View Full Version : Using satellite images to make a map

07-26-2008, 10:45 AM
Greetings, this is my first post here.

Looking at the Blue Marble image of Earth and other satellite images found at NASA Earth Observatory (http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/) a thought crossed my mind: wouldn't these pictures be useful in constructing a fictional map? So I began experimenting, copying parts of the images to create textures for different types of terrain. It proved quite tricky; a small rectangular area was easy to make into a tiling pattern but the lack of size made it look annoyingly repetititive in a large map. A large sample OTOH was a total pain to get tiling seamlessly. Then I found Redrobes' GenTiled script here, which was a huge boon. So now I have a set of beautifully tiling textures, and present a quick practice map created with them (though not all of them are used in it) in combination with other mapmaking techniques. The mountains didn't turn out as good as I wanted, partly due to poor bump mapping.

Steel General
07-26-2008, 10:55 AM
Welcome aboard, looking good.

About the only remotely negative thing I can say is that it looks like its is 'floating' above the water. But thats not a bif deal.

07-26-2008, 11:28 AM
Thank you.

I didn't pay much attention to the water, since my goal was to showcase the use of textures on the landmass. :)

07-26-2008, 12:03 PM
Siguard did something similar in this post (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=1542) you might get a few ideas by looking at it.

-Rob A>

07-26-2008, 02:02 PM
I think its a very good avenue to develop, and a great idea ghostman!

My own experience was that unless you are transforming an image into a map directly ie. the pictured land mass is the same as the map... you are better off to use the satellite image as a source for patterns and brushes.

I think its great for bump shading but you need to cut and paste with an artists eye.

I'd recommend any mapper spend some time with the images though. Land from space seems a lot flatter than it looks from down here!


Keep posting experiaments! Go man Go!

07-26-2008, 05:22 PM
Hey Ghostman, welcome and glad you liked the script :D I expect it would work well for satellite image stuff.

I do something kinda similar to what your doing. I have this GTS program which does some 3D terrain magic and then spits out lots of files at the end. These are the height map for starters but also the vegetation, amount of water, whether its snow, volcanoes, steam, yada yada etc. Then I take all of these files and put them into a program I wrote called a texture compositor which is a programmable image tool which picks up on these sources and then applies textures in programmable amounts to the render until its all done.

So I have a directory with about 30 or so seamless textures of different land and sea types. All sorts of stuff. Sea, coral, cliff, rock, ferns, trees, sand - loads of it. Then pretty much every terrain I create gets pushed through this and it spits out completed textured terrain. Its a cool way to go about it.

Without using this app you can do the same thing manually using layers and masks which is what I expect that you have done. So cool going.

I'll be keeping an eye on this... :)

07-27-2008, 03:46 AM
Hello Redrobes. Yes, I use my textures on layers with masks in GIMP. Your programs sound really useful. Anyway, I'm glad that you published the script, it's saved me from much work.

08-15-2008, 04:01 AM
Yes - I have already released the Alpha version of my TERRAFORMER package for Fractal Terrains Pro. It uses NASA images and sampled RGB from NASA images for mapping.

If you want realism then I suppose the best source for textures that your going to find are NASA images / real Earth images.

08-17-2008, 02:33 PM
It is always impressive to see this kind of maps. In my opinion, the deserts don't look real. It seems too blurred, especially on the coast. In the centre, it's look like nice.