Two posts for the price of one! First, the map. It’s been a while, but I’ve made extensive changes/additions and it’s time to post up a new one…
So recently, with things calming down after the tumultuous last few months, I’ve found my head back in Valocea again. Still working on the mapping, the planning, and of course, the transit.
One thing that I found myself thinking about a few days ago, is how far it’s come since its original inception. I started reflecting back on how this project came to be, and what kinds of decisions I’ve made (and what I’ve learned from it), and it’s kind of crazy how much it’s changed. The original concept, of course, wasn’t for a country at all, but a state that would be added to the existing US. The idea was to change the shape of the continent – specifically, the Pacific Northwest – to allow for enough extra land to accommodate a 51st state. Basically, it would have been something like this… Continue reading
So! I had put off posting this until I finished making some changes that I wanted to make. Since those now HAVE been made, here we are.
I’m pretty happy with how this map is looking as I continue to work on it. A rundown of the major changes:
- ALL twenty-four regions now have names! Really happy to have that aspect finished up. You might also notice there’s been a change. I wasn’t really happy with “Blaise” (which was the name of the small region with the purple border to the west of Pascale) as a region name – just didn’t sound right, somehow. So, I went back to doing some name researching, and came up with “Villeneuve”, which roughly means “dweller in a new settlement” in French.
- The border between West Portal and Issa has changed a bit (it now follows a river, rather than being one of the “arbitrary political line” type borders), partly so that it wouldn’t look EXACTLY the same as the border Issa shares with Desjardins, to the east (same angle, same length). The reason they looked the same in the first place is because technically, they were the same object – since Issa was created recently and “inserted” into the existing landmass, the border that previously existed between WP and DJ was simply duplicated and placed on either side of Issa. The other reason for the change was to alter Issa’s size – it was gargantuan before, the biggest region by far. I decided I didn’t want it to be quite so huge, and I think West Portal now looks better, too.
- Anshala, West Portal’s largest city and the second largest in Valocea after Lennvale, has been moved east a bit, to a location that I feel makes a bit more sense for its status as the western gateway city into Valocea.
- There are more cities, and for the first time, visible rail lines! Now, you might be wondering why several of these new cities are unnamed and why that set of rail lines running between Brighton and Kunari are the only lines on the map so far. That’s all for a story I’m working on that takes place in Valocea. I wanted to know exactly where this train goes when a character takes it, so I planned it out and added it to the map, but – while I knew where I wanted various cities to be along the route – I haven’t been able to come up with names for all of them yet. Oran, East Portal’s largest city, is the final stop in Valocea for eastbound LVX (Lennvale-Vancouver Express) trains heading to Vancouver, British Columbia (or the first Valocean stop for westbound trains). This city is considered to be the eastern equivalent of Anshala as the country’s other main “gateway”, though with a different feel, since any vehicles of international origin (whether carrying freight or passengers) entering Anshala are either ships or planes, whereas Oran receives the road and rail lines that lead from Vancouver into East Portal, and has no nearby international airport and no major port (the river and lake near the city are not navigable by container or cruise ships).
- Speaking of unnamed cities: there’s another one in the Villeneuve region – this is Valocea’s capital. The main reason I haven’t been able to come up with a name for it is because I’m still trying to decide if it should be a city that was meant to be the capital during its creation, and thus would probably have a name that is significant to Valocean history in some way (i.e. Washington DC), or if it was just a city with a name like any other that was later chosen to be the capital (i.e. Ottawa).
- The three major real-life cities whose locations are visible on the map (Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver) are called out with names and icons.
- There is a 200 km scale bar in the upper left area; this is something I really should have added a while ago! There is also a legend there showing some info about different city symbols and their meaning – it’s a bit half-assed but gets the job done, haha. Eventually I’ll add a nicer looking one in a proper separated box, but that’s not super high on the priority list for the moment.
- The Pascale Sea now has a name label. This is the name for the body of water that runs through most of Valocea’s center, though of course several individual bays and side inlets and whatnot along the way ultimately have their own names as well. It was named for a significant figure in Valocea’s history (as was the Pascale Region).
- The La Marche region has undergone a rather dramatic change to its coastline with the addition of a deep inland bay. This bay connects to the river and lake system in the region’s western half, allowing ships to pass through to get from Valocea to the west coast of Canada or the US without having to go all the way around La Marche’s southern tip (similarly, the river and lake system that begins just southeast of Lennvale and goes through Rhuna, meeting the ocean again south of that one huge lake, is also wide and deep enough for container ships to easily pass through it. Thus, a route that entails coming in from the west, traveling through the channel and stopping in the Lennvale area, then continuing on to Portland, Seattle, or Vancouver, is probably a fairly common shipping route). These waterways are all naturally occurring, not man-made canals, though some instances of human intervention (i.e. dredging, installation of locks, etc) at a few points along said waterways has probably occurred to keep them navigable.
- The peninsula that Lennvale is on has also been changed, with a more interesting coastline and additional islands, as well as text labels for Sounto Sound and Sounto Bay, though you’ll have to zoom in to really see any of that (in fact, none of that really shows up well even when the image is viewed at full res, but oh well. That level of detail will be more visible and important when I do regional maps, anyway).
- More rivers and mountain/hill contours throughout.
- I also played around with the effects for the colored regional borders in CC3, trying to improve the look of the rendered map, and I think my efforts paid off. They are both more distinct than before, and also smaller, lining the edge of each region only (rather than being a sort of “haze” of semi-transparent color hanging over a large portion of the region). They look MUCH better this way. The mountain contours I’m less sure about – I tweaked the effect settings to make them stand out a bit more, but it might be too much. On this style of map, they are not supposed to be a distinctly visible, well-defined feature (as a city icon would be), but are meant to be a bit more indistinct, just there in the background behind everything else giving you a general idea of where the hills and mountainous areas are. So I may make some changes back in the other direction later.
There are also some really big changes to this map I have planned, mostly relating to re-drawing the landmasses to make them look more natural and realistic, but I’m going to wait on some of those for now – they will take a lot of time and energy, and there is a new version of CC3 that is supposed to be coming out hopefully within a few months and will sport a lot of improvements. Since it’s entirely likely that the new version will make those big changes much easier to implement, I’m going to wait on them for now, at least until I know with more certainty when the upgrade will be out. One of the changes that has been discussed is that rendering will be made easier, with the possibility for higher resolutions and more anti-aliasing for the exported images. Can’t wait for that!
Man, I have been neglecting this blog! Haven’t posted anything in months. A lot of real life stuff was getting in the way. WordPress has redesigned the look of the dashboard since the last time I actually made a post! I think I like the new look; it pops more and looks brighter.
I do plan to start doing a little more with this place soon, since I should have more going on worth posting about soon; some more details on story ideas I’m working on, for one.
But for now: have the latest Valocea map. There have been some fairly significant changes this time around: I decided I wanted even more total land area to the main island. Yeah, I know, it wasn’t exactly small to begin with, but I looked it over, and decided I wanted to have a little more to work with. There was one main reason for this, actually, which I’ll get into below the break. Here is the map:
So, I finished up the repairs I needed to make, which turned out to be easier to do than I thought it would (the method I had been going to use originally turned out to be problematic, but I figured out a better way to do it that was much faster). Thus, I can actually post this map, which has a lot of changes to the islands compared to previous maps. There are more of them, especially in the southeast and northeast, and I also moved some of them around quite a bit to make their distribution look a bit better and more natural. Changed the sizes of some of them too, for the same reason (there were too many big islands and not enough little ones). There are 159 Valocean landmasses visible on this map, counting the mainland. I defined 10 square kilometers as a cutoff point. Any island that is larger than that in total area is on the map; any island that is 10 km2 or smaller isn’t visible on it. Because A), they’d be too small to look right when the map is zoomed out, and B) there are probably TONS of islands that are 10 km2 or smaller, and I’m not detailing them all out because that would take years. Just think of it the same way you’d think of Japan: there are actually thousands of islands in the archipelago of Japan, but nowhere near all of them show up when you look at the country in Google Maps, only those large enough to be visible. Another change I made was the alter that big island in the middle of the central channel/inland sea, so that it reached much closer to the mainland in several spots. Reason being that I just really like the idea of people on the coastline near the island being able to see across TO the island while watching ships go by, so the landmasses needed to be close enough to one another to allow that.
Islands aside, there’s actually much bigger Valocea news for me to share: as you can see on the map, every region is now NAMED! Yes, it took months, but all twenty-two regions now have a definite name. I put em all on the map, partially just sort of to celebrate in a way. Of course, as I continue to add cities, natural features, etc (as well as names for all those things), the exact style, size, and placement of the region names you see now will doubtlessly change, but for the moment, the regions are the only things labeled on this version of the map. The names themselves are a mix of French, English, and made-up words that are supposed to be from the fictional languages of Valocea’s native peoples. At some point, I’ll make a post detailing out the origin of each region name.
Visually, the way this works is that all of the islands are considered to be part of one of the mainland regions (except for Shulanu Island and the Raeburn Islands, each of which are considered their own region), so every island has a region color corresponding to the main region it’s part of. This, by the way, is why I made one other change: I switched some of the regional colors around, because in one case, two regions that were next to each other were both similar shades of green, making it impossible to tell which islands were supposed to go with which region. On the new map, it’s pretty easy to see. Peruse it above!
Yeah, so I ended up not being quite so “done” before. The islands took a lot more work than I originally thought they would, mostly because I started changing em! Wasn’t really happy with their distribution, so I started moving some around, resizing others, and just adding more, too. While it did mean more work for me, I think the result is a big improvement. There are a much greater number of really small islands now (it was kind of weird before, because there were a good number of really big islands, but few little ones, which isn’t really realistic), as well as a number of regions that didn’t have any islands attributed to them, but now have several. Overall it just looks better and makes more sense. But you’ll have to take my word for all that, at least for the time being; I recently discovered several errors on the map (it’s the same one I’ve posted before, made in CC3, just with alterations made). Basically, I wasn’t paying enough attention, and several islands ended up being drawn with the wrong pen thickness in CC3. It’s not something that will be hard to fix, exactly, but it will be tedious and kind of time-consuming.
So I’ll get to that, but I’m taking a bit of a break from going full steam on Valocea for now. While it’s not going on “hiatus”, exactly, it’s just not going to be on the front-burner for a while. Partly because I want to take a break from it, but partly because my projects have shifted again. This is how I work: every now and then, like every few months or so, my mind shifts, and which of my creative projects is the most compelling, which one I have the easiest time generating ideas for, changes. Right now, I’ve found myself drawn back into Altessa, which is the name of a big fantasy world (kind of Tolkien-esque, though only superficially; there are a lot of important ways in which it’s quite different from Middle Earth) I’ve been working on for years. That’s at the forefront of my mind right now, so I’ll probably be working on that quite a bit for the foreseeable future, with Valocea receiving less attention. However, partly because of its nature, Valocea never just completely goes away out of my head. I’ll probably still be coming up with ideas and adding little things to it, but less so, and certainly I won’t have as much to say on it that’s worthy of an entire blog post as often. That said, as soon as I fix the problems with the map, I’ll post it up. Also, the figures I published before for the total land area of the country are no longer correct, since I’ve added more land area to the place. When I get to fixing that map, I’ll also post some updated info. And I might post some info on Altessa soon, too. Cheers!
So, I’m FINALLY done with the area calculations. It was a lot of really tedious work, but overall, I’d have to say it was worth the effort. Now I have definitive figures for the total area of every region, every island, and Valocea itself. These numbers will be vital in figuring out things like population densities, highway and railway routes (which are both partly based on population densities), etc. Plus, it’s just something I really wanted to know, to be able to compare with actual countries. Makes Valocea itself feel more real.
The total land area of Valocea in entirety (all islands included) is 881,601.4 square km (the total area of just contiguous mainland Valocea, no islands included, is 759,945.3 square km). Of course, the grand total could change if I add more islands, which is not impossible going forward, but I’m not worried about that. If I DO add more islands, it will be only a few at a time (and they won’t be big; between the largest islands to the north and west, the one in the middle of the waterway, and that one big island off the south coast, there are enough really large islands already. Any more that I add to the visible map will be pretty small). So I won’t have to do anywhere near the same amount of work to calculate area for any future additions.
EDIT: I missed an island! How embarrassing. Anyway, I went back and added it in, and adjusted the figure above; 881,601.4 km2 is the correct area total.
Now I’m onto… islands!
I finished the mainland a few days ago, and got everything multiplied and added and whatnot. So I have a figure for the total area of contiguous mainland Valocea: 759,945.3 square km. Hooray!
But I still have to do all the islands. Sigh. SO TIRED of these boxes! But this won’t take nearly as long as the mainland did, and once it’s done, it’s done. So, gonna just keep at it for now.
…is what I’ve been doing for the last several days.
Ok, I haven’t just been doing this to the exclusion of all else, but I have been working on it for… over a week now. Basically, I want to know the area of Valocea. And of course, the issue of measuring square miles or kilometers is that landmasses, generally speaking, aren’t square.
So, in order to get these measurements, I covered my map with boxes. Like so:
Yeesh, I’ve been crazy busy lately. Been tired a lot, too. I need to get more sleep on weeknights. X_x
Anyway. As the title suggests, I have a little something to show off in this post. Been working with CC3 to create a not-ugly Valocea map (as opposed to the “very ugly” maps I made in Gimp, which were only ever meant to be preliminary, an easy way to just freehand draw stuff until I had a general idea of Valocea’s landmass and region shapes that I liked. Ultimately moving over to CC3 has been part of the plan pretty much since day 1). So, I’ve been working on it fairly regularly over the past few weeks when I have the time, and this is what it looks like so far!