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Thread: City Mapping Technique

  1. #1
    Guild Member Altrunchen's Avatar
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    Help City Mapping Technique

    For a long time now I have been wrestling with how to develop a repeatable, reliable, convincing, and aesthetically pleasing process for making city maps that are scaled to represent an area large enough to be a city. What I hope to accomplish is a method I can use repeatedly on all the cities in my campaign setting so that the players have a map to go to that isn't too memory-expensive but nevertheless looks nice.

    What I have tried are the following:

    Method 1.)

    Basic city map with zoning instead of actual buildings to be populated with building images in MapTools:



    Method 2.)
    City map using pre-made images and texture templates to draw a city map in maptools

    Method 3.)
    Hand-Draw a city map and scan it into the computer for editing in photoshop.

    Method 4.)
    Hand-Draw a city map and scan it into the computer to be used as-is.

    However, I never really like the results I get from any of these methods because the maps either look too sloppy, too under-developed, or are just too big to feasibly share online.

    What I'd like to learn how to do is:

    1. Develop a simple and repeatable system for drawing convincing and detailed city maps.
    2. Develop a way to color-in said city-maps.
    3. Make city maps that seem accurate to medieval city design.


    Any idea how I can go about this?
    Last edited by Altrunchen; 12-12-2013 at 01:10 PM.

  2. #2

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    I think you need to place a coal power plant, some hospitals, and some police and fire stations. =P

    But on a serious note. You could try a technique similar to that used on this map perhaps. Your buildings would all be on one layer with a pattern overlay. You could use subtle colouring on the city blocks to show their function.

    On that one important buildings are marked in darker squares. I once saw someone on here make a map not unlike this one, but then drew the actual important buildings in an isometric style, but not any of the regular buildings.

    As for city layout I think you'll be best off deciding on what medieval culture you're trying to emulate and then doing a search for some city maps of the period for that country.

  3. #3
    Guild Member Altrunchen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larb View Post
    I think you need to place a coal power plant, some hospitals, and some police and fire stations. =P

    But on a serious note. You could try a technique similar to that used on this map perhaps. Your buildings would all be on one layer with a pattern overlay. You could use subtle colouring on the city blocks to show their function.

    On that one important buildings are marked in darker squares. I once saw someone on here make a map not unlike this one, but then drew the actual important buildings in an isometric style, but not any of the regular buildings.

    As for city layout I think you'll be best off deciding on what medieval culture you're trying to emulate and then doing a search for some city maps of the period for that country.
    Lol nice Sim City reference ;p...

    And thanks for the help, I think I just might try making the map like that image you sent me. Might be enough of a time saver.

    Oh and, ROTICULATING SPLINE!

  4. #4
    Guild Artisan Falconius's Avatar
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    I'd think that in medieval times where city travel is essentially limited to walking (other than for the rich) the set up tends to have less zoning. People lived and worked pretty much in or above their shops as far as I'm aware. Or very close. In addition, these shops have to be fairly close to their sources of supply, so right along roads and rivers. Because no teamster is going to wind his cart down a maze of alleys for one delivery. Where you'd have more organization and order is with the traders and merchants, as they would have guilds and centralized buildings around to help protect and move their assets; as well as the clout to get things arranged they way they prefer. I think these things are some of the reasons why all that Roman order that so many towns started with got swarmed as we moved into the dark ages. You really need an iron handed enforcement to maintain districts as you have them laid out there. (and Rome itself wasn't as organized as much as they would have liked even with an iron hand)

    Another point I noticed is that the palace is relatively close to an edge of the industrial district and that the road leading up to it actually passes along the industrial zone. I find that unlikely, the wealthy and powerful preferred to put as much distance between themselves and unpleasantness (pretty much everything involved with the daily life of peasants) as possible. That is why King Louis built Versailles as far from Paris as he did (I'm sure there are more relevant earlier examples, but this one is an obvious choice). So a city palace would likely be arranged to have less presence of industry around it.
    Last edited by Falconius; 12-18-2013 at 07:42 AM.

  5. #5
    Guild Master Facebook Connected jtougas's Avatar
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    That's a very "neat" city. It's wonderful if you can get all the various facets of the citizenry to keep it that way. Buildings will burn or just fall down and others will be built perhaps not so neatly. I also concur with the above comments on the layout. Of course it is your city and perhaps your nobles and leaders of commerce need to be nearby to keep the rabble from stealing and causing mayhem. I like the "block" idea of depicting buildings without having to draw each building individually. These blocks can be color coded to represent different uses. Overall you have put a lot of thought into this and I wish you good luck. City mapping is it's own insanity. Trust me I know....
    I am the breath of Dragons...The Song of Mountains...The Stories of Rivers....The Heart of Cities.... I am A Cartographer....

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