Thursday, April 4, 2019

Iskloft Mountain Style

I occasionally like to take a reference map that I like and see how closely I can match the style.  A map I recently saw and liked a lot was Iskloft by Nate from  You may be familiar with his YouTube channel as well, where he's done a number of videos on drawing fantasy maps.  Iskloft is a Viking-themed map for an RPG book.  I'm not going to replicate the entire style in this posting, but I wanted to see if I could replicate his mountain style, as seen here:
This is a pretty simple, bold style.  The outlines are heavy and even thickness, with fairly straight mountain sides.  There is usually just a single center ridge line, and shading is provided by heavy lines.  Although the whole map is monochromatic, the mountains have white at the top to indicate snow.

I haven't played with mountains for a while so it takes a bit to get the testing code working again, but after that I set it up to generate some sample mountains at roughly the same scale:
Here I'm just using random parameters.  Let me set the base color to gray and make the outline a little thicker:
Here randomly I didn't get any shading, so let me force shading to be on.  The type of shading used in the Iskloft map -- straight lines slanting lines in the shadowed areas -- is called “contour" shading in Dragons Abound.
Dragons Abound defaults to using contour lines a little darker than the base color of the mountain.  On the Iskloft map, the contour lines are black and about as thick as the mountain outline.
That's a pretty striking style just like that, but the Iskloft style is a little different.  There's more space between the shading lines -- usually just three per mountain.
In Dragons Abound, the shading fills the shaded side of the mountain,  On the Iskloft map, the shading often only fills the shaded side partway.  I don't have that capability, but I can somewhat fake that look by tapering the shading line so that it disappears part way across the shaded area:
That's an interesting look but not really that similar to the Iskloft mountains.

Another major difference in shading is that in Dragons Abound the contour lines have the same general slope as the side of the mountain.  In the Iskloff mountains, the contour lines are generally at a shallower angle.  That can look nice, and I might think about adding it at some point.

As I mentioned earlier, the Iskloft mountains generally have snowy peaks.  Dragons Abound has an option for snowy peaks, but it works off the height of the mountains to only put it on the highest mountains.  I need to finagle it a bit to use it consistently:
The Iskloff mountains are fairly simple shapes, so I will turn off most of the embellishments that Dragons Abound adds to mountains:
That's a little too regular to my eye, so let me add some more perturbations:
The ridge lines on the Iskloff mountains are pretty heavy and fairly straight.  They're also present on every mountain.
Lastly, the Iskloff ridge lines slant back to the shaded side of the mountain.
(Here I've also flipped the shaded side of the mountain to match the Iskloff map.)  Overall I think that now looks pretty close.  I took one of the mountains and pasted it back into the Iskloff map.  Can you spot it?
Not terribly hard to spot, but it fits in fine.  At some point I might try to replicate the rest of the map -- but I'll have to add runes to my map borders :-).


  1. No, really, i don't see which one. You underestime your work, here !

  2. Thanks! (It's the one just under the S, by the way.)