PDA

View Full Version : Big Lazy City



ravells
05-15-2010, 01:38 PM
I've been footling with Drawplus and managed to get this (would take about 30 mins or so now I have the procedure). It uses line styles to put in the buildings (from Alfar's context free file)....It doesn't really bear close inspection (too many small orphan bits), but I'll keep plugging away at it.

tilt
05-15-2010, 02:04 PM
but it does look good from afar.. been thinking alot about how to make these things easy but nice - but I end up as you say, with things that doesn't stand up to close inspection. But this looks really good and with only 30 minutes it would do fine for a quick citymap where you don't need all the details - or as eye candy for a larger region map :)

Steel General
05-15-2010, 02:55 PM
Orphan bits or not, I still think you're on to something pretty cool.

ravells
05-15-2010, 03:10 PM
It's all about relative sizes of roads and squares etc to building size (negative space)....but I'm not quite there yet...but I'm hopeful! (A fool's hope) I always come back to this same old saw at least once a year.

ravells
05-15-2010, 04:31 PM
This is looking better (I used a new set of elements for the line style and had them properly square) also carved more minor roads to lessen the 'square island of buildings' effect.

Ascension
05-15-2010, 04:43 PM
Now that looks like a bunch of clustered city buildings. Lots of lil doodads and doohickeys to break up the straight faces. I like that a lot.

ravells
05-15-2010, 04:47 PM
I'll try doing a bigger one...hang on a bit.

mearrin69
05-15-2010, 05:12 PM
Wow. That's freaking awesome. The first one actually looks kind of cool up close too...maybe the building shapes are odd but with some cleanup it might do for a non-human city or something. I could have saved about a lifetime of work for my CWBP city Argria with this technique you're developing.
M

ravells
05-15-2010, 05:36 PM
It's looking pretty good. I can get variation of building sizes / using different line styles (but only within blocks) on this as well, although I haven't done it here. The second image is with the elements in the line style a little bigger, you lose definition on the streets but the buildings look better.

ravells
05-15-2010, 05:49 PM
Wow. That's freaking awesome. The first one actually looks kind of cool up close too...maybe the building shapes are odd but with some cleanup it might do for a non-human city or something. I could have saved about a lifetime of work for my CWBP city Argria with this technique you're developing.
M

life's too short to spend our time rubbing bits out with the eraser.

ravells
05-15-2010, 06:08 PM
This one is with the line elements smaller....better street definition and more intricate doodads but you start getting 'island' effects inside city blocks.

mearrin69
05-15-2010, 09:31 PM
life's too short to spend our time rubbing bits out with the eraser.

Repped for awesome city technique R&D and an even "awesomer" quote...
M

tilt
05-16-2010, 02:53 AM
looking really good now - nice techique - I'll quickly throw some rep your way :)

ravells
05-16-2010, 05:04 AM
Thanks guys, needs more fiddling with...I'll keep experimenting.

Steel General
05-16-2010, 07:58 AM
Ravells - Lawyer by day...mad city builder by night :D

ravells
05-16-2010, 08:30 AM
Yeah, being a lawyer is my hobby. Mad City builder is my profession <g>

ravells
05-16-2010, 01:53 PM
I've been fighting all day to work out how to get these line style buildings to combine so I can outline them in vector (I was previously doing it in photoshop). Finally got there by having to export the layer as a .wmf file and then opening it, converting it into curves and then merging them a bit at a time (merging the buildings all at once made Serif crash). The joy about this is that it is all still pure vector so it's resolution independent which means that if you save it as a .pdf, you can zoom in as much as you like with no pixellation. It should also make labelling easy to read as well (no matter how small), but the file size is huge.

tilt
05-17-2010, 12:52 AM
Looks really good, a very good starting point for a city :)

Fransie
05-17-2010, 09:11 AM
This is a great idea! I've been experimenting a bit for myself. Context Free can save an image as .svg, which is vector. I rendered a few and converted these to Xtreme. Then I joined every building (they're made up from about four shapes each), selected all and made a brush (Xtreme can only use 50 shapes in a brush, but that's enough to get a nice random result. And you can always make more brushes if needed). I applied the brush to a road pattern in one of my maps, and after fiddling a bit with the brush settings got a fairly nice result. Then I converted the whole thing to editable shapes, joined them and applied a hatched fill.

The result definitely needs some cleaning up, but (in my opinion) it already looks better than my original, which took me ages to draw every building by hand. Whereas this method only took me fifteen minutes!

This definately has potential.


Frans

ravells
05-17-2010, 10:08 AM
Cool! I'm glad someone else is trying this too so we can compare notes.

I really like the first one. Weirdly enough Serif Drawplus doesn't support SVG imports, the community have been complaining about it for years so they've now supported it in the new version of Serif which has just been released (I'll be getting this soon). This is great as it means I can import the context free results direct as SVG (cleaner curves) rather than converting the bitmap with autotrace which leaves lots of nodes and makes the file size huge. This is my next effort, I've started to (clean up my image to get rid of all the little artifacts (see the southmost part of the map). It's not not as time-consuming as I thought, but it still takes a while. Do hatched fills come as a standard fill with Xara? Is it a vector fill? The only way I can do vector hatched fills in Serif is to make a bunch of closely spaced lines and then crop them to the building shapes but it really starts to make the computer chug. Part of the reason why I think my files are so big is that the curves are really 'dirty' with loads of nodes which don't need to be there, so a big part of the process for me is getting optimal file sizes too.

Let's keep comparing notes and methods. Once I'm satisfied with the procedure / results I post up the procedure I've used.

Best

Ravs

Gandwarf
05-17-2010, 05:40 PM
That last one looks pretty decent, Ravells. The best you have done lazy style I think.

Fransie
05-18-2010, 05:11 AM
Here's another test, I used the brush technique on a city map I was working on. After using the brush, I converted it to shapes, which left me with about a gazillion houses. Next was cleaning up, which was easily done by moving or deleting houses. Then I joined the houses into a single shape, and cleaned up all the little holes etc. About half an hour work in total. I do need to place some landmark buildings by hand, such as churches etc.

Xtreme (unfortunately) doesn't support fills of repeating vector patterns, so this one is bitmap as well. This is good enough on the scale I'm using, though. You could of course clip a bunch of lines to the building shape, as you described (hint: draw two lines, and blend between then with as many steps as you like, much faster than drawing that many lines). One of Xtremes advantages is a very fast redraw time, and this method doesn't slow it down much.

The high number of nodes you have may be because you started out with bitmap shapes. Tracing these often gives a lot of nodes. Of course, joining a lot of houses with a few nodes each still gives a lot of nodes...

lospo
05-19-2010, 03:14 AM
I've been footling with Drawplus and managed to get this (would take about 30 mins or so now I have the procedure). It uses line styles to put in the buildings (from Alfar's context free file)....It doesn't really bear close inspection (too many small orphan bits), but I'll keep plugging away at it.

About this thread's very first post: can you send a VERY step by step guide on how can someone else design something similar? I'd like to recreate, but i'd like to use inkscape only. Thanks

ravells
05-19-2010, 05:27 AM
Hang in there lospo - I'm waiting for the next version of serif draplus to arrive (should be in the next three days or so) and I want to experiment a little more. As a very rough guide I attach an image I've posted on the serif forums (which is a very rough tutorial of sorts). If you can replicate this in inkscape (I'm sure it must be possible) that would be great.

Fransie
05-19-2010, 09:05 AM
In Xtreme, getting from your first step to the last is very quick:

- Draw the lines
- Select them (ctrl-A)
- Use menu-option Arrange->Convert Line to Shape
- Add the shapes together (ctrl-1) (no filled islands here)

Before adding the shapes together I delete any unwanted houses and move others to my liking. Then select all and add them together.

I haven't found an easy way to clean up the rubbish, but doing it by hand is fairly quick, unless you're mapping a metropolis.

It seems Drawplus X4 can import .svg files, so you can start out with vector shapes from Context Free. I noticed that in the pdf's you posted any curved parts were made up of a couple of short straight lines. When starting out with vector you can save a few nodes on every curve. For the squarish parts of the brush, your number of nodes does not differ much from mine.

I have attached a (zipped) Xtreme file with some simple brush variants, for all the thousands of Xtreme users on the forum. :)

ravells
05-19-2010, 12:17 PM
Yeah, the frustrating thing about Drawplus is that it doesn't have a 'convert line to shape' function. The best that can be done is to convert the lines to a high res bitmap and then convert the bitmap back to vector. It works pretty well for larger shapes, but the problem with lots of fiddly shapes like these is that the results are not clean, in fact they're pretty unusable. That's why I have to go through the export as a wmf dance (but wmf doesn't support transparency which is why I get the islands). Hopefully Drawplus X4 should hit my doorstep in the next day or so, I've got the email saying it's been dispatched. Yippee! It really does look fantastic and I can't wait to test-drive it.

I won't even bother posting the Drawplus brushes, given the number of people on this forum who use it, lol. I think apart from me I've come across one other person. Attached is a screenie of the nodes -it's pretty ugly with lots of useless nodes in there.

By the way, does Xara do animations too? You can have various types of building stand out by doing a mouse-over or click on a label. So mouseover / click'Taverns' and see where the taverns are (effectively it just takes you to a copy of the same drawing but with the taverns highlighted).

Fransie
05-19-2010, 03:14 PM
Another way to reduce the number of nodes is by using roads made up of straight lines instead of slightly curved ones. What you get now is that two adjacent buildings are at a slightly different angle, resulting in an extra node, while the difference in angle of the facades is hardly visible.

Xtreme can do flash animations, but I've never tried it. Not all of Xtreme's drawing features are supported in Flash, but the major ones are. Another way to achieve what you describe is to make a website with MouseOver effects (I really don't know what I'm talking about here). Never done this either, so I gave it a try. The result is in the attached zipfile, extract it and open 'test mouseover.html'. Five minutes of work, which mostly went into reading the help file to learn how to do it. It's just three rectangles coloured red, blue and yellow. By mousing over one, you give the other two the same colour.

Seeing how easily this is done, I am definately going to use this on some of my maps, it's really cool.


As for the conversion to shapes, I noticed that I can copy and paste lines with a brush applied from Illustrator to Xtreme. Xtreme then asks me how to paste it, as Bitmap, Device-Independent Bitmap, or as Enhanced Metafile. When I choose the last option, it results in a vector object in Xtreme. Perhaps exporting your lines as EMF instead of WMF will skip the bitmap part. Assuming that the building shapes in your brush are vector, of course.

Natai
05-19-2010, 03:45 PM
Looks awesome. Any chance we'll see a Photoshop tut?
Repped

RobA
05-20-2010, 12:48 AM
Hang in there lospo - I'm waiting for the next version of serif draplus to arrive (should be in the next three days or so) and I want to experiment a little more. As a very rough guide I attach an image I've posted on the serif forums (which is a very rough tutorial of sorts). If you can replicate this in inkscape (I'm sure it must be possible) that would be great.

You can do it (kind of) in inkscape. You can't have 5 shapes repeat randomly as a path stroke that I can figure out.

I made a dozen copies of those 5, then arranged them randomly, pulled them into a line and unclumped them to get this:
24953

Then used this in the pattern along path extension to get this (after converting objects to path and unioning them all)
24954

-Rob A>

ravells
05-20-2010, 04:02 AM
That looks pretty close!

@Natai, we're using vector to do this. I don't think it's possible to do in photoshop (or at least to do it quickly) since photoshop brushes only work with a single image.

@Fransie: Thanks for the emf tip, but Drawplus doesn't support emf export. You can export lines as a .wmf though and when you open them, they have converted into vector shapes (which is pretty cool!).

lospo
05-20-2010, 05:13 AM
You can do it (kind of) in inkscape. You can't have 5 shapes repeat randomly as a path stroke that I can figure out.

I made a dozen copies of those 5, then arranged them randomly, pulled them into a line and unclumped them to get this:
24953

Then used this in the pattern along path extension to get this (after converting objects to path and unioning them all)
24954

-Rob A>

WOW!

Sounds good, but my InkScape skills isn't good enought...
Can you please convert this to a step by step guide? (PleasePleasePleasePleasePleasePleasePleasePleaseP leasePlease) :D

ravells
05-20-2010, 02:15 PM
Check out this thread (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?10465-I-Found-an-L-System-Generator%21&p=112799#post112799) for automating the process even further.

Gamerprinter
05-20-2010, 09:01 PM
I have attached a (zipped) Xtreme file with some simple brush variants, for all the thousands of Xtreme users on the forum. :)

And here I thought I was the only cartographer using Xara Xtreme! >:)

I've downloaded your brushes, have some REP!

GP