View Full Version : A windy river, a town, a keep... A GIMP project.

04-27-2011, 08:05 PM
Continued from Town mapping with Gimp? (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?14420-Town-mapping-with-Gimp) I have decided to embark on this little project myself. It's unlikely I'll finish it in time to use it, but on never knows.


There's a coastline to the north
The river runs primarily north to south, but it does wander near the coast, where this map is set.
There's a fortified keep/castle atop cliffs next to the river. Means I'll have to do a hill that has cliffs adjacent to the river.
The town is at the base of the hill next to the river.
The outlying parts of the town are undergoing rapid fortification to enclose over 1,000 residents, leaving only some small farmsteads exposed.
This fortification incidentally increases the Keep's protection.
There is a bridge over the river.
The river is approx 100' wide at this point.
The new town walls/palisade will enclose an area approx 450' x 450'

At the moment I'm primarily working on the surrounding landscape and the river. I'll have something in the next few days.

Any and all constructive commentary and thoughts are not only welcome, but solicited!


04-27-2011, 08:07 PM
Index to key posts...

Post #10. Parts 1-4 (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?14535-A-windy-river-a-town-a-keep...-A-GIMP-project.&p=153733&viewfull=1#post153733)
Part 1 - River Curves
Part 2 - Building Up The Basic River
Part 3 - Painting the River
Part 4 - Bevelling the River Banks

Post #14. Parts 5 & 6 (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?14535-A-windy-river-a-town-a-keep...-A-GIMP-project.&p=154211&viewfull=1#post154211)
Part 5 - Water Turbulence
Part 6 - River Debris

Post #15. Part 7 (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?14535-A-windy-river-a-town-a-keep...-A-GIMP-project.&p=155373&viewfull=1#post155373)
Part 7 - A Cliff

Post #18. Parts 8 & 9 (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?14535-A-windy-river-a-town-a-keep...-A-GIMP-project.&p=156768&viewfull=1#post156768)
Part 8 - The Hillside
Part 9 - A Cliff's Shadow

04-27-2011, 09:24 PM
I think you can edit a post forever. Don't see too much post reserving on here but I don't think it's breaking any laws.

I read your other thread and looked at your referenced maps. Looks like a nice, meaty project. I saw that you have time constraints, but not what they are.

If you're interested, I've done a couple of towns in various styles:




The WiP threads for these should contain some of my "secrets" or at least show how they emerged. Even though they look somewhat different all three of the linked maps use the same basic techniques...i.e. layers of shapes with textures and layer effects to create trees, buildings, etc.

Good luck with it!

04-27-2011, 09:35 PM
Thanks mearrin!

I tried to rep you but I have to spread first...:) I'll definately be mining those posts for help.

Right now the hill and cliff face are driving me crazy :D I'll post current WIP tomorrow.

04-28-2011, 02:13 PM
Welcome to the wonderful world of town and city building. I look forward to seeing what you come up with. :)

04-28-2011, 08:39 PM
Thanks jtougas :)

As per yesterday's post an initial version at 50% resolution 90% quality is attached. Not much to see, it's just the base groundwork and the river... Which needs a couple of layers tweaked and a couple more layers added (debris and some water lines).

Edit: Redid the banks because I wasn't happy with them.

04-29-2011, 03:43 PM
Thats a very nice looking river. The banks might be a bit too "regular" but thats just my opinion. :)

05-15-2011, 04:33 PM
Hey there Surfarcher, I saw your other inquiry regarding Town mapping with GIMP and it caught my attention. I am a fellow GIMP user who is also attempting to flesh out a campaign setting. I am about to begin a new campaign and would like to create a map for the town that will serve as home base for the campaign. As such, I'm eager to see what other GIMP users have discovered in terms of the "How Toos" of Town/City mapping. Just curious how your own project is coming along and if you have made any progress since your last update.


05-18-2011, 12:27 AM
Thats a very nice looking river. The banks might be a bit too "regular" but thats just my opinion. :)
I thought they were too regular too and fiddled with them some more. Last post updated. If you have any thoughts on additional tweaks to the banks I'd love to heard them.

Hey there Surfarcher, I saw your other inquiry regarding Town mapping with GIMP and it caught my attention. I am a fellow GIMP user who is also attempting to flesh out a campaign setting. I am about to begin a new campaign and would like to create a map for the town that will serve as home base for the campaign. As such, I'm eager to see what other GIMP users have discovered in terms of the "How Toos" of Town/City mapping. Just curious how your own project is coming along and if you have made any progress since your last update.
Hi Arsheesh!

I had to break off for a while because I had encounters to build and a 3000 x 2000 cave system to map out, populate and do encounters for. Game night is past and I have enough material for most of next session so I'll indulge in this some more :)

In case they are of any use to anyone I'll post my notes on the work so far in a moment.

05-18-2011, 12:33 AM
Part 1 - River Curves

For me the fundamental and defining structural element for this map is the river, so I put a chunk of time up front into getting various aspects of the river right.

1. Make a new image of the desired size (3200 x 2400 for me) with a White layer.

2. We need some extra space to work with the curve or it will look wrong where the ends meet the edge of the canvas. Adjust your zoom so you can see the space well off canvas.

3. Use the paths tool and dialogue to define a new path. Make sure the very ends of the path are well off the canvas, well outside the layer. This lets us get a nice smooth curve without flat spots running through the border of the river.

Plonk down about four anchors, grab the line between each pair of anchors and give it a good bend to show up the associated handles.

4. Go into the Paths dialogue (normally between the Layers and Undo History and rename your new path "River Path". You'll find you come back to this area more times than you'd think to pick your path back up and adjust it.

5. Tinker with your "River Path" to get a nice river curve. Play around with the handles and anchors to adjust each curve section. Dragging the handles pretty far from the anchors helps get nice flowing curves in the long sections. Tight curves are a little trickier and require shorter handles.

Flat spots are the enemy here! It's worth spending extra time making sure every curve section feeds nicely out of the previous one and into the next one. Also, less anchor points are definitely of more value. Make this a game - try to get your perfect curve with the fewest possible number of anchors. Do this and you'll end up with better, smoother curves. I made five anchors to get this curve.

6. Once you think you have the curve right stroke it with the desired width of your river. Edit->Stroke Path... I stroked a 250px solid colour along the path.

7. This is where the flat spots really show up! You'll see "pinching" of your dirty think line where you have a flat spot. Simply undo the stroke, adjust the anchors and handles some more. Normally you want to slide the anchors away from the pinched area and then try to get the curve back with the handles. When you think it's right go back to 6. This normally takes a few attempts to get right.

8. Fuzzy Select your stroked area, invert the selection and make a new River Channel from it.

Part 2 - Building Up The Basic River

For the next few layers I used some variations of the techniques I picked up in RobA's excellent "Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map" tutorials. Make sure you rep RobA on there folks and kudos RobA! The stuff I used in this part is derived from "Post 6: Create the Sea".

Here's what I did, as I remember it...

1. Deselect all, invert colours and apply a 250px Gaussian Blur.

2. Create a new layer called River and fill it with clouds (Filters->Render->Clouds->Solid Noise, size 3, detail 15, random).

3. Set layer mode to Overlay and merge down.

4. Add River Channel as an layer mask and apply the mask.

5. Auto-Normalise the layer yo9u just masked (Colours->Auto->Normalise).

6. Wand select non-transparent, alpha to selection and invert selection. White fill, select none and Gaussian Blur 20.

7. Gradient Map the palette to sea colours (set FG colour to dark water and BG to lightest water and Colours->Map->Gradient Map).

I use a number of layers to build up the effect at the edge of the river and the first of these was RobA's Seashore method to get a wispy edge. Go ahead and apply that. And yes you'll have to create a noise layer with all settings at max to do that :)

Part 3 - Painting the River

Well it's not too bad so far but. Um... It looks more oceany than rivery. A river at this elevation has a lot more detail. Rivers aren't very transparent and they tend to be a bit muddy. They also have debris and banks. Let's start towards adding that.

1. Create a transparent River Mud layer between the River and Seashore layers. Fill it with a tan colour (I used a78f6b) and set it's transparency to 20%

2. Copy River, bring it to the top and rename it Grass. Mask off the river. Edit the layer and Gradient Map the colours to some grass tones.

3. Create a Grass Texture layer, noise fill it and set it to overlay. Mask off the river.

We are getting towards what folks would recognise as a river! To my eye there are two things we need to do at this point. Add depth and add dirt.

4. Add a Texture Bump Map layer and fill it with turbulent noise, high detail, large size. Hide the layer.

5. Create a Texture Bumps layer, set it's mode to overlay, fill it with 50% grey and Bump Map it with the Texture Bump Map layer (Map Type: Sinusoidal, Depth: 4). You can mask off the river if you like but I liked it better unmasked.

6. Add a new layer called Dirt, fill it with a dirt colour, add some HSV Noise (tinker with Hue and Value until it's getting grainy) and bump map it off itself (depth is the key setting here).

7. We don't want this hard dirt in the river so channel to selection, choose the Dirt layer and hit delete.

8. Create a new white layer, channel to selection and fill the selection with black on the layer. Deselect all and apply a Gaussian Blur 100px.

The next few steps are almost directly out of section 10 in RobA's tutorial.

9. Create a new layer, noise fill (max detail, max size, turbulence off) and set the mode to Difference.

10. Merge down the difference layer and invert the colours on the layer.

11. Open the Colour Levels dialogue and tinker with the input levels.

Where there is white outside the river we will end up with dirt. We want more dirt next to the river and just a few patches elsewhere. If you don't quite get this right you'll need to do some touch-ups by hand in the step. The main thing is that you get enough dirt next to the river. Toning down the dirt away from the river is pretty easy.

Start by snugging your black and white markers down to either side of the peak you should have. Then tinker around with the grey marker (and the other two markers). You want some heavyish white adjacent to a lot of the river and some wispy white in other areas.

12. Select all, copy, hide the layer and go to the Dirt layer. Add a white Layer Mask to this layer, paste and hit anchor.

If this looks too overdone to you you can undo back to just before the levels and retry.

Now you may want to do some hand touch-ups. Grab a fuzzy brush, I'm personally fond of doing this with the airbrush. Where you paint white on the mask you'll get more dirt. Where you paint black you'll get more grass.

I wasn't imagining a particularly dirty region so I was fairly heavy handed removing dirt away form the river.

Finally a little Gaussian Blur (like 5px or 10px will serve to smooth any hard edges on the layer effect.

Part 4 - Bevelling the River Banks

It took a fair bit of tinkering to get the bevel "right" on the river banks. However after this we end up with something most folks will think is quite a nice river. A bit too regular and with no turbulence or debris. But quite nice nonetheless.

1. Create a new white layer call River Bevel. Channel to selection, grow the selection 20px and fill the select on the layer with black.

2. Deselect all and Gaussian Blur 200px.

Now if we emboss this we'll end up with something resembling a concrete half-pipe that will make any skaters amongst us drool. That isn't what a river's bevel's are like tho so we need to add some texture.

3. Add a new white layer. Channel to selection, grow selection 25px and feather selection 10. Now use Felimage (Filters->Noise->Felimage->Noise) to add some noise to the selection on the new layer. I used default settings here (size 10, lattice noise, Ofrdinary fBm).

4. Gaussian Blur 20px, set layer mode to Overlay and make a new layer from this (Layer->New From Visible). Rename this layer River Bank.

5. Now this should look somewhat like a river bank when we emboss it. Keeping your current feathered selection open the emboss filter (Filters->Distorts->Emboss). Choose Function: Emboss and experiment with the other settings until you get a result you find pleasing. You are after some nice texture and shading on the areas just outside the waterline. The middle of the river is irrelevant and dark patches at the edges will be dealt with shortly. I ended up with something like Azimuth 35, Elevation 45, Depth 33 but you'll get different results depending on your resolution, river shape, etc. Hit OK and wait for it to render.

6. Select none, channel to selection, grow selection 20, feather selection 15 and invert selection. Fill with 50% grey. Grab the fuzzy select tool (Antialising on, Sample Merge 3.5) and select the areas you just filled and fill with 50% grey again. Switch to Feathered Edges 10, Sample Merge 7 and repeat.

7. Select none, Gaussian Blur 20px, mask off the river with the channel and set layer mode to overlay. Turn off the other bevel work layers and you'll see your river banks!

At this point I went back and deleted the non-visible work layers. You can keep them (non-visible) if you prefer.

Coming up we'll need some turbulence and debris on the water and then the river itself will be finished.

05-18-2011, 09:04 AM
Hey that's great! You should cross post it this bit in the tutorial section where people looking for help will be able to find it!

05-19-2011, 02:05 PM
Agreed. I know in my wanderings through the Tut section I've seen allot of GIMP users looking for some sort of Town Walkthrough in GIMP. This would be helpful to allot of people.


05-19-2011, 11:41 PM
I dunno... I've always thought tutes should be step-by-step with screenshots and all. And to be honest I don't really have the time to do that.

But then maybe I've been spoilt by RobA?

I'm more posting my notes... And that means there might be mistakes in what I've posted too.

Perhaps this would qualify as a "tute for intermediate GIMPers"?? If folks generally agree with that then I'd be happy to cross-post it... Or for the admins to move this thread to that forum either now or when I am finished.

Anyway. Back to puzzling through the "turbulent surface water" layer :D

05-23-2011, 07:16 PM
Part 5 - Water Turbulence

We have a pretty good river now. Right? Well it could be a bit better! What we need now are splashes of surface turbulence travelling with the river.

What I did was make some sets of lines that run parallel with the river banks and manipulate these to produce the turbulent layer. There's probably a much more efficient way of doing this but here's what I did...

1. Make a new white River Turbulence layer, channel to selection, grow selection 100px.

2. Default colours, Pencil Tool (Brush: Circle Fuzzy 15, Use Color From Gradient: checked, Gradient checkbox: unchecked, Length: 100 px, Repeat: Sawtooth).

3. Stroke selection with the pencil (emulate brush dynamics = true).

4. Shrink selection 41 (uncheck Shrink From Border). Change one or two of the Use Colour From Gradient settings (limit gradients to B&W ones) AND invert the selection gradient. Then repeat 3 above. Do this until there is no selection (or close to it).

This will give you a nice set of parallel dashes where each "run" is different from the others. It will also <b>really</b> highlight flat spots, flaring, etc in your curve :)

5. Create a new River Turbulence Noise layer and fill it with small sized (I used 4px), highest detail noise. Set this layer to non-visible.

6. Choose your River Turbulence layer and Displace (Filters->Map->Displace) it with your new noise layer. This should be a fairly small polar displace. I used Pinch: 20, Whirl: -20, Displace: Polar, Edge: Black. You may need to undo, tweak the settings and run again a couple of times to get this right.

7. You might have a few sections that are still not distorted enough. I loaded up IWarp (Filters->Distorts->IWarp) and did some <b>very</b> light swirling on those areas (Mode: Swirl, Radius: 25, Amount: 0.3, Binlinear: checked, Adaptive: checked and very lightly and briefly click in the areas that are too uniform). If you have any voids you could drop a little fuzzy 13 black brush in there and then blur it a bit. <b>Go light if you do!</b> This can give an unnatural end result.

8. Create a new black layer called River Turbulence Black just below your original River Turbulence layer.

9. Set your channel to selection so you can see what the lines wittin your river area are like. I was pretty happy with mine but you could do some manual adjusting with pinches, etc at this point if you felt the need. Deselect All when you are finished checking.

10. Run a light Gaussian Blur (5px), invert the colours on this layer, set your River Turbulence Noise layer back to visible and change it's mode to Addition. Those lines should now be a very noisy white!

11. Select the River Turbulence Noise layer and tone it down with Colors->Levels and set the lightest Output color to something like 75. Do the same with River Turbulence layer.

12. Use Layer->New From Visible and turn the other River Turbulence layers off.

13. Change the Visible layer's mode to Screen and go into Colors->Levels. Play with the Input settings until you have a very mild turbulence on the water surface. For me Shadow: 30, Gamma: 0.35, Highlight: 240 gave me a result I liked. You can tinker with this layers' opacity too. I was pleased with mine as-is.

14. Finally I used a Layer Mask to mask off the land, deleted the River Turbulence working layers and renamed Visible to River Turbulence.

Part 6 - River Debris

What is the debris layer? The following is simplified but suits our purposes...

Most, nearly all, rivers carry a certain amount of debris downstream.

There is surface debris. Rivers that are experiencing higher than normal flow on tributaries, which is often an annual event, will carry branches and other light debris on the surface. There'll be a fair bit of this and the river will generally be running fairly fast. Slower flowing rivers will have the odd bit of this debris.

At lower levels most rivers carry material with their flow. Even rather buoyant materials become heavy when waterlogged and slip below the surface. This certainly applies to the river in this work.

Of course there is also the bottom "sludge" layer. This layer accumulates a a very slow moving layer of earth, rotten material and heavy objects (e.g., rocks) that shifts along at a much slower pace than the rest of the river.

This particular river is mostly fed by mountain melt-water and springs, it is shown towards the end of spring. Winter storms and heavy spring run-off have cleared most of the sludge and surface debris away. For a couple of short moons it will be fairly clear and quite blue. In coming months a reduced flow and rising microbial content will turn it green.

It seems appropriate for us to represent primarily mid-level debris. We will use a technique similar to that used with the Turbulence Layer. But we will need to produce a sparser brown/green base effect.

1. Make a new white Debris Lines layer, channel to selection, grow selection 100px.

2. Default colours, Pencil Tool (Brush: Circle Fuzzy 19, Use Color From Gradient: checked, Gradient checkbox: unchecked, Length: 150 px, Repeat: Triangular).

3. Stroke selection with the pencil (emulate brush dynamics = true).

4. Shrink selection 53 (uncheck Shrink From Border). Change one or two of the Use Colour From Gradient settings (NOT the Repeat tho and limit gradients to B&W ones) AND invert the selection gradient. Then repeat 3 above. Do this until there is no selection (or close to it).

5. Create a new Debris Noise layer and fill it with medium sized (I used 8px), highest detail noise. Set this layer to non-visible.

6. Choose your Debris Lines layer and Displace (Filters->Map->Displace) it with your new noise layer. This should be a fairly small polar displace. I used Pinch: 20, Whirl: -20, Displace: Polar, Edge: Black. You may need to undo, tweak the settings and run again a couple of times to get this right.

7. Use IWarp as before if you need more warping for some line sections.

8. Create a new black layer called Debris Black just below your original Debris Lines layer.

9. Use Channel to Selection to check your lines then deselect all.

10. Run a light Gaussian Blur (5px), invert the colours on this layer, set your Debris Noise layer back to visible and change it's mode to Burn.

11. Duplicate the Debris Noise layer and set the copy's mode to Subtract.

12. Do a Layer->New From Visible. Now erode (Filters->Generic->Erode) this until there's nothing but stick-ish looking flecks. For me three times was the charm.

13. Now run an emboss (Filters->Distorts->Emboss). You want the lumps evenly textured without being too pronounced. For me Function: Emboss, Azimuth:30, Elevation: 135, Depth 10 looked right.

Well if we wanted this to be standing texture on the river we would be done. But that's not the case. We need the right colours for the debris.

14. Choose a Dark Brown foreground colour, a Light Brown background colour and Colors->Map->Gradient Map to translate the greyscale to brown.

15. Pick the Fuzzy Select tool, deselect all options except antialiasing and click on the lightest brown in the image. Fill this with 50% grey, deselect all and then run a Gaussian Blur 5px over the layer.

16. Optional. Set this Visible layer to non visible and jump back to 12, with the following changes:
12. Erode a couple more times than the brown debris layer.
14. Map to greens (dark khaki) instead of browns.
15. Instead of filling with 50% grey hit delete.
Put this layer above the Visible layer and set it's opacity to 75%.
Merge this layer down onto the Visible layer.

This gives some of your brown debris nice rotten green highlights. Especially the bigger patches of debris, which is about perfect.

17. Set the Debris working layers to non visible. Rename the Visible layer to Debris, set it's opacity to 75%, mask off the land and set the mode to Overlay.

18. At this point I was finished with the Debris working layers and deleted them. It's also worth checking if the image looks better with the Debris layer below the River Turbulence and River Bank layers. I put mine below the River Turbulence layer.

If you feel you have too much debris in one area and too little in another you can simply cut and paste on this layer to move debris around without ruining the effect. I prefer to avoid manual touch-ups, but in this case I moved five pieces of debris manually.

Well that's pretty much the river done now. Next time I'll move on to the cliffs on the inside of the main bend. Here's how it looks now...

06-04-2011, 03:04 AM
Part 7 - A Cliff

In my mind the inside of the big bend in the river features a cliff that the river snuggles up against. At the top of that cliff is a Castle. A slope runs downhill to the east and at the bottom of that slope is a town which is being progressively fortified.

Thus the following assumes an east facing cliff on a curved west bank of a river. If you are doing something different to that you will need to make adjustments.

Note: This part uses the Layer Effects plugin and the Felimage plugin.

1. Create a new white Cliff layer and set it's opacity way down, I used 25%.

2. Set the River Channel to selection, invert selection, go back to your Cliff layer and shrink the selection by the width of the cliff (Shrink from border: unchecked), for me this was 100px. Hit delete to clear this unwanted white.

3. Taper the ends of the selection down towards the river. Take the Free Select tool (Mode: add, Antialiasing: checked, Feather: unchecked) and use it to run a line through where you want your cliff shape to taper. Then square off the outside of that selection and hit delete to clear. Repeat for the other end of the cliff.

4. You may want to clean up the curves of the white area, on the side away from the river. We aren't after perfect results, as we'll see soon that's less than desirable. But we do want our curves roughly consistent without any really glaring oddities or square/pointy parts. I used Free Select to smooth out ugly corners. A fuzzy 19, scale 1 eraser can also be useful here.

5. Give consideration to your viewpoint, in regards to the cliff. What sections have cliff face more directly away from you? These will be narrower and more pinched. Are there sections you can see more directly? These will be wider. Make further adjustments accordingly. A little extra thought and effort here is worth it.

6. Feather the selection 10px and hit delete.

7. Add the River Channel to selection, go to your cliff layer and hit delete. Use Fuzzy Select to add the remaining white that isn't where you want your cliff to the selection and hit delete.

8. Invert selection and set the layer opacity to 100%, go to channels and hit new. Check the Initialize From Selection option and call the selection Cliff Channel. Set visible to no and lock the channel.

9. Go back to Cliff layer, deselect all and white fill the layer.

10. Channel to selection the River Channel, go to the Cliff layer and hit delete. Use Fuzzy Select to pick the right white area and create a new channel from the selection called East Land Channel. Set visible to no and lock the channel.

11. Go back to the Cliff layer, invert selection, hit delete and deselect all.

12. Before we can actually pop our cliffs out we need a rough edge next to the river to work on. The rougher this is the better our result will be. I'm sure there's a better way but here's what I did...

Fuzzy Select the white region on the Cliff layer. Set a jittery random white Paintbrush (Brush: circle 7, Brush Dynamics: Pressure=opacity + random=size, Apply Jitter: 1.25) and stroke the selection. Select the non-white area and repeat. Change to the smallest, tightest square brush (a 5 for me) and repeat both strokes. Fill the non-white area with black and erode the layer a couple of times. Set the layer to 50% opacity and you should see it's intruding quite a bit into the river but is looking fairly rough now. Switch the brush to black, change the jitter a bit (I set mine to 1.33) and repeat the procedure but selecting black then white (rather than white then transparent).

You might need to repeat this procedure and even with some manual jittery brushes. At the end you want a jagged and random line more or less running along river edge.

When you think you are done Fuzzy Select the white area, invert selection, hit delete, deselect all and set the layer opacity back to 100%.

13. Time to pop the cliffs out! Choose Filters->Layer Effects->Bevel And Emboss and set a nice deep, linear bevel on the layer. What worked for me was - Style: Outer Bevel, Depth: max, Size: 100, Angle: 135, Gloss Contour: Linear, Highlight Mode: Dodge, Highlight Opacity: 25, Shadow Mode: Multiply, Shadow Opacity: 30 and leave the rest at defaults.

14. Select all, right click Cliff Channel and choose Subtract From Selection.

15. Select the mask for the Cliff-shadow layer and fill with black. Repeat with the Cliff-highlight layer's mask.

16. Sections of the cliff should be too grassy. Set the Cliff channel to selection and go to Dirt layer's mask. Pick a big Airbrush (I used Fuzzy 19, scale 3) and airbrush white into the mask to reveal some random clumps and streaks of dirt. Don't get rid of all of the grass tho! We'll be adding some rock shortly and you can come back and "up" the amount of dirt with this approach again later. if you feel the need.

17. Load or create a rock layer. We want one that's got brown tones with some grey in it. The Making a Stone Texture (http://www.blendenzo.com/tutGIMPStone.html) tutorial is pretty good, although I used a non-zero seed and tweaked a couple of colour settings.

18. Create a new layer from the visible rock layer, calle it Rock and delete your work layers. Add a black layer mask to it and drop it to below the dirt layer.

19. Now you can control the amount of dirt, rock and grass visible on the cliffs by tinkering with the Rock and Dirt masks! Painting black on the Dirt layer mask removes dirt while painting white will add dirt. The same goes for the Rock layer. If there's black in a spot for both layers you will have grass.

I used Felimage and some selection magic to get a result I liked. Set Cliff Channel to selection and go to the Rock layer's mask. Use Felimage, change the first dropdown to Puffy and hit go. Now Erode the mask. Go to the DIrt layer's mask, jump back into Felimage and change the dropdown from Puffy to Skin and go. Dilate the result and you should have a servicable cliff.

From here you can touch up any areas you like with a large fuzzy airbrush (I didn;t but you might want to).

20. Depending on how your cliff has shaped up it might be good to add some definition to the top of the cliffs. Set the East Land Channel to selection and then subtract the Cliff Channel from the selection. Select black for the foreground colour, go to the Dodge/Burn tool and pick a medium fuzzy brush (I used Circle Fuzzy 11), and Dodge with Midtones. Pick the DIrt layer's mask and stroke the selection with the Dodge/Burn tool. Repeat on the Rock layer's mask.

Use the history list to compare with and without this definition along the length of your cliff. I thought this was slightly better and kept it.

Next we need to address the slope from the east that leads up to the top of the cliffs!


06-04-2011, 07:03 PM
This is really fantastic. Thanks so much for all your work. Repped. :)

06-05-2011, 09:31 PM
Aaw thanks jtougas! I figure if just a couple of folks out there get some mileage out of my humble notes then it was worth the effort of taking said notes!

06-20-2011, 05:52 PM
Part 8 - The Hillside

What I did now was add some variable texture. Where there was more slope I wanted more pronounced texture and of course where there was less I wanted reduced texture. I did this with overlay clouds and some selective gradients.

I spent quite a bit of time getting this bit right and one thing that really helped me was making a "Markers" layer. This is simply a transparent layer on which I marked out various reference lines and other positions.

1. Create a new transparent Markers layer and keep this as the top layer unless otherwise indicated. Toggle this layer's visibility off and on as needed.

2. Mark out the line that defines where the flat land stops and the slope starts going up. Zoom out on your image until you have plenty of space around the canvas. Use the Free Select tool to mark this line out, with both ends of this line being well off the canvas. If it's not quite lined up hit escape and give it another shot. Once you are happy with your line select the rest of the left side of the image by clicking outside the cavas boundaries. Stroke this selection with black at something like 5 or 10 pixels. Something that is nicely visible when zoomed right out.

3. Save this selection in a temporary Left Gradient channel for later use.

4. Create a new transparent temporary layer on top of the Markers layer. Select all and use the rectangle tool to mark a rectangle running about 600 pixels right of the line and 900 pixels left of it. Fill this with black and rotate it so that it runs at right angles to your line. Merge this layer down.

You now have a handy layer you can make various marks on for the endless retries and rework you will find yourself doing.

5. Set a darkish grey (I used 333333) as the foreground colour and a lighter grey (I used d9d9d9) as the background colour.

6. Create a new Slope Gradients layer, load your temporary Left Gradient channel as selection, feather selection 50 and go to the Blend Tool. Now stroke the Slope Gradients layer. What you want to do is start just to the right of the line in your Markers layer and stroke well into it using the rectangle as a ruler. How far do you start out of your selection? It'll take a little trial and error but it should be somewhere around the 50 pixel mark. You are aiming not to have too much dark grey where the line is. How far to stroke? Well to the end of your rectangle "ruler" to start with. If this isn't far enough scribble a little extra on the end of your "ruler". If it's too much erase a bit off.

7. Invert your selection and repeat the stroke process on the right side.

8. Select all, turn off your Markers layer and check out your double gradient.

What we are aiming for is a left-hand gradient that runs fairly evenly up the slope and a right-hand gradient that runs out of it's darkest grey fairly quickly and then peters out. And we are trying to avoid having too hard a line where they meet.

9. Set the East Land Channel to selection and subtract the Cliff Channel from the selection. Remove any extra selection in the south using the Free Select Tool in subtract mode. Grow the selection 50 pixels.

10. Add a new Slope Overlay layer, filled with background colour. Add a layer mask to this layer from Selection (Invert Mask checked).

11. Set your colours to default and create a new Slope Noise layer. Fill this with detail 4, size 8 clouds. Set the layer mode to Overlay.

12. Choose Layer->New From Visible and rename the layer to Slope Texture. Set visible off for the Slope Gradients, Slope Overlay and Slope Noise layers.

13. Select all and do a 5 pixel Gaussian Blur on the Slope Texture layer.

14. Depending on how hard a line you have at the bottom of your slope you may need to tone the lightness a bit. If so you can Colors->Brightness-Contrast and adjust the brightness up until the line in the middle has faded. This shouldn't be much tho, sometimes I used 20 or 30 and sometimes I didn't need this step at all.

15. Time to bumpmap it! Choose Filters->Distorts->Emboss (Function: bumpmap, Azimuth: 135, Elevation: 45, Depth: 60).

Now make good use of the preview here to check out the line - we want it pretty fine so the following Gaussian Blur will kill it altogethor.

16. Run a 5 pixel Gaussian Blur on the Slope Texture layer, set it's mode to Overlay and it's opacity to 80.

17. At this point I often found I still had some minor lining here and did an additional 5 pixel Gaussian Blur.

18. Set the River Channel to selection, add the Cliff Channel to this selection and do a 5 pixel Feather Selection. Now add a layer mask to the Slope Texture layer using this selection (invert checked).

19. If you like you can delete the Markers, Slope Gradients, Slope Overlay and Slope Noise layers.

Part 9 - A Cliff's Shadow

Looking a bit like a slope now :) But that upward slope with a cliff should cast some shadow to the south,

1. Add a new transparent Cliff Shadow layer. Set the East Land Channel to selection and subtract the Cliff Channel from the selection.

2. Fill this selection with black on the Cliff Shadow layer, set the layer's opacity to 40 and select all.

3. Choose the Perspective transform tool (Tools->Transform Tools->Perspective). Set Opacity to 40 and leave the other settings at default. Slide the center down and right a bit, then tweak the corner anchors until you get a shadow you think will work for your image. Make sure you consider the height of the cliff, it's upslope and the angle of the sun.

This is a good time to point out that you need to always keep in mind Azimuth. If you don't know what it is you should go read up on it and play around with it a little. So far we have been using 135 (south-east by south-east)... In a couple of cases we even used 135 when we should probably have inverted it... But those cases were fairly minor and it was easier to just be consistent :D

I found I had to be quite aggressive with some of my anchors to get the effect I wanted :) In this case a picture is worth a thousand words!

When you think you have it right hit Transform

4. Anchor the layer and give it a 150 pixel Gaussian Blur.

5. Add a layer mask using the East Land Channel and make sure Invert Mask is checked.

Well I think we are kind of finished with the underlying geological structure of the map! Next time we'll think about where the lesser objects should be placed, build some roads and start constructing our town.

As always I'd love to heart any thoughts members have on how to improve the map, do tasks more efficiently, alternative approaches, general comments or similar.


09-25-2011, 07:22 PM
Haven't given up on this but life did get on top of me. I didn't get it completed for the grand unveiling, but here's what the PCs got when they arrived.

They got a cropped version of this 50% JPeg... basically the town, palisades, bridge and adjacent fields...

I'm trying to make sense of my notes now so I can post some more parts... Hopefully tomorrow.