Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cartography and RPG Mapmaking Walkthrough - part I

I've been making RPG maps much longer than mail art, believe it or not! I'm working on a new map for Reuben, and I'll detail it out in two blog posts. Of course, Reuben has to make things VERY complicated, and so it will take me forever to finish it :).

I'll be doing a two-part blog post on the steps I take to make a basic RPG map. These are a lot of fun and add real flavor to any D&D campaign

This map has already probably cost me 15 hours of art time, and its not anywhere near being done. But progress is being made!

We'll start first with the paper. I used my usual stuff - Canson 124 lb rough. I tore the edges, because torn edges look cool. The map is about 2 1/2 feet across and 2 feet high. The first image shows the blank paper, just waiting to be painted!

This second image shows the paper after I have put a watercolor wash on the paper.

In mapmaking, I have found that adding a colored background really helps set the tone for the whole map. Reuben is being secretive as to what this map is about (because I am in his campaign) so I really have no idea. So I made a fairly neutral background.

Next, I sketched out the basic city structure. This city consists of an inner and outer city--the inner city has 7 concentric rings. The outer city has 7 different wards. Did I mention this map was complicated yet? Here is a closeup of me sketching out the rings and adding more detail.

I always do this sketching at this stage in a very light pencil. You really don't want to do anything in pen for a long time on these maps...or you might screw it up and regret it.

Even pencil too deep/dark can cause you problems.

I should have used a compass to do this, but my old one broke and I haven't bought a new one yet. So I used a series of dishes and cups and other circular objects. It worked in a pinch!

So the next image here shows what happens after I added the second layer of watercolor to the map. I added all of the roads in gray, and then decided that each district of the city will have a different "look".

I also used a fan brush to add some texture in the upper right corner for mountains.

The outer wards all have a color and the inner city was planned, and is therefore pristine in comparison.

This last image shows the rest of the outer wards receiving their watercolor wash and the inner city taking shape. The inner city's rings will all have the same white (read = planned) look. The greenery you see is in the rich folks district, which Reuben has kindly named the noble district. There is some sort of shiny metallic sphere in the center of the city, but I have no idea what that is about either.

Note to cartographers: its hard to make a city map for someone who won't provide you enough details! LOL!

That's it for this post. In a week or two the map will hopefully be finished and then I'll show you the rest!


Reuben Ternes said...

I am very pleased with my map! Thank you for working so hard on it.

Mixing-Katie said...

Looking really really good so far!! It'll be interesting to see it when it's done. I wonder what Reuben is planning!!

Tammy said...

Thanks for sharing the process; I'm looking forward to not only seeing the finished map but also learning how it will be used.

Charlotte said...

I am recent follower of your work... a very beautiful map indeed Dana. Truly amazing.