Friday, December 14, 2012

Some Maps (and thoughts on map fill)

 I was recently happy to get a very flattering comment from Dyson Logos of regarding one of my maps, which got me thinking about Dyson and his maps.  I've always really enjoyed them, they're clean and interesting (especially the way passages cross over each other and they possess a three dimensionality while remaining one level). What I really got to thinking about, because I like drawing maps, is Dyson's crosshatching technique, which even if you have no idea who I'm talking about you will recognize, because almost every map I see (mine included) is using it.

By crosshatching technique I mean the way the one fills space, specifically the space on a map filled with rock, earth or anything else more or less impenetrable. I've been stealing Dyson's great crosshatching, and I want to look into other space filling techniques for maps, because though it's filler, crosshatching adds a lot of character to a map and the character it adds tends to be one of the things that differentiates hand drawn maps from computer drawn.

Here are two filler techniques I thought up yesterday night and have applied to these small temples of evil.

Sinister, vaguely mechanical - block stippling

DER TOTTENWERKS (Das Totenwerk/Temple of Slaughter)

Beneath a stretch of rocky ground and accessed by a narrow stair set within a square pillar in the middle of nowhere, this abandoned temple to a deity of justice gone nasty and draconian served as a prison, ritual torture center and place of sacrificial execution.

It is undoubtedly haunted by the spirits of the victims, but could be used as a lair by just about anything/anyone who doesn't mind grim utilitarian decor designed to inspire hopelessness.  Prison areas are to the North with drainage pits (certainly also filled with bones), a torture theater and a well. To the South is the ritual chamber and quarters for the Carnifex priests.

The fill pattern I used here has a nice effect and is easier than cross hatching, but it is rather time consuming.  I also think it might work better for a map with rounder rooms as smaller spaces can blend into the block fill.  Of course using thick black walls helps keep the negative and positive space separated.

THE TEMPLE OF THE KRAKEN

Buried beneath the salt pan of an ancient dried lake, or the mud of a shallow marsh a sink hole leads to this ancient submersible.  A science-fantasy map depicting a crude temple to some sort of tentacled star god built into the ruins of an advanced technological craft.  The guardians reside in the aft, while the head priest or magician has luxurious quarters in the conning tower.  The temple itself is built in the missile and torpedo room amongst decaying weapons of mass destruction.

I would drop this thing into the Livid Fens South of Denethix in a second packing it with zombie drummers and poison wielding fanatical tribesmen.

This fill worked rather will, it's simply stippling in a more traditional way using a large, blunt sharpie. It's quicker than crosshatching and seems useful on maps with a lot of open space as where a decayed or organic feeling might be useful.

15 comments:

  1. Nice!

    In fact, I think I'll be linking to this in a few days on my own blog.

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    1. Cool - flattered I am. Also think I'll do a couple more crosshatch alternatives (more strange 10 - 14 room temples?) in a few days.

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    2. I *love* the first one and want to try it out (and will be soon). I've also got one other fill I've used for illustration but not for maps that I want to use soon in a map, and will post shortly to my blog. It's KIND OF like the stippling, but only kind of.

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  2. Both of these look very good indeed. Rather time-consuming for everyday (non-published) use, though.

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    1. I'll disagree about the everyday usage comment - I crosshatch all my maps (very time consuming) and I do it not for publishing, but because I want my home maps to look awesome and evoke a certain feeling in myself when I pull one out.

      The fact that I've started publishing them, however, is gravy.

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  3. Very evocative, especially like the thick black walls. Do you also hand-draw the grid, it has a DIY look? Is the crinkling effect of the paper natural or rendered?

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  4. Grid is standard graph paper, scanned and then ultra contrasted to pick up grid lines. I use the levels functions in gimp or my scanning program to add a bit of color (usually sepia).

    The dots are quickish, the blocks time consuming, but not much more than hatching.

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    1. I think it's interesting that you up the contrast to make the grid visible, whereas I up the brightness and contrast to make the grid go away.

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  5. I saw the shout-out over at Dyson Logos and thought to journey here and check out the awesomeness! I like both techniques of hatching;they are very artistic and find that they provide a wonderful contrast to the maps (also fun to look at). Keep up the good work!!

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  6. Awesome maps you make :)

    Just one little complaint: "Der Totenwerks" should be "Das Totenwerk" (singular) as "Werk" is neutral or "Die Totenwerke" (plural).

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    1. I figured as much - its more a joke about bad "fake heavy metal German" than a serious name. Thanks for the correction and glad you like the maps though.

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    2. Ah, okay. It seems I didn't get that joke :)

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  7. The second style makes me think about the void of space.

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  8. When I'm the party's mapper, cross-hatching is an enjoyable kind of doodling until the decision to move on again gets made. I'll definitely bring some sharpies to next game and try out this technique!

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  9. I like them both in these contexts. The second one looks like Kirby dots to me, which evokes a Dr. Strange sort of vibe.

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