View Full Version : International borders

01-29-2009, 11:34 AM
How could I do these type of international borders with photoshop?


01-29-2009, 12:15 PM
Starting from a simple outline map of Europe:

The first thing I did was to constrain the map to black-and-white only so I could get clean selections. Image > Adjustments > Levels (Ctrl-L), and pull the handles on the histogram inward so that the grayscale information is removed.

Now I change the Mode to RGB so I can work with color later on: Image > Mode > RGB Color. If you already have more than one layer at this point, make sure you click "Don't Merge" in the dialogue box that pops up.

Select a country you want to add color to. I'm going to use England for this demonstration. For convenience in trying several techniques, I'll first save the selection: Select > Save Selection... and give it the name "England." The selection will now appear in the channels palette so I can reload it any time I want.

I'm also going to copy England into a new layer so I can experiment with that, too. Layer > New > Layer via Copy (Ctrl-J).

I name my original map layer "Europe" and the new layer "England" so I can keep track of what I'm doing.

The simplest way to accomplish the goal is to apply an Inner Glow layer style to the England layer. Select the layer, and click on the Layer Styles button. Choose "Inner Glow..."

In the dialogue box that follows, make sure "Preview" is checked and start playing with the options until you see something you like. Here are my settings:

01-29-2009, 12:57 PM
At this point, it's probably a good idea to set a border stroke. Click the layer styles button and choose "Stroke..." I'm using a 1pt black stroke on each country.

Continue that process for all of the countries you want to appear on your map, making sure that no two adjacent countries have the same border color.

The easiest way to do this fast is to make all your layers, right-click on England, and choose "Copy Layer Style." Then select all your other layers (click on the top one and then shift-click on the bottom to select all of them), right-click on the selected layers, and choose "Paste Layer Style." All of the countries will receive the same inner glow and black stroke.

Now you simply need to go in and adjust the effect for each layer individually by double-clicking on the "Inner Glow" effect.

About 30 minutes later, I have this:

I've obviously been a bit sloppy. A bit more time spent in selections, and a better source image, would make this look a lot nicer. Now, I want to put this onto a nice parchment, so I go looking for a texture:

I place the texture behind all my country layers, and change the blending mode of each one to darken, so the white vanishes, leaving only the stroke and colored border behind.

01-29-2009, 01:23 PM
Awesome tut midgard... have some rep.

Might I suggest perhaps fading the inner glow farther in and filling the countries with a slightly off white version of their glow color.

01-29-2009, 01:24 PM
Here I Stand is an awsome game btw.

01-29-2009, 03:31 PM
I cant get that result... i practice doing a simple circle, but i cant expand the colour inside the borders, only in the circle lines... what im doing wrong? :(

01-29-2009, 04:34 PM
Ok, i do it but i need to fill the limits of the country with white or balck or something, how can i do it with only the border limits and nohting inside like you?

01-29-2009, 07:14 PM
To get the interior of the country to be transparent, I used the blending mode. Each blending mode uses different rules for what it makes transparent. In this case, I used "darken," which causes any pixels in the selected layer that are lighter than pixels underneath it to become transparent. Since white is lighter than everything, all the white will vanish when the layer is set to darken.

Conversely, if you fill the country with black and set it to "lighten," you'll get the same result--lighten turns pixels transparent if they're darker than what's underneath.

Here's where you set the blending mode:

There's an excellent tutorial on Photoshop's blending modes at cgtextures.com:

It should fully apply to the Gimp, as well. I highly recommend reading through it, as it's a very powerful feature for mapping and texturing.

01-29-2009, 07:25 PM
Awesome tut midgard... have some rep.

Might I suggest perhaps fading the inner glow farther in and filling the countries with a slightly off white version of their glow color.

Thanks for the rep.

Good idea. If this were a serious map, I'd adjust the size of the glow for each country. It's just about perfect for Denmark, but way too small for France. The fill I could take or leave, depending on how I felt; I've done it both ways, though this is the first time I've used Photoshop for this style.

01-30-2009, 02:55 AM
Thanks very much Midgardsormr, i got it... ;).

Another question about that map... how can i make that sea pattern? those crrosed lines...

01-30-2009, 09:27 AM
To get the interior of the country to be transparent, I used the blending mode. Each blending mode uses different rules for what it makes transparent. In this case, I used "darken," which causes any pixels in the selected layer that are lighter than pixels underneath it to become transparent. Since white is lighter than everything, all the white will vanish when the layer is set to darken.

Conversely, if you fill the country with black and set it to "lighten," you'll get the same result--lighten turns pixels transparent if they're darker than what's underneath.

Here we would fill the country with white and use "multiply". Also, I've never done a map for a publisher where the glow was not set to be the same size everywhere. Just FYI.


01-30-2009, 02:16 PM
What a great thread...and an excellent mini tut from Mid. Repped.

Good to see you're popping your head in occasionally, Handsome Rob!!

01-30-2009, 03:58 PM
More simple questions for a rookie.... Ive decided to to the mountains like in this old maps, i think is more realistic for a napoleonic map. How can i get that kind of mountains? It seems that is not difficult, but i have no idea... thanks!!


01-30-2009, 03:59 PM
I think you may need to buy a wacom tablet to do those....is there any chance you could zoom in really close to the mountains if you have the map on a scanner?

01-30-2009, 04:08 PM
No, i have found it on the web, this is the link where you can see it higher


Another variant it this, mountains more simple like a worm:


But i fund much better the first option

01-30-2009, 04:44 PM
It looks a bit like on of the photoshop filters - plastic or something? I can't verify it right now but I'm sure someone could fiddle with it.

01-30-2009, 05:04 PM
You'll need a custom brush for that. I've tried to get this effect with custom brushes before, but it never works out looking anywhere near as good as just drawing it by hand.

Steel General
01-30-2009, 06:31 PM
Didn't Ascension do something like this in one of his recent tutorials?

01-30-2009, 06:33 PM
Come to think of it, I think he did.

I've just had a go in photoshop.

1. open a new document with a white background, say 500 x 500 pixels.

2. use a round black brush to make a single mountain line. (See picture below)

3. select all (Ctrl-A), then go to edit/define brush preset.

4. select the preset as your brush, in the brushes pallete choose the settings indicated below.

5. Select the Brush Tip Shape option and make sure that the spacing is set to about 100% or so.

6. This is much easier with a tablet and pen, you can then just draw your mountains. Some doodles attached - you may have to do a bit of cleaning up from time to time if you can't get a perfect 'join' at the start and end of the enclosed mountain shape.

If you become a really dab hand at it, you can set the size jitter to pressure and make smaller and bigger lines as you draw.

01-30-2009, 07:32 PM
Thanks very much Midgardsormr, i got it... ;).

Another question about that map... how can i make that sea pattern? those crrosed lines...

That's pretty easy. The first thing to do is to set your foreground color to black (D resets your colors to foreground black and background white). Now, select the Line Tool. It will be in the flyout with the Rectangle, Ellipse, and Polygon tools. Make a new layer and draw a line the width of your image, holding down shift to constrain it to horizontal. Select the Move tool and stretch the line out beyond the edges of your image, then copy the layer three times. You will now have four identical lines on top of one another.

Now, you're going to rotate all but one of your layers to form a radiating pattern. Go to Edit > Transform > Rotate (Ctrl-T). Now, in the tool's settings at the top, you'll see a row of controls. The one you want to manipulate looks like a little angle diagram:

Enter 45 in that box, and the line you have selected will rotate to a 45 degree angle related to the others.

Select another of your copied line layers and do the same thing, but enter 90 in the box. Once more, only enter -45 to get the last line you need.

Now you want to select all four of the line layers (click the top one, then shift-click the bottom one) and Layer > Merge Layers (Ctrl-E).

Now you can move your new layer to where ever you want the lines to radiate from. Give the layer a meaningful name, like "Nav lines" and move it to just above your parchment.

If you want more complex lines, you can add more at whatever angles you like and merge them into your existing layer.

Unfortunately, you'll notice that the lines are visible beneath the countries, too, because the countries themselves are transparent. To fix that, we'll learn about layer masks. At the bottom of your layers palette, there is a button called "Add Layer Mask"

Make sure your Nav lines layer is still selected, and click that button once. You'll see a white box appear in the Layers list next to the Nav lines thumbnail. This is the layer mask. If you paint black onto the mask, portions of the layer will become transparent. We could just paint out the lines we don't want to see, but there's a far more efficient way to go about it.

Select your original map layer (it's still at the bottom of your layers, right?) Using the Magic Wand tool (W), click once on the ocean, the go to Select > Save Selection... Enter a name, like "Ocean," and click OK.

Now, go to the Channels palette. You can reach it with the tab at the top of the Layers.

In the list of channels that appears, find your Ocean channel and click once on it. You should see your image vanish to be replaced by a black-and-white silhouette of the continent. The water should be white and the land black. If that is not the case, go to Image > Adjustments > Invert (Ctrl-I).

Now, Select > All (Ctrl-A) will put the marching ants around the entire canvas. Copy it with Edit > Copy (Ctrl-C). Go back to your Layers palette and select the layer mask you made earlier (the white box in the Nav lines layer). Back to the Channels palette, and you will see a new Channel called Nav lines Mask. The mask is currently hidden, so click the empty box to the left of its name to activate the eye icon. Now paste the ocean channel into the mask channel with Edit > Paste (Ctrl-V). The continent will turn pink, which indicates where the pixels will be turned transparent.

Go back to the Layers Palette and click your Nav lines layer to deselect the mask. Hopefully, you'll now see the Nav lines stop at the edge of the continent.

The final step is to adjust the opacity until the lines look right. Here's the quickie image I made while composing this:

HR: I agree, good to have you pop in on us again. Multiply works similarly to Darken, but it tends to remove more of the glow. On the other hand, it would probably make the glow look more like it was painted on the parchment. Good tip. As for the thickness of the border glow, I hadn't really looked any other maps to see how it was usually done, but it makes sense that it would be uniform. It would look odd if the glow were much smaller on one side of the border than the other.

I notice that the sample map doesn't give a glow to the Ottoman empire at all.

edit: NICE, ravs! Thanks for contributing, and have some rep!

01-31-2009, 10:22 AM
Excellent lessons sirs ;).... im learning a lot with you

01-31-2009, 01:10 PM
My pleasure. It helps me to procrastinate the four projects I'm supposed to be working on for school.

02-01-2009, 07:05 AM
At the end i have decided to change the mountains, and do it like this. Ive used an atlas, i extracted the mountains, applied a cutout filter, and darken it... what do you think? any idea to improve the quality?


Steel General
02-01-2009, 10:29 AM
Not bad at all, I wonder if you use some kind of lighting effect (like Ascension often uses) if it would give them some texture and depth?

02-01-2009, 10:58 AM
How can I do that?:D

Steel General
02-01-2009, 01:03 PM
You might want to look at Ascensions tutorials to get the exact settings he uses for his hills and/or mountains (maybe he'll drop a response in this thread), but its under FILTER > RENDER > LIGHTING EFFECTS.

I've only used them a few times so you'll need to play around a bit to get a outcome you like.

02-01-2009, 02:04 PM
Here are two different types of Lighting Effects that I use, the first for mountains, the second for flatter stuff. I'm not sure how it will come out since your using an image from an atlas, but you will need the mountains to be grayscale.

02-01-2009, 02:43 PM
Ok, i find a problem then... i have 2 kind og greys for mountains. I extracted it from a physical map, so they are mix in the same layer... has photoshop any option to select from a layer only 1 color? dark grey for example?

If not ill get crazy selecting all :)- Thanks anyway

Steel General
02-01-2009, 03:53 PM
You can try SELECT > COLOR RANGE and try to separate the grays into their own layers - not sure how well that will work.

02-01-2009, 04:08 PM
Perfect, that is the tool, i got it ;)...

02-04-2009, 08:59 AM
Another question related with the first image... how can i repeat those boxes without making multiple layers and merging them (too bored an teidous)? I thought in making a brush with a box and then i could repeat it several times... but brushes are in gray scale, not colored... is there any tool similar to the brush but in color?


02-04-2009, 10:11 AM
The brush will be any color you choose. It's the brush tip shape that's bw.
If you use a square brush and use 50% gray and make one layer/color you can then go in and change color overlay on each layer and add a stroke.

02-04-2009, 05:26 PM
What Hoel said. In my version of PS my largest standard square brush is 24 pixels so I made one of my own that is 100 so that I can shrink it down as needed. If you were to use the standard 24 pixel one and scale it up then the bottom right corner gets rounded off and it's a pain to have to go back and fix a bunch of rounded off squares. I think it's the right, could be the left. At any rate, take out your square pencil, choose a blue, put down some squares, change to red, put down some more squares, etc. If you need to move a square then use the magic wand tool to click on the shape then the move tool to move it around. Then put down your circles. When done, add a layer style of stroke.

02-14-2009, 10:14 AM
Hi again, one more question... how could i do those boxes like a star? i tried rotating a square, but the result is horrible :P

And another one, how can i obtain the corners rounded? Thanks in advance again!!


Steel General
02-14-2009, 10:20 AM
There is a control for drawing multi-sided polygons in Photoshop - can't remember where off the top of my head.

As for the rounded corners you can try doing some searches on the web for custom brushes, there's got to be some out there somewhere. Or maybe there is a way to do it in PS that I don't know about.

02-14-2009, 11:39 AM
how did you get that parchment paper texture like that?

02-14-2009, 02:01 PM
Photoshop comes with a star in the custom shapes. For rounding off corners: copy the shape into a new channel, then gaussian blur it a few pixels, up the contrast and voila...just copy it and paste it back into a new layer. By the way, this looks great.

02-14-2009, 04:48 PM
Wow. There's a way easier way to do that. I'm not sure if it looks the same in earlier versions of PS, but in CS3:

Select the Polygon tool. In the tool options bar, click the little down arrow next to the Custom Shapes Tool. In the box that appears, check "Smooth Corners" "Star" and "Smooth Indents." Set "Indent Sides By" to somewhere around 20%. Finally, back to the toolbar to set the "Sides" to 6. You can see here my experiments, and also some pointers on where to look for the tools you need:

You can use the "Radius" field in the drop-down box to make sure that every star is the same size, effectively making a brush out of the shape.

Of course, Illustrator, CorelDraw or Inkscape would give you much more control over how the shape looks. There is unfortunately no way that I know of to set the corner radius in Photoshop.

Steel General
02-14-2009, 08:29 PM
Ahhh... Midgard to the rescue - I knew there was something in there somewhere.

02-26-2009, 03:28 PM
I assume that this would work on a conworld map too?

02-26-2009, 08:40 PM
Absolutely. The only thing the method as described really requires is strong border lines between countries to make the Magic Wand selections.

@the931stsoldier: Sorry I didn't see your question earlier. My demo map used a random parchment texture that I looked up on Google. However, there are at least a couple of tutorials here to create your own parchment textures. Here are two, one for Gimp and an off-site one for Photoshop: