Flanaess in 3000 pixel squares…

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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.

Realm Bundles

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The Flanaess in 99 parts for you campaign management needs!
Those of you who have made use of my Bitttorrent Sync share already have them, but thanks to Dropbox here is an easier way to get them.

http://ghmaps.net/greyhawk-maps/realm-by-realm-bundles/

Flanaess in 24×36!

24x36 print layout numbered

Time for some Greyhawk map upkeep. First out is my Flaness map in 24 x 36 pdf’s. This is the map only, I had to remove some extras in order to squeeze it into 12 24×36 parts. Hex layer is hidden but available using the layers panel, in case you want to view or print a hex map.

Yopu can find the PDF’s here: http://ghmaps.net/greyhawk-maps/flanaess-24×36-inch/

Southlands mapped!

southlands logoAfter over nine months of work the Southlands for Kobolds Press Midgard setting is mapped. Its my first major commercial project and also my first project so very much a learning experience for me. Big thanks to all who backed the Kickstarter and made this possible, and to Kobold Press for giving me this opportunity!

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The final map will be published along with the hardcover later 2015, you can preorder it at the Kobold Press Store. The images presented here are work in progress images and not from the final map. But they give a good teaser of what the map looks like.

Southlands preview 1

Southlands preview 2

Southlands preview 3
Next blogpost will be about Greyhawk……..

 

2015 first update

I have to start this update with an excuse for the lack of posts. Trying to finish the Southlands map, so I’m working as many long hard hours as possible to make it in time. Mapping a continent in is tough, the Flanaess took me several years, now I’m trying to do the same in six months. I have better computers and software tools this time which is making it even remotely possible, but it is still a major undertaking. My Southlands work have taught me a A LOT about how to go about making large scale worlds and maps using 3D software. Knowledge that I will invest into future projects.

2015 is gearing up to be a very interesting year for me, first year as a true professional. Next after the Southlands will be a major upgrade to my hardware. Have ordered the parts needed for a dedicated World-Machine/Vue/Blender workstation/render machine. It will give me a computer with 128GB of RAM that can do the heavy lifting, and free up my normal computer to unhindered do all the editing, texture work etc. A new 27inch monitor, flexible arms to all my monitors, and some other goodies will make my workspace much more flexible.

3D world building/simulation is a field that are going through a revolution right now with some almost god like tools on the horizon. My goal is to try and use them to enhance tabletop role playing, the first phase have been to try and learn the basics which was something I did working on my Flanaess map. The second step is to put my skills to practical use and create work-flows and templates to effectively produce maps and illustrations for use in games, which is something the Southlands map project is teaching me.

It will probably take a few more projects before I can start working on my next goal which is to start sharing my knowledge. But that is something I intend to do. Many of the best artist have given me so much inspiration and advice through videos, blogs, books etc. I want to give some of that back and help others create the maps they dream of!

Two more map commissions are on the horizon this year, both are only early talks yet but they both look promising. Other big things for me this year will be a more formal launch of my custom map commission service, and my first set of maps for sale. Prices and details will be available in a few months.

I wish you all a great 2015 and many great games!

Time for a short update!

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My work on the Southlands are in an intense period, with textures, city map and the foundation for the whole continent taking shape in parallel. There will be a more in depth progress report soon, and even more for the backers of Southlands. It is a lot of work, but it is coming along nicely with more and more details added each day.

final map

I’ve also taken a bit  time off to create a PDF of my hexed Flanaess map. it is available from my Map Repository  or direct download from my Dropbox. The PDF is layered and weighs in at 283MB.

 

Other world mapper 2

Other World Mapper Kickstarter  is on its last day. Its been a highly successful run blasting through all the initial stretch goals and then some! So there are only a few hours left to jump onboard early on this promising map maker tool.

In the background my plans for next year are taking shape, and its gearing up for a major year with several interesting projects spanning different worlds and topics. A couple of the themes for next year are “Classic Vistas” and “Back to the Flanaess”, a new website will also be launched to host this and other things. More on this in December when the Southlands are done and its time for the next year outlook.

Other World Mapper

Time for me to promote a Kickstarter again, this time its not one I’m participating in . I’m just backing it. This time its a Fantasy Map creator – Other World Mapper by the small indie developer Three Minds Software.

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Those of you familiar with computer graphics are familiar with the bitmap vector divide, there are paint programs and their are CAD programs. Other World Mapper is one of the few attempts I’ve seen to make good use of the strengths as well as usability of both in one package.

Many of you have asked me what program to use to make your own maps and customize already made ones like mine. I use professional tools like Photoshop and Illustrator which are costly and takes hours to learn and even longer to master. GIMP and Inkscape are open source programs that can do a good job filling in for expensive professional tools, but they still have the learning curve. They also have lots and lots of functions that you will probably never need in order to make or adjust maps for your gaming needs.

There are dedicated fantasy mapping tools on the market already, and I have used several of them with varying degree of satisfaction. Just like professional digital graphics tools they seem to fall into the categories of bitmap or vector. Dundjinni was, or maybe is it still available I’m not sure, but it is firmly in the bitmaps camp. CC3 is based on a CAD software, which means its precise and fast. but most people find CAD software unintuitive for artistic creative work like map making an I can understand that feeling.

The creators of Other World Mapper seems to have taken this into account when they started to develop their map maker. The list of features and their video presentations caught my interest, and I couldn’t resist backing this project, please consider doing the same!

You can find there Kickstarter project here:

Other World Mapper – Map design software

 

Mapping the Southlands, part 1

southlands

My work is now almost entirely focused on the Southlands – Adventure beneath the pitiless sun! New monsters, new magic, and realms inspired by the Arabian Nights, Egypt, & pulp adventure tales!

by Kobold Press and for Pathfinder RPG. The Kickstarter is on its final week, so please head over to the Southlands Kickstarter page and find out all the great content that have been unlocked so far. Among them a Campaign map and a number of other maps I’m working on right now, so please consider backing this project!

As my work progress I will make updates on the Southlands Kickstarter page, but also make blog posts here. I know that if you read this you are probably very interested in my work, so here on my site I will go into more of the technical side of my work. For information on the setting, and all the amazing things that are included I suggest you head over to the Kickstarter page or download the free preview from Paizo Store.

This first installment will focus on the basics of terrain and texture. Later on as my work progress there will be more of real map making, now I’m working on settings and programming which can be boring even for the most passionate.

To map a vast continent that stretches for thousands of miles is a major undertaking, and to make it stand up and match the creative fervor of the Kobold Crew and some of the best in the business doesn’t make it easier. But as all brave adventurers know you just have to get going and face the perils!

My approach is to prepare by getting my tools in order and doing my research. That meant pestering the writers on this project for details with lots and lots of questions and reading all there is to read.

With all this in mind, my first goal is to create a preview map, something that can serve as the magnet for critique and inspiration. A deep dive into the world of fractals and textures, and 6 weeks later I had something that could do the job.

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This map is done from scratch inside World-Machine using only a few basic fractal “recipes” and to make it quick it uses 1/10 of real scale. Export it into Photoshop for a touch-up, and it looks rather nice in the right light!

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With the approval of the Kobold Crew, I now had a firm grip of what the continent looked like and a base to work from. It was time to start work on the full scale map. And by full scale, I mean that the terrain is created with so much detail it can be zoomed in and used for things like village and city maps, which means a lot of data. For Southlands that means 124 GB of TIFF files and fractals.

The way I work is to use some sort of sketch and hand paint a height map, all the way from the depths of the sea to the highest mountains peaks. Why do all this work by hand, why not just let the fractals do its job? For two reasons, first I needed to match an existing map and fractals are difficult to shape; they don’t always do as they are told.

The second reason is that computer-generated algorithms have a tendency to either look repetitive or “non-organic” or just too perfect. Real worlds have a bit of chaos, and in my opinion a fantasy world needs even more of the unpredictable and untamed. A hand-drawn and painted base creates that, though it can be a bit tedious work at times I have to admit.

hand painting

I added rivers and forest cover on separate layers to match the locations on the various sketches. Each layer can then form the base for fractal terrain, colors, and textures.

In parallel I also worked on the programming bit to create a flow chart, which is a collection of nested “recipes” for how various terrains should look. It is a messy collection of small squares with lines showing in what order things are calculated. This is all done in World-Machine, a genius tool used by special effects departments in movie studios, game studios, and others who need computer-generated landscapes. I use Photoshop for painting height maps, textures and post-render touch ups, then go to Illustrator to bring it all together with symbols and text.

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blending

 

My template has 12 different terrain types, that each gives the terrain a distinct look, from swamps and low gentle hills to majestic peaks. By blending and mixing these types I can recreate virtually any type of landscape imaginable. Together with around 20 types of textures and there are virtually no limits on what can be visualized.

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Forest overlay that can be adjusted separately to accommodate everything from a few palm trees at a desert oasis to lush deep jungles are something I’m setting up as well.

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If you add color and brightness adjustments and the possibilities are endless!

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The textures I’m working with are a combination of computer generated fractals, hand painted parts and colors and patterns I capture with my camera out hiking in the real nature. I have studied landscapes passionately for a long time, and this job let me combine my passions for role playing, hiking and photography.

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A vital but often difficult part is to map lakes and rivers. To map a natural water system of lakes and rivers can be difficult in normal top down maps, in 3D it can be downright impossible. During my 15 years of mapping using Bryce a natural lakes and rivers were an unattainable dream. The latest tools doesn’t make it easy, but possible. So I’m proud to show off the first look at my mountain test lake, a canyon and the wetlands at the merging rivers.

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Sometimes I can’t resist and have to have a bit of drama.

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And every respectable fantasy world needs the extraordinary, a 20 000ft high pillar….

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Some artists paint with a pencil on paper or oils on a canvas, and I have great admiration for them and their amazing results which gives me so much inspiration. In my work I try to create useful art by painting with fractals and textures on a digital canvas. The images I have shown here are all work in progress, but with your help I can do my bit to make this project come alive with adventures, treasure, and fun!

I hope you join me on the journey, and welcome to the Southlands!

The next installment in mapping the Southlands,  will take you both to vast forests and then a first look at civilization…….. 🙂