Floating City

Highland_PiperHighland_Piper Surveyor
edited April 2021 in Show and Tell

CA63 (2012) Jon Roberts Cities with CA165 (2020) City Cliffs

I'm normally more of an overland mapper or interior like building plans or dungeons. I don't do too many city maps. However my son asked for a map for his floating city campaign so how could I refuse.

I'm not very good at city maps and my terrain contours will need an overhaul before I continue to past the raised cliff area. I've got Google Maps open on my other monitor and I'm trying to get the street layout and building types looking less modern.

This map is going to be HUGE. So nice of my son to make it so ambitious. The raised cliff in the picture below is the castle and mansions of the ruling class, below the cliff will be more rich houses then slowing turning into slums on the edges with farmland in between.

Any suggestions or links to tutorials would be helpful


  • Highland_PiperHighland_Piper Surveyor
    edited April 2021

    For some reason there was no option to place the picture in the first post. Kind of miss the HTML forums if I'm being 100% honest.

    MonsenLoopysue[Deleted User]DaishoChikaraAleD
  • LoopysueLoopysue ProFantasy 🖼️ 39 images Cartographer

    That's pretty great for someone who declares themselves to be not very good at city maps :)

    I'm having a little difficulty with this comment too, so I will come back later to add another one about how to make it look like it is floating.

  • This is the whole island. The majority of it will be city but I will be putting in agricultural areas as well like fields, orchards, and grazing areas. I put the Floating Island above water, and the edge of the island uses the Cliff face symbols.

  • LoopysueLoopysue ProFantasy 🖼️ 39 images Cartographer

    Ok. That is a pretty big city.

    The floating bit will be easier to work on if you have a two tier system in your sheets. Basically, make all the same sheets again and name them the same apart from adding "TOP" or "2" to the end of the name to distinguish the new sheets. Don't duplicate things like frames, borders and ocean backgrounds. Then copy all the sheet effects over to the new sheets, and move all the stuff for the floating island onto the new set of sheets so that the floating island is entirely separated from the rest of the map. You might at that point have to give the floating island it's own 'land' background the exact same shape as the island itself. It will be this shape that will cast the shadow from the island onto the rest of the map below.

    Once you have done that I recommend hiding the island sheets altogether and then working on the rest of the city until it is more or less finished, so that you don't subconsciously take roads around the island or place buildings to make space for it. When the island is shown again it should cut things in half - because it's not on the same level.

  • 20 days later
  • I have been getting a lot of useful help from the mapping community and I have made some progress over the last day on the map I'm making for my son. I've added some reservoirs and canals, some fisheries, and I'm starting to plot out some agricultural areas as well. The walled center area is where the majority of the upper class and government facilities are. just outside the walls by the gates will be the mid tier merchants. These areas will be more densely packed then the center. It will eventually thin out to resemble a moderately rural area towards the island edge. Because who wants to live on a cliff face that is miles off of the ground!

    I don't make many city maps, I usually just make overland, interiors, and a few villages so this has been a learning experience.

  • Is there anyway to fill in the gaps between the wall sections and bridge sections?

  • LoopysueLoopysue ProFantasy 🖼️ 39 images Cartographer

    The city itself is looking really good :)

    Be wary of following the rectangle of the map with things like roads, rivers and canals. For some reason our human brains seem to want to do that, but it doesn't look very natural. I used to do it myself. You have to consciously decide whether it is really feasible that all such features would automatically be perfectly N-S or E-W aligned, and try to avoid dead straight lines - even when drawing canals. Most canals aren't that straight, but tend to follow the contours of the land in gentle curves unless an awful lot of money has been invested in viaducts and tunnels just to keep them straight.

    As for connecting symbols not quite meeting up...

    If the gaps are still visible in the exported map you may need to make a short length to one side of the map and zoom way in to move the pieces manually for a small overlap. Then group the section and clone it into place on the map, using SHIFT, or SHIFT+CTRL to rotate the cloned copies to the right angle.

  • 7 days later
  • A bit more progress today. All I can say is thank goodness for Random Street tool! I need to fill in some of the blank spaces but this covers the "Upper Crust" from the ultra rich to the Upper Middle Class/Merchants. After this is filled in a bit I have to start out on the outside of the wall. I think I will start out with the business and trade sections and expand outward from there. Smaller houses or Terraced style houses turned into rows of three to four story slums.

    A happy accident with my inability to grasp how to draw the "U" shaped buildings properly. Made an area that looks like a very large stable next to the East Gate. Working on the Warehouse district next to the floating docks. Need to find some top down "Spelljammer" ships to place in them.

    Is there a chimney symbol anywhere? The random houses are just shapes with no chimneys.

  • RalfRalf Administrator, ProFantasy 🖼️ 18 images Mapmaker

    The city is coming together nicely!

    Concerning chimneys: The Jon Roberts style doesn't have any, but load up the CD3 Bitmap A default catalog and you'll find some chimneys which fit it just fine.

  • LoopysueLoopysue ProFantasy 🖼️ 39 images Cartographer

    Really looking good now :)

  • 2 months later

  • Slowly getting there. The main city is pretty much done, the docks and main industry area is pretty much done. I need to add two more docking ports as it is a floating city. I've added the water features such as reservoirs, fisheries, and canals. Now I'm placing roads to areas that I think villagers are needed and adding fields for farming both traditional European style fields (random boundaries) and more modern farming in grids or in this case rows. It is a fantasy setting so I don't mind the oddities. Based on something Sue said I started putting in 'fruit' trees between the fields to act as both a wind breaker and another source of food for an isolated city state.

    I find jumping around from one area to another is allowing me to give it more of an organic growth look.

    Still much more to do. I was planning on working on it more this week but I got recalled from my holiday (moving house) due to no day staff at all as they are isolating. Joy for me!

    LoopysueMonsen[Deleted User]NumberSix
  • LoopysueLoopysue ProFantasy 🖼️ 39 images Cartographer

    I think this is probably going to turn out to be one of the best city maps on the forum when it's done.

  • 6 days later
  • Currently concentrating on pastures. Not really as simply as I would have thought. However in the last two years I have really gotten into 'Rambling' or country walking in England's footpaths and bridleways. It has given me a clearer idea of what some countryside might have looked like in a medieval society. Adding some 'hedgerows' using trees to suggest a type of boundary but not making it a solid row of trees. Any suggestions?

  • LoopysueLoopysue ProFantasy 🖼️ 39 images Cartographer

    The fields look good to me :)

    You could use the different shades of grass to increase the variation a bit if you don't want them all brown.

  • That looks nice. Might have to change the shape a bit. I'll go back later and change some of the others as well.

  • 6 days later
  • Slowly plodding along. I'm finding it a nice break from unpacking and setting the house up. Trying to get a nice blend of fields and pasture lands.

  • The southern docks. They lead right to the narrow boat marina and to the canals. The four round towers to the right of the marina are actually windmills which produce flour. Right on the cliff edge of a floating island they get plenty of wind. I need to expand the houses around the docks a bit more and adding an additional canal that bypasses the main city instead of all the river traffic flowing through the walls.

  • LoopysueLoopysue ProFantasy 🖼️ 39 images Cartographer

    This is getting to be quite a civilisation :)

  • Where does the name "Floating City" come from? Is that because the island it is on actually floats and moves around? (If it does, it probably drifts with the currents and has a seasonal "route" that puts it near different continents and islands at at different times.) I don't see the city itself actually "floating" on the island but if I'm wrong please correct me. It's a wonderful map BTW and I like the detail you've developed. I notice that the north road out of the city doesn't seem to go anywhere. There should be something at the end of it; a castle, a temple, a small village, some ruins or  some other reason the road was built. There is also quite a bit of undeveloped land on the island. What sort of terrain does it have? It looks like an interesting place and probably has a very interesting history. (Hint, hint.)
  • It started out that the whole island was supposed to be a giant city. Then I started asking my son questions like, "where are they getting food?", "Where does their water come from" and so I started to put in agriculture.

    I've not started on the north end yet, but the road will lead to another "Spelljammer" dock like there is in the East side and South.

    You can tell the pasture land as I usually leave some kind of drinking pond in the field, and maybe a shelter.

    Up until the last week I have lived in Oxford so I added some canals for the transportation of goods and water irrigation.

    First attempt to add clouds under the island. Not sold on it yet, requires some tweaking.

  • LoopysueLoopysue ProFantasy 🖼️ 39 images Cartographer

    If you add a huge drop shadow to the island it will look like it is floating above those clouds.

    If you aren't happy with the clouds you could find something online - an image of some kind, and import it as a background image.

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