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View Full Version : [Award Winner] Atlas Walkthrough [Fractal Terrains & Illustrator]



HandsomeRob
03-01-2008, 07:15 PM
Hi all,

In this thread I will walk you guys through the production of one of my atlas maps. I plan to cover it in pretty good detail, but as always feel free to jump in if I'm rushing through something or if you have a better method for handling anything that comes up.

We're going to work on the last of six regional maps for the continent of Jalaun (http://sorol.wikispaces.com/Jalaun), which just happens to be entitled "Central Jalaun."

Step 1. Setting up the Projection
My regional maps all use the Lambert Azimuthal Equal-Area projection, as it is easy to work with and relatively distortion-free for regional areas. I have my world file saved in Fractal Terrains, and I'll use that to set up my projection. First of all I want to know the extent that I'd like to map; for this map it's approximately from 144W to 165W, and from 3N to 16N. All you need for a Lambert Az is a center, so I'll pick a center close to the center of my coverage: 159W, 10N. I also make sure that the entirety of my coverage is shown in the map window; it's fine if there's extra showing, but I don't want to underrun. When I've got the projection set correctly, I'll save the FTW file as "CentralJalaun.ftw" for later reference.

Step 2. Creating the Basemap
Now that my projection is set I can export the images I will need from FT. First I want an image that has land in one color (I use white) and water in another (I use blue). I don't want this to have any relief shading, and I also want to make sure the graticule is turned off. The first attachment here shows the settings I use. I'll save this map as a jpg, and I'll make sure it's pretty large (I use 4800 pixels wide and highest jpg quality).
Secondly, I want an image with relief. I'll set the land and water to white and turn the shading for the land on. (I've made the water white here in case there is any misregistration of the land/water polygons; if the water was blue there might be tiny little slivers of blue along the coast, which I don't want). The second attachment shows these settings; I've saved this image as well, using the same 4800 pixel size.
Finally, I want an image that shows the graticule. The third attachment shows the graticule settings I use; I also set the land to white and water to blue again, and turn the shading off. This image I can make smaller, so I save it with a 2400 pixel size.

I've set up my Illustrator file with a black box showing my final map size (10" x 16" for me). I place the three jpgs I've generated in FT here, setting the land/water image at the bottom, then the graticule image (set to multiply) and finally the relief image (set at 25% opacity).
Next I use Illustrator's nifty Autotrace feature. Select the land/water image and push the Autotrace Button. The fourth attachment shows the settings I use. Expand and ungroup the result, select everything that's white (the land) and delete it. This leaves a nice set of polygons for your water fills, which you should color whatever color you like your water to be. To smooth out some of the wierd FT-derived angles, I go to Object > Path > Add Anchor Points and then Filter > Stylize > Round Corners (0.5 pt). I then copy all of these water polygons into a new layer, stroke them, and remove the fill (this is my coastline layer). The fifth attachment shows where we are now, which is a good place to stop for this lesson.

-Rob

HandsomeRob
03-02-2008, 10:41 AM
Step 3. Setting up your Layers
All of my maps follow the same layer structure, which helps immensely when you get to step 4 (below). I have these layers (attached!), along with the map frame, saved in a file I call "template" which is what I open when I start a new map. I've grouped all of the type layers together ("labels") and all of the linework layers together (in a layer called "type mask"). The reason for this will become clear later.
Also, you will notice a layer called "image." This is where the completed photoshop background will go when it is done. Below that are all of the landcover layers ("glacier", "rock", "deciduous", etc.). I keep the landcover layers below the photoshop image because they are not needed for the final map.

Step 4. Copying in what's ready
Okay, the other attachment here shows where my map is now. It looks like I've done a lot since the last round, and I have, but it's not that complicated. I've simply copied and pasted in the work that's already been done on the overlapping maps. For this map, it's quite a bit. The western edge was from the Kolbyana (http://sorol.wikispaces.com/space/showimage/Kolbyana.jpg) map, the north edge from the Central Zarakhan (http://sorol.wikispaces.com/space/showimage/CentralZarakhan.jpg) map, the east edge from the Southeast Zarakhan (http://sorol.wikispaces.com/space/showimage/SEZarakhan.jpg) map, and the south edge from the Gurhana (http://sorol.wikispaces.com/space/showimage/Gurhana.jpg) map. It makes for quite a bit of overlap and will save me some time in completing this map. I've made sure that all of the copied-in features are in the correct layers, and I've saved for now. The next step is filling in the empty square in the center.

-Rob

delgondahntelius
03-07-2008, 02:51 AM
Sorry to interrupt what will prove to be a very useful and detailed tutorial... one of the mods perhaps can delete it later...

one critique note: perhaps explain at the beginning what programs you intend to use to produce the atlas... I'm guessing that FT is Fractal Terrains and Illustrator refers to Adobe Illustrator... If i'm wrong, i'm going to feel really dumb.

I have photoshop and FT but I don't have illustrator... can you explain what the Autotrace button does (again, i'm assuming from the name that it auto traces what you have selected) and for those without Illustrator... perhaps an alternative ... and barring that... what would one have to do if they had to do it by hand... i'm guessing (again, i do that a lot) that it would require some lengthy time consuming task for the very reason an auto button was made...

Del

jswa
03-08-2008, 01:49 PM
Keep going, Rob!

I simply must know how to make an awesome atlas!

HandsomeRob
03-09-2008, 09:28 PM
Alright I'm back.

Just to clarify, I am using Fractal Terrains (an old version), Adobe Illustrator CS2, and Adobe Photoshop CS2. Older versions of photoshop will probably work, but Autotrace is only available in Illustrator CS2 and later editions.

Step 5. The Creative Stuff
The first image I've attached below shows where I am now. I've added roads, trails, settlements, cities, boundaries, rivers, and labels to the map; and I've also finished drawing in the landcover polygons. It looks like the map is complete, but there are actually a few more steps to do before it is finished.

Step 6. Creating the Raster Background
To create my photoshop background image, I need to export four files from Illustrator. First of all I'll create a crop box from the outer map frame so that all of the exported images register correctly. The first image to export consists of all of the landcover layers. I'll export it at 300 dpi and in CMYK color, but I don't want layers. The second image to export is the relief layer (make sure you set the transparency back to 100% before exporting). This image should also be 300 dpi, and the color should be greyscale. The third image is the water layer (300 dpi, CMYK), and the fourth is the pink casings I've created below my boundaries (also 300 dpi, CMYK). Go ahead and open all four of these images in Photoshop.
Start with the landcover image. Change the color mode to RGB to open up some of the filters we'll use. Then use Filter > Brush Strokes > Spatter to fractalize the edges between landcover classes a bit. I will also go ahead and add a bit of Gaussian Noise to this layer as well. Set the transparency of this layer to 80% and add a layer of just white underneath it. Change the color mode back to CMYK. The next layer above the landcover should be your boundaries, which you can bring in using Image > Apply Image.
Next we will need to adjust our relief image a bit. Start by changing the color mode to Duotone, and select a tritone of pure cyan, pure yellow, and pure magenta. This will make the relief a nice gold color which looks better than black when multiplied with the landcover. You can then change the color mode to CMYK. Select all and get rid of some of the roughness of the relief by using Filter > Noise > Median, with a value of around 5 or so. I also like to Gaussian Blur this image a tiny bit as well. Now it can be brought in above the boundary layer. Set it to multiply and use a low opacity, around 25% or so.
Above the relief, bring in your water fills as a new layer. I'll add a slight inner glow to the water fills and my background image is done. Place it on the appropriate layer in your Illustrator file.
I've attached an image that shows where we are now; there are only a few more steps to go!

HandsomeRob
03-09-2008, 11:48 PM
Step 7. The Graticule
Unfortunately, I don't know of an easier or more accurate way to do this step. To get a nice grid of latitude and longitude lines, I turn on the graticule image I created in FT way back at the beginning, and trace it with the pen tool. I really wish I knew of a better way to handle this step, but I don't.

Step 8. The Typemask
In order to prevent ugly crashes between type and linework, I've set up the layers in my Illustrator file to handle a clipping mask for type. To make this mask, create a new layer and copy all of your type into it. Outline the type (Type > Create Outlines) and give it a stroke (usually 1 pt). Outline the stroke (Object > Path > Outline Stroke). Now copy your map frame into this layer, select all on the layer, and Divide (using the Pathfinder pallette). Ungroup, deselect the outer frame, and delete. What you will have left is a compound path including the map frame and a half-pixel buffer around all the type objects. Move this into the Type Mask layer and set it as a clipping mask (Object > Clipping Mask > Make). The linework around type should disappear if you've done this properly.

And that's it! The final map is attached below. Thanks all and feel free to bombard me with questions.

-Rob

delgondahntelius
03-16-2008, 07:25 PM
Well.... I did it.... I went and bought the Adobe Creative suite with Illustrator and CS 3 Extended .... so I expect I'll be trying this tutorial out soon... whenever I get it in the mail that is ... and then get it set up ...

Great tutorial by the way... :D

aeronox
03-20-2008, 12:15 AM
Wow, getting Adobe CS for mapping.

$_$

delgondahntelius
03-20-2008, 03:32 AM
ya.. not just for mapping, my wife and I have a publishing company we started, so it will have other uses...but $_$ is right... almost made me sick spending that much... however, it came in today and so far... it's money well spent. Well, spent, anyway :D

If I had spent that much on a program just so I could use it to make maps... well, I'd either be a little slow in the head or uber-rich... I'm working on the latter and I've always been the former... ;)

HandsomeRob
03-20-2008, 09:15 AM
Of course, if you can get it with an educational discount you would be silly to pass it up. I bought a full edition of CS2 for $200 when my wife was in school. That's a great deal. I think it retails for something like $1200.

-Rob

Midgardsormr
03-20-2008, 11:36 AM
Of course, it violates the license to use an educational edition for professional work, so if you go that route, you're limited to using it solely for personal use. Not that Adobe would probably notice, but if you've started a publishing company, it's probably best that you paid for a standard license.

Hope you're enjoying yourself!

delgondahntelius
03-20-2008, 01:32 PM
a discount off $1799 would have been nice... :( they are very proud of their creative programs... that is FO' SURE...

Midgardsormr
03-20-2008, 06:18 PM
No kidding. I'm looking at the Master Collection, with both the video and graphic design apps, since I am going into visual effects for film and my wife is a graphic designer. $2500 retail or a mere $1000 for the educational license. I think I can get it even cheaper if I buy it through my university, though.

delgondahntelius
03-21-2008, 03:01 AM
I'm not sure how I could have done it.. I'm not in school and have no ties with any university... any discount with a price tag like that is a welcome sight...

delgondahntelius
03-21-2008, 06:38 AM
You say that the first image you save to jpg is a 2 color non shaded map ... land is white.. water is blue.. but the thumbnail for your first example has land as blue... water is white....

I used the pic to set my settings.... which made the land blue, the water white.

Also... I saved it at 4800 px wide... does it normally take FT so long to save a file that size.?

HandsomeRob
03-21-2008, 09:24 AM
You say that the first image you save to jpg is a 2 color non shaded map ... land is white.. water is blue.. but the thumbnail for your first example has land as blue... water is white....

I used the pic to set my settings.... which made the land blue, the water white.

Also... I saved it at 4800 px wide... does it normally take FT so long to save a file that size.?

I totally messed that up. Yes, I normally make the water blue and the land white, but the thumbnail shows it the other way. The thumbnail is wrong - good catch!

And yes, it takes FT a long time to save a 4800 px image, so be patient!

-Rob

delgondahntelius
03-21-2008, 12:35 PM
I'm running an updated version of FT Pro, so my grid settings look a bit different... actually.. alot different. It has a menu where you can show/hide multiple grids. I set one up like the first grid, and a second one up like the underlying grid. But with those settings active, it takes FORever to load up the grid... so long in fact, i've yet to wait long enough to see if it fully loads because it takes up a whopping chunk of RAM as it loads up.

Could it be the zoom level i'm at? I've tried it zoomed in, but it seems to do no good. will that particular jpg be crucial to the map? I know I've read the whole tutorial, but I thought I would ask if I positively need it for the end result...

I'm going to play around with the grid settings and see if I can load one up that I like and doesn't take a dog's age to load.

delgondahntelius
03-21-2008, 01:48 PM
HR... Please don't hate me... I just happen to keep having a lot of questions...

When you set up your Illustrator file... size 16x10, what do you initially have the color mode at (CMYK or RGB?) and at what raster effect DPI do you set it at? (300dpi?)

And, I'm new to Illustrator, so bare with me as I stumble threw this tutorial. Thanks.

Sigurd
03-21-2008, 03:03 PM
Hey Rob - really appreciate the tutorial.


Two fractal terrains questions:

1. I'm assuming you're saving 'views' from your globe view. Do you ever get near the poles? What would a map of one of your poles look like?


2. What CC2 setting do you use? When I opt to save as JPG I generally have to build with a CC2 export for the selection. I can't find a setting that exports the graticule.


-Sigurd

HandsomeRob
03-24-2008, 09:11 AM
HR... Please don't hate me... I just happen to keep having a lot of questions...

When you set up your Illustrator file... size 16x10, what do you initially have the color mode at (CMYK or RGB?) and at what raster effect DPI do you set it at? (300dpi?)

And, I'm new to Illustrator, so bare with me as I stumble threw this tutorial. Thanks.

CMYK, 300dpi. No sweat.

Also... don't wait for the grid to load. I can never get a 1 degree grid to show up in FT either, but when you save the jpg, it will be there.


Sigurd-
Here (http://sorol.wikispaces.com/space/showimage/NorthPole.jpg) is a map of the north pole. It works just the same as any other area of the globe, because I have chosen a map projection. As for CC2 settings, I don't use CC2 so I have no idea. Sorry!

-Rob

HandsomeRob
03-25-2008, 09:24 AM
I have an only slightly newer version of FT. When I save a "view" it makes me use a CC2 Setting as part of the export. The setting is inside of Fractal Terrains.

During your export do you Screen Capture? Or export views? or export numbers of files to cover your region?

All I do is go File > Save, and use .jpg as my file type. I don't think my version supports views...

Hope this helps!
-Rob

Sigurd
03-25-2008, 05:12 PM
Thanks, It actually helped a lot.

I needed to use a different option in the program

Sigurd
03-29-2008, 01:15 AM
Step 7. The Graticule
Unfortunately, I don't know of an easier or more accurate way to do this step. To get a nice grid of latitude and longitude lines, I turn on the graticule image I created in FT way back at the beginning, and trace it with the pen tool. I really wish I knew of a better way to handle this step, but I don't.

I exported a completely white layer beneath the graticule for the selection. No shading, white everything. Then I used the photoshop magic eraser to erase everything that was white and saved it as a PNG (preserves transparency)

I'm using this file instead of the JPG and its seems to work very well.

Sigurd.

HandsomeRob
03-31-2008, 09:15 AM
Good idea, Sigurd. I prefer to keep my graticule in vector format however, so I would still be tracing it anyway.

-Rob

Sigurd
03-31-2008, 12:26 PM
Good idea, Sigurd. I prefer to keep my graticule in vector format however, so I would still be tracing it anyway.

-Rob

Absolutely, but the JPG isn't vector and the PNG is transparent to make tracing simpler.

I'm (grudgingly) still keeping Illustrator in the loop to have vector roads and such and then the graticule might as well be vector.

Sigurd

Arkkeeper
06-03-2008, 09:44 AM
Can I just say I'm going to die if I figure out how to make these maps

RPMiller
06-03-2008, 03:44 PM
I have these layers (attached!)
Were you referring to just the picture or did you mean to attach a PSD file? It sounds like you are referring to an attached PSD, but there isn't one so I just wanted to make sure it didn't get dropped or something.

Robbie
06-10-2008, 07:33 PM
I'm using 2.3 and when I save file as jpg for the second image...the shading doesn't come out.

I have land and water color both as white...highest peak and sea level also as white...colors as 2...shaded checked...

the screen looks correct, but the saved jpg is basically all white with nothing on it but rivers.

Robbie
06-10-2008, 07:41 PM
I also get a crash when I save with a grid...any form of grid save no matter the resolution crashes my FT...Joe? Any thoughts?

waldronate
06-10-2008, 08:53 PM
The crash when saving images with a grid active is an error that crept into V2.3. The lack of shading on JPG files has been there for a while longer. There is a version of 2.3 that fixes the crash with grid error but ProFantasy hasn't distributed it. Both of these errors will be fixed in FT3 when it comes out.

Robbie
06-10-2008, 09:20 PM
grrr...any chance of scoring a secret bug fix?

waldronate
06-11-2008, 01:36 AM
There's always a chance. Contact me in a non-public manner for more information. The shading problem with JPEG files doesn't happen with BMP and PNG files, btw.

Robbie
06-11-2008, 07:56 AM
Well thats good to know..I didn't even try that...but I do know the grid problem does happen with the other formats. You probably knew that too...Thanks for the help though!!!

HandsomeRob
06-11-2008, 05:01 PM
I took a screenshot of my layers palette from Illustrator to show my layer structure. It's still attached to the post.


Were you referring to just the picture or did you mean to attach a PSD file? It sounds like you are referring to an attached PSD, but there isn't one so I just wanted to make sure it didn't get dropped or something.

RPMiller
06-11-2008, 05:40 PM
I took a screenshot of my layers palette from Illustrator to show my layer structure. It's still attached to the post.
So you were just referring to the picture. Cool.

Midgardsormr
12-13-2008, 02:38 PM
A word of warning: If you have a brush stroke applied to your map border, be sure to remove it from the copy that you make before you create the typemask (Step 8).

Ndshacker
01-19-2009, 11:38 PM
Hi I have all these programs, but my Version of FT seems to be missing Gaia View ( which I'm assuming you used) What version is it that has Gaia?

Midgardsormr
01-20-2009, 12:38 AM
For the purposes of this tutorial, you don't need the Gaia shader in FT, but if you want to use it, go to Map > Show Gaia.

I'm using v2.3. I have no idea what features were and were not available in previous versions. I thought the Gaia shader was available in every version, but I may very well be mistaken.

Anyway, I believe that all of HR's terrain "textures" are simply patterns applied in Illustrator.

HandsomeRob
01-27-2009, 02:55 PM
For the purposes of this tutorial, you don't need the Gaia shader in FT, but if you want to use it, go to Map > Show Gaia.

I'm using v2.3. I have no idea what features were and were not available in previous versions. I thought the Gaia shader was available in every version, but I may very well be mistaken.

Anyway, I believe that all of HR's terrain "textures" are simply patterns applied in Illustrator.

Right, my version of FT is like way old... dinosaur... no Gaia shader. The textures are not even patterns, just solid colors applied in illustrator and then treated in photoshop.
Hey, check it out: I finally added a legend:

RobA
03-16-2009, 11:43 PM
and I've also finished drawing in the landcover polygons. It looks like the map is complete, but there are actually a few more steps to do before it is finished.

...

Start by changing the color mode to Duotone, and select a tritone of pure cyan, pure yellow, and pure magenta. This will make the relief a nice gold color which looks better than black when multiplied with the landcover.


Can you provide a closeup of the polygons pre spatter at 100% opacity?

Also, what are your tritone curves?

(In case you haven't notices, I'm trying to duplicate your style in gimp/inkscape and wilbur for this month's contest...)

-Rob A>

Sigurd
10-07-2009, 06:38 AM
Two Illustrator related questions:

1. You export an image that is 4800 pix across and put it in a file with your 10" by 16" frame. Do you crop everything outside the frame? Shrink to fit? How big a piece do you do at once? Do you play with the dpi?

2. Is 'autotrace' the same as 'livetrace'?



.

SopFreem73
10-12-2009, 07:31 PM
Totally awesome. Ive wondered in the past exactly how you did your work. Its good to see it laid out for a change and the whole process revealed.

Sicuropoli
10-19-2009, 03:01 AM
Thank you.

vooood
10-26-2009, 09:59 AM
Step 6. Creating the Raster Background
To create my photoshop background image, I need to export four files from Illustrator. First of all I'll create a crop box from the outer map frame so that all of the exported images register correctly. The first image to export consists of all of the landcover layers. I'll export it at 300 dpi and in CMYK color, but I don't want layers. The second image to export is the relief layer (make sure you set the transparency back to 100% before exporting). This image should also be 300 dpi, and the color should be greyscale. The third image is the water layer (300 dpi, CMYK), and the fourth is the pink casings I've created below my boundaries (also 300 dpi, CMYK). Go ahead and open all four of these images in Photoshop.
Start with the landcover image. Change the color mode to RGB to open up some of the filters we'll use. Then use Filter > Brush Strokes > Spatter to fractalize the edges between landcover classes a bit. I will also go ahead and add a bit of Gaussian Noise to this layer as well. Set the transparency of this layer to 80% and add a layer of just white underneath it. Change the color mode back to CMYK. The next layer above the landcover should be your boundaries, which you can bring in using Image > Apply Image.
Next we will need to adjust our relief image a bit. Start by changing the color mode to Duotone, and select a tritone of pure cyan, pure yellow, and pure magenta. This will make the relief a nice gold color which looks better than black when multiplied with the landcover. You can then change the color mode to CMYK. Select all and get rid of some of the roughness of the relief by using Filter > Noise > Median, with a value of around 5 or so. I also like to Gaussian Blur this image a tiny bit as well. Now it can be brought in above the boundary layer. Set it to multiply and use a low opacity, around 25% or so.
Above the relief, bring in your water fills as a new layer. I'll add a slight inner glow to the water fills and my background image is done. Place it on the appropriate layer in your Illustrator file.
I've attached an image that shows where we are now; there are only a few more steps to go!

What I would like to know what color scheme did you use to export the climate/heightmap from FT as the background layer? I see some very nice brown and green colors - is that a FT color scheme for heightmap or was it a climate map?

And one more small question. Did you export the river layer from FT and traced or you have drawn the rivers yourself?

laevex_esre
03-20-2011, 12:00 PM
First of all this tutorial is fantastic and I'm very impressed with the work you did on Sorol.
I'm trying my best to follow this to the letter, but I just got to this bit:


Step 5. The Creative Stuff
The first image I've attached below shows where I am now. I've added roads, trails, settlements, cities, boundaries, rivers, and labels to the map; and I've also finished drawing in the landcover polygons. It looks like the map is complete, but there are actually a few more steps to do before it is finished.

Whoa! I have no idea how to go about all of this. It seems like a pretty massive step to me and yet you've just sort of glossed over it. Can anyone direct me to a tutorial that might help me understand how to do this? Or can somebody give me some guidance?

It looks so awesome and I want to learn how to make my own maps look this cool.

Midgardsormr
03-20-2011, 01:36 PM
That step is just standard Illustrator stuff. Using the Pen tool to draw paths, stroking them to get the different patterns and colors for road, river, etc… The Text tool for labels. Probably the Symbol tool for settlement icons, or possibly the Text tool if he's using something like Adobe's Carta font for that purpose.

The "landcover polygons" are just polygons drawn with the Pen or Pencil tool which are then filled with colors or patterns to represent the different terrain types. Personally, I prefer to use a tablet and the Pencil because it gives me less regular lines—it's far easier to add the little fractally jiggles that way than trying to make them with bezier curves (a bezier curve is what the Pen creates when you click and drag).

laevex_esre
03-20-2011, 03:44 PM
Ok thanks for that. I'm new to Illustrator so that's why I didn't know how to do it all. I'm kinda teaching myself now. I'm liking the pencil tool for rivers.

laevex_esre
09-03-2011, 09:14 PM
My major problem with this tutorial at the moment is that Step 4, copying in the overlapping maps, is impossible. Because of the projection, the angles and proportions all seem to be wrong when I copy in a neighbouring map. Anyone got any tips on this?