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Thread: Feeding Hills - (post-challenge) WIP

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  1. #1
    Professional Artist Ashenvale's Avatar
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    Map Feeding Hills - (post-challenge) WIP

    It's time to move this map forward (beyond the September Challenge) towards eventual publication. And I still want all of your help! My first step is to decide whether to follow the author's suggestion to simply number buildings or to insert tabs with building names instead.

    Most D&D adventure publishers, particularly Paizo, frown on keys in adventure maps. I've been urged repeatedly (sharply castigated might be a better description of some instances) to make everything I present in a map so recognizable that no key becomes necessary. In keeping with that tradition, this adventure's author suggests that this map contain numbers only. The manuscript contains numbered paragraphs linked to the maps numbers, with each paragraph describing the numbered building in depth. For instance, "The Crooked Man" is the town's favorite pub.

    In the September Challenge thread, gilgamec helpfully pointed out that the map, standing alone, failed to identify any buildings, risking leaving the viewer with something of a "pretty . . . but who cares?" feeling. When the map stands alone, as it did in the Challenge, I whole-heartedly agree with gilgamec. When published, of course, it will be accompanied by the text, so if it has numbers, descriptions are but a page-flip away.

    So the question is descriptive tags or just numbers?

    Here's my first cut at descriptive tags. I can play with font sizes and colors and bevels and embossing until the cows come home (yes, this thread welcomes all farming metaphors), but if I use a larger font size than this (it's presently 10), I'll have to start overlapping buildings with text and using arrows to designate which tag attaches to which building. The author didn't name roads or woods or rivers or ponds, but I'll encourage him to do so if tags appeal more than numbers.

    What do you think?
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    Community Leader Gracious Donor mearrin69's Avatar
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    First of all, beautiful map. I really like the style.

    Second, I like your labels find and, stand-alone, the descriptive labels are better than numbers - but that might not be the case when it's presented in an adventure format. The font looks like papyrus, which is the butt of some jokes I think I kind of like the font...

    I have no experience with this but I was under the impression that some publishers (Paizo comes to mind...I sat in on a Sean Reynolds mapmaking session at Paizocon) did the labeling in Illustrator after map completion (I don't doubt this is the source of much of the mis-labeling that goes on in their maps, which are flawless otherwise).

    In general, though, I'd do whatever the heck the publisher wants you to do. They're typically pretty picky about whatever process they've chosen to work with and want it done their way - for good reason, I guess. If they've expressed a preference then I'd stick with it. Having your descriptive labels in a separate layer probably isn't a cardinal sin, though, and it might help the poor guy trying to label it in Illustrator if that's what they do with it.
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    Guild Member Jeff_Wilson63's Avatar
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    I can't help with the label vs. number problem, but if you use labels, get rid of all the "The"s. They're unneeded clutter in my opinion.
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    Professional Artist Facebook Connected Coyotemax's Avatar
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    "The" .. I was thinking that myself. I went through the same phase with my city maps, there's only a few left now, and those are for businesses and the like that seemed to require it to sound right Otherwise really, it's a waste of space that could be better used to show the terrain behind it

    I understand the bit about making things so obvious they don't need labels, but sometimes easier said than done. that having been said, the only building in here that doesn't look like a house or a barn is the church. I think the issue is that at current, the only way to differentiate the Blacksmith shop from the general store from thaddeus's house is ... well, there is no way without labels or a key. they just look the same. The sawmill and grist mill could use waterwheels or something similar, though i can see in the grist mill it might be difficult to show due to the angle, but you could maybe have it poking out the front. I would also expect to see a fairly impressive chimney on the blacksmith and the kiln, at present there are none (though it's very possible you are getting ready to address those observations, Ive just beaten you to it in expressing them, heh)

    I don't like keys. If I have to put work into figuring out what things are, i'm more likely to skip over them. Then again that's from a purely viewing perspective - from a gamemastering perspective they have their uses, but even then I would find myself jotting notes on the map itself so i didn't have to go look things up again.

    Personal opinions there of course.

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    Guild Apprentice Tiana's Avatar
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    In regards to the potential Papyrus debate: Papyrus is a bad font choice due to its overuse and that is why designers will pick on you if you use it. Now, Papyrus isn't an ugly font, it's just that because it was a good looking font people started using it... a LOT... for things it wasn't intended for, where it's intended for a specific mood and design and for decoration. Now, for all I usually don't like the font, I think it looks all right for the building labels here (though I do believe there are better choices) but it doesn't look good at all for the 'Village of' larger label text. I'd really use another font there.

    I prefer the idea of text labels myself, to numbers, because numbers involve going back and forth to a key. Text labels clarify things better. I would definately kill unnecessary 'the's and consider putting a background behind each label, in comic book fashion, to make them clearer to read. I realize this will cover some of your art but your goal here is to have it convey information, after all, and if that information is contained on the art you need to make sure it's easy to read--a glow behind or outline will help that.

    I agree with this:
    I don't like keys. If I have to put work into figuring out what things are, i'm more likely to skip over them. Then again that's from a purely viewing perspective - from a gamemastering perspective they have their uses, but even then I would find myself jotting notes on the map itself so i didn't have to go look things up again.
    Your map style is great, though! Beautiful artwork. I love the angle and the paths and the trees and the water and the lighting and oh, just everything! It's like a painting. But also a map! Beautiful.

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    Community Leader Facebook Connected Steel General's Avatar
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    Here's my $0.02 (or less due to inflation, etc. ). If you're going to keep the area at the bottom where the title and compass rose are then I would go with the numbers and use that space for the key.

    Otherwise I'd drop that whole portion and go with the labels (I also agree with dropping the "The"s), though maybe decrease the size a bit.
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    Professional Artist Ashenvale's Avatar
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    Excellent! Great feedbak, folks! If I keep the tags as names, I'll delete the "The's" except where its part of an establishement's proper name, like "The Crooked Man" and "The Barns." Dropping Papyrus poses no problem.

    There are quite a few individual building features my rush to prep for the Challenge didn't allow me to fit in. Most noteably, even the author's map has a big water wheel on the western side filling the space over the channel. But the buildings as a whole will continue to look largely alike, so I'm inclined to keep the name tags unless the publisher specifies otherwise. I know this publisher and have seen it do far more numbers than tags but, unlike Paizo, it doesn't shun keys and tags altogether. For the moment at least, I've got my choice.
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    Professional Artist Ashenvale's Avatar
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    Map

    Super-quick tag revisions. Slightly larger font, Nyala this time (which Open Design asked me to use on my last project, unless it was Wes, I'll have to check). Not the coolest font, but I haven't loaded a plethora of groovy fonts onto my computer.

    Legible enough? Tags overwhelm the map?
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    Professional Artist Facebook Connected Coyotemax's Avatar
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    I'm a fan of subtle tags that stay in the background unless you want to read them, but that's very much a me opinion. In the specific contxt of this map, if the focus is meant to be on the locations themselves, and the background is just to look pretty, then it works pretty well. No question as to what is where at this point

    Incidentally, i forgot to mention - two things I really love about this map - the water (very very nice) and the roads - I love the cart track effect.

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  10. #10
    Professional Artist Ashenvale's Avatar
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    Wip

    A more subtle version. Not sure which I prefer. Still not lovin' the font.
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