View Full Version : I need help making a map of a lunar surface

Rotten Deadite
12-04-2013, 04:59 PM
So I'm the quest director of a Skyrim mod that takes place on Secunda, the smaller of the Elder Scrolls universe's two moons.

I can find plenty of tutorials online for creating mountains, deserts, forests... but nothing (so far) to help me with creating a lunar surface.

I'm going to need more than just craters as well. I'll need plenty of mountains. Chasms. Dry ground cracked like skin. And at least one bottomless pit that might have to do double-duty as a gaping chest wound.

Ideally it'd all be somewhat photo-realistic as well.

Now that I think of it, does this sound like something someone might be willing to do for us? We do have an art budget...

12-04-2013, 05:28 PM
If I remember correctly, Fractal terrains has an option to apply "planetary bombardment", or something like that, which should result in moon-like craters etc. (maybe, I never actually used it)

Rotten Deadite
12-05-2013, 11:21 AM
I'm messing around with the free trial and so far it seems like I'm going to need something better suited to smaller areas. The mod we're making only takes up... well... honestly distance is kind of a tricky subject in Elder Scrolls games, but let's just say it should take the Player about a half-hour in real time to walk from one side to the other, so let's say four square miles.

Using the Planetary Bombardment option in Fractal Terrains 3 results in some craters that I would probably describe as a cross between "hilarious" and "socially awkward."


I'm going to try messing around with the erosion options in FT3 and Wilbur and see if that gets me anywhere, but frankly I'm really starting to suspect that I'm going to have to pay someone for this. Any takers?

12-05-2013, 11:42 AM
Depending on the style you need, I think I could take the job. Photorealism is not really what I do, but if you want a more fantasy-ish, handdrawn-looking map I'd definitively be up for it. There's a link to my portfolio in my signature, take a look and send an e-mail to the address in the portfolio if you are interested :)

Rotten Deadite
12-05-2013, 11:58 AM
Honestly, Lingon, I'm conflicted. The old-school RPG fan in me desperately wants a map in your Exculta Mundi style.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of the game engine, we're going to need an actual heightmap eventually (and don't get me started on the headache that is Skyrim heightmaps). And that tells me that a photorealistic map would be money better spent.

Oh and additionally there's going to be a lot of questions the development team's going to have concerning the actual physical structure of the map itself. How to reach a comfortable space in game flow (as in the actual path the Player will take through the map) and somehow also avoid a blatantly hand-carved map design. For example: nearly every map we've done on our own, for conversation purposes, has been rectangular. 'Cause that's the shape of our monitors, you know?

12-06-2013, 05:45 AM
Hehe, I'm not really a sales pitch kind of person, so I won't try to talk you into anything. But If you would decide that you want a map by me, you know how to reach me ;)

Rotten Deadite
12-17-2013, 11:02 AM
No problem, Lingon. I'm currently mucking around with photoshopping parts of high-resolution lunar photographs together, just to see if anything good happens. If you have any ideas on what you could provide, let me know. While we're not budgeted for a hand-drawn map, a properly seductive pitch could change our minds :)

12-26-2013, 03:17 PM
I have to agree with RD that those FT3 craters are pretty, um... inadequate?
If you are willing to shell out some money, the Flaming Pear LunarCell filter for Photoshop does a pretty good job making craters. Large numbers of large craters with very little other texturing gives a very nice Ganymede-like effect. If I didn't already have PS and the Space collection of filters from Flaming Pear, though, I doubt if I'd get them just for that purpose.

There aren't a lot of good crater generators out there unfortunately. Sadly, even PlanetGenesis can do better than the example above. Wow.

I'm pretty sure there's a way to make somewhat serviceable craters in Wilbur, but you have to plant them individually.
I think maybe I could reproduce the coronae from LunarCell and maybe the rays, but the cracks would be complicated.

Time to write another blog post, so maybe I'll research to see what I can do for this.

01-01-2014, 11:06 PM
Question: Do you understand how craters form and the processes involved in making look the way they do? If not... I'd suggest doing some reading first - that'll help you understand what they should look like before you start trying to actually learn any techniques for putting them on a map (see e.g. Impact crater - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impact_crater#Crater_formation) ). Look at photos too - Meteor crater in Arizona, for example (there are more pictures of craters on Earth here from a variety of angles - 10 Greatest Major-Impact Craters on Earth (http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/featured/10-greatest-major-impact-craters-on-earth/1403?image=0) ).

Be warned that looking at other bodies is misleading - they have different gravities and sizes (and may be made of ice instead of rock), and the way crater formation works there will not produce the same results as on an earthsized world (e.g. Saturn's moon Mimas is tiny, and most of its craters are bowl-shaped. Craters on the Moon also look different to craters on Mimas, and are also different from craters on Mars and Mercury because they have higher gravity - you tend to get more terraces and double-rings there). Sometimes you can get craters filled by impact melt, sometimes not. And craters can also be eroded aways or broken up by faulting.

01-24-2014, 01:25 PM
It was the Ganymede reference that brought you wasn't it? :P

Honestly, I'm aware of the weakness of the LunarCell output. I also know something about the formation mechanisms of those features. It's amazing how difficult it is to recreate those features by hand. There really is a lot of art involved in painting scientifically correct features on a surface.

Cratered bodies with LunarCell are somewhat striking the first time, but they're very repetitive. To paraphrase One Night in Bangkok, "Whaddaya mean? Ya seen one cratered, dry, airless rockball...(you've seen 'em all.)"

Not that Ganymede is dry at least not in some sense...

01-24-2014, 04:46 PM
Do you need to be able to create your own map from scratch, or can you use height data from actual moons (http://wms.lroc.asu.edu/lroc_browse/view/WAC_CSHADE_0000N1800_128P_4WEB) or planets (http://jmars.mars.asu.edu/maps/?layer=MOLA_Color) to create your maps?