View Full Version : The Valley
07-24-2010, 09:37 AM
The title will changed as soon as I can think of something better.
Anyway, inspired by the work of Jykke, Pasis and Yandor I decided to try my hand at using Geocontrol 2. I've made a small mountain valley area that i'm exporting to photoshop, not really sure where to go from there but experiment is always fun. Until I've got something more interesting than a blakc and white heightmap i'll post something, for now I only have a 3d veiw of the valley taken from Geocontrol 2. The large central area is going be hilly farmlands and open grasses with a few rivers cutting through. The area in the southwest is going be a great lake and the areas in the northern mountain pass and the expanse in the southeast will be forested.
More to come soon, hopefully.
07-24-2010, 10:02 AM
Hey Wand, good luck with da work. Seeing as u started to use heightmaps on this project, can u share some tips bout things u found out to work in drewing heightpams my hand? I find that rather complicated (tedious at best), and id love to know some easier ways to make those (getting them from the net or something excluded) I tried something in 3ds max, a while ago, but it goes a bit slow, i prefer to work in photoshop on maps whn i have time
07-24-2010, 10:06 AM
I drew my height map in Gecontrol 2, there's a free demo of it on their website, I learn to use it by listening to their online tuts and by following Jykke's "desert river" tut here on the Guild, you can find it in search. As for tips, I have none, I'm still very new to heightmaps.
07-24-2010, 10:10 AM
Wow, that geocontrol looks fantastic! Just been to the site. Looking forward to seeing how you get on, Lone!
07-24-2010, 10:24 AM
The stuff on their site looks imba, should give it a try, might flesh out some bits of my big map with it (if i manage to start it lol :P)
07-24-2010, 11:54 AM
Yeah good luck, and looking forward to what you come out with, I've experimented enough with it, I know how much of a headache it can provide especially when you get a good result and can't duplicate it cause you forgot to save it.... ugh.... haha, but so you know for future reference, I tilted the 3d image to be a complete top down view, and just did a print screen and pasted it into photoshop.... I think pasis imports it a different way but similar effect.
07-24-2010, 12:05 PM
Fortunately Yandor I've been saving like crazy, and having already exported a top-down black and white veiw into photoshop, I'm just having some annoyances with getting the layers to multiply onto the heigtmap properly, those grey areas are causing me some problems, they make the land a little too dark. I'll just fiddle around with the brightness and contrast, maybe that'll help.
07-24-2010, 01:38 PM
Might have to give that a try one of these days...
07-24-2010, 07:49 PM
hahaha yeah, I know how you feel -D-, one thing I did, instead of multiple is Hue and Color. Once I did that and got the "basic" of what I liked, I flattened the layers and started to work from there. So after that I could put in other color layers, like multiply, overlay etc to bring out other colors. However one problem I found were the shadows, all I ended up doing, was using the healing/stamp brush and just used similar colors that looked like shadows, but were much much lighter.... Hopefully some of this might help, but who knows! you may end up doing much better of a job then me.
07-26-2010, 10:08 AM
Okay, I've reworked the layout of the valley. I changed the shaping of the mountains to make them look more natural and to make them slope more gently and thus give me a more "mountain slopes" look rather than the "canyon walls" look I had before. The pic below is shot from the southwest from what I'd expect noon in the northern hemisphere would look like, but of course this won't be on my final map and is just me playing around with Geocontrol :) . Before I go on I have a question for the guild. If this map where about 3600x3600 pics would a scale of 30 pixels = 1 mile be reasonable?
07-26-2010, 04:42 PM
I might take the dark green ring off of the gradient for the mtns, the tan looks good but the dark green above that looks out of place. Or maybe swap the tan and dark green.
07-26-2010, 05:00 PM
I agree with Ascension r.e. the dark green ring - it looks odd. Other than that, awesome. As far as scale, that sounds workable. Just be careful with your river thickness.
07-26-2010, 05:44 PM
It's getting better!
If i may suggest you something, i'd be great if u had some wide river bed in the middle of the map; winding and not too deep, but large windy rivers usually create some terraces where they bend (on the concavity shore), while sometimes making some cliffs on the other side, if the soil/rockbed is strong enough to allow it. This way, u will have a river course collecting all the water flowing from the mountains, and it will give the area a little bit more depth. Best bet: start it form the north-west corner, go through the middle where it should by pretty windy, and exit somewhere to the south.
Some more nitpicking: on the upper left side, theres a couple on peaks separated from the rst: just cool. But in the valley behind those, there are some riverbeds (smalll) that seem to drain nowhere - and thats weird. Depending on the inclination, u'd want to create another small river there, to collect those waters, and make it go round those peaks, left or right, and merge with the main river in the middle.
Also, on the west side there's an incipient valley betewwn 2 peaks,, that also has a small river basin but.. it goes nowhere, because the mountains rise again on the edge; not good. Make it a valley proper, this way u'll also make the 2 peaks/ranges more distinct.
Just my 2c, sorry if im being a nuisance :D
P.S. If u'll be getting really good with this, i'll hire you to make me some 3D maps based on my WIP when the time comes :D. Bet they'd be looking pretty neat.
07-26-2010, 08:21 PM
@Ascension and Diamond - The map is not going to be coloured like this in the final thing, this is just me playing around in the Gecontrol 2, the rest is going to be done similiar to my Dominion of Sorres style in Photoshop.
@Radu Vlad - I am going to have a river, several in fact but the main water feature is actually going to be a very large lake that takes up almost of the southwest of the map. The idea is that this place is deep in the mountains and the lake used to be a volcano that collaspe in on itself after erupting and then filled with water. The area still has some geothermal activity that leads to naturall hotsprings, the soil is quite good considered where the valley is and with mountains on all sides the valley is, or atleast was, a safe haven from the rest of the world.
07-26-2010, 09:18 PM
No worries, mate. You know what you're doing...we've trained you well young padawan. Heh. :)
07-30-2010, 12:13 PM
Okay, some progress, not entirely happy with it. They're nowhere near as good as Pasis' to be sure but its a start at least. I tried but I can't get my mountains to have the same solid "presense" that Pasis' mountains have. At least I got the general layout right, or I hope I did.
I've put in all the colours for the base land and the mountains. They may look a little wierd zoomed out so i suggest zooming in to see what I'm trying to get at. Will need to tinker a lot more with it but at the moment I'm going to experiment with getting rivers and forests to work on this map.
More to come soon.
07-30-2010, 01:19 PM
LoneD you are doing far better than I when I started with GC2. One important thing to get the mountains look good is to make the grassland (or whatever you have in the base of the mountains) and forest to slither up the mountain side (I attached sample to show what I mean) You can also experiment with different mountain textures. Attached is the texture I used in my last map and you can easily get a different feeling by playing with hue and saturation.
Just keep on going and I'm sure it will be great.
07-30-2010, 01:23 PM
Thnks for the advice pasis, the mountains in that first pic look really solid, did you paint them at 100% opacity or did the whole low, med and high mountain layer approach?
07-30-2010, 01:47 PM
Thnks for the advice pasis, the mountains in that first pic look really solid, did you paint them at 100% opacity or did the whole low, med and high mountain layer approach?
Yes I paint at 100% opacity and layer set to multiply. I used the low, med hig layer approach only in few problematic area.
07-31-2010, 04:29 AM
Some progress. Goota, I love experimenting with geocontrol now, it made placing rivers a little easier to do. On that note, I've thrown in the rivers, most of them anyway and what I do have still needs work, and the large lake the southwest. I also added an extra layer to the mountains to try and give them more depth and added an area of rocky ground between two of the mountains areas in the northeast. And now, a question. The river is generally 28 pixels wide, would a scale of 60 pixels = 1 mile be appropriate for that?
I'll continue to fiddle with everything as I place down some trees.
07-31-2010, 06:08 AM
Well, 60px=1mile means the river is averaging a half mile wide.
that might be a bit much for some, but then again it seems pretty normal to me - I live along the Niagara river.. I would say it seems pretty reasonable from that perspective :P
08-05-2010, 03:23 AM
Okay, the scale I'll have to figure a more appropriate scale later on. Right now I have 5 forest samples I would like to get some opinions. Number 1 i've used on my other maps, 2 is two layers of photoshop drybrushes, 3 is another brush i would normally be used to soften up number 1, 4 is a brush i used on my city map and 5 is another photoshop brush. Personally I think number 2 and 3 are more appropriate for this style and scale but I'm still undecided.
08-05-2010, 04:06 AM
I'm liking #3 the best.
08-05-2010, 04:12 AM
Ditto, I like #3 the best (for your map's scale). I think that your map look really good so far.
08-05-2010, 06:42 AM
I go with 4...the bevel isn't obnoxious, there's some nice scatter around the edges, and the river can still be seen.
08-05-2010, 07:32 AM
The river is covered up in this one becuase I was just testing scatter, when I do it for real the trees over the rivers will be deleted. The main problem with the forests 'm having is getting a good voering without overpowering the rest of the terrain. I'm playing with the drop shadow so that even if it's scattered the forest still looks like it substantially covers the land; right now I'm having the most success with Forest Test 3 although I'll have to play with it more.
08-05-2010, 05:47 PM
I like #3 a lot!
08-07-2010, 03:51 AM
So, using test 3, I've started to put down forests, still a while to go before I get their placement excatly right. Also cleaned up the rivers a little more.
08-07-2010, 11:32 AM
What is it that you do that makes your rivers always seem to bubble up over the land? Hehe. I looked at one of your earlier images and I thought you had fixed it for this map but on this latest update the bubbling is back.
Anyhoos, I really love how you've got the erosion on the hills and mountains. Looks really cool.
The one thing I don't like about this (other than your bubbling rivers which may just be a fault with how I am viewing them) is the texture you used on your mountains. This seems to be the texture that Pasis uses in his tutorial and to me it just doesn't seem to fit in this verdant land you have. Those mountains look like they belong in a parched landscape, not somewhere so lush.
08-07-2010, 11:34 AM
That's starting to look rather nice!
08-07-2010, 11:39 AM
@Ramah - The bubbling is caused because my light source is at the bottom right instead of the top left that is default and that which many people seem to use, to me it looks fine but it may look off if you're use to seeing the default version. It is Pasis' texture I'm using, it was the only one that was seemless enough to be used, I will try and make a colder looking rock type as yes the current rock does look rather warm and the area is supposed to be in the middle of the mountains.
More work to come soon.
08-07-2010, 01:08 PM
Just use a brownish green color overlay to alleviate the orangeness (play with blend). Or, if you're of a mind to, new layer and hand paint the colors on top (play with blend).
08-08-2010, 07:43 AM
Okay, the mountains are a little less warm and I've put down the road map plan. Bright red rings and lines are noteworthy settlements and major roads, the one with the star is the capital, dark red rings and lines are settlements of little significance and minor roads, white rings are forts and the black marks with x's on them are ruins. Ignore the numbers and other marks, they're there for future planning.
More to come soon when I come up with a better settlement pattern.
08-08-2010, 10:11 AM
Looking good! I like the colors. I keep getting that weird optical illusion that the rivers are extending above the land for some reason...I'm sure there's a way to make that go away but I don't know what it would be.
08-08-2010, 10:51 AM
I see that you're doing the bridges different than the roads - is the intention to do them realistic (they almost look like stone)? If so then you'll want to do the roads realistic as well. On a side note the stone bridges don't match the stone mtns in color.
08-08-2010, 10:59 AM
That's just the road plan, my ending roads will not be red. I am trying to make the bridges the same stone as the mountains, except for a few wooden ones. On the subject of realism, should I make my settlements look realistic or just have symbols?
08-08-2010, 11:52 AM
On the subject of realism, should I make my settlements look realistic or just have symbols?
I'd say depends on the scale...this is turning out quite nicely.
08-08-2010, 06:13 PM
If ya got real bridges then ya should have real towns. I'd say just make some lines and don't kill yourself with all the realism...saves time, too. Also the scale gets thrown out of whack when trying to do that much realism, if 1 pixel = a hundred yards then a 2 pixel wide bridge is huge. Looking at the rivers and seeing that the biggest are around 5 pixels wide I assume that they are at most 2 miles wide or 500 yards at the least. So scale will determine how much realism to go with.
08-08-2010, 07:29 PM
For reference, my scale is 1 mile = 80 pics, if things seem oversized then I'll sya they been exaggerated for asthetic purposes.
08-09-2010, 04:26 AM
Okay, sinse the scale is too small for the settlements to show up properly I've decided just to do symbols instead. The symbols were inspired by Tilt and are very simple, extra symbols will be put under the settlement name, denoting such things as settlement size, major industries, clan allegiance and other notable features. I've also thrown down the farms and roads. I'm going to play around with the farms to make them look more like rice paddies, if I can ever find out how. I'm throwing down a lot more symbols, there is a lot of empty space out there.
More to come soon.
08-09-2010, 06:05 AM
I love that farmland texture, it's brilliant!
The icons work well.. no complaints here.
08-09-2010, 10:53 AM
Looking fantastic. The farmland texture is showing it's repeats a bit.There's a little cluster of white buildings which stick out. Presumably you've got it down as a layer style. Might be worth committing it to a layer (merge down to an empty layer below) and the clone stamp out the repeats where they are most obvious.
08-09-2010, 11:17 AM
1 mile = 80 px means 1 sq mile = 6400px. 1 sq mile also = 640 acres. So at that scale 10 px to the acre. That's a very close zoom.
To get this back to grips with real world objects, a US football field without endzones is slightly larger than an acre (an acre taking up 90% of that space). This means any 9 pixels on your map is represents the area of a football field At that scale the outlines of forts, castles and the like should be clearly visible - as will be larger structures such as barns.
That is to say, you're zoomed in closer than you think you are. This is earth at approximately 80px / mile.
Circled in red is Neylan Stadium and its clearly visible football field - for reference ;)
EDIT: Here's Farmington Utah, which is the same general terrain type as you seem to be going for (mountain valley around a lake - in this case The Great Salt Lake in Utah.
The second map is displayed using Terrain mode rather than sat images because the water was hard to make out (it's more of a marsh in that area).
08-09-2010, 11:51 AM
Thnx, but another reason for switching to symbols was that I was having a some problems in making a good settlement pattern that would show up nice at this scale, the villages were all but invisible. Still, moving on. I've put in more symbols and pretty much all of the labelling, getting close to the finish line now. Most of the styles for the labelling was pretty much make it up as I went along, also, I'm sorry if some of the labels are a little small but I didn't want them overpowering the map features.
08-09-2010, 01:34 PM
The thing with villages and structures is they are specific. You are zoomed in so much you are in an uncomfortable grey area between regional and city mapping most fantasy mappers avoid.
You are at a scale of 10 px = 1 acre. A typical hamlet or village has between 10 and 15 structures on that footprint - a town or city may cram up to 30, but at that point they are so close together they visually merge into larger blocks.
Keep that in mind - even a farm house will show up as a dot on your map. You're that close. The field textures aren't quite working for me for that reason - at this scale they should noticeably follow the topography of the land. Fields are plowed along slopes, not against them, not because of some advanced notion of erosion but because it's just plain easier to do that way.
Your location icons denote the center point of your towns, just as the labels on the Knoxville map do. Knoxville is the entire map I gave, but they put the label on downtown Knoxville. Even in modern times with cars to blur distances there is a distinction, especially for urban dwellers who walk as much as they drive.
08-09-2010, 02:36 PM
I have been following this for a while and since your getting close to finishing I thought id pipe up. Theres loads of nice things on the map and I like the pins in the map for the villages. What Michael is saying is probably true as well tho. Anyway the one thing that is sticking out for me and maybe your going to touch this bit up is the flat green between the fields. Since your fields have bits of forest in them it looks like the fields have cut from originally forested area. At least the flat green might have more rough vegetation in it. Although at the scale you have the roads look wide they do look really good. I'm not a huge fan of the very pale blue water but I know lots of people like it. Its an odd map between realistic and informational but it looks great. One other thing you might want to just try out is erasing the fade on the fields and walking around the outside field on the patches and making that last field opaque right up to the hedgerow and then it goes into wilderness. A fade isn't quite looking right IMO. Fields are always a PITA and really call for manual labor to do them all individually but I could not be bothered myself with them so kudos and some rep I think for trying.
08-10-2010, 09:57 AM
I am torn between going back and redoing the pins as actual settlements or keeping my pins, they're simple but I like them. So, if i were to reduce the scale, say to 60 pixels = 1 mile, would that make the placement of the pins a little more reasonable, I would have to scale down the fields to fit but that's a quick fix, things like the roads and the rivers will stay the same because they would be a pain to fix and besides this is more of a pseudo-real style instead of a straight up realistic style, I have no where near that skill. Actually this entire map was really only supposed to be an experiment, it kind of took on a life all of its own, so theres bound to be some problems with it, still I'm getting somewhat attached to it and will see it through. I am also going back on it and cleaning up the fade on the fields, although they will still have a light fade, I've been inspired by the fields and farms in Empire/Napoleon: Total War especially the rice farms in India. I'm also going to break up the large areas of open grass land with a few trees and maybe some rocky areas, just to get rid of the bright green patches.
08-12-2010, 10:33 AM
This map is complete and is now in the finished map section, thank you to everyone for their help.
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