Morcar

Morcar

I was really looking forward to this month’s annual (April, 2013) by Jonathan Roberts. His earlier ones are two of my absolute favorites.  I must say though that at first I was a bit disappointed when I looked at this month’s style. If you look at the earlier overland map annual he made the symbols are in my opinion some of the best ones I’ve seen so far published by Profantasy. Every mountain, city and hill icon are like small pieces of art, and the new symbols in this month’s annual doesn’t really reach the same standard. Still they are looking great and a there are a lot of useful symbols that I missed in the first overland style from Jonathan, like the cliff edges. The thing here is that Jonathan has spoiled us with such great maps and products that the expectations you have on a new style from him are probably impossible to live up to.

Already before I received this month’s style I had decided on making a map in the style to try it out. Some time ago I was asked if I could make a colour map of the campaign world from a Swedish old school RPG called Fantasy! (great game by the way), so I thought it would be a great way trying out the new style. In the end I however used more symbols from the old overland style then the new one, but some crucial pieces in the map are from the new one.

As always it is easy to quickly build up a map in CC3, as long as you do it in the right order. I think that one of the great advantages of CC3 is that it lets me make maps in styles I normally can’t. For me to make a map in the same style as Jonathan Roberts without CC3 would take ages, if it would be possible at all. Now I can accomplish it in about a day’s work, which is absolutely amazing.

As always when I work in CC3 I like to bring up the map in Photoshop to make it more unique and give it a bit of a personal touch. This time I’ve added some colours, especially around the area called Ankhar on the map, and I also painted the rivers in Photoshop. I wanted the rivers to be more irregular in form then what you can get in CC3.

I’m very pleased with the result and now with more symbols to use with the new style from Jonathan I definitely think I will return to this style in a not too distant future.

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Another trip down memory lane

Barbia

This is a map I remade in CC3 using the style I designed for Profantasy’s 2012 December annual. The map is a remake of an old campaign map from the adventure “Barbia” for Drakar & Demoner, an old Swedish rpg I used to play.

I have very fond memories from when I played it even though the adventure marked the beginning of the fall for my dwarf character Thror Axebeard. In the end of the adventure he found a magic armor that unfortunately was possessed, and in the end it made him a rather evil dwarf.

The campaign map in the adventure is in Black and white and I thought it would be fun to make a colour version of it. To complete the map I however had to make some new symbols for the style, that is the good thing when you designed the artwork for the style in the first place, you can always add in more symbols if you miss something.

The first symbol was for the old non active volcano in the North West corner of the map. The second symbol is the clouds in the North area of the map. For this I made four different clouds that I used. This area is called “The land of the fire dragons” and is a very misty place that people in the area are avoiding. Of course the villain in the adventure ended up living there, and no trace of dragons.

Below you also have the new symbols I made. You are free to use them as you like, both commercially and for home. You are however not allowed to resell the symbols them self. If you want to share them somewhere else please do so but link back to this post please.

Have fun mapping 🙂

Volcano_oldclouds

Maps from the past

Torshem

When I grew up I used to play a lot of roleplaying games and I still have most of them in a box put away in the attic. Most of the time me and my brother shared the game master role while our friends more liked to play.

I started to play when a Swedish company named Äventyrsspel started up the whole RPG scene in Sweden and quite soon nearly all kids in my neighborhood were into the hobby. Most of the times we played their fantasy game, Drakar och Demoner (Dragons and Demons)

Already by then when I got a new adventure I always started with looking at the maps. I could sit for a long time looking at the different maps just trying to imagine the different places in my head. Best of all were the coloured maps that usually were included in the more costly adventures.

The other day I started to look through my old stuff and found all the old maps and adventures. And I thought it could be fun to try to redo some of the old maps myself in Campaign Cartographer 3. The first map I decided to make was a map of the area Torshem that was from a campaign/adventure. The module mostly described the area and included some adventures that were loosely linked, and then the players very much could just investigate the area and pick up the threads they stumbled upon. I remember the adventure as a very good one that we all enjoyed.

The map is made in the style I made for Profantasy and took me around three hours to complete. I guess that labeling the map in Photoshop took most of the time. The map itself is rather simple with not too many objects in it. It was originally the player map that only shows the known locations, in the game book you had a separate black and white map for the GM showing all the locations.

The map was a great nostalgic trip to do so I’m probably picking up some more maps to redo from old adventures. It is also a great way of practicing you skills in CC3.

Vadsbro

Vadsbro

In the last post I published a mind map for an adventure, now it is time to start making maps. First of all I need a campaign map of the area where the actual adventure will take place, with that one in place it will be easier to plan the other maps I need to draw.
To make the map I decided to use the style I made for the December issue of the Annuals from Profantasy. The style was made for creating campaign maps for smaller areas, so it will fit very well for this map.

The adventure will take place in the country Armadien, close to a city called Vadsbro (Littlebridge in my Armadien map). Vadsbro is situated close to the Armadien border, next to the Traal infected Skymningsskogen (dusk forest) and the Traal mountains, so there will be a lot of forest in the map.

As soon as I started on the map I realized that I had to improvise a bit with the style. The main feature in the map, except for all the forest, is the river that split up in two rivers closer to the mountains. The rivers in the style aren’t really suited for depicting a main river in this scale, so I decide to use the ocean texture for the rivers. In this way the river will look more like the dominating natural feature in the area.

The river tool however comes in handy to show smaller rivers connecting into the main branches, but I had to change the colour of the rivers to blend in more with the main rivers. When I created the style, which is based on my Truscian map, I wanted the rivers in a darker colour and the ocean in a lighter one. That works very well if you do a more zoomed out map. But if you zoom in closer to an area for a map, and you suddenly want to use the ocean textures as rivers, the colour for the river tools don’t really blend in. So I decided to change them.

It is actually quite funny how a style you’ve created yourself, suddenly needs to be trimmed when you start working with it. But I think you can say that for all styles. At least I always trim the styles so they’ll fit into my way of working.

Now that the map is done it will be easier to decide what more maps I need to do. You can say that I’m making my adventure from the maps, the story I have so far will probably change a bit with every map I make. But that is the fun part of mapping, to weave a story around your maps instead of making maps from your story.

Artrage saves the day

Sommerlund_and_Durenor

So finally the style I’ve made for Profantasy has been released. I must say that I am very pleased with the end result and the work the people at Profantasy has done to turn it into a style. It actually feels kind of strange to make a map in CC3 and use graphics you’ve done yourself.

One thing I’ve learned from making the style is that my biggest strength when it comes to mapping is the big picture. With this I mean things like placing terrain in the right places selecting colours that blend good with each other etc. The small things are usually what cause me problems, things like symbols for villages, towns, fortresses and so on.

So in making this style I really had to push myself into areas I’ve avoided earlier and I’ve learned a lot from it. The process actually started some time before Profantasy contacted me about the style. When I decided to start to make more close up maps of the Etrakien world I really had to start to make symbols for cities and villages, but I didn’t feel ok with the things I produced. If you for example look at my Armadien map you can see that all the city icons actually are from different styles in CC3. None of them are my own artwork.

But I felt I had to jump the cliff on this and make some icons on my own. I think the biggest problem I had was to transfer my drawing techniques to the computer. And it was first when I discovered Artrage I felt that the pieces started to fall in place. With Artrage I got the tools that made me feel like I was drawing on paper again, but instead everything was done digitally.

So I started to look through tons of videos on youtube and reading articles about Artrage to learn the program. Of course I also had to do a lot of testing and drawing in the program. But in the end I actually made all the line work for the December style’s symbols in the Artrage, for different reasons I however did all the colouring and shadowing in Photoshop.

So for me working on the December style for Profantasy has really forced me to push my mapping skills to a new level and I now feel much more comfortable when it comes to making symbols for future maps. But you can really say that Artrage saved the day here, so buying that program was probably some of the best money I’ve spent.

The map in the beginning of the post is a map made by Ralf Shemmann and is a remake of a map from the lone wolf adventure books in my style. I feel that it very much accomplish what I hoped for while working on the style. So hopefully some of you who subscribe to the Annuals will find it useful.

The December annual style

The deadline for my December Annual style is closing in and luckily enough the style is slowly coming to a more or less finished state. A lot of things, small and big have changed since my last blog post about the style. The city icons have been remade and some of the terrain I’ve gone over a second time to make sure they are good enough.

One interesting thing I’ve learned from making this style is that the end result has a tendency to change a bit while you work. The Truscian peninsula map, that is the original map for this style, is a regional map that still is quite zoomed out. The finished style will be suited for a more zoomed in regional map. Not that you won’t be able to do the zoomed out version but I think that it is in the more zoomed in version that the style will really shine.

There are still some things left to do on the style, I might try to add in some more icons and I’m thinking of adding in one or two mountain ranges that you can use as the base while creating your mountains. Just to make it easier for you to make a quick map.

The map below is the latest test map of the style. I hope you like it.

Overland mapping part 2

Finally here is the second part in my overland mapping tutorial. If you want to read the first part before continuing you can find it here. As usual this is my view of mapping and you might agree to it all or just parts of it. The important thing to remember is that this is one view of mapping, and not the only one.

Ok back to the map. We have some landmass, islands and seas so what’s next. At this stage I always try to place mountains and hills. If you desire you can try to work out where you would have tectonic plates and from that information decide where to put the mountains. I never do that, I’m more going for the “if it looks good it looks correct” path here.

First of all I often try to use my mountains to divide the landmass into different areas. It is an easy way of making natural borders in the map that you later can use when it is time to decide where to put the borders between different countries.

Secondly I try to make my mountain chains curved. If you make them straight the map will, in my opinion, look a bit stiff, which will give you a less good looking end result. When I say curved I don’t mean that they should look like circles. Curved mountain chains will give more life to the map, it will get more fun to look at.

Also try to break up the mountain chains at some points. It will give you some interesting valleys and passes that can trigger the beholders imagination in a good way. Is there really a more interesting place for a campaign then a mountain valley full of orcs or strange creatures, maybe a deserted watch tower or an old haunted burial ground.

Around the mountains I place some hills to make the transition from mountain to field look more natural. A good idea might also be to put some hills between two mountain areas that are quite close to each other. It will connect them in a nice way.

When you’re done with your mountains it is time to start on the rivers. The basics when it comes to rivers are that they flow from high ground downwards, they don’t split downwards, but they can have more than one starting point. Usually they also try to get to the sea the shortest downhill way. If you try to follow those two rules the rivers will look more naturally.

Another thing to think of is that the straighter the river is the faster the flow of the river will be. Most rivers tend to be straighter and faster in the beginning and closer to the sea they usually will slow down, which means more curves. When I put rivers in my maps I tend to do them quite curvy. It will usually look better, straight rivers just don’t get the right feeling, at least that’s my opinion.