Wednesday, May 25, 2016

I'm a terrible blogger!

I just wanted to touch base one more time, and let you know that I haven't disappeared or abandoned this blog.  Shortly after my last post, I had a major family emergency that took me out of state for a few days. That's mostly resolved now and life is settling back down.  Next week is also my four year anniversary with my wonderful husband, so I suspect it'll be another week before I can get back into a regular routine.

Sorry about all of this, and thank you for your patience!  I'll see you again soon!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Maps and Meows: Lakeside Temple

Greetings!  Steve here, with a special guest appearance for Mondays that I'd like to call Maps and Meows.  Last year, I started drawing my role-playing game maps by hand after being inspired by a couple popular cartographers.  As a semi-regular feature, I plan to post the finished black & white map with a description of the location along with some details on the materials and techniques used to create the map.  This week, Sarah has also colored the map.

Lakeside Temple of Salara

At this lakeside temple, priests of the Virtuous Order lead in worship of Salara, the Lady of Crusades and Righteous Action.  The Virtuous Order of Salara is a militant organization, and as such their temples are built more like a fort than a church.  Built at a three-way intersection, this temple is surrounded by large stone walls patrolled by warrior-priests.  Inside the walls are stables, a barracks where the general clergy live, a few homes, an inn for accommodating travelers, and the primary structure: a large church.  Outside of the north wall is a cemetery built to honor the fallen warriors of the order.
Lakeside Temple as a line drawingLakeside Temple in full color

Drawing the map

This map is hand-drawn on 8.5x11 Bienfang 4x4 Gridded Paper.  This paper is especially nice because the non-reproducible blue lines don't show on scans of the map, which means I have a lot less work to do after scanning when I'm cleaning up the image.

For this map, all the lines are drawn using Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens.  A fine tip (0.5 mm) black pen was used for the walls of the outer walls and inner buildings.  I used a small tip (0.3 mm) for the road and trees.  All other small details were drawn with an extra-small tip (0.1 mm).  I recently picked up these pens.  Most of my other maps have been drawn using Sakura Micron pens, which I also really like.  The Faber-Castell pens are very comparable, are slightly more expensive, but come in sizes that fit my needs a little better.  You pretty much can't go wrong with either brand.

After I finish with the hand-drawn map, I scan it on grey-scale at 600 dpi into Photoshop.  A color scan will also pick up the blue grid-lines, but on a grey-scale scan they don't show up at all.  I then run the whole map through the Anisotropic Diffuse filter to soften up all the lines.  From here, I clean up any mistakes and blemishes, and typically reduce to 300 dpi and export in a loss-less format like PNG to be used for publication.

Sarah's Coloring Process

I chose to color the map with Copic markers.  We have a laser jet printer, and the toner is completely Copic friendly, so I had Steve print it onto Canson XL Recycled Sketch paper.  I started by laying down base colors: B00 for the water, YG13 for the grass, E70 for the roads, E000 for the sand, and N1 for the stone.  This guarantees that there will be no white paper showing through on the final image.  I don’t worry about fully saturating the paper or getting the color smooth and streak free; any imperfections will blend in as I layer in the other shades.  After the base layer, I typically start coloring with the smallest areas and work towards the largest or background parts, so that any mistakes are easier to hide.

The trees were a combination of G28 colored smoothly with G29 scribbled over that for texture.  For the buildings, I used E37 in layers to create a shaded appearance to highlight their peaks, and then just on the edges of the roofs, I feathered in E27 for additional depth.  The stables are a mixture of E55 and E13 to represent straw and blend with the road.  The stable walls are colored with E13 and E27 in a rough wood-like pattern.

The roads were next; E74 was stippled (dotted) over the entire base layer, then E13 was applied all over that to blend some of the dots out.  From there, I used T5, T7, and E29 to add additional rocks and irregularities, followed by another layer of E13 to pull everything together.  The sand and outer grass were also colored using stippling, E31 and E33 for the sand and G43 and YG17 for the grass.  The smooth grasses inside the cemetery and fort were colored smoothly using a layer each of G43 and G24.  The lake was a slightly rough layer of B01 with another layer of B00 to blend it.  The temple walls were colored with N3, and N4 was used to add a rough outline of stonework.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Upcoming reviews and more

I've been trying to get a post out every two or three days, but I'm still getting into the blogging routine.  I have a few posts in the works, however, so here's what you can look forward to in the next week or so.

First off, I picked up the shiny, new Aluminum Copic Marker Case, and I'm going to be writing up a review of it.  I'll give you a heads-up though, I'm not impressed, and I likely will be returning it.  On a related note, I'm going to share how I've been storing my Copics as well as my new storage that I just picked up today.  Hopefully, I can get a nice how-to out this week as well.

I also recently tried out PanPastels for the first time, and I liked them enough to pick up a total of ten colors.  They're pricey, but I found them on clearance (woohoo!), and I've been seeing some really great work with them for coloring page backgrounds.  I'll be trying them on a few more pages before I give them a full review.

Finally, and the most exciting for me, my wonderful husband (who spoils me) bought me the 60-count box set of Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Brush Pens, and now that I've got my color chart finished, I can get to actually using them.  I previously had the pastel six-pack, and I've enjoyed them quite a bit.  I plan to do some coloring and give them a full review.

Lots to look forward to, so I'll see you again soon!

As a bonus, here's a picture of the cats enjoying their new window bird feeder!
The house finches don't seem to mind the cats much!