View Full Version : Icewind Dale & Robin Hood maps: how is that made?

08-27-2011, 04:18 PM
Hi everyone,

I would like to know how are done the maps of the levels of videogames like Icewind dale or Robin Hood, Legend of Sherwood. If anybody knows tutorials or making of explaining that, I would be very interested. Of what I know, they say it's 'handpainted' but it's seems like there is 3D in there. So maybe only the textures are handpainted...
Here are some images I selected that are really beautiful and love to understand how it's done.

From Icewind Dale:

From Robin Hood:

08-27-2011, 04:29 PM
As far as I know they are hand-made digitally, that is with art software of some sort, then wrapped to a 3d wire-frame building. The ground is a 3d mesh that uses various paint images to create transitions between vegetation. So what you need:1) computer with a monitor and drawing tablet 2) raster program like Photoshop, Gimp, Painter, etc. 3) 3d program like 3ds max or Maya or whatever 4) practice and lots of it.

08-28-2011, 06:06 AM
They look like 3d renders touched up afterwards....really beautiful pictures. Thanks for posting them!

08-29-2011, 07:54 AM
For a closer look, you can go here and right click in the background > show background image:

I also found this, it helps to understand the process:
The concept for Kuldahar:
The 3D mesh of Kuldahar

So, I understand that the ground and the buildings are 3d. But what about the textures applied to it? Are they hand-painted (I mean litterally) or are they real photographs of differents grounds (grass, snow, earth...) ajusted in Photoshop?

08-31-2011, 02:28 PM
My guess is someone took a photograph and tweaked it in Photoshop to look more artistic and less realistic. Many ways of doing that like digital painting, filters, blend modes, contrast and hue shifts, etc. Very few game companies pay for real hand painting except for box cover art which they use for posters and promotional bits. Print companies (books, magazines, etc.) still like hand painting for covers.

09-01-2011, 11:06 AM
Most 3d game houses have a staff of texture artists and 3D modelers (the number of people will, of course, vary with company and game budget). The art of hand-painting textures is very much alive. While there may not be a whole lot of oils or acrylics in the studio, there are a whole lot of Photshop, Painter, and similar tools. In addition to the huge number of filters and tools available in 3D modelers such as Maya and 2D painters such as Photoshop, many companies have tool makers on staff who can write little bits of software to help get a precise visual effect. Plus, there are more grunge brushes and the like out there than most people realize.

Modern game engines have a huge array of tricks that they can use to get the right visual cues in place to make an image look more real such as fog, multiple lights, depth of field blurs, and so on. My first impression on viewing the images was that they were in-game screen shots, perhaps from a higher-resolution PC version of the game in question. The Robin Hood one looks like a 3D castle that is (possibly) in front of a hand-painted matte. The Easthaven map looks 100% like an in-game shot. What was a offline rendering activity just a few years ago (depth of field blurs, dynamic fluid flow computations, antialiasing, soft shadows, volumetric fog/smoke/dust, atmospheric effects) can now be computed directly on the video card in real time. And it's usually not just simple texturing these days; there are normal maps, gloss maps, glow maps, and potentially many other "texture" layers that can be aplied to a surface depending on the complexity of your engine.

Doing this sort of stuff yourself will mostly require familiarity with 3D modeling software and a good hand at making/painting textures to go on the models. In my experience, the third most important part of getting consistently good results is artistic ability, the second most important is recognizing when you have good results, and the most important part of getting good results is sheer bloody-minded determination to put in the endless hours of practice needed to be consistent. I can draw a box with someone else's texture applied to it and that's about the level of my competence. I am pretty familiar with the technical aspects of the process, but I lack both the talent and the persistence to be any good at it. If you love the task, you'll put in the work and call it play.

09-02-2011, 02:31 AM
Those Icewind Dale maps surely do not look handpainted. I suspect they're either pre-rendered and displayed as tiles or rendered at run-time in the engine (I don't know how old the game is). The old Planescape: Torment game was definitely created using pre-rendered tiles.

I suspect the same of the Sherwood ones...though some of those effects, like the clouds and atmospherics, vex me to a degree; not sure how they're done.

09-02-2011, 10:54 AM
Icewind Dale goes back a good few years so it's pretty old.