# Thread: August 2014 Challenge: The Shelves of Arlath

1. ## August 2014 Challenge: The Shelves of Arlath

After looking about for a suitable picture, I found this animatedly fun image.

Some of you may know where this *really* is...but since I'm making up the rest, I'd just as soon not know (so as not to pollute my mind with the actualities).

In any case, I thought I'd better do some measurements to make the eventual map accurate. I measured the height of the handrail on the bridge and assumed it was a little less than five feet. This let me do distances for all of the "middle ground" objects. Then I assumed, based on appearances, that the width of the upper waterfall (although at a slight angle) was probably about the same width as the lower waterfall. The water flow seems about the same to me. So by bootstrapping I was able to get the distances of some of the "back ground" stuff. I think I can also figure out the distance to the rear waterfall.

Lots more to come!

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2. I did a bit of back-of-the-envelope trigonometry and decided that if the bridge was about a hundred feet from the camera, then the back waterfall (at the base) would be about a hundred and fifty feet from the bridge. I did an overhead layout to rough out where the waters will pool and flow, and where the shores (as yet unseen) will be. Then I did an isometric transformation on the overhead elements, squishing the vertical by 57.7% while keeping the horizontal the same. I took the various layers and separated them by height.

Finally, I took that isometric composite and used it as a faint overlay in ProCreate on the iPad while I sketched the inks down on top of it. That results in the progress you see here:

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3. Lots more ink work to clarify the levels of the "shelves" and mark out the path of the water. Buildings and paths to come next, as well as foliage and color.

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4. I'm curious to see what you will "map" on this one

5. Here is the latest progress on the ink work:

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My process for these isometric maps is getting more refined and repeatable.
Step 0: starting with the side-on photograph (optional step, required by this contest)
Step 1: layout a top-down view of the scene based on project requirements. Make sure to put in elevation lines.
Step 2: squish the vertical by a certain percentage while keeping the horizontal at 100% (going into isometric view)
Step 3: separate out the elevation levels by moving them up or down, depending on where they should go
Step 4: begin to sketch over the outline, looking for opportunities for better lines of sight and locations of interest (I don't want any important areas to be occluded by terrain)
Step 5: once sketch is feeling good, take a copy and extend the vertical by the reciprocal of the previous percentage, keeping horizontal the same
Step 6: cut the various elevation levels out, eliminating all vertical sketch info so that all that remains is the flat horizontal regions again (now having been modified by the isometric sketching)
Step 7: rack the elevation levels together, lining them up so that everything makes sense again from overhead
[ This is where I am now. See sketch below ]
Step 8: from this new top-down view, layout the town/buildings/features in a quick and straightforward way
Step 9: take the building information and squish it in the vertical, same percentage as before. This brings the building outlines into isometric perspective
Step 10: lay the building foundations back into the main isometric sketch and start drawing the buildings in, now that there's confidence from the overhead view that they are arranged sensibly
Step 12: ???
Step 13: Profit!

See below the new, revised overhead view of the scene, created by re-flattening the isometric sketch above and then arranging the flat areas properly relative to each other.

Oh! And finally, by adding in the rope bridge I have made a more interesting path for the adventurers (or any attackers) to follow on their way to the town, as well as creating a plausible vantage point from which the original photograph that started this whole project could have been taken.

6. Looks interesting. Looking forward to seeing it finished !

7. Very impressive xpian!

8. Thanks, everyone.

I thought I'd share today's progress on getting the buildings in there. I now have a complete top-down map of all the structures, and I'm using my faux-3D isometric process to put them into the sketch, build up some upper stories and pitched roofs, and make them feel like they belong there. Some of these buildings are further along than others.

The top-down map (not shown) was done in illustrator, but most of this work is being done in ProCreate.

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9. More progress on inking.

I've added the watch tower on the approach path to the left, the gate house on the right, and a bunch more buildings on the west side of town.

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10. Cor, that's a beauty of a bird's eye view.
I can imagine rising over the waterfall and seeing that.

I wonder what it would look like with a small mill in the river...but those things truly depend on what kind of settlement this is. In fact, are we going to get a short backstory before you finish the map? (I love backstories!)
(I'm going to have to learn to do this in PhotElements...)