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Artwork Culsu's Art & Maps

BlackDragon98

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Honestly I'm surprised GRRM or another fantasy writer of his level hasn't hire you as a map maker yet!

Your stuff is much better than the official maps I see in ASOIAF.
 

Culsu

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I hope that you got generously compensated for your work! I myself could unfortunately never personally make maps as beautiful as these ones. :(
Compensation is... well, hopefully adequate most the time. There's a lot of competition in this little niche, and if you're doing the fully handdrawn stuff like I do you obviously can't compete with the prices that some Pakistani guy on Fiverr throws out for maps he's doing on Inkarnate or Wonderdraft with no or hardly any additions.

I do manage to schedule/plan most maps in a way that I end up above the comparable local minimum hourly wage, luckily.

As for you no being able to make something like my maps: honestly, ask me ten years ago and I would have said the same. What you see in this thread is, above anything else, the result of patience rather than inate skill. So, my advice to you? Give it a try!
Honestly I'm surprised GRRM or another fantasy writer of his level hasn't hire you as a map maker yet!

Your stuff is much better than the official maps I see in ASOIAF.
Huh, I was prepared to tell you that the guys and gals working for the big hitters are way better than me, but then I looked at Jonathan Roberts who did the maps for the GRRM compendium, and whose tutorials I used frequently in my earlier mapmaking days... and I think I don't have to hide my maps when compared to his (his GoT city maps are still way out of my league, though!).

That being said, most authors contracted by large publishing houses have little to no say in what kind of map artist does their stuff, which is why you get so many fantasy novels either using the authors' own (poor) sketches or using something that looks as if it's been slapped together in three hours by someone with a mouse in MS Paint: because it's cheap.

I've been doing this as an amateur, and now professionally, for close to ten years, which is why I can gauge how much effort any given map will take pretty well. Black & white maps? Around ten hourse, give or take a couple. Colored? Twenty plus. Adjust either for size and extra details, and you can get up to fifteen for the black & white maps, and... pretty much open ended for the colored ones. Longest time I ever sat at a map? Probably fifty hours.

Big publishers are ripe with horror stories of ripping off their creatives. Latest case in point. I guess what I'm trying to say is this: know your worth. Know what your time is worth. Don't work for name recognition, or to get a "big" industry name on your list of former clients, because nothing will ever come from it. Work the jobs that pay. If Random House or Marvel sent me an email tomorrow with a commission offer that amounted to the same stuff that Anna mentioned in the linked video? That'd either land in my trash folder directly or earn them a barely polite reply pointing out my rates and the required workload.

If you dig through all the horror stories from creatives a pattern will emerge, that pattern being that more often than not, the bigger the publisher, the shittier the pay. So I'd much rather work with indies and small publishers where things are negotiated fairly and up front, and if you don't find a middle ground, well that's life.
 
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Map WIP for a game with big stompy robots

Culsu

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Well, the irony. I had finally gotten around to start experimenting with battle maps for Battletech when the whole Blain Pardoe debacle's exploded onto the internet.

Well, maybe as an effort to show that you don't need official products to enjoy an IP here's a WIP of my very first battlemap usable for games with big stompy robots. It's not finished yet, but the basics are remarkably easy to establish once you've figured them out. Truth be told, the most time-consuming part is creating and/or searching for fitting textures.

So, withhout further ado, here it is. Always remember: it's a WIP!

 
Wooded Hills Ambush HexMap (Battletech-compatible)

Culsu

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Okay, here it is. I've refined it The map is explicitly compatible with the official hex sizes and nomenclature of BATTLETECH, but can also be freely used in any other context where you have to stage an encounter in such an environment. The map size is 18 x 22 inches (ie. 15 x 17 hexes).

I'm sorry for the watermarks, but you can get the clean file here on a Pay-What-You-Want base, meaning you don't have to pay for it if you don't want to (not that I'd complain if you left me a few shekels and/or a constructive review).

EDIT: I also looked at the official BTech map stuff, and aside from one exception I'm less than impressed. For example, I hope nobody cons you into paying $1.99 for this. That's 15 minutes of work, on a bad day. That's just no value for your money.

 
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Rolling Woodlands (HexMap 36x48)

Culsu

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Rolling Woodlands expands on the smaller pay-what-you-want map Wooded Hills Ambush, quadruppling the available size and turning it into one very large (36x48 inches) hex battlemap consisting of woodlands of variýing density, hills and cliffs of varying heights, and terrain of varying difficulty. The map is explicitly compatible with the official hex sizes and nomenclature of BATTLETECH, but can also be freely used in any other context where you want to play a prolongued battle in varied terrain with plenty of room for cover and maneuvering.

The map size is, again 36 x 48 inches (ie. 15 x 17 hexes) and is provided as print-ready (300 dpi) PDFs file as well as high quality JPEGs for your convenience. You get the complete map file, and the map in four parts for easier printing as well.

This one isn't free as it took me a whole lot if time and effort to get done, but $3.99 seems a fair price for a poster-sized battlemap to me. You can get it at DriveThruRPG.

 

Urabrask Revealed

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Huh. I believe these central hills are pretty good for taking control of the battlefield, aren't they?
 

Culsu

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Huh. I believe these central hills are pretty good for taking control of the battlefield, aren't they?
I'm going to let you in on a secret: I have no clue about the Battletech tabletop rules. 🤣

But yes, purely by logic they should give the party holding them an edge, though forests provide cover boni, afail (going by the PC game), so they aren't a direct "I win" card.
 

Bear Ribs

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Woods provide cover which gives an edge, but they also make movement slower which removes bonuses for moving fast. Ideally, you want to spend all your movement in a straight dash up until your last one that goes into the woods, but woods inconsiderately don't always grow in perfectly positioned 1-hex patches.

I'm really digging how varied this map is though, especially the lake, way too little water in most BT maps for my taste. One of the reasons boats tend to be never-used is because there're almost no maps with rivers, coasts, and lakes for them to operate in.
 

Culsu

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Woods provide cover which gives an edge, but they also make movement slower which removes bonuses for moving fast. Ideally, you want to spend all your movement in a straight dash up until your last one that goes into the woods, but woods inconsiderately don't always grow in perfectly positioned 1-hex patches.

I'm really digging how varied this map is though, especially the lake, way too little water in most BT maps for my taste. One of the reasons boats tend to be never-used is because there're almost no maps with rivers, coasts, and lakes for them to operate in.
I didn't want to have it look all samey. There are way too many official maps on DTRPG that are just utterly lazy (leaving out those from Kat Wylder). This here, for example, costs $1.99 and would take anybody only tangentially familiar with GIMP, Krita or PS probably all of 20 minutes to draw.
 

Culsu

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I've got a few more planned with different biomes, then I'll probably start adding buildings and the like. But before that: working on a large Kickstarter project under a tight schedule, so likely no great updates before October or so.
 
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