Solo Shapes Under the Sky I

(This is a thread from Mizahar's fantasy role play forum. Why don't you register today? This message is not shown when you are logged in. Come roleplay with us, it's fun!)

The Diamond of Kalea is located on Kalea's extreme west coast and called as such because its completely made of a crystalline substance called Skyglass. Home of the Alvina of the Stars, cultural mecca of knowledge seekers, and rife with Ethaefal, this remote city shimmers with its own unique light.

Moderator: Luminescence

Shapes Under the Sky I

Postby Dust on September 1st, 2016, 2:39 am

Summer 1, 516 AV
daytime

Markets were dangerous things. Or at least distracting things. Dust had started at Surya Plaza -- so conveniently close to home! -- for breakfast and maybe a little something shiny. She'd wound up tromping halfway around the mountain as something shiny turned into a gleeful foray through cases of everything a would-be mapmaker could ask for, followed by a quest for the absolute perfect shirt. Plus pants to go with it. The pouch of sling bullets she'd added in along the way was just bonus, sort of. Way better than throwing rocks, so she'd just had to have them too.

That had eaten up her whole morning. Afterwards, she'd put most of the new stuff away. She didn't need it right now... except the toolkit. That was nifty and shiny and absolutely had to be experimented with immediately! So it was that Dust settled herself on an out-of-the-way stoop along the edge of the plaza, her prize spread out before her.

The kit came in a varnished wooden case with a simple latch. Opening up the box, she removed all the parts and pieces, one by one. Rolls of parchment, loosely bound by rings of cloth, filled about a quarter of the case. Next to them was a section packed with small jars. One of them was filled with a fine white powder that smelled faintly of fish. Another held a different white powder; it felt extremely dry on her skin. The third contained liquid, faintly yellowish, which smelled of pine and maybe something like licorice. The last held what was obviously pitch, sticky and all but solid, which to her nose smelled more like fir trees than anything. Behind everything was a thin board which looked like it should come out of the case. She could tell there was nothing behind it, so left it in place.

Dust knew what to do with parchment, although these sheets were large enough to be kind of daunting, compared to the book she usually worked in. The rest of the stuff was a mystery to her. She set them aside to figure out later.

The other half of the case held everything Dust could ask for to draw with. There were brushes ranging from tiny to what she considered normal-sized; feathers of similar spectrum; ink and charcoal sticks; a dainty little knife to sharpen with. Her exploring hands found cakes of ink, a small jar of water, shallow bowls for mixing in, an an even shallower near-flat palette. It had straightedges, large and small, and two sizes of an odd two-legged tool the Kelvic didn't recognize offhand. Playing with the larger one proved it was moveable; the legs could be narrow or wide apart. Maybe it was for measuring? As good a guess as any.

In the last corner were a couple of cloths folded up, and one wrapped around a block that left shiny gray streaks on her fingers when she touched it. Dust bundled it promptly back up; she didn't need to make a mess. There was also a folded-up piece of practically see-through cloth. For tracing, maybe? She didn't need that now, either.

ledgermapmaker's toolkit - 22 gm
shirt, linen, blue - 0.15 gm
pants, linen, gray - 1.2 gm
belt, leather, natural - 0.4 gm
pouch - 1 gm
sling bullets (x30) - 0.3 gm

total: -25.05 gm

Image
Common | Pavi | someone else
User avatar
Dust
Player
 
Posts: 293
Words: 160562
Joined roleplay: October 21st, 2012, 7:31 pm
Location: Syka
Race: Kelvic
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Journal
Plotnotes
Medals: 1
Donor (1)

Shapes Under the Sky I

Postby Dust on January 4th, 2017, 5:34 am

After she'd fully investigated the contents of the kit, Dust packed them all back away. All she held out was one of the ink sticks and the little knife for sharpening it. Nifty though it all was, right now she just wanted to draw in her own book, and the majority of the kit was superfluous to that purpose. Setting it aside, she focused on shaving the ink stick to a nice point -- not too sharp, because sharp points broke; just sharp enough.

One thing she'd eventually learned, after lots of drawings, was that oblong points also broke less, and wore down a little less, than round... and they were a little easier to make, too. So it was that Dust pared down two opposite sides of the stick until they tapered into the width she wanted, then cut the other two somewhat less. She held it up in the sunlight from time to time for a better look. But once that was finally done --

-- now she could draw.

Or, well, not really. Back when Dust had mapped Riverfall, she'd done so just by walking all the streets, putting her map together piece by piece. It had been -- and still was -- an ungainly map, lopsided and out of scale. It worked for navigation, if only because all the streets were there and connected in reflection of reality, but... really, she was sure she could do quite better.

Not to mention, Lhavit sprawled over a much larger area than Riverfall proper, what with having five whole mountaintops counted within its span. Walking all that would take forever, and be so exhausting she wouldn't even want to draw! So Dust had decided to take a different approach... albeit one fraught with its own difficulties: she would map the city as a raven saw it.

So, in truth, it wasn't time to draw yet; it was time to fly. Setting aside her clothes, the book open to a waiting page, the ink stick ready for use, Dust changed forms and took to the air, the better to view the city below.

She would just focus on Zintia for now, because it was the center, and because it was where her book lay waiting. Dust envisioned the central peak getting a page all to itself. As she climbed upwards, surveying the tableau below her, it occurred to her that the port should probably be included on that page, too; it sat there closest to Zintia of all the peaks, after all, and the path to it extended down Zintia's slopes. So she would need the shoreline... probably towards the outside of the page... which curved like so, a little point to the west, a shallow cut inwards, then the concave hollow which held the docks.

That would be her first reference on the page. Fixing the image of that contour -- and only that image -- firmly in memory, Dust dove back down to the plaza. Human hands drew the coastline with careful deliberation, pressure light so that adjustments could be readily made (more or less) if needed. A second line marked the span of the port proper along the shore, nothing more than a lateral drawn as placeholder for later embellishment.

All that was the easiest part of the whole endeavor, Dust expected; shorelines were pretty definite things. Mountainsides... rather less so.

Image
Common | Pavi | someone else
User avatar
Dust
Player
 
Posts: 293
Words: 160562
Joined roleplay: October 21st, 2012, 7:31 pm
Location: Syka
Race: Kelvic
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Journal
Plotnotes
Medals: 1
Donor (1)

Shapes Under the Sky I

Postby Dust on January 5th, 2017, 4:49 am

Dust took to the air again, keeping a small part of her attention on the things she'd left behind below. Not that she expected trouble to find them... but she was a raven. She knew how things could go.

Most of her attention, though, was dedicated to the puzzle before her: how to adequately render the mountain. Riverfall had been three-dimensional in its own way, but only a matter of a few terraces. They were easy enough to draw just as interconnected streets. But the mountain rose, oh, hundreds of feet between the city's bounds and the peak's summit... and while Zintia itself was terraced, even it was not nearly so regular in design as Riverfall had been.

First, she needed to define its outline. Its base, or rather the base so far as the city was concerned, because that would bound the space Dust could draw in. So she climbed up, and up some more, to where the strange moderating effect of the city gave way to altitude's natural chill, cool air nipping at the skin beneath her feathers. Fortunately the sun was bright and warm on her back, another characteristic of the upper sky. Sunlight glinted back from the facets of the city like stars held upon the earth; and the lowest of those glimmers marked the wall which encircled Zintia.

So armed with a point of reference, the white raven studied it carefully, memorizing segment by segment and dropping back to the ground to mark each lightly upon her page. With each new ascent, she double-checked the section she had just drawn, making sure its contours and relative positioning matched with the real thing. It was a long, slow process, but this was the part that needed to be absolutely right -- as she'd learned from past efforts, if the beginning was problematic, the whole rest of the would be no better.

Between studying the wall, considering and reconsidering her marks on the page, and then the time needed to fly up and down again... Dust spent what was probably a whole bell just getting an outline of Zintia that she was at last satisfied with. All this would be so much easier if humans could fly -- or if birds had hands as well as wings! But that was not the way of things. More's the pity.

The next stage... involved more lines. The rectangular form of Surya Plaza, first, which would be her map's next major reference point. Its position and dimensions were carefully reckoned against the contours of the wall and relative distances to the port, viewed and sketched and reviewed once more. Dust also took time to sketch in the winding path which led down to the port; it wouldn't get in the way of anything else, and wasn't really relevant to anything inside the walls' bounds except a single road. Plus, having even one thing she could actually call 'done' made for a nice little sense of accomplishment.

Plaza done, terraces came next, for they defined where buildings sat and streets rambled. At least on Zintia. Still marked only lightly, a curve here and a corner there, some of which might be strengthened later. Or maybe not. Dust hadn't decided, yet, how important -- and therefore how darkly inked -- the terraces should be.

In any case, that depended on the roads and buildings she hadn't added in yet. Those would make the page very busy, very quickly.

Image
Common | Pavi | someone else
User avatar
Dust
Player
 
Posts: 293
Words: 160562
Joined roleplay: October 21st, 2012, 7:31 pm
Location: Syka
Race: Kelvic
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Journal
Plotnotes
Medals: 1
Donor (1)

Shapes Under the Sky I

Postby Dust on January 5th, 2017, 5:25 am

Streets came first, Dust decided, because they were nothing more than lines of varying thicknesses. And besides, anyone who wanted to use a map to get around the city... would be navigating the streets. That made them important.

There was the road which connected to the port. That continued upwards, snaking around until it eventually linked up with the plaza. There were also roads to the two bridges, connecting Zintia with Shinyama in the west and Tenten in the east. They were not quite directly across from one another, the eastern bridge coming in a little further south. There was also the road to the Dusk Tower, with its expansive grounds and tall stone-and-skyglass construction. It had the air of being old, and important, so Dust make sure to carefully mark out the placement of both it and its street.

And then?

Finally -- after one more check to make sure everything looked as it should -- Dust could mark some things in for real. Like, permanently.

First, she touched up the point on her ink stick, shaving off a little bit more to correct its shape. Then she traced its tip along the finalized routes of the roads, lines becoming boldly dark against the page. A second pass on each touched up sections that were wider than others, adding carefully to the thickness of the lines. Afterwards, the Kelvic sat back on her heels and regarded her nascent map with satisfaction -- for she could actually call it now, a map, not just an outline with a box in the middle.

That was a very nice feeling. She almost didn't want to keep going -- but it would be even nicer to have the whole thing done.

So. On she continued.

Dust still hadn't decided how to address the terraces, and the winding maze of smaller roads was a daunting task to tackle, so she decided to shift gears altogether. Instead of roads, she'd continue with other major landmarks among Zintia's buildings. She'd already sketched in space for Dusk Tower. There was still the temple above the plaza, and the huge sundial, and the great big theater on the eastern side. She checked the placements of each of those landmarks in turn against her existing references -- plaza, tower, wall, roads -- adding each one carefully to her map.

It was starting to look crowded, Dust noticed. Oh, there were still plenty of open spaces on the page waiting to receive marks, but... well, if she packed them full of all the buildings in the city, she suspected the map might get altogether too busy to be useful. Kind of in the same way that checking everything against several reference points kept her busy, instead of just forging ahead and drawing. If you were counting all the shapes, you weren't really looking at the whole picture.

Mind, she needed her references while drafting, otherwise distortions crept in and made the map all lopsided and skewed. She'd learned that before. But reading the map, later, when it was finished, Dust wouldn't need to see every single building everywhere. (For one, she could just fly up for that...) She needed just enough landmarks to put her in the right area, so she could focus in on whatever she'd wanted to find.

Apparently, in maps, there was something to be said for simplicity. To keeping it to the point.

Image
Common | Pavi | someone else
User avatar
Dust
Player
 
Posts: 293
Words: 160562
Joined roleplay: October 21st, 2012, 7:31 pm
Location: Syka
Race: Kelvic
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Journal
Plotnotes
Medals: 1
Donor (1)

Shapes Under the Sky I

Postby Dust on January 6th, 2017, 4:29 am

So. If she wasn't mapping everything, what else did she really need to show?

It mostly came down to the terraces and the streets, Dust decided at last. Along with the major landmarks she'd already sketched in, those held the shape of Zintia's settlement. The terraces defined what areas could be built upon, and the streets were how anyone that couldn't fly got anywhere. Without those, well, what would there even be to map?

So passed the rest of her day. Terraces came first, sketched in careful solid lines one contour at a time. These stepped their way down the mountainside in each direction, casting lengthening shadows as the sun gradually descended the western sky. That raised a thought Dust filed away for later contemplation: mere lines on paper did not communicate the eminently vertical nature of Lhavit. There had to be some way she could include that in the map...

Perhaps inevitably, the terrace-sketching all went smoothly right up until the last handful. Something had been too big or too small or just not quite aligned and the space she had to draw the last ones in didn't match up with what she felt was needed for them. Dust stared at the gray marks for several chimes before realizing she had water and cloth and maybe if she was very careful with them, she could blot the faint traces out. Or at least to the point of being entirely ignorable. That took patience, a light but determined hand, and some time for the paper to dry in the sunlight before it was all done; perhaps half a bell all told.

In all the waiting, Dust realized she was getting hungry. Probably so for a while, really... she'd been so absorbed in her project, hunger had been beneath notice. Well, she was just going to pretend she hadn't noticed now, too -- she still had work to do!

Once the broad strokes of the terraces were set on her page, Dust -- finally! -- shifted her attention to the peak's lesser roads. In short order, she decided not to include all of those, either; she'd map out the medium-sized roads, but not the really small ones, the alleyways and narrow residential streets. With everything else she'd done, the roads were almost simple to place; she had each terrace as a reference point, and the roads tended to do predictable things in relation to the terraces. It was a good thing, too, because the dusk rest had come and gone, and the time was getting late indeed; Dust laid down the last of her street lines with only a few chimes of decent light left to spare.

Of course, Lhavit didn't consider night all that different from day in terms of activity, especially here on the central peak; but while Zintia would be lit and active in many places, it wouldn't be nearly the same for her purposes. But in any case, the bones of her map were done, and Dust indulged herself for a few moments, sitting back and looking upon it with satisfaction. It was a good map, by her measure, the best she'd made yet.

Now she could take a break for food.

Image
Common | Pavi | someone else
Last edited by Dust on January 6th, 2017, 5:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Dust
Player
 
Posts: 293
Words: 160562
Joined roleplay: October 21st, 2012, 7:31 pm
Location: Syka
Race: Kelvic
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Journal
Plotnotes
Medals: 1
Donor (1)

Shapes Under the Sky I

Postby Dust on January 6th, 2017, 5:04 am

After packing all her things back up to her room, and after eating, Dust took her book and her kit and laid them out in front of the fireplace. She'd inked the major roads in firmly, but everything else remained just faint traceries, with darker spots here and there where her enthusiasm had maybe gotten a bit ahead of her. At this point, she had really two decisions left: how to delineate the lesser streets, and how to show the verticality of the terraces. The major buildings also needed to be emboldened, but those would be pretty straightforward -- they were what they were.

The main roads, she'd penned in dark solid lines. That made them stand out, striking, drawing the viewer's attention. The smaller roads probably shouldn't be as assertive; how else was one to know they were less important? So... maybe broken lines for them, little dashes all in a row like stitches in clothing. Yes, Dust decided she liked that idea. And... oh, maybe she could do horizontal lines for the stairs where roads climbed terraces. That would be clever!

It was already kind of too late to incorporate those on the main streets, but oh well. She could draw those lines over the bold streets and pretend it had all been planned that way.

Resharpening her ink stick, Dust set to work. Penning broken lines proved to quickly be even more tedious than drawing straight ones, and she didn't even have the necessary diversion of periodically checking her subject matter -- everything was already on the paper! Dash, dash, dash... turn the book a bit... dash some more... Some dashes came out shorter, and others came out longer, especially when her thoughts started wandering. That wasn't so much like stitches, at least not good stitches. The Kelvic decided it was too much effort to try fixing, when she noticed the variations in her line lengths; better to go on, because onward meant closer to being done.

Even with all that, though, she was pleased by the final effect -- bold main roads, quieter side roads, and stairs up the terrace walls. Now she just had to do something for the terraces themselves. Some kind of shading, maybe? Hmm...

The view was from above, looking down at all parts of the peak. She could pretend the sun was on one side and make shadows on the other, but then the terraces closest to the sun would hardly get any shading at all. The page also didn't have any actual altitude for her to work in -- all the walls were just lines without depth. Adding depth would take away from the terrace surfaces. After all the effort she'd gone through on those, that was not a palatable prospect!

But what if she shaded the terraces themselves in layers? The lowest ones could be a dark color, lightening upwards towards the summit, which wouldn't get any shading at all. That seemed workable, as long as the shading didn't override her roads... which called for a medium other than her ink stick, however beloved. Dust broke out a piece of charcoal and sharpened it down to a similar elongated point -- sturdy, not too thin, and better for shading than a round would be, just because it covered more space at once. Then she started at the top, very lightly, working from the inward border of each terrace outwards. Step by step, she added more pressure with each level down. That proved a bit of a difficult balancing act, making each level distinct from the one above it yet not darkening by too much... and one Dust kind of flubbed, when she got to the last level and found the charcoal wouldn't even get any darker than she was already shading. But at least most of the mountain showed its tiers. And even at its darkest, the charcoal coloring really did differentiate itself from the ink -- it was a little browner, a little less dark than the ink, and also considerably less consistent. She'd have to remember that for later.

Using the charcoal also had a less happy effect. It got all over her fingers in a way the ink sticks didn't really do, and then her fingers left little smudges of charcoal everywhere. Sadly. They made her pretty map... just a little less pretty.

But Dust was still happy. And on that note, she put all her things away and called it a night, because really, this had been a very long day!

Image
Common | Pavi | someone else
User avatar
Dust
Player
 
Posts: 293
Words: 160562
Joined roleplay: October 21st, 2012, 7:31 pm
Location: Syka
Race: Kelvic
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Journal
Plotnotes
Medals: 1
Donor (1)

Shapes Under the Sky I

Postby Maro on May 13th, 2017, 11:26 pm

Image
Dust


Skills

+Cartography +5
+Drawing +5
+Investigation +1
+Logic +1
+Observation +3
+Tactics +1
































Lores

-Mapmaker Kit Mysteries: White Powders, Yellow Liquid, and a Compass
-Ink Sticks: Oblong Points Are the Best
-Lhavit: Composed of Five Mountains
-Cartography: Mapping "As the Crow Flies"
-Cartography: Start with Small Areas
-Zintia: The Central Mountain with a Road to the Port
-Cartography: Begin with a Reference Point and an Outline
-Cartography: Early Mistakes Ruin a Project
-Streets: An Important Part of a City Map
-Drawing: Start with Light Marks So Changes Can Be Made
-Cartography: Identify and Plot Landmarks
-Cartography: There's Something to Be Said for Simplicity
-Cartography: Depict Elevation Changes with Horizontal Lines
-Drawing: Erase with Wet Cloth and Sun Dry
-Cartography: Make Busy Streets Bolder
-Drawing: Use a Different Medium for Shading
-Drawing: Charcoal Smudges

Notes :
Wow. Well done, Dust! I love the way you describe the city from a bird's eye view. It really does allow for a unique way of making maps. I will always feel new to grading, so if you think I missed anything or want lore rephrased, just PM me to let me know. I'm happy to work with you, and often times, I think I forget to award some less noticeable skill XP. Please make sure to edit your request to 'graded' in the queue.
Maro
Player
 
Posts: 176
Words: 179660
Joined roleplay: August 11th, 2014, 1:56 pm
Race: Kelvic
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Medals: 2
Donor (1) Power Fork (1)


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests