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The Regnum Comission: Physical Geography by FeroceFV The Regnum Comission: Physical Geography by FeroceFV
This is a quid pro quo commission I'm doing for AZ-RUNE; I make him a spiffy map for his RPG campaign, he makes me a real-life shield decorated with my own family heraldry (A birthday present for my son).

Though this is not the final version of the map, I thought I'd post it before I mark it up with labels, borders, and other stuff.

The RPG Campaign (which seems to just be getting started now) is at
www.obsidianportal.com/campaig…

AZ-RUNE's deviant page is at
az-rune.deviantart.com/

AZ-RUNE made a prototype map for me to work with at
cdn.obsidianportal.com/assets/…

There were two sources for this map. The southern continent is from the Palladium Fantasy RPG book, "Library of Bletherad". The northern continent was off a map by Arsheesh. I kept the rough outline and shape of both sources and filled them with my own terrain work.

Made in GIMP with rivers done in WILBUR using the Eriond Technique by Arsheesh. I tried out a couple of experimental variations with this one:

1. Shoehorning the river generation software of river. Having learned a bit from the last couple of maps I made, I came up with an airbrushing technique that guides WILBUR to put rivers where I want them, but isn't quite as obtrusive as what I did in the Kiridin map.

2. I tried using a smudged cloud difference layer to give the ocean a bit more character. It's better than what I've done thus far, but I'm still not very satisfied with the overall look of the water. I'll probably try something else on the next map.
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:iconstgames:
STGames Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
For 2, I'd recommend starting with a basic ocean floor topography and using it to adjust the hue color of your water - nothing as detailed as the landmasses, but enough to give the broad strokes. One of the issues I always wrestle with is keeping landmasses from looking like they were just placed on a background. It kind of spoils the effect of putting so much effort into land details to have it resting on something unrelated.
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:iconstgames:
STGames Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Isn't it magical how, all these updates and features later, I still can't edit my own damned comments?
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:iconstgames:
STGames Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
The purpose of the topography is just to establish regions of color for your water. You don't want it to be very detailed unless there's something of significance down there, but having it "blocked out" will provide a guide to believable coloration. Obviously, the lowest elevations will be the darkest, but there will also be hue changes for tropical areas and so forth.

For this sort of thing, you have to use the entire canvas to generate terrain features, and then ever-so-slightly lighten/blur areas around your coastline to smooth out continental shelves, etc. I'm still working on my own thoughts for all this, but I began work on a cartography tool that allows the user to paint/stamp all their map details onto premade layers with their own styles and blending options for each type of terrain - for example, with a low-opacity paint brush I could actually raise the terrain stroke by stroke just like a map editor for games like Warcraft 3, and generate realistic or painterly mountains by making tweaks to the layer settings itself.

One of the reasons I took such an interest in this piece is that you did it with GIMP, which I honestly never even considered as a possibility but now feel compelled to look into because Photoshop is terribly expensive, especially since I'm not a student anymore.
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:iconferocefv:
FeroceFV Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Using your suggestions, I've come up with a technique for water that I'm fairly satisfied with, which I've used on the more-recent Upper Peninsula and Atlantis  maps . After giving the water some texture with two low-opacity rendered cloud layers, I add a wave effect to one of the layers. Then I use an overlay layer to make specific regions darker (for deep areas) or lighter (for shallow areas). If you have the time, take a look; I'd be interested to see what you think.
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:iconferocefv:
FeroceFV Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yep, GIMP is awesome and free. Check out my Deviant Blog for links to my preferred tutorials.

You know, a simple land glow effect layered above the same difference cloud I use for terrain could do essentially what you're describing. Throw in a little bump mapping and a dark blue color gradient, and I'd have underwater topography. I'll give that a try next time.

Of course, underwater topography is a bit more complicated than that. To truly do it justice, I'd need some underwater mountain ranges, gorges, etc that split  the continents. I could airbrush those to a point, but I'd probably have to wind up using a similar technique to what I did to make the land-based mountains.
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:iconferocefv:
FeroceFV Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It is indeed! Thanks for the insight. I've thought about trying to do true submarinal topography. Maybe I'll try that next time. Most of the intended purposes of the maps I make aren't focused on undersea landscapes. If a ship can sail on it, it's deep enough. What I was trying to convey with this effect was a sense of ocean currents. I actually used the same layer that I did to define land geography (with a different mask) and went to town on it with the smudge tool.  I suppose I could just bump map it and do a color gradient in deep blues.

I'll think on it.
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