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Some Varied Maps

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Tres Kresha

Tres Kresha


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Just to throw this out as a disclaimer for those of you who might not enjoy these types of maps - all that follows are purely fantasy and have only been created for use with RPGs and other systems. I am however very interested in the technique and other skills I can learn through continued experimentation and experience. Before I found this board I wasn't aware such a place existed that might help to further my goals of creating things that mimic real life; I have been pleasantly surprised by the varied content available here.

What do I hope to get out of posting this? Well I am looking for suggestions, comments and insights that I might not yet know. I have already started to sift through the piles of resources on this site and am noticing that I might need to see if its possible to experiment with real world data and points before I try to go through and create my own. The maps below are all unfinished, I create them and move on forgetting about them for extended periods of time. Each one uses similar but varied techniques, I suppose the term for the shading is relief shading (just learned that from trolling this site). ;)

In way of additional help I am looking for possible suggestions on how I can recreate them in a life-like fashion. I am having particular trouble with shading of different areas. Any techniques you can suggest for displaying different terrain/regions? Also I am wondering how do I breath life like trees into the maps? Or do I leave them out? For rivers I have also already used a tapering drawing style (learned that designation from this site as well), but even on the rivers if any suggestions can be made I'd be estatic.

I think the biggest constraint with my maps right now is that I try to keep them small in size for ease of viewing, and by doing so it makes it hard to see details more often than not. I don't see any way around this really. Normally I mix Illustrator and Photoshop to create the images. I'm experimenting with a way to take a map made in photoshop to Illustrator for vectorizing so that I can then zoom in and retool it at a closer view. Well - I have a ton of questions but right now I am a bit too distracted to put together cohereant paragraphs, so I will close with my maps. They are nothing compared to the ones I've been seeing on this site, and that is why I am here - to get better. Thanks.

Start with the oldest first.

My first map attempt, looking back I am in no way proud of this. Yet it was done for another person and kind of spawned this hobby - so in a way I owe it a lot.
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Or a larger version to see the horror close up.
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My second map after considerable piddling. You'll also note that on these maps I can't figure out a way to vary the shading of the land, as that white splotch shows.
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The second map after I worked with some shading and tried to come up with a technique to give texture to my maps.
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(Smaller)Posted Image

If you hadn't noticed these maps were also ways for me to explore and learn photoshop so here is a space, planetary map. Each planet is first drawn at 1024 or 800 pixels then shrunk to fit. Only real problem was that I shrank the sun too small so that everything was out of proportion with the planets looking far far too large.
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With many other smallish maps in between this is my most recent map that I am working on - and the one that I would like the real feedback on.
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On this last one I am not very pleased with the fact that I am using a random method to create my artificial relief shading. I would prefer to draw it on myself for more control, but I am unsure just how involved that might be? I thought that if I were to draw a gray scale map and use it for my relief it would give me more control, does anyone know if this is true before I waste my time? Other areas of interest are, as I've said, being able to properly highlight and shade the maps. Techniques that I could use for continent edges, and ways to give the oceans a bit better life - complete with deep trenches and the like. Right now the only thing I've temporarily come up with are the white shading areas for displaying "shallows" or some similar area in the open seas between landmasses.
Also, the edges I will point out are not even. This is because the process I use for creating the 'landmasses' is somewhat automated. If I can find a better way, such as manual drawing it will be where I head next for better maps.

Edited by Tres Kresha, 06 June 2007 - 06:28 PM.

Unit Seven

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Hi Tres,

As a new member your posts need to be approved befor they show up - I have just done this. I think once an administrator validates you as a member they show up straight away.

And fictional maps are more than welcome here if past topics are anything to go by.

I can't see your images where I am at the moment but look forward to seeing them when I'm at my machine at home.

...oh, and welcome to Cartotalk!
S a m B r o w n


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You make imaginary places look real - I make real places look imaginary
Welcome to the site Tres
Jean-Louis Rheault

Tres Kresha

Tres Kresha


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Thanks for the welcome.
In the day or so I've been fiddling with this new map I think I'm ready to scrap it and try again. I found its better to go in and take my landforms one at a time and create a toolset to then 'build' the world or whatever it is I'm making from the ground up. That way I don't have the problems with uneven or matching edges that I otherwise tend to run into.

Have yet to find a way to properly shade just yet - that is getting into digital painting and something I am still a bit less versed in.



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I am a fan of fantasy and fantasy maps.

Your maps seem pretty dark to me. If you lighten them up labels and other info can be overlaid and still be readable.

You might want to take a look at Tom Patterson's site shadedrelief.com
He is a grandmaster of relief shading and other techniques. :)


Dave Barnes
Map Geek

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