Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 14

Thread: Map of Harren - Trouble with adding text

  1. #1
    Guild Novice Facebook Connected
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    11

    Wip [WIP] Map of Harren

    So, here is my novice's dilemma. I have spent countless hours crafting what I believe to be a detailed, beautiful and compelling world map for my novel. Now I want to add some text for the cities, rivers and nation names that you would expect any map to contain.

    It looks awful.

    I am running into a brick wall trying to make my text legible AND interesting. Or hell I would just settle for legible at this point. I've tried drop shadows. I've tried different fonts and such to no avail. I desperately need some advice.

    I have attached four maps. One of the entire region minus any text:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Map-current.jpg 
Views:	238 
Size:	1.03 MB 
ID:	57252

    An earlier version of the entire region with text added for some nations:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Map-FINALish.jpg 
Views:	149 
Size:	4.66 MB 
ID:	57253

    A zoomed in version of the island chain region without text:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Vetr.jpg 
Views:	74 
Size:	293.5 KB 
ID:	57254

    and with text:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	VetrText.jpg 
Views:	93 
Size:	171.8 KB 
ID:	57255

    I also welcome any and all advice on the rest of my map out side of the text. Doesn't mean I will take your advice, but I certainly welcome it.

    Everything was mouse-drawn in Gimp 2.8.6

    *Sorry! I tried looking for a tutorial on text placement but could not find one... until I posted this thread! I will attempt to read that 17 page monstrosity, but in the meanwhile, feel free to critique what I have accomplished so far!
    Last edited by Christopher Powell; 08-27-2013 at 07:48 PM. Reason: Update thread topic/subject

  2. #2
    Guild Adept Gracious Donor Viking's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    417

    Default

    I've run into this problem myself. For me what works is keeping things basic and picking a clean font that is legible at the sizes you need them to be. "Straighter" fonts are more legibile when they are at smaller sizes. Some good advice that was given to me once was to keep fonts straight and horizontal where possible as that facilitates readability as opposed to warping words. Warping words (by which I mean putting them on curves or on waves) can be used but you have to be careful in how the program does it as some will warp the individual letters.

    There is a great tutorial out there about word placement I will try to do a quick search for shortly. Basically you want words to be fully in or outside of areas (say fully on land, or fully over water). Mountains and forests can chop up words and rivers can be annoying too and should be avoided.

  3. #3
    Guild Adept Gracious Donor Viking's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    417

    Default

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Map viking edit.jpg 
Views:	170 
Size:	3.70 MB 
ID:	57256 I just did a quick thing showing an approach you could try. I used simpler fonts in smaller sizes keeping things straighter. For the larger names I double spaced between the letters of the names which isn't always advisable but I know it gets done sometimes. You'll notice the white outlines or drop shadows don't always aid in legibility. Here I personally find the unoutlined text clearer. For the ashlands I used a lighter font against the darker background. Whatever you do try to keep things consistent as in all political names have a single font, colour and possibly size, regional names another set, perhaps bodies of water another but try to avoid making every name unique.

    One thing I did not experiment with is opacity. The lower the opacity on text the more subtle it becomes. On large pieces of text this is sometimes desirable so it does not overpower the rest of the landscape and smaller names.

    In my sample I could have renamed the Vejr isles the Vejr sea. I just realized maybe two those Js are supposed to be Ts :p My bad!!!
    Last edited by Viking; 08-27-2013 at 12:17 PM.

  4. #4
    Guild Expert Azelor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Québec
    Posts
    1,212

    Default

    It look good with the black labels.

    And how about placing the names rotating counter-clockwise ? That would fit with the center maelstrom and the general concept of the map but at the cost of readability. Just an idea.

  5. #5
    Guild Novice Facebook Connected
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    11

    Default

    Thanks for the great suggestions Viking.

    Yeah, you misspelled some of the names, but I'll take the blame for that since I used crazy fonts that are difficult to read.

    My primary concern was that I made my map too colorful, and that I would have to do a major redesign to make it actually informative instead of just pretty to look at. You have given me hope with your examples!

    @Azelor
    That is an interesting suggestion. I think it also pinpoints what exactly felt so wrong about the larger map with text. The storm in the center clashes with having the text rotated in a way that doesn't complement it. I'm not convinced I want to lose the readability yet but I will definitely experiment with that. Thank you very much!
    Last edited by Christopher Powell; 08-27-2013 at 01:48 PM. Reason: add reply to Azelor

  6. #6
    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
    2,481

    Default

    I sometimes find that a stroke, glow or drop shadow is useful, but not at full strength. I like to start with a 1 pixel stroke in a color complementary to the text. I reduce the opacity of the stroke to 0 (I know you can do that in Photoshop, not sure about Gimp), and then increase it until I feel like the text's legibility is optimized. If the label is very large, or I get all the way to 100% opacity without seeing improvement, then I'll start adjusting other parameters. The key is to use just enough, and no more.

    It is also important to have sufficient color contrast between the labels and the underlying imagery. I think the black on deep blue is getting a bit lost because the values are so similar. Try something like a very pale yellow on the ocean to start with. That color might also work for labels over the green areas, but it definitely will not work over the desert, where you'll want a darker label.

    Well-made, non-decorative fonts are important. There are plenty of good fonts with high legibility that can evoke high fantasy, or science fiction, or pirates, or whatever. A decorative font is great for a map's title or a really huge label, but the smaller the text is, the less a decorative font is desirable.

    Regarding serif vs sans serif: It doesn't really matter so much for labeling a map, but serif fonts are usually more readable, so they're preferred for body copy. Readability is a measure of how much fatigue a typeface causes in large blocks. Legibility is a measure of how quickly a headline can be comprehended. Serif fonts tend to have a stylistic association with a time period that is post-industrial revolution and pre-information age.
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist
    http://www.bryanray.name

  7. #7
    Guild Novice Facebook Connected
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    11

    Default

    Thank you for the points on the fonts, Midgarsormr. I fully realized that mistake after seeing the results of trying to be fancy with it.

    I like your suggestions on font color. It may sound incredibly amateurish but I never even contemplated using a different color font before I posted here. It seems so obvious in retrospect.

    Gimp does have an opacity option on it's drop shadow function so I will try messing around with that too.

    Also, I just want to open this up to general dissection of the map itself, aside from only text suggestions (I know I specifically asked for that, not trying to sound ungrateful here). Any thoughts on the map itself? I know the mountains don't look like they make sense, but, the idea was that some sort of event, either an impact from a comet/meteorite or maybe a magical event caused an impact crater to form. Over time, natural erosion and such caused it to break down into what you see here. So those aren't meant to be traditionally formed mountains. They are actually remnants of a crater ring.

    I also tried to factor in some more traditional mountains and terrain because obviously an impact doesn't stop plate tectonics (unless of course it is large enough to obliterate the planet...). That is also why the ring is slightly distorted. I also figured weather patterns would cause different parts to erode at different rates.

    Anyway, I welcome any and all suggestions, even if it really amounts to "nice try but don't quit your day job".

  8. #8
    Guild Expert jbgibson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Alabama, USA
    Posts
    1,208

    Default

    Have you found the excellent guide Ravells posted on positioning labels? Lots of goodness there.

    The saturated colors are a style statement, a bold one. Since there's plenty you want labelled on this, perhaps you should experiment with a less saturated or lighter palette, to let the labels show up better? If your focus is the land, using less saturation on the sea makes it recede from notice a bit.

    If the lighter water just means shallows, it looks mighty uniform. Take a look at Earth's continental shelves - they vary from zero width to hundreds of miles across. If it's just a device to set off the otherwise similar-value land and sea, consider a coastline stroke instead, and/or lightening either land or sea.

    Is this for paper publication or an eBook? If paper, you may want to create a simpler B&W version for print, relegating the colored one to supplemental material in your online presence. Bonus material to give readers a reason to come to a website, shall we say. If for an eBook you can get away with a lot that can't be economically printed... but it's still support material for the story. I presume you want readers to be able to see where events take place, and to be able to locate places that characters themselves never visit, bu only speak of? If so, the legibility may matter more than the style. If your purpose is to set forth your world's aesthetic, to imply a period - then the look could matter as much as the content. Almost :-).

  9. #9
    Guild Novice Facebook Connected
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    11

    Default

    Yes, I found that later in the day after I started this thread. I have not waded through the entire text yet but it is very helpful so far.

    That was my big worry with the heavy saturation. I didn't start out to make it that way but when I stumbled upon that I liked it and decided to go all out with it. If I had found this site earlier in the design process I probably would have a completely different looking map right now lol. But I've put enough time into this one and I actually really like the look of it.

    I like your idea of desaturating it just a little bit so I'll experiment with that. I might have a few new versions to post for critique tonight or tomorrow.

    I definitely need to create a B&W version though for eventual print, but I still want the full color for digital.

  10. #10
    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
    2,481

    Default

    Most of the time, I lobby for desaturation and increased contrast, but I think your palette on this one is gorgeous. I love the vibrant colors on the land. I do agree, though, that the water is overpowering and could probably be dialed back quite a bit. Even so, I'm rather glad you didn't come here first. Sometimes the groupthink sets in, and everything starts looking the same. Especially for the few months after Ascension posts a new tutorial!
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist
    http://www.bryanray.name

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •