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Thread: [Award Winner] Assorted tips and tricks

  1. #31
      torstan is offline
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    Equally, there's this set:

    http://momarkmagic.blogspot.com/2010...-set-2010.html

    Any of the brushes towards the bottom of the second column in that preview should do the trick.
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  2. #32
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    I thought I'd discuss trees in battlemaps - after Anthony Metcalf asked about them. In this case I'm just talking about the decisions over the style of a tree rather than the technical question of how to actually draw one.

    [Award Winner] Assorted tips and tricks-trees.jpg

    There are four styles of tree that I can think of that I've regularly seen and there are pros and cons to each one. A lot of the decision is really based on how you're going to use the map you have at the end. I'll go through each in turn:

    1. This is probably the most obvious. You draw the canopy of the tree. It's relatively easy - and there are lots of pre made tree image you can use if you want to lay in a lot of trees quickly (for example: http://rpgmapshare.com/index.php?q=g...g2_itemId=2414). Equally, you can hand draw them, like I've done here. The down side is that this obscures anything under the canopy that you might want to show, and in particular it obscured the tree trunk. If you're running an abstract game, where forest is just a generic terrain type and being in the forest gives you cover then this is fine. However if you're playing something like 4e D&D and you need to know where the tree trunks are for cover and line of sight, this will give you a pretty map, but won't actually allow the map to be used for gameplay.
    2. This approach goes in the opposite direction. Here I've just shown the tree trunk, and no canopy. This is great for tactical gameplay as it leaves you able to throw other details onto the forest floor, like fallen trunks or meandering streams, without any problem with the players being unable to see them. However, it's less obviously a tree, and it's just not as pretty. It's the approach I took for my Leafless Wood map pack, which I still drag out whenever my players end up in a fight in a clearing: http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.p...ducts_id=61123
    3. Here I've gone for a happy medium. It's more abstract, as we have both the canopy and the trunk beneath. You can decide when you colour it whether you want to just leave the line art to designate the extent of the canopy, or whether you want to add in some leaves around the edge. I first saw this style done by +Mike Schley on some maps he did for Wizards, and it certainly makes for attractive battlemaps that are also useful for tactics. It's a little more time consuming, but I think it's worth it for the versatility. The one downside I've seen with this style is that if you also have a lot of ground level detail like streams, fallen logs, mushroom fields and such, then it can get very crowded and it can be hard to read off the important information.
    4. Here I've just shown the branches of the tree. It works well for winter scenes and you can clearly see the extent of the tree as well as the location of the trunk. However this comes with a health warning. Doing the line work can be time consuming but it's as nothing compared to the amount of time it'll take to colour and shade. Think very carefully before doing a map with more than a couple of these on it. You're likely to regret it, however pretty they look at the end of the day!
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  3. #33
      torstan is offline
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    Default More City Design

    I was asked the following question over on the Paizo boards:

    Quote Originally Posted by DeathQuaker
    Can I ask a question about city design?

    I see advice I've seen elsewhere -- start with the streets.

    But -- how? How do you know how to design the streets? How many to put within a space, when to do twists and turns, when to leave things straight? I imagine some of it's random, but there's also usually some kind of logic to city design--what kind of logic do you apply and when do you decided for good reason, to deviate from it?

    I know when I've tried to do "streets first"--I end up then realizing I need more space for X building or something and have to start over. Or the street network just doesn't look "natural." I'm sure some of that comes with time and practice, but it'd be nice to get some pointers.
    [Award Winner] Assorted tips and tricks-redwallwebres-1.jpg

    Here's the answer:
    @DeathQuaker- You're absolutely right. I know I said 'start with the streets' but that was a little disingenuous. You need to know where the streets are going to and from so you do need to know the locations of major landmarks first. So I think it's better to say - start with the important tactical terrain. Rivers and hills. You don't need to pin them down precisely and render them up beautifully, but you do need to know where they are.

    Power centers are almost always on top of a hill as they started off small, and needed to be in the best place to stave off attack. Or they'll be in a bend in a river, so that they're defended on 2 or 3 sides by water. If a city can be beside the water it will be, and again as the city started small, the power center and the old town will be at the waterside. So you need to know where the rivers/coastline and hills are.

    Once you've got that, you know where the old town is. All main roads to other cities will lead to the power center, because that's where they started. They'll follow the contours of the land and will be constrained by where they cross rivers. Draw these in, and feel free to put in wiggles and kinks - roads don't necessarily go straight.

    Now you start creating the rest of the city. The old town normally has a wall around it - again from the history of being attacked. You need to decide on whether the newer wider city has walls around it too. Walls restrict the passage of major roads - so they're important.

    So now you should have:
    1. Rivers and hills
    2. Power center
    3. Walls on the old town (and newer town)
    4. Major roads from the center to the outside world

    At this point, pick some major locations that people are going to need to get to/from. Some ideas:
    • Docks
    • Market
    • Granaries
    • Arcane University
    • Temple district/center of worship
    • Barracks
    • Secondary power center (parliament/royal residence).

    It's also worth pencilling in the different demographics of the quarters of he city now as well such as:
    • Rich merchant/nobles
    • Artisans
    • Slums
    • Warehouses

    The major locations will work as focal points for your roads - people need to get there, so large roads will come off them like spokes off a wheel. Again, don't make them rod straight, allow them to have kinks and doglegs in them - but make sure they go in one clear direction. If there needs to be a road from the barracks to the palace and from the Barracks to the city gates, make sure it's clear that it does - but still remember that roads also go round places, and are designed to leave roughly rectangular spaces for building houses.

    Now you should have a spider's web of main roads and you need to fill in the big irregular spaces with little roads to define the different districts. This is where the demographic of an area comes in. Slums are unplanned and ungoverned, so roads go where they need to , not where they should. let your pen wander and lay in a messy labyrinth of twisting alleyways.

    On the other hand, merchants and nobles live in large houses with land around them on straight tree lined avenues. Place straight(ish) or gently curving roads in these areas, with lots of space for mansions. Grids look good for this too, and quickly give off a sense of ordered planning. Middle class areas are similar, but with smaller areas between roads, or with tenements, and more alleyways. Keep the roads to straight lines and sharp angles here too to retain a contrast with the slums.

    Now you should have a reasonably clear city plan - and you've defined it by drawing the roads.

    I've attached the City of Redwall that I created for Jaye Sonia's world of Rhune (http://rhunedawnoftwilight.com/). It's a dwarven city, so even the poorer areas aren't totally without a sense of order, but hopefully it's clear from the road layout what the main areas are, even before you check out the legend.

    As always, feel free to share this round, and if you want to check out older tutorials, search for the #fmtips hash tag, or go to the tutorials section of my site: http://fantasticmaps.wordpress.com/c...ps-and-tricks/
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  4. #34
      torstan is offline
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    Default How to make a grungy brush

    One incredibly useful tool in photoshop is a good dynamic grungy brush.

    The human eye looks for detail and texture, or patterns and regularity. If you use a hard edged round brush in your work, there will be hard edged circles in your work. We're very good at picking them out, so your audience will see them. On the other hand, if you use a brush with splattered edges, a random orientation and a variable size then there will be no pattern anywhere. Then the human eye sees other patterns and forms. It sees texture that isn't there, and fills in regions with the texture it believes it should see.

    So - build yourself a nice random grungy brush to fill in texture and you're getting your viewer's overactive brain to do 9/10 of the work for you. This is an inescapably Photoshop centric tutorial. You can achieve similar results in Gimp but the process is pretty different.

    [Award Winner] Assorted tips and tricks-howtomakeabrush.jpg

    In Photoshop, either create a splattered shape by dropping ink on a page and scanning it in, or pick up this set of free brushes here: http://myphotoshopbrushes.com/brushes/id/372

    1. Use a collection of the brushes or ink shapes to make an roughly oblong shape with lots of spikes, spatters and edges. Add some opacity variation to build up the shape. Select the full shape and go to Edit->Define Brush Preset.
    2. Go to the brush dialog. It's going to look pretty dull. To make it more interesting add some shape dynamics. I set the brush size to be determined by the pen pressure and throw some size jitter on top. Add in 100% angle jitter - this will turn the brush from an obviously repeating shape to a random smooth brush. Now save the brush - by clicking the New Brush Preset button at the bottom right of the brush dialog.
    3. Play with your new brush! It should give you a nice variable spattered texture.


    Later in the week we'll be using this brush to finish up and colour last week's trees.
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  5. #35
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    Default How to colour trees quickly

    Today I'm walking through my method for colouring trees. This follows on from this mini-tute/discussion on different tree styles from last week.

    I'm working with style 1 from that tutorial here, though it can be directly applied to the other styles just as easily.

    The problem with trees is the leaves. You can't just draw a green sphere and call it a tree, because we know trees are detailed objects with lots of leaves. Equally you can't draw every leaf as it'll drive you crazy, and your players won't appreciate it. So the trick is to give the impression of detail without painting every single leaf. This is where custom brushes come in. On Monday I covered how to create a grungy custom brush.

    [Award Winner] Assorted tips and tricks-trees2.jpg

    With this brush, we now jump into the tree itself.
    • Pick two colours, different shades of green for a summer tree, different shades of orange/red for an autumn tree. In Brush Dynamics, set Color Dynamics to jitter the foreground/background colour, and also add in some random variation on each of the hue/saturation/brightness values. Also add in some scatter. Now use this brush to paint in a colour layer as a base for your tree. The colour jitter means that you never paint with the same colour twice. The scattering means your brush layes down lots of independent overlapping jittery patterns.
    • Now we'll give the impression of leaves, and some general shape and form. Add an overlay layer, pick a dark blue for the shadows and a light yellow/white for the highlights. I'm keeping the scatter, and the jitter on the brush here. As the colour jitter is only 50% foreground/background it means it'll lay down more of the foreground colour than the background. So with the foreground set to the dark blue (and the background set to light yellow) I lay in large low opacity shaps around the shadowed regions. Build them up slowly and see what the tree starts to look like. When I'm happy with that, I switch the colours round (x on the keyboard for speed), reduce the brush size and increase the opacity to about 60%. Then I work in scattered highlights that give the impression of leaves.
    • The last step is to really sell the shape of the tree. Add a soft light layer. Turn off the colour jitter and use the same bright yellow (almost white) with a low opacity to highlight the top of the tree. Switch colours to your shadow hue (dark blue) and build up the tree shadows. Try to follow any contours of the line drawing. Trees aren't just great masses of leaves - they clump and bunch and have shapes inside the groups of leaves. When you're happy with this, add a multiply layer underneath the other layers and use a low opacity brush with your shadow he and lay in a cast shadow to bring the tree out of the background.


    That's it! It's pretty quick, even for lots of trees. If you're doing a lot of trees, make sure you change colours a little for each one, and give them a wide range of sizes to avoid them looking like cookie cutter copies.

    If you'd like to use this tree, the psd file is here:
    [Award Winner] Assorted tips and tricks-trees2.psd

    And here are the pngs with and without shadow (CC-BY-NC-SA):
    [Award Winner] Assorted tips and tricks-tree_noshadow.png [Award Winner] Assorted tips and tricks-tree.png

    These pngs are CC-BY-NC-SA - so feel free to use these for any non-commercial project.
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  6. #36
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    Default Scatter Brushes in Gimp

    This is less a tutorial, than just a little advice on converting the advice of the last couple of posts over to Gimp.

    [Award Winner] Assorted tips and tricks-grunge.png

    So the last couple of tutorials I've posted have been very photoshop specific. This post is a quick note on how to achieve the same result in Gimp. The key is in getting the right brush.

    Simple brushes without angle jitter
    1 As before, create a grungy inkblot image -but this time, create it with a transparent background (images 1).
    2. Save this as a .gbr file (the Gimp brush format), and place it in the gimp brushes directory (http://docs.gimp.org/en/gimp-using-brushes.html)
    3. Re-open Gimp and your brush should be there. Throw in jitter (click Apply Jitter) and random colour variation using the Brush Dynamics setting in the brush dialog (above Apply Jitter) and you're good to go.

    Brushes with angle jitter
    For this we need to have a brush that has many copies of the brush image with different rotations. To do this, I'm deferring to the excellent tool by +Rob Antonishen here: http://ffaat.pointclark.net/blog/arc...g-Brushes.html
    • Download the setup-brush.scm plugin, and check out this page for how to install Gimp plugins: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/GIMP/Installing_Plugins
    • Create your brush splatter image as before, but this time make sure it's:
    - square, so make sure the canvas has equal dimensions on each side
    - on a white background, not as a transparent png
    - flattened. Make sure there's only one layer
    • Run the brush maker script from Script-fu->Setup Rotating Brush

    You'll now have a new image with lots of rotated images in it.
    • Save this as a .gih file - and make sure you follow Rob's screenshot for the correct settings for the Save Dialog
    • Move the .gih brush your brushes directory.
    • Refresh the brush list - it should now be there!

    My version of the grungy brush for Gimp is here if you want to download it. It's free for any personal or commercial use - just don't sell the brush itself, that would be daft: http://jrsandbox.com/Maps/Mini-Tutes...ads/grungy.gih

    Now for drawing the tree tutorial, you'll want to use the Brush Dynamics settings in the brush dialog. Those can be set to exactly follow the Photoshop tutorial here: http://www.cartographersguild.com/sh...l=1#post177407

    #gimp #tips #tutorials #fmtips
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  7. #37
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    Default Isometric hand drawn mountains

    Today's tutorial is a quick walkthrough for isometric or forced perspective mountains. This is entirely software agnostic, and is the starting point for maps like this: http://fantasticmaps.wordpress.com/2...ld-of-hominia/ or this: http://fantasticmaps.wordpress.com/w...tsmapwebres-2/

    [Award Winner] Assorted tips and tricks-isomountains.jpg

    This was done with a pen in my lunch break, but can equally be done in Gimp with a mouse, or Photoshop with a tablet.

    1. Defined the silhouettes for your mountains. They can be jagged, they can be smooth. Allow your hand to wander and create different shapes. It helps to start with the closest mountain (bottom of the page) and work to the farthest (top of the page)
    2. Draw the ridge line. Start at the highest point on a mountain and draw a ridge line to the next in the line of mountains. Don't draw directly to the next peak, offset the end of the line. That will make it look like the ridge drops down and then comes up the far side where it's hidden from the viewer.
    3. Add in the details. Here I've taken lines from all of the mini-peaks and drawn flowing lines down the sides of the mountains. Add in a few secondary ridge lines running off down to ground level (like the second mountain from the top on the left hand side)

    At this point you have your mountain range. Any more detail added with colour or tone will add to the effect, but you can leave it at this and it'll read just fine as a mountain range.
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  8. #38
      arsheesh is offline
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    Default

    This is a very helpful thread Torstan, thanks for sharing! Unfortunately I couldn't rep you but I've rated the thread.

    Cheers,
    -Arsheesh

  9. #39
      loogie is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by torstan View Post
    It's a bit of a long one today for the lunchtime mapping tip. We're doing mountains.

    After I put together a post about drawing hills, I had a request to do the same for mountains. Here's a walk through of my process. For this, you need any piece of software that allows you to use layer blend modes, specifically overlay. I know these appear in Photoshop and Gimp, and I'm pretty certain they're available in others too. It also helps if you have a tablet, but this can be done using a mouse with a low brush opacity to build up the shadows gradually.

    Attachment 40980

    I build up mountains in 5 steps over a textured brown background. I find http://cgtextures.com great for good backgrounds, or you can use the one I've attached here. I've provided it CC-BY-NC licensed so that you can use it for any non-commercial purpose.

    Attachment 40979

    Okay, onto the mapping!

    1. Draw the ridge line for your mountains. Mountains form in lines and create ranges spanning long distances, and help to form natural dividing lines for countries. Don't make it too straight. If your hand shakes whilst you're drawing this it's a good thing.
    2. Add in the lines for the mountain ridges that come down from the ridge line. These should bunch up near peaks and help the viewer see where the mountain tops are. They spread out as they get further from the ridge where the ground becomes flatter and easier to navigate. This part just takes a little time and practice to get it looking good.
    3. Create a new layer and set its blend mode to overlay. Take a large-ish circular brush and either set its opacity to pressure sensitive (if using a tablet) or low opacity (if using a mouse). Now, with the colour set to black or very dark blue block in the shadow on the SE side of the mountains. Always start a stroke at or near the ridge line and draw away from the ridge. That will result in the most overlapping strokes being beside the ridge. This means the darkest regions are beside the ridge, and also you'll get lots of details around the ridge. Now pick a few region on the SW side of the ridge that would be in shade and block those in too. Switch to white, and do the same for highlights on the NW side.
    4. Create another layer and once again set it to overlay. Reduce the size of your brush by at least 50% and repeat the process. This time you're looking for the drakest shadows and the brightest highlights to give some detail and definition. Focus on mountain peaks and the top of the ridge line.
    5. Create a final layer, and set it's mode to colour. Using a large fuzzy brush, and pure grey, turn the peaks of the mountains grey. Then using the same fuzzy brush, lay in some verdant green around the base. You can also go back to your first overlay layer here and spread the shadows and highlights into the surrounding plains to blend the mountains in with the background.



    Attachment 40981

    The biggest leap of faith here is trusting that you can be fairly loose on your overlay layers and it will some out fine. The second image attached provides a quick look at what my overlay layers look like as normal layers on a grey background. You can see that the brush strokes aren't that careful, but when they are combined into the overlay layers, they look just fine.

    You can download the .psd of this mountain test here: http://thulaan.com/Downloads/Mountains.psd

    This mini-tute originally appeared here.
    S-E-X-Y... I was looking for some hand drawn work to compare for the region I gotta draw.. who else was i going to look at for inspiration but TORSTAN of course!! I stumbled upon this, and well... I'm appauled at your skill
    Photoshop, CC3, ArcGIS, Bryce, Illustrator, Maptool

  10. #40
      torstan is offline
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    Thanks for the rating arsheesh - much appreciated

    The thread was on a little bit of a hiatus whilst I'm clearing stuff. There's no light at the end of the tunnel in the immediate future, but I'll see what I can slip out every now and again in between work and mapping.

    Thanks Loogie Glad you enjoyed that one - great to hear when these get used.
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