New bigmaps

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New bigmaps

Postby zookeeper » January 13th, 2013, 8:39 pm

I've been working on a new set of bigmaps for campaigns and the title screen. Instead of just committing them when I'm done without warning, I figured I might as well put them up for feedback first, so here's the first batch. I'm planning on giving most mainline campaigns their own custom map so each one can only feature the geographical area relevant to that campaign.

What I'm primarily interested in are issues such as legibility rather than aesthetics, but of course if you find some aesthetic choice especially poor or in need of improvement then feel free to say so.

The maps are intended to be drawn over a wooden background (as in the first attachment), unscaled unless necessary. Also note that these are jpg versions so there's some small artifacts while the in-game versions will probably be png.

EDIT: Attached the final versions (with background, widened canvas and as jpg) of currently finished maps.
Attachments
aoi.jpg
did.jpg
dw.jpg
ei.jpg
httt.jpg
liberty.jpg
sof.jpg
sotbe.jpg
trow.jpg
tsg.jpg
Last edited by zookeeper on February 27th, 2013, 9:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Updated attachments
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Re: New bigmaps

Postby fabi » January 15th, 2013, 4:17 pm

Your new maps are beautiful.

I miss the Right Listra, any reasons why it was removed?
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Re: New bigmaps

Postby zookeeper » January 15th, 2013, 5:03 pm

fabi wrote:I miss the Right Listra, any reasons why it was removed?

Mostly because I found it hard to connect to the far north, and it didn't seem like a particularly important river. What I could do, if it's wanted, would be to make it originate from within Lintanir Forest or from a lake north or northwest of the forest.
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Re: New bigmaps

Postby Blarumyrran » January 16th, 2013, 4:39 pm

as i said before,
1) imo it would benefit a lot from moodier lighting, eg original -> moodier
2) I don't like the font (maybe something like this or this or this or this instead)
3) i don't like the dark shadow under dark labels; works fine without, eg
writing.png

4) it would feel more 3d if it was slightly rotated (~ 1 degree), not aligning perfectly with the horizontal axis of the screen
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Re: New bigmaps

Postby LordBob » January 18th, 2013, 4:32 pm

Blarumyrran wrote:4) it would feel more 3d if it was slightly rotated (~ 1 degree), not aligning perfectly with the horizontal axis of the screen

In that case, I might suggest to also break the parallelism between the map and the woodwork and/or introduce some perspective. I've attached below a few attempts: C is the one that has my favour, though wether it's actually any better than the original is a matter of subjectivity, I guess.

As for the moody lighting, it can work well but I would avoid placing the lightsource in a corner of the picture, as it tends to distract the eye from the map in that configuration.


Other than that, they're really beautifull and I especially like how you included the trademark compas-thingy of old maps. It's a nice improvement of the existing maps

If you want to push things further, I might have some (really minor) suggestions that coul add a great deal of character to the map and tell a whole story about it :
- its maker would have wanted to avoid information getting lost when the edge of the paper wears out, so he included a blank margin and maybe a decorative border.
- maybe a previous owner of the map dropped some handwritten notes in the margin
- a decorative border might include rulers, marks, or miscellaneous information that tell us more about this part of the world
- ...
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map-samples.jpg
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Re: New bigmaps

Postby zookeeper » January 18th, 2013, 5:20 pm

Blarumyrran wrote:as i said before,
1) imo it would benefit a lot from moodier lighting, eg original -> moodier
2) I don't like the font (maybe something like this or this or this or this instead)
3) i don't like the dark shadow under dark labels; works fine without, eg
writing.png

4) it would feel more 3d if it was slightly rotated (~ 1 degree), not aligning perfectly with the horizontal axis of the screen

Lighting is difficult, because the background and the map will be scaled differently based on resolution. The background is designed to be scaled to match the window height, and then to be tiled horizontally (rather than being scaled to fit the window) to fill any unfilled horizontal space that may be left, while the map itself will remain centered but not scaled unless necessary. Therefore I cannot really bake any spotlights or such into the images, because there'd be a mismatch between the lighting on the map and the lighting on the background.

As for the fonts, hopfer and mirkwood only have capital letters and I very much thing it'd look bad to have all the text in caps (even small caps), and augusta I just simply didn't like very much when I tried it.

Are the shadows under the labels really that noticeable? I thought they were pretty subtle as it is. Removing them would make the text slightly sharper, though, so I might go with that.

LordBob wrote:
Blarumyrran wrote:4) it would feel more 3d if it was slightly rotated (~ 1 degree), not aligning perfectly with the horizontal axis of the screen

In that case, I might suggest to also break the parallelism between the map and the woodwork and/or introduce some perspective. I've attached below a few attempts: C is the one that has my favour, though if it's actually any better than the original is a matter of taste, I guess.

As for the moody lighting, it can work well but I would avoid placing it in a corner of the picture, as it tends to distract the eye from the map in that configuration.

There's several reasons why I haven't tried to incorporate perspective:
1) There's no height data for the folds, so I can't render the map so that it actually seems to have some depth if it's shown from an angle. The map would appear as merely a texture on a flat surface.
2) Creating the localized labels (yes, the current maps have "translations") would be more difficult, because the labels would need to be perspectivized as well.
3) The journey markers in the story screens wouldn't have any perspective to them, so they might seem too much like markers on the screen than markers on the map.
4) The background would need to have perspective applied to it as well, which makes tiling pretty hairy.

However, in hindsight those might not be that much of a problem. If the perspective is very subtle, then the lack of depth might not be any more apparent than in the current versions, nor would the non-perspectivized journey markers stand out too much. Localization might not be difficult either, since I could provide the non-perspectivized version of the map onto which translators could add the localized labels, and just have them distort the resulting localization layer to fit the perspectivized map. :hmm: And I could workaround the background problem somehow.

I'll think about it and do some experimentation. Hopefully it'll work out.

LordBob wrote:Other than that, they're really beautifull and I especially like how you included the trademark compas-thingy of old maps. It's a nice improvement of the existing maps

If you want to push things further, I might have some (really minor) suggestions that coul add a great deal of character to the map and tell a whole story about it :
- its maker would have wanted to avoid information getting lost when the edge of the paper wears out, so he included a blank margin and maybe a decorative border. Or maybe he didn't and the edge of the map is actually quite worn out, with some parts barely readable.
- maybe a previous owner of the map dropped some handwritten notes in the margin, along with stains of whatever they had on their hands.
- a decorative border might include rulers, marks, or miscellaneous information that tell us more about this part of the world
- ...

Here, too, the lack of real depth to the map is the main reason why I didn't feel like trying to make borders; straight patterns running along the edge of the map would probably underline the fact that the texture isn't actually displaced by the paper folds. Also because it would be more work. :whistle: But I'll consider it again.
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Re: New bigmaps

Postby LordBob » January 18th, 2013, 8:31 pm

Oh, well. I know how it feels to have work pile up from friendly suggestions :doh: ; don't overdo it, the maps are already very good the way they are.
Plus, adding margins/borders means lost space on the map, so it might not be a good idea altogether.

One last thing about the maps themselves: the "mountains of peril" range from the south map look a little weird compared to other mountains, with its continuous shadowed peaks that looks almost like a rip in the map.
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Re: New bigmaps

Postby zookeeper » January 19th, 2013, 11:46 pm

I tested a simple border/margin pattern, and I think it could be made to work nicely. I'm not sure how nice patterns I'm able to come up with though.

Also, I was pleasantly surprised to find that creating a displacement map good enough for giving real depth to the map was actually really simple. I experimented with perspective a bit and it might work out after all. I'll need to do a final-quality version of a perspectivized map first to make sure, though.

LordBob wrote:One last thing about the maps themselves: the "mountains of peril" range from the south map look a little weird compared to other mountains, with its continuous shadowed peaks that looks almost like a rip in the map.

Yeah, I think I'm going to redo those. :hmm:
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Re: New bigmaps

Postby zookeeper » January 20th, 2013, 2:47 pm

Ok. Looks like I can do displacement, borders and perspective. The perspective in this one is a bit hastily done, but for the final maps I'd do it "right".

The blurriness resulting from the perspective distortion is a bit of a problem though.
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liberty_border_perspective.jpg
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Re: New bigmaps

Postby LordBob » January 22nd, 2013, 10:32 am

This is close enough to what I had in mind. Two details though:
- The border should follow more closely the folds and creases of the paper. I will try to come up with a vector path that illustrates my point better and can later serve as a template.
- The ring pattern would work well for a surface with relief, such as cloth or embossed leather. However, in the case of paper and a travelling map, I might be interesting to try a simpler pattern, that one can beliveably trace with a pen

Regarding perspective, I agree that blurriness is a no-go. A simple tilt will do, or even nothing at all: as said before, the maps are already fine the way they are; the above are but discretionary improvements.
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Re: New bigmaps

Postby Mefisto » January 22nd, 2013, 1:30 pm

I have one problem with this illustration: the forest foliage stands too much. It has completely different style (quasi-3D and green) when the rest of features are highly stylized like on old maps and made with brown ink. I mean - the graphical signs for forest could be made to look like painted or drawn with green ink but in the style more consistent with the rest.
Alternatively make the hills and mountains quasi-3D in similar convention as forests.
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Re: New bigmaps

Postby zookeeper » January 22nd, 2013, 4:40 pm

LordBob wrote:- The ring pattern would work well for a surface with relief, such as cloth or embossed leather. However, in the case of paper and a travelling map, I might be interesting to try a simpler pattern, that one can beliveably trace with a pen

Any ideas? Chain patterns I can do, but I can't seem to come up with anything else.

Maybe I could just try making symbolic versions of them with simple brush strokes, for example.
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border_chain_patterns.png
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Re: New bigmaps

Postby LordBob » January 22nd, 2013, 5:17 pm

zookeeper wrote:Maybe I could just try making symbolic versions of them with simple brush strokes, for example.

Yes ! That's the kind of stuff I had in mind.
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Re: New bigmaps

Postby beetlenaut » January 22nd, 2013, 7:45 pm

These are beautiful! Great job. I do agree with Mefisto in that there seem to be two different styles going on: one for swamps, forests, and the compass rose, and another for the hills, cities, and roads.
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Re: New bigmaps

Postby zookeeper » January 27th, 2013, 6:20 pm

Here's "final-quality" (well, the other lacks a shadow and border AA...) versions of a map, both a flat one as well as one with perspective + displacement. The amount of blurriness on the latter seems borderline acceptable to me, even though it'd be a shame to lose the sharpness of the flat one. :| Although even if I discarded perspective, I'd still apply some displacement.

As for the forests, I've tried to come up with alternative styles, but I haven't managed to create anything that's anywhere near as nice-looking.

I ended up using a celtic pattern for the border on this one, and had to get rid of the colour-fading effects at the edges of the map, because it didn't look nice at all when they mostly only affected the margins.
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final.png
flat.png
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