Cultivating the Hills

I took a half-hour mapping break earlier today on my eternal break-map, the Shadow River cartographic portrait. Most of my work lately on Shadow River has been of the enormous marketplace near the Citadel, complete with one unmistakable hot-air balloon near the middle (Uresia fans will know what I mean).

The marketplace is a lot of tedious fiddly-work, because stalls, tents and pavilions are (mostly) smaller than the more permanent structures filling most of the city, less likely to touch, and more likely to be surrounded by muddy footpaths wrecking what's left of the grass in the market areas.

To escape the hustle of the marketplace, I went east, over the walls and up the side of the large hill there (or small mountain, depending who you ask) and drew no buildings at all.

Contours and Farmy Stuff, Farmy Stuff and Contours

I've done farmland in this mapping style before (for the Scott's Landing map), but the Scott's River Valley is pretty flat around the town, so the plots of cultivated land are shaped accordingly. My prior work on farms near Shadow River have also been flattish, focused on the fairly level territory south of the west bank neighborhoods). This marks my first time doing farmland on a steep hillside, weaving the plots in with the switchbacks and going with a kind of pseudo-terraced look.

I already see a half-dozen things I need to change, but it's a happy start. The foliage is all mouse-drawn (with vector brushes) in Adobe Illustrator, and the brushes are just plain green circles with varying degrees of dense scatter (literally, if you look in the brush palette, the brushes just look like a single dot, because they are).

It's an excellent way to make a super inefficient Illustrator file, but the destination is always Photoshop (and I shave some bytes by expanding the brush-strokes and pathfinder-adding them).

This mockup sadly excludes the usual finishes of texture and color - it's just some quickity-click Clouds and Noise to give me a peek at how it might shake out.

For inspiration, I mainly ogled photos of Tuscany. Tuscany is some prime ogling real estate.

Anyway, I saw the opportunity to post about the Shadow River portrait without the screen-cap being just More Buildings, so I took it. If you ever want to talk about mapping, drop me a line.