View Full Version : Mixing hand drawn and randomly generated elements?

07-27-2008, 09:30 PM
There are certainly folks here who mix hand and digital components. I'm just not sure if my attempt looks cohesive. Do my hand drawn coasts clash with my random bits?

Further Reading
It's just a basic outline. I don't intend to "finish" this right now. I just want to tear sections out and develop small regions as needed. The world map just keeps my work honest.

I started by drawing some continents in with a Wacom tablet, and then created large 'blocks' of difference cloud islands (using RobA's random coastlines tutorial) and moved them around individually to generate broken coasts, islands, and large lakes. I didn't want to cover up all of my drawn coasts, as I liked some of the shapes.

The file is 12.5 inches wide, so about 2000 miles per inch for a roughly Earth sized globe. My only concern right now is that the northern continent feels too close to the eastern one, given that the box on the eastern continent is the area where the city I discuss in this thread (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=2570) will be located. It makes the city a little less isolated than I intended... but I suppose trade winds could be set up to make the trip longer. 10 or 12 days maybe. That might be enough.

07-27-2008, 11:16 PM
Looks great.

I think one can obsess about making each step perfect. Try going further with it and see if anything really causes you any problems. If you work digitally, esp. in layers, you can always go back.


07-27-2008, 11:48 PM
Some of your coastlines are definitely more fractalized than others. I'm not sure I would have noticed except that you drew our attention to it, though. Have you checked the "Semi-Random Coastlines" tutorial? That one allows more control over just how random a coastline gets--you get to control the shape of the continents, and the level of blur you apply determines how "fractaly" the coast becomes.

As for your northern continent's proximity to the other, you could just lasso select one of them and move it a little further away. I'm not sure the procedure in the Gimp, but in Photoshop it's pretty straightforward.

07-28-2008, 12:03 AM
My experiments with the tutorials lead to fairly uniformly fractalized maps. I think my goal, or at least my goal once I got started, was to create less uniformity by breaking up a few coasts severely and leaving others clean. My concern is that the clean coasts are too clean...

I'll experiment with pressing more fractalized bits around the edges, so that I can continue to make some portions more broken up than others, but I think I should probably also heed the "don't obsess over every detail of something so large" warning for now too. I can always perform minor edits of coasts, islands, and lakes as I focus on individual regions.

07-28-2008, 06:20 AM
There does look an inconsitency with the coastlines. At first glance you can't see it, but then it can look 'odd'

Is this RobA's tutorial you mention (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=875)? You could work at a higher res than needed and then reduce, which will give you detail.

I did a tutorial for Photoshop (http://www.jezelf.co.uk/tutorials_map03.htm)which is an alternative technique, which might help. RobA told me about his tutorial after I did mine, I'm looking into adding it in. We discussed it a bit here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?p=27446#post27446)

Map's looking good BTW :)

07-28-2008, 09:06 AM
It was RobA's tutorial. I dig the simplicity of that tutorial, but I never get exactly what I want. That's when I got the idea of using difference clouds and, doing something sort of like what you do, moving them around and stacking them to create coasts. The only difference is that I sketched out the continenets first and then just tacked the difference cloud bits onto the edges.

Rather than go the whole way around with broken up coasts and islands, I left a lot of the drawn coast exposed. I may go in and use larger (more solid) chunks and fill in the rest with random bits.

Thanks for the feedback thus far.

07-28-2008, 12:53 PM
Since you said this is an earth sized world, use google earth to measure distances...

Here the distance is 1900 miles:

-Rob A>

07-28-2008, 01:54 PM
... your awesom.

I've vaguely heard of google earth. I had no clue it could be used for maps other than earth.

07-28-2008, 11:18 PM
Wait... that's his map pasted into Google Earth?

How did you do that?

07-29-2008, 02:20 AM
Heh... Yeah, tutorial time.

Steel General
07-29-2008, 07:23 AM
RobA has mysterious magical powers granted to him by the Great Wizard Googleweisen, and the Great Wizard Googlewiesen doesn't give up his secrets easy, but RobA always willing to share. :)

07-29-2008, 08:36 AM
I figured it out last evening after seeing what he did. I don't have it on my work computer, so I can't navigate you there directly... but it's under the 3rd or 4th option on the standard menu bar at the top. It's called Apply Overlay or something obvious like that. Zoom all the way out, apply it and then streatch it to fit. You might need to zoom in on the poles to get it snug. That seems to be about it.

I don't know what the ideal size/layout of the file you use should be. If your flat image should be distorted at the poles to appear not-distorted on the globe, etc.. Map projections are too advanced a topic for me right now. My image was sized to 12.5 inches width and 6.25 inches height, so that my earth-sized world would have have a scale of roughly 2000 miles per inch.

It worked, and I have to say I didn't fully realize how large some of my continents would look on a round world.

07-29-2008, 08:42 AM
had a little play at lunch time. It was way too exciting not to try something! worked out some of it to keep us happy until RobA tells us more :)

1: sized the map to 2:1 (I used 1000pixels wide X 500pixles high as a test)
2: Open Google earth > go to Add > Image overlay ( Ctrl+Shift+O ) > browse to your file.
3: It'll throw your image over the earth and you'll have green markers. Drag those markers around the globe until they join.
4: In the Layers, hide the overlays you dont' need
5: haven't found out how to do the distances yet but I'm sure the master will let us underlings know soon :)

here's one of my muck-about maps I used...

07-29-2008, 10:22 AM
Looks like distorting the ice cap is the way to go then. Thanks for clarifying the process.

07-29-2008, 11:24 AM
If any one needs a polar distortion tool...

The map I used was something I was playing around with for this thread (http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/forum/37340-map-creation-3.html#post855746). I used a plug-in for Photoshop for the spherical distortion, which you can find here - Spherical Mapping Corrector (http://www.richardrosenman.com/software/downloads/) (if you use PS that is - some of the fractal world generators already distort I think)

07-29-2008, 01:43 PM
I might not have noticed it if you hadn't pointed it out, but now that I look at the map, there is a big difference between the hand drawn areas and the fractalized area.

07-29-2008, 06:14 PM
heh. I never saw the request, sorry.

And I never know the green lines were handles. I just always used the dialog:

-Rob A>

07-29-2008, 07:10 PM
actually, typing in the dialog gives a better result, the handles seemed to create artifacts for me.

It's a great reference tool! thanks RobA


oh - I found out about about the distances (5: above) simple really! View> Grid
you might also need to turn off any previous places you may have marked using google earth or they will still appear over your own map.

07-30-2008, 02:11 AM
Here's a lil world I did up to test out this great find. The ruler tool can help you find your distances so that's cool and if you place a bunch of pushpin bookmark thingies on your cities you can spin the world and it will zoom in on your cities and these bookmarks can be shared with others so that looks pretty cool as well. Those plug ins from Jez are interesting as well except the spherical mapping corrector messed up my map (so if your going to use that plug in, don't put anything anywhere near the sides of your image). The first image is a lil world I did up tonight for the test and the second shows part of the globe.

07-30-2008, 09:08 AM
The spherical mapping corrector is just designed to pre-distort a regular tileable texture so when mapped to a sphere it doesn't pinch as badly when mapped to a sphere assuming an equirectangular projection.

If you work with that from the start you will be fine mapping to a sphere.

-Rob A>

07-31-2008, 02:24 AM
This is so cool. It definitely requires cropping into smaller sub-images. My 1024x512 global images don't show up well on zoom and Google Earth won't take my 8192x4096 globals.

Does anybody know how to do precise crops in photoshop? Without overlap. It looks like GE will take 4096x4096 overlays and no larger.

07-31-2008, 05:03 AM
You could try out this PS action (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=2585) - might work.

Failing that,

If you know how many you need to chop it up by...

View > Show Grid ( or Ctrl+' ) use your rulers and guildlines then
Edit> Preferences > Grid and place your Gridline and Subdivisions to your needs (might want to check your line colours will be visible over your work)
View> Snap

If you set up your grid line correctly, you could now use the rectangular Marquee Tool to drag select to each section.
Cut and paste into a new document, or use the crop tool to snap on the grid and, if necessary flatten the document, save as something else and then using your history, return back above the crop and start again to the next part.

If you want guidelines / rulers - or the grid is getting in the way...
View > Rulers ( Ctrl+R ) > move your mouse to the ruler, the mouse icon will change. > Click drag and guide from the ruler to your grid and snap it into place.

Continue using both top and side rulers to set guides along your division lines > View > Show > Grid to hide the grid ( or Ctrl+' )

You can then crop/marquee snap to your guidelines without the grid.

hope it helps.


07-31-2008, 05:33 PM
Su Liam, that lil world I did up is a 6250 x 3125 jpg, so maybe it's not about pixel size or maybe it's the version of GE...I'm using 4.2.something (haven't downloaded the 4.3 beta yet). As far as cropping, I don't even use gridlines because when you make a selection via grids it frequently includes 1 pixel to the right and 1 pixel below the gridline. I just make an exact square or rectangle of X number of pixels on a new layer, select it (cntrl-click), then dump this new layer and crop to the exact size.

08-02-2008, 02:29 AM
Getting back to my initial issue. I liked the concept of mixed coasts, but the more I looked at them the stranger it looked to me. So I've gone with all drawn lines, which may look worse for all I know... but it's consistent.

Continents are basically correct. I may tweak the layout once I settle on a final style for the world map. For now this is just serving as a tool to make sure I know where different regions are in relationship to one another.

08-02-2008, 07:25 AM
Hi Aristotle

yeah - sorry we got side tracked.

I think your new version does look better. There certainly is consistency , and it more than serves the purpose for which you need it for now. Anyway, if you did want to bring back detail on the the edges you could now put the whole thing through RobA's tutorial and should look consistant that way too.

I like the colouring you have put on too. Much easier on the eye than the white and cyan.

thanks for posting your progress - looking forward to see more.


08-13-2008, 12:37 AM
Tried messing around with Ascension's tutorial tonight. So many (very different) styles here that I want to try. This one worked alright. I couldn't follow the tutorial exactly as I started with hand drawn shapes and not clouds. I may redo this one, one continent at a time, to tweak some things.

Oh... and this map made my game rig chug. I ran out of memory at one point and couldn't render any more clouds. Of course the image is 25"x12.5" and 500dpi, and I'm sure I wasn't working very efficiently.

08-13-2008, 01:27 AM
Some pretty interesting effects there in the mountains, I dig em. Might try to get me something like that for plateaus. Good job. Here is what you can do for exact precision while still using clouds. Make a black and medium gray clouds layer (50% gray). Take your original image and put this as a new layer on top of the layer stack. Make a new layer and fill in the continent shapes with white. Name this layer "anything". Delete the original image layer. You should now have 2 layers. Reduce the opacity of the "anything" layer to anything you like above 50%. This will retain your shapes and lighten the clouds underneath. Merge down (ctrl-E) then you can follow along with the tutorial easily.

Also, working on full earths really makes my gaming rig chug too so I only do 1 continent at a time then flatten it and save as a jpg. Once I have all the continents done and flattened it's much easier to make one large blank document and then add each continent in on its own layer, position it, and then flatten the new image too. One full earth I did without flattening anything was 6 gigs so I'll never do that again :)