Mont-Saint-Michel – Work in Progress 4

 

Originally, I’d intended to post again once I’d finished the upper town, but I decided to push on and finish up the gardens as well. So this is the entire ground level of the town complete. Aside from two small buildings on the north side of the island, the only thing left is the abbey. It’s hard to say for certain, but I think this was the hard part. I really hope this was the hard part. This part was super hard.

One other thing I need to talk about is how long this will take and how I’m going to handle it. I estimated a month at the start, but it’s going to take another month at least. I could pause and work on a Cartographic Congress map or Brazenthrone, but I really don’t want to do that. I am very much in the zone right now, I’m getting a lot done and as long as the boiler is burning hot, I want to keep steaming ahead.

So, this is the plan: I’m going to push through and finish Mont-Saint-Michel. Afterwards, I’m going to knock out whatever Cartographic Congress maps are waiting to be drawn. Then, I’ll draw an equal number of Brazenthrone maps in a row, plus one.

I really hope everyone’s cool with me putting everything else on hold for this. I didn’t realize how much work Mont-Saint-Michel would be, but hopefully you’re liking it so far.

Mont-Saint-Michel – Work in Progress 3

 

I feel like things are starting to get kind of real now. This is most of the town finished, including the local church (Saint-Pierre’s) at the top with the cemetery below it. There’s also a gambling hall, some gardens, a bunch of houses and, at the top left, a building known as the House of the Spinning Pig (“Truie-qui-File”).

The story behind this is that, apparently, some guy taught his pig to spin thread and he used to take it out in the streets where people would watch it perform. Eventually some religious authorities caught wind of it and told everyone what a delightful miracle this pig was. The man and his pig became famous and lived happily ever after.

I’m kidding, of course. They accused the guy of having demonic powers and lit him on fire. The pig, too. The middle ages weren’t a great time to be different.

Anyway, just thought I’d share that. I’ll be back in a few days with the rest of the town and the gardens.

Mont-Saint-Michel – Work in Progress 2

 

I hope you all had good holidays! The Mont has grown a good bit lately. There’s more of the town and the walls finished to the east of the gates, along with the Tour de la Liberté (“Tower of Freedom”).

And below, there’s the barracks with its own barbican and the Tour des Fanils (This sort of means “Stephanie’s Tower.” I think. It’s complicated). In the northwest corner is the Tour Gabriel (“Gabriel’s Tower”), a huge artillery tower with a windmill and a lookout tower built on top of it. Yeah, I’m thinking it too. I heard you like towers.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One other thing I wanted to mention: the arrows at the top or bottom of staircases indicate which direction is up. Maybe that’s obvious, but I just wanted to make sure.

Okay, that’s it for now. I’m gonna draw more of the town next. I’ll be back to show you when I’ve got a few more pages done.

The Tarrasque – A Collaboration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, a few months ago, I was asked to draw part of a map of that a bunch of other artists would be working on. The map was of the innards of a tarrasque and the idea was that each person would draw a different organ.

I was asked to do something different, though: draw a building piercing through the side of the creature. Why? Because *Ralph Wiggum voice* I’m special. I decided to go with a minaret, the pointiest buildings in all of architecture.

Anyway, there’s an adventure to go with it and a whole bunch of other stuff, which you can download here. It’s all free for everybody. All right, I’m gonna get back to work on Mont-Saint-Michel. I’ve got a few more pages to show you, which I’ll post either tonight or tomorrow.

 

Maps:
Mouth – Cze and Peku – https://www.patreon.com/czepeku
Saliva Gland – Neutral Party – https://www.patreon.com/neutralparty
Crop – Eightfold Paper – https://www.patreon.com/8foldpaper
L. Lung – Crosshead – https://www.patreon.com/crosshead
Heart – Maphammer – https://www.patreon.com/maphammer
R. Lung – Tom Cartos – https://www.patreon.com/tomcartos
Spleen – Dice Grimorium – https://www.patreon.com/dicegrimorium
Stomach – Domille’s Wondrous Works – https://www.patreon.com/dww
Pancreas – Roll For Initiative – https://www.patreon.com/initiative
Liver – Caeora – https://www.patreon.com/caeora
Gall Bladder – Tehox Maps – https://www.patreon.com/tehox
Duoddenum 1 – Cze and Peku – https://www.patreon.com/czepeku
Duoddenum 2 – Cze and Peku – https://www.patreon.com/czepeku
Duoddenum 3 – Dungeon Mapster – https://www.patreon.com/dungeonmapster
Jejunum – Fantasy Atlas – https://www.patreon.com/fantasy_atlas
Ileum – John Stevenson – https://www.patreon.com/imaginebetterworlds
Appendix – Cze and Peku – https://www.patreon.com/czepeku
Ascending Colon – Cze and Peku – https://www.patreon.com/czepeku
Ascending Colon 2 – DrMapzo – https://www.patreon.com/drmapzo
Transverse Colon – Meditating Munky – https://www.patreon.com/Meditating_Munky
L. Kidney – Forgotten Adventures – https://www.patreon.com/forgottenadventures
R. Kidney – 2-Minute Tabletop – https://www.patreon.com/2minutetabletop
Descending Colon – Cze and Peku – https://www.patreon.com/czepeku
Sigmoid Colon – J.Dungeonmaster –https://www.patreon.com/jdungeonmaster
Bladder – Venatus Maps – https://www.patreon.com/venatusmaps
Rectum – Afternoon Maps – https://www.patreon.com/afternoonmaps
The Minaret – Me
Miniatures:
Monsters:
Magic Items:
Music:
Belly of the Beast – Music d20 – https://www.patreon.com/musicd20
Tarrasque Interior – Tabletop Audio – https://www.patreon.com/tabletopaudio
Adventure:

Mont-Saint-Michel Work-In-Progress – The Gates and Barbican

 

Here’s a couple of pages I (mostly) finished inking to give you an idea of what this thing was going to look like. These are the outer gates and barbican.

The outermost entrance, the “Porte de l’Avancée,” is on the far left by the guardhouse. To its right is the “Porte du Boulevard.” And finally, for those especially persistent assailants, there’s the “Porte du Roi,” or the “King’s Gate.” This is protected by a ten-foot ditch crossed by two drawbridges– one for the main gate and one for the postern beside it– plus a portcullis and two sets of steel doors.

Here’s what the inside of the gatehouse looks like. The big thing on the ceiling is the back end of the drawbridge arms with a big counterweight in the middle. Pulling that down brings up both drawbridges. The release for the portcullis is in the room above. Dropping a big, sharp hunk on steel on someone’s head is a classic French move.

If you’ve looked at any maps of Mont-Saint-Michel, you might notice that there are some buildings missing from inside the barbican (the triangular wall). Those are fairly new and I’m removing them. This is going to be a little bit of a mish-mash of the Mont at different points in history. I’m including two postern gates in the east curtain wall which were bricked up a few centuries back. I’m also drawing in the “Grand Degré,” an inner gatehouse between the town and the abbey. It was dismantled, but I have diagrams of it from an old French book and it’s pretty cool, so I’m putting it in the map. I’m also including a windmill that used to be on the westernmost tower and a few other things. There isn’t enough information for me to roll everything back to the middle ages, but I’ll do what I can.

Mont-Saint-Michel – Work-In-Progress

 

Here’s Mont-Saint-Michel so far. First, I want to talk about what’s finished, then I’m going to talk about some of the unusual things I need to do to get this map done right.

So, this is the town at the base of the abbey. The exterior walls and doors are finished, along with other details around the area, like fences and stairs (which are EVERYWHERE). The only interiors I’ve done are the gatehouse and towers, which are things I’ve been able to find information on in some old French books.

In other words: this is everything (in the town) that I’m able to find concrete information on. Finishing this up shouldn’t take nearly as long for one simple reason: I can start making stuff up now. These buildings aren’t famous and won’t have floor plans publicly available. And besides, they’re not the same as they were in the past. Currently, aside from a number of houses, almost everything else is hotels, restaurants and gift shops, about half of which are called “La Mere Poulard” for some reason.

Okay, now let’s talk about this map’s special needs. This place has two issues that make mapping it complicated:

  1.  Nearly every building has two or three exterior doors on separate floors. This place is built on a very steep rock and a ton of buildings have one door in front on the ground level, a side door on the second floor, then a back door on the third floor.
  2. Elevation is important with this map and the elevation here is insanely complicated. Drawing elevation lines isn’t going to cut it.

So, here’s how I plan to deal with this: First, the ground level of the map will show the lowest level of every structure as well as the outdoors. All ground level doors will be drawn as normal, but doors on upper levels will be indicated by a gap in the wall fill with a number indicating which level the door is on. If someone enters the building through that door, switch to the level of the map shown by the number. Pretty simple.

The solution I’ve come up with for explaining the elevation is the brute-force option: I’m going to make a separate elevation reference map that DMs can refer to when questions come up. I’ll label all the ledges and roofs with their approximate height over the ground below. How high is this to climb? How far do I fall from here? Am I above or below that guy? Check the elevation map. It’s not an ideal solution, but unfortunately explaining the elevation here means writing all over the map, so I’ll make one version with it and one without.

In other news, I’m learning a lot of French while doing the research for this. Not useful French, but I now know words like “pont-levis” (drawbridge), “poterne” (postern) and “bastillon” (bastion). Yay.

Okay, I’m going to get back to work.

Mont-Saint-Michel – The Plan of Attack

So, I’ve gotten some work done on Mont-Saint-Michel. Let’s talk about it.

I always knew drawing this map would be tough, but, after looking into it more seriously, I’ve come to realize that the logistics of drawing this place are insane.

Not that I’d let a thing like that stop me, mind you. I’ve never been the go-to guy for forest clearing battlemaps and I’m not about to back down from this because it’s big or hard to draw. But this is going to take longer than I thought and I want to share some of the reasons why:

  • The island itself is about 900 feet across, meaning the map will be around 200×180 tiles. Per floor.
  • I have about 50 different plans of this place. Some are of the town, some only show the monastery, some are from the past. I’m using about six of these as a reference to draw from, plus Google street view when those don’t give me the information I need. Mont-Saint-Michel is a complicated place.
  • It’s going to have to be drawn on a lot of different sheets of paper. The more you have to split a map across multiple pages, the more planning is required. For this map, I’m not sure how many it’ll take, but… look, some trees are gonna die.
  • The layout of this place is madness. Going into specifics would take way too long. Take a look around in Google street view and you’ll see what I mean. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really cool, but drawing it all in a way that makes sense is gonna be tricky.
  • Everything is really densely packed and almost all of the buildings are some strange shape. Hardly anything is just a rectangle.
  • I care about this map. A lot. I think Mont-Saint-Michel is an absolutely stunning place and I want to do this right. I think it’ll be worth it.

So, here’s my plan to slay this beast:

  1. Sketch the whole thing out. Chop it into pieces. (Done)
  2. Draw outlines of the walls and major structures of the town at full size. Make sure everything fits together. (Done)
  3. Draw in the walls, doors, windows, furnishings and other details. I’m starting on this today.
  4. Ink it.
  5. Scan it, assemble the pieces and color it.
  6. Repeat the process for the upper levels and roofs, the abbey and the back part of the island (which is mostly woods).

This is pretty different from my usual process and I don’t really have an ETA for you, but I’d like to think I can get it done in a month. I hope you’re cool with that. It’s a big project, but I think it’ll be pretty epic when it’s done. I’ll post some work-in-progress pictures along the way so you can see how it’s coming.

Dear Patrons: This is the map you’ve been crowdfunding for the last year.

 

As it stands, the dwarven city of Brazenthrone has 497 buildings with 2,247 rooms across 6 different levels of elevation and has taken around 1,300 hours to draw and color. I hope you like it so far. I don’t know if it’s the largest hand-drawn fantasy map ever made, but I’d say it might be when it’s finished.

There’s still plenty more to do, like the Old Quarter, the mines and a number of residential areas, but this is the core of the map finished and none of the rest will take as long. I mean, I don’t know exactly what the mushroom farms will be like yet, but they’re definitely not going to be six floors high.

 

These are the original hand-drawn copies of all this, which are currently falling off my wall. Yep, there goes another one. Each page is 11″x15″ (A3) in size and there are… I don’t feel like counting them. There’s a lot.

Anyway, next up is Mont-Saint-Michel, a fortified island monastery straight out of fantasy art, except it’s somehow a real place. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it looks like this. Man… everyone, let’s give France a round of applause. Well done, France. That is just… magnifique as hell.

If you’re not a patron and you’re interested in helping me make the rest of this monstrosity of a map, you can check out my patreon here.

Brazenthrone: History and Lore, 3rd Edition

 

As promised, here’s the 3rd edition of the lore. I added a summary of each of the different districts of the city and some of the more notable buildings, like the Freehammer Forge and the Amethyst Arcade. It’s stuff that I felt like I should explain for people who don’t have access to the DM notes. While I tremendously appreciate the 187 people who are funding the creation of Brazenthrone, I also want it to be usable by people who can’t afford to be patrons and people who won’t discover it until 10 years from now.

If you are a patron and you’ve read through the DM notes, there’s still a few new things here. There’s some advice on using the city under “Notes from the Artist,” there’s an explanation of how the city is lit under “General Information” and the last entries under “Foreign Relations” and “Society” are new as well.

And with that done, I’m going to begin the task of stitching every chamber of every floor of Brazenthrone into a single image. I’d guess that’ll take one day, maybe two, depending on how many times I crash Photoshop in the process. I’ll take a photo of the originals, too, to show you how many trees had to die for all this.