Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Experiments in Drawing and Lettering

After a two-week hiatus caused by garage sales, the demands of parenthood and matrimony, and a job relocation, I return.  Below is Castle Rockabie, a location in my Dunlyle setting.  For those who care, this is on 80# drawing paper, originally drawn in H pencil with the aid of a few stencils, then gone over in sepia ink pen in varying widths: 1mm, .5 mm, and .1 mm.  Some quick notes:

The point of this was threefold: to have fun designing something in my campaign area, to experiment with line drawing and lettering, and to prove to myself that the one-page keyless concept was usable.

I am pleased overall with the line-drawing and design.  On the layout, I wish I'd moved the third floor over a bit and given more separation to the small minimap at the bottom of the page.  My lettering is uneven and as you can see I am struggling to find my own style -- it's a mash of wannabe architect, comic lettering, and my own scrawl.  One of the biggest challenges has been to slow down while lettering.

I am not happy with my weak little castle drawing in the upper right corner.  Bleh.  My attempt at an ivy-covered wall makes it look like a giant bush, fire, cave-in, or some other calamity rather than the regal foliage I had envisioned.  I think I'll always be more of a layout/design guy than an illustrator.

Lastly, I now see the value of getting a drafting table with a T-bar ruler (I forget the correct term for it) so that lines are properly horizontal and vertical.  Eyeballing the registration of my lines produces some uneven results, most easily seen in the "Garden" description text.

Anyway, it was a fun experiment and I will try a similar concept with a dungeon environment, using the text areas as a true key.


  1. Looks pretty good to me, I really like the layout and the non-system specific details you present on the map.

  2. Thanks, Matt. I am beginning to believe that less is more as far as stat blocks, etc. Anyone who would read (or purchase, for that matter) my hypothetical-at-this-point product would almost certainly be an experienced DM that didn't need stats and game info and would likely want to tweak it for their own purposes anyway. My overarching goal would be to provide that DM with a setting/location (suitable for either storyline guys or sandboxers) and let them figure out the hit points and place treasures. This also has the advantage of being generic, system-wise, though it is obviously designed with D&D in mind. The only other viable alternative is to do stats for every system you want to try to support, which is a pain. Trying to estimate equivalent monster and treasure "power" levels between editions is inexact at best.

    For content requiring game mechanics (i.e., traps, monsters, skill checks, etc.) the generic approach requires simply enough information to give the DM enough information to apply the correct mechanic he is using (e.g. "Easy Lock" on my map above, "4 orcs," etc.). Treasure is a bit trickier since it is pretty system-specific and the relative value of a gold piece is not the same between the editions.