All posts by daggerandbrush

Terrain building enthusiast, miniature painter and history nerd.

A guide to the Margravate of Greifshold – Over stick and stone

Dear wielders of the gilded fork, fishing enthusiasts and henge worshippers. The third part of my guide to the Margravate of Greifshold focuses on the areas and sites of interest surrounding the city of Greifshold.

We will travel to a lumbering village, the quaint fishing village Breka, ruins of steadfast castles taken back by tree and root and learn of the worshipers of Reigaro, the principal deity of the settlers. Continue reading A guide to the Margravate of Greifshold – Over stick and stone

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A guide to the Margravate of Greifshold – A grand city

Dear bloggers, explores of a gallant disposition and fans of D20s. Last time we explored the geography of the magravate, but this time we will focus on the most important human settlement  on the continent: the city of Greifshold. Just like my last post this guide is part of a campaign setting I publish via Patreon.

Once again we  follow the well traveled scholar Regis of Werta to the city of Greifshold. Where to eat? Where to sleep? What to do? Fear not traveler, Regis will answer your questions and provide the one or other anecdote. Continue reading A guide to the Margravate of Greifshold – A grand city

A guide to the Margravate of Greifshold – The land and its myths

Dear readers, adventurers and fans of all things fantasy. As you may know I publish a campaign setting via Patreon with terrain crafting and painting tips. Part of this publication is an in-character guide to my setting: The Margravate of Greifshold.

Thanks to people supporting me on Patreon I can write such background material and release it for all to enjoy on my blog, basically embracing a Creative Commons mindset. Feel free to share links to the guide here on DaggerAndBrush and share the love and help GM’s with their efforts to bring joy to the table. Let me know how you like the guide, what else you would like to see and, naturally, consider supporting me on Patreon, where you get a PDF version of the guide and are always the first to see new content.

So far with the plug, onward to the guide. Follow the well traveled scholar Regis of Werta to Greifshold, an untamed land shaped by myth and warring tribes. A land to be conquered and civilized or a land to be cherished and defended from outsiders? Where do you stand, adventurer?

Continue reading A guide to the Margravate of Greifshold – The land and its myths

Fantastic beasts and how to draw them – Hand-drawn fantasy maps step-by-step

I always thought the most intriguing aspect of historical maps such as the Carta Marina are the fantastic beasts and odd creatures depicted on them: Humanoid figures without heads, sea serpents swallowing ships whole and dragons terrorising villages. Many of these depictions are based on Roman and Greek myth or on tall stories told by sailors over an ale. But how can you add such beasts to your own maps and how do you go best about coloring the map?

In this short tutorial I will show you one way of drawing such beasts and digital colorisation techniques. I already covered the basics in another posts that gives you an introduction to hand-drawn maps. In this installment we draw a much more detailed map and use layers of translucent color  instead of layer masks to bring the map alive.

So come along and explore the Margravate of Greifshold with me, but be warned that we will meet dragons and sentient mushrooms in long forgotten ruins, serpents deep below the waves and fierce tree guardians deep inside an autumnal forest.


What makes your map tick? – Developing a background

Before you start sketching your map it stands to reason to develop a rough historical background and to think about  the people and creatures who inhabit the land, as a landscape is always shaped by their struggles and achievements. A rugged landscape could tend to have only small disjointed settlements or one major city where people convene for protection.  A land-locked kingdom may focus on maintaining its borders, while a coastal power aims to extend its reach across the sea to colonise new lands. A war-torn region will be again different to a region that saw peace for a hundred years. Are monsters roaming the wild a common sight or have centuries of adventuring made those beasts almost extinct?

For my map I decided to draw an area map of the Margravate of Greifshold, a setting for a RPG campaign I am currently working on, both for the blog and Patreon:

About 100 years ago explorers discovered a new continent rich in natural resources. The coastal waters were teeming with fish and soon whalers and missionaries followed the explorers. They established a small outpost and told visiting travelers about the riches and wonders of this uncharted land.

A few years later an expeditionary force landed on this new continent. With little regard to the native tribes they founded the city of Greifshold and  subjugate the tribes by force. The newly established Margravate expanded to the northwest and northeast and established footholds.

The disgruntled native tribes banded together and rebelled against the invaders. At first they had some success reclaiming the northern forest, but after some years of guerrilla warfare they were crushed by the Margrave. Ten years later some of the wounds have healed, but there is still tension between the colonisers and the natives.

In the south-east you find the city of Greifshold, with the small fishing village Breka to the east and the remains of a temple to the north. Deep under the sea they say a serpent waits to swallow trade vessels whole.

In the west travelers report of sentient mushrooms, defending their territory fiercely. Some say a mushroom king holds court on a throne made of precious stones and pure gold, while in the east sentient trees guard remains of an ancient civilisation, unwilling to share its secrets.

The nomadic tribes of this land consider the mountain range that forms the northern limits of Greifshold to be the fossilized remains of an ancient, powerful being: a child of the gods, the first dragon and mortal enemy of the sea serpent below the waves. It is said an old pass leads to a portal, hewn in the very rock of the mountains, but where it leads nobody knows. 


Something to rest on – Sketching your map

After you decided on the background you can start sketching your map.  Depending on your preference you can use pencil or a tablet for this step. If you do the entire map digitally you obviously save yourself the scanning, but there is something to be said to sketch and ink it the old-fashioned way.

Start with a simple frame and think about the geographical features the map should show. Do you want to draw an entire continent or just a small area map? The larger the scale the more abstract your map: Settlements are depicted using symbols or a small icon, mountain ranges and forests won’t show singular trees and beasts may be something to adorn the corners or the frame of your map.

If you want to draw a map of a smaller area you will need to add more details. Settlements may show singular houses, a city wall may be visible and singular trees will stand out. The beasts can be more easily depicted in perspective interacting with the landscape: A sentient fungi would easily tower over city and mountain alike on a large-scale map that shows continents or a whole world, but on an area map the fungi can walk through the forest and won’t look too much out of scale. You can also add more detailing such as scales and facial expression, which may be difficult if your beasts are only a centimeter tall.

You can make the sketch as detailed as you desire. If you are a beginner more detail will help you during the inking process and guide your hand. However, it is very likely that the finished piece will look quite different and details will change.

The sketch does not have to be perfect, but make sure that the overall composition is to your liking. Keeping the historical background in mind I divided my canvas into a 2 x 4 grid and aimed on having something of interest in each of the sections: A ruined castle on a hilltop, a dragon curled around a mountain range, a small fishing village and so on. My goal was to give the beholder a reason to let the eye wander over the map and to engage him or her with evocative details.


Geometric delights – sketching the beasts

When you sketch the beasts keep a few things in mind:

  • It is easy to imagine a build structure like a house as a combination of geometric shapes, accordingly drawing them in perspective is much easier than organic shapes.
  • However, you can also imagine a creature as a conglomeration of geometrical shapes. For instance the dragons neck is basically a cylinder that winds around the mountain. Both the head of the dragon and the sea serpent can be seen as triangular or square based pyramids. Bodies turn into prisms or cuboids and so on. Rotate these shapes in your head and think how they would look in perspective. Sketch these simple shapes and then round them off to make them appear more organic. Add details, like teeth and scales only when the basic shapes have been established.
As you can see the serpent started with an odd fin instead of an arm and was much longer than in the final version. The upper part of its head resembles a shark’s head and the yaw and scales still need refinement.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment. See what happens if you add a line or change its curvature. At the sketching stage your eraser or Ctrl+z is your friend.
  • Try to stick to your perspective of choice. If you draw an isometric map it would seem odd to draw a dragon with a vanishing point.
The entire dragon can be seen as a combination of shapes: A cone for the tail, a triangular prism for the body, a long cylinder for the neck and finally a cone or triangular or squared based pyramid for the head.

You can use this method for pretty much everything: Temples, ruins, farmsteads, mountain ranges etc. First establish the basic shapes then add to it.


A permanent fixture – Inking the map

When you are satisfied with your sketch take out the micro pens and proceed to inking. At this stage it pays off to use different line weights to emphasise certain elements on your map. For instance the outline of the serpent is drawn with a 0.45 mm tip, while the scales, fingers, eye and teeth are drawn using a 0.05 mm tip. In addition some of the tree and hill silhouettes are pronounced using a larger tip. This way the hills stand out more easily against the surrounding forest. In case of the trees this change of line weight indicates that they are slightly elevated in comparison to the trees directly behind them.

The serpent moved to the right edge of the map and the detailing has been cleaned up.

 

Both the dragon and the mountain range stand out more than the surrounding forest due to the difference in line weight.

Do not rush the inking and draw confidently. The sketch will help guide your hand. If you make a mistake you can always delete it later. This process can take several days worth of hobby time for a very detailed map, but it is very satisfying when you see the finished piece.


A dab of autumn – coloring the map

All that is now left to do is adding some colour to your map. When you are finished with inking remove any remaining sketch marks and scan your work at a high-resolution. If you work digitally this is obviously not necessary.

  1. Start with a white background and a parchment texture. The idea is now to first shade the map and then add different layers of transparent colors to achieve a water-color effect. Naturally you can attempt to emulate other styles, but for my map I chose this specific style referencing historical maps, but also illustrations in children’s books.
  2. Create a new layer for each color in your editing program of choice. This way you can always tweak things and – not unlike miniature painting – add layers to change the hue and depth of an underlying layer.

    To the right you can see the different Photoshop layers that make up the document. Use groups and descriptive names to keep everything tidy.
  3. We start with the shadows. I use a dark brown grunge brush with an opacity setting of about 20% and slowly make my way around the map. The layer mode can be “Normal”, “Overlay” or “Soft Light”, depending on your preference. You can increase opacity if needed. The goal is to achieve smooth transitions.

    To add interest I changed the brown tone slightly and also experimented with the color dynamics settings in the brush panel. Keep the light direction in mind. In my case the light comes from the top left.
  4. After the pre-shading is finished you add layer after layer of translucent colours. For instance the forest is first coloured green followed by autumnal colors such as yellow and red. I use 30-40% opacity, with the aim to achieve smooth transitions and to let the underlying colours come through. This way you can create a more complex texture. The same red is also used for the Mushroom king and his fellow fungi, while an off-white is used on his stem. Using similar or the same colours on the beasts makes them part of their surroundings and thus integrates them into the map.
    To differentiate deciduous trees from evergreens I used different shades of green.

    Autumnal colours are now added on a separate layer to modify the underlying green layer. The same principle applies to the mushroom man in the corner.
  5. The same idea is used on all remaining features, such as water, buildings, fields and so on. You can use slightly modified shades for other details to keep the coloration cohesive. I also had success using the color dynamics setting to add further variations to the forest or the mountain range.
    The sea serpent is not different to the other elements: Try to imagine where the light comes from and shade the body of the serpent with a dark brown accordingly. Now add additional layers of turquoise and light blue.

    The dragon is actually more of a Wyrm (or a Tatzelwurm in German). It has no wings and a smooth, snake-like skin. Adding color and an iris to the eye is another nice touch that will bring the beast to life. The beast also casts a faint shadow on the trees which further integrates it into the map.
  6. The frame can be colored using the same techniques outlined above, but if you would like to add a gold leaf effect as I did, a slightly different approach is necessary. First off choose a background color for the gilded parts and block it in.

    I went for a dark blue. I did not aim for an opaque coat, much rather I wanted the background to be patchy with some of the parchment texture coming through.
  7. Now it gets a bit more complicated. To achieve the gold leaf effect you first need to create a gold texture. I found this very helpful tutorial that will show you how to create such a texture and also how to make a gilded text. We can use the same idea for the floral design of the frame. You basically need to cut out the floral design so that it shows the gold leaf effect, but not the other parts of the map. This can be achieved using a layer mask and carefully removing the areas were you want the effect to show. This is time intensive, but can be sped up if you drew the frame border and the design inside the borders on separate layers. If you draw the map by hand this is obviously difficult to achieve and you may need to use the quick selection tool.

    You can further refine the frame adding a shadow layer to emphasise the reflective qualities of the gold leaf.
  8. All that is now left are the labels. White text with a black outline and a very faint glow in the background works very well for location names, while I chose a brown with white outline for area names. About the place names:  The native peoples’ language is inspired by Old High German, and thus rivers kept their native name.  English is the common language among the colonists and thus other sites are renamed by them. That way the placenames reflect the history of the region.

And there we have it: a nice map that can be used for a roleplaying or wargaming campaign or just as a stand alone piece to put on the wall of the man cave or femme den.

I hope you enjoyed this short tutorial and give it a try yourself. If you have any questions, remarks or suggestions comment below. Whatever you do, always wield your brush with honour!


If you like the map and need a notebook for your next DnD session, a mug or poster for your office, a new cover for your smart phone that shows your love for all things fantasy or simply a nice art print to hang into your man cave or femme den, check out my store on Redbubble.

If you would like a constantly updated, themed PDF terrain building, painting and roleplaying guide consider supporting me on Patreon. You will get access to a high-res version of the map, different versions of the frame and also to detailed background materials on the history of the Margravate to aid DMs. There also other choice rewards for supporters.

If you are not keen on Patreon or Redbubble, but  enjoy my content and would like to see me well caffeinated so that I can publish tutorials, reviews and guides more frequently, click below and buy me a cup of dark, mellow goodness.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

 

 

DaggerAndBrush now on Patreon – A modelling guide for the intrepid adventurer and more choice rewards

In the past years the DaggerAndBrush blog has become an essential part of my hobby and I really love to write tutorials and articles for you that hopefully inspire and entertain. Without you there would be no real reason to publish content, thus I thank you for your ongoing support, comments, suggestions, discussions and general banter; it does indeed mean a lot to me.

All content on the DaggerAndBrush blog will always be free and there won’t be any paywalls. I would love to publish content more regularly, but real life often prevents me from doing so. I would also love to feature videos and Twitch streams to show you some of the stuff that is hard to explain in writing or with a photo, but both requires significant amounts of time.

This is where this Patreon campaign comes into play. Through your support I will be able to publish content more regularly.   Patreon gives you the choice what to support and when to support, so I chose it as a platform given it is entirely voluntary and community driven. Pledge levels start at 1 Dollar per content post and  you only pay if new content is released. You can opt out whenever you like, no strings attached.

But wait, there is more! (*breathless excitement*) As a Patreon you will receive an electronic PDF scale modelling/painting guide and ultimately a campaign book complete with stories, encounter descriptions, hand drawn maps and ideas for terrain creations. All this is based on the tutorials and articles on my blog. Each time new content is published on DaggerAndBrush Patreons will receive an updated PDF until the first campaign book “In a Forest, Darkly” is finished. Accordingly the PDF is a “living PDF” that will grow with time.

If you would like to help me achieving these goals read more about the campaign below and the fine extra perks for Patreons.


Patreon Reward Tiers – Loots!

 

  • Squire level:  You would like to see content being released more frequently on D&B, but you don’t want to subscribe at a higher level? Then this is for you. I will endeavor to post at least two content posts a month on my blog and as support grows this will eventually increase to a post a week.
  • Order of the Brush level:  The articles on my blog are free and always will be, but as a Patron you will receive PDF versions of my terrain and painting tutorials, campaign settings and encounter maps with a professional layout, exclusive photos and your name (or nickname) featured in the credits for as long as you are an active Patron. You will also get short video clips illustrating a technique if it suits a tutorial. The PDF versions will often not be exactly the same as the blog posts, much rather they will follow a theme e. g. “In a Forest, Darkly”, “Mediterranean Terrain”, “How to paint Carthaginians” etc. Accordingly I will not always publish the Patron only content alongside the blog post, but rather shortly after or update already existing PDFs adding new content.

  • Chaplain level: The Chaplain and higher reward levels allow you to cast a vote on what I focus on next. This means the guides will reflect the ideas and suggestions of Patrons and are to some extend a collaborative project. You will also get access to high resolution versions of all my scenic photos, hand drawn designs and a selection of reference photos.
  • Sergeant level: If you want a more personal experience, we set up an hour long Skype video chat once a month and you can ask me all the questions you might have about terrain creation and modelling techniques. Naturally email follow ups etc. are included.
  • Hochmeister level: Finally, if you are a company I also have the Hochmeister sponsorship level. You have an amazing new product and you would like me to write an exclusive tutorial that features it? Then this level is for you.You can specifically ask me to feature a build on my blog and as a PDF. Do you have a new line of resin accessories? MDF terrain? Some new product that makes the modeler’s life easier? I am happy to feature them in a tailor made tutorial.You (or your company) will be prominently featured with your name, company logo and photo of your team (if desired). Depending on complexity the tutorial will not be published immediately or will be published in parts. I envisage this pledge level more as a one-off sponsorship tier, but you are welcome to ask for more tutorials if you desire so.

More options are already in the making. If you have an idea for a pledge reward let me know below in the comments, via Twitter or Facebook.


A pig in a poke? – Nope, preview time!

Naturally you may wonder how the PDF guide will look like and what kind of content you can expect to see in it. I went for a modern and clean design that puts the scenic shots in the limelight.

You’ll find a preview of the June release if you click the thumbnail below:


If you think this is for you consider joining the Order of the Brush.

Alternatively, if you are not too keen on the whole Patreon thing you can also use the button below to keep me caffeinated with a one-off infusion.

Finally, if you enjoy my blog and its contents, but at the moment can’t support me, don’t worry. After all the idea is to spread the love for modelling and to defeat Greenfelt the Defiler! Spread the word to recruit other adventurers for this noble course and keep crafting.

If you have any questions or suggestions comment below or use social media to contact me.

No matter what you do, always wield your brush with honor!


Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Mapping fantastical fancies – Hand drawn campaign maps for your RPG sessions

If you are a Game Master it is always exciting to start a new campaign and let your players explore new shores, their peoples, customs and the secrets they hold in ruins old, mountains high and dungeons cold. To make it easier for your players to visualize this unfamiliar environment you may have provided them with a map of these lands, may it be as loot or after some negotiation with a Gnome in the local antique shop. A map may also come in handy for a wargaming campaign to show the position of warbands or armies and natural obstacles.

Often the first iteration of such a map is a simple hand-drawn sketch, but after more and more of the new area is discovered you may want to provide something with more visual appeal, add a background texture or even colorize your map.

I will show you some of my current exploits into the realm of map making that will be of help if you start out to make your own regional maps. I am still in the early phase of developing my drawing and coloration skills, but hope that the following ideas will be of use for your own development as a hand-drawn map artist.

I will show you my process of drawing a map by hand, scanning and cleaning it up and finally colorizing it using Photoshop. I will also provide you with some PNGs of elements such as ruins, towers and a city that you can use for your own creations as well as a generic parchment background. Future iterations will feature encounter maps, too. Continue reading Mapping fantastical fancies – Hand drawn campaign maps for your RPG sessions

The right tool for the job – Recommended tools for making terrain

You just started making your own terrain or you intend to make your first piece. Excellent! Looking at a gaming table full of your hand crafted terrain is a grand feeling indeed. But which tools should you get before you start or which tools should you get down the road when you gained some experience with this important aspect of our beloved hobby?

Fear not, as I will show you a selection of tools that will come in very handy for pretty much any terrain project. I will keep it simple and recommend a number of tools for cutting and measuring; painting, sculpting and engraving; and tools that are nice to have, but not essential.

Continue reading The right tool for the job – Recommended tools for making terrain

In the beginning there was lead – Old stuff day

Apparently 2nd of March is a national holiday called Old Stuff Day. To be honest I just heard about it today. But  given I live in tomorrow land and time zones are a thing there is still time to observe this important holiday.

I think it is a great idea to give some of my older posts a second chance and I hope you enjoy my early works. I’ll focus on some posts from 2013 and 2014. I also dug up an old picture  of a Confrontation miniature I painted up something like 10 years ago. So grab a cup of Joe and enjoy.

Continue reading In the beginning there was lead – Old stuff day

Enthroned in darkness – How to make a ruined shrine and flagstone bases

Last time we fashioned a diorama base featuring weathered gravestones, a gnarly autumn tree and moss-covered flagstones. As promised  in this second installment we will focus on an objective token or a small piece of scatter terrain featuring a ruined shrine and a removable birch tree. Naturally nothing stops you to use it as a scenic base instead or to incorporate this idea into a gaming board.

We will also cover how to make a generic flagstone base if the miniature you are working on does not demand a very elaborate base.

Given I already covered the basic techniques in the graveyard base tutorial, I will only provide instructions for new elements and some work in progress pictures with short annotations for the rest. The list of materials needed is similar to the graveyard base one, with some exceptions noted below.

Continue reading Enthroned in darkness – How to make a ruined shrine and flagstone bases

Unrested souls – How to make a graveyard themed diorama base part I

Crumbling gravestones covered in moss, faded letters, weathered by rain, wind and ice, a gnarled tree, the cry of an owl in moonlit night; who does not enjoy adding an eerily beautiful atmosphere to a base  that will hold a vampire, ghost or necromancer? But how to go about it, what materials can you use and how should you arrange the scene?

Fear not fellow enthusiast of the dark arts, I shall answer these questions in a detailed step-by-step tutorial. In part one I will build  a base for a Vampire Lord based on Reaper’s Judas Bloodspire sculpted by Werner Glocke, but naturally you can use the techniques presented below in any project, may it be a scenic base or a  gaming board to add a somber, yet unsettling feel to your terrain.

Part II will focus on an objective token using the same techniques, namely a long forgotten shrine with a tumbled over statue and we will also look at generic flagstone bases.

Finally part three will present the painted miniature. We will also add some further details, such as walls and bats.

Continue reading Unrested souls – How to make a graveyard themed diorama base part I