I’ve been working on the map examples for Intrepid. I think they have turned out OK so far and since I’m not exactly an expert artist I thought I’d share my process. Very much a “non-expert’s guide for non-experts”.
The Pillars of Earth
First we need some reference images. The Imaginary Atlas is an excellent blog with a lot of maps people have drawn and I found some nice looking trees on this one. I also did a Google image search for “Standing Stones”. So now we have something to work with.
Using the standing stones as a reference I did a sketch of something that looked reasonable and then scanned it in. Next I put it in the same image file as the trees, resizing it so it was about the right size, and printed it out again. The last bit of drawing used a light box to draw it out again, tracing bits of the printout and filling in the gaps appropriately. Also, a little shading was added for depth.
(As you can see from the pictures there are several other bits of map I did at the same time.)
(I’m assuming tracing an image is fair use since in this case it looks nothing like the original.)
Now we have a reasonable looking picture scanned in but the scan looks pretty mucky and washed out. I ran it through a few filters in Paint.NET (which is free)…
The curve tool is good for making things more black and white, but giving you a lot of control over how that is done (rather than just adjusting brightness/contrast). It makes it a bit grainy though, so using Unfocus makes it look a bit more natural. Finally we want to make the liens a bit clearer and more pronounced, which the Oil Painting tool does (which is a bit odd).
For the tower you can see in the last picture I decided to straighten up the lines by just drawing over the top of the old ones in a new layer and then erasing the old ones. To make the new lines look less artificial I used the Pencil Sketch tool, which does what you’d expect.
It’s all a bit of a lengthy process, but I like the end results enough to put them in my book.