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Thread: New wannabe cartographer, first map

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  1. #1

    Wip New wannabe cartographer, first map

    Hello everyone,

    A while ago I became interested in making my own maps for game use. I've since tried a few of the tutorials on this site, and finally I am now starting on the real thing. As with most starters, I am hungry for comments and suggestions as I go along.

    For the most part, this is a map just to let me develope my style - it is not (yet) part of any game setting.

    I seem to have a few style issues:

    I like my maps bright and a bit cartoonish. I also like irregular coastlines and island groups. To make even the smallest islands visible, I've applied a high contrast style for the coastlines. On the other hand, my preferred style for mountains uses shading rather than hard outlining, and I've been going back and forth to keep the two styles from seeming mismatched when mixed in one map. Not sure if I've succeeded, but giving higher contrast edges to the mountainous terrain and putting plenty of irregularly shaped forest into the map seems to mitigate the issue.

    I am currently working on this map using GIMP only, but I consider adding InkScape to my toolbox.

    Cheers,
    Nils
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  2. #2
    Guild Member Flaterectomy's Avatar
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    Welcome Nils the Giant!

    You're off to a good start with your map, I like the little islands and almost fjord-like jagged coastline. The mountains do seem a little separated from the surrounding terrain, my suggestion would be to have a more gradual process from plains to foothills to mountains to peaks. That applies to texture as well as colour and shading.

    Another thing is that having the irregular coastline as well as equally irregularly shaped forests gives the map a busy, cluttered feeling. It might be worth looking into decreasing the irregularity of the forests (in parts, at least) in contrast to the coastline.

    The last thing I can think of is maybe playing a little with the outer glow of the landmass into the sea. Again, a slightly more gradual fade set against the jagged coastline might look pretty neat.
    Alas, my website features music, not maps.

  3. #3
    Software Dev/Rep Redrobes's Avatar
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    Yeah thats my immediate thought that with the black line around the land and then the aqua hard line its like a striped edge to the land. A slower fade on the aqua to the blue sea would make that look better I think. Still, I like the map and it does fit in with your stated aims for it so good job - and welcome btw.

  4. #4

    Wip

    Flaterectomy, it seems that you really can spot other dutch-speakers with frightning accuracy

    Thank you both for the suggestions. I'm still spending some thoughts on what to do with the forests to reduce clutter, but making the fade from the coastline more gradual was simple enough and does give a slightly different feel to the map already. (attached)
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  5. #5

    Wip

    Rather than reduce forests, I've changed the map to use only shades of green on the land. It does seem easier on the eyes.. though this may be wishful thinking on my part.

    But is it still clear enough where the highlands and mountains are? It may be too easy now to confuse the mountains for forests, and the forests for plains..

    Definitely still a WIP.
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  6. #6
    Guild Member Flaterectomy's Avatar
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    Yeah, it is easier on the eyes, but it does it at the cost of losing the mountains. If I were you, I'd have a look at some of the mountain tutorials in the Tutorials/How-To forum. You should probably have the mountains appear from the heart of the forest where the tree line gives way to the peaks.
    Alas, my website features music, not maps.

  7. #7
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Steel General's Avatar
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    Welcome Aboard!

    Your map is coming along well, but what sticks out to me is the outline of your land masses. This causes a very sudden break from the land to the sea. Now if that's what you're wanting then its fine, but i think I would maybe change the color to something more in the middle to help ease the transition.

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  8. #8
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Steel General's Avatar
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    Try Ascensions suggestion of the inner glow or if you like the outline/stroke, choose a color that's some kind of mid-point between the ocean and the land.
    My Finished Maps | My Challenge Maps | Ghoraja Juun, my largely stagnated campaign setting.

    Unless otherwise stated by me in the post, all work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.



  9. #9

    Wip

    That last version was with a black, 10 pixel inner glow, but I think I botched it

    My guess is that the transition to forest is too dark and too close to the shoreline, making the glow on the lowland barely noticeable because there only rarely are enough pixels of lowland to appreciate the effect.

  10. #10
    Professional Artist Nomadic's Avatar
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    Very nice first map. If the mountains are still a separate layer I might suggest adding a very light bit of noise. That will make them appear less blurry (not much, just enough to sharpen them up).
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