Going too big……

Ankh-Bathor_3_6

Mapping cities is probably one of the most demanding things you can do, but also one of the most rewarding ones. I must admit that I really love mapping cities and by using a tool like City designer 3 from Profantasy it is something that actually anyone can accomplish. But even though the program is fantastic it has its limitations, and so does the human mind.

In my fantasy world “the Etrakien world”, there is a city named Ankh-Bathor that, like Rome in the Roman Empire, is the actual center of the world. Ankh-Bathor was the first part of the world that I worked on. I had this idea of a large city that was situated in between two oceans on a small strip of land. The city would be both a lock and passage between the two sides of the world, a strategic location that would make it rich, splendid and the natural focus point in the world. From there the world just started to grow in all directions, until what it is today.

After having made a map or two of the world I felt that I also had to make a map of the city. But as it turned out this wasn’t really an easy thing to do. I think I have at least ten different versions of the city and none of them is complete. There are so many things I’d like to add but the size of the city makes the task quite challenging. Also some limitations in City Designer 3 did put an end to one of my most ambitious attempts, and probably saved my mental health.

At the top of this post you can see part of the map of Ankh-Bathor that I made in the black and white style that was released in one of the annuals from Profantasy. But as you can see in the zoomed out map below the sheer size of it is quite enormous.

Ankh-Bathor

What actually happened is that the size of the .fcw file got too big for the program to handle. In the end the file ended up being just over 11 MB big when the program crashed. As soon as I got beyond that size I couldn’t open the map anymore, so I had to divide the map into many smaller map parts that I later had to stitch together in Photoshop. This made the whole process more complicated so after a while I gave up. I also felt that the end result wasn’t what I really wanted, so when the whole process of making the map got more complicated it was actually a quite easy decision to make to drop the map. Sometimes you have to kill your darlings.

Still there are parts in the map that I really like, and I hope to be able to finish a map of Ankh-Bathor one day. Or let me rephrase that, I will finish a map of Ankh-Bathor one day.

Etrakien revisited

armadien ankh bathor 3

I think we all carry a world inside of us, a world that sometimes just wants to get out and have its story told. For me that world is the Etrakien world. I think I must have been working on and off on it for about 15 years now. I have bits and pieces of it spread around in notebooks, papers and maps. Mostly maps I must admit.

It is so easy to drown in your own creation, one thing leads to another and suddenly you are trying to describe a world so vast that it is impossible to get it all down on paper. Things start to contradict each other and quite soon you are losing control of it all. For me it has been a challenge to try to narrow down my world to a size that is manageable. This whole process has of course forced me to rebuild the world more than once, I’m probably on version three or four now, since I started out.

At the top of this post you see the latest version of the map of the Etrakien world. So what is different in this version compared to the other versions of the map? And why have I decided to do the changes that I have made?

Well first of all I’ve decided to concentrate the development of the world to a smaller area. Before I tried to focus on the whole world but the task soon got a bit overwhelming. And since most of the ideas I have are concentrated around the city Ankh-Bathor and its neighboring states I figured it would be a good idea to make a new map with this area in focus, a map which I can use while continuing the work on my world. Or at least a map I can use until I decide to make a new map again.

So what is the Etrakien world? As I wrote before I’ve been working on the world for almost 15 years. That might sound like a lot, but it hasn’t really been a straight road of work, Sometimes I haven’t worked on it for months, or maybe a year. But for some reason I always come back to it, I kind of like having a world of my own to discover and develop.

The world itself is a Fantasy world where humans are the dominating race, there are other humanoid species as well but they are mainly concentrated to smaller areas in the outskirts. In the world you have the civilized area where you have kingdoms, empires and great cities. Outside the civilized area you have the wilderness, vast forests, great deserts and enormous mountains. Here you can find ruins of past civilizations, mythical creatures and barbarian tribes.

The kingdoms and empires of today are all built upon a world of ruins from an earlier civilization that was destroyed during the war with the gods. This happened a long time ago and today the memories of this time is long gone, only the ruins remains, and the scars in the fabric of the world. Scars that in some areas tend to break, opening a gateway to the other side, the borderlands.

After the war of the gods the world was on the brink of total destruction, but humanity survived and slowly started to rise again, creating a new world in which the darkness of the past only lived on as children’s stories. This new world would be dominated by the Etrakien Empire for hundreds of years. But when the Empire was on its height of power the black plague started to spread, in which nearly half of the world’s population died. This caused the Empire to collapse and from its former domains many smaller kingdoms arose. The Empire itself does still exist but is only a shadow of its former strength, affected by civil war and corruption.

So that is the Etrakien world, a world of adventure, corruption and war. And hopefully one day I can have it finished, but I doubt that will ever happen. It tends to have a life of its own.

Bad bad Wacom

procreate

Some months ago I bought an Intuos creative stylus 2 from #Wacom. Well the first impression was that it didn’t work very well, especially the offset from where you where drawing was too big.

But the pen was new and not many programs supported it on the ipad yet. Especially I waited for procreate to support it. Well at last the support is there, or to be more exact, the pen is unsupported but works in the program.

So the big question is it any good?

Well I’m really sad to say that this probably is the biggest piece of crap that I have ever bought for my mapping. I would actually not recommend it for anyone at its current state.

Or as Procreate writes on their forum;
“We’ve been working with Wacom for several months in an attempt to resolve these issues, but unfortunately there isn’t a solution. Wacom have acknowledged that the WICS 2 suffers from severe offset and line staircasing, and so we’ve had to make the difficult decision to not support the Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus 2.”
http://procreate.si/forums/index.php?topic=5620.0

At the moment the pen doesn’t live up to anything that Wacom promises, and it really makes me angry. Don’t really know where to go from here, but I sincerely hope that Wacom will fix this in the end. But at the moment I’m stranded with a piece of hardware that I cannot

Mapping in symmetry

grave

Artrage is a program that I really like but seldom use. So tonight I decided to do some tests in it just to see what I can use it for while mapping.

One of the coolest tools in the program is the symmetry tool that let you draw in more than one place simultaneously on your drawing, aka in symmetry.

I decided to test the function while making a quick old school map of a grave. And I must say that I see a lot of potential in the tool. It can really quicken up some parts of your map, if your doing a map that is at least symmetric in parts.

The tool is very easy to setup, you find it under Tools\paint symmetry. Give it a try and you will be surprised how fun it is to use.

Halloween sale

halloween sale

As you might remember from my latest post I have started up a store at RPGNOW selling some of my maps. This week it’s halloween and I’ve decided to have a small sale of all my maps so far released. So this week, until the end of the month (October) you can purchase my maps for 0.99$ instead of 1.39$.

So if you are in need of some maps for a Halloween gaming session head over to RPGNOW and pick up a map or two. If you buy a map I would also appreciate if you like to give a review of the product. And also if you have a suggestion on something I could improve in my maps or if you have a map idea you like me to draw feel free to contact me on par(dot)lindstrom(at)gmail(dot)com or write a comment in this post.

 

 

Selling my maps

Front cover blog
One thing often leads to another. As I wrote in my last post I’ve started to make hand drawn old school maps. Mostly because I think it is great fun, but also because I spend a lot of time away from my computer and Cintiq tablet, so I sometimes have to use other means while mapping.

After having done a couple of maps in my moleskin notebook I decided that it would be fun to try and colour them. So I scanned them and cleaned them up in Photoshop, before adding colour. I tried to keep the colour as natural as possible, I want it to look like this was done on paper and not in the computer. After doing some tests I think I found a style that works very well.

But what to do with those coloured maps? Just letting them lie around on the computer wasn’t really a good idea, so I decided to set up an account at RPGnow so I can sell them for a small price.

So if you feel like you are in a great need for some old school maps for your adventure, or just want something to put on your wall you can head over to RPGnow and check them out.

If you have any suggestions on old school maps you would like me to do, or if you think something is missing in the ones I’ve made. Please comment in this post or send me a mail on par[dot]lindstrom[at]imaginarymaps[dot]se with your opinion.

Going old school

2014-08-25 - 1

Lately I’ve started to make old school maps while not being around a computer. Most of the commissions I make I draw in Photoshop or CC3 from Profantasy, you can actually say that my computer is my main tool while making maps.

But before computers you had to do all your maps on paper, that’s how I started out. On Google+ I follow a lot of mappers like Matt Jackson, Simon Forest or Monkeyblood design that makes those lovely handmade old school maps. Inspired by those maps I decided that I had to give it a try myself.

So I acquired a good moleskin notebook, some pens in different sizes and started out. In the beginning it felt quite awkward not being able to hit ctrl+Z as soon as something went wrong, which I did in my mind all the time, but after a while I got used to cover up mistakes so that they looked intentional.

And I must say that I really enjoy making those maps. Nowadays I bring my notebook wherever I go, because you never know when you will have some spare time when you can draw some maps instead of constantly checking Facebook on your mobile.