View Full Version : render or create mountains semi automatic?

06-28-2010, 01:03 PM
I'm looking for a way to easily create mountains like the ones in the attached picture. Or do I have to draw them?


06-28-2010, 01:33 PM
I'm not aware of anything that will draw mountains like that for you automatically, but you can get sort of close using various brushes and layerstyles in photoshop or using something like Wilbur (free!) or Fractal Terrains...but yeah, if you want something at that level of detail, I'm afraid you'll have to draw them.

06-28-2010, 06:24 PM
Theres been loads of little tuts around here for making mountains sorta kinda like that so as Ravs said it depends on just how close you want them to being realistic. If your after realistic mountains but dont care exactly what shape they are - just realistic looking then you can grab Wilbur and get some real world mountain height map information like the stuff NASA uploads and then put that into wilbur or any height map editor and it can render some out.

My current fav link to Space shuttle radar height data is this one:

I dont use wilbur much but I think it can take these and decode them. Otherwise, google used to do a terrain mode where it rendered just the height info.

Generating synthetic mountains from a rough pattern sketch has always been a real hard problem and one which is almost continuously being worked on. It sounds easy but its not.

06-28-2010, 11:18 PM
I've been trying stuff like this for months, and I've found the best way of making realistic-looking terrain (at least in my opinion) is a hybrid technique. I use a combination of Wilbur and Photoshop.
Here's the general idea. I've seen it work well, but it does require a lot of switching between Photoshop and Wilbur.
Most of this assumes that you have a design in mind.

Jezelf's Tutorials (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?2557-Award-Winner-Making-maps-in-Photoshop) have a basic technique for making a heightmap. I like this technique because of the simplicity, but it's not particularly accurate.
"4 ways to give your map a relief using height maps - using Wilbur for one of them" has the information you'll need.
Build your heightmap there. I would suggest changing the technique and making six or seven black and white maps when it asks you to blur them. Blur them at various scales and lower the opacity. The least blurred area should be the most transparent.

Now you've got a choice about how you're going to make your difference clouds look like a heightmap.
There's various ways of doing it. I've tried rendering just the difference clouds and eroding them in Wilbur as well as overlaying low areas and then eroding. Sometimes it's best to use both techniques, it allows you to isolate good-looking areas or get something extra eroded.

In Wilbur, it's less of a set thing. For truly realistic stuff, you should crank up erosion settings high enough that it appears that there are tons of rivers. This will create the most realistic mountains (since it's rare that they'll be round).

When you take it back into Photoshop, best to blur it a little bit, which allows you to keep the nice sharp terrain without rendering those little rivers. I found that it helped to use this technique in lieu of blur: Resolution Bumping (http://shadedrelief.com/bumping/bumping.html), which will make only your highest mountains stick out and round out the lower hills that wouldn't be so sharp. There are a couple other techniques on that page that are good for various purposes.

Idea of what this technique looks like (in a somewhat hastily done form): Example (http://i305.photobucket.com/albums/nn230/rearre11/malawaninvasion.png)

06-29-2010, 03:13 AM
Thanks a lot for your tipps, I'll definately check out Wilbur (although I couldn't find a Mac-Version and will have to use my virtual machine...)
I did a little research, too, and found Z-Brush - It's for painting bump maps for 3DsMax, you can actually paint hight information. Might work as well, but it's expensive, so I'm going to have to finish my map as long as the trial version works...

04-06-2011, 06:18 PM
Thanks for posting this! This info was exactly what I was looking for! :)