27 Aug 2015
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.
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.
Another more visually appealing way is to use a shadow map like this.
When you combine the color texture and shadow map you get an areal top down view of the landscape.
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.
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.
The last of the parts of the puzzle are the greyscale heightmap, presented below.
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!
Now you and your players can appreciate what your world looks like in breathtaking detail, from any angle you like!
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!
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!