View Full Version : GlennZilla's Own Little World

11-12-2007, 11:10 PM
Well, I have been studiously pouring over the recent tutorials and here is what I came up with.

Using Photoshop CS, this is just over an hour of tinkering. Once I figured out my method with earlier attempts.

I have the rough coloring, next I begin to assign names and place cities and political boundaries.

11-13-2007, 08:31 AM
That looks beautiful. How did you do the heightmap? The mountain spines look really convincing!

11-13-2007, 08:58 AM
Nice one, 'zilla! I too would be interested in your heightmap technique.

I would also suggest--depending upon where you are going with this map--that you eliminate/reduce greatly the ocean geography in favor of "flatter" water. Right now I believe it distracts from your wonderful land features.

Keep us updated on this; looking great!

11-13-2007, 09:56 AM
I will write up a quick tutorial on the heightmap method tonight when I am at home again.

I kept the details on the ocean floors simply because in a world where water breathing spells are easy enough to procure, and elves live in submerged cities, it might be handy to have that information.

Also, the made the heightmap an overlay layer above the flatly painted land and water layers, so I'll have to mask it off to hide it.

11-13-2007, 11:22 PM
Two Part Post... part one.

I used Photoshop CS, so obviously the GiMP users will need to adjust accordingly.

First a new document, I wanted a roughly earth sized map and at a resolution that I could adjust easily into large regional maps. I went with 10 miles to the pixel and opened a document 2400 by 1200 pixels.

To create the rough terrain layer create a new layer. With the foreground and background colors as black and white, Click Filter > Render > Clouds to create a simple random field. Now Click Filter > Render > Difference Clouds to exaggerate the contrast. I used Difference Clouds three additional times (Ctrl+F) to get the nice ribbon like areas that formed my mountain ridges.

Next outline the general landmasses, similar to the "Not So Random Coastlines" tutorial. I could draw them with big fuzzy white brush but I used a second layer and selected only about 1/4 of it's size. Use Filter > Render >Clouds again to generate some rough light and dark areas and a quick Gaussian Blur to smooth it out. Then I used the Transform (Ctrl+T) to resize the selected area until it covered my entire image. I then used a curves adjustment to get lots of pure white areas and pure black ones, with the fuzzy gray between them.

Whether I drew my rough landmasses or simply generated clouds, I had to meld the two layers. The new layer with the general landmasses should have it's blending mode set to "Screen" and it's opacity to about 60%.

In order to avoid islands and continents that hit the edge of my map, I added a third layer. Set it's Blending Mode to Multiply and Hit CTRL+A to select the entire image. Click Select > Modify > Contract and bring the selection in about 30 pixels from the border. Click Select > Feather with 25 px to soften the edges. Click Select > Invert to that you only have the border around the edges selected. And finally click Edit > Fill and select Black. This will create a faded black edge around the image to make sure none of your landmasses fall off the edge of the world. You can edit this with a further blur or even paint out areas that you know you want to be oceans.

When I retraced my steps in writing this tutorial, I had this. (At 25% size for bandwidth's sake.)


And my Layers palette looked like this.

Now the fun part!

With the pure white as the foreground color click Select > Color Range and set the fuzziness to about 180 or so. You should get a selection that closely matches the lighter areas of the image. Click Select > Save Selection and name it something obvious, like "Height map".

Create a new layer and fill it with a blue for your oceans. Create another new layer and load the Height map selection. I like to Expand then contract the selection to eliminate the fuzzy areas in the middle. Don't do a lot of manual painting on the layer mask as it will lead to areas not correlating to the height map later. Click Layer > Add Layer Mask > Reveal Selection. This will give you a layer mask to isolate the landmasses.

Now to make the height map itself. Create a new layer above all of the existing layers. Fill it with 50% gray. Click Filter > Render > Lighting Effects. I like to use a directional light so that all my shaded relief mountains are shaded in the same direction.

These are the settings I used.

This is the map in it's gray form.

11-13-2007, 11:24 PM
Previous post continued...

Now set the blending mode on this layer to overlay. Presto, you got an entire world drawn in shaded relief, and a grayscale height map to determine elevation later, should it ever be necessary. (Exactly how high is this mountain ridge?)

Here's mine so far.

I think from this point your own experience and style will show you how to proceed. I used another layer with the same layer mask as the landmasses layer and manually painted in the darker areas for heavily wooded terrain. Another layer for the deserts and a last one with the mask flipped and modified slightly to add a darker tone to the deeper oceans.

With these layers:

I ended up with the attached file.

11-14-2007, 05:26 AM
Superb! Thank you, Glenzilla. I will give this a go when I get home tonight. In terms of colouring the map, I intend to use this tutorial (http://www.internationalmapping.com/index/_Downloads/Shaded_Relief_Tutorial.pdf) to get hypsometric tinting, so the different altitudes of terrain really stand out.

If you add into the mix RobA's tutorial in the tutorial section on making a heightfield in Gimp (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=1048) , it looks now that by combining these three methods you can pretty much get a world map in which you can determine the rough continent size and shape and location of the mountains AND hyspometrically tint the result as well - which in my book is pretty cool!


11-14-2007, 09:36 AM
I did the hypsometric tinting originally and worked out most of my method from there. But I didn't want everything above a certian elevation to look the same.

So I painted the vegetation cover over the top and kept the original black and white height map so that I could select a pixel and state with confidence the elevation of that area.

I guess I just wanted the map to display more like a satellite map with elevation data stored separately.

11-14-2007, 09:54 AM
That makes a lot of sense, but I can only grok these things when I've actually got it open in front of me and can play with the results, which I'll do tonight.



11-14-2007, 12:23 PM
For me the elevation isn't as important when describing the area on the map as much as the vegetation and relative roughness of the terrain. So moving the elevation data that I already created in the hightmap is easy to do.

When you tinker with this, remember that you can simply select a single pixel on the upper layers and then hide them to reveal the height map. And then the brightness/grayscale value of the pixel will denote the elevation of that point on the map.

For myself each step in the 256 steps of the grayscale represent's about 50 ft in elevation.

I'll post the PSD file if you want to tinker with it directly.

11-14-2007, 12:50 PM
Wow--Glenzilla, this is awesome! Thank you soooooooo much! You did a couple nifty tricks there I don't think I would have figured out on my own! Excellent! Thanks a million!

11-14-2007, 03:20 PM
Hmmm not a great result first time...time to try again!

I love the way you can change the altitude in real time by fiddling with the levels adjustments and watching the snow caps increase and decrease in size.


11-14-2007, 05:04 PM
Yeah, it looks like you might want to adjust the levels on the maps. It looks like you are getting some blobs of pure white. That ends up with mountians plateau-ing at the top of your elevation range. There's also a lot of smaller islands.

To fix that you want to make the layer with the rough landmasses a little less white and more black with a curves/levels adjustment. The slightly gray whites will help the highest peaks come out at as peaks and not flat plateaus. The darker greys will make the oceans a bit more "open" and decrease the number of small islands.

11-14-2007, 07:08 PM
Absolutely amazing job, I decided to take a go at the tutorial too, and to be honest I LOVE!! the results, here is a little meshed together, piece with the different zones I may use (not in those places but over exaggerated for you guys to see the difference between them) What do you think? And what about the colors for the different areas? good? bad?

11-14-2007, 09:18 PM
I think those colors work really well! They are different enough that it's easy to tell what the terrain of each area is.

I know I prefer the colors to be a bit more like a Satellite Photo, and so I personally don't choose the brighter more saturated colors that often. But these constrast so much that each one is clearly defined.

11-15-2007, 05:11 AM
Thanks Glenzilla, I'll have another pop at it tonight.