First Real Overland Map (My Al-Qadim Homebrew)

Although i've posted lots of dungeon maps (and recently a village map), I've never posted a regional map because all of my attempts thus far have been an abysmal failure I finally decided to put some effort into using the recent annuals to map my Al-Qadim Homebrew World.

Thus far, I'm reasonably pleased...still have to do the whole southern half (which will be primarily desert) and later throw in settlements, labels, etc...but interested to hear what others with more experience doing these types of maps and working with these styles think.


  • Hey,

    this is a great start for your map, I really like that particular style! I also like the subtle hex grid (just realizing that the grid is only visible in the desert?).

    I'm not sure about the rivers in the north, though, that all lead to the lake, which does not have an exit...

  • edited December 2012
    Looks nice and it will look much better when you start adding more cites etc !

    Notice your green hill area is drawn in 2 parts, there's a strange line in the middle. Just redraw it and it will look nicer :)
  • I really like the effect you put on the rivers
  • Thanks guys...redrew some of the overlapping textures (but i'm waiting to fix them all until i make final revisions). I also added an outlet river in the northern lake (originally, I thought about having a sort of secluded lake in the hollow of the mountain where the water would just pool and evaporate, but Nils is probably right...the lake is too big and there are too many rivers to justify that.) For the rivers I used a bevel effect...(really wish there was a tool we could use to get a "sunken" in effect...maybe in a future annual)

    so, here's an update...i've got most of the landscape done, but i'm sure i'll be tweaking lots of things when I start adding cities (especially in the desert).
  • DogtagDogtag Moderator, Betatester Traveler
    Nice! It reminds me of the game world maps from some of the Bioware games.

  • Love their's another update. In photoshop you can create hieght maps and then set the layer above to overlay to get a sense of here's my attempt to do it with CC3. All of my landscape sheets had an edge fade inner effect on them anyway so i just set the transparency to 75-85 and create a sheet below everything that had black glow. I would have to do some touching up...but what do you guys think?
  • I like the map and love the border. Where did you get the border? By the way I am using a technique you might find helpful with the same map style. Do you see how your scrub area have very distinct borders up next to the next type of terrain? If you take a screen shot of the scrub up close and copy several pieces of the scrub brush and save as PNG files you can make symbols out of them. Then you can randomly put the symbols just inside of the next section of terrain making the blend a lot better. Later today, I'll post a piece of one of my maps that show that.
  • DogtagDogtag Moderator, Betatester Traveler
    Hm. I don't particularly care for the height-mapped version, though I do like the effect on the hills leading south out of the river valley. Otherwise, I think it looks kind of distracting. It seems to add more of a terraced, "shelf" look to the different contours — which may be what you were going for, but I'm not really keen on it myself.

  • Love the way you did the mountains.
    All in all its a good map.
    Not to sure about the the sheet that you added with the black glow.
    It certainly adds depth to the map in some places but looks (for me) out of place in others.
  • Thanks for the comments. For the border I just drew a box and filled it with a mosaic tile I downloaded from somewhere (probably Dunjinni Forums or Thanks for the tip about adding sporadic vegetation, i'll have to add that to the list of touch-up details to do after I figure out where to put the cities and what not.

    Re: Height map...I get what you guys are saying. This was sort of a test to see if the concept would work, but I still need to tweak the effect (I always wanted it to be more subtle and not have those obvious black marks) and be more careful about where it is used (I sort of just threw it around everything to see how it would look. And I get what your saying about the shelf look - since everything has the same amount of glow...maybe I can avoid that by making multiple sheets of that glow of varying intensity...all in all, I think I have to put more time and effort into the details of it if it is going to work.
  • MedioMedio Surveyor
    The effect is great and gave me ideas about making maps, actually. I guess you could create simply extra sheets of the "upper lands" you would want to make, whenever you would feel they would fit, then put the fade inner effect and go with a transparence effect aswell. That might create ellevations sheets just at the places you would want to.
  • I took your advice and actually named these extra sheets "hills - upper" and "plains - upper". I messed around alot with the setting and arrived at 2 methods which seem to work OK (but you guys tell me). For the Green Hills, I continued to use an edge fade inner (along with transparency) with a subtle glow above it. For the Brown Plains, I used an edge fade but also a directional wall shadow (and then changed my sun direction so it is directly above the map). I think both area an improvement, but not sure if I want to change my plains settings to match my hills one. I also still need to add some elevation to the brown hills, but this is enough for now.

    ***Looking at the export, I'm wondering if now the green hills settings are too subtle....also disregard the labeling, these are just temporary markers.
  • Here's a version with the glow on the green hills increased form 1 to 2.
  • Beautiful map!

    I have a couple minor nitpicks though.

    1. the northernmost river extends into the ocean. If you attach the end node to the coastline it will look better.

    2. The river that feeds the delta should become smaller as it spreads out into the various tributaries.

    Other than that, everything is really amazing!
  • RalfRalf Administrator, ProFantasy 🖼️ 18 images Mapmaker
    Very good! The only thing I'm not 100% sure about is the shadow on the mountains. It feels a bit like they are floating above the map.

    The effect on the rivers is really good.
  • I'm not a big fan of the citynames , I would stretch them out less to make them more readable.
  • DogtagDogtag Moderator, Betatester Traveler
    I like this much more but I +1 Ralf's comment about the mountain shadows. They look kind of "artificial," if that's the word for it.

    And I've gotta ask... How realistic is it — keep in mind that I have no knowledge of real-world deserts — for the desert to be so close to the sea (southeast) without some heavy elevation barrier?

    Otherwise, I'm digging it. Nicely laid out. I like how the terrain changes over distance to become the desert. Nicely done, that.

  • Thanks for the comments guys. My next update will incorporate many of these suggestions.

    @DogTag...I'm also struggling to learn more about desert geography (how I wish there was a nice guide to building them like there is for rivers...hint hint gift for CC3 community...) I haven't started laying out the desert topography yet, but my thought was that I would likely make the southern edge more a cliff-type shoreline with scrubland and brown hills. I don't think mountains will be necessary particularly if we assume that the winds are primarily moving in from the west (as is the case on earth). But, once I start filling it in, I may decide to tweak some things for aesthetics/game play.
  • DogtagDogtag Moderator, Betatester Traveler
    edited December 2012
    Yeah, I like the way it looks, aesthetically. And, judging from the lack of knowledgeable criticism form the likes of Ralf, I'm probably off base anyway.

    You know, as the resident desertphile, you may end up with all the desert knowledge for writing that guide... ;-P

    I can tell you this: I'd like to go adventuring there, and to me, that's a telling sign about any map.

  • In regards to building terrain, I usually find that the easiest. I use a taper approach when I do it. I look at the available terrain for the style and go from lust to most barren.
  • Looking at some real world maps, there's plenty of desert near Oceans, so I wouldn't worry about it
  • DogtagDogtag Moderator, Betatester Traveler
    Posted By: MoskvaLooking at some real world maps, there's plenty of desert near Oceans, so I wouldn't worry about it
  • Look at the Sahara desert. The northern side almost touches the Mediterranean sea.

    Not sure about the way you did the names of the towns, I prefer them straight.

    For the rest, great map.
  • @Dogtag....your right...I have begun to start compiling and piecing together some sort of Desert Builders Guide...I'll put it in another post when I get more stuff together, and hopefully others who know more about this stuff can contribute.

    The placement and labeling of the towns is largely just placeholders at this point. My initial thought was that since I'm using a hex grid (not shown in previous post) and many of the names will be rather long, I would experiment with circular labeling...but that doesn't seem to be working so well.
  • Just compiling material pertinent to the discussion of desert placement: Here's a list of Desert Types. I think mine here probably falls under the Coastal Desert Category.

    • Polar Ice and Snow Deserts – cold climate produces both low precipitation and relatively high evaporation rates (i.e. Antarctica)

    • Middle Latitude Deserts in Interiors of Continents – low rainfall and high summer temperatures (i.e. Gobi Desert)

    • Trade Wind Deserts – Centered between 30 Degrees North and South of equator with high level winds descending from the equator. As air masses descend, they heat up and their ability to hold moisture increases – so, areas below these descending air masses tend to lose moisture (i.e. Sahara)

    • Coastal Deserts - Cold oceans lie next to hot coastal regions such that most of the precipitation falls over the ocean before it gets to land (i.e. Kalahari Desert)

    • Orogaphic Deserts – Deserts that receive little moisture due to the “rain shadow” effect of nearby mountains (i.e. Nevada Deserts)
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