City Design Walkthrough

The fantasy city of Damas

This isn’t strictly a tutorial, but rather a step by step for a recent city map. I’ve been doing some city design recently for Rhune: Dawn of Twilight, and got the okay from Jaye Sonia to post some work in progress shots.

Work in progress of fantasy city map
Sketch of Damas

The first step is to talk through the overall structure of a city, identify the key areas and learn a little about the history. Using that I put together a rough sketch like the one above. As you can see, this was just pen on paper, scanned in and emailed to Jaye.

After this, we knock together a list of corrections/changes. I sketch the amendments onto the draft in a different colour to help keep track and then start laying in the structure. I always begin with the roads – they define the structure of a city:

Damas Roads for fantasy city map
Damas Roads

You can see the main arteries, the hubs that form at the conjunction of roads, and the city wall locations all in the layout of the roads. When this is signed off I start on the buildings. The buildings take the longest, and I’ve got a couple of different methods for laying them in. However this isn’t really a tutorial post so I’ll save that discussion for a later date. Here’s the building outlines for Damas:

Buildings for the fantasy city map of Damas
Building outlines

As with the roads, the negative space defines the main structures of the city. It’s easy to spot the roads and city walls here, but it should also be easy to identify richer areas (larger, more regular buildings) and poorer areas (smaller and more chaotic with less city planning).

With the buildings in place the city is really well on the way to completion:

The fantasy city of Damas
City of Damas

I’ve added in some terrain detail, lightly coloured the map and added all the labels. This is still not finished – the final map will have a load of texture and tone added, but at this stage the map is a perfectly functional reference, and any final changes can be identified and corrected before completion. The final map of Damas will have to wait until the product release date, but if you want to check out more details of the world of Rhune, check out the website.

These were initially shared over on G+. If you’d like to get some more real-time progress shots – check out my page.

6 thoughts on “City Design Walkthrough”

  1. How’d you manage to block the buildings out; at the moment I’m just using the pen tool to block stuff in and then using that with Ctrl + click on a layer to get the buildings. Do you have any other methods, or have you posted a pipeline for the method someplace?

    1. That’s actually pretty close to my workflow. This is probably the most requested city design question, so I’ll see about getting a tutorial posted later this week.

      1. I was actually just going to ask the same thing. I’m working on a city and the building blocking is a nightmare. I’m a graphic Designer by trade and very familiar with Illustrator… but this stuff is tedious. I tried making a few shapes and repeating them, but they are obvious in my small sized town.

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