View Full Version : Desert Canyon - Dark Sun Battlemaps

06-25-2013, 01:54 PM
I made this in Photoshop CS6 by taking an internet stock photo of a canyon in a block of cheese (i know right?) and creating a height map out of it in a program called CrazyBump (free demo) and tweaked it in Photoshop.

I then used a desert texture on top in Multiply blend mode as per Pasis' great bumpmap tutorial (http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/16688-bumpmaps-photoshop-quick-guide.html) and added some rocks and vegetation.

I feel like it came out pretty nicely, not 100% happy with the rocks I need to find a better way to do them realistically without using objects that looks too obvious.

Edit: Here is a version using Neyjour's desert rock overlays (thanks for the feedback Jacktannery!) I still would like to find a way to draw quickly rocks and then texture them without relying on objects but these are pretty sweet I have to say and it definitely looks much better.

4.18 MB
3600x2400 @ 96ppi - High quality (10) .jpg

1.36 MB
3600x2400 @ 96ppi - Very compressed (4) .jpg

4.54 MB
3600x2400 @ 96ppi - High quality (10) .jpg

1.51 MB
3600x2400 @ 96ppi - Very compressed (4) .jpg

Here's another version for those of you not predisposed to Arid terrain maps like I am =)

Grassy Canyon with trees

4.5 MB Less Compression

2.4 MB More Compression

06-25-2013, 02:58 PM
Your cheese canyon is awesome but your desert rocks are indeed pretty dire. Why don't you have a look a Neyjour's wonderful desert rocks here RPG Map Elements 32 by *Neyjour on deviantART (http://neyjour.deviantart.com/art/RPG-Map-Elements-32-279327483) and try to use her ideas to create rocks that blend in better with the sand.

06-25-2013, 08:12 PM
Thanks for the feedback Jacktennery! I took your advice and added a version that uses Neyjour's desert rock objects and I have to say it looks much better! I had to use a good amount of drop shadow on them to get the sense of height I was looking for so some of her overlay magic was lost but overall I think it looks nice.

I still would like to find an attractive method to easily draw and texture my own customized rock shapes on a layer instead of relying on object placement. My current method just isn't good enough for a more hi-res looking map they come out looking cartoony.

I'm on a height map kick right now and was thinking of creating a layer, selecting the rock shapes with lasso, pasting in a pretty busy height map background (or find a way to create one inside each selected area using gradients maybe?), then putting a rock texture layer on top of that in multiply blending mode.

This isn't the proper forum obviously but does anyone know of a good realistic rock method with a sense of height?

06-26-2013, 03:16 AM

The map looks better with Neyjour's rocks. I advise you to make your own using her idea: get good overhead photos of rock and stone (see attached examples at reduced quality); cut out your desired shapes with a feathered outline & recolour as required; profit! Or even better: cover your image in the rock picture and use a mask to blank it out, than use a fuzzy brush to mask bits of it back in respecting the rock outlines of the rock image. I personally don't like to use heightmaps to create rocks because it gives them an overly metallic (ie high contrast) appearance, however your canyon is so good I think you might be able to pull it off.


Ben Burch
06-26-2013, 05:58 PM
i really like the grassy version, how long did the first image take you to make?

06-26-2013, 06:08 PM
@Jacktannery thanks for the input its appreciated. I messed around a bit with the heightmaps for rocks and I see what you mean the higher points need to be softened a bunch or it comes out too metallic as you said. I'll have to play around with it more. Neyjour's method does work very nicely perhaps I'll just have to take your advice and make up a bunch of stock I can use. Thanks for the mini tutorial on it =)

@Ben Thanks for the compliment, though the grass version loses most of the cool detail on the canyon making it maybe not worth the trouble to create the height map in the first place =)

The initial desert one took me about three hours to make, but two of that was finding a suitable photograph and figuring out how to use the CrazyBump software to generate the bumpmap. After that its as easy as putting it in Photoshop, desaturating the map, brush in darker shadows where needed, put the desert layer on top in Multiply blend mode, adjust the exposure to brighten it up, add some vegetation objects, and throw the rocks on.

10-17-2013, 04:29 PM
Your desert texture is very nice!

I have used your map here to create a battle map for the rpg Deadlands!
Deadlands Reloaded - The Vultur's Lair by Sadizzm on deviantART (http://dead-lands.deviantart.com/art/Deadlands-Reloaded-The-Vultur-s-Lair-407839077)

Can i have the original texture please to make more map? Thanks a lot! :)

10-17-2013, 04:34 PM
Sorry double post here!

10-19-2013, 08:12 AM
thanks for your work, I will probably use it soon

11-26-2013, 12:53 PM
Great work. Someone knows where I can find additional items for desert maps (cactus, tumbleweed, etc.). Thanks in advance

11-26-2013, 06:14 PM
I don't know of any really good solution for just painting in arbitrary areas of rock. Unfortunately, one of the things you'll keep running into is weird looking shading - either too regular looking, or not lining up with the outline of the area - simply because the shape of a natural stone outcrop tends to be relatively complex. The solution you've used above is (in my opinion at least) a pretty good compromise though. Just means you have to let yourself be led a little by the shape of the rocks you've got, but hey, sculptors have been doing that for thousands of years, so it's a fine tradition.

A few tips and ideas to try to improve the look of your map even further:

Try painting the mask around your rocks with a textured brush - noise or even some more complex pattern (http://detailedterrain.com/index.php?page=guide). You want the two textures to blend with one another, while still having the illusion of a hard border between the particles of rock and particles of dirt or sand.

Make sure your light directions match up. The light on your rock texture looks to be from the top left. The rocks cast shadows that go down and left, as if the light were in the top right. This is pretty subtle, but the eye picks up on it as a subtle dissonance in the image as a whole.

You might try painting in some large scale form on your rock formations using a large noisy brush to daub simple black and white into low opacity multiply (shading) and color dodge (highlight) layers on opposite edges of the formations. This will help give them a little sense of depth and overall curvature.