I'm working on an Asian-themed RPG campaign setting and have been trying to get myself up to speed on mapping techniques. Posted the world map (showing the western hemisphere only) as a WIP here. Figured I'd post the city map I've been working on. Haibianr will be a Hong Kong-like city that serves as an introduction to the setting for "eastern" characters (our west). Here's the "boxed text" on the city:
Like you care, right? Anyway, here's what I've done so far:On the mountainous north-eastern coast of the world’s largest continent perches a bustling trading port – a cosmopolitan city of twisting streets protected by ancient magic and modern might. Over the nearly two thousand years since its founding, Haibianr has evolved into a powerful independent city-state. Its masters pay no tribute to the feuding “Five Emperors” that rule the southlands, wielding Haibianr’s near-monopoly over trade with the rest of the world as a cudgel that guarantees freedom from Imperial dominion.
Also called Wanxiangshi, “city of ten-thousand alleyways”, this appellation is often rendered in a twist of words by the locals as “city of ten-thousand odors”, owing to the many curious smells that emanate from Haibianr’s harbor, a by-product of industries ranging from the distillation of rice and soy to the manufacture of explosives and fireworks. These products – along with fine silk, exotic spices, art objects, and the highly addictive “dream flower” snuff – all contribute to heavy trade with lands beyond the continent. Haibianr is the port of choice for foreign traders.
1) I started with a hand-drawn map of the city and surrounding areas. This was done a while back in my design journal with a mechanical pencil and filled lightly with colored pencils. Nothing fancy, just getting it on paper. I have attached the (poor) scan I brought into Photoshop to start the drawing.
2) First I tried Pyrandon's tutorial (results attached as "Haibianr-1.png"). I liked the style of his map and the hills/mountains turned out pretty cool - especially when I added highlights/shadows.
3) The elevations didn't look quite like I wanted, however, so I branched to another drawing ("Haibianr-2.png") and added more elevations. That didn't quite do it for me either, though the results are promising enough to try on another map, another day.
4) Part way through I realized I wasn't going to be able to show much detail in my city with all of the surrounding territory showing anyway so I branched to another drawing ("Haibianr-3.png") and cropped down to just show the city and important nearby areas. I decided to attempt a more hand-drawn style for the buildings and such but haven't gotten very far with it. I think it'll better match what I want to do with my close-ups and encounter maps than the Pyrandon style (though I love the look he achieves). The trees are hand-drawn but I need to shrink the texture to match the scale of the city.
A couple of notes. The map is actually upside down now, following my decision to invert the continent and place it in the southern hemisphere. Will fix it later but I'm used to looking at it this way so I've kept it for now. The scratchy bits you see in the water are the docks, the "junk islands", and ferry routes from my original sketch. The round thingies along the coast are ancient defenses (Haibianr isn't the first city on this site) used by the city. The southern island contains the governor's palace, government sites, etc. The string of buildings along the eastern road is the docks area and industrial sites. Most residences are on the eastern part of the city and the walled areas along the edges are larger manors. The western shore is primarily given over to trade coming south (north, really, with the flip) from inland. The walled compound on the hill is the "House of the Four Winds", the local monkery - source of much mystery and kung fu fighting. Up the hill from there is the "Temple of Heaven", which is sort of an arcane "warehouse 23", among other things.
Okay. I figure that's everything you could *possibly* want to know about my little city. Any comments, suggestions, critique, etc. will be much appreciated. I'll add updates here as I make progress. Thanks for reading my crazily long post!