View Full Version : Photoshop height maps?

02-04-2014, 10:54 PM
Can anyone point me to a good tutorial on using height maps in Photoshop?

I mostly make maps for VTTs, and I'm looking for a better way to convey depth/height in top-down views of fairly small areas. Cliffs drive me up the wall. And I once spent three days trying to make a tall, narrow butte before giving up entirely and scrapping the whole encounter.

Any links would be much appreciated.

Cunning Cartographer
02-06-2014, 11:50 AM
I know you say VTTs, but I just want to check you are making combat encounter maps at a personal scale (eg. 1" = 5ft) as opposed to region/city maps at a larger scale, right?

02-06-2014, 03:30 PM
Yes, that's right. I generally work at 100 ppi, and 1 inch = 5 feet.

I've been reading up on this. My google searches seem to indicate that most people make height maps in Photoshop for use in 3D programs like 3D Studio Max, Maya, Vue, the Unity game engine, and so on. I was hoping for something to add the illusion of depth and height to a 2D top-down image. So I'm not sure I'm asking the right question.

I've attached a map I made recently which is about the best I've done in terms of showing hills and slopes, and frankly it's not all that great. It was done just with black/white shadow/highlight layers and some freehanded brushing.


02-08-2014, 06:43 PM
Try experimenting with the Lighting Effects filter. I wrote a brief tutorial on its use here: http://www.cartographersguild.com/how-do-i/25255-suitable-technique-grayscale-map.html