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Torq
11-29-2007, 10:01 AM
Hi all

I am currently working on an island map. I have posted two versions for your comments and criticism. I'm actually preferring the black and white one because it hides the forests which I am really unhappy with. Any specific advice regarding how to make the forests look better would be much appreciated.

Tools: Gimp; Inkscape

Influences: RobA, Ravs, Pyrandon and RPMiller

Cheers
Torq

ravells
11-29-2007, 10:20 AM
Wow, I'd prefer to the author of the map rather than an influence! I really like the texture you've used for the forests although I'm not sure if the distribution is believable - maybe it's just the way the forest is distributed that you find uncomfortable rather than the texture itself?

I ran into this problem with the Absalon map. By using trial and error I found a good way to get a believeable distribution was to use an 'HSB jiggle' filter which basically gave 'lumps' of varying sizes which I then used as a mask, if you add a mask of the coastline to this, you get the added benefit of having part of the forest exactly following your coastlines which is great for adding credibility. The real pain was finding a solution to overlaying forests onto mountains so it looked like the forest was following the curves of the landscape - I notice you've stopped the forest line at the mountains (wise decision!). I'll post up a copy of the mask I used tonight. Remind me if I forget!

In terms of which I like better - at full zoom, I like the colour one better, but zoomed out I prefer the black and white one as the textures seem to work a lot better when seen at a distance.

I think you've come up with a beautiful signature style there, Torq!

Ravs

RobA
11-29-2007, 10:23 AM
Cool!

The terrain certainly carries across will to the B&W - probably due to the excellent heightfield you started out with :)

Was that just a straight edge detect? (if so, which, as I know GIMP has whole basket full)

-Rob A>

pyrandon
11-29-2007, 01:19 PM
I like the color version more, mainly because the color scheme you've chosen is so wonderful. I agree with the forest issues, and I think rav's advice is good; I also think that at this scale you would not see individual trees--and the relief is so much on them that they appear at high as the mountains (which is wrong, if I'm gleaning the scale correctly); I would make the trees much flatter and more like "patches".

This is a great, great start!!

RPMiller
11-29-2007, 01:23 PM
That is looking really good. The one thing that really stands out as a peeve for me are the rivers in the mountains. If you could switch that section to just a line and have it grow in width once it gets into the foothills, I think it would be not only more pleasing to the eye, but also offer more visual interpretation of height differences.

The Cartographist
11-29-2007, 03:13 PM
I prefer the color.

I think ravs may be on to something re: the distribution of the forests. I like the texture that you used. But I think that making the forests "spotty" detracts from them. Before industrial logging took hold (with the exception of England which was cut flat 600-700 years ago, I believe), forests covered vast swaths of the entire world. If climate and soil conditions are the same across a given area, a forest would cover all of it or none of it (depending on some other factors), because over time a forest will grow to fill the entire area available to it.

Vast distances of unbroken forest is more realistic than having forest come and go.

ravells
11-29-2007, 03:36 PM
This is the mask I used to get the forest distribution in Absalon (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=1026). You can tweak it so that forests follow rivers, remain in valleys etc. It tiles, so just tile it as a fill mask to the desired dimensions and then convert it into a bitmap et Robert est ton oncle. I was using a vector drawing proggie which made the fill mask really easy...but I'm sure you could do it in Raster too. Or you could just draw the mask in by hand - but I'm just lazy!

I think Cartographist and Don have a point about the scale of the map being reflective of the distribution.

Ravs

RobA
11-29-2007, 03:37 PM
Even now -the area around Vancouver, BC. Looks pretty foresty to me from this elevation!

-Rob A>

RPMiller
11-29-2007, 03:39 PM
B.C.'s known for trees, you see, eh? ;)

Midgardsormr
11-29-2007, 09:15 PM
That just looks strange to my eye. But then I'm from the Great Plains, which has more trees now than it ever did before industrialization. Oddly, though, they all grow in straight lines...

I prefer the color version as well. The amount of noise in the b/w one is distracting. As Ravs said, though, that one does look better zoomed out.

The rivers look a bit artificial. There is plenty of jiggle in the coastlines and lake borders, not to mention the roughness in the terrain itself. The rivers are very smooth, though. I don't have the technical knowledge to suggest a solution to that, unfortunately.

Torq
11-30-2007, 05:08 AM
Thank you all for your responses and suggestions.

I have made certain changes to the map, and am trying to concentrate first on the forests. I have given them more coverage using Rav's mask, except in the desert areas, and have tried to make them look flatter and more in tune with the scale. Its definately not British Columbia, but I doubt there are that many places in the world that are so heavily treed. I'm from Africa, but the area I live in is fairly wooded, at least on the foothills around the mountains, looking at it now that may have had some influence.

I will have more problems addressing the rivers. I am using Inskcape and Gimp and I dont know how to use either of these to draw lines that taper or widen as they progress. Does anyone else?

What do you think?

Torq

ravells
11-30-2007, 06:23 AM
I think it looks much better (particularly on the islands). Cartographist has a point when he says that left unimpeded by man, forests will just stretch on in unbroken swathes. I remember wondering what to do about very large clearings that the mask made (you've got one in the NW of the large continent) so I stuck a town in the middle of it to account for the clearing. Where there were long strands of forest, I put in rivers to follow the strand so it made it look more believable. So basically, you use man or natural objects to explain any wierdness of distribution!

Re the tapering lines, the vector app I use has a ' pen pressure simulation' setting which allows you to make tapering lines, although I don't know if Inkscape or Gimp support this.
Ravs

Hyptosis
11-30-2007, 09:37 AM
Very cool map, those farms look awesome =]

RobA
11-30-2007, 10:40 AM
Re the tapering lines, the vector app I use has a ' pen pressure simulation' setting which allows you to make tapering lines, although I don't know if Inkscape or Gimp support this.
Ravs

AFAIK - Gimp supports pressure sensitivity when using a tablet in all tools, inkscape supports it for pen width only using the calligraphy tool.

-Rob A>

RPMiller
11-30-2007, 12:01 PM
The mountains' texture gives me the impression of gigantic boulders laying on top of rather flat rock ranges. At first glance they sort of looked like... I'll just say cow pies. Not that they look bad, its just that they don't look like what one would guess to be mountains.

pyrandon
11-30-2007, 01:11 PM
I think the lack of a ridge line/peaks is the reason the mountain area(s) looks so "gloppy". I'm not sure about GIMP, but in PS I would create a new layer on top, then draw in peaks and ridges using a layer style that would emphasize the height. You may also want to choose a light direction and slightly shade the relief areas on the opposite side of the mountains.

Hyptosis mentioned farms. Are those farms on the coast? If so, they are HUGE fields! Is that intentional? Or perhaps I'm still having trouble figuring out the scale?

The forests look much, much better! Good job!

RobA
11-30-2007, 02:37 PM
Something like this is an easy way:

make a selection from your mountain layer, and make a new layer. fill that selection using one of the Gradient - shaped options (play with the three to see which works best. Angular is nice, but usually needs a bit of a blur or even better jitter to take out some of the orthogonal lines). Use this as a bump map on a 50% grey layer, and then set that one to overlay.

-Rob A>

Naryt
12-01-2007, 12:13 PM
Something like this is an easy way:

make a selection from your mountain layer, and make a new layer. fill that selection using one of the Gradient - shaped options (play with the three to see which works best. Angular is nice, but usually needs a bit of a blur or even better jitter to take out some of the orthogonal lines). Use this as a bump map on a 50% grey layer, and then set that one to overlay.

Here is a really quick example on your map - can you tell the two areas I did?

-Rob A>

Very clever and effective!