutorials and techniques plus a few additions I picked up from here and there.
    Some of the shortcomings, I think I am aware of:
    1- Coastlines: They don't really seem that realistic to me, it could use a little fine tuning.
    2- Mountains: I am undecided about this one, they seem rather rough or lacking detail, if you know what I mean. I could try the Saderan tutorial by Tear or the Swiss Style Relief Shading tutorial by Ascension for better mountains.
    3- Symbols for towns, villages, etc: Not happy with them, if you know a good set of symbols that could work with this map, please let me know.

    All in all, I would be very grateful if you could elaborate on the points above, and of course, throw in new ones.

    Thanks in advance!!

  2. #2
    Community Leader Guild Sponsor arsheesh's Avatar
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    Oct 2009


    All in all a very nice beginning! I agree with you about the mountains: the lines are a bit too straight to appear realistic. The tutorials which you mentioned should help you with that though. As to the shape and coastlines, the left-hand side of the landmass looks a bit too square in shape; I'd try rounding it out a little more. Otherwise, good work!


  3. #3
    Community Leader Guild Sponsor
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    Diamond's Avatar
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    Jul 2009


    I agree with Arsheesh r.e. the western coast. On the other hand, the erosion/valleys/cliffs along the river look FANTASTIC.

  4. #4


    Hello fellows,

    After some work, I think I have sorted out most of the problems. I spiced up the western coast a little bit, and did some work on the mountains. Also added a little more texture for a more realistic look.

    I would greatly appreciate if you could take a moment to critique.
    Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #5
    Guild Adept
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    Jul 2011
    Rome, Italy - New York, USA


    To my eye the mountain range looks too much like a straight L, perhaps you could curve or twist it a little bit.

  6. #6
    Community Leader Lukc's Avatar
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    Sep 2011
    Lausanne, CH


    I think it's looking pretty smooth. Are you going to shade the water as well?

  7. #7
    Guild Novice
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    Aug 2011


    The new mountains are great in terms of the texture but I'm going to agree with feanaaro - they like an L - the angle at the bottom is just too sharp. Just soften that out into a curve and it'll look a lot better.

    As to your coastlines - I'm not enough of a geologist to comment on realism of them overall, what I can do is offer you a trick that I use to provide a bit more randomness to coastlines once you have a shape you like. First of all you need a brush that isn't just a solid shape. Pretty much any brush can work - but a spraypaint like one that is a mass of dots works well. Then what you need to do is play with the brush tab on the brush window (f5) - particularly the scattering and shape dynamics sections. You want to get something with a fairly solid core to it, but with randomised protrusions from that core - something like this:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Next get a selection of your entire landmass and convert that selection into a path using the 'Make work path from selection' option on tha paths tab (Windows - Paths if you don't have it visible). And then right click on the path and select stroke path. This allows you to stroke a path with the selected brush (rather than just a uniform stroke) so allows you to generate some randomness on your lines. Obviously you'll want to play around with the size of the stroke and the qualities of the brush to get a good effect - depending on the size of your map. Hope it helps, let me know if anything isn't clear.

  8. #8


    Hey Guys,

    Thank you very much for the replies!

    To my eye the mountain range looks too much like a straight L, perhaps you could curve or twist it a little bit.
    I agree, I will need to work on that.

    I think it's looking pretty smooth. Are you going to shade the water as well?
    Thanks! I don't think I will, or at least it is not in my priority to-do list. Maybe after finishing with the land, but even then, it won't be very detailed (like continental shelves or whatnot).

    And Goblyns Hoard, that is one great tip, thanks so much for taking the time to explain it in great details. I will surely give it a go and post the results.

  9. #9
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Steel General's Avatar
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    Jun 2008
    Ft. Wayne, IN


    Other than the items already mentioned above I think it turned out quite well.
    My Finished Maps | My Challenge Maps | Ghoraja Juun, my largely stagnated campaign setting.

    Unless otherwise stated by me in the post, all work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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