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Thread: River Alenm (and side arms) - ancient river clan map on wood

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  1. #1
    Guild Journeyer Freehand 5.5's Avatar
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    Dec 2011
    KA, GER

    Default River Alenm (and side arms) - ancient river clan map on wood

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    This is a project for a role playing game campaign I started in 2010.
    Yesterday I put the finishing touches to it and here it is.

    The map shows a bronze age wooden map which is burnt into the surface of the wood.
    Very stylized and simple. The crude piece of the Rejascan river culture living at the
    banks of the river Alenm and his side arms Selam and Samam.
    Depicted is the iconic flow of the streams and the settlements along with important mountains and
    the circular forest.
    All labels are written in the original language of the Alenm clan.

    I made this map quite easy.
    First the piece of wood was photographed.
    The burnt content was drawn in a second layer in Photoshop.
    Then I duplicated that layer and gave it a good pound of blurriness.

    The goal was to create the impression of a rough piece of that culture
    to support the immersion during the game.
    Last edited by Freehand 5.5; 01-29-2013 at 07:13 PM.

  2. #2


    Nice style - it looks authentically primitive, and I'm liking the names.

    I notice this is in the finished maps section, but I hope you are still open to suggestions.

    I'd say, first, the wood looks rather fresh and new. If you were able to age it a bit (make it darker, give it a rough-ish texture). Second, could you run a displacement filter over the burnt lines? That would make it look like the lines are burnt into the bumpy surface of the wood, which it doesn't quite do, at the moment. Displacement filters are a bit trickier than other PS filters, but if you don't know about them I'm sure there are plenty of tutorials online. Third (and probably less important) what about replacing the white background with something (eg wooden wall planks, dirt/stone floor).

  3. #3
    Guild Novice
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    San Pedro, CA


    A couple of comments:

    I am new to the guild and am very impressed with the variety of ideas I have already seen for creative map making. I think your use of the photograph of the wood, especially with burned wood effect, is a great idea. I think TheHoarseWhisperer's suggestions all make sense, the only suggestion I might have is that you may not really need to even have a background, you could crop into the wood giving the entire image a the wood grain effect.

  4. #4


    Sorry Descalon, but I don't think that is a good idea. Part of the appeal of Freehand's map is that you can see it's a simple plank of wood. Cropping it would take away that effect.

  5. #5
    Community Leader Guild Sponsor - Max -'s Avatar
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    Dec 2012


    Nice primitive touch! and agreed with TWH on all his comments...

  6. #6
    Guild Expert Facebook Connected vorropohaiah's Avatar
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    Feb 2010
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    nice, though the marks seem a bit too solid for something drawn on an old peice of wood, maybe apply a mask based on the wood-grain to the ink to make it less solid?
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  7. #7
    Guild Journeyer Freehand 5.5's Avatar
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    Dec 2011
    KA, GER


    Thanks for all the comments.
    Darn, never call something finished before asking someone else.
    I should have put it into wip projects. These pros hanging around have always some good suggestions.
    (Perhaps there is some moderator around to transfer it.)

    The wood should definitely not be aged, because it is a brand new map purchased from a contemporary mapmaker by the players during the course of the game.
    I'm not a friend of always making everything old. Every map, how old it may be, was once brand new.
    I'm trying to make good design without always integrating that same philosophy of fading away and memento mori.

    The displacement filter sounds good, soon I will give it a try to make the look more like branded with a glowing wire.

    Concerning the background. The original background of the foto was snow because I took it two years ago in my backyard.
    But that does not go well with the desert adventure it will be part of. Therefore the object is free.
    So there will be a photographed sand background, because the map is an adventure's handout. The page layout with the
    background does not exist yet.
    Last edited by Freehand 5.5; 01-30-2013 at 06:36 AM.

  8. #8
    Guild Journeyer
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    New Hampshire


    Very Nice and different from the norm. I like it.

  9. #9


    Yes it's an unusual map. I like it aswell.

  10. #10


    You may get a successful look by simply adding a very transparent copy of the original log image over the finished piece. This would allow for the "burnt" lines to exhibit some of the original texture as though they were the texture of wood grain.

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