View Full Version : [Award Winner] Making Photo-realistic Trees in GIMP: A Mini-Tut
04-15-2010, 04:40 AM
Been a while since my last post; alas, school has kept me busy. In making my map of Eriond a few people asked about the method I used to create my trees. I had used Ascencion's Atlas style tutorial (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?4084-Award-Winner-My-atlas-style-in-PS) (converted by Gidde into GIMP) to create the map, but had added some slight modifications of my own. One such modification was to use the clouds generated "Hills" layer instead as a "Trees" layer. One problem I found however, was that since these clouds were randomly generated, the resultant trees that they yielded also appeared in random shapes, and in random places within my map, causing me to have to erase unwanted trees, and cut and paste trees in the regions where I wanted them. This made me cranky. Not happy with the original method, I figured that there had to be an easier way. After casting about for a bit for inspiration for a new method, I came upon RobA's "Making Not so Random Coastlines in GIMP" (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?875-Making-Not-so-Random-Coastlines-in-GIMP-alternative-method) tutorial. Thanks to Rob's brilliance, I got my new method, and here it is: not-so-random photorealistic trees in GIMP (see the .jpgs below for an example of what you should be able to get out of this tutorial).
Thanks to Ascension, Gidde and RobA for much of the inspiration of this method, and to Hohum for beta-testing it for me and providing me with helpful feedback.
EDIT: After two years of minor revisions, I have decided to rewrite an updated version of this tutorial. This updated tutorial now includes some custom patterns which you can find below. To install these, download the folder, unzip it, and save them to the patterns folder of GIMP. Then open or refresh GIMP and they should show up in the patterns dialogue.
Thanks! I edited the post in my big tutorial to point to this one.
04-15-2010, 07:15 PM
Thanks Rob! By the way, I just tested out this min-tutorial on a portion of my old Eriond map. Here are a few things that are not mentioned in the tutorial, but that I think would be helpful to point out:
Forest placement: When I wrote this tutorial, I was not using another map on which to place the forest shapes for these trees, hence, it did not matter where the forests went. However, I assume that anyone using this tutorial will probably already have a map laid out, and will want to be able to view that map when they draw their forest shapes (see Step 1.4.C.). To do be able to view your map as you work, I suggest placing the new layers of this tutorial below your map layers, and setting the layer opacity of your map layers at 60%. That way you will be able to see through your map to the tree layers you are working with below, but also be able to use your map as a guide for placing your forests. Once you have completed all of the trees layers, simply raise these layers to above your map layers, and than restore the opacity of you map layers back to 100%.
Adding shadows: (Step 2.4.A.) If you do not have the "Layers Effects" plug-in installed within GIMP, you can find it at the GIMP plug-ins registry located at this link (http://registry.gimp.org/node/186). You will need to register (for free) to be able to download this plug-in. Also, for the example below, I increased the size of the drop shadow to 5, the offset distance to 3, and decreased the layer opacity to 50%. For those of you who do not want to deal with downloading the layer effects plug-in (though you owe it to yourself to do so, it rocks!), GIMP 2.6 comes with a Drop Shadow feature (Filter > Light and Shadow > Drop Shadow). However I have not found it to be as easy to use as the Drop Shadow feature of the Layer Effects plug-in.
Forest Colors: (Step 3) Due to the green background of my map, I found that I had to add extra layers of color to make the trees stand out. In the example below, I duplicated both the Green and the Yellow Color layers (Step 3.1-2), and I set the layer mode of the Green Color duplicate to Multiply rather than Soft Light. Depending on which colors you have used for your map, and for these trees, you may find that you have to do something similar.
With that said, below I have included an example of how the forests of this tutorial might look when applied to an actual map.
04-15-2010, 08:02 PM
Looks Good. You deserve more rep.
Regarding adding shadows (Step 2.4.A.), if you do not have the "Layers Effects" plug-in installed within GIMP, you can find it at the GIMP plug-ins registry located at this link (http://registry.gimp.org/node/186). You will need to register (for free) to be able to download this plug-in. Also, for the example below, I increased the size of the drop shadow to 5, the offset distance to 3, and decreased the layer opacity to 50%. For those of you who do not want to deal with downloading the layer effects plug-in (though you owe it to yourself to do so, it rocks!), GIMP 2.6 comes with a Drop Shadow feature (Filter > Light and Shadow > Drop Shadow). However I have not found it to be as easy to use as the Drop Shadow feature of the Layer Effects plug-in.
One can always go old school to make a drop shadow...
*duplicate the layer
*lock the transparency
*fill with black
*unlock the transparency
*move the layer to offset
04-15-2010, 08:49 PM
This looks great. I will have to give it a shot. Thanks and take some more Rep!
04-15-2010, 09:20 PM
He, he. My wife says these trees look like Broccoli florets. She thinks I ought to rename this tutorial "How to make Broccoli Forests". One other thing I forgot to mention earlier:
Making room for Rivers: Since I was using a map that already had rivers running through it, I found that after making the shape of the Forests (Step 1.5.d.), I had to go back and paint black over the areas of the white tree shapes where the rivers ran. It's important to do this step before you create the Trees Outline Channel (Step 1.6.). This will save you from having to go back later and do allot of erasing to make room for the rivers. This same tip will of course apply to other geographical features as well. E.g. in the example I gave in my last post, I apparently didn't pay very close attention and allowed the forests to run into the sea. If I had been paying closer attention I could have simply painted black over that portion of the tree shapes to begin with.
04-18-2010, 11:34 PM
I was wondering about that! Luckily on my map, it was a small island and the river/stream wasn't essential. :-)
05-02-2010, 07:34 PM
Hello Again. So there were a couple of things about this tutorial that bothered me, and in talking with at least one other person who had used this tutorial, it seems that he had the same concerns. The first point of concern was that the forests seem to cut off too abruptly. The second problem, related to the first, was the the forests seemed to "hover" above the ground rather than to appear like an integrated part of the landscape. I've recently been experimenting around with a new map and have come up with what I think is a nice solution to both problems. I have created some "Individual Trees" patterns that I have painted underneath the forests (that is, just under the "Tree Bumps" layer). The result seems to be a much more natural looking forest. While at some point I will update the tutorial here to demonstrate how to make your own tree patterns using the method I've discovered, in the mean time I have uploaded three different tree patterns (each of which is a different hue) for anyone to use. Here is what to do:
Making the Pattern: after unzipping these files you will find that the images are all .png files. To use these as patterns within GIMP (or PS) you need to turn the .png files into .pat files (or, if you are using PS, whatever file is used for patterns), and then save them within the "Patterns" folder of your Gimp. Here's an easy way to do this. Right click on a .png and select "Edit with GIMP" (this will bring the image up in GIMP). Next, click on "File" and then select "Save As". Change the file type from .png to .pat. Click on your own user folder and double click on the "GIMP" folder. Once this opens, scroll down to the "Patterns" folder, double click it and hit Save. Now, close GIMP, and restart it again, and you should find the image has been added to your GIMP patterns.
Using the Trees Patterns: to paint with a pattern, select the "Clone Tool" and adjust the scale of the brush to about .50 pix. Select "Apply Jitter" and set the amount to 5.00. Under "Source," select "Pattern" and then select one of the tree patterns. Now create a new transparent layer (named "Individual Trees") just below that of the tree bumps layer (see tutorial). Now paint within and and along the edges of the forests (you may find that you need to adjust either the scale of the brush or the amount of jitter to suit your needs). You should see dots of individual tree clumps spring up all over the place. Once you have finished creating the individual trees, simply give the "Individual Trees" layer a drop shadow (see tutorial) and you are done.
Below you will find a couple of "before and after" images showing what a difference painting with these tree patterns can make.
05-02-2010, 07:59 PM
That looks fantastic. I'm going to have to give it a try on my next helicopter-view map!
05-02-2010, 11:20 PM
Yep, the lil stragglers on the fringes of a forest help to blend it in better. Nice job.
To use these as patterns within GIMP (or PS) you need to turn the .png files into .pat files (or, if you are using PS, whatever file is used for patterns), and then save them within the "Patterns" folder of your Gimp. Here's an easy way to do this. Right click on a .png and select "Edit with GIMP" (this will bring the image up in GIMP). Next, click on "File" and then select "Save As". Change the file type from .png to .pat. Click on your own user folder and double click on the "GIMP" folder. Once this opens, scroll down to the "Patterns" folder, double click it and hit Save. Now, close GIMP, and restart it again, and you should find the image has been added to your GIMP patterns.
Thanks for the patterns. As a tip, you can use png, gif, jpg and bmp files in gimp as pattern fills without having to convert them to pat. Just put the files into your user pattern folder, or ad a new folder to your settings. No need to restart gimp, just click the pattern reload button.
05-03-2010, 07:58 PM
Thanks for the patterns. As a tip, you can use png, gif, jpg and bmp files in gimp as pattern fills without having to convert them to pat. Just put the files into your user pattern folder, or ad a new folder to your settings. No need to restart gimp, just click the pattern reload button.
Thanks Rob, I didn't realize that. Guess you learn something new every day.
06-10-2010, 11:15 PM
I'm incredibly new to this, but (as far as I know) I've followed these directions to the letter (twice) and have ended up not with the soft-edged fluffy looking trees in the tutorial, but hard-edged, almost crater like trees. Anyone know where I'm going wrong? :?:
Using Gimp for Mac OSX.
06-11-2010, 12:33 AM
Hello there Solo, and welcome to the Guild! Hmm, let's see here. One thing I noticed right off the bat (though unrelated to your initial concern) was that it looks like the HSV Noise some how spread beyond the cloud shapes on the "Trees Copy" layer to the rest of the layer as well, hence the background is all grainy looking. Not sure why this is, unless GIMP interacts differently on Mac 0SX then it does on Windows XP. It's an easy fix though. If you add then apply the "Trees Outline" layer mask to this layer it should get rid of the Noise. OK, on to your question:
Hard Edges: actually, this has always been an issue with this tut. I have not yet been able to figure out a way to isolate, and then bump map portions of a clouds layer without it ending up with hard edges. Which is why I opted to try and "cover up" the edges of the forests with individual trees (see the update on making individual trees).
Fluffiness: I know that you said you followed the instructions exactly, but the clouds in the image you posted do look different, and I'm not altogether sure why this is. Did you by chance remember to select "Turbulent" (Step 1: 2.b.i.) when creating the Solid Noise layer? If you forget to select Turbulent the trees will look allot flatter. However if this is not the issue, let me know and I'll try to go through the tut step by step and see if I can figure out where things might have gone wrong.
06-11-2010, 09:34 AM
Hi arsheesh, thanks for the quick reply! I had noticed the HSV noise as well and got it taken care of in some test forests I did this morning - the problem was that hitting "delete" on the Mac version of Gimp appears to do nothing. I saw the update after I posted for the harder edges and I'll give that a shot today. As to the fluffiness, whenever someone says they followed the directions to the letter you know they didn't. While the clouds were "turbulent", I noticed that in Step 1: 3.a I had moved the right arrow, not the left, to 85. This seems to have solved my problem! Thanks again for your help and for the tut, which when actually followed, works great.
06-11-2010, 02:28 PM
Great, glad to here everything worked out OK. Let me know if you run into any other problems though.
07-15-2010, 11:48 PM
I have been following some tutorials on here and including this mini-tut and some of Rob A's tutorials... All i want to say is thank you! I've recently been getting into map making to create game maps for a friends online rpg game. these tutorials have helped out immensely.
btw, first time poster =)
07-16-2010, 01:36 AM
Welcome to the Guild Melkor! And thanks for the feedback; glad to here this little tut was of some help to you.
09-03-2010, 01:18 AM
Arsheesh, thanks for this tutorial. I've run through it about - oh, three or four times to get a feel for it. I really like the results. Playing with the colors helps quite a bit. I was wondering if you have any suggestions for brush shape when adding the stragglers? I've been experimenting with the vine and galaxy brushes because the solid round and square brushes seemed to create a visible pattern as I added in the individual trees. Looking at your examples I like how well your individual trees follow the general shape your forests. Here's what I've been able to accomplish. This is just one section of my current WIP (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?11224-Broken-Isle-First-Map). Any suggestions?
09-03-2010, 04:01 PM
Hello there ProfGremlin, glad you found the tut to be of some use. Hm, you know I haven't actually tried using other brushes besides a hard round brush to stamp on the stragglers. However I set the size of the brush fairly small, .5px I believe, and the jitter fairly high. Then I used somewhat jittery, circular motions to stamp on the trees. While I could detect a slight repeating pattern, both the size and the jitter of the brush helped to minimize it. However if you find in experimenting that other brushes work better for you, fantastic.
I'll mention a few suggestions. First, instead of using the stamp tool on the outside border of the forests, which, with the jitter turned up will cast trees everywhere, try painting inside the forests themselves. That way, while most of the trees end up underneath the forest (and hence out of view), the jitter effect will ensure that enough trees make it to the outside border. That way, you don't end up with such a clear cut off point between the dense forests, and their sparser edges. Second, I'm not sure but it looks like you've added a drop shadow to the main forest patterns, but haven't done so for the individual trees layer. Adding a drop shadow to the individual trees helps them to blend in more naturally with the forest patterns. Third, I noticed that your main forest patterns have a fairly stark white north-eastern edge. This looks somewhat unnatural and makes it difficult to smoothly integrate individual trees along those edges into the main forest patterns. Now I'm not sure what is causing those edges to be so light, but one way you might try to fix it is to set one of your mid-toned green "Tree Color" layers to Multiply, and then add additional lighter colored yellow and green layers to compensate for the darkness that results.
I hope that helped, but if you try these tips out and still aren't satisfied, let me know and I'll run through the tun on my own again and see if I can offer you any other suggestions.
09-05-2010, 02:44 AM
Arsheesh, thanks for all the suggestions. I'm grateful for the help. You're right, I hadn't added the drop shadow for the individual trees. This was due to the fact that the area in the screen shot was only one small part of the map and I had wanted to get individual trees setup around all the forests before adding the drop shadow. As for that stark white line on the northeast edge you mentioned, I've found that it is generated during the trees bump map step. I had changed the azimuth angle to 35 so the shadows of the trees would match those of the mountains. Doing this caused this white line to appear. I was able to mitigate it some by boosting the elevation to 40. The line is still there but somewhat subdued. I also found that compensating for darkening helped.
I still haven't managed to get my forests looking quite like yours. I think that part of this is due to the scale difference. Your examples in post #9 are 1,134px × 1,074px while my map is 2400 × 3200 pixels. I think this has an effect of how detailed the cloud render is. I'm not really sure, as all this is new to me, but it seems that the smaller the map the more granular the clouds are; while you may zoom out on the topography layer the cloud layer doesn't change hence the forests smooth out. I'm not sure I've explained that at all well.
I did a fair amount of experimenting with different settings for generating the cloud noise layers. I even tried the Felimage Noise plugin. I think that Felimge Noise has some potential here, at least on larger maps. I need to experiment more with the settings though to generate a better understanding of how to create a more three-dimensional appearance to the forests contours as you've managed to do.
In order to integrate the forests with my map a bit better I changed the colors around some. This had the effect of no longer matching the colors of the individual trees very well. So, while the shape effect that the individual trees has helped, the color difference takes away from that some. I think I need to figure out how to generate those individual tree patterns. Any suggestions?
Here's may latest generation doing my best to incorporate your suggestions:
09-06-2010, 05:24 PM
Hello again Profgremlin. I've been a bit preoccupied over the weekend but I plan on running through the tut again tomorrow and I'll try to get back to you then with some suggestions then.
09-13-2010, 11:25 AM
Thanks, Arsheesh, I'm grateful for your help. I've been a bit embedded in other directions myself. I have a completely different style of map I've been asked to make so I'll be putting this one on hold for a little bit.
02-21-2011, 10:05 PM
Arsheesh, I'm ready to tackle this project again. Hopefully I can pickup where I left off. In order to integrate my forests with the individual trees I need to create a new pattern for them with colors that match my forests. Do you mind giving me some direction on that? Did you use any particular technique or was it more randomly placing color on the canvas?
02-24-2011, 05:49 PM
Hello ProfGremli! OK, so, with regard to blending the color of the individual trees with that of the main forests you have at least two options. First, you can alter the color of the trees pattern. Second, you can alter the color of the main forests. Since you asked about how to alter the color of the trees pattern, I'll address that question first. However, before I do, I would also like to mention that since writing this tutorial I have learned that it is a good idea to use a range of colors (e.g. dark Brown, dark green, light green, yellow) within your forests to make them more diverse and lifelike (see the attached image for an example). This means that you will both want to use a range of different colored tree patterns, and create a new "Tree Color" (or alternatively, use an existing tree color layer) in which you paint multiple colors on the same layer (see the second attached image for an example). I'll touch on this more in a minute, but first let's address your question.
Altering the Color of Tree Patterns: For the benefit of anyone else reading this, what we are discussing here is how to alter the color of the Tree Patterns which I uploaded in a zip file in an earlier post. Now, assuming that you have copied these files to the patterns folder of GIMP (see earlier posts for details), when you open GIMP the tree patterns should show up within your Patterns Tab (if I'm not mistaken I think I included 3 different colored tree patterns). Right Click on any one of these Tree Patterns and select "Open Pattern As Image". This will open the pattern file for that Tree Pattern. Next, zoom in to about 200% so that you can see the tree patterns in better detail. With the "Select By Color Tool" (Threshold set to 15) select any transparent point of the image (e.g. don't select any of the trees) and invert the selection (Select > Invert). Now all of the individual trees ought to be selected. Next create a new Transparent layer called "New Color". Choose a color from your Foreground/Background Colors that you want to replace the existing color with. Next, with the Bucket Fill Tool, fill the selection of the "New Color Layer" with the new color. Next change the Layer Mode of the "New Color" layer to Hard Light. Duplicate this layer. You should end up with trees that closely approximate the new color you have chosen, though you may need to add additional layers and or experiment with the Layer Modes to get the color just where you want it. Next right click on any of the layer and select "Merge Visible Layers". Finally, rename and save the pattern file. Now, close GIMP, and restart it again, and you should find the new Trees Pattern image has been added to your GIMP patterns.
Varying the Color of Your Forests: In the original Tutorial I suggested making three different "Tree Color" layers (Brown, Green and Yellow) all whose Layer Modes were set to "Soft Light". Well, as previously mentioned, I've experimented with forests a bit since writing this Tut and have found that (a) its better to have a variety of layers of different colors each of which is set to different Layer Modes (and at least one of which is a green layer whose Layer Mode is set to "Multiply"), and (b) it's also good to diversify the colors of the forest by adding a variety of different colored tree patterns and by adding a Tree Colors Layer that itself contained a combination of different colors. At this point I've done allot of experimenting but haven't yet developed anything like a standard method for creating forests of varied colors; each time I experiment with a new map I change some things around. Still, to give you an idea of what's involved, below you'll find an example of a forest I created for one of my most recent maps. To achieve the diverse colors within this forest I used at least 3 different Tree Patterns ranging in color from Brown, to Dark Green, to Yellow. I also used 7 different Tree Color Layers. The first Layer was Dark Green (1d2300) and was set to Overlay. The second and third layer were both Green (3b580e), but the Layer Mode of the second was set to "Overlay" while that of the third was set to "Multiply". The fourth layer was a yellow green color (869f30) set to "Soft Light". The fifth layer was a light olive green color (b5b57e) also set to "Soft Light". Finally, I added a multicolored layer. I began by duplicating the yellow-green layer and then painting a dark Rust-Orange over certain parts of the forest, and a light yellow over other parts. Then I added a slight Gaussian Blur to this layer (10px) and set the Layer Mode to "Soft Light". I then duplicated this layer and added a second Gaussian blur (20px) and kept the Layer Mode on "Soft Light" (see the second image below). At any rate, that's how I created "this" forest, but I encourage you to experiment with colors and layer modes to come up with a multicolored forest that suits your own tastes.
02-25-2011, 11:04 AM
Just wanted to let you know I've linked arsheesh's great tutorial. It is available in the GIMP-Related Tutorials section in Post #2 of the Tutorials in PDF Format (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?4987-Tutorials-in-PDF-Format) thread in the Tutorials/How To forum.
02-25-2011, 11:23 AM
Thanks Vandy! I appreciate it.
03-13-2011, 02:33 PM
I am just working through this tutorial in lieu with RobA´s Regional Map Tutorial. What I did to have the Single trees match the main trees: I made the Tree Pattern Black and White and painted below the bump tree layer. When I was finished I first bumped the single tree layer again with itself. Afterwards I created a new mask containing the main forest parts and the single trees and applied that mask to the coloring layers. It is important that the bump tree layer only contains the mask excluding the single trees, otherwise they will simply show up grey. Then I had to tweak the brightness + contrast of the single tree layer just a tiny bit. And now I can apply all the color changes to the single trees and to the bulk trees without any issue and do not have to recreate a pattern whenever I change the color.
03-13-2011, 03:43 PM
Hey thanks for the tip ImaTarget, I hadn't thought of doing it that way but the results look great.
03-22-2011, 07:31 PM
Hiya - I'm having some problems with Step 5 in the tut. When I merge Tree Frame and Tree Copy - it just shows me the 'noise' layer of Trees. I'm running Gimp 2.6.2 Any suggestions?
03-24-2011, 05:28 PM
Hm, that's odd. Let's take this step by step. Prior to merging these two layers you should have 4 layers (Background, Trees, Trees Copy and Tree Frame), all of which should be visible. The Tree Frame layer should be the topmost layer, and the Trees Copy layer ought to be just beneath it. Did you select "Merge Down" on the topmost Tree Frame layer? If so, the Tree Frame layer should have merged with the Tree Copy layer, leaving you with 3 layers, the topmost being the newly merged Tree Copy layer. You mentioned that after merging you only see the 'noise' layer, is this the Trees layer or the Trees Copy layer that you are seeing? If the former, then somehow you lost the Trees Copy layer (if that layer still displays in your "Layers, Paths, Channels" dialogue check to make sure that you didn't accidentally click the "eye" icon off, thus rendering that layer invisible), I'm not exactly sure how this would have happened though unless you accidentally deleted the layer. If the latter, then, well I'm stumped. If you followed all the steps in the Tut then the newly merged Tree's Copy Layer ought to have a black border surrounding it. Hopefully something here was of use to you, if not I'm really not sure what is causing the problem.
04-11-2011, 12:51 AM
Tutorials like this one make me glad I registered. Here's my attempt:
I'm not sure why it's grey instead of white, but channel masks are new to me.
Also, the drop shadow didn't really seem to make any difference, perhaps I should
have made the clumps of trees more sculpted? Anyhow, thanks very much for sharing.
04-11-2011, 04:15 PM
No problem, glad to here that the tut is of some use to you. Regarding the background, it might be that the "Trees Outline" layer mask in the Channels dialogue is switched to visible. If there is a little "eye" icon floating to the left side of the layer mask, that means that the mask is visible. Just click on the eye icon to make the layer mask invisible and (if that really is the issue) the background should turn white again. As for the drop shadow, not sure why it didn't show up more. One other thing, the edges of the forest have a pretty noticeable bevel to them. This is due to the Bump map. I have not found a good way to get rid of the bevel except by simply covering it up with lots of "little" trees. If you read a bit further in this thread (I believe it's one of the updates on page 1) I explain how to do this.
04-11-2011, 07:14 PM
Thanks for the prompt reply, I only tried it once, I am sure my second try will be better.
As for the drop shadow, not sure why it didn't show up more.
Good, glad that's not just me, I was expecting a little more 'pop' from this.
One other thing, the edges of the forest have a pretty noticeable bevel to them.
This is due to the Bump map.
Yep, you could get rid of it (I think) by setting Azimuth to 180, but that kind of defeats the point.
I have not found a good way to get rid of the bevel except by simply covering it up with lots of "little" trees.
If you read a bit further in this thread (I believe it's one of the updates on page 1) I explain how to do this.
Thanks, I'll have a look for this.
04-11-2011, 07:28 PM
He, he. My wife says these trees look like Broccoli florets.
She's not too far off ;.} (just kidding). They have a small scaling issue, being as large as your mountains.
But for our purposes (learning) they totally work.
04-11-2011, 07:37 PM
As to the fluffiness, whenever someone says they followed the directions to the letter you know they didn't.
Hee-hee, I'm probably guilty as charged.
04-11-2011, 11:14 PM
They have a small scaling issue, being as large as your mountains.
But for our purposes (learning) they totally work.
Yes this tut was really aimed at beginner level. There is a way to scale the tree patterns down without losing resolution but it is somewhat involved for a "mini" tut. At any rate, let me know if you encounter any other issues.
thanks for your great tutorial. It worked at my first attempt. With this I got a new technique creating forests. From my point of view the most difficult part in a map.
04-12-2011, 09:57 PM
I followed the instructions a little more carefully this time:
Not sure exactly what I did wrong the last time, it wasn't the obvious.
The channel mask was off, think I forgot to delete in 1e, Step 2.
In any case, thanks for all your helpful suggestions and I will know better next time.
Some nice suggestions in the various follow-ups:
I would add that for 5b in Step 1, when you are using the Threshold tool, the black
lines should be thicker than you might like, as the Drop Shadows will intrude quite a
bit into these interior forest streamlets and whatnot.
I really like the tree patterns, I updated the comments so that the pattern name
shows up correctly in the Clone Tool window (unzip the attached into your 'Patterns'
folder, the sub-folders are fine but not necessary I think).
I really like these tree patterns for higher elevation trees (i.e. above the forest level
but below the treeline). You can clone them in as lightly or heavily as you like.
Anyhow, thanks again everyone.
06-08-2011, 12:48 AM
Arsheesh, I just wanted to say thanks. Since your last response to my questions I've spent quite literally hours playing with your tutorial and I have finally! achieved results I'm almost happy with (yeah, we all know the artist always sees the flaws). My biggest stumbling block was one of scale. I'm working with a canvas 2400x3200 @ 300 dpi. At that scale I simply couldn't manage to scale the Clouds Noise filter in a manner that didn't result in a flat looking forest. I know you alluded that was possible but I haven't figured out how to do so yet. I finally gave up and started playing with the Felimage Noise filter. It took a long time experimenting with various settings (keep a text file of notes!) but I finally worked out the settings. With the basis finally in place I was able to apply your notes on individual trees and multiple color layers and found results that are almost respectable.
Thank you for all your assistance and patience, Arsheesh. I'm truly grateful.
06-08-2011, 01:29 AM
Hey now that is coming together quite nicely! I'm glad to here that you've got some forests that you are "almost happy with". Sounds like you've already put quite a bit of work into this, and if you are satisfied with the forests now, great (they look good to me), but I did want to at least let you know of a way around the scaling issue. In a recent map (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?14541-Veskar-Frozen-Lands-of-the-North) I was working with a canvas size of 5544x2250px @ 300dpi and, like you mentioned, the built in cloud filters just couldn't produce small enough cloud patterns to work with at that scale. The solution I found was to use a pre-made tiled difference clouds pattern (courtesy of Ravells), and then used RobA's wonderful "Scale Pattern" script to scale the pattern to the size I needed to render trees. If I recall, the clouds pattern was a little too light for my purposes, and I think I increased the contrast before using it (but I can't remember the details now).
Anyway, if you are interested, here's a link to Rav's Difference Clouds Patterns (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?724-Land-Sea-Fill-Textures/page2) (located about midway down the page), and here's a link to RobA's Scale Pattern script (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?4040-GIMP-Script-Scale-Pattern&p=45886).
06-12-2011, 11:36 PM
Thanks for that, Arsheesh. I'll keep that in mind to experiment with. If you're interested in playing with it, here are the settings I used for the Felimage Noise filter -
Seed - I just kept clicking New Seed until I found a pattern I liked.
Width & Height set to 15 pixels
Sparse Turbulence algorithm
Ordinary fBm octave blending method
Octaves - 5.0
Lacunarity - 2.0
Hurst Exponent - 0.50
I found that if you load the Channel for your Forest Outline while setting options you can actually use the Preview function to get an idea of what the render will look like specifically inside your selected area. Clicking the New Seed button lets you preview new renders of your forest texture before you actually render it. Just make sure you Select > None before you Ok your settings on the filter.
I used all the above in place of step 2 of the tutorial (Filter >Render > Clouds >Solid Noise)
06-13-2011, 01:53 AM
This was PS rather than GIMP, but here's how I did this, in case someone finds it useful:
* Fill the whole layer in dark green
* Create your rough selection of the forest borders
* Set your layer mask equal to that selection
* Run a large variety of distortion and other filters on the layer mask to roughen up the selection borders. Keep going until it's good and randomly rough. I'm afraid I don't remember exactly what filters I used to create this border. Glass was one of the main ones, iirc. I may have also used Torn Edges, which is another good one for this kind of thing.
* Set the layer style to Color Overlay in the green of your choice and put it in Overlay mode
* Add a Pattern Overlay effect, also in Overlay mode. Play with the Scale Effect and which pattern to apply until you find one you like.
* I already had a layer of terrain shading I applied in Multiply mode, but if you don't, you can create a faux one using Clouds, then transform it smaller so that the groupings of trees don't seem as large and artificial.
The advantage to doing it this way is that it's easy to start over if you don't like something. Just clear out the layer mask and any styles, and it's done.
Nothing major here, but maybe someone will find it interesting.
06-13-2011, 03:00 PM
@ ProfGremlin, thanks for sharing this technique. I may play with it a bit myself.
@ Master TMO, thank you as well for sharing your technique. The end result looks wonderful. GIMP doesn't have some of the filters you mentioned; neither does it come with layer styles. However, there is a plugin for GIMP that emulates some of the capacities of PS's layer styles. I am in the process of experimenting with other ways to make photo-realistic looking trees, and I'll definitely see if I can reproduce your method in GIMP.
06-13-2011, 03:55 PM
The Color Overlay style can be ignored pretty easily, just by using the color you want in the first place. I used the color layer style just because it made it very easy to tweak slightly to get the best effect.
Lessee.. without pattern overlay layer style, maybe multiple layers of clouds on multiply would work? I can play around and see if I can duplicate the end result without using styles if you like.
06-13-2011, 05:08 PM
That would be great Master TMO.
06-14-2011, 11:24 AM
Well, this isn't perfect, but I think it might be a good start and do better with some individualized tweaking.
* Create base tree layer, fill with the main green color you want to use.
** This sample just has a very simple outline to it - I suggest using a much more random outline for trying to replicate reality.
* Add a layer called Noise1 with a white fill and set it to Multiply (I'm assuming GIMP can do both Multiply and Screen similarly to PS. If not you'll need to find a substitute)
** Add 40% Gaussian noise, color (not b/w) if that's an option
* Add another layer called Noise2 with a black fill and set to Screen
** Add 25% Gaussian noise, color
* Create a new document with dimensions 4x the size of the forest you are wanting to cover
** Fill with Clouds filter
** Copy the entire layer
* Paste it onto a new layer in the original document, set the layer to Multiply
** Shrink it to 25%
Some possible tweaks to improve the look to suit your preferences:
* Add some Blur to the Noise layers to soften them
* Add another Clouds layer in a lighter green in Screen mode to provide some highlights. Probably need to set the Opacity down low to keep it subtle.
06-14-2011, 02:14 PM
Here's a thread by ravells on breaking up forest edges: http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?5458-Creating-believable-Edges-to-Mountains-and-Forest-Texture-fills-PS-Gimp.&p=61676
06-14-2011, 02:19 PM
Very nice, I appreciate you taking the time to share this MTMO, once I'm done with the other mini-tut I'm putting together I'll have to play with this a bit. I didn't recognize the names of some of the filters you mentioned, but I think I can figure out how to emulate something similar in GIMP. Who knows, if a better method emerges, perhaps I'll go ahead an re-write this tut; giving you due credit of course.
06-14-2011, 03:42 PM
Gaussian is one of the types of Noise filters in PS. The actual filter name is Noise, not Gaussian, if that helps any.
07-24-2011, 12:25 PM
This was an amazing mini-tutorial, thank you so much! I am so pleased with how the trees look.
07-24-2011, 01:42 PM
Thanks Scionical, I'm really glad to here that!
07-25-2011, 10:12 PM
Chances are I'm doing something fundamentally wrong here, but when I get to Step 4, use the Free Select Tool to draw outlines, it only allows me to draw one. In other words, I can only do one selection at a time. If I draw another, the first one disappears. Your example in the PDF shows seven individual cloud shapes, but I can't achieve this, for the reason mentioned.
07-25-2011, 10:54 PM
Hey there Peter. Easy fix, in the tool options for "Free Select" you'll see several different selection options (they look like pink and white little windows). One of these options is called "Add to current selection" (see the screen-shot) and, like the name implies, it allows you to make more than one selection.
07-25-2011, 11:50 PM
That did it, thank you so much.
07-26-2011, 04:12 PM
No prob! Glad to help.
04-20-2012, 09:03 PM
Great Tutorial, Arsheesh! You have already seen the map I used it with on RobA's tutorial. I'm trying the suggestions that I have found within this tread to get my forests to not be so beveled. I'm still working on it. I'll post what I've been messing with when I'm pleased with the outcome so you or anyone else can see if there is a way I can improve. I'm still new to gimp so I'm not sure what exactly every change I make does :)
04-20-2012, 09:23 PM
Glad it was of some help to you! Yes, if you get stuck anywhere, or have nay other questions please feel free to post a pic and I'll try to provide feedback for you.
04-21-2012, 10:33 AM
After two years of revisions to this tutorial, I've finally gotten around to making an updated version of this tutorial. Hopefully it helps people to overcome some of the common pitfalls of the first tutorial.
04-21-2012, 01:38 PM
Running through the new tutorial. Great job adding the new stuff to it! Thank you so much for putting it together
A few things I noticed:
1. Under Redefining the Forest Outline where you bucket fill, you have "BG color fill." I tried that at first but I wasn't getting the noise layer to show up after doing multiply. I switched to FG Bucket Fill and it worked.
2. At the top of page 4, right column, should it be layer fill transparent instead of black?
I'm don't know if I'm doing the color variations part right or not. But when I try what is in the tutorial, i'm not really seeing a change in the tree color but I see a change in the ground color under the trees. Any thoughts?
I feel like new tutorial definitely makes the forests blend in better with the use of the individual trees. I think my issue with my current map is that the ground color or the tree colors may not be right for my particular map to have them both mesh together. But I'm a bit lost on where to start to fix that at the moment. I'll have mess around with it.
04-21-2012, 05:24 PM
Hi Apothecaryrose, thanks so much for pointing this out. As to your remarks:
1. Yes, this was a typo. It should read "FG Bucket Fill".
2. Yes again, this should read "Transparent".
I've gone ahead and corrected these typos and will upload the corrected Tutorial momentarily. As to the color variation, I think the problem might be either (a), that you don't have the "Trees Outline 2" layer mask turned on for that layer, or, (b) if you do, that you might have been painting on the mask rather than the layer, or (c) you do have the mask turned on, but for some reason it is reverted, masking out the forests rather than the land. Also, given how dark the colors are compared to your last map, I'm suspicious that somewhere in your document you have an "Overlay" or "Soft Light" layer that has been turned on but for which you don't have a layer mask. Hope that is helpful.
04-21-2012, 05:49 PM
Awesome! Thanks for the tips. Turns out I was painting on the layer mask, and not the layer. :)
I went through and checked all my layers for ones that might have an "overlay" or a "soft light" with no layer mask. I found one and fixed that but don't think there was a much of a change. Part of the darkness compared to the last map was that I went in an adjusted the levels for my grass layer.
04-25-2012, 10:42 PM
Great tut. Love the results.
I was wondering if there is a PS version of this? I tried to do it and just couldn't get it to work. I couldn't see mention of a PS version in this thread either.
04-26-2012, 01:34 AM
Hiya Pete! I'm pretty sure you could use this method (or something quite similar) within Photoshop. Unfortunately I don't have the program myself and don't know how to make the conversion. If you read back a couple of pages, some folks have posted alternative ways to do things in photoshop though. You might have a look and see if you find anything of use. Also, in my opinion Photoshop actually can make tree shapes much better than the method I've posted here, and it is relatively easy to do just by using various layer styles for your brush presets. Now, unfortunately I don't know how exactly this is done, but you would do something like the following: take a small rotating grunge brush, set the size to random, turn on jitter (try 2-3), add some layer styles (e.g. bevel & emboss, and some kind of grainy texture/pattern overlay). You may even want to set color to random (between various hues of green, green-yellow and or green-brown). Now just paint in the trees. Get enough of them together and they should clump into forests. Again, you will need to play with this tentative set of instructions as I don't know exactly how it works.
06-12-2012, 01:51 AM
On the threshold layer, I prefer to set the number a bit higher. This makes the large clumps a bit less uniform. There are often gaps this way, which I can either fill in with the tree pattern, or leave open, if I want there to be a clearing there.
EDIT: Sorry, not layer. Just that step in the process.
08-02-2012, 04:55 AM
So I'm on "Refining the Forest Outline," but when I blur the Forest Frame layer I don't get anything like what is shown, and it doesn't pan out into a realistic looking forest. Instead, I get the attached. The first is the blur, the second is merged down and thresholded. What am I doing wrong?4718847189
08-02-2012, 05:18 AM
Hi Jallorn. By the looks of the image you posted, I'd guess that your problem is that when you applied the Gaussian blur to the Forest Frame layer, you applied it to the "Layer Mask" rather than the layer itself. It's an easy mistake to make. To make sure that you apply the Gaussian Blur to the layer, rather than its mask, in your layer dialogue make sure to click on the layer. You should see a white outline surrounding that layer (if the white outline is surrounding the mask, then any actions you take on that layer will apply to the mask rather than the layer). Hope that helps. If that wasn't the problem, let me know and I'll try re-diagnosing the problem.
08-02-2012, 05:33 AM
I was adding in another layer for some reason. This was just me not following directions correctly I think. Oy do I feel stupid. I'll let you know if this isn't the case, thanks.
Nope, never mind. So I've got the Black Forest Frame with the white filled in where the forest is. Then I set it to multiply and blur it (having deselected my selection), and I get what I showed you. I don't have a mask, so that's not it.
08-02-2012, 05:43 AM
Huh, OK, give me a sec to re-read through the tut and I'll post a reply momentarily...
EDIT: OK, I'm looking at the tutorial, and I've got to say that I'm not quite sure what to make of the image you just sent. It looks rather like the underlying "Forest Copy" layer has the "Forest Outline 1" mask on it as well (though I don't know why it would). But that still doesn't explain the lighter gray "halo" affect surrounding it (unless there is a white or gray layer underneath the "Forest Copy" layer). I'm afraid without looking at your .xcf file I'm not sure what to make of this. I'm actually right about to head to bed, but if you feel free PMing me your email address I'll get in touch with you tomorrow and you can send me your file over email. That way I can see what's going on.
08-02-2012, 07:44 PM
Hi Elliot. OK, after looking at your .xcf file I've located the problem. On your "Forest" and "Forest Copy" layers you have already isolated the clouds into forest shapes. I'm not sure if you did this intentionally or if perhaps you forgot to turn of your initial Forest Outline Selection prior to generating your clouds. Either way, what this means is that when you latter followed the steps in the Refining The Forest Outline section, your Blurred frame (set to Multiply) now reveals the layer below, which includes the white background area bordering the forest outline on your "Forest Copy" layer.
The good news is that this is an easy fix. Delete your current "Forest" and "Forest Copy" layers and redo the steps under the Generating Forest Clouds section to generate them again (beneath your "Forest Frame" layer of Course). Make sure you have any selections turned off when you do this. That should do it.
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