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Thread: Please Critique My Rough Draft (First Timer)

  1. #1

    Wip Please Critique My Rough Draft (First Timer) [Updated]

    Backstory: The area is roughly the size of the USA. The rest of the world is uninhabited by humans and uncharted due to dangerous natives (magical creatures), which saves me from mapping the whole planet.

    Alright, so this is my first time submitting. I know the quality is **** and you can't read any of the labels, so please forgive me. I expect to make changes so I'm not ready to clean it up in photoshop yet. I'm just looking for realism feedback concerning my seas, rivers, and mountains.

    This is my first map ever so let the criticisms flood in!

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Most of the rivers will serve as borders for the kingdoms I still need to come up with.


    SUPER late edit: Here's a better quality photo of my original sketch.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Krix; 09-02-2013 at 05:39 PM.

  2. #2
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    I would suggest that you work on the coastline first. At the moment it looks unnaturally smooth and follows the border of your sheet too much. I did the same thing with my first map, too. You should reduce the landmass and give it a more natural shape, epecially if the scale is that big.

    Once the coastline has a natural flow to it, it's easier to work out the mountains, since it gives you a better idea of how the tectonics might work. From there you can work on the rivers.

    I always like to have a look at Google Earth to get a grip on certain landmass-shapes or terrain features.

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    i suggest you have a look at this thread: how-get-your-rivers-right-place

    it seems that you don't have any mountains yet. start with the mountains (of course after you've set the landmass), they determine pretty much form rivers to climate!

    cheers!

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Llannagh View Post
    I would suggest that you work on the coastline first. At the moment it looks unnaturally smooth and follows the border of your sheet too much. I did the same thing with my first map, too. You should reduce the landmass and give it a more natural shape, epecially if the scale is that big.

    Once the coastline has a natural flow to it, it's easier to work out the mountains, since it gives you a better idea of how the tectonics might work. From there you can work on the rivers.

    I always like to have a look at Google Earth to get a grip on certain landmass-shapes or terrain features.
    Actually, that's exactly what I did. Even though this part is only a corner of the continent, I agree it does look rather rectangular. However, once you zoom out to this scale, coasts become a lot smoother. The quality is a bit too **** to tell, but the coast actually has a lot of micro variations. With that said, after looking at it from your view, I definitely will add some more macro variations to the coast as well (specifically on the southern coast).

    Thanks for your help!

    Quote Originally Posted by leen View Post
    i suggest you have a look at this thread: how-get-your-rivers-right-place



    it seems that you don't have any mountains yet. start with the mountains (of course after you've set the landmass), they determine pretty much form rivers to climate!

    cheers!
    I just had a look at the link and that's almost exactly what I did. I made a post before I started drawing the map and someone shared a link very similar to that one. I knew I shouldn't have uploaded such a low quality photo... I actually have 6 mountain ranges. Regardless, that link you shared had a few things the other didn't so it gave me a few things to think about (specifically wells/springs and water tables). I'm fairly confident my rivers are accurate enough at this point, but I will almost certainly make a few more changes before I start laying down the region borders and populations.

    Thanks for your help!

  5. #5

    Wip Update!

    I made a lot of changes to the coastline and ported it into photoshop much sooner than I planned. I added more variations as suggested and I'm fairly pleased with the new coastline. I plan on commissioning a final version for my book so I'm trying to keep the file as clean and simple as possible. Thoughts so far?

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    That's a workable coastline, though the overall shores still seem to conform to the edge of the canvas. I'd consider "zooming out" a bit and giving yourself some more water. Having plenty of open water on a map can be good later on when you want to throw in things like a compass rose, scale, and legend.

  7. #7
    Guild Expert jbgibson's Avatar
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    I suspect the caution about rivers stems from confusion on your original sketch -- I had to work on my little screen to discern the labels making some blobs mountain ranges. Once I grasped that, I believed your river system. One water question - the little blob in the NW between Sundering Mountains, Shield Mountains, and ... Mountains - is that a no- outlet lake? If so i guess the associated rivers make sense. What's the N-S line bisecting the shield mountains, running from the sunderings to the S coast?

    The digital rendering is an improvement, and in any case it's fine for your sketch to be generalized into smoothness. Thing is, though, parts of your digital coast *look* like you took a smooth-ish original and wiggled in some irregularity. The innermost bay at the center looks scalloped -- repeated notches and bumps of similar size. Kind of like many 16th -17th century maps put river wiggles in suspiciously regularly. Does it make sense to say some of your irregularity borders on being too regular? :-)

    I love your inclusion of many scales of coastal islands - too many mappers ignore barrier islands, leaving an apparent rule of "all islands are in the middle of bodies of water", which is a rule the real world seems to have missed.

    Granted that you thought ahead re: mountain placement - you still haven't depicted anything much in other topography. You *can* decide on a coast then figure what lies just inland, that just seems backwards, and could lead to subtly implausible arrangements. For instance, the sunderings are your only high land approaching the sea. -- real mountain forming processes often happen near coasts - colliding tectonic plates, for instance. True enough, some will be mid-continent. I could imagine the Sundering Mountains as the seam where two plates are colliding, Himalayan style. The other ranges could be leftovers of older uplift events or patches of volcanism. Other than that, do you plan any hills/ plateaus/ rough territory near the sea? For instance, is there even a modest spine down that lower E-W strip, separating the gulf/ bay complex from the southern ocean? If there is, wherever it lies close to the sea, there'll be different coastal geological processes going on. For that matter the character of your sea floor is going to make a huge difference. Broad shallow gently sloping coastal shelves would make long swooping beachy shores plausible, or highly indented swampy delta/ bayou country. But one would expect a more fingered set of sharp ish indentations if the coast falls away more sharply - say with the drowned mountain fjord systems of Scandinavia or the drowned hilly character of the US DelMarVa Peninsula / Chesapeake Bay.

    I guess what I'm saying, with too many words as usual, is all manner of smoothness, jaggy ness and irregularity is plausible, if you sell the viewer on how it got that way. Some of us geo-freaks are OCD-analyzing topography on every last map. Some folks couldn't care less. A vast middle bunch will have a bit of subconscious feel for plausible landforms... arbitrary randomness just won't *add* to your believability. And after all, you want the viewer to imagine this is a real place, right?

    If you figure on giving a photoshop file to someone to finish, you can still leave all manner of sloppy / sketchy annotations on separate layers. I've seen folks specifying with simple spray painted colors for mountains, hills, forests, and so forth.

    While your digital version has more irregularity, it still seems oddly rectangular. In many file types undetailed space is cheap, size-wise. Even the same landform if surrounded by a generous amount of sea; might look less page-filling. And a finished continental map will look better with a bit more sea-- think of paintings with mats as well as frames. If your land winds up highly detailed, the sea gives you freedom to place key, legend, annotations, even some coastal-feature labels offshore, leaving your focus territory less cluttered.
    Last edited by jbgibson; 09-02-2013 at 01:06 PM.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    That's a workable coastline, though the overall shores still seem to conform to the edge of the canvas. I'd consider "zooming out" a bit and giving yourself some more water. Having plenty of open water on a map can be good later on when you want to throw in things like a compass rose, scale, and legend.
    That's exactly what I plan to do

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbgibson View Post
    I suspect the caution about rivers stems from confusion on your original sketch -- I had to work on my little screen to discern the labels making some blobs mountain ranges. Once I grasped that, I believed your river system. One water question - the little blob in the NW between Sundering Mountains, Shield Mountains, and ... Mountains - is that a no- outlet lake? If so i guess the associated rivers make sense. What's the N-S line bisecting the shield mountains, running from the sunderings to the S coast?
    I'm sorry about the quality of the original. I tried to upload a better one, but I guess the file was too large and nothing showed up when the upload completed. I'll upload and paste a link from another site.

    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	57427 There.... I don't know why I didn't do that in the first place...

    Yes, the blob between Shield Mountains, The Sundering, and the unnamed mountains is a lake with no outlet. The line bisecting the Shield Mountains to the coast is a wall. I made sure it wasn't an unreasonable length (it doesn't even come close to the combined length of the Great Wall of China). It should have been no problem for people with magic to construct. Beyond the wall and the Sundering Mountains is an uncharted and deadly world.

    P.S. I just saw your River Police badge and lol'd. I'm now much more honored by your pseudo-approval!

    The digital rendering is an improvement, and in any case it's fine for your sketch to be generalized into smoothness. Thing is, though, parts of your digital coast *look* like you took a smooth-ish original and wiggled in some irregularity. The innermost bay at the center looks scalloped -- repeated notches and bumps of similar size. Kind of like many 16th -17th century maps put river wiggles in suspiciously regularly. Does it make sense to say some of your irregularity borders on being too regular? :-)
    I think I did that because that area is going to be very mountainous and cliff-like. I wanted some variation across the shoreline so it wasn't the same all over, but I do agree it may be too extreme in some places - specifically that bay. That's how I drew it in my initial sketch and I just kind of followed that line with the pen tool without giving it too much thought (things look a lot different when you're zoomed in super close). That will definitely be an area that gets tweaked. Thanks making note of it

    I love your inclusion of many scales of coastal islands - too many mappers ignore barrier islands, leaving an apparent rule of "all islands are in the middle of bodies of water", which is a rule the real world seems to have missed.
    YES! I did something right!!!

    Granted that you thought ahead re: mountain placement - you still haven't depicted anything much in other topography. You *can* decide on a coast then figure what lies just inland, that just seems backwards, and could lead to subtly implausible arrangements. For instance, the sunderings are your only high land approaching the sea. -- real mountain forming processes often happen near coasts - colliding tectonic plates, for instance. True enough, some will be mid-continent. I could imagine the Sundering Mountains as the seam where two plates are colliding, Himalayan style. The other ranges could be leftovers of older uplift events or patches of volcanism. Other than that, do you plan any hills/ plateaus/ rough territory near the sea? For instance, is there even a modest spine down that lower E-W strip, separating the gulf/ bay complex from the southern ocean? If there is, wherever it lies close to the sea, there'll be different coastal geological processes going on. For that matter the character of your sea floor is going to make a huge difference. Broad shallow gently sloping coastal shelves would make long swooping beachy shores plausible, or highly indented swampy delta/ bayou country. But one would expect a more fingered set of sharp ish indentations if the coast falls away more sharply - say with the drowned mountain fjord systems of Scandinavia or the drowned hilly character of the US DelMarVa Peninsula / Chesapeake Bay.
    I didn't give the mountain ranges too much logical thought. I just kind of put them in places where I wanted to break up the land. In truth, I think I kind of lost sense of the scale when I was designing the map. I live in Phoenix, AZ and we're surrounded by mountains and have many small ones in the city. I think that micro-scale sort of polluted my thought process when designing ranges on a macro-scale. However, tectonics aren't the only force in nature on this world. There is a source of energy in the planet that is the fuel for spells. Where there is enough of it (especially where it's not being used for spells), it will create flora, fauna, and affect the landscape over time.

    Originally, I planned to make The Wild Strand a spine of mountains (which was very logical), but I felt like it was too narrow to allow for anything of importance and would make for a ****ty kindgom/realm if I just filled it with a mountain range. I haven't given it too much though, but I'm sure I'll still put a very small range of mountains in the center of that strip, but I they won't be very large. The fist-like mass that I've named "Ignatia" (sounds more and more terrible every time I read it), will be a rocky area filled with plateaus and volcanoes, some active - some dormant. It's hard to tell, but there's a mountain range on the east coast of Ignatia titled "Knuckle Ridge" (as corny as that name is, I think I like it enough to keep it). It's just not outlined because it was one of the first ranges I put down and I was drawing individual mountains for the ranges at the time.

    I guess what I'm saying, with too many words as usual, is all manner of smoothness, jaggy ness and irregularity is plausible, if you sell the viewer on how it got that way. Some of us geo-freaks are OCD-analyzing topography on every last map. Some folks couldn't care less. A vast middle bunch will have a bit of subconscious feel for plausible landforms... arbitrary randomness just won't *add* to your believability. And after all, you want the viewer to imagine this is a real place, right?
    That is exactly right. I most certainly want it to be believable and I hope it will be once I get the major rivers in. And I'm very thankful for the geo-freaks. That's why I post here. It keeps me in line and is an incredible source of information that I couldn't find anywhere else in such quantities.

    If you figure on giving a photoshop file to someone to finish, you can still leave all manner of sloppy / sketchy annotations on separate layers. I've seen folks specifying with simple spray painted colors for mountains, hills, forests, and so forth.
    That makes me feel better, but I don't expect mine to look too much better when I'm done.

    While your digital version has more irregularity, it still seems oddly rectangular. In many file types undetailed space is cheap, size-wise. Even the same landform if surrounded by a generous amount of sea; might look less page-filling. And a finished continental map will look better with a bit more sea-- think of paintings with mats as well as frames. If your land winds up highly detailed, the sea gives you freedom to place key, legend, annotations, even some coastal-feature labels offshore, leaving your focus territory less cluttered.
    Well... ****. I was kind of hoping the changes I made last night would give the impression that this is just one area of larger continent and make it less rectangular. I always planned on zooming out and giving a larger view of the continent (though not by much) and the ocean. But I wanted to have ample room for detail so I drew the land area as large as I could while leaving room for variations on the coast. As you and others have pointed out, I subconsciously used the edge of the paper to guide my coastline.

    However, I'm fairly satisfied with my coast. I can still modify the NE and E coastlines, but I can't do much with the south because I like that accidental fist-shape and the SW corner is where the story starts and I've already written that part so I can't change it too much.

    I can't thank you enough for your advice and feedback!

    Edit: I think I can easily blow out the coast below The Dark Bay and above the straight leading into The Bright Sea to make the landmass a little less rectangular. That shouldn't be too hard at all.
    Last edited by Krix; 09-02-2013 at 05:46 PM.

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