Heroes of the Jade Oath

It’s always a little daunting to take on a brand new style of map. When Steve Russell asked for an map inspired by the Orient for Heroes of the Jade Oath I took it on with some trepidation. After a ton of experimenting with textures, brushes and line-styles I came up with a version I was happy with, and this is the result!

Lands of the Jade Oath map

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Highlighting Featured Buildings – Shape, Detail and Contrast

Cities and buildings come up a lot in questions. I’ll put together a software specific tutorial on buildings, but today I’m just going to go through my philosophy when illustrating a featured building like a castle or a temple. The process is the same, regardless of software. In this case – ballpoint pen on sketchbook paper.

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New Map Pack – The Iconic Town

fantasy city map pack

The town that started as a very rough sketch has now been turned into a full blown map pack, and is for sale on RPGNow and Paizo.

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Drawing Buildings with Dynamic Brushes

Earlier in the week I posted a tutorial on how to draw buildings with the pen tool. But sometimes drawing each building just takes too long. For whole cities, you probably want a quick way to lay in whole blocks of buildings. Photoshop can help – using dynamic brushes. Continue reading “Drawing Buildings with Dynamic Brushes”

How to draw flagstones

This isn’t quite as formal as previous tutorials. After I created the tutorial for drawing water, I carried on and quickly coloured and shaded the flagstones. Here’s the video of that process, which fills in a lot of my standard working method – base colour and then a collection of overlay layers to add detailed light and shade.

How To Draw Water On A Map

It can be tricky to draw water on a map. You don’t want to fill areas with a flat blue, but you also don’t want to draw every wave and ripple. The trick is to strike a balance, and provide a visual shorthand that quickly sells the presence of water. When putting this together I was thinking about Mike Schley‘s water style (shown in this map).

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City Design Walkthrough

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

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Shadowlands – revealed at last


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A while ago I ran a gallery show of fantasy maps, and through that I met Christopher Merwin – a great guy and a local New York game designer. He was working on a fantasy world for the Pathfinder RPG called Sæmyyr, and asked me to work on a world map. Little did I know just how much detail and thought had gone into the design of that world. Here, many many months later, is the finished product. In the meantime, this world has been the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign and has had some truly beautiful maps created for the cities by Michael Arrington. Check them out on their facebook page.

world map of the Saemmyr fantasy setting for Blackstar Studios

You’re going to want to click through on this one to the full image. The nice guys at Blackstar have given me permission to post this version at 50% of the print resolution!

It was a new style for me – and I’m really pleased with the result. You can check out some of the details of how I developed the mountain style in this post from last September.

I was asked about the unlabeled version of the map. As it happens Blackstar Games are publishing the unlabeled version too, so here’s a downsized preview of the unlabeled map:

world map of the Saemmyr fantasy setting for Blackstar Studios

How to remove labels from maps

Getting Rid of Labels Tutorial for D&D Maps

It’s often the case that you find that you have a map from an adventure that has labels on it. You need to remove the labels before you show it to your players or they’ll know where the bad guys are. On many maps this is actually pretty easy. Continue reading “How to remove labels from maps”