I was playing a pickup game with a friend the other week when a mutual friend and illustration student started taking shots at the quality of our game materials, or more specifically our map sheet, crinkled and worn. Sure it’d seen better days but at least the art is…. actually,  I’m not even a fan of the art, and I never was. In fact, it’s about time I stopped being displeased and actually do something about it.

Here’s version 1.

16 Responses to “Painting Maps : Basic Map”

  1. pacrae says:

    I sometimes wonder my young friend about the people you choose to associate with. I can honestly say, that amongst the plethora of complaints I have been subjected to over the years while gaming, I have never heard anything approaching the line, “Your map isn’t pretty.”

    I can only hope, for you sake, that the mutual friend, illustrator and student is also young, female and pretty.

  2. Ian says:

    I go to an art school, what do you expect? ;)

  3. KaS says:

    That’s half the fun of going to an art-based school, people will call you on on stuff you never thought to address before! =D There is also a trend towards young and pretty, or at the least, young and conscious of appearances.

    On the subject of terrain art, I’m liking the earth pattern you’ve got going there, especially the gradations. I’m not sold on the trees or the rough yet. The rough looks unconnected to the earth it’s situated on…like foreign objects, and the trees look out of place and kinda mold-like. (the ones where the stipple brush didn’t move or smear look better) I’d suggest looking at the ‘ecological landscape’ so-to-speak to determine what kind of trees should go there. aka, trees of the Savannah and not bushy green oaks. You’ve got some interesting effects going on for the water, but the patterning of the -2′s looks more like seeing through the water to the bottom rather than light glinting off the surface. Though I like the thought of looking through the water – perhaps you switch the -1′s and -2′s? Plus, light glinting off the surface would happen everywhere, not just over the deep parts. To help with this and the trees, and maybe some of the elevations, I’d pick a directional light source and use it to define edges and effects.

    I want to see those huge water-laden maps that people rarely use done up nice ;)

  4. pacrae says:

    “Young and conscious of appearance”? LOL, nice. A bit wordy thou. Think Dylan had it better with, “She’s an artist, she don’t look bad.”

    I would agree that I really like the over all effect. The colors are great, though I think the colors over the years have been given a bad treatment. The original cardstock maps were no where near as dreary and blah as the paper versions that came after.

    The trees and rough didn’t bother me that much. Trees do sorta look like giant mold if you think about it and I am still waiting 20 years down the road for someone to tell me what “rough” is (other than its going to cost me MPs). Until then, it can look like what ever it wants.

    Completely agree with KaS as to the water, but am quick to admit that I have neither the vocabulary or the training to back that up. The effect looked slightly off, and I was thinking to myself, “would it look better if depth 1 and depth 2 were reversed?”

    The elevations threw me a bit. It’s not that they look bad, they just look out of context. Everything else is rounded and curved while they adhere rigidly to the grid. Felt to me like it threw the continuity off.

    One last thought on the subject of pretty. Something does not have to be authentic in order to be pretty. Real life makes for great inspiration, but I’m not sure I’d want to live there.

    Skip the water maps, no one uses them :) King of the Mountain! Sinkholes!

  5. KaS says:

    “Trees do sorta look like giant mold if you think about it ” True enough! I think i was trying to say that those particular trees didn’t look indigenous to that map: bright green highlights against a bare earth background. Maybe if they were surrounded by patches of grass/ground cover vegetation?

    *sigh* you are right about the water maps. no love. Ian got me hooked on city fights though, and THOSE maps need some lovin’…what city planner/architect would lay out a community like that!?

  6. pacrae says:

    I think we at base we probably agree here?

    I am not a graphic designer and have very little technical advise to offer. The only thing I can say, and this comes from my more literary sensibilities, is that the over all design should be “true to itself”. If that is making it as realistic as possible, great. But its a map of an alien world. My point was that you could make it realistic, surrealist, impressionist, modernist, cubist, whatever. As long as the design concept had a consistent vision, you could make it pretty.

    Okay, I probably wouldn’t go with surrealism, but depending on the MP penalty for melting watches that might just make the water maps playable….

  7. pacrae says:

    KaS, I think you may be on to something with the city map idea. I personally would be way too chicken to try it, because of the game mechanics themselves. Cities are generally laid out at right angles which don’t play nice with a hex grid. The game calls for buildings to be blown up, turned into rubble, walked into and out of. You have to have a counter or a model; their are draw backs to both. But when you mentioned city planners, I immediately thought of Europe: London, Paris, Prague. All those old world cities that were grown rather than planned. Clan (Were)Wolf in London. An American (Davion Regiment?) In Paris. Okay, maybe its not the worlds greatest map concept but it’d be a cool Friday night fight.

  8. KaS says:

    Pacrae, i’ve had that thought before too. There’s a couple old-world style cities in the US too; Boston, Lower Manhattan, heck even DC has some interesting non orthogonal parts to it. A lot of them ended up being rather concentric, european especially, which might play well into some game scenarios. It would certainly be fun to stomp around some landmark places. Perhaps i have my own free-time project now!

    And i want a surrealism map now. Distorted faces count as dense woods.

  9. Ian says:

    Whew, I see there’s a conversation.

    Yes, trees look like… something. Two words: Alien. Planet. ;)
    But really, they need attention, along with everything else.

    The water texture was actually a bit of a mistake I hadn’t delt with.

    I agree that the indecision over representational vs. figurative is kind of odd. The handling of hills was actually my original design question and still the one I’m most interested in. I know it doesn’t make sense, and I need to try some different things, but for some reason some part of me actually liked the solution in this version. I think part of it has something to with separating, visually, terrain elevation from terrain feature (water not withstanding). It also integrates the movement grid into the terrain opposed to having it layered on top. Perhaps pushing the other elements towards a more gridded feel is the direction to go, maybe it’ll lose the elevation/feature distinction… Another thing in the back of my mind when looking at it was 3D terrain, which for very practical reasons is always cut along grid lines. I suppose this is my “what if a printed map encorperated some of those depth cues in 2D?” iteration…

    Watermaps no. Maybe if they were ice though…

    For buildings, KAS and I found some success in using printed structures then putting clear plastic flight bases on damaged structures. On the base, we could write down the damage the building had taken so far. We then marked destroyed buildings with bits of scrap. A workable soultion, but if there was ever a reason to use a computerized solution, it could easily be for urban fights.

  10. Ian says:

    Oh, and so far as King of the Hill. There’s a very nice 3D version over here.

  11. KaS says:

    ARE there ice maps? I can’t tell if i vaguely remember that there are, or if my mind is making stuff up again and storing it as a memory instead.

  12. pacrae says:

    The map for Davion Arena out of the Solaris 7 set was an arctic landscape. I don’t know of another, but you can declare winter weather conditions for a scenarios and play with ice on any regular map.

  13. pacrae says:

    “Alien planet”? But, Ian, I though you were mapping out The Barrens?

    Okay, seriously, I did like the concept you were playing with in representing elevations, I just didn’t think it fit with anything else. In that regard my biggest problem was the water hexes. They should count as negative elevations and yet you deliberately kept the contour lines there after you threw them out of the positive elevations. I liked both renderings separately, but not together. If you wanted to focus on that elevation mechanic, I’d love to see a map with a more symbolic/iconographic approach. As posted previously, realism is overrated.

  14. Ian says:

    “In that regard my biggest problem was the water hexes. They should count as negative elevations and yet you deliberately kept the contour lines there after you threw them out of the positive elevations.”

    Yea yea yea… but the water itself is a ‘feature’ and maybe that shit is murky ;)
    I’ll come back to it I promise.

  15. Goldie Ochoa says:

    ARE there ice maps? I can’t tell if i vaguely remember that there are, or if my mind is making stuff up again and storing it as a memory instead.

  16. Ian says:

    I know there’s one in the Solaris VII boxed set (or the more recent Solaris VII Map Pack).

Leave a Reply