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Greason Wolfe
03-30-2009, 07:13 AM
As those of you following the Monthly Challenge Threads may already know, my efforts towards the March Challenge (Rivermania) were side lined due to a conflaguration of family emergencies that consumed the bulk of my attention and time near the challenge deadline. This was a disappointing thing for me as I was rather enjoying the challenge for both the nature of the challenge and the opportunity to explore styles and techniques that I'd never used before or hadn't used in such a long time that they might as well have been new to me. Fortunately, these emergencies have finally passed and, as promised, I am back to work on this challenge so to speak.

I can't say exactly what it was about this challenge that inspired me, but it most certainly did. That's always been one of my problems. Brief inspiration that seems to fade as I get closer to finishing a map. That hasn't been the case with this map, however. In fact, with each step forward, I've become more inspired and more determined to finish this map. Although it will be far too late to include it as an entry for the March Challenge, I have every intention of posting the finished product (as well as the rough drafts leading up to it) here in the WIP forum as well as in the Finished Maps Forum.

One of the good things that has come out of this is the fact that I've been able to take a couple steps back and re-approach this map from a more logical point of view. One of the things this called for was a slight restructuring of the base textures I was using. I wanted a little more variation from land to sea as well as in the rivers. With that in mind, while keeping the same basic land texture, I re-approached the sea/lake texture and decided to expand a bit on the shallow areas along some portions of the coast. The end result is shown below.

With a bit more time to work on this now and, hopefully, all the family emergencies settled, I'm hoping to make some steady progress on this, but I won't promise anything given the nature of the last few months for me and mine.

Hope everyone enjoys and, as always comments, criticisms and suggestions are always welcome.

GW

Greason Wolfe
04-03-2009, 12:54 PM
Wooohooo. Finally, I get to spend some of my vacation time! That means that I might actually accomplish something over the next week or two. Who'd have ever thunk it? :lol:

Anyways, I've been fiddling with my procedures for creating hills and mountains, trying to tweak them just a little bit to give a better impression of depth and elevation. I've also been tweaking the coloring just a tiny bit as well to make sure everything will be visible. With those being ongoing processes until I am happy with them, I still wanted to make a bit of progress. To that end, I re-laid the base rivers from the template and finally settled on a scale for the map as a whole.

The more I looked at this map (and my rough hand-drawn versions of it), the more I kept thinking that I wanted it to be extremely detailed in the sense of being able to identify even the smallest of creeks and streams. The problem with that kind of extreme detail is that it limits the "working area" in ways that can, at times, make it difficult to detail some of the larger features. That'll mean a bit more tweaking with the other procedures, but I'm getting closer and closer to what I am looking for. In the meantime, here's the brief update that includes the template rivers, scale, compass rose and main map label. Hope to be able to lay in the beaches and their associated dunes sometime today or perhaps tomorrow.

GW

jfrazierjr
04-03-2009, 01:40 PM
Glad your keeping on with this. I am a bit concerned about your scale though. With the whole thing only being 8~ or so across, that does not give a lot of room for tons of mountains and rivers. Of course, this statement is under the assumption that you are keeping with the original challenge guidelines and not just using the template cause you liked the shape. In either case, this would make a really nice little isthmus connecting two landmasses.... or part of peninsula.

I am looking forward to seeing how you develop this as so far, it looks nice(perhaps using the tutorial Torstan just posted to make your mountains?).

Greason Wolfe
04-03-2009, 06:07 PM
Glad your keeping on with this. I am a bit concerned about your scale though. With the whole thing only being 8~ or so across, that does not give a lot of room for tons of mountains and rivers. Of course, this statement is under the assumption that you are keeping with the original challenge guidelines and not just using the template cause you liked the shape.

Ah, I meant to explain that in a bit more detail. Since most of the inspiration for this is coming from the very local area in which I grew up, that scale (which is actually 10 by 10) will work very nicely to create a multitude of small creeks and streams, some of them no more than 10 to 20 feet wide and will also give me room to drop in buildings and roads with greater detail. What makes this work is the fact that the area where I grew up has a lot of small mountains and a ton of rainfall every year. The end result is quite a few small lakes and ponds as well as dozens upon dozens of creeks and streams, most of which would never be seen on a larger map. It's also one of those areas that, at times, seems to defy the laws of lakes having only one discharge, though that is more a matter of two or three mounds at a wide point of discharge with all the little streams and creeks eventually joining into a single flow. In other words, lots of areas at or below sea level. Not sure if I will be able to simulate that as accurately as I would like, but I'm gonna give it my best shot.


In either case, this would make a really nice little isthmus connecting two landmasses.... or part of peninsula.

My thoughts exactly and, once this portion is done, I might actually try to expand the edges a little bit to see where things go. One thought I had was that the "sea" on the right side of the template might actually be a rather large lake while the other "lakes" are more pond-like, but whether or not I go that route will depend on my final scaling.


I am looking forward to seeing how you develop this as so far, it looks nice(perhaps using the tutorial Torstan just posted to make your mountains?).

Sadly, I won't be using Torstan's tutorial unless I make a 100 percent commitment to a GIMP conversion. Currently I'm developing this in an ancient version of Paintshop Pro that doesn't allow for bump mapping. Eventually, I will probably go back and re-create it in GIMP as well, or possibly Terragen (with a little Wilbur mixed in). For the most part, I am testing the limits of this older version of PSP just to see how far I can develop things before getting totally frustrated with it. :lol:

GW

PS BTW, I did very much like the template and the challenge. I just wish things hadn't gone whacky in the real world and kept me from completing the challenge.

Greason Wolfe
04-03-2009, 09:16 PM
A small update here. Mostly experimenting with the beach and dune appearances. I'm close, I think, but I also think it could be a bit better, just gotta find the right blend mode and opacity levels, then toss in a bit of vegetation to give it more flavor so to speak. One thing I am thinking is that I might need to give the sand a bit more color, possibly a stronger differential between wet and dry sand. Another thought is to add a bit of a motion blur to the dunes to give them more of a wind swept look. (Better write myself a note about that) And I'm also thinking that this ancient version of PSP is starting to get fussy with me, but I'm a gonna whip it in to shape one way or another. :lol:

Suggestions are more than welcome.

GW

Greason Wolfe
04-04-2009, 03:48 PM
Spent a little bit of time twiddling things this morning. I'm still not 100 percent sure about how the dunes/beach area I've been working with, but I did run a little motion blur over the area to get a more rolling look to them. As for the streams, they are probably going to be re-routed a bit just to add a bit more of a meandering feel to them.

Comments or suggestions?

GW

Ascension
04-04-2009, 03:51 PM
Just a "so far so good" from me until there's more to see.

Steel General
04-05-2009, 08:34 AM
Will hold off on commenting, 'til I see a bit more. But definitely shaping up nicely.

Greason Wolfe
04-05-2009, 02:27 PM
Thanks.

It's going to be a couple of days before I get another update ready as I am strongly considering jfrazier's input about the scale of things. I was struck by an idea this morning as I was eating breakfast, but to implement it, not only will I have to change the scale, but I will likely also have to extrapolate areas beyond the edges of the template. If it works out right, the end result should make for a rather interesting map that still meets the general rules of geography as we know them.

GW

Greason Wolfe
04-09-2009, 03:40 AM
So I took a few days and actually spent some time on vacation, just getting away from home and what not. One of the things I did was take some time to visit a couple of wolf sanctuaries along the Oregon coast and in southern Oregon. Have to say that it was well worth all the driving to have a chance to get to know a few of my favorite furry totems. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures as I forgot to bring my camera. Still, it was very relaxing for me. Now, however, I'm back, and back to work on this project.

Now that I'm mostly happy with the way the dunes and/or beach areas are starting to turn out, I decided to refine my mountain techniques. Well, at least I'm trying to refine them a bit. I'm also reconsidering my scale (as mentioned in a previous post). With PSP 6.00 being as limited as it is, I'm struggling a bit with the layer effects I'm using, but, again, I think I'm getting close. The big thing is going to be getting the mountains to look natural in the sense of how they're laid out as opposed to having them look too "planned." I'll probably have to add a little roughness beneath them to get them to blend in better, but that will depend mostly on how the vegetation process works out. In any event, comments and suggestions are still more than welcome.

GW

landorl
04-09-2009, 06:53 PM
The mountains have a pretty good texture. That works pretty well. It definitly needs something to blend it into the background, but it sounds like you are making plans to do that.

The only other thing that is a bit of a negative is that at the point where you have the widest mountain, it plateaus at the top. I don't think that is intentional. I haven't uses PSP, so I don't know how to fix it.

Greason Wolfe
04-11-2009, 02:11 AM
How's that old saying go?

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again?

Well, I didn't quite succeed. I'm afraid my ancient version of PSP just wasn't up to the task I was trying to push on it. The big problem, I think, wasn't in PSP's abilities as much as it was in the fact that the more I developed, the more manufactured things started to look. Thus, I was faced with a decision.

On the one hand, I could try to put the map together in GIMP. The problem there is that I really haven't taken (or even had) the time to learn what GIMP can do. On the other hand, I could fall back on Terragen. The benefit in TG was that I would be able to work with a more natural looking elevation model. In the end, TG seemed to be the best way to go.

So now, after a couple hours worth of work (and probably several to go) I've gotten off to a better start than before after several hours worth of work in PSP. For the most part, I wanted to get my coastal areas set up. It took a bit of experimenting when it came to smoothing things out along the coast, but I managed it with a little flood filling at a low opacity and a gradually increasing area of effect. I haven't laid out the main rivers yet, and I'm sure that's going to be a bit of a pain as I will have to cut down some of the elevations surrounding them, but things are progressing much quicker than before.

So for this update, there are actually three images. The first is the elevation model after editing in PSP. The second is TG's internal interpretation of that elevation model. The third is a low end render with full surface maps in place. I may need to do a little blurring (either gaussian or motion based) to smooth things out just a bit, but that is an experiment for another time. In the meantime, I'll be doing a full sized render so that I can get a better look at where the new rivers are likely to occur.

GW

Greason Wolfe
04-12-2009, 05:31 AM
As I set to working on this again earlier, I realized that I'd almost made a terrible mistake. Well, not really terribly, but it could have been a time consuming one had I not caught it at such an early stage.

Without even thinking about it, I had rendered the lakes from the template at sea level rather than at an elevated level. But this was actually good news in a way. It gave me a chance to go back and rework the coastal areas as I wasn't completely happy with them. It took a bit of time, and I'll still have to go and do a little touch up work on the "new" lakes that have appeared based on the elevation model, but all in all, I'm fairly pleased with where this is heading now.

I'll likely spend the next couple of days working out the rivers and cutting/blending them into the elevation model, but for now, a bit of an update for comments, suggestions and/or criticism.

GW

Greason Wolfe
04-17-2009, 11:40 AM
So obviously, I haven't posted on this WIP as much as I had hoped, but that's because I ran into a few snags. With Waldonrate and Torstan's tutorials, and a lot of help from Wilbur, I think I've managed to solve most of those problems. I'm in the process of a new render in TG right now, and though it won't be showing the rivers, I am hoping the channels will show up enough to give an idea of where they are going to be. I'll be posting that render once it is finished and then dive into the work of setting up my river mask for a second render. After that, it will be a matter of setting up a few distribution masks for special areas (like extended beaches and such) and a little tweaking of my surface files. If all goes well, I should have this done (with the exception of labeling) in the next day or two.

GW

Greason Wolfe
04-17-2009, 01:30 PM
Well, that took a little longer than I expected, but the first render is finally finished. Right off the bat, I can see a couple problem areas that I'll have to work on;

1. The smaller of the pair of lakes to the WSW looks to have dried up for the most part.

2. The island in the larger of the pair of lakes to the SE has pulled an Atlantis on me.

Both problems, however, shouldn't be hard to fix. That fix is going to have to wait though cause I need my beauty rest. :twisted: After which, I'll get back to work on those two problems as well as laying out the river mask for rendering sometime this afternoon or evening.

GW

Steel General
04-17-2009, 01:57 PM
I'm enjoying watching you work your way thru this. I would have gotten frustrated a long time ago and said "to hell with it".

Greason Wolfe
04-17-2009, 08:10 PM
I'm enjoying watching you work your way thru this. I would have gotten frustrated a long time ago and said "to hell with it".

Oh, there's been plenty of frustration. But unlike it was with my other projects (Haevenstadt Harbor and Khardessa) it's been a good kind of frustration that keeps pushing me forward. And the things I'm learning . . . I'll be able to go back to those previous projects and start whipping them into shape.

But hey, if you want some of my frustration, I'll be happy to share . . . :twisted:

GW

Greason Wolfe
04-20-2009, 07:36 AM
So I'm still plugging away on the rivers and/or streams. Slow, painful process, and I'll have to blur their basins in on the elevation model some just to smooth things out. Of course, it's playoff hockey time so my . . . um . . . dedication to this project has wavered a bit. Just can't live without my hockey! But sooner or later, I'll have another update to post. Hopefully that'll be sooner rather than later.

GW

Greason Wolfe
04-24-2009, 12:54 PM
For the time being, call this a finished map. I'm still not 100 percent happy with it, but working my way through it has given me considerable food for thought in relation to future projects/experiments involving some cross-software work. I've got some tweaks to the process in mind that should give me some really good results if they work out the way I think they will. The big thing will be applying them in the right order/fashion so as to make them blend in well with one another. Still, from time to time, I might come back and work on this a bit, just to refine the overall process. For now, however, it is off to do a little bit of writing for loogie and work on some climate map development for Terraformer.

GW

EDIT : Actually, a little change in plans. I'm hungry for hot wings, so it's off to Hooters first, then the book store and, after that, a little writing, perhaps.

Ascension
04-24-2009, 07:12 PM
Is all of that white snow-capped mountains?

Greason Wolfe
04-24-2009, 09:31 PM
Is all of that white snow-capped mountains?

Yes. Unfortunately, in trying to blend in the lower elevations, particularly around the lakes, rivers and along the coast lines, the upper peaks lost some of their definition. And, of course, I didn't take as much time tweaking out the surface maps as I would have liked. But this has been a good exercise, not only in patience, but in thought as well, and is leading me towards a few techniques that I hope will turn out well with my next mapping project.

GW