Time for a first look at my new mapping process!

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It’s been a long time coming and some significant hurdles to overcome, but now its time to look at what my custom maps will consist of.  This is a first of a series of blog posts looking at my mapping technique and products in depth.

RPG Maps have traditionally been very artistic and often great looking, but an area have only been covered in a single way. My goal is to create a virtual model of a fantasy world, and using that model to create a variety of maps to fill the needs of the most demanding gamer and world builder, and still look great! What are needed to accomplish this?

A set of 5 different maps and then to combine them in various ways to create a virtually unlimited amount of ways to visualize your world. First a disclaimer, all of the images in this post are preview images with many faults and not to be seen as a final result.  At the top of this post is a look at these base maps and a couple of variants.

The first is the color texture of this area that is 2o miles across.

texture

The color map by itself looks flat and doesn’t give any hints to the shape of the landscape. To show terrain elevation a special color elevation map can be a good choice like this.

Elevation map

Another more visually appealing way is to use a shadow map like this.

shadows

When you combine the color texture and shadow map you get an areal top down view of the landscape.

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Now we have the top down basic map view taken care of, but often simpler maps are needed. This is when masks come in handy, and they can be used for a myriad of things. To create vector shapes of coastlines, roads, borders etc. Here are an example of a coastlines mask.

water

With a bit of skill using Photoshop, GIMP or your image editor of choice you can easily create political, religious, climate, trade and all sorts of other maps and overlays. When you use the masks and a bit of filter trickery you can easily create handout maps, parchment maps, stone and wood carved maps and other stylistic variants.

parchment 1

The last of the parts of the puzzle are the greyscale heightmap, presented below.

HEIGHTMAP NFOR

Not much to look at but an essential tool that describes the topography of the landscape in great detail. With the heightmap and color texture map you can look at you world from any angle and with the help of some computer magic, make it come alive!

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Now you and your players can appreciate what your world looks like in breathtaking detail, from any angle you like!

Vue 9

 

It will be possible to create “landscape photos” of iconic locations of your world, in high resolution for poster maps or why not your computer desktop!

Vue 13

 

This is a first look at the possibilities and basic building blocks. In next installment I will look into labeling, presentation, formats and how you can order the map of your world!

Back from GenCon!

Had a great time at GenCon 2015, met so many old and new friends. Thank you all for making my time in Indy such a treat!
Several future projects where discussed, and hopefully some of them will see the light of day in the not too distance future. In the mean time Kobold Press published a two part interview with me about how I made the Southlands maps:

Southlands Map interview part 1

Southlands Map interview part 2

During Gen Con I also had the pleasure of being on the panel for the Kobold Press Better worlds seminar, which was recorded by The Tome show. You can listen to it here: The Tome Show GenCon 2015 Better Worlds Seminar

This weeks main task are to get my “Render Computer” up and running. The last part are on its way and will be here tomorrow and then I can start the build and installation. This will give me a dedicated machine to do 3D editing and especially rendering. It will have an 8 core CPU 128GB of RAM and Nvidia Quadro 5000, which will give me enough power to crunch through even the largest of terrains and other tough challenges. The best is that This will free up my main desktop machine so I can continue creating and editing while the new computer can do the rendering in the background. Large renders can sometime take hours, so to have a dedicated machine for it can enhance my productivity a lot.

My Custom Map service is next and an update on it will be ready next week.

Spread & Notation maps

Spread 1000px light grey

Here comes a set of handy Flanaess maps you can use to keep track of things like the spread of Evils sects, party exploration, where Orcs live, or to keep track of that undead infestation. The come in three different sizes: 300, 1000 and 5000 pixels, and three different colors, Light Grey, Dark Grey and Blue

Print and scribble notes on the, slap a layer on top in your image editor to paint a spread. Or use the Fog of World function in Realm Works to easily keep track of something that has a geographic dimension.
Screenshot 2015-07-26 16.05.48

You find the the Spread & Notes maps here.

How I use the Flanaess map in Realm Works

The 3000px square maps are now all available here!
Time to show how I use them in Realm Works. There are many different ways to do things in Realm Works. This example is based on my early test model using slightly bigger maps, but after reading the RW manual I decided to make the final version 3000px to keep things flowing. I used the square overview map to place pins leading to the squares.
Screenshot 2015-07-20 20.39.00

Created a new Topic Category so I could easily sort and find the maps. I’m using two versions of each area one with all the details and text as a GM reference.

Screenshot 2015-07-20 20.31.27

And another with just symbols to use during games. The game map can host map pins leading to all the things the players find during the game.

Screenshot 2015-07-20 20.28.11

This works for me as a way to keep the overview and still keep things within the capabilities of Realm Works. I use my Online Map as a compliment for the really large picture.

3000px with Symbols and hexes added!

The next installment in the 3000px squares map are available, the terrain with Symbols and Hexes. Only two left and they will be done this weekend!
You can find them here.

3000px with Symbols added!

You can get them here: Flanaess 3000 pixel Squares

3000 px hexed added!

Squares w numbers-01

The terrain with hexes version of the 3000px squares map are ready for download. You can get it here.

 

 

Flanaess in 3000 pixel squares…

Squares w numbers-01

Just finished my latest project, so today I used the day for some Flaness work I had on my agenda – bite sized squares for use with Realm Works. Each square is 3000 pixels across and will come in several varieties, first out is terrain only.  This set will be followed by squares with hexes, symbols and text. This so you can have unmarked ones for player maps and other with everything. Legend and credits and heraldry are removed to show as much of the map as possible. They are made using my raw high resolution and then compressed into JPG’s for best results. Each square are around 1MB in size, so they should fit into your RW campaign.

You can grab them here in zip format or from my GHSYNC Bittorrent Share. The next set will be ready in a few days.

 

 

Busy Times…

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This is a small part from my latest map, a project for vffpublishing. Kept me more than busy the last month but now I’m doing the finishing touches to it. So writing a blog post with some updates are long overdue.

It will be my second big map since I moved on from to new tools and the pieces are starting to fall in place. This will be the first project to include some new techniques like forests that have a natural spread, like real forests.

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Texture blending, erosion and forest cover used to be such a hassle with Bryce and my old feeble computers. Now all those subtle details can be done, making close up mapping a possibility. And it can still be done in weeks rather than years!

This project are about a tenth of the Greyhawk map in area, and it took me a month to map. Below is an example of texture blending, in this case it’s an attempt to make forest more than a vast expanse of green. To make forest as varying as the rest of the landscape. This is a top down map, so the fact that trees now actually have real depth are not really visible. Other projects in the future will use this possibility in some very useful ways.

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More on my vffpublishing map when it’s being presented in time for GenCon.

Speaking of Gen Con, I will be there this year. Things on my Gen Con schedule are to help Lonewolf Development, Canonfire GenCon 2015 Meet and Greet, Greyhawk Reborn, trying to meet as many of my Gaming friends and colleagues as possible and attend some great seminars.

Next on my agenda are “Anna’s Custom Mapping Service” and a major website overhaul. My current website is from 2010 and even if it (despite Ukrainian hacker attempts) still works, it is setup to cater for my Greyhawk mapping. My Flanaess maps will still reside here at http://ghmaps.net/ but it will be more of a repository for the maps. My blog, new projects and all other work that goes on will be on a new website!

When the new site is up and running I will revamp this site to store and present my Flanaess maps in a hopefully much better way. This gives me a chance to use all the http://ghmaps.net/ server capacity to be used for downloading of maps and hosting the online map(s!).

With a new website I can give proper attention to new commercial projects. The first will be to get “Anna’s Custom Mapping Service” started. More details will be presented in July, but first I have to try and catch up with my emails, there are many of you who have sent me emails and I haven’t been able to get back to you yet, but I will answer you soon.

 

 

Heraldry

Heraldry export titleTime to tick of another of the items on my bucket list, heraldry!

Here is a zip file with 237 shields in PNG format with a transparent background  800 pixels across.
The quality varies a lot. Some are old and created long before I had much skills, and where only intended to be used small scale on the map. A few are small works of art in themselves being my own designs either based on text, fan ideas or just personal inspiration.  Use the ones you like and discard the rest!

The file is 10.3MB is size.