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View Full Version : [Award Winner] A few tips



Schley
10-08-2008, 05:30 PM
I actually posted this as a thread response in the finished maps section and figured I'd add it to the Tutorial section. I'll try to add additional tips as I find the time.

Here's a link to the original thread: Cormyr Map (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=3093)

A little bit of my process:
Using a 6x8 Wacom tablet and Photoshop CS3 I lay down my inks first and send them off for approval. Once I've received any changes/notes I go in and build up the colors and textures in the final version and hope there are no additional changes before handing them off.

I typically start by pasting any reference sketch I have into a layer set to multiply with a transparency of 20-40%. If I'm working on a tactical map this allows me to stroke an accurate grid on another layer using the reference as a guide for path setup. Once I've layed out and stroked my paths and have a grid layer appropriate to the map, I set it to multiply with a transparency of 30-40% and then create a white layer mask for it. The white layer mask allows me to hide or obscure portions of the grid without damaging the actual grid. I can hide/reveal the grid by just painting on the mask.

To keep my inks organized I put wall edges, surface details, etc. on separate layers within a general Inks folder. The reason for keeping certain inks on there own layer is that if there are no breaks in your ink line you can quickly use the magic wand to select areas by simply clicking with it in the area of the ink layer that you want to select. One warning though; when using ink edges to define selections you must expand or contract the selection so that it overlaps the edge of the ink line by a pixel or two. Otherwise when using that selected area to fill with a color, for example, you may end up with odd halo effects.

I keep my color layers organized in their own folder below my ink layers and place all the tags in their own folder on top of everything else.

ok. I'll quit rambling and come back later with some more tips and tricks.

Mike

torstan
10-08-2008, 06:47 PM
This is very similar to the way I have ended up doing my maps - it's interesting to read your methods here. I'd be interested in more detail on your colouring process. I'm guessing a normal colour layer for each area with some overlay or soft light layers for the shading and detail?

Also - you mentioned in another thread going through old books for paper textures - do you always use a scanned background or are some of the backgrounds computer generated as well?

Thanks for sharing the tips!

Schley
10-08-2008, 07:11 PM
Hey Torstan,

My coloring process includes using a combination of personal texture resources (found and created), lots of hand painting with my tablet, and the judicious use of selection outlines and fills. I use Photoshop's filters, textures, and layer effects sparingly since they tend to scream PHOTOSHOP!. Especially repeating texture patterns. They make me so mad!

I actually set up my color layers by subject rather than area, in that I may have one layer devoted to the principal colors of all the furniture, another to the floors and another to the walls. Other layers might include a multiply layer for furniture shading and a hard light layer for highlights. I typically have a lot of layers active so it really helps to label them accurately.

I find most computer generated backgrounds to be repetitive due to tiling so I prefer to make or find my own. This does tend to increase file size, but that can be managed.

delgondahntelius
10-08-2008, 10:10 PM
I'm a big fan of the selection tool and the alpha channels, Do you make your own brushes as well from personal sources as well? ... I found that I do that quite a bit, in addition to making my own texutres and displacement maps...

I've never thought of keeping layers for color, like probably most people.. I do keep them by type... forests.. mountains... hills... etc.. :)

Schley
10-08-2008, 10:38 PM
I've never thought of keeping layers for color, like probably most people.. I do keep them by type... forests.. mountains... hills... etc.. :)

What I've found is that you can cut and paste object inks, like furniture, and if you keep the colors on a separate layer beneath your inks you can modify them on the fly without affecting the ink layer. This makes modifying your colors and shading much easier.

For example. Use a hard edge brush to draw the inks of a bed, making sure that the bed outline has no breaks, then use the magic wand to select the area outside of the bed. Invert your selection and contract it by 1 pixel. You should have a selected area that traces the shape of the bed but is just a smidge smaller. You can then fill this area on a separate color layer below your ink layer. Lock the transparency on your color layer and you can modify it with brushes and not worry about staying within the lines. You can also create alpha channels from the shape to mask off additional layers for shading or highlights. The idea is that you should be able to modify the colors without damaging the inks.

mmmmmpig
10-08-2008, 11:28 PM
What I've found is that you can cut and paste object inks, like furniture, and if you keep the colors on a separate layer beneath your inks you can modify them on the fly without affecting the ink layer. This makes modifying your colors and shading much easier.

For example. Use a hard edge brush to draw the inks of a bed, making sure that the bed outline has no breaks, then use the magic wand to select the area outside of the bed. Invert your selection and contract it by 1 pixel. You should have a selected area that traces the shape of the bed but is just a smidge smaller. You can then fill this area on a separate color layer below your ink layer. Lock the transparency on your color layer and you can modify it with brushes and not worry about staying within the lines. You can also create alpha channels from the shape to mask off additional layers for shading or highlights. The idea is that you should be able to modify the colors without damaging the inks.

that is a very similar technique to what comic book colorists use. You create a layer for the inks, a layer for the flats (flat colors) a layer for shadows, a layer for highlights, and a layer for effects. Works pretty well

Schley
10-08-2008, 11:36 PM
that is a very similar technique to what comic book colorists use. You create a layer for the inks, a layer for the flats (flat colors) a layer for shadows, a layer for highlights, and a layer for effects. Works pretty well

That's actually where I picked it up.

There are some good techniques in "The DC Comic's Guide to Coloring and Lettering Comics" Watson-Guptill Publications 2004.

Redrobes
10-09-2008, 06:59 AM
I see. When I have some B&W inked type lines with white background, I can select a brush and use the 'multiply' setting to put color in. Then you can go mad with it and the color does not affect the ink line. Same thing but you dont need to use a selection or ensure that there are no breaks.

Like this - the red was put on after the black of course.

RPMiller
10-09-2008, 11:47 AM
Don't forget to rate the thread. ;)

torstan
10-09-2008, 01:37 PM
Redrobes - that does work, but the problem then is if you decide you want to edit the colours and leave the black line in place. You've got the colour and the black lines on the same layer so if you erase one, you erase both.

From the maps I've seen, the backgrounds don't seem to show through the colours. Do you just keep them for the edging of the image - or do you let them come through the colours a bit? It look a bit like they are 100% opaque colours under the ink layers.

delgondahntelius
10-10-2008, 08:50 PM
So i'm hoping I got all this right, I went and tried a little test map with some trees, a house and some rocks... nothing fancy, but I saved my layers to a png as well.... to make sure I got it all down.

I must say I like how you set up your layers ... but it does take a bit of getting used to.

70017002

Schley
10-10-2008, 09:51 PM
That's it. Now you can manipulate your color and shading layers independently. Adding subtle textures as layer styles to your base color layers can break up the monotony of flat color. Also, since they are layer styles you can make changes down the line if you want.

At this point you could also insert drop shadow layer styles to the independent base coloring layers and tweak them to match the objects that are casting them.

If you want more control of your shadows though you could either paint them in on a lower layer with a soft airbrush or start with the drop shadow layer style and edit it with an airbrush. The best way to do this is to create a layer beneath the art layer that's actually casting the shadow. Control-click the art thumbnail in your layers palette to create a selection outline that traces the edge of the art. Contract the outline by 1 pixel and fill with pure white. Since this is on a layer beneath the art you shouldn't be able to see the white, but just in case, set the layers blending mode to multiply. At this point you can use this layer to create a complex layer style drop shadow. Once you've got a drop shadow you like, create a new layer with nothing on it and merge the two. You'll have to reset the new layers blending mode to multiply but now you can erase and add to the drop shadow with your paint brushes like any other art layer. The idea here is to save time by using a layer style drop shadow but also to be able to manipulate it with brushes after you've got its basic form down. By working on a layer separate for the object casting the shadow you also don't have to worry about damaging the object while painting or erasing shadow details.

delgondahntelius
10-11-2008, 12:20 AM
That's it. Now you can manipulate your color and shading layers independently. Adding subtle textures as layer styles to your base color layers can break up the monotony of flat color. Also, since they are layer styles you can make changes down the line if you want.

At this point you could also insert drop shadow layer styles to the independent base coloring layers and tweak them to match the objects that are casting them.

If you want more control of your shadows though you could either paint them in on a lower layer with a soft airbrush or start with the drop shadow layer style and edit it with an airbrush. The best way to do this is to create a layer beneath the art layer that's actually casting the shadow. Control-click the art thumbnail in your layers palette to create a selection outline that traces the edge of the art. Contract the outline by 1 pixel and fill with pure white. Since this is on a layer beneath the art you shouldn't be able to see the white, but just in case, set the layers blending mode to multiply. At this point you can use this layer to create a complex layer style drop shadow. Once you've got a drop shadow you like, create a new layer with nothing on it and merge the two. You'll have to reset the new layers blending mode to multiply but now you can erase and add to the drop shadow with your paint brushes like any other art layer. The idea here is to save time by using a layer style drop shadow but also to be able to manipulate it with brushes after you've got its basic form down. By working on a layer separate for the object casting the shadow you also don't have to worry about damaging the object while painting or erasing shadow details.

Ok... I'm honestly not trying to be retarded, I just happen to be learning challenged :D

You lost me a bit there. I've been working through it now for an hour or so, and I decided to post before i gave up :D

I've pretty much done what you said when it comes to shadows, but it still isn't working. How can you manipulate the layer shadow style and save it?

Ok, I've created selection, filled it in with white on a seperate layer, (created a command and hotkey just for this: contract by 1 pixel). set it to multiply. Created a layer style shadow (the first time I used a brush, then I understood) once i got my shadow, I created a newlayer, and merged them together.... from here.. it doesn't work too well....

for instance.. the shadow stays there regardless of multiply or not, I'm not sure how to edit it and save what I edit as a layer style... I'm just not sure where to go from there...

thanks for yer time :D sorry to be a pest about it...

Schley
10-11-2008, 02:27 AM
Sorry I wasn't more clear. Don't merge the layers until you're finished with tweaking the layer-style attributes of the drop shadow. When you merge a layer with a layer-style active it will rasterize the layer. This means that it converts it from an algorithm driven layer, who's attributes you can edit in the layer-styles pallet, to a pixel mapping layer that is like any other painting layer. You only do this at the end if you want to edit the drop shadow with erasers or brushes.

I've included some screen shots for illustration.

Hope I made more sense this time. :)

delgondahntelius
10-11-2008, 03:52 AM
No worries then ... I was actually doing it right, just wasn't clear on what 'Right" was exactly :D

I was finishing up a wip that I had going a couple months ago, decided to reorganize the layers and what not (I'm a notorious layer slob!) and OMG ... this is just a town map with about 19 total buildings... and I have a go zillion layers... I can't imagine what one of you larger city maps or even that corymyr map had in layers .... I gotta hand it too you brother, you got a knack for the tedious and gruelling chore of layers... :D

Can't rep ya cause I gotta spread it around first... but I'm giving this thread a five star :D

Anymore tips and tricks are most appreciated... You've moved to my top favorite cartographer :D

Mr. Greengoat
10-11-2008, 08:01 PM
So a couple weeks ago I was scrutinizing the maps in Keep on the Shadowfell and I said to myself "I got to find out how Mike Schley does those cobblestone walls in the dungeon maps." And then I scrutinized your website but still couldn't figure the process out. And then I found this website and figured someone would have a good idea. And then I see you posting here.

So how are those neatly little outlined stone walls put in there? Some type of pattern applied to paths? Inked by hand? Trade secret?

Love the maps, very clear and flavorful at the same time.

Thanks Mike.