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Maccwar
03-04-2009, 05:32 PM
I've just started the process of moving my paper campaign maps on to my computer. (Some of them date from as far back as 1992!)

I've started with scans of graph paper and I've been tracing the outlines of regions and features on to different layers in GIMP. The results already look a lot nicer than the original but I realise I still have a lot to learn.

The next step I'd like to learn how to do is to have my regional outlines start off as solid coloured lines which fade gently towards the interior of the area as I've seen many times on antique maps (I'm sure there's a technical term for this). I've tried using gradient fills but they looked rubbish. I'm wondering if layer masks are the answer but I've not tried using them before and I don't know which effects I should use.

After that I'd like to make the features such as the forest and the mountains look better, improve the sea and the lakes and so on.

Help and suggestions welcomed.

Maccwar
03-04-2009, 06:07 PM
I found something similar to what I'm after.

http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=4107

Now to try and get those effects in GIMP rather than PS.

Karro
03-04-2009, 06:14 PM
Do you have each region of color on a separate layer in GIMP?

If so, then, yes, I think you can achieve this with masks. For each color layer, you'd have a layer mask that defines the border of the region. The outside edge of region would be represented on the layer mask by a hard line from black to white. But the inner portion of the region would be a fading gradient of some sort from white back to black. If you want most of the inner portion of the regions to be the background color, you'd fade to black on the mask relatively quickly. If you want the fade to be longer and more subtle, likewise with the mask.

Does that make sense?

jfrazierjr
03-04-2009, 06:27 PM
There are several ways to do this, but Karro is right in that layer masks is the "correct" way in that it's non destructive.

Maccwar
03-04-2009, 06:29 PM
I was careful when building the map to preserve as many useful layers as possible so yes I have the colour blocks as separate layers. I'll have a play with masks, glows and blurs and tomorrow if I get a chance and see what I can come up with.

Thanks.

jfrazierjr
03-04-2009, 07:07 PM
I was careful when building the map to preserve as many useful layers as possible so yes I have the colour blocks as separate layers. I'll have a play with masks, glows and blurs and tomorrow if I get a chance and see what I can come up with.

Thanks.

While I suggest using layer masks for most things, here is an el-cheapo way that takes less time than with masks (I am sure there are other ways)



select a region with the magic wand tool
New layer
Stroke selection (Edit->Stroke Selection) set to perhaps 5px (play with this a few times until you get what you want at the end with whatever color you want the border to be(a variation of the colored part for that region)
Now you have a line around your selection on both sides, so CTRL-I to invert, which selects OUTSIDE your selection.
Hit delete
CTRL-I again
Gaussian Blur to taste. Since you have a selection, the blur will only go in the direction away from the selection and won't "bleed".
You could also lower the opacity of this layer some
Repeat for each region

There are also some plugins that will do this faster.

Now, with that said, the reason to use layer masks is that once you have your layer set up with the mask, you can swap colors out instantly and maintain the exact same effect instead of having to go back and redo the blur part(which you might get the wrong size and have to tweak over and over).

Maccwar
03-04-2009, 08:57 PM
Thanks jfrazierjr, that works a treat.

Now to work on some of the other elements.

RobA
03-04-2009, 10:49 PM
If you want to try masks, do this on each coloured layer

- Alpha to selection
- Add Layer mask (Selection)
- Selection Shrink (pick a number.. i.e 25)
- Selection Feather (twice the shrink amount)
- Fill with Black

Now use the levels tool and adjust the gamma (middle top slider) to get the fade out you want, and use the layer transparency to drop the overall opacity.

The real trick is feathering by 2x the shrink. Feather goes equally on either side of the original selection by 1/2 the feather amount.

-Rob A>

bartmoss
03-05-2009, 05:29 AM
Giving some feedback on the map itself, the one thing that struck me is that the lakes could probably use some in-flows.

Interesting that you have stuff from 1992, that's when I started my fantasy world. :)

Qbista
03-05-2009, 06:00 PM
Hi.

Your map looks nice, but I have one suggestion to You - everything is right, but I feel that the route of Your borders is a little bit unrealistic. I think, that You should make them more distorted - currently they look, like a straight line drawn with pencil, distorted only at places, where Your mouse/hand skidded. Borders are commonly running through mountains valleys, linking peaks, and (especcialy) - through rivers - so they aren't straight, or even rarely turning. Some borders are 'just a line on a map' - they were developed just by way of political decisions (i.e. some States in USA or districts of Australia) - but, in this case - they are totally straight.
I suggest You to put some emphasis to this (I know, that currently You dont have mountains on Your map - try to imagine them, especially - if You want to add them to Your map.).

About Your question about border style - I know, that You're working with GIMP - but do anybody of Your friends/co-workers have Photoshop? You could easily gain wanted effects using one simple Layer Style - Inner Glow.
Tell me, if You'll have way to use Photoshop, in that case I'll write You some tut how to give your borders fancy 'antique' fading style (I just need to choose appropriate settings).

But You're on good way! I will look on Your further works, for sure!

jfrazierjr
03-05-2009, 08:26 PM
About Your question about border style - I know, that You're working with GIMP - but do anybody of Your friends/co-workers have Photoshop? You could easily gain wanted effects using one simple Layer Style - Inner Glow.
Tell me, if You'll have way to use Photoshop, in that case I'll write You some tut how to give your borders fancy 'antique' fading style (I just need to choose appropriate settings).


Gimp has such a plug-in, you just have to go get it and drop it into the correct folder and restart GIMP.

Qbista
03-06-2009, 06:21 AM
Gimp has such a plug-in, you just have to go get it and drop it into the correct folder and restart GIMP.

Oh, that makes the case lot easier (to be honest - blame me, thankless Photoshop user - I didn't used GIMP any time).
Ok - jfrazierjr - settings in this GIMP plug-in are similar to that one from photoshop? (attachment) - if so, I post some suggestions at the evening (remember, that I'm talking about GMT +1 ; ) )

Maccwar
03-07-2009, 11:48 AM
Yet more useful tips and things to think about, thanks folks. I've been busy upgrading gimp with extra brushes and scripts and I think the next version is going to be a big improvement.

This particular map is a player handout so I am not so concerned about the smoothness of the lines but for future maps I could see this being an issue. Is there a plug-in or script for gimp which allows you to draw fractal lines like you can in Autorealm?

As for what borders and coasts look like, I have a antique map from 1680 hung on the wall here (sadly too big to scan in for you folks). Its quite a work of art but the coasts are drawn as surprisingly smooth. Its also very inaccurate compared to google earth. ;)

Maccwar
03-08-2009, 07:52 PM
Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. I think the second version (attached) is an improvement but its still lacking.

Are there brushes for waves (for the sea) or reeds for the delta area out there similar to the ones I've used for the mountains and trees?

My next job is probably going to be working on a city map which I'm guessing will involve a whole new set of techniques.

Redrobes
03-08-2009, 09:51 PM
Heres a tip I can give to help with this map.

You look like your drawing roads with a mouse and they are coming out a bit jaggy. If you have the roads drawn on a layer then soften the image a bit and then up the contrast until its back to being sharp again. This will knock out the jaggy bits and make the roads smoother and they will join up better at junctions. Once done you can adjust the color of the road and apply it - preferably on a separate layer.

jfrazierjr
03-08-2009, 11:46 PM
Another option with GIMP or PS is to use paths. It's a really good tool to learn in any event, even if you go with RR's suggestion(which is quick)

Maccwar
03-09-2009, 04:38 AM
Nice one Redrobes, I shall give that a try. Not only did I have to use a mouse, I also had no mouse mat with me at the time and the grain on the wooden desk made some of my lines a bit interesting.

Long term I shall start trying to get used to using paths. Is there any way of making a line drawn using a path more crinkly other than visiting all the points on the route?

Thanks again.

RobA
03-09-2009, 11:20 AM
Nice one Redrobes, I shall give that a try. Not only did I have to use a mouse, I also had no mouse mat with me at the time and the grain on the wooden desk made some of my lines a bit interesting.

Long term I shall start trying to get used to using paths. Is there any way of making a line drawn using a path more crinkly other than visiting all the points on the route?

Thanks again.


I could write a script to fractalize a path in Gimp, but find the path tools in Inkscape are much easier to use (and already have a path fractalize function)...

-Rob A>