23 July, 2017

EttinCon Mega-Map (Part 6)

More colouring today.

I've tried to get more images, and even a couple more videos of the work procss, but my iPad hasn't been charging well, and there have been some glitches, so hopefully these images will suffice.

My aim in colouring is to get cooler colours mixed with blues and more whites toward the south pole of the map, and warmer colours with more yellows toward the equatorial regions. There's lots of splotches and blending and varying techniques to give a range of terrain impressions. Darker areas indicating forests and jungles, lighter areas indicating grasslands and plains.


One of the last steps is giving some more definition to the mountain ranges which have started to get a bit lost among the other colours that have now been added. 

Almost done.

22 July, 2017

EttinCon Mega-Map (Part 5)

The final work for today was starting the process of getting some colour on terrain features. First the mountain ranges...


Then the desert to the North East, and the icy waste at the south of the map.

I'm not sure how it will look dry, so I just need to wait until tomorrow before I do some more.

EttinCon Mega-Map (Part 4)

Today was the start of painting the mega-map. The whole thing takes up the full table in the art studio, even when it's been extended to maximum size. 

Before doing anything else, I need to add the latitude and longitude lines, but I certainly don't have any compass large enough to draw the arcs.

So, it's time to measure things out and pull out the string.


I've decided that I'm going to use a watercolour technique for the map. If I used heavy acrylics, or even put a coating of primer on it, it would become more difficult to sew things onto the canvas...which is one of the long term goals of the project. Using watercolour will function more as a stain on the canvas, so it might take a couple of coats to get a good rich colour happening...but we'll see how it goes.

First I'll tape some plastic sheeting down on the table, this will make sure the watercolour doesn't sink through the canvas and into the wooden table.

I've had these watercolours lying around for a year or so and have been meaning to use them, so this project seems like a good time to open them up.

First I put some water down on the canvas with a thick brush, not quite soaking the canvas, but making sure it's damp enough that when I apply colour it will spread and easily be blended.

Here's a video (sorry, I didn't realise that my hand was in the way as I filmed it).


Step by step, working through the coastlines...

20 July, 2017

EttinCon Mega-Map (Part 3)

With the sketch and the canvas taped up to the window, I can trace the basic shape and maintain the generalities of the form. The specific details of the map sketch certainly don't match the intended scale, so thankfully I've got some leeway here.

The first thing I'll do is break up the coastline a bit. Here and there I add islands, and provide hints toward river deltas opening out onto the sea. 

The mountain ranges provide hints of where streams start, and the jagged coastlines provide ideas for where the riverways end. I've also been given a few rivers to work with, so it's now a case of using a rudimentary understanding of geography to piece these components together. I'm going to use a system where rivers are noted in two distinct types on the map. Wide waterways capable of being navigated by barges and ship-borne traders will be indicated with a double thickness, while smaller rivers and streams will be marked with a single thickness line.

I break up the streams as they approach the designated mountain ranges, this reflects the way real streams join togther to form more prominent waterways. Due to the size of the map I won't bother drawing in even smaller rivulets and creeks, this also gives GMs a bit of scope for their own world development when they create scenarios to be played out on the map.

I can only fit half of the map onto the window for the purposes of tracing the sketch onto the canvas, so rivers, mountain ranges and all the basic layout work is drawn for one half before moving the whole setup across for the second.

If the black lines of the rivers indicate the natural low points in the landscape, where waters flow to, then a different colour will be used to mark the natural high points in the landscape, the ridges of mountain ranges and rows of hills. Because these two are mutually exclusive (you can't have a high point where there is alredy a low point), I can vaguely work out where the ranges are based on where the rivers are not. Then I make things a bit more intereating by ensuring the ranges are jagged with a lot of branching elements threading between the streams and rivers, as well as sometimes just protruding into plains.

The mountain ranges now need to be detailed a bit. Individual mountains are added along the range lines, and a few more branching fragments of range are added in to create a bit more interest and to make the map a bit more "realistic". After all, I hate straight mountain ranges, which is probably a factor of growing up in a mountainous area. I like to see how ranges twist and turn, and valleys meander between them. This will also make it easier to determine where forests and other vegetation need to be placed later. 

There will be quite a few elements added into this map as potential story hooks. I have no idea how they will be used, but I figure that I'll add them in anyway, as tools for the other collaborative GMs to use if the need arises.

The drawn map ends up looking like this, but there is still a long way to go, because this map will be a painted piece and not a drawn one...

19 July, 2017

EttinCon Mega-Map (Part 2)

This map is pretty loose, it's for a blank slate world that will be defined as we go. But it's nice to have some hooks for players to latch onto, and for GMs to base adventures around. I've been given a rough framework (as indicated in the last post), but pretty free reign with specifics.

Here's the working sketch.

Or, more accurately, here are the pages on which the rough sketch has been printed, scaled up to be more impressive. 

Due to the printing on A4 pages, I need to guillotine the edges...

Then tape the fragments together...

...gradually building the complete map.

I've discussed fractal hexes before, in my geomorph series a few years ago. So it's nice to see a map given to me where this system is in place. Four of the smallest hexes across make one of the mid hexes, four of the mid hexes across make one of the large hexes, four of the large hexes make one of the largest hexes. 

This works as a fairly convenient scale for the map, because I've been told that is should take roughly six months of constant travel to get from one end of the map to the other. If it takes a full day to travel across one of the smallest hexes, it takes just over half a week (four days) to travel across a mid hex, just over a fortnight (sixteen days) to travel across a large hex, just over two months (sixty-four days) to traverse one of the largest hexes, and the whole map is just over three of these largest hexes in height...so that basically gives us just over 6 months (specifically, 192 days, but let's say 200 to round things off). 

If the standard metre is based on the radius of the earth, where 10,000 km is the distance from the equator to one of the poles, it might be feasible to suggest 7500 kilometres between the equator and an arctic/antarctic circle on an earth-sized world. That also suits our purposes. 7500km divided by 200 days gives us 37.5km per day... which is a reasonable travel distance as a typical horse travel can be almost twice that. Of course, walking will be significantly less. This means a mid sized hex is about 150km across. 

Which means that is a massive ferret! 

Butmore seriously, it means that the i tended world of the setting is roughly Earth-sized and therefore I need to consider this scale when I draw the coastlines for the map. Wide beaches would be no thicker than the width of a fine drawing pen, rivers would need to be more than a kilometre wide before they'd be significant on the map... so we'll take a bit of artistic license on them. They certainly won't be asthick as the rivers currently depicted which would each be in excess of 100km wide. 

The canvas I have to work on for this project is lmost exqcly the size of the map offered. So I now need to reconsider the circular map idea. If I were to continue taking that path, a lot of details around the edges of the map would be lost. 

This is one of the larger maps I've worked on, and I don't have a lightbox big enough to trace the sketch onto the canvas, so I'll make do with a variant... the back door. That means I need to work through this stage while I've got daylight on my side.

EttinCon Mega-Map (Part 1)

I started work on the +Ettin Con Mega-Map a couple of days ago, but this is the first time I've had the chance to post about it. 

The basic concept is a map for a massive collaborative campaign setting where multiple GMs will develop elements of the world with their players during convention sessions, gradually fleshing out the world over the course of years.

But it all needs to start somewhere.

The whole thing is a continental landmass stretching from an equator to an Antarctic circle. Usually when I start a map of this size, I might begin with plate tectonics to work out where natural mountain ranges might form. Otherwise I'll start with wide regions, and then move to plate tectonics to consider how those regions interface with one another. Then, I'd consider how those regions might actually form based on climate patterns, and linked geographical structures.

In this case though, I've been given a preliminary sketch, and now I need to make it look like an appropriate centrepiece for a major undertaking. 

I've got two basic ideas here. 

Option 1.

Option 2. 

Option 1 shows lines of latitude and longitude, reflecting the massive siz of the continent. Option 2 is more like an old world nautical chart. I'm tending toward the first option because it shows how big the landmass is with respect to the world...which option 2 would be better for smaller sections of mapping that might be more accurately depicted on a flat page. 

The final image will probably be a blend of realism and typical fantasy tropes, as it will be painted on a large canvas roll.

...more to come.

17 July, 2017

Outside the Box

...but not really.

Only the most diehard conservatives and regressives would continue to believe that a regenerating alien could never have manifested a "female" incarnation. I'm happy that this has happened, but I'm probably more happy that the new showrunner has stated a five year plan for the upcoming stories of the show. I now just hope the BBC don't screw around with the screening schedule like that have in virtually every other Doctor's run during the new Who seasons.