Hmmm... zoomed out it looks really good. Zoomed in it's a bit too photorealistic for me, it kinda clashes with the less photorealistic mountains.
Not having enough time to create hand-drawn maps for all of coming adventure, I needed a map of the mountain pass, which the PCs must go through to reach Lord Hachiwara's castle town. The Shinto Shrine is just off map to eastside on the same road shown.
My more photorealistic style, oh well. This took me 1.5 hours to create. I put in the WIP forum, in case I need to tweak it a bit - or change it altogether.
Perhaps I could put in my hand-drawn styled forest textures to lessen the photo realism here. Like I said, that is why I posted this in the WIP forums. So I'll trying fixing that tonight.
Better than the first, I think.
Maybe the edges of the forests could be a touch softer? I'm not sure, glancing at it half-asleep as I am, but it might be part of the problem. The first thing that I noticed on the original wasn't the texture, but the clipping edges, personally.
Well the more I looked at this map, the more I didn't like it. I think because I've been doing more and more hand-drawn maps - I figured, because the previous map was completely digitally created, that's why I didn't like it.
So to fix it, I started from scratch, with slightly different mountain layout, and a slightly different style of hand-drawn mountains. This one took me 4 hours to create, most of the time tracing the tracing to do the color aspects. There's a little digital in the beveling on the mountains, but I like the improvement. Better!
The last version is much better and it has consistent style which was not the case in the first ones. It kinda asks for something more (maybe a hidden cave that is remote and not too visible). But as you said, this is going to be used in your adventure, adding more details / places of interest might not serve its purpose.
I was actually thinking about placing the ruins of a Japanese castle on the top of that small mountain in the center of that "pass" to the south. Perhaps this pass south of the main one used, is known to be greatly haunted and rife with demon-spirits, thus the guide compells the PCs not to travel down the "old pass"
It might make this a bit more interesting, and perhaps lead a side/optional adventure into that pass...
The last one looks way much better than the previous ones. Go with that style