Hello fellow cartographers.
Let me begin by saying that this is my first time posting a map, and I owe props to Ascension and Kindari for their tutorials - couldn't have done without you guys, so thank you.
This is the planned map for my home-brew world for D&D 3.5. The world's name is Omnius (a play on Ominous and Omnia - Latin for Everything), and I have started designing the first part for purposes of gaming (this is not the entire world at this point). I hope to finish up this overland map and move into city mapping (ah, the agony) soon.
I have some specific concerns and would like some suggestions from the various masters here:
To begin with, I really like the Tolkien font I'm using, but I would like to find a way to make the lettering stand out more while still keeping it compact, both for zoomed in and zoomed out. I've sort of played with Layer Styles, but nothing has seemed to be all that effective to me. I'm hoping someone can suggest (and give me a screen cap or idiot-proof guidance) a way to make the city names stand out more. I find that using white works the best, but sometimes I have to change it to a darker colour for certain regions with high white background (Northreach Mountains and Mount Cragnoc for example), but I'd like to keep the mainland (the lower right section of land) names looking the same if possible - my world has no countries, but runs on city states and alliances between the various cities (the towns wind up being absorbed into whatever "realm" the latest alliances create).
City tokens - whether it is the star or the dotted circle - does anyone have a better suggestion for the symbols? I've looked at different maps and seen some things I like, but I either can't replicate them or they look good on someone else's map, but not on mine.
The Maelstrom - I don't mind the appearance of it right now, but the concept for The Maelstrom is that it is a collision point for the Outer and Inner Planes and the Prime Material Plane. This area is highly unstable, with gates opening to fantastic realms and elemental forces ripping up the area. It's not mean to be a place for characters to go, and I have an idea for it that involves smoky gray/dark grey clouds with hints of firelight tinting the clouds as well as lightning streaking through the clouds. The best images I can really find are the ones I attached, but I want to make it more top-down looking and don't really know how to do it (the starcraft'esque one is perfect for the clouds, but I just need the lightning streaks from the other one supplanted, and again, I want to make it top-down). I know it is probably more work than necessary to do it, but I think it would look cool (just like Coglio has a fog mask to reflect the region as covered in a permanent fog).
Any other suggestions, criticisms or ideas are also appreciated.