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Thread: WIP: Hexagonal Keep

  1. #1

    Default WIP: Hexagonal Keep

    So after reading several tutorials on the forum I'm taking another shot at an old project.

    The idea of a hexagonal fort (a fort built around the architectural theme of a hexagon) was one of my earlier designs for a character that I had Rped with a while back.

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    I'm fairly happy with the crenelations around the exterior of the walls and I think I did a good job on the shingles of the corner towers and the buildings.

    But here's where I'd like some pointers:

    1. I'm struggling with an idea for the texture of the main Keep's roofs. Ideally they would be some kind of stone (paved) but every texture or tile I use just looks...wrong somehow.

    2. Walkways. There should be a path connecting each of the six corners to a central courtyard of sorts. I've tried to experiment with shading various layers with some blurs to diffuse the color but nothing's looking right.

    Do I outline the paths or just leave them a form of brown and then add a darker brown 'center' so that it looks well-traveled? What about adding gravel to the paths as though the wizard were trying to keep the paths from becoming mud-pits?

    3. The keep has two layers on the roof. There's the layer towards the front and then a raised back layer that's higher. I thought that I can accomplish this with a drop shadow to show that there is a difference in elevation. Any other ideas?
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    Feed Back appreciated.

  2. #2


    Nice but looking so ... I mean something is missing.
    "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."-Confucius
    Old map and Historic map

  3. #3
    Guild Artisan Jacktannery's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Dublin, Ireland


    Hi Green-Pilgrim. That's a great start. I have grappled with some of the same questions you raised here, so I'll refer to my own maps you can find by clicking on my sig.

    1. Roofs are the trickiest. I think your roof is fine the way it is - I don't advise making any changes. The three towers over the main keep have grey tiles, as opposed to the red tiles elsewhere. Maybe change the colour to a slate blue. The best tower roof I ever did was Enc 14 of Post 1 of the Madness at Gardmore Abbey series (see sig.) but that style won't suit you I think, however the colour will.

    2. Walkways - yup this is always tricky. My most successful paths on grass are Encounter Maps 19 & 20 on Post 1 of the Madness at Gardmore Abbey series I did. You can see some less successful attempts on Encs 9-12. An example of a subtle well-used path through a castle courtyard is post 77 of Castle Jacktannery - It's a low-opacity layer of diffuse mud texture overlaying the paving stones done with a layer mask. Obviously my examples are not applicable because we have different styles, however you can see from them what colour combinations work and don't work, which might help you. The second question should not be a major issue for you because you are not using a photo-realistic style so whether a path is gravel or mud is irrelevant; for you what matters is the colour. I would use the same military-style pattern of the grass.

    3. A drop shadow won't work (assuming you are using an automated computer version that offsets a layer of shadow a set amount of pixels to the left and down) in this case. You need to do it by hand - it is easy (but I do not know which programme you use so I'll be vague)

    a) -Make the grey colour of the lower part of the tower roof very slightly darker (say,10-15% less brightness - use a slider) than the uppermost part. If you had three different levels you would use three shades of grey, etc.
    b) make a new shadow layer. Draw a very thick black line along the step between the two elevations, and then blur it a LOT. Keep blurring this line until it is completely blurred and you can barely make out that's it still there. It has to be very subtle. If you overdo it you can always duplicate it. If you use the hand blur tool it will look more natural and better than the quicker 'blur layer' tool, but you are aiming for such a gentle and difuse blur that it won't make much difference. This shadow layer must be at least twice as blurry and subtle to suit your style than I would need to do to suit my own style, which is much more forgiving.
    c) crucial last step - remove all the parts of the shadow layer EXCEPT the part over the lower elevation of the tower roof. You can not do this by hand because you have to be absolutely accurate it it will look wrong. There are various ways to achieve this - best perhaps is to go back to layer A) and select that dark grey colour than invert the selection and delete it from the shadow layer.

    That should work. You may need to experiment slightly with the amount of blurring - unless it is EXTREMELY subtle it will make the rest of your map look bad, since it will be the only shadow on your map. It must be VERY subtle.

  4. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by Jacktannery View Post
    The best tower roof I ever did was Enc 14 of Post 1 of the Madness at Gardmore Abbey series (see sig.) but that style won't suit you I think, however the colour will.
    Wow - those roofs are awesome!

    Did you lay in the tiles by hand?

  5. #5


    Ok, with some suggestions from Jack and another read of Larb's tutorial I came up with this version of the Hexagonal Keep.
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    I took Jack's advice an changed the color of the keep's roof to make the lower version darker and added a shadow line. I think that -really- helped. It gave the keep's levels actual dimension. I may go back and keep blurring them because the shadow line kind of looks too bold.
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    I've added buildings into the layout to fill out a lot of the empty space and added in a paved walk between the towers and the keep. I gave the buildings different colored roofs mostly so I could tell the difference in their function. (Brown buildings for barracks and living quarters, etc.) I'll probably go back and try and give them a more realistic wood or slate shingle roof but that's after I finish the design and such.

    Foliage was added in the nooks and crannies of the grounds as well as smoke from the chimney to give the map a bit of life and animation.

    So at this stage I'm running into a few more questions that I'd like everyone's advise on.

    1. Background and Exterior:

    I picked a generic background tile that seemed 'grassy' to build things on. That's great but I think the surroundings need a bit more life. My first thought was to start filling the space with trees but that doesn't exactly look right.

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    Then I thought about the ground immediately outside of the walls. Would it be the same color as the rest of the 'grassy' area or it would it be discolored for some reason. So I experimented with a few blurred layers of dirt to give it the illusion of blotchy ground.

    That's not looking exactly right so I tried an experiment with adding shades of greens and browns as sort of mossy ground cover to soften the harshness of the brown/tan lines.

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    It..."kinda" works. Suggestions?

    Again, any overall comments would be welcome. I like where this is going but I think I can make it better.

  6. #6


    Great idea, and I like your execution! It's geometrically pleasing.

  7. #7
    Guild Artisan Jacktannery's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Dublin, Ireland


    Well done; you got the different elevations on the roof down exactly right. It looks good. Your paths work well too.

    I didn't lay the individual tiles myself at all; actually that tower roof was by Kegron Dundjinni Mapping Software - Forums: crumbling roof for crumbling tower (I just changed the colour)

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