Spotlight on Design 22 – Shrubbery and Vegetation
One of the greatest features of Stronghold allowing you to make great looking landscapes is the range of bushes and trees. They can take a map and transform the design. Equally, they can also ruin what could be a great terrain if they are placed incorrectly. Trees should not be treated just as a resource but as a design element that can really improve a map.
It’s widely recognised that the pine tree looks better on higher terrain, by coastal scenes or by lakes, and birch trees generally look better on lower gound. The oak and chestnut trees are equally effective lining the route of a river or for creating a thick forest as in the two screenshots below –
This screenshot taken from the map Beaumont Motte 1102 by Jack of all Trades shows a variety of trees lining a river valley in a very effective manner. Using different densities of trees also adds to the overall design.
This impressive forest has been created by Duke of York in his map Chepstow Castle. A forest like this is very easy to create and can fill up any void in your map. Not only is it a valuable resource for the castle but the overall effect is a very realistic and flowing map.
In the opening paragraph I mentioned how pine trees at higher levels are more effective while birch trees come into their own on the lower levels and around marshy areas. This first screenshot taken from Defenders of the Faith by Warlord Designs shows how a mountainous scene can be decorated with pine trees.
This second shot is from Brave Sir Robyn’s map Quiglesbury. It shows how birch trees can be used around a water source to great effect.
Shrubs are also very important in map design. Although small, they can add an extra touch in making a map more realistic and free flowing.
This island by Stratego in his map Islands against the Winds shows how this island is brought to life by the placement of various shrubs to give it a realistic grassland feel.
This screenshot created by NAT in his map the The Windswept Fortress shows how shrubs can also be used effectively in rocky and mountainous regions to give a very rugged feeling.
In Stronghold Crusader vegetation is equally important, spacing out of vegetation (both shrubs and trees) can give a very good desert feeling as shown in the screenshot below taken from Belvoir Castle designed by Sulis.
While this second screenhot shows the importance of vegetation around an oasis and how it can blend with the desert design. Waitandsee has created an accurate oasis in his map Bridge over Al-Sjadar by thinning the vegetation as the distance becomes greater from the oasis.