its a nice map liked your mountains and swamps. Guess you have to cut properly the map in the borders.
This is my first post here, though I've been lurking for a while, so forgive me if I leave anything important out.
The map is based on the world of Erebus from the Fall From Heaven II Civilization IV mod, and I made it for a tabletop RPG I'm running. In the video game mod the maps were randomly generated and factional ties are established during play, so I wanted to lay down something a little more concrete, and ended up getting a little carried away. The majority of symbols were drawn by hand with a felt tipped pen, scanned, and assembled in photoshop. The coasts, lakes and rivers were drawn directly in photoshop with a wacom tablet.
Special thanks to the authors of the various tutorials I found on these forums that helped me get started.
While the map is ostensibly "complete", I'm hoping that I can improve and expand it with some helpful advice, or at least get some feedback that I can use to improve any maps that I might make in the future. I'd be particuarly thrilled with advice on how I could improve my roads, territory borders, paper texture and ocean texture/colour as I'm fairly unsatisfied with how those turned out. Thanks in advance for any comments you're willing to give.
Link to high resolution version
Hi Sunergy, welcome to the Guild. That's a pretty decent map; the colors don't really do it for me, but that's just a personal preference.
As to your Help Wanted points:
1) roads - they look fine to me. (Could be I'm biased though, since that's the same way I do mine. )
2) territory borders - I'm not a huge fan of the super-bright colors. The actual borders look fine though, no pixellation or ugliness that I can see.
3) paper texture - yeah, it's a bit much. Maybe just lower the opacity and see how it looks at different levels? I'm not sure what program you used to put this together, but if it's PS or Gimp, you might try copying the paper layer and reversing it right to left on top of the original and see how it turns out. I've done that with similar textures and it can sometimes give an interesting look.
4) ocean color - not a fan of the two-tone look. I'd like it much better if it was one color all the way through.
All of this would be made easier if there were a bit bigger version to look at...
"I like a look of agony, because I know it's true."
Thanks for the tips, Diamond. I am working in photoshop, so I'll try that trick with the paper texture, and I'll play around with the colours a bit.
The link works.
About the map, pretty decent work but I'd work more on coastlines/rivers/lakes that looks way much too pixellated and don't fit the hand-drawn stuff. Also I'm not a great fan of the drop shadow on the landmass that makes it looks like "floating"
Yeah, now that I can see it better I'd have to agree with Max; the pixellation is distracting. It wasn't obvious at the reduced-size version, but its really apparent now. I also want to revisit my comment on the roads - I actually don't like that oval shape you've used; I think it'd look better as a smaller round dot, or a dashed line.
Last edited by Diamond; 03-31-2013 at 06:43 PM.
"I like a look of agony, because I know it's true."
Yeah, a drop shadow on coastlines this way just makes the land look 'cut out' and like it's hovering over the water. For me, the distinction between your handdrawn elements and the digitally drawn ones is one of rough vs. razor-sharp / precise. That's jarring - your own elements have me thinking "yeah, guy with quill pen drew this". The subtly uneven font continues that thought. Then there's the outer border in all its digital precision. Then there's the faded area you use to set off the labels - effective, but think "how would a period cartographer do this, with <whatever>th century materials?" I'm thinking a work like a map would be such a big investment of time that the cartographer might plan out his area-symbology (mountains, forests, etc) so he wouldn't have to remove any to put in a label.
Drawing your own aymbols is great, and these look good. If imperfect, think "so the guy I'm role-playing isn't a master level mapper - so what? He still got the royal charter / publication contract / sixteen shekels from that adventuring party ..." <pick your rationale> However, there's a danger in drawing and scanning, in that you tend to think of them as vector art that can be infinitely zoomed in or out. And t'ain't so. The littler lines on your trees make me think you reduced them, with respect to the mountain and settlement symbols. That creates a subtle mismatch that drags down your realism. One's symbols work better if all were drawn at a similar scale. Same for fonts - irregularities that look fine at a middle size go all wierd at large title-size -- why would a 0.1-mm hand-shakiness scale up to a 1mm shakiness on a title - the importance of which by all rights would make the limnist *more* careful, not less. Same way in reverse for any tiny labels - the same font scaled down to a smaller point size looks sharper, more precise as those artificial wiggles get tinier. There's no good solution with fonts, unless you do your own irregularizing, or unless you find a font whose point sizes actually have different-scale irregularities... I'm betting the run-of-the mill free fonts from dafont.com aren't going to be that sophisticated. You can always use different fonts for drastically different sized labels to somewhat get around that effect. I do not know how one would go about applying the subtle level of distressing it would take to make different font size labels all have the same (-ish) wobbliness.
By the way, you owe that in-character cartographer a beer, for making him do *all*those*trees*...
The national symbology, of color washes that intensify gradually up to an exact correspondence with those digitally-drawn coastlines is another digital vs. manual mismatch. If one is going to do anything remotely watercolor-like on a period map, one can hugely improve the believability by introducing IMperfections. Let the land color slop over a teensy bit onto the sea, and vice versa. You see this all the time with meticulously engraved maps of old, which were then hand-tinted by obviously less-skilled colorists. Even manually following your drawn coastline with a manually (Wacom I mean, not feature-of-software exact following so many pixels offset, yadda, yadda) done color can give a great effect.
Freedom to goof up a little - maybe even speed up our process (depending on how laborious those edge-matching workflow steps are for you) - that's a bonus!
Don't get me wrong, it's a good map already _ we're just making betterment suggestions. Oh, and kudos for jumping right in with useful (pleasant!) contribution - I call any new member who puts a map in their first post worthy of a dab of rep just for that! So welcome - and if you're willing, show us more of this, honed & improved. Or something else - we're nondiscriminating in our greediness to see new good stuff :-).