Making a City part 2

Ok so far we have the landscape where the city will be situated. When creating the City of the Lost I combined graphics from three different styles in City designer 3. First of all the actual landscape, which is what we have at the moment, is made in City style A, later on when I add in houses I mainly use the graphics from City style B. The reason for this is that those houses looks more painted then the one in style A that looks more 3d generated. Which one to prefer is up to you, but in the maps I do the style B graphics are better suited. In this map I’m also using some graphics from the Profantasy March annual, Jon Roberts city style. In that style I’m especially fond of the city walls and towers. However the walls in this style are a bit harder to place due to being built from a static graphic file. So you have to watch the corners because they tend to create some gaps there. A good way to hide this is to place a tower on the “bad” spot.

When I start a new town I usually always start by building the town wall and deciding where the gates will be. In this way you will get a clear view and idea on where the majority of houses will be placed, so you can plan ahead and get a good balance in the map. In this particular map we also have three different docks, one larger and two smaller ones. In older cities the docks where often situated outside the city walls. In this way you could both tax the goods efficiently when they were entering the actual city and you also didn’t need to compromise the security of the town. So I’m placing the two docks on the central island outside the walls. The small third dock however is situated in an area where you have no walls. This dock is probably used for more local trading, not taking in ships from abroad. The idea with the docks is also that they are remnants from an earlier city that has been reused. So naturally it is around the docks that the “new” city is built.

Now when we have the walls and gates of the city I put in the main roads. The logic here is that all main roads in a city usually will take you from gate A to gate B. Somewhere in between you will have some main areas like a square or a city hall etc. In this way you will also create some natural boundaries for different districts in your city. It will make it easier for you to plan the next step, adding more roads and start adding houses.

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Making a City part 1

In my last post I presented the City of Lost Souls. The idea of the city has been in my mind for a long time as a city that originally was created by outcasts from the ordinary society. Outcasts that in the end have created a powerful city, a city made untouchable because of its location in the middle of a maze like river delta.

In this post and the next couple of post I’ll try to describe the process I’ve developed when I create cities. I don’t say that this is the best way to do it but it is one way to do it. To exemplify the process I’m using I will use the map of the City of Lost Souls.

When I decide to make a map it is always easier to start if you can get some inspiration from the real world. One of the best tools you can use is Google earth. You can learn tons of information just by moving around the globe looking at old cities, land formations and following rivers through the landscape. In this particular case I looked a lot at river deltas and cities situated at the end of rivers.

You will never find anything that will look exactly like the part you want to create, but the idea here is to find real world location that can inspire you, and that you can copy bits and pieces from. In this way you can create a map that will look much more convincing than if you just draw something from your head.

I soon found two cities that gave me the right feeling. These cities are Lübeck in the northern parts of Germany and Gdansk in Poland. None of them was perfect but I liked the flow of the river around the old part of Lübeck (as you can clearly see in the map), but this part missed a harbor. So I picked the harbor from Gdansk for the map. I also added in some more rivers to get the feeling that the city really is situated in a river delta.

In City Designer 3 (CD3) I then started a new map and started to draw the rivers. During the process I looked at the cities for inspiration but still trying to do something original. While creating the island where the actual town would be I draw the outline of the harbor already at this stage. In this way the shadows between river and land would be right later on. So at this stage I had a quite clear picture on how I would progress with the city. In the picture below you can see the result when all the terrain was done. Next step would be to start on the actual city.

City of Lost Souls

There are places in the world where the souls of the dead and lost still roam. Those places are rare to find and if you find one the chances are that you never leave. This is the City of Lost Souls situated in a river delta between the countries Truscia and krug in the Etrakien world. The town is surrounded by ancient ruins from a since long forgotten past. Mostly there aren’t more left of the ruins then the foundation on which they once stood. But some larger buildings are rather well preserved and beneath the ground there are vast catacombs and even areas where whole blocks of the old city have been covered with earth. These parts are now excavated during the days to uncover artifacts hidden by the soil.

But among the ruins the souls of the dead still walk and guard their hidden treasures, or at least that is what people say. But strange things do happen, it is as if the world isn’t as solid everywhere in the old city as it should be. As if alternative realities shine through the fabric of this world, and if you don’t watch your step you might find it very hard to get back to from where you started.

To find your way through the labyrinth that the river delta form you have to follow one of the guiding boats. It is said that only the one that knows the true name of the city can find its way here. And the secret is well protected by the selected few who knows it.

The city itself prospers from the diversity of old artifacts that are found in the ruins that surrounds it. It also harbors some of the world’s most famous pirates that pay well for the protection that the city gives. More than once enemy fleets have tried to find its way up through the delta, still none have succeeded.

The map is done in City designer 3 (CD3) from Profantasy combining the included styles A and B with the latest annual city style by Jon Roberts.The end result from CD3 has then been quite heavily edited in Photoshop, where the labeling also has been done.

In the next post I will go through the process of creating the city. Until then you can have a guess on which two real world cities that inspired me while making the City of Lost Souls.