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Thread: First Map. Critique please.

  1. #1

    Default First Map. Critique please.

    Hi.

    The image size of this map is rather large and hopefully will upload properly to this post. If not here is an img ur link : http://i.imgur.com/QNsT8.jpg

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	map prototype 11.jpg 
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    This is my first map and first time using photoshop. I followed the Atlas Styled Tutorial I found here and I'm semi happy with the results. Everything was done with CS5.

    The map is for a D&D campaign and while I'm mostly glad to just be at this point with it I have several issues. I want to break this up by zone so that What I'm about to say makes sense.

    Map Segmented by Zones : http://i.imgur.com/XBgRP.jpg

    1) Zone 1 should look like the amazon river basin. The most notable issue I have here is both coloring and the river system. I feel like the way the the rivers were approached in the atlas style tut was great but in my map I don't feel like I executed them very well and it doesn't really convey to me "Low lying tropical mangrove forest jungle river basin' type of area. I think the color detracts from that a lot. The problem I ran into with color is that in the tut you create a gradient fill for the land layer and pick essentially three colors then come back later and paint over it, when I tried to paint over it with darker colors i mostly created dark spots because only some parts of the layer would 'pick up the paint', if that makes any sense. I'll be the first to say that I'm a photoshop idiot so any insight on that would be great.

    2)The Mountains stand out to me as the biggest disappointment of the entire thing. They more resemble offensive gouges in the land. I had some problems with the cloud filter when following the tut. I tried it both on CS6 and CS6 and had the same results. Somewhere something in my settings is screwed up. When creating render-> filter-> clouds you're supposed to then select a color range ( alt s m c) while the foreground/background palate is black (fore) and white (aft). From there you set the fuzziness and hit ok. It should, in theory select all black. The problem I had on both programs and literally every time the select color range function was used is that it would either select all white or all of the grays and leave me with nasty black ring cloud colors. I worked around this by setting select to 'Shadows' instead of 'Sampled Colors'. This, however, allowed me to select the black but didn't leave me with much gradation once the color was deleted. It left me with very jagged cloud rendering to build the mountains with and I'm exceptionally unhappy with them. Any insight at all on that would make my day.

    3) The placement of the mountains is bothering me. I have to point out that my GM created the outline map originally and I picked it up and made it digital later so I was going by his original. I felt that to justify the existence of the lakes, you would have to, I assume, have mountains somewhere to create an elevation to allow water to drain and pool, creating a lake. I tried to reflect that with the rivers. I feel that the placement of the mountains is poorly chosen and doesn't really convey believable terrain to me but I reworked them so many times and over so many hours that I settled on the current product out of frusteration. Any ideas would be helpful.

    Any other critique would be appreciated.

  2. #2

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    bump. anyone???

  3. #3
    Community Leader Gracious Donor - Max -'s Avatar
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    Hey there,

    I'd say it's pretty good overall, though some comments : I'm not really convinced by the height waterlines and the coasltines could be worked with more smooth to fit the map'style. It seems there are some rivers issues (a lot of them don't flow towards oceans or seas with no reason but some rivers police experts could tell you more and better about that. They probably need some more work to fit the style too.

  4. #4
    Community Leader Gracious Donor Bogie's Avatar
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    Nice Map, I like the design / layout / textures. As Max said you have some river problems. Many of your rivers branch in the opposite direction of what they should be doing.

  5. #5
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    1. You lack patience. You posted your map, and a mere eighteen minutes later, here you go bumping this thread. A forgivable sin, to be certain, but a lack of patience will not serve you well, when it comes to cartographic undertakings.

    2. Mountains? What mountains? You mean that there are mountains on this map? Oh, those things - those are mountains? How dreadful! I share your disappointment with them. I leave it to you to fix them, however. May I suggest that you obliterate these, and spend a little time crafting some real mountains - of the kind that will make men to sit up and take notice?

    Typically speaking, mountains should be the predominant feature on most maps. Yours are, well, what some might call blobs and squirts. They are unworthy of the title, mountains.

    3. Your map has coastline sections that are simultaneously quite large and too rounded, to boot. Whatever were you thinking? These areas are wholly at odds with my eye. They don't sit quite right in my view scape. They retard my ability to appreciate what it is that you are trying to accomplish with them and through them.

    4. Your greater coastline, if I may call it that, is less jagged than would ideally be the case.

    5. Such a large land mass, and such few islands. A pity.

    6. The green color assortment that you use, I find that to be appetizing. That desert area in the south could stand considerable improvement. That frigid snow-covered region in the far north, thumbs down. It's largely a bunch of white, with little in the way of character to entice the eye to be drawn to it. As such, why is it even there? The various parts of your map should all be continuously dueling for attention from the viewer.

    On this early incarnation of your map, my eye settles on the green. Very pretty, but largely an exercise in abstract art. Why? Because, your map lacks detail, and because it lacks detail, it lacks character. The green is quite beautiful. The remainder isn't.

    7. This map cries out for a border. Not all maps do. This one does. Borderize the beast.

    8. That interior lake is atrocious.

    9. I see that you have plopped down a number of what appear to be rivers. Rivers are probably the single hardest thing on a map to get right. You will be pleased to learn that you have not quite mastered the art of rivers, yet. In all fairness, though, most haven't. I couldn't draw a realistic or passable river system on a map, if my life depends on it. My life doesn't depend on it. If you get a lot of the other stuff right, the human eye will tend to be more forgiving of the rivers that you do get wrong.

    10. Are those dark green splotches supposed to be forests? If so, I can grasp that. But, is that what you are after? Do you seek to make them blend in, and not become a focal center of gravity, visually speaking? Or do you want them to take on their own identity within the overall map, itself? What is your grand objective?

    11. The elevated coastline effect, I have mixed feelings about. It will work very well, with islands. It would work better, here, as is, if it was also applied to those large inner bays, and if the small islands were wrapped by that effect independent of the larger land mass, itself.

    12. You have spared us the indignity of textual atrocities. For that, I thank you. Get the features and points of interest right, first, and then worry about your text labels, afterward.
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  6. #6
    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
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    The rivers are definitely a problem. Rivers seldom split as they flow downstream. And when I say seldom, I mean so infrequently that if you depict one doing so, you'd better have a darned good explanation for it prepared ahead of time. Usually it can only happen with human intervention—flood control or irrigation or canals. Stylistically, they don't really look like they're carrying water across the landscape. They look like damp spots. Assuming the rivers are on a separate layer, ctrl-click that layer to select them, then switch to whichever layer holds your land texture, and hit the Mask button at the bottom of the layers palette. This will carve a space in the texture for the rivers to sit in. Then raise the opacity of the river quite a bit so they are more visible.

    Now to get the look of your mangrove swamp, make a new Hue and Saturation Adjustment Layer on top of your layer stack. I'd suggest turning down the saturation a bit, and sliding the hue slightly toward the blue. Your entire image will change, but don't worry about that—we'll limit the scope of the adjustment in a few moments. Once you have a color in that basin that you like, select the Mask on your adjustment layer and fill it with black. Then use a soft round brush to paint white in the places where you want the adjustment layer to take effect.

    Regarding your fuzzy selection problem, the tool won't automatically select black. On the right-hand side of the dialogue box, there are three eyedropper icons. Click the left-most one, then click in a dark area on your image. Now you can adjust the fuzziness, and you should get a selection that starts in the darkest areas and creeps toward the white as you adjust the slider.

    No time to talk about mountain placement in any depth, but from a quick look, it doesn't appear to be a problem to me. It does look like maybe there was an asteroid impact, with that ring of mountains surrounding a huge bay/sea.
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist
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    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrimFinger View Post
    1. You lack patience. You posted your map, and a mere eighteen minutes later, here you go bumping this thread. A forgivable sin, to be certain, but a lack of patience will not serve you well, when it comes to cartographic undertakings.
    Um… I don't know what you're looking at, but according to what I see, the map was posted four days ago.
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist
    http://www.bryanray.name

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    Quote Originally Posted by Midgardsormr View Post
    Um… I don't know what you're looking at, but according to what I see, the map was posted four days ago.
    I stand corrected. Perhaps I have been staring at the monitor screen for too long, this morning. This may be a good time to eat.
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    Community Leader Gracious Donor Jaxilon's Avatar
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    I'm surely not interested in a big round of word battle but I wanted to say some things.

    @GrimFinger - Dude...Your critique style seems harsher than required, probably due to your using questionably humorous comments and questions. It's nice that you took the time to type all of this because unless someone did there wouldn't be any critiques. However, one could just point to what needs addressed and leave it rather than being insulting. Half of your statements amount to "I don't like this". That's not really helpful to a new mapper. Perhaps if you pointed to a tutorial or another map that shows what you feel is needed it would be useful. It's also acceptable to say, "I'm not sure what you should do with those 'whatevers' but they don't seem quite right to me." Now, in honesty you do bring up some valid issues so if the artist can read through the verbiage they may improve. Unfortunately, I will say I am glad my first attempts were not critiqued by you. Today I wouldn't mind tougher critiques but I think if my first attempts received this sort of treatment I would have bailed for another forum. Giving a critique is an art form in itself. I'm late for work but if I have time I'll find the discussion we had on this some months ago. I'm not entirely sure if you are trying to be encouraging or discouraging with what you posted and that leaves me on the fence regarding everything you said.

    @fifthmanstanding - There are good things about your map so don't give up. Sometimes you have to look at critiques and try to understand what is being said rather than how it is said. If you feel disheartened just remember how interesting it is that those who tend to talk the most are those who haven't created anything themselves. Also, if you want to be an artist you simply must grow a thick skin. For all I know you have one but I'm just saying.
    Last edited by Jaxilon; 01-17-2013 at 12:23 PM.
    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaxilon View Post
    I'm surely not interested in a big round of word battle but I wanted to say some things.

    @GrimFinger - Dude...Your critique style seems harsher than required, probably due to your using questionably humorous comments and questions. It's nice that you took the time to type all of this because unless someone did there wouldn't be any critiques. However, one could just point to what needs addressed and leave it rather than being insulting. Half of your statements amount to "I don't like this". That's not really helpful to a new mapper. Perhaps if you pointed to a tutorial or another map that shows what you feel is needed it would be useful. It's also acceptable to say, "I'm not sure what you should do with those 'whatevers' but they don't seem quite right to me." Now, in honesty you do bring up some valid issues so if the artist can read through the verbiage they may improve. Unfortunately, I will say I am glad my first attempts were not critiqued by you. Today I wouldn't mind tougher critiques but I think if my first attempts received this sort of treatment I would have bailed for another forum. Giving a critique is an art form in itself. I'm late for work but if I have time I'll find the discussion we had on this some months ago. I'm not entirely sure if you are trying to be encouraging or discouraging with what you posted and that leaves me on the fence regarding everything you said.

    @fifthmanstanding - There are good things about your map so don't give up. Sometimes you have to look at critiques and try to understand what is being said rather than how it is said. If you feel disheartened just remember how interesting it is that those who tend to talk the most are those who haven't created anything themselves. Also, if you want to be an artist you simply must grow a thick skin. For all I know you have one but I'm just saying.
    Jaxilion,

    No big round of word battle, as you characterize it, is necessary, but I am happy to respond to your concerns expressed here.

    It has been said by men greater than I that one man's junk is another man's treasure, and that one man's vulgarity is another man's lyric. What I offer, what I contribute, to the discussions here is merely my opinion, nothing more.

    As you acknowledge, you are not certain as to whether I am trying to be encouraging or discouraging. Uncertainty has a tendency to instill doubt. That's the nature of it.

    Perhaps I could tone down my critiques. Perhaps I could water them down. If I don't base my critiques off of my honest opinion, then what should I base them off of?

    For that matter, I could eliminate criticism, altogether. Granted, as you point, out, I do bring up some valid issues. But, perhaps criticism should be intentionally mild and deliberately soft. Perhaps I should be a little less honest, and a lot less blunt, and either mask my critiques with half-truths or withhold criticism that I believe to be warranted or useful.

    If I go that route, though, then perhaps I should also tone down and water down my instances of praise for the handiwork of others on display here. I mean, after all, I use the exact, same eyes to lead me down the path of either praise or criticism. If I err in my criticism, then perhaps I err in my praise, as well.

    It may well be that you are correct, Jaxilon, in your stated opinion that my critique style seems harsher than required. In all honesty, though, I really wasn't aware that critique styles should never be harsh. The process of critical analysis, after all, requires that one be willing to criticize.

    As a general rule of thumb, I tend to leave it to each individual to decide whether to value or not any given input from myself on the maps displayed here. My experience in life, over the last half century or so, has been that perspectives vary, experiences vary, and opinions vary.

    It certainly is not my intention nor desire for you, or anyone else for that matter, to be on the fence about everything that I say, here. But, then again, I haven't asked anyone to practice fence-sitting.

    By and large, I feel that I tend to take as much time to explain and to expound upon particular and specific areas of criticism on given maps that I comment on, at least as much as the next guy.

    Since you did not bother to specify which specific instances of my critiques that you feel may be too harsh, I'm not sure what, specifically, that you would prefer that I critique in another, less harsh way.

    If you like, and believe it to be warranted, I could certainly go back in and edit out whatever it is that you find to be offensive, whether to yourself or others.

    Also, if you like and prefer, I could simply keep my opinions to myself, until and unless someone asked me directly to comment on their cartographic efforts.

    I try to be flexible, and I try to be tactful. Some seem to appreciate my style of critique, but that not everyone does isn't particularly surprising. After all, everyone tends to form their own opinions on what they like or dislike.

    At any rate, my apologies for any headaches that I caused you, Jaxilon. In any event, I enjoy observing the cartographic handiwork of so many talented and skillful individuals so well-versed in their respective mastery of the craft. For most of the time that I have been a registered member of this site, observation - rather than critique - dominated the time that I spent on this site and in these forums, here. Issuing forth critiques tends to be rather time-consuming, anyway. If it's any comfort to you, it's less headaches for me, as well, when I simply observe, rather than critique.

    Happy mapping to one and all,

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