If you're not already using it, I recommend using "Save for Web" rather than "Export" to save a jpeg or PNG. You'll get a preview window where you can see the results of your compression settings interactively. That should allow you to dial in the level of compression that gives you sufficient file savings while preserving the details you don't want to lose.
Glad you're finding the tips useful. Here's another on textures:
I often need a texture "swatch" for roofs of whatever so I generally: 1) use the marquee tool to select a rectangular area that's big enough for my purposes and fill it, 2) add a Pattern Overlay style with my texture and then scale it until it's the right scale, 3) flatten the layer down onto a new blank layer. Now you've got a swatch on a layer. Put it in the layer stack where you want it (e.g. just under your roof bevel) then use the marquee tool to grab appropriately sized bits of it and use the arrow tool to Alt-click drag a copy of a piece of your swatch to where you need it. Then you can rotate it and work with it however you want. Sometimes with a hip roof like that I'll copy some of it out into a new layer and rotate it and cut bits out so that I can create the right shape for the roof and then flatten it all back into the same layer when I'm done.
To give textures depth I'll sometimes use the same texture in the bevel/emboss->texture layer style (play with up/down, depth, etc.) That can make bricks and roof tiles "pop" a bit. Of course, if you do the texture swatch method above it won't 100% match your light source when you start rotating them around. If the texture's small enough it won't show up all that much. Judgement call there...is the benefit overwhelming the drawbacks?
Hope it helps!
wow, just spent the morning reading all mearrin's tips. Great stuff there couldnt stop reading.
Regarding the map, looks good so far, glad you changed the wall, was looking a little thick in the beginning. rise to the plateau looks good coming up to the city.
@Midgardsormr - Tried messing with the save for web settings and it didn't fix the problem (thanks for the suggestion though).
@Mearrin - Definitely going to try out that method once I get further into constructing the buildings.
I figured i'd start laying out the major points of interest so I can get a road network going. I made an oasis (50px or 50') in the center of what will be the old city. I then started laying out a palace complex (roughly 200 x 200). I will likely change the patterns I used for this eventually. Used Mearrin's method for the walls to do the shadows and what not...any tips on how to make long shadows for the two minarets?
Although this will be the biggest building in the city, it takes up alot of space and I'm a little worried about scale. Wondering If maybe I should shrink it in half and make every pixel = 2ft....any thoughts?
I think the size of the palace is ok. I can see a cramped city of narrow alleys and souks growing around the big palace. i think it looks big because it's just sitting there by itself.
I think the size is good too. I think you should indeed add a square and some areas with smakker buildings around it. Maybe a bit of green here and there to indicate a well or water source.