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View Full Version : [Award Winner] Realistic Land/Mountain Texture Made Easy



Flawedspirit
07-24-2010, 05:13 PM
This is the first tutorial I have released on the site, and probably one of the first I've released onto the Internet, so bear with me. I want to see if this process I have worked on for the past few months translates well to the tutorial setting.
Basically, this involves creating a bump map that we “overlay” on top of the land to give it texture. I’ll try to keep it short, simple, and to the point, but basic Photoshop capability is of course required.
Of course, I can’t take all the credit. If there is a similar tutorial on CG, chances are it's been an inspiration. This is simply my unique take on the process of making an atlas/satellite-like map. So I have to give…

Thanks to the following people:

Ascension – excellent tutorial for creating a map, as well as land shape
Kalvinlyle – his tutorial helped me refine my process as well
Anyone else who’s helped/supported me on cartographersguild.com

Note: This tutorial assumes you have land created already that requires texturing, so I have decided to forgo adding this section. For an awesome tutorial on that, go to:
http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?4084-Award-Winner-My-atlas-style-in-PS

Without further ado, we begin.

1. Create a new document. I chose 1000 x 1000 px at 150 dpi for this tutorial's picture.

2. Name your land layer something like Land Base, and CTRL-click its thumbnail in the Layers window to select it.
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3. With your selection still active, create a new layer above that one, and name it Overlay. Go to Filter -> Render -> Clouds. After that, do the same thing again, but with Difference Clouds this time. Hit CTRL-F a few times until happy. I usually do it 7 or 8 times. You should end up with something similar to below:
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4. This is where the artsy, patient part comes in. Create a new layer above your Overlay layer, and name it Elevation Adjustment. Now choose a soft, round brush at a low (10-25%) opacity. CTRL-click your Land Base layer so you're not brushing on your ocean, and brush black onto areas you want to be lower, and white onto areas you want to be higher, and more mountainous. Places like shorelines and basins where water would collect should obviously be lower (painted more black) than other areas.
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5. This is the fun part. Once you're done making your land look like what you want, merge your Overlay and Elevation Adjustments layers (or duplicate them and merge, if you don't like destructive editing), and copy the layer.

6. Go to the Channels tab, at the top of your Layers window. Create a new Alpha Channel, and paste the copied layer into there.

7. Go back into your Layers tab, and hide the merged Overlay/Adjustment layer. Create a new layer above the Land Base layer. We'll name it Land Texture. Go to Edit -> Fill and select 50% Gray from the dropdown box. Click OK and the Texture layer will be filled with a flat gray color.

8. Go to Filter -> Render -> Lighting Effects. Enter the settings below, and make sure the Texture Channel box is set to Alpha 1, or whatever you chose to name the alpha channel. Uncheck White is high, because it seems to turn the mountains into valleys, despite its name. Drag the two little light indicators around until the preview picture mostly looks like a fairly neutral gray color.

Light Type: Directional
Intensity: 35
Gloss: -15 (0 is fine too)
Material: 100
Exposure: 0
Ambiance: 0

Mountainous: 100

9. Viola! You now have texture. CTRL-click the Land Base layer one more time (while you still have your overlay layer selected), and hit CTRL-Shift-I to invert the selection. Then hit delete. This will get rid of the portions of the overlay that are water, and makes the shoreline look better as well. Now set the Land Texture layer to Overlay. Your land should look like this now.
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10. There is only one thing left to do now. Color! Using a round, soft brush (set to about 25-50% opacity), brush in the color you'll need for your map, such as a light green for grass, a dark brown for mountains, and white for snow-capped peaks. Each color should occupy its own layer. This is another part where general skill and imagination comes in. Everyone's picture will be different in some way. My result is below:
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That's my tutorial in a nutshell. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or think the tutorial is confusing, be sure to post something. I hope my tutorial helps some people make some great maps; I hope to see what people come up with.

Steel General
07-25-2010, 08:53 AM
Nicely done...

quest3500
07-26-2010, 02:27 AM
This is awsome, i'll try it later.

ravells
07-28-2010, 03:24 PM
I'm finding it hard to get the soft brush adjustments right....I'm being too impatient...I'll keep working at it. Thanks for the tutorial!

HandsomeRob
07-28-2010, 03:46 PM
This is the exact technique we use at my office to create shaded relief from DEM data. Nice job.

Flawedspirit
08-30-2010, 06:03 PM
If anyone has any suggestions about how to make this tutorial better (more easy to follow, etc.), I appreciate the feedback. I humbly hope my little how-to makes a big splash here at the CG, like some of the legends that gave me inspiration to try this.

mearrin69
08-30-2010, 06:47 PM
I'm definitely going to try this on a couple of regional maps I'm working on. Repped!
M

Sifaus
09-04-2010, 05:00 PM
Thanks for great tutorial!

I Merge this height tutorial with my old brush-map. What i done so far: http://img823.imageshack.us/img823/306/kayipevrendenemev1mini.jpg

But i have some problem with coloring. Any advises or more detailed coloring tutorials about coloring? :/

jezelf
09-10-2010, 12:25 PM
cool stuff. looking great, Flawedspirit

just a suggestion, but perhaps putting it into wilbur (http://www.ridgenet.net/~jslayton/software.html) next to get realistic errosion and rivers?

Sifaus: try using a height gradient as a layer mask? I used one in one of my maps (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?2942-September-Entry-Buncklebury&p=31885&viewfull=1#post31885) turned out nicely - here's a tutorial I just found that may help (http://www.internationalmapping.com/index/_Downloads/Shaded_Relief_Tutorial.pdf)

for colours, perhaps work out what part of a planet your map is on? on the equator or near a pole will be a a starting point.

Troedel
10-24-2010, 02:46 PM
greetings everyone,

i liked the suggestion of jezelf and importet the heightmap created with clouds and difference clouds into wilbur and erroded the mountains ( tutorials 1 and 4 on the wilbur homepage ). I reimported the hightmap and colored it with the wilbur shading colors. the combination of clouds and difference clouds leads to circle shaped formations wich are not easy to get rid off. I will go on with the map Ive created and work on it.

arakish
10-30-2010, 10:55 PM
Flawedspirit,

I liked this tutorial but could not find it in PDF format. I copied your original post and made it into a PDF. Hope you don't mind.

rmfr

geoff_nunn
02-21-2011, 09:47 PM
Okay, I'm having a hard time rendering the mountain heights on the gray texture layer because the following path does not seem to exist in my copy of Gimp

"Filter -> Render -> Lighting Effects"

I DO have "Filter -> Light and Shadow -> Lighting Effects"

but once I open that filter, of the following settings, only Light Type and Intensity exist, along with a whole bunch of other variables. Is your Lighting Effects a custom plug-in or is it an issue with differing versions of Gimp? I'm using 2.68

Light Type: Directional
Intensity: 35
Gloss: -15 (0 is fine too)
Material: 100
Exposure: 0
Ambiance: 0
Mountainous: 100

jfrazierjr
02-22-2011, 09:09 AM
Okay, I'm having a hard time rendering the mountain heights on the gray texture layer because the following path does not seem to exist in my copy of Gimp

"Filter -> Render -> Lighting Effects"

I DO have "Filter -> Light and Shadow -> Lighting Effects"

but once I open that filter, of the following settings, only Light Type and Intensity exist, along with a whole bunch of other variables. Is your Lighting Effects a custom plug-in or is it an issue with differing versions of Gimp? I'm using 2.68

Light Type: Directional
Intensity: 35
Gloss: -15 (0 is fine too)
Material: 100
Exposure: 0
Ambiance: 0
Mountainous: 100

Thats because this was made with Photoshop and not GIMP. I am sure there is a way to make the conversion, but I don't know it off the top of my head.

Vandy
02-22-2011, 10:37 AM
Hello, Flawedspirit.

You've created a very nice, simple tutorial that results in a great map! Thanks for sharing this with us.

arakish, I was just ready to turn Flawedspirit's tutorial into a PDF document when I went to page 2 of the thread and saw that you had already done so. Thanks!

TO ALL:
I've added Flawedspirit's tutorial in the Photoshop section of the second post on page 1 of the Tutorials in PDF Format (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?4987-Tutorials-in-PDF-Format) thread.

Enjoy.

Regards,

Vandy

Sergei Zybin
04-08-2011, 06:07 AM
Nice tutorial! I love it for simlicity and result.

But its more about pseudorealistic mountains. There is no any real-looking mountain chains - just some kind of "giant hills" with classical-standard for fantasy maps mountains texture in sattlite-atlas style. Sorry, if I was too bad with this. Im not english native speaker, so, sometimes balance of polite talking and so on is rather diffucult for me.

Everything is okay, this just some opinion.

Subcreator
08-02-2011, 06:30 PM
I was having trouble using this, because at one point, the directions didn't match what I saw in the program. Then I realized I was using a tutorial for the wrong program. I had thought this was a GIMP tutorial. Heh. Great work. It still helped.

Akora
08-19-2011, 02:29 PM
I'm guessing this is for PS and not Gimp? I'm new to both and this tutorial is really confusing to me.

mbuchholz
09-21-2011, 03:09 AM
Thank you, Flawed, for this wonderful tut. I love the effect it creates.

toranaga18
10-18-2011, 12:33 AM
I have been looking for a tutorial like this all day long! Literally...all day long. Thank you for sharing!

cruciFICTION
10-24-2011, 02:02 PM
Damn, that's nice. Any way to port it to GIMP, maybeplease? C:

RobA
10-24-2011, 10:59 PM
Damn, that's nice. Any way to port it to GIMP, maybeplease? C:

Many of the techniques are similar to parts of my "artistic regional maps in Gimp" tutorial (see sig). Play through that once and you will be able to translate this to Gimp fairly easily.

-Rob A>

moriturimax
02-04-2012, 08:17 PM
Planetary maps for my Irimagik campaign setting AHOY! tHx!

Mustak
04-10-2012, 03:21 AM
Which map so pretty!

I use Gimp in Spanish.

Step 4. When CTRL-click on Land Base layer: nothing happens.

Instead I Right clic, select alpha channel. Is it right?