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Thread: A search for brushes

  1. #1

    Question A search for brushes

    Hello, this would be my first post - being more of an observer - but I've been trying to re-work some maps I've made for my own homebrew game, the below image being one of those. It's a bit too busy, clunky, and a few other none to flattering terms that I can think of. I like it - in some regards, but I've been trying to make it more clean, clear, and - well better. I've dug around to little success to see if I could find some possible settings for brushes in Photoshop CS3 or otherwise that others have had success with, I've tried to dig for such as mentioned on RPGmapmaker's youtube posts, but I've never been good at navigating anything with forums. I'm surprised I figured out how to attach an example of my work.

    If any would be so kind as to point me in the right direction, or even post settings (and/or how they built those brushes) that they'd be willing to share, I'd be exceptionally grateful and promise to try and post up my results to show that your assistance hasn't gone to waste.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Pemblis.jpg 
Views:	121 
Size:	1.03 MB 
ID:	50962
    Last edited by mr_rathburn; 01-03-2013 at 05:09 PM.

  2. #2
    Guild Expert jbgibson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Alabama, USA


    Welcome to the guild - i'm glad you delurked! First off, jumping right in with a map in your first post is worth a smidgen of rep, all by itself. Then the map has promise. The land outline is pleasing, and you've got some nice little wave lines rimming it. The feature placement is a little haphazard, but not totally implausible. What may be subconsciously griping you is that you have three fights and some madness going on.

    First, the colors and textures are a mix of sorta-photorealistic and brightly symbolic. Neither's bad, but the mix is puzzling; the texture and tatters of the paper say it's handmade and hard-used, yet the pigments are as bright as a mapper could first put down. Then your labeling is in tension: crisply typeset uberlegible city names vs. an artsy tough-to-discern display font for the states. Then (again with the paradoxes) the labels have two different digital effects applied: pretty, but not belonging on tattered old paper. When you pick an effect or a symbol or a texture, if you're shooting for an impression of in- character cartographer-was-here, think about how he would have produced the effect... and would he have. Then the third related clash is that the textures imply orbital photo data, next to sketchy linework, next to bold inked-perfect lines... Which vastly different method did this oldnew ancientmodern highlowtech dude use? Samplers and patchwork are nice for embroidery, not so much for maps. And it isn't that any of those characteristics are irredeemably badly executed, they just struggle against one another.

    Lastly is the madness. Water on your world does some reeeeeally weird stuff. Take a thorough ramble through Redrobes' most excellent tutorial on Getting Your Rivers In The Right Place - it is stickied near the top of the Tutorial/ How-to forum. Maybe your subconscious is taking you to task for conduct unbecoming to a watercourse :-). I'm not against the bare-parchment as water look; it can be really effective, particularly if you want to deemphasize the sea. But your mapper obviously had access to blue pigment; witness all the painstaking hand-applied (?!) washes around the city labels. Were I him, I'd have put at least a bit of blue offshore to set off the land. In fact I kind of did, once ... see my Marglyn in my Aurora-1 gallery.

    All that and not a word about brushes -- sorry, I know nooothiiiing of brushes' use! Other folks can better advise you there. Really - I do like a lot of the aspects - maybe you just have two or three different styles of map all mixed together.

  3. #3


    Managed to find RPGmaker's stuff via searching through his youtube posts, so that's giving me a basis to work with and combine with my original working ideas. I wish I'd thought of his brushes for high and lowlands using the grunge brushes, those should make a rather handy set for deserts. I've modified some of his brushes, and some of my own, which had some similarities (trees and snow, but he uses far less blur for his trees) and found his bevel for rivers to be a key idea, as well as it's layer placement as the combination does a good job of separating it out without it looking garish. So hopefully only a few more tweaks to my brush set, and I should be ready to continue on in full. Using the outline of the previous map I've started this one back up, in my re-work. Using the new methods I need to find a method for a coastline next, while I work on the rest, even if it meant I had to start over, but hopefully this will go over quite well with the D&D group.

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Initial work.jpg 
Views:	91 
Size:	1.21 MB 
ID:	51003

    Not much, but it's a fair start. The south western portion I was experimenting with water and foliage color for creating swamp-land again.
    Last edited by mr_rathburn; 01-05-2013 at 12:22 AM.

  4. #4


    If I may make a suggestion on colors (take this with a grain of salt, I'm a real newbie) use the opacity at 20-50% on you land and water layers. This will help when you blend stuff together and if you like the hard look of a particular element you can just color it up until you get what you like. Nice job so far, have some rep for your work.

  5. #5


    That's a really good point, I used it - partly - in the original, but hadn't thought to use it in the new. Thank you, much for that.

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