View Full Version : still trying FT + Photoshop

12-20-2012, 07:57 AM
This is (an incomplete depiction of) another region of my world. I am still endlessly trying to mix Fractal Terrain generated geography with Photoshop, mostly using (or trying to) the techniques of Pasis's wonderful tutorial.
What do you think of this try?


12-20-2012, 10:43 AM
Hey this is looking really nice so far!! Good job. Where you planning on taking this?

12-20-2012, 06:26 PM
I think this looks fantastic! Seriously. Your description made it sound like you weren't terribly happy with it, but this looks great. Very nice texture work and I really dig the mountains and rivers.

12-21-2012, 09:27 AM
Thanks for your words. I am never happy, but I guess it is a common phenomenon. It's ironic since I started this mixing of FT and PS with the idea of having a quick method to map an entire world; but irony also is common in this trade.
Anyway, here there is a different version, less and differently textured, plus some additional rivers, forests and details. Also, bigger size. Let me know.


12-26-2012, 10:11 AM
This is the actual region I want to map. It had its own thread, but I didn't mind to revive it since it is quite old and all these are still just tries.


Also, a size comparison (for an high and a low estimate of the length of a league). I was thinking that perhaps the mountain ranges produced by fractal terrains might be considered a bit out of proportion. Although, it is also true that our real world look very boring in maps, except from a few particularly varied areas.


EDIT: for some reason, exporting from photoshop to .jpg (but the same happens with .png) flattened my mountains a lot, but the same did not happen whith the other region, although as far as I know I used the same settings. Anyone has an idea of why this might be? The only difference that comes to my mind is that the second file is larger (8000 px wide instead of 5000)
Re-EDIT: this is how it looks from a screenshot within photoshop

The Full Monty
12-30-2012, 09:50 PM
Hey I tried finding Pasis's tutorial on the forums, could you provide a link or the title? I like how this looks and want to use the same settings to create my world.

I also felt the same about the mountains proportions, but it gives your maps kind of a grandiose thing making me visualize your world to be VAST and huge. The proportions could also be fixed by enlarging some of the colonies (just my 2 cents) but I feel your maps work very well and would err on leaving them as they are.

Any direction you could provide on how to start something similiar to these would be appreciated. I have a world set up in PS that I am working on (an overview if you will) but I'd love to do it region by region with highly detailed areas like yours.

12-31-2012, 09:29 AM
Pasis's tutorial (the one amongst many I was referring to) is here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/4405-%5Baward-winner%5D-rising-up-mountains-photoshop.html)
That will not give the same results I have here however. In fact, I am completely unable to draw anything, even a bump map, and everything I have there comes from Fractal Terrains. What I did is creating and somewhat editing the world in fractal terrains, then exporting in bmp different images of it to be tinkered in photoshop.
The process I used for these last (incomplete) maps is as follow:
– start from FT, center on the region you want to map, export the following maps as bmp files (8000 px wide because is the highest I could manage without crashing FT)
• bump map (or height map set from black to white, the result is slightly different for some reason)
• regular view with all the land white and normal water and rivers (I prefer relatively dark shades of blue, as you can see)
• terrain-climate view
– then import everything in photoshop as different layers
• create three layers for mountains (hills-mountains-peaks) following Pasis and tinkering a little bit with the values of bevel/emboss until you get what you want
•*the three layers are fully filled in white and then a mask based on the bumpmap is applied. For the highest layer I use the regular bump map, for the middle one I use the same with +100 brightness, for the lower one the same with +150 brightness and -50 contrast. In this way the lower levels are wider and gentler, as they should be, while the peaks are more defined
• textures may or may not be added to the mountain layers, I mostly used pasis's suggestions once again. If no texture is used, of course the layers should be set to multiply
•*then the image-climate map from FT is used, there is a first layer with some uniform texture to give some basic variation to the map, on top of that the image-climate layer set to "colour" or "hue" with an opacity of 75-90%. Some gaussian blur is applied to the colours layer to smooth the stark transitions produced by FT. Additional layers of colour and textures may be applied to characterise some peculiar terrain type.
•*in the water-river layer the rivers are retraced by hand to give them a better look (they are 1px straight lines in FT), a texture is added (multiply, 50% opacity) plus some inner glow with 50-75% noise and a slight bevel
•*the layer are ordered in this way: first the basic+terrain colours, then the mountains and on top of everything the water. If you want the water to be visually affected by elevation it should be under the mountains, but that works only if the mountains are set to multiply, without textures (or at least I haven't found another way)
• All the other elements, forests, cities, fields etc., are simple and they also are more or less lifted from Pasis's tutorial.

As for the look of the mountains, I see that they would look entirely plausible if we were thinking of the himalaya or some other massive and compact mountain chain, but since I am from a small country with a lot of ups and downs some large swaths of the map looks uninteresting to me. I am trying to add some elevation to the bump map by hand (for exapmle in the area around the mouth of the great river, where the 11 free cities are), but until now without success.

I also still have the incomprehensible problem that when I export from the last map the mountains look flattened and I still don't understand why.

The Full Monty
01-01-2013, 05:40 PM
thank you so much. I'm just working on a world map I made and going to see if I can basically skip the FT part and use sections/regions from the map I made in PS in the same manner. I just really like the style, colours, forests, and mountains so hopefully my output will be similiar. I really appreciate it and gave you some rep.

01-02-2013, 05:00 AM
Pasis is to be thanked. The only thing that I did was adding FT in the technique.

01-02-2013, 11:58 AM
Excellent work no matter who you want to thank! Like that alot.

The Full Monty
01-02-2013, 06:52 PM
Which textures did you use? I got some of my own but I'm still very new to using patterns and brushes other than defaults.

01-03-2013, 07:24 AM
Once again, it's Pasis. You can find the texture in this WIP thread (http://www.cartographersguild.com/regional-world-mapping/20564-north-kingdom-new-coming.html) (page 4, also including another useful tutorial on page 3)
However, most of the colours you see here, except for the highest mountains, actually come from the super-imposition of the FT generated climate map. Many other useful textures may be scavenged around the forum if you search for "terrains" "terrain textures" or something like that.

01-03-2013, 08:32 AM
In my opinion you are doing a great job and you have your own style. Stick with and don't try to make it look exactly same as others. Regarding the textures, I liked the first mountain texture a lot and it had very natural looking snow in the peaks. I usually end up having too uniform snow that doesn't look as natural. If you are eager to have one more try texturing the mountains, you could paint on top of that original texture with low opacity brush and paint only to the areas that needs enhancement.
You had a challenge with image flattening when exporting from PS to JPG. One way to come over it is to create few copies of your heightmap and set one of the new copies to "multiply" and the other one to "soft light". This way you get more contrast to your mountains.
You were also worried about the flat areas not having enough details. I have couple of bumpmaps I could attach later when I get to my home computer. You could mod them to create some additional details.

The Full Monty
01-03-2013, 03:13 PM
I didn't realize Pasis was "the North Kingdom" but I've already thanked and repped him (I think more than once now actually). As he says though, you have a slightly different style and your mountains feanaaro are truly amazing. Don't be so modest, there are similiarities and differences (especially in the textures) or at least from what I can deduce. I had trouble getting a similiar look as the forests you both have (Pasis' tutorial version and Feanaaro's map). I'm not even at the mountain stage yet as I'm trying to assemble all the textures as per the tutorial.

Both of you thanks (although Pasis can find that thanks in his own posts too). Also thank you for pointing out where Pasis has posted his textures, and thank you Pasis for posting them.... I must have skipped that page a dozen times (4th page) because I combed through everything and ended up using the internet links to find some (with amazing luck I found a great mountain range, desert, and water, but no decent forests).

01-03-2013, 03:33 PM
Here you have a few heightmaps I promised earlier. Use them if you want variaton to your low lands.

01-03-2013, 05:54 PM
How did you do those?

01-04-2013, 01:36 AM
How did you do those?

I used a software called geocontrol.

01-05-2013, 01:02 PM
I know you have been already very generious with your input but would be a small tut about how to do mountains in the program of your choice? I am very intereted in such technics.

01-05-2013, 03:20 PM
I know you have been already very generious with your input but would be a small tut about how to do mountains in the program of your choice? I am very intereted in such technics.

There is a tut created by a fellow mapper Jykke : http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/6265-geocontrol-2-tutorial-desert-river.html
And here is a link to a quick guide I have made some time ago: http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/16688-bumpmaps-photoshop-quick-guide.html

01-11-2013, 05:31 PM
Pasis, I cannot triple the relief layers as you suggest, that would grind my system to an alt.
Plus, I am quite sure that that is not the problem, since I have the other map made with the same settings which does not produce the same problem when exporting.
There must be something in photoshop settings eluding me.

(edited for spelling)

01-13-2013, 03:57 PM
In case this could help someone to help me, I noticed that the "problem" happens when photoshop merges all the layers before exporting the image. In fact if I merge the layers within photoshop I get the same "flattened" look as in the exported images.

01-14-2013, 04:20 AM
A simple but partial solution, that only mitigates the problem, is to double the deep of all bevel and emboss effects.
This is the result, still not ideal but better than before.


06-10-2013, 02:02 PM
After finishing the last city map, I am back fiddling with the region, trying to arrive at a result I can live with.
Any thoughts? Does it look at least marginally better as a base?


06-10-2013, 02:18 PM
I think it looks like a great base for a regional map. Makes me want to mess around with FT.


11-14-2013, 06:55 PM
After finally splurging for a new laptop, with much much more ram (which actually is more relevant for future humungous city maps...), I have returned to some old projects, chiefly this one, on which I feel I have made some relevant progress.
I am now mostly satisfied with the general look, though a really satisfying forest still eludes me (would seem simple... it would...), and I am on my way in filling up the names, though still a lot of fiddling is going on.
What do you think? I am particularly uncertain about how the style for names work with the overall feeling of the map.


11-14-2013, 07:06 PM
Are your rivers beveled? It seems as if they are growing across the surface of your map a bit... Other than that and the forest, great looking map. The edges of the text seem a little wobbly I don't know if it is the text itself or if the layer is set as an overlay. Looks a little strange to me. Not bad... just different. I guess that could be a matter of taste. :)

11-14-2013, 07:09 PM
I actually like the forest from 2 posts ago a bit more! lol.

11-14-2013, 10:04 PM
Yes the rivers are beveled, what do you mean by they seem to be growing across the surface (and how is that related to the bevel?).
The font is a little wobbly, especially visible at larger size, but also most of the text layers are in fact set to soft light (the reasoning was to let the actual geography to show more than the names, since the style is pseudo-realistic; though I am not entirely sure that it looks good).
I'd also prefer to find a font which did not look "chipped" at larger sizes, but haven't found one which satisfied me overall for this map.
I'll think about re-doing the forest more similarly to what it was before.

11-14-2013, 10:44 PM
Great map, I particularly like what you've done with the forest and the terrain color, it looks really good.

11-14-2013, 11:07 PM
What I mean by "across the surface" is that they appear to be raised on top of the land rather than sunk in, especially through the forests. I can't shake the feeling of giant blue vines spreading out (which may be a nice idea for a future map...).
Beveling uses shadows to emulate a 3D effect and I recognized that this may be the cause. Perhaps a slight inner shadow would be better suited to give your rivers definition or maybe just playing with the bevel settings a bit. Just a thought... Who knows maybe my eyes don't pick things up correctly! ;)

11-15-2013, 04:51 AM
god how i love your snow on the mountains. They has this sharpy-silver feeling that i am trying to achieve with partial success.
How you managed to make them look so good? Was it just the texture or some blending?

11-15-2013, 03:04 PM
The snow (actually rock + snow) is this texture (https://www.google.com/search?safe=off&tbm=isch&tbs=simg:CAQSWxpZCxCo1NgEGgIIAwwLELCMpwgaMgowCAESC s0HIlRIzwfOB1IaIKPmb_1IeeU4Wp3fp9RyV3Bb-Z7uYZAXLhpX2hLDKTNgmDAsQjq7-CBoKCggIARIEnzOKKAw&sa=X&ei=5XyGUoWDH-fesASHhYDAAw&ved=0CCgQ2A4oAQ&biw=1398&bih=803#facrc=_&imgrc=56ANKHsaPfOtYM%3A%3BwI9WEQbtahb7ZM%3Bhttp%25 3A%252F%252Fimg1.liveinternet.ru%252Fimages%252Fat tach%252Fb%252F3%252F28%252F763%252F28763795_sertu m45.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.liveinternet.ru%2 52Fshowjournal.php%253Fjournalid%253D2672037%2526k eywordid%253D952960%3B512%3B512), set as a pattern overlay (blend mode: overlay, 75% opacity) over a layer of very blurred white paint. The layer's blend mode is set as "Hue", and it also has a white inner glow (center, 250px, overlay, 75% opacity). The layer is placed above the three layers used to make the mountains' reliefs.
So, both texture and blending.

11-15-2013, 03:28 PM
The snow (actually rock + snow) is this texture (https://www.google.com/search?safe=off&tbm=isch&tbs=simg:CAQSWxpZCxCo1NgEGgIIAwwLELCMpwgaMgowCAESC s0HIlRIzwfOB1IaIKPmb_1IeeU4Wp3fp9RyV3Bb-Z7uYZAXLhpX2hLDKTNgmDAsQjq7-CBoKCggIARIEnzOKKAw&sa=X&ei=5XyGUoWDH-fesASHhYDAAw&ved=0CCgQ2A4oAQ&biw=1398&bih=803#facrc=_&imgrc=56ANKHsaPfOtYM%3A%3BwI9WEQbtahb7ZM%3Bhttp%25 3A%252F%252Fimg1.liveinternet.ru%252Fimages%252Fat tach%252Fb%252F3%252F28%252F763%252F28763795_sertu m45.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.liveinternet.ru%2 52Fshowjournal.php%253Fjournalid%253D2672037%2526k eywordid%253D952960%3B512%3B512), set as a pattern overlay (blend mode: overlay, 75% opacity) over a layer of very blurred white paint. The layer's blend mode is set as "Hue", and it also has a white inner glow (center, 250px, overlay, 75% opacity). The layer is placed above the three layers used to make the mountains' reliefs.
So, both texture and blending.

thank you. And DAMN at this tex! its even perfectly seamless! :D thx!

11-15-2013, 11:09 PM
Re-saturated the water a little bit, and changed the forest style, now a compromise between the earlier and the later.


11-16-2013, 04:32 AM
Why haven't I looked at this thread before?! Brilliant map, I love the blend between the satellite and hand-painted looks, it works perfectly. Awesome job. My only criticism would be that the transition to the paper border looks a little uniform and digital.

11-17-2013, 01:00 PM
Why haven't I looked at this thread before?!

Most likely because I am lousy at picking thread names.
However, thank you, I looked at your work and it is fantastic.
How would you advise me to do a better transition? The "framing" is something I am not strong at.

11-24-2013, 07:28 PM
Fiddling with the "political" map; though none of the entities here is a State in our sense. Those depicted are mostly spheres of influence, either of cities or of ethnic groups with a more tribal/clannic organization, without the implication of strictly unified governments.


11-25-2013, 10:20 AM
Sorry, I forgot to reply to your question about the frame! But the way you did it in the political map is much better, I think. Another thing to try could be a softer blend, not sure if it would be any better though :P Or no transition at all, just map all the way up to the frame. Actually, that's probably how I'd do it…

11-25-2013, 01:41 PM
Thanks. The slight difference between the two borders is just that I added another round of "sprayed strokes", with a different direction and different strokes length.
I think I need a border because the final version will have a legend to be placed somewhere. Also, the bevels used for mountains would show at the edges without the border, though of course I could also just crop them out in the final image.

11-25-2013, 02:00 PM
Yeah, sometimes simple changes make a lot of difference :)

Maybe I was diffuse in my second suggestion, I didn't mean to remove the border, just the transition. I hope you don't mind this quick tweak I did on a corner of your map, to show how I was thinking!

I used PS's clone stamp tool, with a 10px brush set to 0% hardness, and painted over the transition effect. Then I made another pass with 50% hardness. So it's a quite soft transition, but very short, a little like if someone used masking tape on the paper's edges to keep it from buckling when painting the map. I dunno if it's useful, I think it's what I'd do but our tastes might differ :)

11-27-2013, 11:32 PM
I quickly re-did the main continental map, for consistency with the updated style. To be completed all the rivers should be re-traced by hand (and many of them should also be adjusted/removed), and I should add forests, though at this scale it's not easy to depict them convincingly. However, since the first uses of this will be for minimal to show the placement of the main maps, I guess it could be acceptable.


11-28-2013, 03:26 AM
Ooh, there's a continental map! Love it :)

11-28-2013, 08:25 AM
I like a lot the shape of your continent.

And, I'm not a big fan of this kind of mountains, but at this scale, it looks good. In particular on the big isles of south east and south west, where the progression seems more regular.

11-28-2013, 02:17 PM
Looking very nice feanaaro. I like the color and texture of the ocean.


01-06-2014, 06:54 PM
Still "still trying", I am just very very slow on this.
Now, two slightly more elaborated versions of the political map. Which one does look better, with or without forests and geographical names showing?



01-07-2014, 02:36 AM
I like the "with" version best. The forests etc help to explain why a border is there, and not somewhere else. Great map, feanaaro!!

01-07-2014, 02:37 AM
The high-frequency detail on the background makes it a little hard for me to read in either version. Maybe a 25% opaque white layer above the terrain and below the map areas would help to reduce the background distractions? This would work especially well with a dark gray or brown outline on the coast and rivers, I think.

01-07-2014, 08:38 AM
Thanks for the suggestion. I am not sure about the grey outline for rivers and coast. Anyway, does this work better in your opinion:


Alternatively, I could ditch the white layer and just diminish the bevel and emboss level for mountains (though that would make it tedious to switch from the political to the geographical map every time).

01-08-2014, 12:19 AM
I am locally known for having problems pulling graphic elements out of visual clutter. My eye kept getting pulled to that high-contrast mountain block with the bold blacks in the lower right corner. The lower contrast background now reduces that effect for me and I can more easily see the labels and other elements. I might even go a little more opaque on the intermediate white layer to increase the contrast on the foreground elements (boundaries, terrain, rivers, coasts, and so on) compared to the background ones. Possibly going darker on the gray for rivers and coast (maybe pushing it a little towards dark brown) to up the contrast for the important elements on this map, but probably not all the way to black.

I think that I may be suggesting what amounts to two very different maps: a physical one with full saturation and few labels, and one where the background is present but muted in order for the purpose of the political map to be clear.

01-08-2014, 05:32 AM
Waldronate, that was actually my intent, I just did not muted it enough in the beginning. The white layer is good, I am not sold on the grey border for rivers etc. though.

01-09-2014, 12:10 AM
I wasn't suggesting gray borders on things, just drawing over the river and coast with a not-quite black pen. What I was trying to describe is similar to a line drawing containing the mechanical graphical elements (lines, text, borders, etc.) drawn on top of a sheet of thick vellum with the original saturated image aligned underneath it.

01-18-2014, 09:20 AM
Another small update. I am now mostly content with the "physical" map, I think it gives right the impression I want for this world. I think that the spaced names works better, I wonder why I did not notice that before (btw, is there in photoshop a way to make that automatically? I had to manually add spaces between the letters, which does not satisfy my innermost OCD core).
I cannot find good colors for the "political" map, any help or suggestion would be greatly appreciated.
I decided to add towns (small triangles) and fortresses, in addition to cities (circles) and large cities (squares), I am ambivalent toward these additions. I also have to make up many other names, always the worst part for me.



01-18-2014, 10:27 AM
It depends on your version of Photoshop I suspect, but in CS6 if you have the Character dialogue open (go to Window along the top menu bar and it should be in the list), there are various elements of a text box that you can modify, including spacing between individual letters. In CS6, the symbol in this dialogue box you'll be looking for is a VA with a two-headed arrow underneath, and it is set to 0 by default. There is a T also with a two-headed arrow, but that stretches or squishes the text.

01-18-2014, 11:43 AM
I have an older version of PS and I know that you can change elements of the text of multiple layers at the same time. Just select them all and make the changes you want.

01-19-2014, 12:07 AM
Alternative, sepia-based, political: