Tag Archives: oceans

Crafting Cuttac, Part One

Crafting Cuttac, Part 1

My free map brushes for fantasy maps are designed to replicate specific eras of cartographic development—usually aping styles from the 16th or 17th centuries. As a result, they tend to be focused on line art, which works quite well with early printmaking. While I love those old styles of maps dearly, I’ve wanted to try something a little different. Stretch my creative muscle as it were. I’ve recently hit a few knots in my revisions of Gleam Upon the Waves, and I find that I brainstorm better when I can channel some of my energy into something creative, and it’s not uncommon for me to make random maps.

I’ve been kicking around some ideas for a new writing project. So I decided to work on a map for that setting. For now, I’ve given it the working title, Cuttac—mainly because it sounded cool in my head. I thought it’d be fun to do all this worldbuilding publically, so welcome to Crafting Cuttac, a new series where I reveal the process of how I develop a fictional world.


✏️ Stage One – Continents & Islands

Using my tablet, I sketched out the continents and islands of the world of Cuttac. I focused on vast oceans and fewer chunky continents in favor of something a little more dynamic and fluid. I kept the brush small (2px, Soft Round) to highlight the details within the world. (You can click on any of these images to view them larger.)

Crafting Cuttac, Stage One - The World Outlined
The basic outline of the landmasses on Cuttac.

🏗 Stage Two – Structural Work

I decided on foresty green as the base color for the ocean—mainly to be different, but I have some ideas that it’s referencing as well. (More on that in the future.) After that, I filled the outlined continents and islands with a base of white. As of now, I have three layers: the outline, the white landmasses, and the green ocean background. This is all structure, as I can down hide objects and patterns behind the white shapes and use each as a base for image masks. It’ll make trying different effects really easy and non-destructive—helpful in experimentation.

Crafting Cuttac, Stage Two - Structural Work
The islands and continents pop a lot more when placed against a darker background. After seeing the continents rendered like this, I’m really like these landforms. Feels very natural.

🌊 Stage Three – Ocean Depth

With the structure work done, it was time to move onto the topography. Mountains influence rivers, rivers influence settlements, and settlements create civilization and so on—so it’s fairly essential! Since it’s big and bold, I figured I’d start by doing some testing on the ocean floor. Primarily working in transparent layers to simulate depth. For this, I started using the cloud brushes from Kyle’s Concept Brushes (now apparently included with Adobe Creative Cloud) and just swirled ’em around using my cheap tablet.

Crafting Cuttac, Stage Three - Ocean Depth, Test One
This was my first test with the ocean depth, and I was pleased with the result but felt it lacked definition.

Each color was on a separate layer then blended together using Blend Modes and Opacity adjustments until I achieved the effect I wanted. There was no system to this, I just did it by feel. I felt it was working, and I got some positive feedback, but I didn’t feel my first approach was detailed enough. So I started smaller and worked with more layers and a broader color ramp to simulate depth. The smaller brushes helped a lot and let me get more elaborate with undersea ridges while still achieving the painterly effect, I liked.

When finished, I was worried its boldness would overpower the landforms. So, when complete, I dropped the ocean down to an opacity of 65% —it softened everything significantly. You can see a comparison below.

Crafting Cuttac, Stage Three - Ocean Depth, Final Result
Original bold coloring on the left with the softened final version on the right.

🗺 More to Come in Part Two

That’s where I am for the end of Part One! I think the softer ocean colors will help the terrain pop when I get started on that. I’m going to try to use a similar style for the elevations but stick with even smaller brush sizes and utilize a standard topography color ramp. I think nine “stages” will work well.

Crafting Cuttac - Elevation Color Ramp
A simple color ramp showing shifts in elevation, left is sea level, right is the highest peaks in the continents

Hopefully, you enjoyed this series! There will be much more to come in Part Two. I’m going to be delving into the above-water topography and figure out the placement of the rivers. It should be fun!

Any questions, ideas, or advice? Feel free to leave a comment below or contact me. Want to make your own maps but don’t know where to start? I can help! Be sure to check out Free Stuff to download any of my free brush sets or to check out one of my Tutorials with practical step-by-step guides at getting started.


💸 Supporting This Work

If you like my brush set, tutorials, or map experiments like this one, and want to support my work, instead of a donation, consider buying one of my speculative fiction novels. The first book—The Stars Were Right—is only $2.99 on eBook. I think you’ll dig it.

You can find all my books in stores and online. Visit bellforgingcycle.com to learn more about the series. Tell your friends!

The Bell Forging CycleNot interested in my books but still want a way to support me? Buy me a coffee.


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Friday Link Pack 08/07/2015

Friday Link Pack 08/07/2015

Happy Friday folks. Here is today’s Friday Link Pack! Some of these links I mention on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Do you have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Click here to email me and let me know! (Include a website so I can link to you as well.) Let’s get to it…

WRITING:

Here Are 5 Tips To Writing Better Query Letters
Ah, the dreaded query letter. If you’ve embarked down the traditional publishing path then you know how pesky these little letters can be. Thankfully the wise minds at The Writer’s Circle compiled a list of five handy tips for crafting the perfect letter. [Thanks to Will for sharing this.]

What I Learned Sending My Novel Out Under A Male Name
I wish I could say this was surprising, but it really isn’t. There has long been a culture of sexism within the publishing industry. This despite the fact that women authors often outnumber men in the bestseller lists. [Thanks to Lola for point me in this direction.]

Cormac McCarthy’s Three Punctuation Rules
His writing style isn’t for everyone, but there is definitely something to be admired about how McCarthy tackles simplism in his prose. In this article, Open Culture breaks down his approach into three specific rules.

Western Lit, Shot To Death By ‘Trigger Warnings’
Politico explores this recent and disturbing trend among liberals encouraging the banning of fiction based on the troubling or disturbing content.

Business Musings: Price Wars And Victims
Kristine Kathryn Rusch is an industry veteran and indie success story. I thought this post musing about the sudden rise in ebooks pricing and the sudden drop in hardcovers was fascinating. Especially when she breaks down the royalty costs that everyone faces.

ART:

Nathan Walsh’s Unusual Urban Landscapes
I found these hyper-realistic landscapes from realist British artist Nathan Walsh to be both fascinating and technically impressive.

War Photo Negatives Sunburned Onto Skin In ‘Illustrated People’
Good art challenges our perceptions, often taking what we perceive as ordinary and placing them somewhere outside of what we expect. Artist Thomas Mailaender does that with these negatives of war photos and the results are quite interesting.

Jason Parker, Paintings
These showed up in my feed this weekend and I found the work to be very engaging. I’ve always enjoyed rougher work, things like sketches and street art. I like seeing the construction of a piece of art and Parker’s work does a good job of not shying away from being a painting and reminding the viewer that it is, but in a way it still becomes something more.

RANDOM:

Creepy Lullabies
“The hardship will teach you soon, while the day turns to night, that people feel love, loss, sadness and longing.” Iceland, you’re crazy. (And I cannot wait to visit you in a few weeks.)

Rosetta’s Philae Lander Discovers A Comet’s Organic Molecules
Despite it’s troubles, Rosetta is sending some interesting data. Organic molecules on a comet? That’s big news. Space is so cool, I have a feeling over the next few decades that things are going to get very very interesting.

There’s One Secret The Rick And Morty Guys Will Never Reveal
The Adult Swim hit, Rick and Morty might be the best show on television. The Onion’s AV Club interviews the creators and discuss why it works so well with today’s audience.

How the Earth Would Look Like Without Oceans
In this video, we get to see what the earth would look like without 71% of its surface covered in water. On some level, it reminds me of Monument Valley but on a titanic scale.

WEIRD WIKIPEDIA:

Sam Kee Building
“The Sam Kee Building, located at 8 West Pender Street in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is noteworthy for being the shallowest commercial building in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records.

At the turn of the 20th century, the Sam Kee Company—one of the wealthiest firms in Chinatown—purchased a standard-sized lot in 1903. The basement extends beneath the sidewalk and originally housed public baths, while the ground floor was used for offices and shops and the top story for living quarters.”

H.P. LOVECRAFT STORY OF THE WEEK:

Pickman’s Model
It’s strange that I haven’t featured yet. The story centers around the artist Richard Upton Pickman who paints art so terrifying that it gets him kicked out of Boston Art Club. But a question, however, remains… where did his ideas come from?

GIF OF THE WEEK:

giphy[Thanks to Sky for submitting today’s terrifying gif]