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Greason Wolfe
12-11-2008, 04:41 PM
So, it was suggested that I start this WIP thread to show the progression of a world I have been working on for a series of stories (and perhaps novels) I intend to be writing in the near future. With that in mind, I took a couple backward steps so that everyone could see where I started from. But first a bit of info . . .

One of my goals when it comes to world building has always been to have something fairly realistic, even when dealing with fantasy. Of course, I want a fantastical element as well, but that should come in bits and pieces rather than saturating every part of the world. To that end, I tend to work from the inspiration that FT Pro provides with its random generation sequence. However, once I've found something I think I want to work with, I go through huge amounts of editing, leveling and trimming the land masses until they start to look Earth-like.

With that said, here are the first three stages of an, as of yet, un-named world. Comments and suggestions are more than welcome, and yes, it is surprisingly Earth-like at this point . . .

The first image (upper left) is the initial rendering by FT Pro. The second image (to the right) is the result of a leveling process. The third image (lower left) is the result of initial land mass cuts to set up a few major continents.

As a brief side note.

My overall preference is for hand drawn maps, typically in black and white and, eventually, this world will be finished up in that fashion. While in the developmental stages, however, I work with a variety of software packages to get a basic layout and a modicum of detail worked up before shifting to the old fashioned way of doing things unless something stands out and demands immediate attention on my part.

Greason Wolfe
12-18-2008, 04:58 PM
So, at this point, I am still trimming down and/or eliminating some of the major land masses, but in the process, I ran across a set of islands that I want to work with for a bit. They vaguely resemble a Manta Ray or Stingray, and some time ago, I was toying with the idea of building a religion/culture around such creatures (on a more fantastical level, of course) and thought that these islands might be just the spot for that. I'm still working out the details of the religion and culture of the islands, but thought that I might post the mapping progress.

Currently, I've managed to cut the islands out of the world as a whole and am working with a little pen and paper to get an idea of how the terrain is going to look. I've also decided to try something a little different than I've done before. A few years back, I set up some Paint Shop Pro picture tubes based on the book, Principles of Cartography, and have never had a chance to really experiment with them until now. I'll be using several layers to produce a suggestion of relative relief and am laying them out as follows;

Layer 1 : Sea Level and Below
Layer 2 : Basic Terrain Coloring
Layer 3 : Lakes and Rivers
Layer 4 : Roads
Layer 5 : Grasslands
Layer 6 : Forests/Jungles
Layer 7 : Hills and Mountains
Layer 8 : Points of Interest
Layer 9 : Names

Some of these layers may be expanded or reproduced depending on the results, but at least this offers a general idea of my current progress.

In a nutshell, the islands will be known as the Helfish Archipelago on a global level. The native inhabitants have their own name for the islands and will be based losely upon the ancient Moche culture of Peru. Once I have those details worked out, I'll post them here while continuing to offer updates on the mapping progress.

GW

Steel General
12-18-2008, 05:41 PM
Nice idea, looking forward to see where you take this.

Greason Wolfe
12-18-2008, 06:50 PM
Thanks Steel. As for where it is going . . . One quick update to add some texture and color gradient to the oceans. While I am not 100 percent happy with the results, I think they will do for now until I figure out another approach with PSP. Sadly, I am using an older version so the textures available to me are rather limited. In this instance, I used darkening shades of blue with a basic terrain texture, merging and gaussian blurring the layers incrimentally. As I work on the surface terrain, I may do the same thing to a lesser degree.

GW

P.S. In saying that I am not 100 percent happy with the results, the bulk of my disappointment comes from the gradient shading and lack of clear detail from shoreline to sea floor. One alternate approach I am thinking of is to define three levels instead of several levels; Continental Shelves, Intermediate Depths and Sea Floor. The sample here has ??? levels; Shoreline, Continental Shelves, Shallow Depths, Intermediate Depths, Greater Depths and Sea Floor. The gaussian blurring kind of skewered the shallower depths from Shoreline to Intermediate Depths. I'll have to think on this one for a bit before I continue just to save myself some editing time, hopefully.

Greason Wolfe
12-18-2008, 08:40 PM
Here's a different version of the seas/oceans that I am much happier with though I still think it needs some slight tweaking. Comments and suggestions for improving this portion of the map are more than welcome.

GW

Steel General
12-18-2008, 09:02 PM
I like the second one better, but there is some obvious tiling in the pattern/texture you used. You may want to try making it seamless.

Greason Wolfe
12-18-2008, 09:17 PM
I like the second one better, but there is some obvious tiling in the pattern/texture you used. You may want to try making it seamless.

Ayup, that's the next major project on the list of 10,000 things to do. :lol:

If I could get my stupid scanner to work properly, it'd be much easier since I could just snag the original sea-bed for the area in question. Sadly, it seems my scanner doesn't want to pull full pages at the moment, so I am going to have a discussion with it. :twisted:

GW

Greason Wolfe
12-19-2008, 01:23 PM
So, just a minor update for right now, then I'm taking a break from the mapping project to work on the background information. I want that to be available so that comments and/or suggestions can be oriented towards the development of the map. This update shows what I've done to fix the "tiling" problem with the sea beds as well as the removal of a few 1 pixel artifacts that were popping up here and there.

GW

jfrazierjr
12-19-2008, 01:42 PM
Perhaps I missed it somewhere, but is the goal of the "water" texture to show some type of underwater elevation changes?

Greason Wolfe
12-19-2008, 01:49 PM
Perhaps I missed it somewhere, but is the goal of the "water" texture to show some type of underwater elevation changes?

Not so much to show elevation changes as opposed to just giving a bit of texture instead of a flat color. In the long run, I may end up using a flat color.

For the most part, I'm just experimenting on the side with full digital generation while working the hand drawn version at the same time. The biggest problem I face with hand drawn maps is that I do them on a very large scale (i.e. world maps being the size of a wall map) so scanning them in is a bit of a chore since I have to do it piece by piece and then try to put them together.

GW

jfrazierjr
12-19-2008, 01:55 PM
Not so much to show elevation changes as opposed to just giving a bit of texture instead of a flat color. In the long run, I may end up using a flat color.

For the most part, I'm just experimenting on the side with full digital generation while working the hand drawn version at the same time. The biggest problem I face with hand drawn maps is that I do them on a very large scale (i.e. world maps being the size of a wall map) so scanning them in is a bit of a chore since I have to do it piece by piece and then try to put them together.

GW


Ah... if your not trying for an elevation map underwater, you may want to try something a bit more subtle. Your using Paint Shop Pro, is that right? Unfortunately, I have no idea how it works, so can't give any direct help. Can you create noise/clouds in PSP? and if so, how much control do you have over the outcome? Also, does the version you are using have layer masks? I am kind of thinking along the lines of creating a texture using noise/clouds and bump mapping that and then using a layer mask to block out the land shape, at least that's what I would do in GIMP, but not sure if PSP (or your version) has those features.

Greason Wolfe
12-19-2008, 02:01 PM
To an extent, yes, I have those features. Unfortunately I don't have much control over them (random noise or gaussian noise and a very basic cloud texture) since it is an older version of PSP. I haven't ruled out experimenting with them yet, however. I'm just taking things one step at a time and comparing the results to see what looks the best. Thanks for the suggestions, though, will definitely keep them in mind.

GW

P.S. I have downloaded GIMP and will be experimenting with it soon, but, as always, there is a learning curve and I am, at least with GIMP, at the bottom of that curve at the moment.

jfrazierjr
12-19-2008, 02:07 PM
To an extent, yes, I have those features. Unfortunately I don't have much control over them (random noise or gaussian noise and a very basic cloud texture) since it is an older version of PSP. I haven't ruled out experimenting with them yet, however. I'm just taking things one step at a time and comparing the results to see what looks the best. Thanks for the suggestions, though, will definitely keep them in mind.

GW

P.S. I have downloaded GIMP and will be experimenting with it soon, but, as always, there is a learning curve and I am, at least with GIMP, at the bottom of that curve at the moment.


Well... I can say there are plenty of people here that know GIMP, so you could probably get a lot more help if you decide to give it a go. I would start with RobA's regional map tutorial and run through it (open a WIP thread also!) because it covers a HUGE range of techniques in GIMP. Also, if you do set up GIMP, there are a lot of plugin's available, many of which have links found here and in RobA's sig. This one (http://fimg-gmplugins.sourceforge.net/), is an add on for the default noise generator, which(the default GIMP one that is) while very good compared to most softwares noise generators, is a dinosoar compared to the one I linked to.

Steel General
12-19-2008, 05:04 PM
I started with GIMP (and of course RobA's tutorial) and later moved on to Photoshop (I prefer the interface), the learning curve isn't terrible so I think you'll find yourself moving up fast. :)

Greason Wolfe
01-01-2009, 06:02 PM
So, I know it's been a while since I posted. Lots of problems here in winter wonderland, so to speak. Nothing quite like working 70 to 80 hours a week because everyone else is afraid to drive in a little snow and/or ice. And, of course, there were those corrupted tube files that I am having to rebuild. I have, however, made a little progress through another utility. I decided to revisit my efforts to export FTPro results into Terragen. I'll have to rebuild my surface maps to some degree, but here are some preliminary results.

The first image is a full color version of the islands as rendered by FTPro.

The second image is a grey-scale version of the islands, again rendered by FTPro, but using a color-scheme with Terragen in mind.

The final image is a Terragen rendering of the islands based on the grey-scale image and using a very basic "Forest" surface. As I said, I'll have to re-work the surface to better identify mountainous regions and give it more of a "jungle" feel since the islands are in a tropical climate.

As always, comments and suggestions are more than welcome.

GW

P.S. If anyone is interested in how I did this, I'd be happy to whip up a quick (and dirty) tutorial explaining the process as it applies to Terragen V0.9.43 and will happily include the coloring schemes I used in FTPro.

Ascension
01-01-2009, 08:52 PM
I would be one of those who wants a tut on this. My experiments with importing into TG have been average at best.

Steel General
01-01-2009, 09:12 PM
I second this, always good to have a tutorial for things like this, in case someone wants to try something new and/or different.

Greason Wolfe
01-02-2009, 12:00 AM
I would be one of those who wants a tut on this. My experiments with importing into TG have been average at best.

No problem. I'll get on that later tonight or early in the morning then, and should have it posted sometime during the day on Friday after I've gotten a little shut-eye.

GW