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Thread: Pandrea [critics & advice welcome]

  1. #1

    Wip Pandrea [critics & advice welcome]

    Hello, I'm working on a map of some role-play universe I'm in.
    I've been working on it for a year, and its complexity increase as well.
    I already learned a lot working with it, and I hope you'll help me to learn even more as well if you have something to tell.

    I'm working with some guy on a CampaignCartographer3 map he did.

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    When I was chosen to help for the map, I decided to use inkscape, for many reasons, but mainly because CampaignCartographer3 do not run on linux... my single operating system.

    This should be a quite comprehensive map of the universe, including geography (map elements), countries, religion distribution, main trade resource location, place names, city locations and flag of countries.

    Countries :
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    Trade resource : Note location of trade resource is a bit random, just to try it look great. No all resources are done, and some resource need to be modified because there are hardly visible.
    Also each trade resource is in its own layer so I can selected the resource I want to display.
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    Now I'm to working on the height map. Using a custom filter based on the diffuse lighting filter node, I convert some grayscale image to a bump. The grayscale image is made of svg shapes, blurred at various level. This is not as easy an creating a grayscale image on some raster image editor, because blurring must occur at the same level along the curve. Besides, for performance reasons, filters have a bounding box to work within. This box is often too small, creating those ugly line/rectangle-bump artifacts in the picture. I truly need to find some better way to create this grayscale image. Also note the rivers were placed long before I start this height map, so I is even harder to create it. The linear river is a canal.

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    Finally, the elements map. It already gone through some revamp, but is to be again modified. The current version is a bit "cartoonish" and colorful. Each elements were directly drawn on my computer, and cloned with the spray tool of inkscape. Using inkscape allows me to move/delete elements later.

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    I do not really like this map wich looks too much "happy world". I'm now trying to paint my elements by hand, and include them in inkscape. This is long process and I hope the result will stand out.
    I'm a bit stuck to decide whether I should outline them with the color of the paper or not. An outline helps to separates elements one from another but it looks a bit strange... I have not decide yet which one is better :
    outlined -> Click image for larger version. 

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    Of course, I painted more than two trees, but I did process only those two for the test.


    Well, that was a long post. Thank you for your attention !
    Last edited by Heinrich Zweihänder; 04-14-2012 at 09:36 AM. Reason: Orthograph

  2. #2
    Community Leader Gracious Donor Lukc's Avatar
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    Uhm ... I'm speechless. It's detailed, is what it is! And the trade resources remind me of Civilization! I think Hai-etlik is your go-to guy for more on Inkscape! Check out the things he does with it and you'll get a few ideas for the way you can move with Inkscape.

  3. #3
    Guild Artisan Gracious Donor Katto's Avatar
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    "Heinrich! Mir graut's vor dir.“ (Faust, Goethe)
    Sorry, couldn't resist. With this detailed resources I am curious how the final map will look like. I will follow this WIP.

  4. #4
    Guild Expert jbgibson's Avatar
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    First.... wow. Nice, comprehensive worldbuilding there. Is this your first use of Inkscape, or did you already know it? If it's new to you, you're doing great at tackling a new tool.

    Second -- immediate kudos for someone who lists peppers as a major natural resource. :-)

    Third -- some of the rivers have issues. Put simply, at any one place on the landscape there will only be one direction that's 'lowest', so water will only flow that one way. Any spot where there is more than one lowest direction will be 'corrected' pretty quickly by erosion. So except for fairly rare cases, rivers join but do not split as they go downhill. Outlets from a lake are the same - only one spot will be lowest on a lake's rim, so that outlet will capture all the flow, and any temporary rival streams will lose out. A good reference is Redrobes' excellent How to get your rivers in the right place tutorial. You're in good company to need to think about streamflow to get it believable - my day on CG is not complete unless I've suggested somebody view that how-to :-).

    That said, since you already have one major canal in operation -- if you feel like you're stuck with the river network as shown, you could designate a different color for canals, and 'correct' the extra connections by showing some as being man-made. Like one real river flowing out of a lake and several other dug connections to rivers that happen to be nearby. Differentiating the one big existing canal would be good anyway, since right now it takes a text explanation to keep the viewer from going "huh??"

    Next - I know what you mean about being dissatisfied with a look that's "too cartoonish"... but what you have going isn't really *bad*. maybe you could be happier with a more subdued set of colors? Or some graduated colors instead of flat, discrete colors? Mind you, using flat colors and crisp outlines to permit output as small .gifs is about the only thing I could call my style, so I approve of what you have... but it has to make YOU happy first :-). If you're improving the elements you are using as symbols, you could benefit from several ongoing or recent threads on hand-drawn elements. The mountains for example aren't [I]bad[/], they're just kind of flat - I bet you could make use of the suggestions on making mountain symbols look more three-dimensional.

    Next-th (already lost count - doesn't say much for my attention span) -- the outlining of repeated elements: How about if instead of giving them a background-color outer glow, you give each one a bit of a darker inner glow or border? Not black & bold, so distinct as to look like bits of a child's coloring book; just a pixel or less of somewhat-darker value? I agree the way you have a paper-colored outline looks odd. You're handling the scatter of repeated elements well, by the way.

    The distribution of resources is good too - you've resisted the tendency of some to make every nation have equal access to stuff, or at least have something they are each 'rich' in... real (realistic) nations have surpluses and lacks, and that's what causes interesting trade opportunities (not to mention interesting conflicts... ). And face it, some countries are rich and some are poor.

    You say this is for a role-play universe -- are players using this for a setting, or are their "characters" the nations themselves? One has to do a good sales job to get average players to accept a nation that has serious lacks - most people want to be biggest and best :-). Personally, in the geofiction games I've played, I have enjoyed playing underdogs.

    Speaking of Hai-Etlik :-) if I suggest slapping a latitude/longitude grid or graticule on willy-nilly, I'll get in trouble :-)... but if you *do* want to hold yourself to the implied precision of such an overlay, synchronizing the gridlines with your filter boxes could hide the linear artifacts. Only doable if you have a rectangular projection going on -- unless you get fancy with the shapes of your filter boxes, which would seem to be a bit excessive. For that matter, a locator grid doesn't have to match any particular projection, so long as you make it clear by labeling your axes that that's all it is (say, A,B,C... one way; 1,2,3 the other). But the only reason for a map to have a locator grid is if you have a bunch of scattered items the reader wants to find - or if there's stuff you want to label that would make the map too busy otherwise.

    Again - nice work ! I look forward to seeing it progress.

  5. #5

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    Wow! Like others have already mentioned, you've thought out this map/setting in amazing detail. I particularly like how you've broken up the trade regions by resources. I've tried to do this for my own campaign world but in nowhere near such detail. Impressive stuff. I'll be watching to see how this develops.

    Cheers,
    -Arsheesh

  6. #6

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    @all Thank you all for your positive feedbacks ! This is very motivating !

    @jbgibson I didn't do the rivers myself, but I didn't realize there was so much trouble with them. Unfortunately some rivers already have background with them, I'll explain the person who did the river (and the cc3 map) the problem.

    For the cartoonish look, I believe I'll try to find some way to keep two versions. I believe the flat look of mountains is due to the cartoon style, and using some linear gradiant will give smooth mountains which is even worse.

    For the outline don't forget these are hand-drawn elements (actually painted with Soy sauce and a brush) on white paper. Your solution seems a bit hard to do. I just decided to drop any outline.

    For the game, most of the character are the faction leaders or have some other important key role in their countries. There 5 "playable countries" that are the five larger ones and consequently should have at least fair amounts of resources, and the "other"... But again The resource map is to change in near future.

    For the grid, this can be easily added on a separate layer and turned on/off at will. Thanks for the suggestion.

  7. #7

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    Thank you for the reference ! His gallery is amazing. I have to level up ! Does he have any topic I can follow ?

    PS: Trade resources are indeed inspired from computer wargames
    Last edited by Heinrich Zweihänder; 04-14-2012 at 07:53 AM.

  8. #8

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    Hello guys,

    I am the co-mapper of Heinrich. Basically, he helped me to improve my role-play universe and I owe him a lot of the improvment of my work.
    So, if we are to mention the role-play background, let's say it is on the way, but already quite dense. My forum is unfortunately far from well-known, which doesn't help the role-play to be fully effective, but it offers us the opportunity to improve the background. We decided that the map was the first base we needed, then followed the History which defines the civilizations.
    Sincerely, this forum is going to be a great help about the mapping concerns. If I am to tell about the rivers which I designed, I received the basic formation in geology that would have allowed me to do this better, but the heights map that Heinrich is making has never been introduced to me before. The mountains, however, were drawn at the same time as were the rivers, which is a mistake as they are supposed to be placed at first. According to me, the big mapping steps for a non magic world are :
    - The continents
    - The tectonic plates
    - The mountains and volcanos
    - The main streams
    - The rivers
    - The biomes
    - The forests etc...

    If I had to start a new map, I would do that. The fact is that my map is from 2008, so, lots has been built on it already and we are trying to improve it without interfering too much with the role-play, if you know what I mean... I have not given a look at the heights' map of Heinrich yet, but I guess there are problems with the rivers indeed. nevertheless, some rivers are not natural, as you noticed, and there are some areas in which the land is so wet and flat that it is quite hard to design them properly.

    Thank you very much for your attention anyway

    PS : For those interested in a nearly dead belgian forum, here is the link :
    http://pandrea.team-talk.net/
    Last edited by Bisol von Sint-Omer; 04-14-2012 at 01:05 PM.

  9. #9

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    Hey, Bisol !

    The height is new from 3 days, so it's normal I didn't show it to you yet. About that map I realized from my own quote “This is not as easy an creating a grayscale image on some raster image editor” I should simply paint the height field in gimp then import it in inkscape, possibly convert the bitmap to paths. It is far better looking fairly unzoomed, at a more zoom level it looks “minecrafty”.

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    Converting the raster image to a path do not improve the result very much : 256 level values seems too few to render a smooth slope with a low dip.

    (PS: You forget to mention the "nearly dead Belgian forum" is in french. Honestly who would be interested ?)
    Last edited by Heinrich Zweihänder; 04-21-2012 at 10:00 AM. Reason: Negation words missing which make sentences hard to read (corrections in bold font)

  10. #10

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    That height's map looks great anyway, even if we need to improve it. I think the mountains are not going to move anyway, unlike the rivers. Fairly easy to move them, I think. Not many of them have a role-play background yet.
    Concerning my link toward the forum, of course they are not going to be interested, but it illustrates the situation : this map has a background.

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