View Full Version : Holy Crap...What have I got myself into?!

04-27-2012, 04:57 PM
So...I've been led to the guild by Arsheesh...and then once I got here to introduce myself I got told to "go big, or go home" by Korash...so...here goes. I don't have anything to present yet...other than my idea.

First of let me lay out my general plan:

I have a campaign world that has been through a devastating calamity. Here's a pic of a world similar to what I have in mind


Let's put aside the scientific discussion of whether such a world could possibly exist. Let's just say that it is held together by the will of the gods. If you are REALLY interested in my back story I'd be more than happy to lay it out for you...or you could get a general idea by visiting my obsidian portal campaign here:


Anyway I think there are a few things about this world that will be a bit different than a classic fantasy map. First...somewhere between a third and a half of the globe is simply gone. The impact has broken huge chunks of the crust into space and the debris floats in orbit around the remains of the globe.

Second...There are really no massive oceans left. I would like there to be some remnants of oceans...but I imagine that what is left would be the beds of former oceans, seas and lakes. So...I'd be mapping what was once ocean bottom.

Third...There will be impact craters

Fourth...the remaining half of the globe will still retain some semblance of "normal" appearance...forests, rivers etc....but with some indication of the effects of the initial devastation...volcanoes...impact craters...effects of earthquakes etc.

Fifth...the time frame for the story is about a thousand years after the "breaking" as it is referred to in the campaign, so the effects of erosion and weathering will have had some impact on the terrain.

Sixth...there is an entire region of "edge" and the new "face" of the planet to consider.

Seventh...I imagine I could be sending my PC's into the field of debris in orbit so mapping some of the field or some of the larger rocks is in the future.

Phew...I'm sure there are more things to consider...but that's plenty for now.

When all is said and done, I'd like to have a single world map...perhaps in a globe form as well as a flat map. I'll have maps of important regions and major cities and the like. The landscape is also dotted with the ruins of the former civilizations that once thrived there.

If you have any thoughts on the best way to start I'd be all ears. I'm a TOTAL beginner as far as digital mapping is concerned...I can draw a fair enough "rough" map of what I've got in mind. I've already downloaded GIMP and I've taken a look at a few of the tuts....I think I like the look of your maps Arsheesh...for the world map....I could see using more freehand, artistic maps for some of the regional work.

Waddaya think??

dlaporte (aka Dave)

04-27-2012, 06:21 PM
Interesting idea. Here are some things to consider:

1) You may want to have the gods keep the seas there. If they can hold the planet together, this should be a trivial task :). Otherwise, you get into some Dark Sun-like environmental issues. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but make sure it's what you want before you go there.

2) You may want to look at Spelljammer, the old 2nd Edition AD&D setting. This world seems right up its alley.

3) If you're going to have continuing impacts, then it's really implausible that you'd have a civilization. This may be another job for the gods :).


04-27-2012, 06:28 PM
A fascinating project, I like it. Certainly a challenge. My not-so-experienced approach would likely be to hammer out the equirectangular projection of the planet with a grey/black region, or even green screen like shooting a movie, where the missing piece is. Then transfer that into an Orthographic globe projection. Take that back into Photoshop or GIMP for the artsy fartsy elimination of the chunk of planet. Portraying a missing section in equirectangular... sounds like a challenge, glad you are the one doing it! But I look forward to the finished product, should be cool.

04-27-2012, 06:38 PM
Thanks John...As my campaign is centered around flying cities and flying sailing ships...I'm already leaning towards the "spelljammer" type theme, though I'm really after something that feels more like swashbuckling during the age of sail (only in the skies)...rather than delving too deeply into space travel. That will be an element much further down the road.
( I absolutely loved spelljammer btw)

There will still be SOME ocean/sea...but I imagine that global sea levels suffered a dramatic drop when a great volume of water was lost...I am not going for the desert world at all...so the gods ARE doing their best to preserve what they can...problem they have is that it's another "alien" god that has caused the damage and they are in a struggle that prevents them from turning their full attention to rebuilding. There are no further impacts...I was mentioning impact craters because I would like them to become some of the elements of the map.

Thanks for the reply.

04-27-2012, 06:45 PM
Thanks for the feedback...and for introducing me to the term "equirectangular!" I hope this thread will become a reference as I work so any advice is welcome!

Thanks again


04-27-2012, 07:22 PM
Woof! That sounds tough!

My only advice is to be prepared to backtrack a lot. I'm also very new and am working on my first non-tut-based map, and there's definitely a lot of exploring that needs to happen pretty much every step of the way.

Have you done non-digital art before?

Good luck! I'm excited to watch your progress.

04-27-2012, 08:56 PM
I did NOT tell you to go big or go home.....I was asking you a question... ;)

The implied suggestion was that there is nothing wrong with dreaming BIG and working towards that dream...and it does sound like you have plenty of that ahead of you. A very interesting idea and will love to see what you come up with . I will be keeping an eye on this :D

Have some rep for dreaming BIG :D and good luck on your endeavor :)

04-28-2012, 09:02 AM
Your gods can defy gravity to keep the world together, and basically defy all known fundamentals of physics to keep civilization alive, but not make whatever hit the planet evade it? :P

I am curious what cultural influences there are from living on a world with an actual end.

04-28-2012, 10:09 AM
My gods are defending themselves and their world from the assault of a god from another world...let's just say they were distracted and unable to deflect the impact....Many of the gods of this world were slain, or sacrificed themselves to preserve what they could...there is other reasoning behind the specifics of the attack and everything that follows...but hey...it's a fantasy world...

Here's a link to a brief description of the gods in my univers: http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/violent-skies/wikis/the-gods

AS for culture...Not long after the initial impact...an invasion took place. My main villains are a race of dragonborn who have come to take over. They came on flying cityships (little spelljammer flavor here) It is their goddess that is responsible for the damage. She is attacking the gods of the world and her dragonborn followers show up to take over in the mortal realm.

As the story begins the empire of the dragonborn rules the remains of the world. Humanity has been enslaved. Other races have either been enslaved, destroyed utterly or driven underground. The dragonborn live in their flying cityships above the clouds...

The surface of the world is covered in the ruins of the old civilizations and is now inhabited by the humanoid races...giants, goblins, orcs etc...

My main character starts her life in a hidden valley where a small community of free humans has remained hidden since the "breaking" Their little valley is discovered by the dragonborn and they, of course, attack. She escapes into the mountains and eventually starts a rebellion. She is gradually gathering people to her cause, they a have captured a few ships. Eventually I imagine the story to become sort of a battlestar galactica thing, only on flying ships wandering across the face of a devastated world. They'll be exploring the ruins looking for evidence of the old gods, and for some hope of defeating the dragonborn and their goddess.

It's not complete...there are lots of other ideas to be worked out...but if you read the other links on my site you'll get an idea about some of what's going on...IF you need to be satisfied with some reasoning behind my chain of events.

I'm sure there will be holes in the logic...but I'll do my best to fill them...when all is said and done, I don't feel I need to explain away everything. Just the things that are pertinent to the story.:)

04-28-2012, 10:28 AM
Sorry Korash...sorry I took a little liberty with your post...still I took it as a challenge...thanks for the kick in the pants and the encouragement.

04-28-2012, 02:09 PM
Just one thought that came to mind, when I thought "How would i do this".

First off I would resolve the water issue, you've mentioned there is "some" water, but for me I'd make a sketch of what the world was (probably a 2 circled map, showing left and right hemispheres, with the continents and oceans) then say ok this portion of the world is gone to the collapse, and then on the other side reduce the waters down, to whatever you believe the water level should be.

In this way you've got your ultra high ground which is the old mountain tops, you've got a mid plateau-ish type land where the old land use to be, then you've got the new land, which is the reduced ocean floor that is now the habitable zone of your world. Cause the other two areas (in my opinion) wouldn't have much water if any at all. This habitable zone probably wouldn't be very... as you'd say flat however.

*ignore the `, they are to make the picture space correctly =D

So this is just the simple idea of what I was talking about, ^ are mountains, \ are slopes, and the - is flat ground.
The slopes would be your continental shelf that in a normal world would be right below the water. However since the water is now "missing" your deep ocean trenches (the \/ symbol ) would become your new oceans, and you've probably got a lot of lakes hanging around. Along with very long chains of parallel mountains due the the ocean floor shifting (forget the technical term) away from a central location.

Then after I've gotten the pre-collapse sketch, and the post collapse water/land figured out, I'd have two choices, 1. figure out the broken portion of the world (still just a sketch) or 2. depending on where the story begins, or your adventures begin detail out the area they are in and work out from there. In this sense, you've got your general outline of where things kind of are, and you can detail out portions at a time, cause it will be very time consuming to do every part of your world at once.

Keep it simple, until you truly need to define things, because the more you have the generals figured out the easier it is to place the details down.

Anyways my 2 cents, good luck.

04-28-2012, 06:25 PM
Thanks Yandor,

Lots of good thoughts there. Definitely going with the sketch first. I was considering making the map of the 'pre collapse' world and then working from there. I think you're right-on RE water levels. I had envisioned the former ocean/sea beds as new land...also presenting some interesting settings...lots of sunken ships dotting the landscape etc. Anyway, as you suggest, I'd like to have a general world map, but I'll only be detailing the areas that are 'in play' so to speak.

I came across a thread outlining some ideas for mapping out continental plates which I think would be useful, especially considering mapping those "long parallel mountain chains" where tectonic plates converge and diverge.

Thanks for the 2 cents. I should have a rough sketch up in a few days.

04-28-2012, 08:25 PM

First draft: I used an idea found in a tut by dhalsimrocks to draw continental plates. Here's the first attempt. Not sure I like my random continents...but it's a start...I may go through this process a number of times before I come up with something I like.

04-30-2012, 06:08 PM
This sounds like a cool (yet overwhelmingly huge) project! Looking forward to seeing it take shape. Err ... more shape ;)

04-30-2012, 07:57 PM
Thanks Gidde...do you or anybody else for that matter have any tips on choosing the appropriate size and ppi for the initial image? I am going for a world map...it will be primarily online...I don't anticipate printing any hard copy...I understand that I can go way down on the ppi if I'm not going to print...also...I tried 3000x2250 with a ppi of 300, but the file just kept growing and growing as I added layers...I think my poor computer had a stroke trying to process things...so...I plan to scale down...thoughts? I'm such a noob!

04-30-2012, 08:05 PM
The ppi isn't nearly as important for just screen-viewing; a monitor will simply show the pixels that are there. As far as size goes, 3000x2250 shouldn't tax your machine unless you have a LOT of layers (or an old machine). So, I'd suggest this: work on one aspect of the map at a time, and as you finish that aspect, save a copy that has all those layers in it, then merge them all on your working copy. So, for example, I think I had like 10 different layers (at least) in my belgariad map just for the ocean. So once I had the ocean right, I saved a copy called "ocean layers", then merged em all down into one layer I just called ocean on my working copy, then started on the land. If you're using gimp, it also helps to clear the undo stack (it's the brush at the bottom of the undo history dialog) -- just make sure you're happy with what you've done before you clear out your undos :) For PS, I'm not sure how to clear the undo stack. If it bogs I usually just exit PS (save first!) and restart the program.

It may be worth noting that my current project is 7200x5400px and following the above advice keeps my computer from choking on it :)

04-30-2012, 08:19 PM
Uh oh...did you just give me license to go EVEN BIGGER!? Korash is going to be happy...Guess I won't be going home...so I am still really in the tutorial phase...I'm just going through the motions on one tutorial. I'm beginning to see how this works...but I'm really just following the steps without REALLY understanding WHY the heck I'm doing them....I assume this is typical for us rookies...(BTW I am using GIMP)...I will most likely be checking out your tutorial for the Artistically Challenged soon...though...I think I have some artistic sense...just WAY out of practice....:)


04-30-2012, 09:25 PM
Yeah, it's pretty typical, at least that was my experience. I didn't start to feel like I really understood anything until the third tutorial or so ;)

05-02-2012, 10:08 PM
Here is a second attempt at a draft...hand drawn continents with my mouse...put through GIMP and inverted black and white:

I'm not super happy with it yet...I'm still bent on the idea of starting with tectonic plates and allowing that aid in the creation...I think that is working nicely. I'm not satisfied with how the coastlines look yet...and I'm finding that the process of blurring and selecting..etc. is having the effect of making things even rounder...hmmmm


oops...wrong pic...that's my rough sketch including tectonic plates. Here's the inverted map:

05-02-2012, 10:22 PM
I'm not sure what process you are using for eroding the coastlines, but one that I often use is RobA's GIMP translation of OldGuy's tutorial on how to erode coastlines in photoshop. In fact, I use it so frequently that I eventually took the time to jot it down so that I could refer to it without always having to search for OldGuy's original tutorial. I've attached a pdf of it for you.


05-02-2012, 10:33 PM
Thanks Arsheesh...and thanks for giving me some more terminology...I had no idea that I was 'eroding' my coastlines...i think I'm doing something similar...in fact I'm following RobA's tutorial...uh...well I think that's the one...will let you know..I've got some PDF's kicking around in my mess somewhere. :D

On another note...wondering about scale...I drew my drafts on an 8.5x11 sheet of paper...I'm thinking that I want a different ratio if I want a more 'realistic' map. Any suggestions on LxW for a world map?

(thanks for fanning violent skies btw)

05-02-2012, 10:34 PM
Here's another view of the map...I cut one end and pasted it back on to the other to create a full image all the continents.


05-03-2012, 03:03 PM
The basic Equirectangular projection for a typical world map would have your height be half your length, I believe. Going on memory from this computer, but I think I have my poster sized (3'x2') map with a 6 inch bar underneath for any information I want shown. So, actual map of 3' wide 1.5' high. Use that projection so that it is real easy to use other programs to create other projections. And it is always a good idea to check what your world looks like on an orthographic projection before finalizing your continent shapes and placement, LOL. Goodness knows I would probably change a few things if I went back to start over.

05-03-2012, 03:15 PM
Thanks for the Tip Veldehar! I will add that to my notes:) That map I posted seemed a little squished to me to be a world map...I felt like I should have had more continents.....or at least more ocean between them.

05-04-2012, 10:51 PM
Bigger is ALWAYS better...if your system can handle it ;)

As for the "at least more ocean" question, like it was mentioned earlier, there would be much more land than water if a chunk of the world was missing. Given that, I think the ratio is okay...my 2 cents worth, but your world/map so run with what feels right for you :)

RobA also has a "Fractalize Path" (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?6465-Gimp-Script-Fractalize-Path) plugin for gimp that is also good for eroding coastlines. I would suggest you look at that too.

05-05-2012, 08:18 AM
Thanks Korash...You're right about the land to water ratio. For the moment, I am trying to come up with a basic look for the map before the 'chunk' is lost. I want to map out undersea ridges etc so I know what the sea floor etc will look like when I drop water levels.

One thougt...when it comes to making the final map...anybody have any thoughts on how to 'break' off the parts of the map I want to remove? I'm wondering if I should just try to draw it as I want it to look from the beginning...or if there is a way to complete the map and then cut off the broken parts. In that case I would be going back and adding new features along the broken edge...revealing ocean floor...adding impact craters and the like. In either case...I'm still thinking I should have a completed version of the 'old world' for reference.

I will check out the plugin.

05-05-2012, 11:19 AM
I think having a before and after map is a good idea, esp. if you are thinking plate movement creating mountain ridges. As far as cutting the chunk out, why not just use a mask to cut it out and then just get "artistic" drawing the surface or the "crater"...? OFC, is there any remains from the impacting body remaining in the crater?...might be an interesting question be answered...

05-05-2012, 12:11 PM
You know...that's an interesting question for both mapping...and the story...I haven't detailed what the impacting body is...yet...I've contemplated something REALLY fantastic...like a gargantuan, living creature...but...I haven't gone that far into it yet. Just for fun...here's a link to a little narrative I did about the moment of impact: http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/violent-skies/wikis/the-breaking

I've also been doing some searching around for examples of impact craters on the earth for inspiration...here's a couple of images I've come up with that might make it into the final map...if anyone's intereste:






Since I'm so new to this whole digital mapping thing...I'm still just going through the motions with the tutorials...so I'm not 100% clear on what making a 'mask' means...though I think you mean creating a layer that covers the area of the map I want to remove while leaving the rest trasparent...or something like that. I think that makes alot of sense...and sounds like it won't be too difficult to do. Thanks!

05-06-2012, 10:55 AM
Maybe I can demystify the mask concept a bit. What you're actually doing is laying out a transparency map for the layer. If it's white, the layer is fully opaque; black is fully transparent; 50% grey is half-opaque and so forth. It's a great way to "erase" parts of the layer without actually deleting the information (which is handy if you decide that erasing wasn't a good idea after all).

05-06-2012, 10:32 PM
I just want to say I read through Violent Skies and loved it. I wish I could be of more help in the concept of your maps but I'm just starting out myself.

05-07-2012, 01:18 AM
I really really really love the idea of something living and crashing into the earth, possibly burying itself deep within the earth. (pardon me, I just finished playing through Chrono Trigger for the millionth time, and I loved when Lavos crashed into the earth and left an enormous crater and etc. I could go on and on about this game.) The maps also look gorgeous, though, and I particularly like the water effect on the second to last one. Not sure which I would call my favorite though, since they're all good.

05-07-2012, 11:50 AM
@sim97 Hey Thanks! I'm pretty much a noob myself as far as digital mapping goes so if you want to commiserate with somone I'm all ears (or eyes since I'll be reading). I really appreciate the fact that you read through the site...Even though it was originally intended for the players, it has developed a little audience, and now I find myself trying to build the site for other people who want to read it. It keeps me motivated.

@Paramenies...the more I think about it the more intrigued I am about the possibilities...It could really fit well into the story...and to the explanation of the overall devastation this poor planet has been through. I have visions of this thing tearing away chunks of the earth and hurling them into space...maybe it still lives on the shattered face of the planet continuing to wreak havoc. Or maybe it slumbers somewhere deep in the earth...waiting to be summoned again....I'm not familiar with Chrono Trigger..but I will check it out.

05-07-2012, 12:35 PM
@sim97...By the way...since you took the time to take a look at the site...do you have any feedback? Did you find any difficulty navigating...notice any broken links or anything like that. Any opinion about the general layout...the look...color scheme...selection of images...etc. I love feedback and, again...I'm really grateful that you took the time to look it over. Feel free to drop by again...

dlaporte (aka Dave)

05-08-2012, 10:42 AM
When I have a chance to dissect your page I will. I love critiquing and I have a link for a Tolkien style map tutorial if your interested. The map I'm making from that tutorial is far superior to my first map. But I'll get back to you.

05-08-2012, 03:01 PM
When I have a chance to dissect your page I will. I love critiquing and I have a link for a Tolkien style map tutorial if your interested. The map I'm making from that tutorial is far superior to my first map. But I'll get back to you.

Hey, I really appreciate that. It's still a WIP...but then...I expect it always will be. No pressure or any expectations on my part...if you decide to check it out...great...if not...no biggie. I'd love to return the favor...though if it's map related I might not have much to offer, other than from an artistic or aesthetic perspective.

05-08-2012, 08:56 PM
So I was going through everything on your site and noticed that Sterran is Esmerelda's grandfather, but is also married to Ursay which is her mother. So is Sterran really her father? Trying to click on all three bad guys or Vrack Tiburcaex leads you to this page http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/violent-skies/wikis/chugon-darkwing or a similar one. You have a typo on this page http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/violent-skies/wikis/the-coming-of-the-dragonborn, "singleminded determination". Another typo, http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/violent-skies/wikis/from-then-til-now; I believe dragnon should be dragonborn. That's all I noticed. This is the link to the Antique/Tolkien type map thread, http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?18326-Antique-Tolkien-style-Map-in-GIMP. Did you draw the pictures that accompany the literature?

05-09-2012, 05:03 AM
Thanks! I will fix the typos...and yes...Sterran is actually her father...there is a backstory to explain it...though Im not sure if I have spcified it in any of the pages....it has been revealed to Esmerelda through gameplay. I will ad something to clarify..As far as the bad guys go...the OP allows for designating some pages as 'gm only' so you can hide info that hasnt been revealed in gameplay yet. The bad guys are only known by name at this point. There is info about Vrack that is also kapt secret from the playera so you wouldnt have been able to see hi either. I will double check their links though. Thanks again...I will be looking at your tutorial.

05-09-2012, 04:01 PM
BTW...all artwork borrowed from online. Wish I could still draw...but...not my own artwork.

05-19-2012, 07:31 PM
Moving along with tutorials....I will post this question in the tutorial itself, but I'm running into some difficulty with GIMP and using copy/paste with the free select tool. I'm not sure if I'm crazy, but this is normally a simple process in other software...can't figure out why it's not working for me now... I'm using Arsheesh's Eriond tutorial and I'm at the stage where I copy some 'clouds' from one layer and paste them onto another to make mountains...problem is I can't get them to paste onto anything. Is there something different about copy/paste and other editing features in GIMP that I'm missing? Help...very frustrated with this...grrrr...

05-19-2012, 08:55 PM
Two things.. a) you can use duplicate layer. Second is GIMP's "paste" is kind of odd... you have to select the layer dialog tab. and CTRL+V and it will "paste" as a floating selection(might want to find some generic GIMP tutorials on layers). Typically, you would then right click the floating selection and select anchor layer or "new layer" or somethign like that.. don't have it installed on this box as of yet...

05-19-2012, 09:30 PM
yeah...I did keep getting the anchor thing that I didn't understand...no idea what it's for though I think I may have figured it out...or at least something that appears to work....I make the selection, right click, edit, copy...I notice the selection appears on the little clipboard as a brush. I clear the selection and then choose the brush tool and I can place it that way.

05-19-2012, 09:37 PM
Don't know if you saw it or not, but I edited my last post at the Tutorial page to explain how to "anchor" a floating selection to the layer. Hope it helps.


05-19-2012, 09:41 PM
yes...thanks Arsheesh...I will try it that way also...


05-19-2012, 09:52 PM
While the "Floating Selection" is a bit odd at first, it is actually a nice feature, because it allows you to manipulate the floating selection as much as you like before anchoring it to the layer you pasted it too. So, a step by step walk through the process of copying and pasting selections from one layer to another layer in GIMP would be as follows:

1. Make the layer you want to copy from the active layer (click on that layer);
2. Use your Free Select tool to create a selection of the desired area;
3. Right click on the image and go to: Edit > Copy;
4. Make the layer you want to paste to the active layer;
5. Right click on the image and go to: Edit > Paste (this will create a "Floating Selection: Pasted Layer" above that layer);
6. Manipulate the pasted layer if you so desire (e.g. rotate it, resize it etc);
7. In the Layers Dialogue, click on "Anchor Floating Selection".

That should do it.


05-19-2012, 10:20 PM
THanks....that's perfect!

05-21-2012, 02:37 PM
yup, thanks arsheesh :)

I get mixed up with that too

05-22-2012, 02:57 PM
Here's a question...as I continue to toil through the tutorials...I came across someone using raw satellite images to create maps...is this possible/easy to do using GIMP? I've been thinking a bit about how to make undersea ridges and it occurred to me that I might be able to grab some satellite photos pasted or blended together to create the effect. Especially since I'm creating tectonic plates and I'll need to be more precise about placing related geography. Thoughts?

05-24-2012, 10:27 AM
Ahh...still more options...how can you keep up with it all...so now I've discovered donjon's fractal world generator...I really like the randomness of the coastlines...looks way better than anything I'm able to come up with by hand. I think I'm going to try a random world map and then trace it into GIMP as my base map. Feasible? Any tips on using this resource? Anybody else have experience with it?

05-24-2012, 11:21 AM
that's usually what i do. I just use planetgen instead of that one :)

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

05-24-2012, 12:13 PM
any appreciable difference between the two that makes you choose planetgen?

...oooh...just took a look at it...I'll have to download that one at home...it looks like it generates a more 'realistic' image. Thanks for the tip.

05-25-2012, 05:00 PM
Here's the work in progress....mid stage...about to start cutting and pasting mountains...using Arsheesh's Eriond tut:


05-25-2012, 05:05 PM
here's a look at the base map created using Plantegen...thanks Gidde


05-25-2012, 06:02 PM
Hi there Diplorte, I can't tell for sure based on your screen shots, but it looks as if the cloud patterns might be stretched along the horizontal axis. If this is so, then it's going to cause problems for your map. For one thing, the mountains will appear stretched as well. In my tutorial I say that when creating a square map, when you get to the Render Clouds step, set the X and Y size to 8. However, what I meant to put in (but must have forgot) was that when dealing with a rectangular may you will have to adjust the X size so that the cloud patterns are even, not stretched. So for instance, with the size you are working with, you might want to try placing the X size to 16 and the Y size to 8. I hope that helps.


05-25-2012, 06:42 PM
Thanks Arsheesh...I thought my clouds looked a little different than yours. Thanks for the tip...I'll adjust and repost...if you notice anything else I'm missing I'll appreciate the feedback...


05-25-2012, 08:31 PM
Look better?


05-25-2012, 09:18 PM
Yes, that looks about right.


05-26-2012, 04:39 PM
Here's a peak at some progress...I'm at the "Blobby Mountain" stage...At the bottom is the planetgen relief map I'm using as a reference:


05-26-2012, 06:10 PM
I have a question for you Dlaporte, what is your intention for the Plantegen map? Were you just using it as a basic reference for figuring out where to place higher elevations, or are you actually planning on incorporating into your finished map some how (e.g. substituting it for the gradient map)? If the latter, I don't think you are going to be able to achieve a high degree of consistence between the height map you are currently working on, and the Plantegen color map (or at least, not without spending a ton of work on height map). However, if the former, then that's a pretty smart way to plan out your map.

As to the mountain blobs, I noticed that there is a really big size difference between some of the cut and pasted mountains. Just so you know, this will result in some mountains (the ones that you have not resized, or have decreased in size) containing a fair amount of texture, while others (those whose size you have increased) will look fairly flat an untextured by contrast. Based on your screencapture, it looks like what you are attempting to achieve with these larger mountain sections is continuity with the Plantegen map. However, you might be able to achieve the desired effect without having to increase the size of your mountains. What you can do instead is look for a bunch of mountain clouds that are packed pretty close together so that rather than forming 1 single long mountain range, they seem to form a tight cluster of mountain ranges. Unfortunately the only example of what I'm talking about that I have on hand is a picture of ranged that have already been sculpted and run through Wilbur, but it might serve to give you a general idea of what I mean.



05-26-2012, 08:17 PM
Well, I would have no idea how I would incorporate the planetgen map even if I wanted to...I just noticed that it produced a pretty cool relief map so I'm using it as a frame of reference for placing my mountain clouds.

As to the cloud 'blobs' I've been selecting: I'm looking for regions in the clouds that look like mountain ridges with roughly similar shapes to the planetgen mountains. I guess I am looking for 'single' mountain ranges as you noted.

If I understand your suggestion correctly you would have me grab much larger chunks of clouds than I had been...and then resizing/rotating. Is that about right?

for reference...here's a screenshot...the smaller circle represents the kind of areas I had been selecting...sort or resembling a mountain ridge running north to south...

The larger circle is what I THINK you are suggesting.


05-26-2012, 08:49 PM
That's more or less right, although in the large mt selection you chose, the mt ranges are not connected together. What I had in mind was something more like this (shown in blue):


05-26-2012, 09:05 PM
as a side note...I've got to improve my screenshot-fu :)

Thanks for the tip...I'll try it your way...you did write the tut afterall...so I GUESS you MIGHT know what your talking about...;)

OH...side side note...I gave you a nod on my OP site. Thanks!


05-26-2012, 09:27 PM
Hey thanks! BTW, if you want to get a sense of what the difference in methods would be, you can always create duplicates of your current map, keep one the same as it is now, and try my method on the other. Then, before doing any of the fine tuning, simply "Bump map" each copy (following the directions in the tut). This will give you a general idea of what the difference would look like.


05-27-2012, 01:01 PM
Ok...before I go too far into this...take a look and let me know if this is closer to the effect I'm after:


05-27-2012, 07:01 PM
Hm, for some reason those clouds look mighty blurry. I don't know if it's a result of a poor screen shot or if they just are blurry. If they are blurry, then they won't serve well as mountains. Also, my earlier recommendation about going with mt ranges rather than enlarged mt sections was meant to apply to those areas where you needed to cover a large swath of terrain with mountains. In other places you may only need a single rage. The main point was that (assuming you want there to be consistency in mt texture) you want all of the mt shapes to be of roughly the same scale. Hence, rather than enlarging one single mt section to achieve the size you want, for that region it might be best to go with a smaller series of mt ranges. I'm not sure if that was clear or not. Let me know if it didn't make sense.


05-27-2012, 08:21 PM
Maybe the blurriness is a function of scaling the selection down so much. I suppose it's not entirely clear what the scale of the 'clouds' is as it relates to my map. Since this is a world map, my mountains are going to be pretty small on a 1600x800 map. If I'm grabbing large swaths of mountains I've got to scale them down to make sense on my map. Typically, I didn't have to enlarge sections that I grabbed for single ranges. In those cases I would try to make a selection to fit where I wanted it to go...with only minor adjustments to scale. Grabbing larger sections requires more scaling which would account for the discrepancy between the different mountain selections. I think I'm beginning to get a better idea...I think I can experiment with this a bit more and get a decent result.

One thing, I suppose, that adds to the difficulty here, is that I have to rely entirely on the eyball test to measure the relative scale of the selections. I didn't see any numeric representation of the scale of the image as it was being adjusted...am I missing something there? I can see that it gives me a measure of the height and width of the image I'm working with...but that has no relationship to the size of the clouds...especially since I'm not selecting the same size image every time. It might be useful if I had a %value rather than a dimensional value..at least for the purpose of keeping the scaling consistent. In any case...I think eyeballing it will work...other thoughts?


05-27-2012, 09:53 PM
Well, I think in GIMP 2.6 you are right that there is no scale preview window, and no scale % value option. Now I don't know if that's changed in 2.8 or not (I haven't yet made the switch), however I always just eyeball it myself. As to the Blurriness, I'm not certain what's causing it. When you created the cloud patterns, did you set the Detail to Max?

05-28-2012, 07:36 AM
As far as I know I did set the detail all the way up. It's possible I missed that step...but...thinking back on it...I'm pretty sure I set it. Here's a comparison of the scaled down selections with an un-changed selection. Do the larger clouds look blurry to you?

HMMM...I'll fiddle with this a bit and see if I forgot a step somewhere else along the way. If you have any other thoughts I'd appreciate your input. Thanks again!

05-28-2012, 06:12 PM
No, those larger clouds look right to me. Hm, I'm not sure why the smaller one's look blurry though. I'm afraid I don't know what to tell you here. Before you continue though, I would try doing a test run bump map on them just to make sure that they turn out to have the detail you want, before you do a bunch of the sculpting work. If so, good, you can continue unabated. If not, well, I'm out of ideas.

One other observation though, some of these smaller cropped sections look stretched. When you rescale them, do you have the Aspect Ratio locked (see image below)? You want to make sure that the aspect ratio is locked, so that when you type in the dimensions for width (or length) GIMP will automatically adjust the length (or width) to reserve the same ratio of the original scale. If the aspect raito is unlocked, then you will have to enter the new dimensions into both the height and the width fields, and, unless you are doing the math here, you could get the dimensions wrong, leading to stretched images.



05-28-2012, 06:34 PM
hmmm...I will check the aspect ratio...I think that it must default to 'unlocked.' Definitely have NOT been locking the ratio...maybe the stretching accounts for the blurred look???? I'll make that change and see what difference it makes. I HAD been adjusting the scale by selecting the scale layer tool and then grabbing the edges of the image and 'eyballing' it that way, rather than typing numbers into the appropriate fields. Perhaps this is the problem :(

Now...bump map? I haven't got that far in the tutorial yet...can I just look ahead to figure out how to do it? I'm sure it's something simple...but being such a rookie it's all greek (or New Zealandish) to me :D

05-28-2012, 08:06 PM
Ah. Yes, the way that you were scaling the layers might just account for their blurriness. Try it the other way and see if it works out better.

As to the bump map, duplicate one of your mt layers and name it "Test Bumps" (so as to distinguish it from the real mts), then, on that layer, go to:

Filter > Map > Bump Map (Bump Map: Test Bumps (if you don't specify this it will default to bump mapping the top layer) elevation: 30; depth: 30)


05-28-2012, 08:27 PM
here are the 'test bumps'
At this point I'm not sure what they are supposed to look like...thoughts?

BTW...I know you're a busy guy...aren't you writing a dissertation or something? I really appreciate your time. Heck...I've got a four year old and a fifteen year old to keep track of, nevermind keeping a healthy marriage...plus the full time jobby job...don't know how I manage to find time to get all this extracurricular stuff in.


05-28-2012, 09:01 PM
Hm, yeah the contrast in those mountains turned out a bit to stark: they look washed out. You should have seen more subtle texture and contrast variation. I've attached an image below for reference. Now, bear in mind that this is an image of what the entire height map looks like bump mapped after I did all the sculpting of the height map. Still, you can see all the subtle differences in the mt texture that just aren't there in the image you uploaded. However, this might be due to the scaling method you were working with. Once you rescale them they might look better. Oh, and this does give me a nice little break from academia, so think nothing of it.


05-31-2012, 07:55 PM
Here's another bump map test...any feedback?


and the original for comparison


The new bump map reflects 'linked' scaling and I think that definitely looks different...does it look correct to your eyes?

05-31-2012, 08:06 PM
Here is a look at the two Mountain cloud layers overlapped with my cloud selections. I think they look less blurry.


05-31-2012, 08:26 PM
I think it does look better, and yes, the cloud layers do look allot less blurry.


05-31-2012, 08:30 PM
Great...I'll move forward with this...let's see what I can pull off....thanks for the help...I'll keep updating here as I progress along. Keep your fingers crossed!


06-01-2012, 05:13 PM
Ok...more questions...attempting to airbrush...just want to be sure about your instructions. It says to airbrush the Land Clouds layer. Is that correct? I'm applying color to the layer below the mountains layer? I'm not painting onto the mountain layer itself?


06-01-2012, 05:22 PM
Yes, that is correct. The reason for air-brushing the land clouds layer, rather than the mountains layer, is that air-brushing the former will generally help preserve the terrain texture, whereas air-brushing the latter will generally tend to just blanket everything in a pillow of white. On the other hand, if there are dark craters in your mountain clouds, you will want to follow the instructions in the tutorial for getting rid of these, and that will mean directly air-brushing the mountains layer.


06-14-2012, 12:01 PM
Ahh...Life get's in the way of mapping...updates coming soon!