One way to reinforce the non-Human impression of your Highborn Elves, is to break away from long-standing real life Human design forms in architecture, urban planning, landscape architecture and the like. Stark and simple geometric designs are standard when Humans map out buildings and street networks: There are squares, rectangles, circles, octagonals and a combination of such simple geometric forms. Parallell lines are a favourite.
Fictive Elves on the other hand usually go well along with flowing lines, leaf forms, wave forms, perhaps simplified shapes borrowed from bottle-nosed dolphins, birds such as swans, swallows or eagles, and other elegant creatures and plants. In order to set Elves apart, one would expect that this plays true not only in surface decor but often also in the layout of buildings, gardens, streets, canals, road networks and modified landscapes (perhaps surrounding a mansion). One wouldn't expect Elves to resort to a mere gridwork, since that would be for Dwarves in their simpler moments or Humans when they can bother to even make an effort at urban planning. Instead, one would expect the layout of Elven cities, villages, farmed landscapes and so on to share some elements from their ornamental patterns.
Below are some quick experimental doodles to try out some of the proposed design principles, depicting map details of Elven roads or street networks, or perhaps canals? Nothing refined and perhaps nothing worth using, but maybe something to get the ball of imagination rolling:
And this doesn't even touch on such things as walkways, fountains, potential street lights, possible elegant and sweeping mosaic patterns inlaid into the road/street pavement, flanking statues, greenery and ways in which surrounding terraces, triumphal arches, buildings, bridges between towers and topography play into the overall impression of which this 2D layout is only a part. One would expect Elven urban planning and architecture to produce an artistic effect both on the ground and on the map. Likwise, Elven settlements would often be expected to make dramatic or soothing use of the landscape, often but not always favouring climbing heights or rolling hills over mere flatness, perhaps remodelling the landscape where necessary to better please their eyes (though not necessarily the cart-drivers!). Within reason, Elven practicality would probably often be adapted around the artistic layout of towns, buildings or roads, rather than the other way around. (Related to a fondness for slim, tall towers which look nice but leave a lot of walking up steps to reach a room.) And often, quirky features that would seem and act as an unnecessary minor hassle in the middle of a street's flow to Humans, would have the Elven denizens long since being used to it, forming their traffic behaviour around it in seeming harmony, even if the solution is pragmatically suboptimal.
One source of inspiration could be Elven patterns like this or this. Another could be natural forms, for example a whole city whose street map forms an eagle in flight seen from the side; some kind of flower or leaf; a street network mimicking a tree branching out; or something mulilayered such as a city wall and main street map which hints at a proud, rearing horse head with throat (symbolizing victory, rising power and shining splendour), while inside this, the canal network running up from the harbour resembles a stylized kneeling Elf maid crying in sorrow, standing for loss, decline and fading glory.
Just some tips for T9A artists and background writers. With fantasy Elves, the sky is the limit. You might want to take the chance for some daring novelties.
The post was edited 6 times, last by Karak Norn Clansman ().