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How do I make my map look good?


millo
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Take some time to look for real world references that you like. Try to find some contrasting subthemes that fit your overall theme. For example an urban setting could have a storefront, a backalley and a parking lot. Then take your map overview and scribble in those areas. If you like how everything comes together start working off of your references.

What theme do you have in mind for your map?

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35 minutes ago, esspho said:

Take some time to look for real world references that you like. Try to find some contrasting subthemes that fit your overall theme. For example an urban setting could have a storefront, a backalley and a parking lot. Then take your map overview and scribble in those areas. If you like how everything comes together start working off of your references.

What theme do you have in mind for your map?

I originally wanted to have a medieval German art style but found it was too difficult for me to make without custom assets. I have now decided to either use a Aztec/Dust2 Theme because they are already a lot of assets available to me in those styles.

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See, you just gave yourself the answer! If you don't know ho to make custom assets, stick to those already present in the game. Most of us had started like that. If you want to make your own assets try first with custom textures/materials. Those are the easyest to make, up to certain quality level.

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52 minutes ago, Serialmapper said:

See, you just gave yourself the answer! If you don't know ho to make custom assets, stick to those already present in the game. Most of us had started like that. If you want to make your own assets try first with custom textures/materials. Those are the easyest to make, up to certain quality level.

I do use the game's assets but I can't make anything good looking with them. I'm alright at detailing the bombsites but the surrounding areas and walls are things that I struggle with.

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Is your question about how you make things pretty or how to devine certain areas in your map?

Most (beginning) mappers are too much focused on creating one corridor to another corridor leading to a hall that leads to a new corridor. And thats kinda not inspiring at all. So maybe try to think in logic and give each area a identity, something believeable. It helps if you know what theme you want at the start and think of this while building the layout. It also helps to find as many cool references as you can find. You can even create aa overview of the level and drop in reference imagine with lines to certain areas so u get a good feeling of how each place should look and interact with eachother.

Sometimes corridors are a must to block seightlines, but it doesnt always have to be a tight boring corridor. Like cobblestone has this open field near T spawn/mid which is alright or abbey has a small pathway devined by a fence with behind it a open beautiful field and blabla. 

 

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5 minutes ago, Roald said:

Is your question about how you make things pretty or how to devine certain areas in your map?

Most (beginning) mappers are too much focused on creating one corridor to another corridor leading to a hall that leads to a new corridor. And thats kinda not inspiring at all. So maybe try to think in logic and give each area a identity, something believeable. It helps if you know what theme you want at the start and think of this while building the layout. It also helps to find as many cool references as you can find. You can even create aa overview of the level and drop in reference imagine with lines to certain areas so u get a good feeling of how each place should look and interact with eachother.

Sometimes corridors are a must to block seightlines, but it doesnt always have to be a tight boring corridor. Like cobblestone has this open field near T spawn/mid which is alright or abbey has a small pathway devined by a fence with behind it a open beautiful field and blabla. 

 

I know what I want my areas to be but I am trying to make them pretty.

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One of the things that helped me when I started detailling maps was to analyse deeply existing maps. I made tons of screeshots of everything I found cool in maps and tried to understand why and how they did it. You can take a deep look at valve latest maps and even some really good ones from the community. For techincall stuff, having decompilled maps to see how they made stuff is really usefull too.

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I would suggest you not only look at photos of real locations, but maybe try to “copy” locations from other games set in the same theme. Say COD has some Middle Eastern locations. That’s because real locations will have loads of stuff you would need to custom model, and replacing with custom assets might make it ugly in your eyes, no matter what.

Another thing could be instead of going about to detail the whole map, pick one hero location you can see in your mind very well, say a bomb site or spawn (because they are probably more confined) and fully detail it. Make it a map of its own even, put spawns inside or just outside it so that you immediately see your work when you run it (rather than walking through lots of greybox).

I think you need to sift through your reference material to spot the main features of the location you are building, say a ramp and a tower, and work around those. Pick up on the details and patterns that create a location.

Last but not least, lighting does A LOT so you need to read up on how to properly light your map, and be patient trying different settings

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Always keep things simple early, and work from macro to micro. Instead of beautifying just one corner, make one texture (don't finish it) and apply it all over the map. Then make another texture, and apply it all over the map. Repeat that, until you have a somewhat solid texture set. By this time your map should start to resembles some place. Then you start detailing. Detail things like door ways, doors, windows, railings etc... and propagate them through the map. Try to reuse as much as you can so you can finish the map (it's very important to finish a map, even if you could make a better one by the time you are almost done). Then lastly, when everything is in place, work on lighting, set dressing and final polish (decals, little props, flowers, etc...). This process should tallow you to be creative and artistic in a manageable way :)

Of course that is just the dream... the reality is that we as artists tend to focus on the result, instead of the process. Enjoy the process and the result will be good, make lots of mistakes until things start to click.  I wish I could send this message back to my 15 year old self in the past. :lol:

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Show us some screenshots, maybe we can help if we can see what you're making. 

One thing that took me a long time to get over, is that your level will look crap for a long time. It only really comes together in the end. All maps look really crappy at the start! 

Personally when I start an environment (in your case, a new map), I do a very basic blockout of the rough layout to get a feel for it. Even if it ends up changing later, it's a good start and you can iterate on it. I then take one little section and make a little 'beautiful corner' of the map, that is quite highly detailed, to see what the final result could look like. Then, do what Minos said, and start applying what you learn there to the rest of the environment, bit by bit, working in large passes.

One other thing - lighting makes such a huge difference. It can make or break an environment. Look at what other maps do and try and replicate what they're doing.

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12 hours ago, Minos said:

Always keep things simple early, and work from macro to micro. Instead of beautifying just one corner, make one texture (don't finish it) and apply it all over the map. Then make another texture, and apply it all over the map. Repeat that, until you have a somewhat solid texture set. By this time your map should start to resembles some place. Then you start detailing. Detail things like door ways, doors, windows, railings etc... and propagate them through the map. Try to reuse as much as you can so you can finish the map (it's very important to finish a map, even if you could make a better one by the time you are almost done). Then lastly, when everything is in place, work on lighting, set dressing and final polish (decals, little props, flowers, etc...). This process should tallow you to be creative and artistic in a manageable way :)

Of course that is just the dream... the reality is that we as artists tend to focus on the result, instead of the process. Enjoy the process and the result will be good, make lots of mistakes until things start to click.  I wish I could send this message back to my 15 year old self in the past. :lol:

Wow, that sounds almost like what this guy is saying 

 

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56 minutes ago, PogoP said:

Show us some screenshots, maybe we can help if we can see what you're making. 

One thing that took me a long time to get over, is that your level will look crap for a long time. It only really comes together in the end. All maps look really crappy at the start! 

Personally when I start an environment (in your case, a new map), I do a very basic blockout of the rough layout to get a feel for it. Even if it ends up changing later, it's a good start and you can iterate on it. I then take one little section and make a little 'beautiful corner' of the map, that is quite highly detailed, to see what the final result could look like. Then, do what Minos said, and start applying what you learn there to the rest of the environment, bit by bit, working in large passes.

One other thing - lighting makes such a huge difference. It can make or break an environment. Look at what other maps do and try and replicate what they're doing.

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1690431421

screenshots there

Edited by millo
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