PDA

View Full Version : The Western Kingdoms - by Greason Wolfe



Greason Wolfe
03-15-2014, 12:21 AM
Once again, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here at the Guild. There have been family health issues, work issues, motivational issues, and so on. In all honesty, these last two or three years have been, to put it mildly, rough. I think, though, or at least I hope, I am finally back with a new project entitled The Western Kingdoms.

And I’m trying something a little different for me.

For any of you that have followed my work in the past, you probably know that I have a tendency to lean towards rendering my maps in Terragen with a little (well, maybe a lot) of help from Wilbur, with a smattering of FTPro and graphical editing. One of the major downfalls of that approach, at least for me, has always been how long it takes. I’d spend hours, days, a week or more working in Wilbur in an effort to get my mountains looking good. Then there would be even more time laying out the rivers and lakes. Forests. Hills. Deserts. All those wonderful terrain features to make a map look complete. And, lastly, the rendering process in Terragen. It could take hours, and if I wasn’t happy with the results, there would be even more hours adjusting the coloring and rendering angles. In a nutshell, I’d reach a “burn-out” point and abandon the project all together.

The difference this time is that rather than trying to put everything together in a single render, I’m going to render individual bits and pieces of the map and put them together the way most people here do via layers in my graphics editor. I’m hoping that by only focusing on smaller, individual pieces of the map I won’t hit that “burn-out” stage.

Wish me luck.

As a sign of my good intentions, here is what I’ve accomplished so far (at about half the actual size of the file I'm working with). I’ve got the basic land masses laid out along with some smaller islands. I’ve also shaded and textured the ocean/seas a little bit, though I’m not sure if I’m 100% happy with the “wave” effect along the coasts just yet. On the whole, though, I’m generally happy with the way things are looking so far, and the good thing is, I have quite a few notes on where most of the significant terrain features are going to go. I can't make any promises as to how frequently I'll be updating this project, but if things go well, I should have more to show in just a few days.

Again, though, wish me luck.

GW

Lingon
03-15-2014, 12:00 PM
Excellent coast! I really like the wave effect, as well as the shape of the coast itself. Very cool :)

Diamond
03-15-2014, 12:03 PM
Good to see you back in action! What you've got down already is fantastic; I love that coast.

Lyrillies
03-15-2014, 04:35 PM
From what you said in your post it seems you have a very interesting work approach, and I love that you render your maps in Terragen! I will definitely have to have a look at some of your older projects.

As for the current map: It looks very nice, I like the islands and the wave effect is very beautiful!
Good luck with this! I hope you will finish it :)

Greason Wolfe
03-15-2014, 05:37 PM
Thanks for the kind words so far, and, given that you all seem to like the wave effect as it is, I won't do much to change it except maybe to create a tiny bit more separation between the waves and the actual coast line. I've been at work all day and haven't had a chance to work on this yet other than a slight bit of line work on the coast lines to make them stand out just a little more clearly in an effort to keep the smaller islands from disappearing. It's a very subtle thing, so I'll save it for when I've done a bit more work on the map as a whole.

@Lyrillies - I have done quite a few renders in an older version of Terragen (version 0.9.whatever...) but because I'm on an older computer system, they tend to take hours and hours when I'm trying to render them at a decent size. I did get some really good mountain renders a while ago, and have a couple two or three challenge maps that were rendered in terragen, but, as I mentioned, I'm now leaning towards rendering individual elements in terragen rather than the entire map.

GW

P.S. If anyone is interested in how I got the coast lines to look the way they do, I'll be happy to explain it. It's a pretty simple process, though it does require Wilbur.

P.P.S. Figured I'd go ahead and post the minor tweaks while I had a little time. As I said earlier, they are subtle and meant, for the most part, to keep the smaller islands from disappearing. Also posted the map and what I expect to be the final size for the sake of being able to see things a bit more easily.

Greason Wolfe
03-16-2014, 10:37 PM
Seeing as how it is going to take me a little longer than I thought to get all the mountains rendered (I'm planning on rendering at least 49 individual mountains if not more), I thought I'd post a sample of what they should ultimately look like. I may have to adjust the shading a tiny bit, but it is pretty close to what I'm aiming for. The overall goal is to get all of them rendered, then set them up as brushes (or PSP tubes in my case) and start painting them into the map. Took me a while tweaking the process to get the look I wanted, but now that I have that down, I'm hoping to crank out 10 to 15 mountains a day so long as I don't have to spend extra time at work.

GW

Greason Wolfe
03-18-2014, 10:40 PM
Still refining the mountain building/rendering process, but feel as though I am very close. Worked up these mountains tonight. There are a couple that I may need to tweak just a bit, but overall, I'm pretty happy with the way they look. I'm thinking that I have at least 27 more to do, if not more, before I set them up as brushes (or tubes in the case of my archaic version of Paint Shop Pro) and start working them into the map, so I'm figuring I have a few more days worth of work ahead of me just in setting up the mountains. Once those are laid in, I'll start working on the more unique mountains (i.e. multiple peaks, plateaus, cliffs, and so on). Same basic process, I think, but maybe a few extra steps to get the right look. I think the fundamental process will also work with hills, and possibly even forested lands. I'll have to work the shading differently, and, perhaps, the render, but I'm confident that it shouldn't be too difficult to get what I'm looking for.

GW

Caenwyr
03-19-2014, 06:41 AM
I love this! Curious to see how this'll work out!

Ilanthar
03-19-2014, 07:53 AM
Wow, impressive mountains!

Greason Wolfe
03-19-2014, 11:01 PM
So I spent my evening tweaking the erosion process in Wilbur and the rendering process in Terragen in an effort to get just a little more out of these mountains. A lot of results got discarded, but I hit on 3 that, IMHO are pretty decent. At this point, I'm leaning towards the second or third of these results, but thought I would toss them up here to see what others think. I might need to do a little additional tweaking in the rendering process, but these are pretty darn close to what I've been aiming for in the long run.

The only real difference between the three of them is the number of times I ran fluvial erosion (precipiton in Wilbur) over the mountain before sending it to Terragen. The left most mountain got 15 passes, the center got 10 passes and the right most got 5 passes. I've come to the conclusion that anything more than 15 passes washes away too many little details that give the mountains character, leaving behind something more cone-like than mountain-like.

Thoughts? Comments? I'm always open to suggestions.

GW

waldronate
03-20-2014, 01:32 AM
Something very similar to this mountains-to-brushes process was going to be Fun With Wilbur Volume 7. It looks like my year (or more) worth of piddling around in getting actions implemented let you beat me to it. My goal was to be able to mass-produce the suckers using any of the shader settings under control of an automation system, but I ran afoul of nasty infrastructure things and it's sort of stalled.

It's possible to get a similar effect directly in Wilbur even today (except for the antialiasing on the 3D, of course). The critical part is the lighting (Texture>>Shader Setup for the Wilbur shader). Under Altitude, make the land color list and sea color list each contain just one color: white. Then set the elevation angle in intensity to 70 degrees and the ambient . The result should look as shown below.

62478

The base terrain is just a raw Filter>>Calculate Height Field with the Math Function "1000*sqr((ridged(x+0.4,y+0.3,1)*exp(-r*r*4)-0.15))", sphere center -2,-2,-2 and radii 4,4,4. Just tweak that +0.4 and +0.3 to move the mountains around and you have lots of quick-generated items. Things look better with erosion, of course...

Lingon
03-20-2014, 12:39 PM
I like the third version most, the bold contrast makes it the most striking :)

Greason Wolfe
03-20-2014, 07:56 PM
The cool thing about having Waldronate around here is that he always pops up with these entirely cool math functions for Wilbur. Sadly, I tried the function, and it resulted in Wilbur crashing. It's all good though, cause it gives me something to think about.

GW

waldronate
03-20-2014, 10:40 PM
Weird. It works in V1.80 x64.
62501

Or, as we like to say at work:
62505
(this medal gets a LOT of use).

Azelor
03-20-2014, 11:04 PM
The reason why I don't use Wilbur is that it crashes very often on my computer too. 32 bits...

Greason Wolfe
03-20-2014, 11:22 PM
Well, that might be the problem here. Still running version 1.75 on a 32 bit system. Like I said, though, it's all good. It still gives me some ideas to work with in the future. For now, I'll just continue along the course that I've set for myself and try to finish rendering these mountains over the next couple of days so that I can start putting them to use.

GW

Greason Wolfe
03-22-2014, 02:16 PM
Whew! The first batch of 25 mountains is finally done. I'm not sure just how many more I will make. There is a part of me that says 25 is probably enough, but there is another part of me that says I should crank out about 100 of them in an effort to minimize the possibility of repeating patterns when I start adding them into the map. Anyone have thoughts on this, or suggestions?

GW

P.S. On the off chance that anyone might want to make use of these, please feel free to do so. They are all in scale to one another in terms of overall size. I wasn't super worried about showing specific elevation levels, just relative heights when they were compared to one another.

Diamond
03-22-2014, 03:39 PM
There is a part of me that says 25 is probably enough, but there is another part of me that says I should crank out about 100 of them in an effort to minimize the possibility of repeating patterns when I start adding them into the map. Anyone have thoughts on this, or suggestions?

Join the Dark Side of Schwarzkreuz Mountain Making. Why settle for 100 when you can make 10,000? :D

They do look pretty fantastic though. And very generous to let us play with them; I may have to do some experimenting...

Greason Wolfe
03-22-2014, 04:51 PM
Join the Dark Side of Schwarzkreuz Mountain Making. Why settle for 100 when you can make 10,000? :D

They do look pretty fantastic though. And very generous to let us play with them; I may have to do some experimenting...

There's a dark side of mountain making? :o And here I thought I was finally climbing my way out of that pit! :lol:

As for sharing . . . I've gotten so much from so many members here, it only seemed right to give something back. Besides, I'll probably make several dozen more of these, and keep them for myself. ;)

GW

Greason Wolfe
03-23-2014, 09:46 PM
Okay, so now that I'm armed (with over 4 dozen mountains), and dangerous (only to myself), it's time to put the mountain results to the test and see just how well they work as an actual part of the map. I tried a few different things in terms of blend modes and sharpening to see if I could get a look that I really liked. The results, shown below, are up for judgement. I know which way I'm leaning, but would like to hear what others have to say.

GW

Diamond
03-24-2014, 01:19 AM
I'm leaning towards bottom left. I'm guessing you'll blend in the edges a bit, right?

TheHoarseWhisperer
03-24-2014, 01:52 AM
I also prefer the lower left, and I think blending the edges is a good idea (although it might give your maps a very unique look if you leave them unblended).

It seems like Diamond and I have similar tastes, because I've been agreeing with him on a lot of things lately.

Raptori
03-24-2014, 08:44 AM
I agree with THW and Diamond :)

Greason Wolfe
03-24-2014, 07:27 PM
Interesting. I was actually leaning towards the upper-left version, but I can see where the lower-left version would work well. Blending them in might be a bit of a chore, but I'll take a look at a few options and see what I can come up with. I do have a second idea of how to use the upper-left version that I will attempt to preview with my next image posting. Thanks for the input.

GW

madcowchef
03-24-2014, 07:47 PM
Put me down for the lower left too.

Ilanthar
03-25-2014, 12:14 PM
Same for me... even if I find the upper right interesting.

Lingon
03-25-2014, 12:44 PM
I agree with the majority here. The bottom left is the most coherent with the coastline in terms of sharpness and contrast. And I definitely think blending them would be worth it.

Greason Wolfe
03-25-2014, 07:27 PM
Well, it seems we have a majority vote for the lower left mountains, which, I will admit, I was somewhat partial to as well. As for blending them in, I've tried a few things so far and the results have been less than stellar. I suspect that I will have to change the render settings in Terragen to get a good blend, and even then, there might still be a somewhat obvious edge around the base of each mountain. Give me a day or two, and I'll see what I can come up with.

I really appreciate all the input, and think it is going to help me make this one of the best maps I've ever done.

GW

Greason Wolfe
03-26-2014, 09:02 PM
So I tried tweaking the rendering process with two goals in mind, those being; cleaner edges to work the blending on, and a better shading transition from mountain base to peak. I'm pretty close, I think, at least when it comes to the edges. These should be much easier to work with in terms of blending them in, and/or covering them with some of the other terrain features I'm planning. It's a little frustrating that it's taking me more time than I planned for this, but not nearly as frustrating as it would have been if I was working with larger chains and what not. I'm no where near that "burn-out" stage at this point, so I expect to continue working on this map. I suppose it all comes down to being a bit of a perfectionist at heart. ;)

GW

Greason Wolfe
03-27-2014, 09:43 PM
Before letting myself get too deep into re-rendering the mountains, I took a couple more shots at trying to blend in the existing mountain brushes. At full size, I think the results aren't bad, but as I shrink the scale on the brushes, things seem to be getting a little more harsh. That could be, I think, a problem as, at full size, the mountains seem awfully big when compared to the rest of the map. But that could just be me. The flip side of that coin is that enlarging the base map wouldn't be that difficult. Still, up for input on this as I'm a bit "iffy" on which way to go.

GW

Caenwyr
03-28-2014, 01:17 AM
I would say, you've put so much work in the mountains that it would be a pity to downsize them now. They're awesome at full scale!

Diamond
03-29-2014, 12:44 AM
Yep, I'm with Caenwyr - leave your mountains at normal size and up-size the base map!

Greason Wolfe
03-29-2014, 10:10 AM
So, I've enlarged the base map as much as I can while still keeping it at a workable size, and I think I've got the mountain blending process very close to where I want it to be. I still feel as though scaling might be a bit of a problem however. The map is meant to detail an area that is 545 miles east to west, and 325 miles north to south. To me, the mountains still feel a little off in terms of size, but that could just be me. The image below has a bar slapped in that represents a 15 mile span as a way to visualize the general size of the mountains. Am I just being too picky, or are these mountains of a reasonable size? I can go a little bigger, or a little smaller with them by, maybe, 25%. Anything beyond that, and the brushes start going a bit wonky on me.

GW

Diamond
03-29-2014, 01:36 PM
Well, how wide is your typical real-world mountain? These look to be about 5 miles wide, which seems reasonable to me.

Greason Wolfe
03-29-2014, 02:14 PM
Thanks, Diamond, that helped, but, you know, sometimes I'm an idiot. It dawned on me (an "aha!" moment, the lightbulb came on, whatever you wanna call it) why the scaling seemed off to me. :idea:

I kept trying to look at these as individual mountains/peaks rather than looking at the whole as a range of mountains. When I shifted that perspective, they quit looking as if they were "off" in some way. Now that I've made that shift, I should be able to start making some serious progress in terms of laying these out and moving on to other important features. :D

GW

Greason Wolfe
03-30-2014, 08:18 PM
Woohoo! I have an actual update this time. Laid out a smaller coastal range. Fairly happy with the way they look at this point, although I have to keep reminding myself not to look at them as individual peaks. The only thing still bugging me about these is the blending. On the full sized image (too big to actually post here) the blending looks okay, but at this smaller size, it doesn't seem quite as smooth. Still, I can live with it. Going to try to continue working in the smaller, lower profile ranges as the evening goes on, and hope to get to the larger ranges in the next day or two.

GW

Diamond
03-30-2014, 09:19 PM
I think it works; it seems nice and seamless, to me, anyway. Are you planning to add forests also? Curious to see how you'll manage that...

Greason Wolfe
04-06-2014, 11:47 AM
Alas, it has been a pretty long week. Spent yesterday recovering from about 70 hours at work through the week, and finally got a chance to start experimenting with the forests today. I'm fairly happy with the results, but am still debating whether or not to try to add in some tree trunks in place of the outline, or maybe in addition to the outline. I'm almost certain that no matter what I do, I'll have to rework the outline as it seems a little thick to me, but, again, that could just be my perception.

GW

Ilanthar
04-07-2014, 08:02 AM
Hum, I don't know how you did the forest, but it looks too digital to me. I like the idea behind it (and I think it would be better without the trunks), but it should have more shadows/darkness in it to match the mountains and a more "drawn" style.

JefBT
04-07-2014, 08:03 AM
I am very curious to see this map done.

Greason Wolfe
05-17-2014, 04:41 PM
So, I haven't abandoned this project, I've just been very busy with work and trying to have a life outside of work. I took some time to re-render the mountains and am much happier with them. I also managed to put together a hill brush set. I'm still not very happy with the look of the forests though and will have to rethink the generation process for those. For the time being, however, here is a preview of the new look for the mountains and a sampling of the hills. I also re-worked the overall size of the map to better fit the scaling I am looking for.

GW