29 July, 2015

City Geomorph Step by Step (Part 2)

As we start this post, I've got the basic layout for the geomorph pencilled in. I'll remove the template from behind the hex, so that we can get a bit of a clearer image.


Here, I've got streets and coastlines marked in for the small harbour, and a couple of vague ship shapes. 

Next, I'm one of those terrible people who starts inking things before the pencilling is complete. I've got a pretty good idea of where I'm heading and how to get there, but I like the chance of screwing up a bit to make the workflow a bit more prganic and unexpected. 


I have a range of felt-tipped pens in varying thicknesses (0.1, 0.3, 0.5, and 0.7mm). I like to work with the idea that a thicker line means a more dramatic shift between the mapped terrain on either side of it.  0.1mm lines reflect things that can be easily traversed (moving from concrete path to road, or rocky terrain to sand). 0.3mm lines reflect more significant changes that present a minor obstacle (fences, roadside curbs, crates, small trees and bushes). 0.5mm lines are dramatic changes that typically can't be crossed without game/story effects (building walls, moving from land to water, major elevation changes like cliffs). 0.7mm lines represent basically impenetrable barriers (walls of a cave or dungeon).

I've started here with 0.5mm lines marking the coastlines and the docks. The coastlines are drawn freehand with a jagged continuous stroke to look natural and a bit rocky, the docks are drawn with a straight edge to contrast the manufactured quality. I haven't done much with a straight edge on any of the geomorphs so far, because it's typically quicker to work freehand, and I've practiced drawing relatively straight lines for years (decades)... It's just my style.


Next, I draw in the streets with 0.3mm linework. I'm deliberately continuing the linework of the streets off the hex frame, because if these geomorphs are foing to be printed up, there needs to be room for bleed. 

I've noticed here that the street leading up to the point comes to a dead end, so I find something small to trace around for a turning circle. 

Oh, I'll also point out the gap in the coastline at the lower right. This was a spur of the moment decision during inking, but like all good docks there will be a seafood/fish-and-chips resaurant here for the dockworkers to have their lunch and for tourists to sample the local edible aquatic delights.


Shifting to a mix of pens, I start adding more detail. I outline some warehouses (the rest of the dock area will be filled with shipping containers and trucks), these are done in 0.5mm. Ship outlines are also marked in 0.5mm. A breakwater is added between the "island" and the mainland, in a mix of 0.3mm and 0.1mm. Finally a few beaches are added to the shoreline in 0.1mm.

Next we'll move to a few more buildings.


Urban Geomorph Template

I've drawn up an improved Urban Geomorph template.

The way I'm using it, it's a large image. It's designed to be used as an A3 sheet (420mm x 297mm) to produce a hex that is 300mm across the points. But if you're interested in using it, there's no reason why you couldn't scale it down to A5, to produce hexes that are 150mm across the points (or whatever other size you wanted).

Here's the link.  

Feel free to use it, but please tell me if you do, I'd like to see what is done with it.

28 July, 2015

City Geomorph Step by Step (Part 1)

I'll work through a geomorph example. I've got a basic idea of a small industrial dock, a big dock might sprawl across two or three hexes,but this might be suitable for a few small container ships. 

The contrast on these early images has been turned up, so that you can more clearly see the geomorph template through the page. The total size of the hex I'm using is 30cm across opposite points. 


First, I lay a blank sheet over the template, and mark in the corner points so there are good anchor points for this page if it accidentally slides off the template underneath. 


I haven't always drawn the hex, but I've decided it might be a good idea to do it regularly from now on.


Next I start drawing in some of the streets. 

In this case I'm just drawing streets on the bottom edge and the lower left. All of the other edges of this hex will be aquatic, so I don't have to draw streets there. I'll be adding more streets in and connecting these street up, but for the moment I just project these edge streets into the hex a reasonable distance. 


Once I have an idea of how things might work within this hex, I start joining the streets together. I'll probably add in a few more streets and different ways that they interconnect, but at this stage I'm adding in a side road around and upward on the right, aiming to get a cove or harbour shape happening.

Making the City Geomorphs

To ensure my city geomorphs line up correctly, here's the template I use.


You'll note that the middle road can either be used in street configuration or motorway configuration, and also note that there are very few geomorphs (with the notable exceptions being the "Old Town" and the "CBD") where roads specifically follow one or more of these 'street lines' directly across the hex.

The second step is to place a piece of paper over this and mark the corners of the hex, then maybe draw up the hex, and mark where streets will need to cross the borders.

Then, what's inside is fair game. It's only the edges that need to line up with matching streets.

In a few cases, I've drawn streets that form dead ends as they cross into a new hex. Where possible I've limited these dead ends to the street two in from the corner (moving counter-clockwise around from each corner, or four streets in from a corner if you're going clockwise), this ensures a dead end on one hex doesn't connect to a dead end on a second hex, and thus leave us with that chance of an orphan street not connected to any other roadways.

City Geomorphs (Part 5)

We've reached that part whe most of the photographed work-in-progress images are pencil sketches, and probably don't show up too well on a screen. These are the last of the geomorphs I found in my pile of paperwork, so they are being posted for the purposes of completeness.


This second "Edge of Town" is a general suburban sprawl. They call it a sleeper suburb, because most people spends their nights here in relative safety and quiet away from the rest of the city, while they spend their mornings communting to factories, skyscrapers and other workplaces in other parts of town. This is the home of the dwindling middle class, the lower level managers, the well paid tradesmen, the small business owners. It's a very vanilla part of town, nothing particularly good, and nothing particularly bad. It's just quiet... But underneath the quiet, who knows?


The "CBD" is the commercial hub of the city, unlike the capital where the laws of the land are maintained, this part of town is where big business makes it home in crystalline towers of glass, concrete and steel. Like the old parts of town, the streets are laid out on a grid dating back to the 19th and early 20th century, unlike those other old parts business has thrived here. The motorway connects to the CBD bringing business from all over the city, and further abroad. There has even been a push to beautify the area and maintain high property values by installing parkland on one side of the grid. From afar, this is one of the areas of the city that marks the horizon.


Sprawled over two geomorph hexes, the "Airport" is one of the main connections between the city and the outside world. With a pair of parallel runways that stretch the length of entire suburbs or sectors of the city, the airport is a symbol of modernity and globalisation. 


27 July, 2015

City Geomorphs (Part 4)


The "rural edge of town" sees a distinct lack of apartment buildings, and the detached houses exist on building blocks that grow larger the further you move away from the confines of the city. The city becomes more green here, with open plains, trees, and eventually scattered farmland. The people here are wealthy, those on larger properties own horses and other livestock; yet they still live close enough to other city facilities that they can keep their finger on the pulse of commerce and industry. Many of the citizens here have houses further in the country as weekenders and holiday homes, if they aren't a part of the 1%, these citizens aren't far off it. 


The "capital" is inspired loosely by Canberra.

It seems like all motorways lead to the "Capital", they radiate out like spokes from a central hub. At the centre lie the grand buildings of central government, where every approach seems to provide a picturesque and grandiose image of power over the citizenry. Surrounding this central hub are lesser government and corporate offices where bureaucrats and lobbyists work to shape the destiny of the land. No one lives in this part of the city except for a few a bassadors and dignitaries who hold standing reservations at some of the most exclusive and expensive hotels. At night the area publically swarms with police and private security, during the day when business is conducted they are a little more subtle.


"Lake's Edge" is another highly desirable part of town to live, but it wasn't always this way. The river leading toward the main water was once polluted with the run-off from factories and other heavy industry, but years ago when the economy pushed manufacturing to far off lands where the labour was cheaper, the industry closed down, the factories were demolished, and the land subdivided for new homes. A few technology industries moved into the area, shiny and crystalline where there used to be metal and rust. On weekends, families come to the reclaimed parkland for picnics, and to walk their dogs among the other families doing the same things. 


City Geomorphs (Part 3)

Here's a few more detail shots of the modern city geomorphs. I might do one more post after these three before working through the design process over a couple of posts.


The "signature industrial complex" is a massive factory, with accompanying warehouses and office buildings, owned by a global mega-corporation. The city was proud to get the company to have a base of operations here and it's been great for the local economy... Who knows, maybe the global corporation started here. A sweep in the motorway leads people toward the gleaming office buildings that control the complex before diverting them in other directions so they can't get too close a look...and certainly can't see the massive industrial workings on the other side of the steel and glass (except to acknowledge it's presence). Numerous houses and apartments cluster around the complex, feeding it regularly with workers.


A dual carriage motorway travels across gently rolling picturesque farmland, before approaching the "edge of town". The first things visitors see on approach (and the last thing they see on departure) is a dazzling complex of bright lights, shopping strips and gleaming office buildings beside awell-crafted   interchange between the motorway and the regular streets. Here is where the city presents itself best with it's first impression to new arrivals, and where it tries to leave a good final experience to those who are leaving. It's said that many of the city's citizens living in this area don't venture any further into town, they live on it's edge and use the motorway to commute across the countryside to other cities where the grass is greener. 

Now we start getting to some of the plain pencil maps where none of the inking has been done.


The motorway branches where the "medium density utilities" can be found. Two of the branches have offramps, because many people travel to and from this part of town. One of the signature features of this area is a school facility, though it's hard to tell what age range this caters for (it's a massive complex of buildings), it might even be a college. The other signature feature within the bend of the motorway is a hospital, dating back decades it could probably do with some more funding due to a shortage of beds and a surplus of patients (often industrial accidents, or victims of violent crime in "old town"). Beside the regular wailing of ambulance sirens, and the constant hum of the motorway, this is a pleasant part of the city, there is scattered greenery and a few local shops so that citizens don't need to head to one of the major shopping districts, the streets aren't overly congested because it's easy to get on the motorway and head somewhere else quickly.