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Thread: Graven (redrawing)

  1. #1
    Guild Journeyer kestrelgrey's Avatar
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    Default Graven (redrawing)

    Haven't had a chance to work on mapping much or get on the forums, but this weekend I started redrawing my fictional city "Graven". Entirely. The map file is 11750px square, 1/4 the "final" size. Drawing everything in Illustrator (draw the island in Photoshop, converted it to a path, and imported it into AI); drawing in building lots - not individual buildings - instead of streets, but using a reference layer (basically a very rough composite created from various screenshots of Google Maps) to get sizes right. Don't have much done yet, of course. "Final" size is ~3.3' square, which is why I'm creating it in AI/vectors. No parks/natural areas yet, and that pink color is just so I can see what I'm doing. I'll change it to a more neutral color once I get most of the city done. Not sure how long it's going to take, but thought I'd start getting some feedback now before I get too deep into it.

    First image is zoomed to 50%; 2nd is 6.25% zoom to show whole map.

    Graven (redrawing)-graven_ex01.png Graven (redrawing)-graven_ex01-1.png

    Some notes about the city:
    i) lots of canals instead of streets in several areas (not yet shown) because they use boats for personal transportation and delivery of larger goods; ii) most buildings are built very close together or right up next to each other, like in Old Florence; iii) many buildings near canals are actually built right up to - and sometimes hanging over - the canals so that boats can dock right at a water-side entrance; iv) the city was originally started by a group of witches & magicians, so that area (not yet shown) is a bit disorganized and buildings are stacked on top of each other with lots of 'streets' running underneath/through buildings so that area is going to have very narrow streets. And I have no idea how to show where streets run under/through buildings.

    Any ideas on a good color to use for the buildings once I get more done, comments on the current 'layout', and suggestions for how to show streets running under/through buildings would be greatly appreciated. Anything, really. Thanks!
    Portfolio & Project Blog: 99 Colored Umbrellas
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  2. #2
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    Looking good so far. I like that you've done it in city blocks rather than individual buildings - it's much more realistic to history, and I think it makes it more original as well. Also, I'm fascinated to know the story behind the long straight avenue that suddenly stops in the lower left.

    A few comments for you. I might be a novice mapmaker, but I've studied urban planning and urban history for almost a decade, so I'll use that instead.

    First, the shape of your island suggests a rugged coastline; if that is the case, you would probably need to pull back the edge of your city around the coast, as it should be rocky cliffs rather than city blocks. You would probably also have to give up on having canals (sorry 'bout that), and it might affect your right-angle roads too, but not as much, especially further inland. That's if you're sticking to familiar geography, anyway.

    Second, it seems obvious, but city wall? Unless you have a specific reason for not including one (magical protection, perhaps?) the city wall would often leave a strong mark on the city - there would usually be a road around its inner circumference and again around the outer, so that when the wall is gone, it leaves two parallel roads making a circuit of the city as it existed then. Again, I don't know if you chose to do this deliberately, but the very abrupt and very straight transition from old to new town would probably also be less vertical if you had an old city wall.

    Third, where is the point of origin for this city? I saw you mentioned witches and magicians, but on a more mundane level what about the harbour? If this were a real-world city, the harbour would probably be the focus of the old town, with lots of roads radiating from it. Alternatively, that peninsula in the upper right could be a fortified position (which the current configuration could still be), which would mean the streets outside the fortress would be more like the old town, and the new town would be elsewhere.

    Last (don't want to bore you too much), although a lot of old cities had continuous street facades the entire length of a building block (which you've done), they often had large internal courtyards. If you look at, for instance, St. Petersburg in Russia, many building blocks had lots of courtyards, some that look too small to be useful, and others large, all over the place, and with no apparent access from the street.

    Since you've made this map in city blocks, and it already looks like a convincing old-style city, I think you have a real opportunity to go down that historic route. Just a couple of thoughts, anyway.

    Look forward to seeing where you take it.
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  3. #3
    Guild Journeyer kestrelgrey's Avatar
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    Wow, thank you! It's kind of overwhelming trying to think of everything right away at the beginning; I'm really glad I posted this before I got too far! To address your points (not bored at all - the more the better!):
    1) the coastline is pretty rugged and rocky in certain areas (I do need to clean the coastline up quite a bit), but the city actually "modern" rather than "old". I do like the old-style map, but the time period is supposed to be be pretty contemporary. So buildings can sit pretty close to to the edges of cliffs (especially in the older sections of the city, buildings are supported out onto/over the cliffs/rocks on stilts and such)
    2) the zoomed in map doesn't show the oldest part of the city, which is over in that large bay area towards the east. There were several walls, around different expansions of the city, but they stop before that zoomed in section. I should definitely sketch in those walls before I get over there.
    3) the point of origin is over by that large bay, where I need to put in a harbor. Which I should do so I can start setting up those radiating roads I forgot about! There are several old fortifications in various locations, which I also need to place.
    4) I actually was planning on courtyards, but haven't started filling them in yet. At the moment I'm trying to hack out the "organization" of the city, before I start putting in the "smaller" stuff like courtyards and parks and such. I do, however, think I need some more plazas here and there, and definitely a more integrated transition from the more organized/"new" section and the older section shown in that section I've done so far.

    A quick note on the canals - thank you for reminding me about the terrain question, and pointing out that cliffs kind of nix the canals idea. However, the city is approximately the size of Tokyo, so I'd love to see if I can fit them I somewhere. That'll have to be part of the terrain clean up.

    A couple questions (for you, or anyone who's got some thoughts):
    1) the area is pretty big, and it's an island - is it more likely for the city to expand from one point (like a harbor), or could people move out from the original town to a coast (maybe another harbor) or maybe to a more fortifiable location, and then those locations could expand out wards until they meet up/converge to form a whole city?
    2) at the moment, I've got all the fields in the north; I figured that with city expansion, fields would be shifted out wards until they're on the edges of the city. In this case, they've been pushed into one area (I'll come up with a good reason for it, unless its hugely unrealistic). Is it more likely for fields to remain dispersed throughout the city? At least in the more urban areas?
    3) because this is a modern/contemporary city (like Tokyo), there are districts that generally cater to specific "needs" (like Shibuya is known as a shopping district); I do want districts, but I'm wondering how much the "focus" of the district will affect things like streets and building size (and type, maybe). For example, the Tokyo district has a lot of skyscrapers because it's a business district, and it's got pretty straight streets. But the more urban district I lived in a few years ago had no skyscrapers (at least not anywhere I went), just a department store near the train station and some apartment buildings usually no more than 10 stories high, and the streets - at least away from the train station - become quite winding and often stop abruptly.

    Whew! Thanks for all your advice and question; hope I've not asked too many in return! I'll clean things up here soon and put together a rough "outline" of where things might go.
    Portfolio & Project Blog: 99 Colored Umbrellas
    World Building Project: Worlds of Sand

  4. #4
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    Glad my comments helped. Let's see if it happens again.

    1. a single settlement or convergence of multiple villages: given the size of this city, I doubt it could have been a single town. Graven is a true metropolis. It depends mostly on the history you've worked out. If this is a very old society, you would expect a handful of villages spread across the island. Generally you would have a village every couple of miles; people might travel to the neighbouring village, but not much further. Gradually, as one village grew, it would absorb the others as suburbs or satellite towns. London is a good example of this. Don't forget about fresh water, either - a rugged island like yours will need some source of water. Of course, magic can change all that.

    2. farms being dispersed throughout the city: I think it is actually quite likely that the remnants of farms would remain spread across the city. It is quite possible that the city would, at first, spread along the roads connecting different villages, so that areas of farmland might start to get partially surrounded by buildings. Eventually, as some towns get bigger, they would start to build on top of meadows/fields. When they do build on the meadows, it is less likely to be incrementally - it would all be at once, and so might look more planned. Nonetheless, you would still tend to find the occasional farm - eg where a stubborn farmer simply refused to give up his/her land, where it was profitable to keep a farm intact, or the land was no use (eg swamp). You would possibly also see some farms turned into your city parks. Generally, old farm boundaries tend to hang around, and help form roads and alleyways in modern times. Having said all that, farms (and villages) only occur where there is soil and water for crops.

    3. different districts: I can't really comment on what modern cities like Tokyo have, because the place I live is completely artificial. From an urban form point of view, though, a few comments: think about the connections between different things. Eg. fish markets need to be close to the fishing fleet, right. So seafood restaurants are going to be close to the fish market; but if you run a chicken restaurant, you'll probably want to be near other restaurants, so people looking for a meal, but don't fancy fish, will come to your restaurant. Another example: artists don't tend to have much money, so they'll hire flats in the poor end of town; that makes the poor area trendy, so young rich people also go there, raising the prices and causing all the artists (and poor people) to move out. It's complicated, but that's basically how it works. It's just common sense. Marketplaces want to be near the ground, for shoppers to wander around; offices want to be near markets, but they can soar into the air; many people want to live near their workplace, so you will have lots of apartments for office workers, and the housing quality won't be too bad; in Australia, inner city people are often richer than people in outer suburbs, but I've heard it's the opposite way round in America (and I have no idea about Japan). As I say, it all comes back to common sense - you don't need to get everything 'right' but I think the more of these details you can think of, the more convincing your city will become.

    A couple of extra things you might want to think about.
    1. as a modern city, you would quite probably have several urban centres, which would be linked by freeways/trains. Modern planning always tries to link 'nodes' together, and offices/shops often form along major arteries.
    2. those buildings overhanging the cliffs don't need to have the same shape as the cliffs. They would be more likely to stick out over the water in squares and rectangles, rather than the curves and angles of the coast. Cool idea though.
    3. have you thought of adding a scale. A map of this type could really benefit from one.
    4. I'd say you don't need more plazas. I think you've already got a pretty realistic balance in terms of quantity, size and general shape.

    Another long one, sorry. I could go on about this stuff for weeks. Hope it helps, and happy to answer any more questions if you have 'em.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheHoarseWhisperer View Post
    Glad my comments helped. Let's see if it happens again.

    1. a single settlement or convergence of multiple villages: given the size of this city, I doubt it could have been a single town. Graven is a true metropolis. It depends mostly on the history you've worked out. If this is a very old society, you would expect a handful of villages spread across the island. Generally you would have a village every couple of miles; people might travel to the neighbouring village, but not much further. Gradually, as one village grew, it would absorb the others as suburbs or satellite towns. London is a good example of this. Don't forget about fresh water, either - a rugged island like yours will need some source of water. Of course, magic can change all that.

    2. farms being dispersed throughout the city: I think it is actually quite likely that the remnants of farms would remain spread across the city. It is quite possible that the city would, at first, spread along the roads connecting different villages, so that areas of farmland might start to get partially surrounded by buildings. Eventually, as some towns get bigger, they would start to build on top of meadows/fields. When they do build on the meadows, it is less likely to be incrementally - it would all be at once, and so might look more planned. Nonetheless, you would still tend to find the occasional farm - eg where a stubborn farmer simply refused to give up his/her land, where it was profitable to keep a farm intact, or the land was no use (eg swamp). You would possibly also see some farms turned into your city parks. Generally, old farm boundaries tend to hang around, and help form roads and alleyways in modern times. Having said all that, farms (and villages) only occur where there is soil and water for crops.

    3. different districts: I can't really comment on what modern cities like Tokyo have, because the place I live is completely artificial. From an urban form point of view, though, a few comments: think about the connections between different things. Eg. fish markets need to be close to the fishing fleet, right. So seafood restaurants are going to be close to the fish market; but if you run a chicken restaurant, you'll probably want to be near other restaurants, so people looking for a meal, but don't fancy fish, will come to your restaurant. Another example: artists don't tend to have much money, so they'll hire flats in the poor end of town; that makes the poor area trendy, so young rich people also go there, raising the prices and causing all the artists (and poor people) to move out. It's complicated, but that's basically how it works. It's just common sense. Marketplaces want to be near the ground, for shoppers to wander around; offices want to be near markets, but they can soar into the air; many people want to live near their workplace, so you will have lots of apartments for office workers, and the housing quality won't be too bad; in Australia, inner city people are often richer than people in outer suburbs, but I've heard it's the opposite way round in America (and I have no idea about Japan). As I say, it all comes back to common sense - you don't need to get everything 'right' but I think the more of these details you can think of, the more convincing your city will become.

    A couple of extra things you might want to think about.
    1. as a modern city, you would quite probably have several urban centres, which would be linked by freeways/trains. Modern planning always tries to link 'nodes' together, and offices/shops often form along major arteries.
    2. those buildings overhanging the cliffs don't need to have the same shape as the cliffs. They would be more likely to stick out over the water in squares and rectangles, rather than the curves and angles of the coast. Cool idea though.
    3. have you thought of adding a scale. A map of this type could really benefit from one.
    4. I'd say you don't need more plazas. I think you've already got a pretty realistic balance in terms of quantity, size and general shape.

    Another long one, sorry. I could go on about this stuff for weeks. Hope it helps, and happy to answer any more questions if you have 'em.
    Great helping posts... Really helpful.... seems like you are very historic person.

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