So this is my first post here, though I've been watching and learning for a little while now. Right away - thanks to everyone here whose posted tutorials, links to resources, brush sets, etc. etc. Every trick I've learned thusfar has been adapted (or stolen outright) from the geniuses who make this place awesome. As 80% my work is based on his tutorials, Ascension gets double-awesome
Okay, so I'm re-drawing the maps for the adventure Keep on the Shadowfell, both for use in battlemaps and because its a good way to get practice for when I'm going my own, original ones. It's going pretty well for the most part, and I plan on putting the whole thing up once it's finished.. One thing I've been having trouble with and wanted feedback on, though, is a tunnel area that has a small underground pool that has a tiny raised "island" in the middle of it. I've attached the original PSD so you can see all the details.
Correction: Due to file size, I can't upload the PSD file.
Mainly I'm looking for feedback on the pool/island - I think it looks alright, but am not sure what to do to improve it. Also, I'd love to know what other people think of the natural steps at the top of the map. I think they worked out pretty well, but was hoping someone who does this thing more often could give me their thoughts.
Steps look good but there is a line across the top. To fix that merge the layer to an empty layer beneath then erase the line. The water color looks a bit off unless it's magic water. Try something darker, bluer, and grayer. On the color picker move the slider up away from the green/aqua towards the blue then come across and move the little circle thingy towards the left where the grays are...put it somewhere in the middle or left of middle. Moving that lil circle up will make things lighter, down is darker. Lastly, depending on depth of the water the underlying texture can be seen - if the pool is deep then it won't be seen but if it is shallow then it will be seen - but murkiness also plays a part there. Murkiness makes the water gray or brown as well. Magic water can be any color you want.
~Double live and superfly :)
Thanks for the advice, I've attached an updated shot.
The water is supposed to be around 20 feet deep, so I upped the color overlay's opacity a bit as well as changing the color. I also added a pair of "murky" layers above the water and below the island, using your "clouds -> color range -> delete" technique (though I kept the black, deleted the white) to get some good swirling eddies, then set the blend modes of one to soft light and the other to hard light.
As far as the line you refer to with the steps, I just wanted to be clear on what you meant. Did you mean the dark brown edging at the very top, or the black stroke of the first step?
Of course, how much better would it be if I actually attached the shot? Sorry about that.
The really thin black line that goes around the step, might be a layer style of stroke or it might be a drawn shape, I dunno.
Looks like you are off to a great start.
The thin black line around the island might not necessarily need to go, but it does stand out way to much. If it is on a separate layer you might want to consider a very small (1 or 2 pixel) blur on it just to give it less aliasing. If not on a separate layer, you might need to get tricky with the selection tools...
Other than that, the only beef I have is with some of the cavern corners. I don't know how the original map looks, but your natural caverns have a very odd look from the sharp-acute-wavy corners some of them end in. I would consider trying to round out those sharp corners to give it a more 'natural' look. Especially in the pool cave (with water involved, unless it was man-made, there shouldn't be so many 90° angles) I feel a more oval shape would look nice.
Aside from that, I think it looks good so far. The floor texture is really nice, where did you get it if you don't mind my asking?
Thanks for the praise, both of you.
Ascension - the thin black lines are layer strokes, which makes removing a chunk problematic unless I flatten the layer, which I'd rather not do. However, it's actually not that big a deal, as the top "edge" will be obscured by a layer above it - the "rock steps" descend from a hallway with a worked stone floor). I've included a very rough shot of where the stone floor will be - though I spent all of 15 seconds on it.
Wannabeahero - yeah, I realize the tunnel walls (especially all the straight ones dominating the right side of the map) aren't very realistic. This is basically a test piece, where I figure out how to do the blending/shading/patterns/etc. for the walls, water, island, and so on. I decided that, since it's not the final map, I wasn't going to waste time on detailed drawings in this one. I tried changing the blend mode on the stroke around the island, let me know what you think. The pattern is called "mudgrass" and I got it from Ascension's Town Mapping tutorial. The wall edges are just a brown inner glow, set to Color Burn.
Lastly, I've included another room from the same, larger map. Basically the concept is a ruined room - the old, stone floor is semi-intact with a dirt-filled pit about 10 feet or so below it. Mostly I'm concerned about the NW corner of the chamber, where the entire upper ceiling caved in, leaving it covered in rubble. I actually adapted Ascension's trees tutorial, using a different texture and color, as well as larger brush strokes, to try and simulate piles of rocks.
Very nice, the new blending mode for the island outline looks great IMO. I like the effect for the collapsed corner of the new room, I think with a little rubble to tie it into the rest of the room it will be top notch.
You might want to consider a larger or more extreme edge/slope on the floor-to-dirt transitions in the new room (particularly along the walls). Right now it doesn't give the impression of a 10' drop to me, more like 1 or 2 feet. That, and/or possibly making the deeper pit-portion a much darker shade, either through playing with your brightness/contrast levels or placing another layer over the dirt floor made from a semi-transparent black, possibly with varying levels of transparency.
Way to adapt and overcome, we'll make a Marine out of you yet :) Well that's what my dad would say (along with some other words that you can't use here) as he was a DI.
I've tried a couple things and none of it really seems to be working. I did the raised stone sections with an outer bevel, am thinking about heading back to the drawing board with that and trying it from that angle. We'll see.