The Library of Crevan: Isometric fun with John Speed

I love the John Speed style, but I was never quite satisfied with my trials with the style. In particular, I found it very hard to align the buildings/walls with the streets: no matter what I tried, it always came out wonky.
I was playing around a bit with the various Annuals, and I found the isometric dungeon one. I played around with it, and then I found the command to draw an isometric grid on a sheet. Something clicked, and this is the result!

I started out with a layout on graph paper. The concept is loosely inspired by the fortified church of Biertan -- but of course all angles are straight, because that's much easier to do in isometric perspective. The building is a temple/library for the god of knowledge in my Streamdales campaign, aiming to contain the sum of all human knowledge. It is built somewhere out in the boonies, fortified with walls/ramparts to keep any book-burning heathens out!
I created a sheet with an isometric grid, and experimented with the sizing of the John Speed symbols to fit them right into the grid. Using the symbols (and some anchor-lines) I created the building, with some polygons in white to hide stuff that would be invisible under the roof etcetera. I created a lot of sheets to keep the ordering of the symbols correct -- nothing looks as jarring as a wall that ends 'flat' on the floor!

I placed this isometric view of the library in the top right corner, and created a top-down view of the grounds in the lower left corner. A dagger and book (symbols of Crevan) next to that, and next to that the key. A flavour-text in the top left corner rounds it out.
I'm pretty pleased with the result: the style is really attractive for these kinds of 'birds eye view' of places!


A slightly larger (920 x 760) version can be found here.


  • KenGKenG Traveler
    Wow really nice. I bet it would great on a parchment background also
  • edited June 2013
    This map is really beautifull!
    Posted By: KenGI bet it would great on a parchment background
  • Wow, that's a really cute map. Makes it very easy for players to visualise the place

    I'm just a bit surprised by the lack of any economic buildings. As it is it looks like it's situated in a major town. A realistic religious centre would have many extra buildings to take care of visitors and supply basic food and goods. The plan of St. Gall monastery is a good example of this. This is just nitpicking, of course, for a fantasy campaign with create food spells and such, this works really well.
  • FubFub
    edited June 2013
    By popular demand: a parchment version of the map. I'm not too convinced myself.
    I also edited the text a bit so that it wouldn't fall across the keep anymore.

    Of course, BlindMapmaker is right that a temple/monastery/library like that will need a lot of support structures to be able to exist. And yes, the main library building is surrounded by farms, orchards and small cottages for visiting scholars. I decided against drawing these because of space considerations: I wanted to focus on the main keep because that's where the action will take place in my game.
    (Also, the imperial military are quite allergic to non-military organisations having (access to) a keep that could withstand a siege -- because of reasons. The ramparts are meant to keep a semi-determined band of hooligans out, not a disciplined army. That means only the keep needs protection, and the supporting infrastructure is of secondary importance.)
  • Henrie61Henrie61 Traveler
    Like it.
    And moving the text a bit made it even better.
  • I prefer the black and white one. It has a crisper look. The text is better in the parchment version, though. If you want to use that one, I suggest you either colour all the walls or none. As it is now it looks a bit weird. You can also get a nice look just by printing it on parchment look-alike paper. I've had good results with that, even if you don't physically modify the parchment any further.
  • +1 for the text.
    I like the parchement version, perhaps some transparency effect on the light gray fills to make the texture of the parchement see through?
    Btw is there any reason for the filling of the ramparts on the isometric view? The main building isn't...
  • I'm not convinced with the parchment, so I scrapped that. Besides, my campaign world makes use of paper: there are many paper mills needed to supply the Imperial Bureaucrats with their daily reams! Parchment would simply not scale accordingly.
    I've kept the text trimmed, and, with the excellent help of Joachim, I managed to get the effect on the top-down view of the keep that I wanted. I also added a black glow to the top-down rampart, which gives it a bit more 'definition'.
    I gave the ramparts a grey color to differentiate them from the keep. Without it, the isometric view contains a lot of parallel lines on the side that make it hard to see what is what.

    So now I have this!
  • DogtagDogtag Traveler Moderator, Betatester
    Very nice. And I like the shading to separate the wall from the keep. It does make it much easier to view.

  • 3 years later
  • Only a little over 3 years later....I'm trying to create a map using the parchment background from the treasure map annual as well as adding the symbols in from the John Speed annual, just like the parchment look above in several pictures. The problem is the fill inside the symbols won't match the background. Is there an easy way to have the symbols be filled with the background fill or just remove all color from inside? I think it might be possible based upon exploding them (Maybe??) or something that involves multiple steps but didn't know if there was a quick way to do so. Any quick ideas?
  • MonsenMonsen 🖼️ 45 images Cartographer Administrator
    edited August 2016
    Exploding them is probably the quickest. Just explode them, then use erase, select them and AND the selection with color 15 (White) to just delete the background.

    If you are going to use a lot of symbols, you can also edit the actual symbol catalog (or a copy of it) to remove the background before even placing them. If so, just edit the symbol from the symbol manager and delete the white background there (Here you don't have to explode them first).

    If you generally have many of the same symbol, you can also edit them form the symbol manager in the actual map as well, this is quicker if you have a lot of the exact same symbol, and not too many different ones.
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