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nolgroth
03-02-2009, 04:17 AM
Hi everybody!

I have been recently working on adapting Ascensions fantastic Planet Making tutorials to either Gimp, Photoshop Elements 2, or both. Along the way, I started to develop some techniques and shortcuts of my own. Here is a planet I have been working at for the better part of the day. I am particularly interested in the city lights on the dark slice of the planet. Any critiques or suggestions about that (or anything else) is welcome.

Thanks,
James
:)

MadLetter
03-02-2009, 06:57 AM
Looks interesting so far, really. Good continental shapes, I think, nice water.

Maybe not enough clouds yet and probably the same problem as my planetary map: too green. I'm working on my own planetary map (see this forum) and need to bring in more diversity.

The city lights look very neat, but somehow you need to place cities on the bright side too, because currently it looks like there are none. Maybe try and place little grey splashes?

Anyways, looks neat-o!

nolgroth
03-02-2009, 07:20 AM
Thanks for the response and compliments.

The green thing I can fix in future (or even go back and redo this one) maps with a change of the gradient I use to color the land layer. I noted that there was too much green myself and possibly too bright. I can easily turn down the brightness by switching off the duplicate layer.

I can probably add a couple of more cloud layers to make more clouds and the clouds "pop" a little more.

The bright side cities are going to be a little more tough. I haven't had a great deal of luck finding good reference shots of the eastern sea board to get an idea of what it looks like from orbit. The gray splashes may be an idea that I can run with.

Back to looking for orbital pictures.

nolgroth
03-02-2009, 07:41 AM
And then the obvious strikes me; Google ..... Earth. Duh!

Looking at the Eastern USA coastline, you really can't see any specific cities until you zoom in real close. From orbit, it is all sort of a mishmash of brown and gray. Interesting and educational to look at.

One thing that I really want to avoid is getting caught up in hyper-realism. Google maps is technically very accurate, but dang the continents look boring. This and other maps I have been/will be working on are actually going to be used in a little project I am working on. I want them to be pretty as much as functional. Pretty actually is going to take the lead, as most cities are going to be designated with a little pointer indicating the name of the city.

I do need to decrease the greens a bit. That would probably help out a lot. I'll post an update soon.

nolgroth
03-02-2009, 08:52 AM
An updated WIP.

MadLetter
03-02-2009, 09:18 AM
Looks better. Even though I'd say now it's a little too little green *grin*

A tad bit more, for woodlands or such... anyways, I like it and your provided info is helpful. If you can't see cities from orbit, well you can't see them from orbit obviously ;)

Thanks! :)

nolgroth
03-02-2009, 09:24 AM
Looks better. Even though I'd say now it's a little too little green *grin*Yeah. I'm going to write this off as a hot planet filled with jungles and deserts. Most of the settlements/cities whatever are along coasts and shorelines to take advantage of the natural air conditioning.

Valuable lesson number, errr number something; one gradient fill does not fit all. I'll probably have to make separate ones for temperate worlds and worlds locked into ice ages and variations to all of the above. :)

Ascension
03-02-2009, 05:33 PM
I'm glad you blurred out that crescent shadow, much better. As for the cities I'd try using a smaller brush tip possibly a pencil tip with some scatter and make tiny tiny little dots that are clustered around a few areas. I love that "Earth by Night" satellite poster too with all of the lil twinkling cities. That's just a minor tweak so overall I'd say pretty nice.

nolgroth
03-02-2009, 07:29 PM
Okay here is an update. I did the Shadow layer over to make it a little larger. Not sure I like the sharp curve in it, but it doesn't look horrible. Also took Ascensions advice and remade the City Lights layer with a smaller brush. In fact, I varied the size of the brush* from area to area.

* Gimp Paintbrush tool using the Sparkle brush at 45.0 Opacity. Set Random to Opacity, Hardness and Size. Varied size from 0.04 to 0.10. Also had Fade Out set to 100, though I doubt that had much impact.

Steel General
03-02-2009, 07:33 PM
I think the lights are much more 'convincing' now. This is coming along nicely.

nolgroth
03-03-2009, 04:29 AM
I think the lights are much more 'convincing' now. This is coming along nicely.Thanks. Almost done with the last of the scenery/geographic updates. Then I'm going to try to put in some political boundaries and some labels. I just don't know how much the shadow is going to interfere. We'll see.

nolgroth
03-03-2009, 05:21 AM
Another WIP. I really started not to like the shadow, so I deleted it and started over with a shadow that encompasses half of the planet. I wanted to have some continental definition so I had to reduce the opacity of the shadow a bit. To fix this, I created two more shadow layers at 33% and 25% of the planet. I set the opacity of the layers as a sort of primitive gradient and merged them together to get the gradual deepening of the shadow as you get further into the night side.

My initial toying with borders has not been entirely successful. More on that later. I may have to copy a flat map from an earlier version and apply a lens after I have them drawn out. Possible same with the labels.

MadLetter
03-03-2009, 07:00 AM
The newest one looks really really good.

Enough green to satisfy me personally, although I'd maybe implement some forests. The cities look brilliant, would you mind telling me the hex-data for the color used? I'd like to try that one for my planetary map, too, if it's okay with you.

Also, you might want to add some rivers maybe? Rivers and woodlands would make this planet a lot more diverse and awesome, I'd say.

Also a last point of criticism: Put a very few lights inside the continent, or at least a little deeper into it from the sea. The land may not be settled much, but - without further knowledge - I'd say there would be several locations on the "inside", too.

Hope this helps in getting this supreme work a tiny bit better! ;D

nolgroth
03-03-2009, 07:56 AM
Thanks for the compliments and suggestions. Every suggestion helps. I consider myself a neophyte at best. The tutorials and help on this forum have helped me increase and advance my knowledge so I do not pass up any positive criticism. And because I see this "place" as exactly the kind of resource where we share our concepts and ideas, you are most welcome to use any ideas I post here however you see fit.

To the specifics of your suggestions.

I'm not thinking so much that the interior is not populated as much as there are few, if any population centers. Mostly small outposts and wandering tribes. I have this vision that the mostly desert continent in the shadow is Sahara-grade scorching hot. Still, a commerce center or two might not be completely inappropriate.

The HTML notation is #f6f4b9 (246 244 185) and/or f6f4d1 (246 244 209). Word of warning if you are using the Sparks brush in Gimp; it darkens the color so that the slightly off white becomes a yellowish color. I can only imagine that a darker color would become orange or something similar. See my post above for the specifics on the brush settings I used in Gimp (assuming that is what you are using). No idea what the Photoshop equivalent is.

I've considered rivers, but they would have to be mighty big (Nile or Amazon sized) to be visible from orbit.

MadLetter
03-03-2009, 12:30 PM
Good look on things!

I myself am also a neophyte, I've barely scratched the surface of what is doable and what I think I can reach with my abilities and drive (a little arrogance here *grin*) !

Thanks for the hex-codes for the colors, I'll try using them myself, mine look... too bright :)

Also, I'd add at least one or two rivers, possible more. Make a few 1px thick rivers barely visible, and make a few bigger ones. My suggestions at least :)

Also, another thing I wanted to say: the new shadow on the planet looks ultimately superior to the old one! Keep the new one definitely! :D

nolgroth
03-04-2009, 06:29 AM
Thanks again. I just discovered another important rule in map making; pixels and dpi don't mean a thing unless you know what you're doing. This map is about half the printed size I will need. Only about a quarter of what I would want it to be like before reducing it to a manageable print size.

Talk about back to the drawing board. :x

Oh well. Just another chance to get better at my second hobby. ;)