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Thread: First try at a city map

  1. #11
      lostatsea is offline
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    Forcas I didn't mean to discourage you ! The only way any of us improves is by trying to figure our ways through the obstacles. There are plenty of people willing to offer help as you may have already noticed. Continue on !
    "Aye The skies be clear , the seas be calm and the winds be with us .....

    ARGH!! but the damn compass be broken!! "

    Capt. Noah Swalter Last voyage of the " Silver Crest"

  2. #12
      Forcas is offline
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    Alright, I made some changes.

    First try at a city map-suzail-wip.jpg

    I changed the colors, added a river, modified the street layout.

    Ok, the story of the city: The road was a trade route. The river is the only fresh water for miles, so this point was a necessary resting point. The traders would as well sell stuff here while they were resting. After getting some fame/money they built the port to connect the water trade routes with the land ones. But with fame comes evil-doers. They were really vulnerable to attack, being in open field. So they built a Garrison up on the hill. The city got pretty big, and they joined a kingdom. After a few decades, through clever politics (read assassination and lying) one of the citizens became the king. Originally the capital was not here. The city was almost burnt down in a fire, but they are very proud people, and decided to build the city in the same place with rock from the closest mountain (apx 4 days to the N-W). The king saw this as an opportunity to move his court to a place safer for him, so he moved here.

    Don't worry, lostatsea, I don't feel discouraged. I'm really thankful for all the help.

  3. #13
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    Okay, if you are happy with the look of your map now, I think you are ready to move on to doing the streets. The research you did on real world city maps is important here.

    The first thing regarding streets (and it is pretty obvious, really) is that they tend to have different levels of importance--major streets, minor streets, alleys. This can manifest itself in drawing streets of different widths--eg 15 pixels, 12 pixels, 9 pixels, 6 pixels etc--until you are satisfied it looks right (I'd stick to between 3 and 5 layers, if I were you).

    You already have major streets. Perhaps you want to add more, perhaps you are happy with it as it currently is.

    The next stage is to add minor streets. A word of advice here: if you actually look at many old town plans, curving streets are extremely rare--people don't want to walk a long way around, if there is a more direct route, and minor and major roads occupy important paths. More often, they will be pretty straight, with occasional kinks giving them some irregularity (which is both historically realistic, and good for preventing a map becoming monotonous; it is best to avoid the regular grid). You should not have any minor (or major) streets that are not mostly straight, or only gently 'curved.' Add approximately twice as many minor streets as you have major streets, but think about the purpose of these streets when you add them (see below).

    When you're ready, it'll be time for the alleys. These also shouldn't be curved, but they don't have to be straight lines, either. They can have dead ends, dog-leg corners, odd-shaped angles--unlike major/minor roads, alleys are not important paths, and so people often have to walk further to go around somebody else's property (which may be sticking out into the street); hence all labyrinthine passages that old cities are so famous for. There should be lots of alleys, and they can be spaced very close together. You can also use alleys to mark different districts: areas inhabited by richer people will have fewer alleys, while poorer districts will have more.

    Another thing about streets:
    --think of major streets as the backbone of your town. They link the key sites, such as the castle and the main gate, or the cathedral and the palace. Where a trading town grows up around a trade route, the original trade route will former a major street.

    --if major streets are the backbone, minor streets are the other parts of the skeleton. They link other important sites together, and their main job is to make the city look unified.

    --alleyways are the veins of the city; the passages that ordinary folk use to walk to the markets, or the docks, or bathhouse, temple, factory, fields etc. That is not their sole function, of course--for example, many will be lined with shops--but it is the easiest way to imagine it.

    So, when adding the streets to your map, I'd probably suggest this is a good time to think about where important and semi-important parts of the city are located, so you can start placing the minor roads. It should look like a messy spiderweb when you're done, and about to start on the alleys.

    Next up, buildings. There are numerous ways of depicting buildings in maps, and that is why it is so important to decide what you like the look of (which was step 1 from my earlier post). I have created a very quick sample city map, which shows four styles of buildings in maps (note, there may well be more styles I haven't done, and you are always free and encouraged to experiment to find what you like). My sample map is also meant to demonstrate what I said above about street layouts and shapes.

    Style 1: this is probably the easiest, and, in my opinion, the best. It is elegant, uncluttered, does not obscure labels (if you include them), and can easily be altered to show where an important building is.
    Style 2: I'm not keen on this, but it is relatively easy to do (at least, with Photoshop, and probably also Gimp)
    Style 3: the hardest and most time-consuming, but, when done right, one of the most impressive and good-looking methods. As you can see, I started showing different levels of roof, and gave up because it was taking too long. This style needs persistence.
    Style 4: this one is popular with city-mappers, and is not too hard to do. It is also, in my opinion, the very worst--no city in history looked like #4; villages maybe, but cities no. It is the result of modern suburbia, not historic urban form.

    Of course, this is your map and you must do what you prefer. Don't be swayed by my opinions (although if you choose #4 I'll never talk to you again. Just joking).

    Some final thoughts on buildings:
    --desert cities often had flat roofs (one of the reasons #2 and #4 are bad choices), and internal courtyards. The reason for the former was probably due to crowded conditions. The latter was due to the hot climate. Courtyards allowed air to ventilate the house and so keep it cooler. I have included courtyards in #2 and #3.

    --remaining mindful of scale is especially important when doing buildings and alleys: it is a common trap that urban mappers fall into, that buildings either are too large, too small, or both. Try to be consistent.

    --bearing in mind the last point, you can also deliberately change the scale of buildings for various reasons. The most obvious is that a rich person will usually live in a larger house than a poor person, although medieval cities were almost always crowded, regardless of being rich or poor.

    --certain 'special' buildings:
    ----shops would often be located in the groundfloor of a house, and therefore there is no need to add a building exclusively to be a shop (you can, however, add a building exclusively to be a collection of shops; today we call it a shopping mall, but back then it would be a covered-market or bazaar);
    ----warehouses or storerooms were also frequently parts of peoples' houses. Once again, you don't need to include an area which is only warehouses (where medieval towns did have specific warehouse structures, they were usually controlled not by a private merchant, but by a public authority such as the monarch or town council).
    ----granaries: like warehouses, private individuals would take care of storing their food themselves, but the city still needs to have somewhere to store reserves in case of siege or food shortages. As such, it would need to be somewhere easily defended.
    ----wells and fountains: these played an important role in medieval towns. People used them for drinking water, watering their animals, washing their clothes, collecting water for cooking etc. Typically, every neighbourhood would have a source of water, provided either by underground cisterns, or wells linked to a natural water feature (such as the river you've added to this town).

    That's probably it for now. Once again, ask questions if you have any, disagree with me if you like, and good luck.

    THW
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails First try at a city map-desert-city-streets-styles.jpg  

  4. #14
      Forcas is offline
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    Rivers and roads, rivers and roads...

    First try at a city map-suzail-wip.jpg

  5. #15
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    Hi Forcas, those minor roads are...unusual. I quite like them though. Is there a reason you decided on a sun-ray like form? It definitely doesn't look like 'natural' growth, but rather planning by some authority (for real world
    examples not unlike this, try Washington DC, Haussman's Paris, Sixtus VI's Rome). Perhaps this is how they rebuilt the city after the big fire?

    I think you've done a pretty good job on the alleys, too. They aren't over the top (which is a problem many people have), but they still look like they'd be easy to get lost in. Nice job.

    I still have a few suggestions for you:
    --aren't there going to be other sites in the town: where are the temples, customs houses, government-owned granaries, theatres, sports grounds, covered markets/bazaars, bathhouses, hospitals, guard barracks, universities/academies/schools, monuments celebrating events/victories/coronations etc? Obviously you don't need all or any of these, but I think there do need to be a few more landmarks in the town.
    --where are the public gardens: of course, you don't need to include gardens, but it is not an uncommon feature of old towns, including those in deserts (trees provided some much-needed shade, and fruit for the king's table; fountains provide water and a place to cool down in the heat; menageries give people entertainment etc.), especially around royal palaces.
    --suburbs: again, you don't need to include these, but it was not uncommon in many cities for settlements to exist outside the walls of a city (in the trade, we call it extra-mural). People who want to live close to the city, but cannot afford to live within the walls (what we call intra-mural) will set up houses outside. They still get protection, but the land is cheaper. Typically suburbs show less governmental control, may be much poorer, and often give rise to small local markets (remember what I said about markets and paying tolls at the gates). If you decide to include suburbs, they are likely to just be a row of houses on either side of the road, perhaps starting to get bigger nearer the gates. You could also include a few farms, manor houses, watchtowers, inns, tombs, quarries, mines, mills, barracks, stables, pastures, irrigation channels, etc in the area outside the town. The desert looks rather empty at the moment, especially since you expanded the canvas.
    --open spaces: remembering what I said before about hot climates, and people wanting to avoid large marketplaces, you can still add small squares and piazzas, and the main marketplace might have a bit of a bulge in it, too. These squares probably often form around a water source, such as a well or fountain. Another basis for squares in some cultures is linked with different family clans: you might have a whole block of buildings, all owned by one family and its tenants; because it is all family owned, they can have a central square to allow them to meet, safe from enemy families. Over time, the family might fragment, or disappear, but the square can remain. The kinds of spaces I am talking about really are quite small (much smaller than the marketplace you had in your original map), but scattered around.
    --there's one last thing about the map which, I'm sorry to say, I don't think looks good: the docks. Now bear in mind, I only know a little bit about medieval docks, but there's something about the ones you did that doesn't look right to me--it might be their size; or perhaps the shape of the boardwalk is too curvy for a structure made of wood; or maybe it's the major road near the sea which looks too curvy.

    I have made one last quick demonstration to show what I mean about a) the docks area (I didn't add alleys), and b) the small squares scattered around (but I put in only a few; you should add several times more).

    I think you are nearly finished with this map. I think it is much better than when you started. Do you think it is looking better now?

    As always, ask questions if you have any, and post updates when you are ready. Good luck.

    THW
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails First try at a city map-forcas-map.jpg  

  6. #16
      Forcas is offline
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    Took you long enough to respond.. (jk)

    First try at a city map-suzail-wip.jpg

    I modified the port, added important buildings and holes and a garden. I chose not to do suburbs because living outside the city walls would be extremely hard: arid terrain, frequent bandit raids, sandstorms etc; and the toll to enter town is really low (an effort to convince more traders to visit). The barracks are under the Garrison (The smaller building within the small wall). There is a cooling system based on river water running under the Castle and Garrison. The reserves are also underground: better defense and climate. The streets are not natural. After the fire the city was rebuilt to have better defensive capabilities.
    xpian likes this.

  7. #17
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    Alright, I think you've pretty much got it now. I could go on making suggestions, but at this stage that would simply be about minor adjustments, and, in my experience, it is easy to get too involved in the in the details, and so spend weeks/months/years on a project unnecessarily. If you are happy with it (and you should be; you've done a good job), I think you can call it done.

    Is there anything else you want to include in this map, or do you have any questions?

    THW

  8. #18
      Forcas is offline
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    Should I add text to it? Should i write the names of the places directly on the map or use numbers and write them near? Should I put a border?

  9. #19
      Cuin is offline
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    Hi Forcas,

    I would say definitely add a border, even if it is just a black line and some white space. It will frame your image and look nice.

    As far as text goes usually people use numbers and a legend for city maps. I usually like text labels right on the object, but city maps are typically too condensed and just don't have room for that. Maybe try using the rule of thumb that if you can fit the text on the object then do so, but if you can't fit the text - use a number. It would look silly to have a number on the sea/ocean, but a shop label that spans 8 buildings would also look bad.
    Cheers,
    Cuin

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  10. #20
    SJS
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    Really impressive rapid improvement on this project!

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