Map-making

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Camille
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Map-making

#1 Post by Camille » Sat Jun 18, 2011 11:48 am

I just finished this map for Machina Jewel (it might be tweaked more but this is the general idea) with my exceedingly limited artistic skills. The name of the place turns red when you hover over it.

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I did a lot of research on map-making software (looks like Campaign Cartographer is sort of the favorite) but ultimately decided to do the whole thing in Photoshop so I could have complete creative control. Originally I drew the country by hand but it looked terrible and somewhat like burnt toast, so I used a lot of PS tricks to get it to look like an actual landmass. I also stared at Fantastic Maps a lot for inspiration, but the end result looks nothing like any of those. XD This map took me about three hours to do.

Questions:
1. Do you think I should add more icons/pictures to the map, like building icons or icons of lakes or trees? I put a very light roadmap overlay on top for artistic effect so if you look closely you can see some buildings and roads, but is this enough to make it really look like a map?
2. What style do you guys like to use for your location imagemaps for your games? (ie: a map like that, an isometric map, etc)
3. What programs do you use/how do you make your own maps?
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Re: Map-making

#2 Post by Aleema » Sat Jun 18, 2011 12:06 pm

Those places look so far apart!! This looks like a map of a country, and those are cities. O_O
But yes, icons plz. This doesn't look like a small area and is kinda funny, so if you have something to fill up the gaps so they're not so far apart, it will look smaller, maybe. Maybe draw roads or buildings or something to reduce the scale?

I also map-make in Photoshop. I just love the freedom. :) Here's some of mine:
map copy.jpg
screenshot0115.png
The one on top is actually just a small part of a much larger map of the whole world, but you don't go there in that game. I had fun making it look realistic in Photoshop. Whereas the other one looks more map-y.

A piece of advice while researching conworlding is that making the map first usually helps generate the story much faster. Natural conflicts and cultures arise when you make it, and I actually feel that's totally been the case thus far.

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Re: Map-making

#3 Post by Camille » Sat Jun 18, 2011 12:15 pm

Aleema wrote:Those places look so far apart!! This looks like a map of a country, and those are cities. O_O
It basically is a map of a country. XD It's a super city-state that takes up almost an entire landmass. The part of the landmass that's cut off at the top is basically farmland, but yeah the "city" makes up the rest of it. The "city" is divided into four distinct districts, which you can see sectioned off. The scale I put on there is supposed to be accurate, so one corner of Merryfield to the other is about 10km. The whole thing is connected with a steam train/trolley system so people can get from place to place relatively quickly, but yeah it's a fairly big area.
Aleema wrote:But yes, icons plz. This doesn't look like a small area and is kinda funny, so if you have something to fill up the gaps so they're not so far apart, it will look smaller, maybe. Maybe draw roads or buildings or something to reduce the scale?
I think this is true... The map-distance scale is correct. I mean, using the scale I put on there, it means from (the shown) top to the bottom of the landmass, it's about 20km, which isn't really that big. But you're right, I think the fact that everything's so spaced out is making the city-state look bigger than it actually is. Kingsbridge looks about right, but I should add some more places to Merryfield. (the heroine pretty much doesn't go anywhere in Ruyton but the dormitories, though, so I can't really add anything there :c)

I'm loving both your maps! O_O It's amazing you did those in Photoshop, haha, they look way more like actual maps than mine does. XD I really like the images of mountains and stuff you used on the second one, so I'll try to put more images/icons on mine, too, to make it look more map-like.
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Re: Map-making

#4 Post by Aleema » Sat Jun 18, 2011 12:32 pm

I think the thing is ... I don't know the scale, and since I don't live in that place/time period, having the library that far away and a casual decision seems funny. If you could so something to make the scale more visualizable (I see the marker there, but I ignored it at first because that seems like just an accent -- not actually real, and besides that, I don't care that much I need INSTANT SATISFACTION!). xD

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Re: Map-making

#5 Post by Camille » Sat Jun 18, 2011 12:41 pm

Hmmm well the library just happens to be in the business district and adjacent (well, sort of adjacent) to the university and government buildings. It wouldn't be a problem except that the heroine lives in Drawlight, which is the housing district for all the noble families. They like being left alone, so they're inconveniently far away from everything. XD But with the trolley/train system, it only takes the heroine about 15 minutes to take the train to the library, so it really is a casual decision--well, actually for her, it's a life or death situation, but anyway.

What would you suggest to make the scale more visualizable? :o (the scale marker really is supposed to be accurate, though LOL)
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Re: Map-making

#6 Post by manga_otaku » Sat Jun 18, 2011 12:43 pm

Just to make it even more interesting to look at, what about different icons for the places? Like a mansion icon for her "Home" or an art easel icon for the "Art District"?
Just saying :3
*hides in corner*

EDIT: Scale schmale. I dislike scaling. Lets just say geography wasn't and still isn't my forte...
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Re: Map-making

#7 Post by shylock » Sat Jun 18, 2011 12:46 pm

I'm working in the real world, so I just use google maps and then fuzz it a little~.

With respect to the posted map, it doesn't really feel like a city and I was confused until I squinted at the distance measurement. Does the world end at the edges of the beige, is it a wall or water or what (I assume as much due to Pier 3, unless we're floating)? All the empty space, to me, implies distance and travel.

Also the size implies a pretty large city, it looks roughly like 18 by 6 km, so 108 square kilometres. A typical (modern) european city is about 5000 people per sqkm, so 540,000? I'd guess that'd be fourth or fifth-largest in England circa, say, 1880. Could be large or small for a city state, depending on the feel you want.

Finally, it's sort of strange that you reference one district, but everywhere else is just individual landmarks. The map doesn't say much to me about the character of the city. What sort of neighbourhood is 'Home' in? I can't get any insight into that.

Anyway, just some thoughts.
Last edited by shylock on Sat Jun 18, 2011 6:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Map-making

#8 Post by Camille » Sat Jun 18, 2011 12:58 pm

manga_otaku wrote:Just to make it even more interesting to look at, what about different icons for the places? Like a mansion icon for her "Home" or an art easel icon for the "Art District"?
Just saying :3
*hides in corner*

EDIT: Scale schmale. I dislike scaling. Lets just say geography wasn't and still isn't my forte...
I'm in the process of making icons now but I'm reaaaally bad at drawing so we'll have to see how it goes. |D;

@Shylock: You've made a lot of really good points that I'll have to consider. Windsor really is more of a city-state than a city, though, and the places really are supposed to be far apart and only connected with trains/trolleys run by steam power. (it IS a steampunk game, after all, haha) I think I might have to work on the scale a bit... It's sort of awkward at the moment. The stuff outside the beige lines is supposed to be water (except at the top where there's more land that just isn't shown).

I tried to stylize the map a bit too much, I think, which resulted in confusion for everyone who doesn't know the setting as well as me (which is ... everyone, lol). I'll try adding some waves or something around the edges so the rest of it looks more like water, but there is another continent close by that just isn't shown, so I'll have to work on that.

The size/population numbers you gave are really useful. I'll keep those in mind and tinker with the map some more. And okay I'm definitely changing the label for "art district". First of all, the city-state is divided into four districts already, so having a district within a district is rather off-putting. I was working on this at like 3am so not all of my label name choices were the best, admittedly.

By the time this map comes up, the heroine has already been to all four districts (Drawlight, Merryfield, Kingsbridge, and Ruyton) in the story. They've all been described pretty thoroughly and she's (and also the player, by extension) seen what it's like in just about every landmark that's shown on the map. So for the player, this is just a matter of choosing a place to go that they (should be) already familiar with. I'm trying to go for a bit more simplicity in this map since it's more of just an imagemap meant for you to choose where to go than a real map, but I do want it to look a little more map-like so I'll take everyone's advice into consideration.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! (:
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Re: Map-making

#9 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Sat Jun 18, 2011 1:00 pm

First up I'll say that it looks really, really pretty and definitely goes with the whole theme of the game.

But I do agree with Aleema that the scale is confusing, probably because people are not used to seeing such a small country/city. City maps are usually rather intricate because their purpose is o show location and direction. However, since the player doesn't literally need to know where they are going or what the street names are and actually drawing a city map would be time consuming and painful, I think it can all be solved by having little drawn icons for the places. This will give a sense of scale to the whole map and it will make more sense. People are more likely to understand that they are meant to be thinking in terms of buildings and not cities or towns. Something like this:
Map help.jpg

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Re: Map-making

#10 Post by Camille » Sat Jun 18, 2011 2:58 pm

Auro-Cyanide wrote:First up I'll say that it looks really, really pretty and definitely goes with the whole theme of the game.

But I do agree with Aleema that the scale is confusing, probably because people are not used to seeing such a small country/city. City maps are usually rather intricate because their purpose is o show location and direction. However, since the player doesn't literally need to know where they are going or what the street names are and actually drawing a city map would be time consuming and painful, I think it can all be solved by having little drawn icons for the places. This will give a sense of scale to the whole map and it will make more sense. People are more likely to understand that they are meant to be thinking in terms of buildings and not cities or towns. Something like this:
Yeah, that's more or less the conclusion I reached, too. I added a few icons just to test and it does look a lot better. I also learned that there are not a whole lot of building brushes/icons already in existence that suit our purposes, so I sent the map to my artist so she can draw them in, haha.

Also, thanks! I wanted to make it look watercolory and nice to fit with everything else, so.

Here's what we ended up with:

Image

I think my friend and I are both pretty satisfied with this. :3 Thanks for all your input and suggestions!
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Re: Map-making

#11 Post by manga_otaku » Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:34 pm

Ahhhhhh it's so pretty - I could stare at it all day *o*

I can't wait to see the final outcome~ >3<
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Re: Map-making

#12 Post by Aleema » Sat Jun 18, 2011 10:05 pm

I like that MUCH better. :D Exactly what I was trying to say.

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Re: Map-making

#13 Post by EriksBlue » Tue Jul 26, 2011 5:44 am

Check out this guy he has some really good tips http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KO4XZfaSAoA
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Re: Map-making

#14 Post by Greeny » Tue Jul 26, 2011 8:58 am

You should add the names of the districts in a larger, transparent font.
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Re: Map-making

#15 Post by Arcanum » Tue Jul 26, 2011 10:31 am

There's this site on medieval demographics - far from steampunk, I know - but it can be enlightening on what you should keep in mind when designing a city. http://www222.pair.com/sjohn/blueroom/demog.htm

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