Need Advice - Battlemat
This is a battlemat I've been working on for our weekly D&D game. We meet again this Thursday night which is when I need this done by. And in most respects, it can certainly be called "done". I could print it right now and they'd all be happy. But I just don't know... There's just something about it that doesn't feel finished to me. Some details perhaps. I was hoping I might engage some of the exceptionally talented insight of these forums to offer some suggestions, advice, critiques, etc.
NOTE: The bugbear is just there to serve as a scale reference for the eventual minis. It will not be printed.
Bwcause you asked here they are in no particular order.
Firewood. What are they burning? Nobody, not even bugbears want to go off into the woods as soon as another log is needed for the fire.
Waste: Where to the people go? Where is the trash thrown? Most semi permanent camps will have a waste pit for all the waster/garbage.
Fresh Water: Where does it come from? Do the Bugbears truck it in?
Gates? Not much point building a pallisade if there is no gate to close to fully inclose the area against assault.
I completely agree with everything NeonKnight said, especially regarding water and gates. I think both of those elements would help finish it up, and adding water and gates can only make an adventure or combat a bit more interesting. Plus, adding some blue from water would give it another color, and that might help make it look more finished.
Also, I would also make the pikes cover more of the palisades. Try not to make them all straight, as you've done. Make a couple crooked ones. There's a lot to be said for funneling attackers, but there are so many areas without pikes that they really don't see too useful. That, and there aren't gates. Maybe even just a wagon they can move into place is all you need.
Well, that's up to you. Good luck and have fun!
Regardless of the RPG aspects its a very nicely done map. The art seems nicely rendered - looks antialiased. The shadows are exact enough to indicate that most of the stuff apart from the Bugbear and maybe the odd item are actually in 3D and the shadows in the campfire look right too with a nice glow.
Its very much my kind of map. I like the textured ground and items on top. The grid is nice and simple too which is the way I like them. Even the bugbear itself is great - is that one of Devins ?
One of the trees top middle seems chopped off against the grid line a bit tho. Sorta like a bit of bugbear topiary :)
It would be interesting to know what you used to make it. Id say your group are pretty fortunate to have such nice battle mats.
It's a lovely map - I've lifted it for a bandit camp I have to run in a couple of weeks.
The only thing I'd add to the comments above (other than that the water is clearly in the barrels!) is that many of the features are clearly the same image replicated - the tents in particular. It might be worth using a grunge brush to dirty them up a bit - bugbears and brigands aren't known for their cleanliness. That should make them look a little different. Maybe change the location and colour of the red flag(?) on the ridge-line as well. If it is a flag then the wind is blowing an all sorts of weird directions in this camp.
The ground is a bit uniform as well. Perhaps a quick dirty up with the grunge brushes would help here too?
These are small issues really. The map's lovely.
Thanks for all the suggestions! I plan to try and implement what I can tonight before I print it. And torstan is right. The water is in the barrels. Though I like the idea of adding another color. I might make the edge of a pond poke out from one of the sides. I'll see. And I really like the idea of a wagon to roll in as "gates". I have to try and find a way to get that in there.
And for those interested. I did this all in Photoshop. It will be printed at 200dpi on two sheets of 13"x19" paper and trimmed down so there is full bleed. The Photoshop file is currently around 600Mb :D The ground is actually 7 different pattern layers with layer masks on each. I used a Wacom tablet to paint in the different ground layers. I particularly like the trees. It is actually just one tree copied and rotated a lot. But I then hand painted on some additional shadows within the tree itself to give them a sense of depth and form and variety. I really like the way they came out. The art comes from a mix of Dundjinni forum downloads and Dungeon Designer 3 stock material. I agree the camp feels too "clean" to be a bunch of goblinoid bandits. Can anyone reference me to a nice free collection of grunge brushes I can use to give it some character?
Go to cgtextures.com and look around in the Grunge categories to find a texture you like. These aren't tiling textures, so download the large ones--you'll need as much resolution as you can get.
Open the texture in PS, and adjust the contrast and brightness until you've got nice splotches and a mostly white background. Paste the grunge into your main doc and place it right above the ground. Set the blend mode to multiply, and it should turn into very nice yuck on the ground.
Since you have so much resolution in your battlemat, you may want to cut out an irregular border around your grunge so that it doesn't make a nice, neat square. Playing with different levels of saturation, contrast and brightness can give a single texture enough variation that you should be able to use it several times without it being obvious that you're reusing the same element. You can throw some grunge on the tents with the same technique. I'd recommend something from the Splatter category for that.
DeviantArt also has many grunge brushes for download.
Another thing is the ground itself. It still looks too "nice". I would think that the efforts of setting up the camp and fencing and dragging around stuff would have gouged and damaged the grass more than the slight wear shown.
A question might be - how long has the camp been there? How did the materials get brought in? Were any horses/wagons used? If so I'd expect to see ruts and clods all over the place.
Lastly, is the fire a cook-fire or a warmth fire? I would expect more around the camp, possibly with logs and things pulled up to sit on.
You can also go to deviantart.com and search for grunge brush - there are loads over there.
For example here.
Thanks everyone! Those grunge brushes worked wonders. It feels much more polished now. Which is ironic since in this case, "polished" actually means dirty and grungy. :) I'm at work now, but I'll post the finished version tonight or tomorrow.