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Thread: Map of an alternate South America

  1. #1

    Wip Map of an alternate South America

    I present to you my first* real map!

    It is an alternate history map of South America based upon one of my Victoria** games and was made to illustrate my AAR***.

    Some minutes ago I discovered Ascensions Antique map making tutorial and will probably improve the map thereupon. I'm not satisfied with the rivers, coastlines and mountains so any hints or links to posts are much appreciated. Comments & critiques are also most appreciated

    *I've done some earlier but these were mere attempts, this is the first time I used Photoshop.
    **Victoria - An Empire under the Sun.
    *** After Action Report
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Steel General's Avatar
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    Jun 2008
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    Nicely done...
    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.

  3. #3
    Publisher Facebook Connected bartmoss's Avatar
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    Mar 2008
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    Very pretty - and very period!

  4. #4
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    Jul 2009


    That's extremely well-done.

  5. #5
    Guild Artisan Facebook Connected Rythal's Avatar
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    Apr 2009
    Toronto, Ontario


    great job!

  6. #6


    Thank you all for your kind words. But don't be shy to bring forward any criticism. If there are any shortcomings whatsoever whether in style or technique please point me at it.

    bartmoss: Am not sure if I'm getting the latter part of your statement right but I assume you were saying that the map fits well into the victorian era.

  7. #7
    Professional Artist Facebook Connected Coyotemax's Avatar
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    Jul 2009


    Okay, I'll start off by saying this a great look you have going here, it almost looks like it could have stepped off the wall from a school library (yes that's a compliment)

    Since you asked, I figured i'd go into detail and make a few observations. Keep in mind I actually had to look for these, first impression is still "ooh".

    1) The stroke on the large text doesn't quite fit for me, looking at the paper on the borders, my mind translates that to being the base paper colour. So to me, anything lighter than the base paper doesn't look right (could have painted in a lighter colour sure, but my first assumption would be that the map was done with inks). Suggestion? make the stroke match the base paper colour, or use something completely different such as just masking around the text for lower layers.

    2) The ocean, same issue in my mind as the stroke around the text, it's lighter than the base paper. At this point I'd be debating between using a low transparency multiply for the ocean and land layers, or lightening the base paper layer. I'd have to try both to be sure

    3) Kingdom of Platinea seems to have a shade of blue very close to the ocean. While I think it's obvious which is land and which is water, I myself might have re-used a previous colour such as from Venezuela, or used a less watery hue of blue (indigo maybe?) This point is probably the most personally nit-picky point form my own view, others will likely disagree with me on this, no worries, heh

    4) Some of the text looks very crisp, other text is a tad blurred. I think the ever-so-slightly blur looks great, gives it more of an authentic look. One specific example is Fernando Noronha I. which is crisp, right next to Rocas I. which has the subtle blur. I suspect it has to do with the text on a path, with the curve there's more approximation. Almost all of the other text seems to be pathed or angled, so this one looks out of place. Chonos Archipelago is another spot with the same issue, there might be one or two others but those are the two I find with a quick once-over.

    5) The decorations in the corners - your border is a nice medium dark grey, and so are the decorations themselves, but you can see where they overlap, I would go about masking or erasing the decoration layer itself to remove the overlap. A selection of the border layer could be used to mask or erase the relevant bits. It's not a huge overlap, just a 1 or 2px wide line, but once I saw it I couldn't unsee it, if you know what I mean

    6) The cartouche, while I love it and it fits the style beautifully, looks a bit pixellated/blurred, I would guess it's been re-sized to a fair amount larger than it originally was.

    7) The mountains are different than any kind I've seen before, i'll admit. I know that's what they are since I'm passingly familiar with the geography of the area as a whole, but if I didn't know that, I would have to say I'd be confused. Not sure what i'd do to change that if anything, assumedly the people who the map is for would understand what it is, so too much info might clutter Almost as personal a thing as the blue shading for Platinea

    *waits to be pelted with tomatoes*

    My finished maps
    "...sometimes the most efficient way to make something look drawn by hand is to simply draw it by hand..."

  8. #8

    Default Thanks for the critique!

    That was exactly the kind of critique I was looking for!
    I have shown the map to a few dozen of people I know personally or via Internet but you are the first to give me such constructive criticism. Don't get me wrong, it's always nice when people admire your work and it really helps my ego and motivation but it doesn't help to improve the map. So this kind of criticism is most appreciated.

    1) I assume you don't mean the really huge text (Brazil & Platinea) as they are the same color as the paper background. The other country names have a white stroke to make them stand out more (especially when looking at the map at only 50% zoom). I will redo it (using paper background color as I've no idea of masking) and post it.

    2) I see what you mean and will give the multiply option a try

    3) True, that gave me some worries, too. But I tried to stay close to the victoria ingame colors where Platinea/Argentina is a light blue an as it is blue on most maps I know I would like to stick with a blueish color for easier recognition. But I will try a darker blue.

    4) Indeed the unbend texts look out of place, should be redone, too.

    5) The problem is, that the corners don't fit in exactly. I'll try what I can.

    6) Thats exactly what I did. It was blurry already and then I resized it way too much. But I was too lazy to do another cartouche (as it would mean to redo the longitudes and latitudes. remember I've no idea of masking but there it would've been pretty helpful).

    7) Well it really is my first try at mountains at all and I haven't got a clue how to do it so I just picked the style from an old 19th century map. Every hint to improve them?

    So no tomatoes here! And that the map could have just jumped from the wall of a school library gave me a huge smile as that was kind of the look I wanted to portray. I'm playing around with the idea to add information strips on the left and right (thus doubling the width of the picture) with basic country informations. So it would probably look even more like one of those maps you can find in classrooms.

    I came up with a whole lot of things I could add but am unsure if this would clutter the map. Here are things that could be added:
    • Names of Mountains (eg. The Andes)

    • Names of Mountains (eg. Mount Soundso)

    • Railroads

    • Sea lanes

    • (underwater) Telegraph lines

    • More cities (I could easily triple the amount)

    • sea trenches & continental shelf

    • ruins

  9. #9
    Professional Artist Facebook Connected Coyotemax's Avatar
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    Excellent! whew

    You're right, the largest text initially seemed like it had the white around it, but I think that was more of an optical illusion effect. My bad for that one

    Regarding the blue political colour, that was a personal outlook, you have a reason for it so go all out with it

    The unbent text should be solved easily just by giving it a few degrees of rotation, that'll line it up with the rest of the stuff no prob.

    For the corners, i'm hoping you have the outer border itself on a layer of it's own? If so, all you need to do is select inside the border, swap to the layers with the corner elements, then hit delete, that will take care of any overlap (and omg, it's worth getting to know masks, your photoshop life will never be the same once you do, and it only gets easier to fix oopses, heh)

    As to the mountains themselves, if they're off an existing style, that's all good, like I said, familiarity with the region in question helps to define them. Perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned them, i can't think of anything that would really make them look better for this style.

    You still have a fair amount of room on the map, though I wouldn't get too much more cluttered with information that's not needed. Naming the mountain ranges might be good, some sea lanes might look really nice, railroads could work if you're careful with them. I wouldn't put underwater details on a map like this, but at the same time, I've seen others in similar styles that did, so it might be worth a try to see how they do

    My finished maps
    "...sometimes the most efficient way to make something look drawn by hand is to simply draw it by hand..."

  10. #10


    very nice looking map. The one thing i noticed is that the glow around the smaller nations is a bit heavier than the larger nations. It could be my eyes or maybe intended. But very nice map.

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