View Full Version : Shaded Relief Mapping

10-16-2007, 10:10 AM
Here is a really nifty Photoshop tutorial I found for creating faux 3D topographical terrain.


The tutorial however requires that you have a Digital Elevation Map... I was thinking of drawing my own with a soft paintbrush with black as the low areas through a greyscale to white as the highest mountains.

10-16-2007, 11:30 AM
Excellent tutorial, if not just for the information about the USGS elevation data. I pulle di tout of that thread and moved it to its own thread here. I also gave you rep because this is an excellent first post. Welcome aboard! Go introduce yerself in the introductions forum if you wish...can't wait to see some of your work!

10-17-2007, 11:22 PM
Great Tutorial. I've been looking for something like this.

10-18-2007, 10:29 AM
Does anyone have any ideas about how to achieve this style with a fantasy map though? Trying to create my own b/w topographical map so far has proved less than fantastic... It lacks the "craggy" fractal feel of the mountainous areas.

10-18-2007, 12:43 PM
The best option might be to "go shopping" in the real world maps at the government site for features you like, and stich them together in Photoshop. For example, you could find a coastal area of cliffs you like in southern England, and merge it with some mountains from Norway for the inland area. Or you could mix and match islands from Greece to get the alignment you want.

You'd have to adjust the darkness of each layer before merging to ensure that the heights map to the proper color.

I'm doing something similar with Google maps in constucting a fictional military boneyard for a Delta Green map: taking a corporate airfield in one area of Arizona with a layout I like and merging it with details from a Yuma Air Force boneyard. I want the map to be something I can hand to the players as something they found on Google.

10-18-2007, 02:23 PM
I managed to get this with PSP and the alienskin / eyecandy plugins with a bit of fiddling around. It's not quite there but close.

Best quickly jot down how I did it before I forget.

Fill in the background colour into a square.
draw a selection or selections using the freehand tool which roughly correspond to the outline of your mountains.
Use the 'burnt edges' filter to get the wiggly but jagged edges.
Use the rough leather filter (that comes with PSP) to get some texture
Use the Cracks filter to get the troughs and valleys. This leaves plateaux near the middle so I used it again on those. Still ended up with more plateaux.
Used the magic wand to select the plateaux and painted them white.
Used the magic wand to select the outline and painted it a dark green.
If you want speckled vegetation you can use the magic wand again and when you get a decent spread of selection for that colour just paint over it with a green.

I still think that Paul's method has more control although you'd have to do a bit of work to get the colours to match from different drawings that you're compositing.