Solo Shapes Under the Sky II

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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.

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Shapes Under the Sky II

Postby Dust on September 1st, 2016, 2:43 am

Summer 4, 516 AV
daytime

After the full-day ordeal that had been her mapping of Zintia Peak, it took Dust several days before she came back around to the project. Days full of anything but mapmaking. She remained excited about the project, though, so it didn't fade far from her mind, and at last she essayed out with kit and book in hand. Dust was determined to do something easier this go-round, so she trekked west across the city, through Zintia and Shinyama to the agricultural expanses of Sharai.

What could possibly be easier to plot than a mountain full of fields and hothouses?

After some dithering, Dust settled on a rise near the Okomo Villa for her base of the day. She then proceeded to watch the odd, glass-horned goat-creatures for several chimes. It was kind of tempting to shift and go play with this year's kids, bouncing rambunctiously around the fields. But! She was not going to get distracted today, no. That was the best way to get absolutely nothing done.

At last, Dust opened her book to her map of Zintia Peak, looking over the image in the clarity of morning light. It... had its flaws, she knew. But she still loved it. It was great. And now she would do another one... on the next page. The very blank next page. This page would have to contain both Sharai and Shinyama -- or at least that was her plan. Each of those peaks was a bit smaller than Zintia, and they were also less busy, so it should all work out okay.

Ink stick sharpened, her clothes set aside, Dust shifted to raven and took to the air, surveying the peak below. She wasn't too worried about the coastline, so ignored all that; the river would be good to mark, though. Of course, everything started with the boundaries which defined the peak's settled area. Those she laid out as she had Zintia's, contours checked, committed to paper with a light hand, and rechecked before moving on to the next one. The bridge she drew only halfway, the other end to be finished when she continued with Shinyama. Last came the river, whose exact path the Kelvic was less concerned about; enough to show it passed between the two peaks, and maybe a little closer to Sharai than its neighbor.

This map wasn't about rivers, after all.

Once the outline was set, Dust found herself free -- free to consider the whole rest of the terrain beneath her. She'd actually never tried to depict much in the way of terrain before, never mind the different kinds of fields which patchworked Sharai's slopes. There were pastures full of cattle, plus the okomo's particular spaces, fields and orchards open to the sky, and of course everything under skyglass. There were roads linking fields to barns, and fields to houses, and ultimately everything to the bridge in the east. The Okomo Estates would need to be noted as a landmark, at least collectively, and the Villa directly below her, because what was more important on Sharai than its special goats? Nothing, of course!

The roads and the landmarks would be enough to focus on for now. She tucked away the problem of landscape to mull over in the meantime.

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Shapes Under the Sky II

Postby Dust on January 7th, 2017, 5:09 am

She started with the central roads on the peak, winding their way up to the Villa and around to the Estates. The buildings of the Villa, few as they were, Dust marked with their own distinct rectangles; she also sketched a curve for the hill. The sprawl of the Estates... those, she opted not to draw individually, but just to sketch an amorphous blob marking the neighborhood's bounds. Simplicity, right? The map didn't need to show all the houses, it just needed to communicate the fact of houses.

Representation, Elem had called it, once upon a time. Maps represented what was actually there.

So how did she want to represent the fields?

Symbols, Dust decided, looking at the cultivated slopes spread out before her. Her map book used symbols for mountains, trees, grass... she could do that here.

Oh... and the mountain itself, too, the rise of its slopes towards the summit. Shading like she'd done with Zintia's terraces might make her symbols hard to see. It was one thing with the roads -- the eye liked to follow lines -- but another to pick out little icons here and there against a darkened background. That... didn't seem like a good solution.

Sharai had its own terraces, but they didn't have the same sense as those on Zintia; all the terraces were fields, pastures, crop-growing space. The crops probably didn't really care if they were on one terrace or another, and the terraces didn't necessarily have to be wide enough for buildings and roads, so they'd been made in all kinds of funny shapes. Ones that would be a pain to draw...

She could do pretend terraces, though. Just lines, marching their way up the slopes, closing in on the peak. Dust liked that plan; it was easy, and it was representative. So she set about effecting it.

With her roads and landmarks sketched into place, and everything else just space to be filled with symbols, Dust didn't need to reference the actual mountain anymore. Accordingly, she returned to earth, settling in reclothed against a sun-warmed boulder, book braced against her knee. The lines came first, following the shape of the settlement's bounds, proceeding inward at... more or less even intervals. She just had to stay the same distance from the line below, easier said than it really was to, but as long as Dust didn't get impatient -- which she admittedly did, from time to time -- it worked out okay.

It helped that Sharai had a nice simple shape, a kind of rounded rectangle with a dent in it. It made for easy drawing.

After all her rising-slope lines were done, Dust took the time to more firmly ink in her roads. She'd left them for second because they cut across the slopes, and because they were darker; it was better to draw darker things after lighter, she'd found, because her hand got used to the pressure and then things that were supposed to be light didn't stay that way. The Villa buildings had their bounds similarly finalized, before Dust detoured to draw a little goat in the pasture near them. It wasn't much of a goat -- an oblong body with four stick legs, an egg-shaped head with the point angled down, and two thin upended V-shapes for horns because she didn't have nearly enough room to detail spiraling contours. But it looked like a goat! ...mostly.

technique noteDust's 'pretend terraces' here are a novice version of contour lines.

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Last edited by Dust on January 8th, 2017, 6:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Shapes Under the Sky II

Postby Dust on January 8th, 2017, 5:08 am

Drawing goats was kind of fun. Dust couldn't help but doodle a few more out in the 'pastures' of her map, though she probably shouldn't have. Maybe. Sharai was home to a lot of livestock, too, not just growing things. In any case, she wanted more of them, so more there were.

After that, the Kelvic continued drawing things -- houses, this time. Box-with-triangle-on-top houses, little cottages and larger two-story houses all mixed together inside the blob representing Okomo Estates. She gave them all doors and windows and lines along the rooftops that didn't actually do anything to help them look more like sheets of skyglass. She didn't try making these drawings match up to actual houses on the streets, or put anything like actual neighbors close together; it was just about the idea of houses. Lots of houses.

That was fun.

When it was all said and done, Dust felt a distinct need to get up and stretch, reaching up for the sky and then down towards her feet. She needed to move, too; she'd been sitting for rather a while. Long enough for lunchtime to be approaching, in fact! That was an oversight in need of fixing, and a good reason to go for a walk.

Lunch and more walking afterwards wound up taking Dust to Shinyama, rather than back to Sharai. She had half the day used up already, and another peak to plot; Sharai's landscape symbols could wait for later, since they didn't need anything but light, her inkstick, and the prepared page. The initial steps of mapping Shinyama followed what was now a well-practiced pattern: first marking down the bounds of the peak's settlement, kind of like a drop of water preparing to spill off a leaf; then sketching in the roads, including the other half of the bridge to Sharai.

That brought with it a minor annoyance, as Dust found there was nothing she could do to quite make the line joins seamless. Apparently it was not a good idea to draw things in pieces when they didn't already come that way. Or else she needed to work at it harder, or better... some other time. For now, this would just have to do.

Maybe nobody would notice or care but her, anyway; she was the only one down in the dirt with all the lines, so to speak.

Similarly, what to do with the bridge to Zintia, Dust left as a problem for later. It connected to a whole other page, an issue she'd never had to address before.

Bounds and bridges and roads were followed by landmarks. Springwater Square, with its plaza and pool and fountain, each within the one before; she'd have to draw the fountain, too, or something like a fountain. There was Leth's Temple near the top, with its great round dome, and the squared tower of the Twuele right at Shinyama's summit. By contrast, the many-sided Pavilion sat all the way at the lowest tier, with the Monastery tucked away behind it, aloof and withdrawn. Dust did her best to make her representations of these buildings three-dimensional, drawing angles and sides a little slanted, a touch of the inkstick's side implying shadow. Kind of. They didn't really come out looking like what she saw, but they did seem to stand out a little from the page, so she counted it a success.

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Shapes Under the Sky II

Postby Dust on January 8th, 2017, 5:42 am

Which left... aaall the rest of the peak. It had winding roads and buildings without much in the way of terraces. Even 'pretend' terraces seemed like they wouldn't really work, because then it would look like the roads crossed them in places where nothing actually happened. Or that there was a terrace where buildings actually belonged. At least, that's how she expected it would turn out...

Shading seemed like the better idea. But shading her way up the whole mountain didn't seem quite right without the terraces as guide and definition. If she did that, Dust mused, it would just turn out as rings of darkening color. She squinted at her plot-in-progress, trying to envision what that would look like over its current state. Kind of like an island rising out of a dark sea, maybe, which was not a bad analogy... but nothing at all like the peak itself!

Not a good representation, that one.

So maybe she needed to shade something real, something actual. Dust spent some chimes contemplating the slopes around her, their rises and hollows, outcrops and fissures. They all cast shadows in the sunlight, and while she didn't want to shade real shadows -- because real shadows changed -- she could do something about darkening the low points. Or... not really the low points... but...

The idea floated around in her mind, not quite coalescing into coherent realization for some time longer.

Something about the drops and rises. The ones that really made shadows were the steep ones; shallow slopes just basked in all the light. So maybe she could do something about shading the abrupt changes...

It seemed like a workable idea, anyway; Dust set about implementing it. She hadn't really spent a lot of attention to the rise and fall of the terrain in her earlier maps, not beyond the artificially shaped terraces, so it took a little while for the raven to quite wrap brain and eye around how she needed to see in her next round of surveys. Not just the objects on the land, and not just the simple contours of it either, but how it rose and plunged and played with the light, plus what the patterns of foliage had to say about the land beneath.

Inevitably, she started with the easy parts: the places up high where only scrubby, wind-tossed plants grew, or stone so scoured and dry it hosted no flora at all. Bare to the sun as that high alpine landscape was, it yielded its contours readily to the raven's eye. She didn't try to reproduce them all, but just to mark the steepest slopes, filling them in with short staccato lines kind of like the barbules of a feather vane. Dust worked her way slowly down the mountain, in the process noticing a fortuitous side effect: it so happened that very few buildings were placed on the steeper slopes, for very good reason. Which meant that everywhere she was shading, was pretty much somewhere that had nothing else of interest. So it was a very good thing for her map!

...even if it did rather take for-ev-er. Lots of little lines ate up lots of time. It just might have been that Dust shortchanged a few slopes she should've penned in, and when she got to the lower parts of Shinyama peak, decided to call it quits altogether...

...but by then, she was very much due for more food, anyway!

technique noteThe slope-shading technique is 'hachure'.

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Shapes Under the Sky II

Postby Dust on January 8th, 2017, 6:21 am

The Dusk Rest saw Dust bundle all her things back over the bridge to Zintia, and have dinner, and spend a good solid bell running around the plaza poking her head into anything seemingly interesting that was going on. Mostly where music was involved, or people who seemed to be sharing a good story. One group of youths started up some kind of dance and didn't mind when she jumped in -- and probably got everything entirely wrong, not that Dust was self-conscious about that whatsoever. Hands up, feet moving, a turn here and a spin there; it was fun, and it got her doing, and that was fantastic!

Eventually, they went one way and she trucked back up to her room, where the map still lay waiting for her attention. Well, one-third of the map. The one-third that basically owned today. Dust sat herself down in front of the fire, touched up the point on her inkstick and brushed the shavings into the hearth, then looked over her work in progress. Well, half of it. She was able to ignore Shinyama Peak entirely.

It was just Sharai that needed her attention. And Sharai was nice, easy, friendly -- so that was all good.

She just needed some symbols.

Her real map book -- the one Dust had examined cover-to-cover so many times, it felt like the maps were burned onto the insides of her eyelids -- used sets of lines to make grass tufts. That would do well for pastures. Orchards would get trees, of course, leafy blobs with an outlined trunk. But what about crop fields? Lhavit grew all kinds of crops, and they didn't all have the same look like grass or trees... not that trees looked the same either, but fruit and nut trees had a definite type. What was the same about crop fields?

They got planted, watered, harvested. She couldn't use water marks, that would represent the wrong message entirely. Harvesting didn't look like anything -- people with buckets picking, or scythes swinging, or whatever suited the crop being harvested. Planting... involved plowing, which furrowed the ground. That also made the rows most fields were patterned in.

Ah! There was the thing she could use: lines for furrows or rows!

But not solid lines, because solid lines all in a row would look like roads. So broken lines then... which meant more little dashes. Dust squinted at the page, considering changing her mind. Or doing something else altogether, that didn't involve drawing on this map.

No, then it would still be sitting there, waiting for her. Staring at her through the cover of the book... not that maps had eyes... but she'd feel like it did. No, Dust really wanted this thing done.

So she filled the fields of Sharai. She drew scattered tufts of grass for a while, then switched to furrows, then made blobby trees and added little bits of shadow beneath them, always in the same direction. She made sure that no swath of one symbol type bordered another of the same type -- that would just make them look like one big field and defeat her purpose -- which took some puzzling together in practice. And whenever she got tired of making one symbol, she could just switch to another, wherever on the map she felt like putting it.

At last, she declared the final symbol was drawn! There were more than enough within the bounds of her map of Sharai to illustrate the spread of cultivated land across the peak. Which meant she could put it away, go to bed --

-- and do anything else tomorrow!

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Shapes Under the Sky II

Postby Wymez on December 9th, 2017, 3:58 am

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Skills
● Land Navigation - 3XP
● Observation - 2XP
● Cartography - 5XP
● Drawing - 5XP

● Logic - 3XP
● Bodybuilding - 1XP
● Investigation - 1XP
● Dancing - 1XP

Lores
● Sharai: Nothing more important than its goats!
● Location: Okomo Villa
● Cartography: Outline first, fill in later
● Cartography: Landmarks are easier than landscapes
● Cartography: Depict buildings with rectangles
● Cartography: Only notable structures need to be defined
● Cartography: Maps represent what's there
● Sharai: Nice simple shape
● Cartography: Using contour lines to define terraces
● Drawing: Goats! kind of.
● Drawing: Various simple houses
● Bodybuilding: Stretching helps after sitting for too long
● Drawing: Not always easy to match things up
● Drawing: Using shadowing, angles and slants to make things look three dimensional
● Location: Shinyama
● Location: Sharai
● Observation: Understanding the topography of an area
● Cartography: The use of relief and hachure to depict slope and elevation
● Cartography: Depict pastures with grass tufts
● Cartography: Depict orchards with trees
● Cartography: Depict crop fields with furrows

Misc/Penalities/Loot
A finished (basic) hand drawn map of Sharai and unfinished map of Shinyama. Wonderful job! Please make sure to update your ledger to include recent living expenses.

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Thanks for the read! Do let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding your grade and don't forget to delete/edit your request in the grading queue.
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