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City Maparts


Staff member
Creation of city maps

First of all I'd like to thank MsAmelie_LaCroix, Ofilos, Squid_Squadder, FadedPolaroid, N3komancer, TehCaptainAndy, Mixirawr and all those who have been very supportive of my mapart and helped me keep my motivation high :)

The timeline - 6 months

So I started the city mapart series back in March/April and began with London as it's my home city, it was only natural for me to progress onto Paris as it's a very popular and artsy city. After I completed these two I came across an issue when someone made a copy of the Paris mapart from the location I built it in the end (this is also why the version of Paris has changed), at the time I didn't really react to it other than being severly disheartened to finish the series. It was also at this time I was very angry that the server rules didn't really protect mapartists and their work, much like how towny / rule enforcement can protect against grief/stealing.

I took a 2 month break from art due to this issue, and even when I came back to art I didn't continue the city series. It was mainly the support for city maps that gave me motivation to finish the series, I had countless people messaging me when they'd be available, and I had planned for them to be given out like a prize draw but more issues kept coming up. One of these issues inclucded people reselling and distributing maparts since there is no rule saying this kind of stealing isn't allowed, it once again made me rethink even finishing the current maps I'd been doing (at this time Sydney was barebones). It was also due to the fact people could distribute maps freely that I stumbled across a copy of Paris again, but this time a legitimate copy that a friend must've copied when I showed them a preview. It was only after this mess of a situation was resolved (and another rant that won't be posted on forums) that I chose my course of action going forward with city maparts.

Issues and their respective solutions

1. People finding the source material in the end and making their own copy - this was pretty easy to address, after I've completed my art I now put a red copyright symbol in the middle of it so if anyone does find it they'll be making a fake copy. It's a preventative method but you can also cross reference map ID's to check who has an illegitimate copy.

2. Reselling and distribution of art without permission - now this is the biggest issue since server rules don't explicitly say stealing in this way isn't allowed and therefore doesn't protect mapartists; my method of addressing this was to place signs in my shop stating that buying my maps means you agree not to do this. This means that it now falls under the rule of "Honor verbal agreements with other players, as long as the agreement does not violate other stated server rules." I suggest all mapartists use this method to protect their art.

I have also taken it a step further by implementing an order system via book and quill, I tried to keep it short, we all know people hate reading... it basically means anyone buying the city series has to own one of these books signed by me, and if I see someone who didn't buy mapart from myself then it will be confiscated. I'm trial running this system to educate people on not to resell/redistribute maparts.

Pricing of mapart

I decided to make the city maps cheaper, partly for compensation for it being delayed for 4 months, but also because now the order form system allows me to monitor who has my art and how many copies they have. Without this system I would have priced these maps even higher than 50k as they've taken so much time and lots of expensive resources were used (remember when I was buying cobwebs for 3k/stack :D)

Previously, my other maps are more expensive because by charging a high price I'm at least making a guaranteed amount on my maparts in case someone does decide to resell or secretly redistribute to their friends. Before this method, you could say the people who are buying maparts are actually paying the additional price for people who are redistributing without my permission. I don't feel comfortable changing the price (50k) since a lot of people have already bought them, but going forwards I'd like people to not distribute my art so I can charge a lower price.

The technicalities behind the city series (and my mapart in general)

All of these maps are 128x128 blocks, they're mostly 2D with small areas of height used for basic shading and definition. Here I will show you the source materials I used and try my best to explain the processes I undertake to accomplish the final outcomes.

I started out with a theme of doing greyscale iconic buildings with red prominant objects however things had to be because Sydney was impossible with all the BLUE water... It was put forward by Squid_squadder that it could be evolving from greyscale to full colour and that is what I decided to do with Rome being full colour. The hours estimated below are on average, but the city series took a lot longer (indecisive me).

London - Pretty much as it is in image

Paris - I made a new sky for the final version

Sydney - A very annoying mashup of these two images
harbour-1.jpg sunsetwaves.jpg

Rome - I used a darker sky to highlight the Colosseum building a bit better


Step 1: Making the canvas (2-3 hours)
I usually find making the canvas first most productive as once I've found an image I don't really want any interruptions to building the mapart on the server. I make the canvas out of cobblestone/stone so I don't get confused while building on top of it, you can use any blocks but remember glass is transparent :p

Step 2: Finding an appropriate image(s) (2-4 hours)
This means finding an image where you think the colours will translate well onto the minecraft palette.

Step 3: Editing and colour manipulation - GIMP (8-10 hours)
If the image you found isn't square then you should crop it using aspect ratio 1:1. If it's a mix of images then you can use GIMP (like photoshop) to edit images together how you want them to look, for example in the Sydney mapart I chose to only use the Opera house and forgo the bridge then decided to use the sunset reflecting off water as a background. Most of my maparts consists of more than 1 image because it's rare to find one I'm completely happy with.

The next step of my editing process is to convert the image to indexed colours - basically limiting the amount of overall colours used in the image. I then use colour selection tools to change the original colours of the image into colours that are available in minecraft maps. I'll sometimes index and change colours before I edit images together if I feel like the images aren't compatible with minecraft colours. Once I'm happy with my overall image I configure the grid by dividing the image size by 128, this give me a chunk by chunk (total 64 chunks) guide to work from when I build it in on the server.

all colours.png

Step 4: Gathering or buying materials (I have a stockpile of stuff so I haven't needed to in ages, can't give an estimate)
I usually try to use a mixture of concrete and terracotta as it's the cheapest and most efficient to dye. The most expensive/rare blocks I've had to use so far have been cobwebs and iron blocks (which I just found out you can use pressure plates xD)

Step 5: Building the mapart (36-50 hours without distractions)
I use my player vaults and shulker boxes to organise the materials by colour / area of the image. I start on the main focus of the image by following my chunk guide and do a rough outline with the materials, I keep the map in my offhand/hotbar for constant reference or I'll put it in a itemframe nearby. Depending on the image more than one outline is required before shading and filling in begins. Once the outline is finished I'll keep a myriad of different materials in my hotbar and work on areas of shading and definition within the outline, switching out colours on the go if they look strange and out of place on the map - to be honest the Eiffel tower was a bit of a semi random spam ;/ but it works... kinda xD

Finally once all the main, detailed components of the map are done I shift my focus to the background or areas where it's filling in one or two colours. For example the progression of Sydney mapart started with the whole Opera house outline, then breaking it up into each triangle thingy then filling those in. The background started from the bottom with the dark blues where the sun isn't reflecting off the water, I then switched to the top to do the sky and slowly merged where sky and water met.

I like to keep a map at my market shop now so it updates as I work, I wouldn't recommend standing there watching it 24/7 lol but maybe pop by and see the progress of the art.

If you have any questions regarding mapart feel free to msg me on the server, on discord or reply in this thread.

- WoolFeh