View Full Version : Help converting to PSD

11-14-2010, 11:41 AM
Hello Everyone,

This is my first day at Cartographer's guild and I've been trying to draw my already hand-drawn fantasy map in Photoshop without any fruitful results. What I've been unable to do is 'draw' the continent with my mouse. I'n unused to it. How can get around that? I've attached my map's photo with this post.

11-14-2010, 12:05 PM
If you are looking to 'draw' in photoshop, you might want to look into getting a cheap Pen Tablet. Check Futureshop, Bestbuy, The Source, or other electronics stores. Though it really all depends on what you want to do with this map. Is scanning it and importing it into a photoshop document for editing not enough?

It's a very nicely drawn map, looks great! :)

11-14-2010, 12:41 PM
Yes sanning and editing is enough. I don't know if I could directly 'edit' the 'photo' like a shape in PS... Sorry that I'm a noob. :( I'm learning... Can you tell me how to use this image(its size is 1600x1200px) in PS?

11-14-2010, 01:24 PM
Definitely don't apologize for asking for help! That's what we're here for!

It would help if we knew what exactly you're trying to get done in Photoshop. Here are a few general pointers, though:

Place your scan/photo on the top layer of your Photoshop document (if it's set as the background, just double click the layer and click OK. The image will be renamed as layer 0 and can then be reordered in the layer stack). Set that layer to the multiply blend mode—the blend modes are found in the drop-down box at the top of your layers list. The default is "normal." Multiply causes the content of the top layer to darken the bottom layer, in effect causing any white to become transparent. So now you can make layers beneath the photo, and when you paint on them, you'll be able to see it, but your original hand drawn lines will stay on top. You might want to then lock that photo layer so you don't accidentally paint on it.

If you want to create a saved selection of your coastline, use the magic wand tool to select the ocean area. Then go into the Quick Mask mode (Q, or click the icon at the very bottom of the toolbar that looks like a circle inside a rectangle) and paint with white to add the text and compass to the selection. Then go to Select > save selection... and give it a name. This will become a new channel that you can use in a number of ways. To load it back up again later, you can either go to the channels list and ctrl-click the thumbnail or go to select > load selection.

If you want to select particular features and move them around, duplicate your photo layer, move the duplicate to the bottom of your layer stack, and turn off its visibility (punch out the eye). This ensures that you will always have your original to go back to if you need it. Unlock the photo layer you intend to manipulate, and use the lasso tool to draw a selection around the feature you want to change. You can ctrl-J to make a copy of that selection on a new layer, or you can use the Move tool (V) to cut it out and move it around.

Good luck, and welcome to the Guild!

11-14-2010, 02:05 PM
My suggestion would be to enlarge the image to a huge size, say 8000 x 8000, then draw with the mouse. Sure it's awkward and strange but then when you're done you shrink it down to something smaller and all of the odd stuff sort of goes away a lil bit and looks much nicer.

11-14-2010, 05:54 PM
Another completely different suggestion: you could try starting out with a vector map. If you don't have any vector graphics software, you can download Inkscape for free.

This lets you easily adjust and tweak lines until you get them just the way you want, and when you are done, you can export it to a raster image at any resolution you want. Inkscape also has a handy 'fractalize' filter that can help to make very natural looking coastlines and rivers.

11-14-2010, 11:42 PM
Thank you all for your replies. I copied the border of my photo layer with the Magic wand tool and used it to create a new blank layer with only the outline of my continent. That is what I wanted to do exactly. I then brushed the border and my continent in black while I left the waters to be white.

Now I want to make the terrain on the document. For that I have some ideas after watching and reading some guides on the forum. The guides here are really SUPERB! Especially the one title Quickstart guide to mapmaking gave me lots of headstart locations. I watched the entire 'Fantasy Mapmaking in Adobe PS' series of videos in Youtube and learned lots of the PS layers, Masks and Patterns. Still, since I crammed all of it in one night, I'm quite dazed by the sheer power and capacity of PS...

Attached is the continent outline I made in a 3000x3000px document with 300ppi resolution. I want to make a terrain map and a political map from this. Lol I still have two more continents and of them is completely frozen. :P

I also wanted to ask one more thing since you all are expert cartographers - Is my placement of the terrains correct? Is everything OK with my map? I mean the mountains, the rivers and forests, do they appear natural?

11-15-2010, 06:21 AM
Hello Everyone,

This is what I finally got when I did as in some of the tutorials. I've got a land layer, ocean layer, ocean cover layer, mountain layer, hill layer and a color region layer for the color. But I still am unsure how to make this look more like my hand-drawn map. I want to position these mountains, and forests like in my hand-drawn map. Should I just erase it or should I employ some other technique totally?

Also, how to draw my rivers into this map? I tried to use a brush and an eraser but all I managed was to put clumsy thick lines all over the map.

11-15-2010, 07:51 AM
To do the rivers: make a selection of the continent (ctrl-click, in the layer stack, the continent layer); new layer on top of everything; start with a 3-pixel soft round brush (not a pencil); draw in the main rivers; switch to a 1-pixel soft round brush and draw in the minor rivers; grab the Smudge tool and smudge out the tips of the rivers.

11-15-2010, 09:01 AM
On the geologically plausible front, there are some river layout issues that you may wish to deal with. The attached image has some scribbled notations.


Things circled in red are rivers that are most likely branching the wrong way (rivers tend to join when they go downhill, not branch). The area circled in green is a join between two rivers that is unlikely to occur naturally and is geologically unstable. The areas circled in yellow are most likely too large a distributary network compared to the river size.

I recommend a scale bar for the map to help people get themselves oriented.

If the purpose of the map is to show things in a diagrammatic fashion then the elements described above may be perfectly appropriate.

11-15-2010, 09:11 AM
The only thing that jumps out at me about the rivers is that the deltas look like they start really far inland. Most deltas will start splitting only about 30 miles from the shore. The Nile Delta begins about 70 miles inland, if I recall correctly.

Regarding getting your mountains and forests in the right place, put a layer mask each one and fill it entirely with black to hide everything. Then paint white on the mask with a soft brush where you want the features to appear. This will allow you to easily tweak the locations of your landforms later on by simply adjusting the mask. Black conceals, white reveals. And gray makes things translucent.