[WIP] Norrath

JulianDracosJulianDracos Mapmaker
edited November 12 in Show and Tell

I am doing my first Alyssa Faden. This was the style that was picked by the customer. It was my first choice as well. While the style generally fits with source images, I am finding it a bit plain. The current issues I have are:

  1. The bezel for the land does not work on the snow areas. [Edit: The issue is that the bezel is applied to the land sheet so the terrain sheet covers the effect. I can change the fill for the ice continent and that works fine. Not sure how I can get the bezel to work correctly what it is just part of land. My guess is that I will have to reduce effects so that the land is not covered on the edge. I want the snow to to the end, but that just might not be possible.]
  2. The green for the swamp areas doesn't seem like a good color choice. In one place I did blend a couple of layers to get a murkier look. I am not sure if I should do that, pick a different color, or find a fill from a different style that would work. Suggestions?
  3. The style does not have snow covered mountains. Thankfully, Herwin Wielink style's mountains look almost the same so I was able to use those. I am wondering if I should change out all of the mountains for this style though.
  4. I used a green VC mountain because the mountains are supposed to be green, but I don't think they look right. Unless there are some suggestions on how to make it look better, I may just go with brown mountains
  5. I am trying to find suggestions on any new sheet effects that could be added to jazz it up before I add in cities and text. Or some suggestions of land fills. I am thinking that may help the overall look. In many ways it is the small things that make maps look great.

Here is the source map:

Here is the current map I've made:


  • Ah, the original Norrath. I gamed there for years. I'm now in EQII.

  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 35 images Cartographer ProFantasy

    Most of the things you are highlighting as being an issue are down to sheet effects. If you put an Edge Fade, Inner sheet effect on the snow you will be able to show the bevel on the coast. You can also use one of 3 colour modifying sheet effects on the swamp areas to change the colour. These are (in order of ease of use) the Adjust Hue/Saturation, Colorize, and RGB Matrix Process.

    I recommend using all the same mountains and hills if you are going to use a different style. the hills really don't look that bad, even if they are paler. In fact it is better that they are paler than darker than the land since it makes them look like bumps rather than hollows. You can always replace them later using Replace in the Symbol Manager if you still don't like them.

    Sheet effects are always a personal taste. You can learn a lot by experimentation.

  • You can create snowy hills and mountains in this style simply by choosing a suitable colour for the varicolor symbols. There is an Ice fill and an Icefield drawing tool already with CA95, so you'll just need to match the hills and mountains with that. You may need to adjust the bitmap fill scaling too, so the patterning doesn't get lost at this sort of world-level map size.

    Part of the problem may be the Alyssa Faden style isn't well-suited to world-size maps, so the default scaling is set against that. As the PDF notes with CA95 note, "Alyssa's style is a great one to depict small to medium level overland maps. For very large maps, the beautiful detail of the symbols might get lost a bit." Doesn't mean you can't do it, and it will probably suit the cartoony look of the original map you'd linked to with its over-sized symbols, just that you have more effort to put in for it to work how you'd like!

  • Actually I scaled down the symbol size. This was mostly do to the mountains. The trees were too close in size to them - especially when I had to decrease the size of the mountains to fit the land. It auto adjusted the size to 1.8. I reduced that to 1-1.25 for most symbols. I tried to keep the mountains at 1.8 when it made sense.

    However, as you mention, I may be better off allowing the sizes to be a bit larger. It may make things look better - as in matching the cartoony look (I almost used the comic style, but Faden's style looks closest to the source map.)

    As for varicolor, there are two problems:

    1. There is only varicolor for the hills. There are none for the mountains. I have adjusted the size of hills to try to make mountains. You can see that with the top center in the snowy area
    2. The varicolor symbols give everything a gray look. It doesn't matter if I use blue or white, it still ends up with a bit of gray. I think just do to how varicolor symbols work.

    So, unless the varicolor mountains just didn't download, then I will either need to switch the mountains out or make my own varicolor mountains.

  • So I modified many of the mountains to create varicolor. I then made the mistake of importing PNG. That erased all the other symbols. So I went loaded the symbols using the open symbol catalog as if I were mixing styles.

    I think the varicolor works for snow. Although I am not sure they look great. I don't think it works for anything else. I'm wondering if I should just use different mountain/natural symbols. Wielink has varicolor, but has a bit more detail than this style. Derust also has similar mountains, but they also lack varicolor/snow.

    I changed up the swamp. In order to get the snow to show, I had to turn off glow. For the snow continent, I just changed the land to a different fill.

    Faden's symbols are too low PPI. I am a bit worried about printing a large map since printing usually has 300 DPI. I am just thinking the symbols might appear blurry.

    In any case, is this looking any better, or should I switch to a different style? I like the cartoonish element as it seems similar to the source map, but this needs to print well and I want things to look a bit more polished.

  • edited November 13

    I like the map with the current style, but I also see your point that it might look as good in "really high resolution". How do the symbols look at high export resolutions (9000 pixels for the long map side)?

    Thinks that might be worth a try:

    • Put an edge fade (inner) - effect on the green land strip of the arctic continent.
    • Draw rounded polygons with an edge fade (inner) - effect around the "snow mountains", using a slightly darker snow colour / texture to make the mountains blend in a bit more. The colour should be lighter than the mountains, but darker than the snow.

  • I decided against the green strip of land on the arctic continent. I prefer the all white.

    I did all the polygon. I am not sure if I did the settings correctly to get the appropriate effect.

    I added some darker ocean areas to the map. I went for a bit of subtlety with them, but I think it helps.

    I redid one of the mountain ranges on the bottom right continent. These are much closer to the default adjusted size (larger). I adjusted an area to lighten the terrain a bit and blend some of the areas better together. I'm not sure what to do about the glacial mountain as the varicolor mountains I made look awful when added on the continent.

    I did not export at 9000 yet. Below you can see it at 5400.

  • Oops, yes, I failed to spot the mountains weren't varicolor in the Alyssa Faden style - apologies for that! There is enough variety in the varicolor hills to get those to work as snow-covered mountains though, I think, particularly if you adjust the scaling separately for the X- and Y-axes (which I think you've already done anyway).

    Varicolor symbols trend towards being grey or washed-out compared to the full colour versions, because of the way they're converted; I know Sue's been battling to improve this lately, though that won't help with all the older symbols. Eukalyptus' suggestion about adding "blending" polygons around the snowy hills/"mountains" is definitely worth trying; maybe in conjunction with a suitable glow around the symbols. Again, that would need experimentation to try out.

    Unfortunately, and possibly because of the age of the Annual issue, the Alyssa Faden symbols don't have a "VH" = very high resolution image version, which is what's creating the "potentially blurred" issue when printing. On prints I've done, they looked OK, but I wasn't printing large areas. Certainly zooming-in to the original CC3+ map, the hills do start to look blurred. This image is a tiny extract at the normal Forum size, set at 300 dpi output resolution:

    The hills definitely look "soft", though not too bad with the other symbols and labels for distractions. This may not be good enough for what you want though. The original full map is my Community Atlas "Clack Valley" one (Gallery image link).

    JimPRicko Hasche
  • The more I play with the map, the more I am realizing this will take a lot of sheet effects and adding new sheets. Nothing wrong with that, but I think that is my frustration with the default Schley style. This at least will be a learning experience for me that may help with other maps.

    I went with the hills and contorted them to make it look like mountains. Not sure it would work for anything else, but I think since they are supposed to be covered in snow, it works well enough. I can always stretch them a bit more to make them more pointy if needed. I added a polygon around the mountains. I am not sure if it help blend it into the snow, but I think it does make the mountains look more like snow. I also added a bit of a glow to the mountains, but I am not sure if it helps or not.

    I created my own lava/volcanic look for the center mountain. I much prefer it over the fill from another style. My only issue if trying to get it to blend into the surrounding terrain. If I do an edge fade or even a blur, it makes it look like the land is floating. I went with a blend. It helps but isn't perfect.

    I am going to start to take some liberties with the source map (mostly because there is so little info) and try to make the areas seem more like a natural fit. I also think adding cities and labels will help the map look better.

  • Slowly making progress. Playing around with sheet effects takes time. I am happy with using the varicolor hills for the snow. I think they look good. Not sure about the other locations. I mean I think they look good, but not how about the juxtaposition with the mountain symbols.

  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 35 images Cartographer ProFantasy

    Its looking good :)

    If you look at most styles the hills are usually quite different to the mountains.

  • I'm fine with hills looking different. I'm just using the hills as mountains. I'm going to have to find a way to make a glacial mountain. Not sure if I should use GIMP to put something together or try overlapping symbols in CC3+

  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 35 images Cartographer ProFantasy

    It's up to you how you do it. I used to copy existing symbols in the style and modify them, then save them in my own User folder in Symbols as the same filename but with my initials added.

  • I made a glacial mountain in GIMP. It actually looks really good as a mountain. Not so sure how it looks in the particular location. I had the snow look perfectly by adding some blue instead of all white. However, since everything else has a bit of gray, I had to add some gray to help.

    I have to make a bridge out of bones for the snow landmass. I think I did a decent enough job for that.

    I have add most of the symbols. The problem I am having is that I had to use Schley. Faden didn't have enough of the right types of symbols. I think Schley looks ok, but I am wondering if another style would look better. I haven't found any yet. The other option would be to not have city symbols.

  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 35 images Cartographer ProFantasy
  • Almost done. However, I will need to change the font for the continent labels. The style renders V in a D shape and a W and like M.

    The other issue is for whatever reason the text disappears around the volcanoes in the top center. I am not sure why, but I guess it was something to do with the sheets below it.

    Any other issues people see that I should fix?

    JimPpablo gonzalezLoopysueCalibreRicko Hasche
  • This should be the final version of the map:

    LoopysueMonsenQuentenJimPLoreleiRicko Haschepablo gonzalez
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