View Full Version : Eriam - or "How I'm about to stop being a map hacker and learn to love the Gimp"

Tobin Butler
07-16-2012, 10:26 PM
I'm a long time gamer, and I've been using this hand drawn map (if I may use the term so loosely) to tell stories for more than 20 years. I've never really developed the skills to flesh it out with anything other than words. Thanks to all of you, however, I find that now I have some direction, tools sufficient to the task, and inspiration drawn from all of the beautiful maps you've created. I don't know much, but I imagine I'll be learning a bunch.


For starters, I'll be doing the big work with Gimp and Wilbur, following Arsheesh's Eriond tutorial. Please feel free to let me know if there's a better way to do things as I go along. Thanks for being here!

07-16-2012, 11:55 PM
Welcome aboard, and good luck!

07-17-2012, 12:19 AM
Welcome to the Guild Tobin, look forward to watching this develop!


07-17-2012, 05:29 AM
Welcome and viel Glück! :)

Tobin Butler
07-17-2012, 07:40 PM

I'm planning on recording most of what I do, primarily so that those who choose to offer assistance to me will know what I did for troubleshooting purposes, and also so that those who are less familiar with the tools might benefit from my trial and error.

In order to do arsheesh's advanced tutorial, I find it necessary to do RobA's tutorial as well...

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Most of these actions were called for by RobA's tutorial (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?875-Making-Not-so-Random-Coastlines-in-GIMP-alternative-method)...

1. In Gimp, I cut down the size of the map I want to recreate to make it a little easier to work with by using the rectangle selector tool to outline the area I wanted to work with and then selecting ">Image>Crop to selection" from the toolbar.
2. This left me with a pretty small image, so I increased the size of the image using ">image>scale image". Because I'm trying to recreate a particular map, I wanted to link the height/width proportions by clicking on the little chain icon next to the height and width entry boxes. I didn't worry about how poorly the image was going to scale up, because it was only a template for later work.
3. I tried to use the select by color tool to outline the continents, but the paper the original map was on had too much noise to be very specific about what the tool was grabbing. After saving the cut-down map, I used the eraser tool to erase the interiors of the areas I wanted to work with. (Hardness 100, several different brush sizes). After erasing everything inside of the borders, I was able to outline the continents with the color select tool.
4. I created a new transparent layer by right clicking on the layers box (top right hand box, layers tab) and selecting ">new layer". I named the new layer "land mask" and selected the transparent radio button.
5. I selected the land mask layer, then the bucket fill tool. I double clicked the foreground color box and selected white, and then filled the continent outlines with white. I deselected the continent outline, changed the foreground color to black, and then filled in the remaining areas.

Tobin Butler
07-18-2012, 05:31 PM
Ok, maybe not so verbose from now on. I will keep notes on the exact steps in case anyone would like to see them.

As I went along, I figured out that I'd need to change strategy, though. The multiple continent model did not process through the Gaussian blur, merge or threshold steps very well, and the land masses ended up connecting in places I didn't want them to (or very little coastline variation...).

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At this point, I think it's probably necessary to create each of the continents separately and bring them together in a larger map later.

Tobin Butler
07-19-2012, 07:13 PM
Ok, focusing on the bottom right hand continent, I completed RobA's tutorial and came up with a coastline.


Taking it away from the other two continents worked pretty well. Does this look like I have sufficient variation in the coastline?

07-19-2012, 07:38 PM
The shape of the continent looks fine to me, but the stroke surrounding it seems a bit thick to me.


07-19-2012, 10:52 PM
You might want to try Old Guy's method of adding coast detail. It seems to respect the original shape better than mine.


-Rob A>

07-20-2012, 11:21 AM
Off to a good start :D Old Guy's method worked for me pretty much. It leaves some blurred edges though, so I eventually resorted to the difference cloud way of doing it, and just piecing edges together... such a pain. I'm sorry I'm not more familiar with Gimp, so I can't really be much help. Looking forward to watching this develop, though!

Tobin Butler
07-24-2012, 11:02 PM
I've done one using Old Guy's method, and one using RobA's method. While I had originally intended to recreate my map faithfully, I think I prefer the the way RobA's method transformed the landmass... any opinions?

Old Guy's method

RobA's method

07-24-2012, 11:11 PM
Based on the scale I'd go with the second.

Tobin Butler
07-25-2012, 08:40 PM
Thanks for the input. I did one more using RobA's method, but I used a better edge-detect method (Filter>Edge Detect>Edge Gradient, 1.0, black) to answer Arsheesh's comment about outline thickness. Now, on to Arsheesh's tutorial... finally.

I'll be going with this outline: