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Thread: New mapmaker with a conundrum...

  1. #1

    Post New mapmaker with a conundrum...

    Hi all,

    Haven't posted here much, but been following a lot of the work being done by others here and am both inspired and intimidated by the skill on display...

    That said, I have my own endeavor going on here in terms of mapping for a fantasy world of my own creation. I have a dilemma, however, in how to best approach this. Here's the situation...

    I'm creating a world where certain regions - due to lore - need to be located in specific areas, so there's going to be a very "custom" touch to the map. However, at the same time, I want the map to maintain a very "natural" feel to it. That is, I'd like some sense of randomness in the world as well so that everything doesn't seem contrived or "hand-created".

    So, I guess what I'm looking for is something of a hybrid between a "natural" map and an "artificial" map in areas where specific features have to be located.

    I'm thinking that maybe what I need to do is set out the general world map in broad brush-strokes, so to speak and get all the major geographic elements in place in a more random/natural fashion. Then, go back and modify the areas as necessary to get the more custom elements implemented that I require.

    One example of this would be large rifts that occur along certain boundaries between major geographical areas. Obviously if I were to do this all by hand it would probably end up looking somewhat artificial... however, if I use a more "random" approach, then I'm not likely to get the effect I want.

    So... is anyone aware of a good technique that allows you to go back and tweak an otherwise pre-made map in order to put in custom elements, without ruining that natural sense of randomness?

    Again I apologize if none of that makes sense.. It's an odd situation and I'm not even fully aware of how to explain it.. so hopefully I did a good job.

    Thanks for any advice!

  2. #2
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Ascension's Avatar
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    Well, there are a lot of ways to approach this but this is what I do. I make my world as geologically accurate as possible as if mother earth made it herself...but within reason. I'm not a fanatic zealot about getting my continental plate boundaries and climate patterns all that accurate..."good enough" is good enough. Then I go back and fit in whatever elements need to be in certain places...like a swamp here, some mountains there, etc. If this doesn't fit with the underlying terrain then I have to alter the underlying terrain a bit to sort of "blend" things together...like a desert right in the middle of the continent isn't all that natural unless mountains and climate permit it. If those elements aren't present I either add them or tweak what's there to make it work, like having no lakes or rivers.
    If the radiance of a thousand suns was to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One...I am become Death, the Shatterer of worlds.
    -J. Robert Oppenheimer (father of the atom bomb) alluding to The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 11, Verse 32)


    My Maps ~ My Brushes ~ My Tutorials ~ My Challenge Maps

  3. #3

    Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Ascension View Post
    Well, there are a lot of ways to approach this but this is what I do. I make my world as geologically accurate as possible as if mother earth made it herself...but within reason. I'm not a fanatic zealot about getting my continental plate boundaries and climate patterns all that accurate..."good enough" is good enough. Then I go back and fit in whatever elements need to be in certain places...like a swamp here, some mountains there, etc. If this doesn't fit with the underlying terrain then I have to alter the underlying terrain a bit to sort of "blend" things together...like a desert right in the middle of the continent isn't all that natural unless mountains and climate permit it. If those elements aren't present I either add them or tweak what's there to make it work, like having no lakes or rivers.
    That makes a lot of sense, actually.

    Something that might have helped in my initial post that I forgot to mention is that the world was "magically" created (not literally by magic.. but for example's sake, it may as well have been), so actually some areas that wouldn't naturally border each other might be found as neighbors... this is where the rifts come in between them resulting in a bit of chaos in cases where opposing elements collide, which also play into the lore. However, as for the rest of the map, it would have evolved/eroded/etc in as normal a way as possible given the circumstances... water from mountains would have created rivers running to larger bodies of water, etc. etc.

    Basically the world was created with everything in place, and then the elements were allowed to do their thing over time.... within the restraints that those specific areas remain intact.

    So that's where the "natural but not entirely" comes into play.

    Anyways.. thanks for the response! You're pretty much on with explaining what I have in mind. And, incidentally, the style I'd like to go for with my map is something of a combo of your Aalder and Lessonde maps.. that sort of realistic style, but with stylized icons.
    Last edited by Preypacer; 01-09-2010 at 05:12 PM.

  4. #4
    Guild Journeyer Daelin's Avatar
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    I'd suggest using the first few steps from Tear's tutorial, which is excellent for just what you describe. What is does is basically turning your brush into an "auto-coastline-making-tool". From there, it's up to you to pick style.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daelin View Post
    I'd suggest using the first few steps from Tear's tutorial, which is excellent for just what you describe. What is does is basically turning your brush into an "auto-coastline-making-tool". From there, it's up to you to pick style.
    I did find that tutorial and it looks awesome. Trouble is, I don't have Photoshop and am working at learning GIMP. I'm at the first steps where you create the new layers and am already stuck since there doesn't seem to be an equivalent to adjustment layers in GIMP, so I can't get the Threshold layer in there, which seems to be a pretty critical step in getting the initial landmass shaped out.

    Sooo... Yeah, gonna have to figure out another approach. Def. a great looking tutorial, though. I like the end results.

    Edit: Actually I found what looks like a good Tutorial here ... so that looks like a good place to start.
    Last edited by Preypacer; 01-10-2010 at 01:32 AM.

  6. #6
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Ascension's Avatar
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    Yep, that's the main gimp tut...make sure that you read all of the way through it (a lot, I know) but there are a lot of extra tips n tricks in the thread.
    If the radiance of a thousand suns was to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One...I am become Death, the Shatterer of worlds.
    -J. Robert Oppenheimer (father of the atom bomb) alluding to The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 11, Verse 32)


    My Maps ~ My Brushes ~ My Tutorials ~ My Challenge Maps

  7. #7
    Guild Journeyer Ryan K's Avatar
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    I sort of had the same dilemma, and I guess my cheater's way out was using Fractal Terrains and spending a couple of hours scrolling through seed maps before finding the sort of sea/land configuration I was after, and then spending a few hours playing around with coastlines, mountains, rainfall and temperature to get the climates mostly right.
    Regards,

    RK

  8. #8

    Post

    your dilemna sounds like what i'm experimenting with now. i am using real-world GIS data, and then transforming it into fictional space with gimp.
    you can load in country/continent polygons, then reshape them with the tools available in the GIS software.
    then i paint over, re-surface, re-texturize until it looks nothing like the original landform...adding water bodies, new mountains, flora, etc in gimp.
    still new to me though, working on some projects now, will post in future when possible.

  9. #9

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    Hi all..

    Thanks for the replies

    I'm currently taking a step back and thinking through more of the overall geography of the map so I can be better prepared when putting it together in GIMP. I'm actually considering another approach, perhaps, as a starting point.

    I've seen some maps that seem to be derived from "texturing over" a heightmap and then touching up in Photoshop or something to that effect. This way you get a genuine 3D look to the map, but still with the custom map look...

    I might try this approach... going to experiment with it a bit on some small test maps and see what the results are like. Perhaps I'll post them here if I think it might be something worthwhile to share.

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