View Full Version : help on photoshop + Fractal Terrains heightmap

08-31-2011, 04:50 AM
Previously, I obtained nice results in working with Fractal Terrain + photoshop, exporting the shaded FT file and then processing it to add cities, forests etc.
There are two problem in this.
The first is that in this way I cannot work much on the shadows from elevation.
The second is that I cannot work on area smaller than, roughly, 1000*1000km, because otherwise the fractal pattern starts being noticeable (cranking up octaves in FT don't work on the fractal function I am using, wilibur ridged multifractal).

One way to solve the two problem could be exporting an heightmap from FT and then working on that. I tried the "standard" process for shading an heightmap in PS, but I did not get pleasant results. So I thought of another option, which would be using the bevel and emboss and shadow effects applied to the mountain layer (similar as in pasis tutorial) using the heightmap as a starting point which in this way could be modified more easily, perhaps also obtaining a more pleasant style.

The only way I could think of doing this would be exporting an heightmap as shades of grey (from white-low to black-high, reverse than the usual), and then converting those shades in a gradient of opacity and/or filling in photoshop. If this is a viable option, my current problem is that I don't know how to do this, or if it is possible at all.

Could anyone help me?

08-31-2011, 10:18 AM
It occurred to me that I could obtain the desired effect converting the height map to a layer mask, which interprets white as 100% opacity and black as 0%, so it would work without even the need to invert the colors. However, I realise that I am not even able to do that, which I am sure is possible. Could anyone help?

Master TMO
08-31-2011, 10:19 AM
I think I've got a solution for you. It is something I've done before, and I think it addresses the issue.

2 map exports from FT.

The first one is your normal terrain, but with shading turned off. No shadows, just the plain colors.
The second one is just the shadows. Go to your Altitude color menu and change it to do 1 color each for sea and land, and do them both as White. Then turn the shading back on and export the map with the same size settings.

Take both images into Photoshop, layer the shadows over the terrain and set it to Multiply. You can change the opacity of it to suit your needs, paint under it, over it, mask it, whatever.

Master TMO
08-31-2011, 10:24 AM

Here's a sample from one of my worlds of the shading.

08-31-2011, 10:26 AM
Thanks Master, but this is what I already did, I am sorry I was unclear in explaining. What instead I want to do now is to use the heightmap to project shadow within photoshop, in this way I can tinker with bevel and emboss and drop shadow (and avoid or lessening the problem of the fractal pattern at closer resolutions), which I can't if I use the previous method.
Isn't there a way to transform a level, or its content, into a level mask?

08-31-2011, 10:32 AM
I think I found a "stupid" way of achieving the result, defining a pattern from the b/w image of the heightmap, and then using the filler tool on the level mask. 5000*3181px, what a beast of a pattern...

Master TMO
08-31-2011, 10:43 AM
Well, drat. :P So much for that feeling of riding to the rescue because I actually knew the answer. :)

You can paste images into your layer mask by Alt-clicking on the mask on your Layers window. That opens up the layer mask as a normal layer on your screen that you can paste into.

08-31-2011, 10:48 AM
Thanks a lot. This way I can also work with contrast etc within the mask, much better.