What I’m up to – January 2018

Time again for a blog post about what I’m up to for the moment and a look into what is on the horizon. First a huge thank you to all my Patreons who have decided to support me, it means a lot to me!

My second Patreon project – Islands, are moving into the final phase adding settlements, roads and other features of civilization. Which features will make it on the map will be decided by my my Patreons who have backed me at the Adventurer level or above. The results will be a set of seasonal islands mapped i exquisite detail, fully modeled in 3D. Perfect for adventures in need of an group of islands to explore. The poll close in 12 hours and at the moment the leading places are, hidden coves with and without pirate camps, the Inn of Lost Tales, Fortress Refuge and a small trading town.

I also keep a secret part of the list that will make it on for sure, that is a cartographers privilege, making sure my special favorite details make it on to the map. Delivery of the final maps will begin in about a weeks time after a final touch up. First the basic maps for all backers, followed by the advanced content that will take a little bit longer to create.

This is a busy time with a secret project for Kobold Project underway that I’m sure will please all the fans of Midgard. It will require me to dig deep into the toolbox and think big, really big. The results of this will if everything goes well play a part of launch of the new Midgard hardcover. It is also a first technology test for bringing old “flat maps” into the 3D realm, which will play a major role in a number of projects coming up.

 

Made an appearance a few days ago on Twitch Channel Return to Greyhawk run by DM Shane, you can see the interview here.

Next commission project coming up is the Curse of the Lost Memories by Griffon Lore Games. The Kickstarter just reached the funding goal, and the first stretch goal is to have me mapping the Wailmoor area. Please consider backing this Kickstarter, the gaming community needs more cool sandbox areas to adventure in made by dedicated gamers! If the Griffon Lore Kickstarter continues to be successful it will include more cartography and interior art by Tad Davis cover art by Oliver Wetter. The top stretch goal listed is the Regional Campaign Guide to Kingdom of Lothmar. I might be more or much more busy later this spring depending on the success of the Griffon Lore Games Kickstarter!

This year mark the 20th year anniversary of my fantasy mapping endeavors that started with my work on a map of the Flanaess. The oldest part of that map are from September 1998, so its time to go back and revisit Greyhawk where it all started for me. This will happen in several ways, most of it done through my Patreon. First out is a new look at the Lendore Isle with the help of Len Lakofka, which will be my next Patreon Project beginning in February.

Darlene have graciously accepted to be a Guest Creator on my Patreon, her artistic talent and expertise will bring some unique possibilities to work on projects loved by Greyhawk fans. This will be a great addition to the other Greyhawk themed projects I’m planning later this year. If my Patreon continues to be this successful I plan to dedicate a whole year to Patreon starting this fall and concentrate on my passion with the Flanaess and its surroundings as a way to both recharge my creative ability and to give back to all of you who are supporting me.

Thank you again for all your support!

You can find my Patreon here!

Flanaess Heraldry Collage

Made this as part of my Patreon – and now its time to make it available for everyone!

2018 – New Horizons and Old Turfs

Thank you all for all your help and support during 2017, a special thank you to all my Patreons. You made the start of Patreon a big step forward in my career as a fantasy cartographer.Its been a goal of mine for years to do this and now its finally coming true. Only one small project done so far, but its only been a couple of months, and the there are more to come, much more.
For those of you who haven’t looked at it yet please check it out at: https://www.patreon.com/annabmeyer

This time of year despite all the hectic preparations for festivities and family gatherings, it is still important for me to try and sum up my efforts and to set up my future goals.

This year has been mainly about Midgard, a huge undertaking that have keep me busy for over a year. Midgard have been the second biggest project of my career weighing in just after my Flanaess map. If you include the Southlands it is in many respects my biggest project to date that have spanned over the last three years. This year I’ve also managed to do about a dozen other small projects for novels, the computer screen, a number of adventures and a map of a real world resort!

Next year its time to leave Midgard, at least for a time, and come back to old familiar turfs. There is a special reason for this, my career as a fantasy cartographer started. It began very humbly when in 1996 I lay my hands on Bryce 3D and decided to try and learn to use it and create a map for my Greyhawk campaign. I struggled for a few years and started to get result I liked, something called the Internet came along and I decided to share my work some years later and the rest you know!

This is what my first mapped bits that are still part of the final Flanaess map looks like. It is a piece of the Wild Coast that I cherish not for the quality but for the memories of all the struggle it took to create it. It dates from October 1998.

After twenty years it is time to return to my roots and recharge my creativity byt doing what I love the most, mapping my campaign. Starting next fall my goal is to dedicate a whole year to Greyhawk mapping, and Patreon will be the place where things will be around with previews and decisions of what should be done!

Technically 2018 will probably be a year of big change, maybe not in the end result but in how to get there. New tools that are harnessing the capabilities of modern computer graphics are finally starting to arrive, and instead of gazing at small fuzzy preview ports that takes forever to update you can see things in almost full glory instantly. This will cut most of the wait and most of the guess work out of the equation, and I will not miss the minutes of waiting every time I make a change, just too see that the results are not what I intended.

The now old World Machine will get some needed competition in the race for best high quality terrain generation software. There are a number of contenders including World Machine itself, but I doubt that Stephen Schmitt will be able to ramp up his development to keep up with the others. Two new hot contenders are Gaea and Instant Terra, both make extensive use of GPU power and have a modern flexible UI. Terragen and Vue are still in the race for the best tool for CG terrain as well. A dark horse in this race are the game engine tools like World Creator for Unity.

I work with large worlds which means I have special needs that are not what most users who create for computer games or illustrations have. This is one of the main reasons I like World Machine so much and have stuck with it despite a lackluster development progress. Both Instant Terra and Gaea seem to be able to match or surpass World Machine in this critical aspect and they also have the fractal and advanced erosive pluming needed to create great looking landscapes. Gaea promises to take things further in a a way that I have always dreamt of, an artistic driven approach. Applied on top of the fractal mess and technical pluming that are needed, but throws me off target way too often, it can do wonders for my creative focus.

The other side of my work is the gaming side of things, to make the result more useful and inspiring. This is something that will be my main focus moving forward. In order to try and accomplish this I pledge to game more and regularly, as a player in others games but also to run my own games. My Greyhawk gaming have been on a three year hiatus and to start again as a part of mapping the world of Greyhawk again will go hand in hand. The first project will be Lendore Isle early next year.

The other goal for next year it to learn new tools, and advance my skills in a few of the ones I’m already using. When it comes to old tools Vue is highest on my list, its been in my inventory for eight years and still my skills are only basic. By the end of next year I want to bring my Vue mojo up to a professional level. The latest version of Vue also have better terrain generating capabilities which makes it even more interesting, and the rendering features are second to none. This has been my main reason to use Vue so far, but I want to expand the use as a foundation for future endeavors into more close up mapping. Things like locations, cities and battle maps are tasks that Vue can be a superb tool for.

Realm Works and Hero Lab deserves a special mention here since I have been using them a lot for several years as a player and in the background. Next year I will bring forth that work in the public light as a part of both my own games and how to use my maps.

New tools topping my list to learn are Gaea and Other World Mapper. Tools I will start to look into next year are Geographical Information Systems (GIS) both Open Source and commercial tools. My time and capacity to learn will probably be met and exceeded with this, but just in case there are more inspiration the game engine Unity have been in my sights for several years.

I love to keep myself busy, creating and pushing new boundaries. I need your help in this. both to make it possible to set other things aside and to keep me focused and inspired. Thank you again for all your help and support, I could not do this without you!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years, together we can visit the most amazing places.

Anna

Download links fixed!

Dropbox changed how there download links worked a couple of weeks ago and that made several of the links on the Flanaess Map Download page. I have now updated the links so they should work again. If you have issues please report to me: anna@ghmaps.net

I’m sorry for the inconvenience!

Patreon and more….

Time for an update!

I just launched my Patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/annabmeyer

This will be where most of my projects will be published from now on. You will find pledge levels from $1 to $20 depending on how much you want to get involved, I’m grateful for every bit of support!

What does this mean for ghmaps.net?

My plans for this site is to be more of a home for my Greyhawk mapping and my other work will find a home on Patreon and a new website. The online map and download page will be here and expanded on. The blog will be turned into a place where I present my personal gaming set in Greyhawk ,with appropriate maps of course.

The dawn of “MeyerHawk” is near….

Website problems

There are number of issues with the website that have appeared the last couple of weeks. Dropbox have changed how their public links works, and lots of my download links are now broken.  I will fix this in a few days time, and I’m so sorry for the inconvenience.

My hosting company also shot down my contact page due to spam mail sent from it. All of the spam was sent to me, which I didn’t think was a problem for others, but I was wrong. So I need to harden it with a captcha solution. In the mean time (and in the future) you can reach me at anna@ghmaps.net.

Work update

Two projects are in the final phases, Midgard for Kobold Press which is a huge undertaking that have kept me busy for a whole year, but now there end is in sight! The other is a smaller projects for a computer game studio, that is soon done.

Two new projects on the horizon, first a project for my Patreon, that will be announced next week. The other will be announced by a Kickstarter in October, and will fulfill more than one professional dream of mine!

This fall is geared up to be the most interesting professionally I’ve experienced so far. Launching a Patreon is a huge thing for me, I’ve always dreamt of heaving a direct channel for interaction and support with all of you interested in my work. Thanks to Patreon there is now an effective way to make that happen.

A new generation of tools are coming and they will make things possible that have only been a dream before. They need investment  in the form of money and time to learn them, that is what I hope to get from Patreon. The resources to get the tools and learn how to master them.

Most importantly I need you to inspire me, together we can create some fantastic content four our hobby.

Thank you again for your support!

Almost there….

After a year of work its now time for me to show a little of what have kept me busy, Midgard, the central part this time. My first encounter with this campaign world was the Southlands two years ago. That was a huge undertaking and this is bigger and by far my biggest project on commission to date, and now I’m nearing completion after a year at my desk. It is a treat to have the chance and go back and expand on what you have done before, and this ties neatly in just north of the Southlands.

The style is a refinement of the Southlands with added symbols and details covering a much more varied landscape from the deserts of Nuria to the glaciers and fjords of the Northlands. Inspiration is key, to be a key companion to the text of the new book. World-Machine, Vue, Photoshop and Illustrator have all played a big part in this project. The map data and source- files weighs in at about 14 TB so far. The layered Photoshop terrain file is 34.6 GB and growing, and there are still a few thousands square miles left to add!

All the data are not only for this project but will form a basis for future Midgard projects as well. Below are links to the previews:

  

My role in Midgard, for this time, will start wind down in a month or so. Then I plan to have a couple of weeks vacation away from mapping with hiking, aviation themed activities and locating the most comfy patio chair for some reading. Then it is time for my next big undertaking, Patreon and a first set of maps for it. I have a hole range of ideas and I need your help to tell me what to concentrate on.

More on this in about a month, now I have to get back to the vast expanses of Midgard!

Midgard!

Time for both an update on what I’m working on and a shameless plug for a Kickstarter at the same time, the Midgard Campaign Setting.

For several months my work have been centered around Kobold Press huge Midgard update, and now things are finally starting to fall in place enough for me to have some results to show. This time it is the core parts of the setting that gets an overhaul and lots of new content designed by some of the best designers in the industry. I’m one of the cartographers honored with the task of mapping out the Midgard Campaign Setting in greater detail than ever before.

In scope this project is huge and ties in with the Southlands that is a part of the Midgard Campaign Setting I mapped a little over a year ago. The area are roughly the same size but more varied and with a larger number of features, with everything from the frosty north to the deserts of the northern coast of the Southlands. My work has to work with the Southland map I did and even more importantly build Jonathan Roberts fantastic work on the Grand Duchy and its surroundings, adding more detail and expanding the area covered both north and east.

Scale and feature size will be the same as for the Southlands map, giving a wealth of detail and still trying to leave plenty of room for the imagination of gamers to make the world their own. So far I’ve created the terrain for almost half the area, and roughly half of that have been rendered and received a first round of touch-up editing.

The Kickstarter are a huge success and is more than 600% funded and lots of great stretch goals have already funded including several extra areas that needs to be mapped, so thank you all who pledged making that happen! But there are still nine days to go and lots of super cool goals to reach! The one I’m most interested in is the Open World of Midgard, creating a DM’s Guild like program for Midgard. For a creator like me I want to see this happen for as many settings as possible opening up interesting new possibilities to create. Open World of Midgard is a backer stretch goals, the Kickstarter needs to reach 2000 backers. So if you pitch in just a dollar to make this happen it would be great, and while you’re checking it out make sure you look at all the other goodies as well.

Midgard will keep me busy this spring and then I have two smaller projects lined up this summer. In the mean time I’m honing my skills and have some new cool tricks to show you that will bring things up a notch or two. More on that in a while when I’ve have something visible to show. More then on my delayed Patreon as well, sorry about that, and with your help the Open world of Midgard can be a reality as well!

New Year – New Horizons 2017

Another year is coming to an end and it is the usual time to reflect and try to look forward. 2016 will in many ways go down in history as a very tumultuous year with big shifts in the world which is thankfully something this is not a blog about, this blog post will be about my mapping.

At the start of 2016 I had great plans as I recently had finished both my Flanaess map and the Southlands project for Kobold Press, but the future had other plans. This year I had to split my time between working on my maps and working with politics, and as the election heated up I had less and less time to devote to mapping. This was a bit of a setback that is now behind me and I can again devote a lot of time to map work.

Most of this years work have been dedicated to learning new tricks and advance my work fully into the 3D realm. To kick this off I invested in a new computer dedicated to this task which was both expensive and took some time to set up. You take a little bit of a beating if you want to bee in the forefront of technology. But after a few weeks I had a new work-horse with Nvidia Quadro Graphics and a ton of RAM and up and running along side my old desktop computer that is still fairly powerful.

I’ve invested in new software tools in the form of Terragen and a new version of VUE to complement the now rather uncertain but still great World Machine. Still have so much to learn about the new tools as well as the programs I’ve been using for years, there seems to always be room for improvement. To learn new programs is both a boon and a curse in my line of work, you get to play with a lot of super cool toys but also quickly learn the limitations. What I still struggle to accomplish is to create terrains of any reasonably size. There are now a lot of cool new terrain generating software coming out, but one common feature they all seem to have in common is to focus on tiny bits of terrain at the time. Even the smallest of campaign worlds are many thousands of square miles unlike the usual computer game level. Most of my effort is trying to best work around that limitation. World Machine, Terragen and VUE are the best in class since they support whole planets in one go, but to do that and create all the natural variations found in a fantasy world are enough to bring even the best hardware and software to its knees. To split up the task into manageable chunks are the trick, but figuring out a acceptable way to do it has taken me a couple of years and I’m still improving it.

Enough tech talk now to the actual work! My plans for 2016 was to set up a more formal Map Service, start a Patreon , create a series of example maps and start work on a new commercial project. In the end I’ve only managed to accomplish one example map and to start the new commercial project. For the last two months I’ve worked hard on a new project for Kobold Press, and just like the Southlands it is set in Midgard. That is all I can say at the moment, Kobold Press will announce more later. My examples series are so far only a single area the Hold of Ulthek from Ratik in the Flanaess.

Overall an in-between year with some advancement and progress, but mainly behind the scenes and not in areas visible to all of you who follow my work. My mapping endeavors are getting more and more recognition both in the form of general attention thorough email and on social media. I have a whole batch of emails to respond to, so if I haven’t gotten to yours yet I’m truly sorry.

2016 was the third time I attended Gen Con and the second year I worked at the Lone Wolf Development Booths. This year was also the second time I was nominated for an ENnie, for the Southlands map this time. The Southlands didn’t win Best Cartography but it won the Silver ENnie in the Best Setting Category so I got a chance to bask on stage with the whole Kobold Crew that evening.

Three main professional goals will be on my agenda for 2017. That is fewer than I’ve had before, which is probably a testament to me trying to learn from mistakes and overreaching in the past.

The first priority is to finish the Midgard project for Kobold Press this spring. It is a huge project that have kept me busy for several months now and will continue to do so for several months to come. It gives me direction and experience and to have big commercial projects to work on The drawback is that it keeps me locked up working on things that only later becomes public.

The second goal next year is to st up a Patron as a way to fund and organize my work. It is the second priority when it comes to timing, in most other ways it is my biggest goal. My friend and colleague Thorfinn Tait just started a Patreon to fund his mapping efforts which is a similar endeavor but concentrating on the World of Calidar. Thorfinn has some fantastic ideas and techniques that are in my opinion some of the best in the industry.

My Patreon will have a similar approach with pledges per map release and not per month. My target is to have 10 releases per year. Patreon will in many ways become my custom mapping service, and the way I plan to handle most projects. This will give a better and more transparent way for those who want to support me to tell me what they want me to work on. My Patreons will be able to directly influence what I work on and also receive perks in the form of additional content released only for backer of my Patreon. This will hopefully be an easier way for large ongoing fan projects to be sustained over time.

2017 will also be the year when Realm Works Content Market will open and my maps will be there. First will be a special Realm Works adaption of my Flanaess map, that will be available for free. Realm Works Content Market will probably become one of my standard places to find my work in the future, with specialized version of a lot of future projects.

Digital Content markets are already establishing themselves as major ways for gamers to acquire gaming materials like rules, source books, adventures etc. I think this trend will grow, but never replace printed books and modules that we are used to. My guess is that print and digital will live side by side and fill different roles. Printed game items will become more focused on inspiration and to be desirable for collectors. Beautiful to look at and full of inspirational long for text and glorious graphics with high quality print and binding. Digital will be geared towards use at the gaming table (physical or online) with a focus on reference, record keeping and visual representation of the game board. My goal is to try and create maps that can have a place in both these mediums.

By the end of 2017 my plan is to have successfully finished my second Midgard project, launched my Patron and have my first sets of maps on the new Content Markets. I also want to attend more conventions, Gary Con, Paizo, Con and others as well as Gen Con would be a real treat to attend. Budgetary constraints will prevent me from attending all of them but a with a bit of planning and luck I will get to some of them.

Thank you all for all your help and support, I’m looking forward to work with you on bringing worlds together this year!

Anna

Big project – Midgard mapping!

Time to spill the beans, my next project is going to be Midgard by Kobold Press. It will be my biggest commission so far and a major undertaking. I’ve spent the past couple of weeks setting things up and getting started. It will take up a majority of my time for the rest of the year and into spring.

Here is a first sneak peak:

top-down-1

3d-1
The detail level and scale will match the Southlands map, but a whole range of new techniques will make these maps a large step forward. Better forests, detailed rivers are a few of them. More information will be published at Kobold Press website, and the Midgard Facebook page as the project move forward.

This is one of my dream projects and a great honor to get a chance to do, the drawback is that my other plans will take longer to accomplish. So everything else I have planned (Patreon, example maps and a new website) are still being worked on but only on a limited basis.

More than a single image….

Maps comes in many different shapes and forms showing lots of different data. Decision makers in the real world have a whole arsenal of maps showing the area of interest in a myriad ways to assist them in their job. You need to have the same support in your games! Getting the grip of a fantasy world for our D&D or Pathfinder game we might not be that interested in health rates, voting preferences, income leves and the like. But we need to know things like, road conditions, climate, good ambush places, likely dragon lairs, trade routs, city defenses and many other things.

When I mapp an area I try to create a set of maps that can cover a wide range of usage scenarios. NATURAL maps for inspiration and detail. ELEVATION maps for climate, travel conditions. SIMPLE maps as a base for displaying data of various sorts, historic maps with border movement over time, influence of an evil cult, or the territory of a dragon. PARCHMENT style to create handouts to mislead the brave adventurers.

Here is an example Hold of Ulthek in these four styles, ELEVATION, NATURAL and SIMPLE

ulthek-promo-2-top-down-2k

The map is made up of a number of different information layers which can be shown or hidden as needed. The layers can also be altered individually as needed.. For example a hex overlay can be added styled differently depending on what scale you need. Hexes with thicker lines and a mix of light and dark for large area view, or more subtle hexes for a close up.

ulthekpromo2hexed-2kpxtop

screenshot-hexes

and overlays can also be added to isometric views as needed.

ulthekpromo2hexed-2kpx

This was a short look at different style maps. Now I’m going to work on symbols and labels, more on that soon!