View Full Version : Nothing but layers quick map...(FTPro/PS)

04-08-2009, 10:48 PM
Whilst in the midst of working on the different components of my map, I decided to take a break and fiddle. I liked the feel for what cam out of this fiddling, and decided to share what I did.


Fractal Terrains Pro


1. Create your map in FTPro.

2. Export a grayscale (I used 16 levels) image of the land, only, in altitude mode. To do this, I set the water colours to red.

3. Export a grayscale image of the water, only, in altitude mode. You can adjust the grayscale , of course, to suit. I used near white to near black, though I think it may look better as mid gray to dark gray.

4. Export an image of the texture only. This is produced by setting all altitude colours to white, and setting the Intensity to, well, whatever you prefer. I used the default in this example.

5. Export your rivers against, again, a white background.

6. Load all layers in Photoshop, with the Rivers and Texture on the top. Switching those two around differs in the end result slightly.

7. Remove the RED backgrounds of the land and water layers. I use the magic wand, set to 0 for tolerance.

8. Remove the white backgrounds of the river and texture layers.

9. On the river layer, select all the rivers - either by colour or with the magic wand and "contiguous" unchecked.

10. Under Select, modify the selection layer to expand it by a few pixels to taste. This will depend on the resolution of your image greatly.

11. Fill that selection with the river colour of your choice. I hit delete, and then fill it with the painbucket with contiguous unchecked.

12. Under the Hue/Saturation, choose "colourize" and colourize your water layer to a blue tone you like.

13. Under the Hue/Saturation, choose "colourize" and colourize your land to a green tone you like.

14. Set the texture layer to multiply or darken as your prefer.

That was it for this quick map. Perhaps someone can use the effect somewhere. It's nice and easy to do.

You may consider putting a climate layer above the land layer and set it to hue/colour and see how that turns out as well.

Note: This was part of a work in progress, so rivers, etc, don't always work.

04-08-2009, 11:52 PM
Pretty darn nifty...nice job. I might think about not making the river valleys blue and just draw the rivers in by hand but the results, nonetheless, are pretty cool and worthy of experimenting with and learning from.

Steel General
04-09-2009, 07:41 AM
relatively simple and straitforward - cool beans!

04-09-2009, 11:51 PM
I added 4 more layers - each a different climate-map for my planet.

To each layer I tweaked the layering style (e.g., overlay, colour, saturation, soft light). These are just a few combinations while changing the lower contrast layer setting only. I've now got all these, and more, to combine and manipulate to achieve the toning I want.

p.s., I realize I'm more excited by this than I should be, but darnit, I'm ok with that.

04-09-2009, 11:55 PM
I am digging the 3 right most maps, with the middle(mid right that is) one being the one I would like to see closer....

04-12-2009, 01:13 PM
I decided to play more with the texture of the planet today. Again, in a non-destructive way. One of the reasons I'm doing things this way is to be able to reproduce the final effects and appearance of future planets I may create - if I like the end result.

Today I added:

1. Copy land layer and paste into new file.
2. Fill transparent areas in black.
3. Make a pattern of it (if you need to scale, as I did, remember your scaling factor to correct it later)
4. Apply Bevel and Emboss to each of the climate, river, and texture layers.
5. Set the pattern used to that you just created. Check for the direction (up/down) and adjust the scaling to compensate for #3 adjustments above.
6. Adjust the other Bevel/Emboss settings as well, to suit. I used these:

Bevel: Inner/Smooth/Depth 72%/Up/Size 8px/Soften 9px
Shading: the bumpy one for closs contour was all I changed from default
Texture: Depth 1000%

I'm still playing with different Layer positions, opacities, etc. based on the last post.

04-12-2009, 01:25 PM
I'm creating this with some end treatment similar to this sample (actually top left is one sample, bottom right another).

04-12-2009, 11:33 PM
I like it, no crits from me, just a compliment.

04-12-2009, 11:35 PM
Thanks! I appreciate that.

04-13-2009, 08:22 AM
Excellent stuff, oddly enough I'm writing a tut at the moment about non-destructive map making in Photoshop using just layerstyles and masks, but not with FT. We should compare notes when we're done!

04-13-2009, 11:38 AM

04-13-2009, 11:58 AM
p.s., I suggest making notes of your settings for these layers when you find something you like...as otherwise you might not be able to recreate it! :(

04-13-2009, 12:20 PM
The method I'm using is this:

I'm making notes as I go along and then I'll try and recreate a new one with using the notes alone. I'm going to post up a .psd file along with the notes so people can just see the layer styles I'm using (quicker) and experiment for themselves.

04-13-2009, 07:09 PM
Here's the base for my map as it stands: http://davidpiercey.com/maps/a7a-25000/

Final steps I went through:

1. Flattened Image
2. Added white edge.
3. Duplicate 2x (3 of same layer)
4. Dry Brush Layer 3
5. Dry Brush Layer 2
6. Leave Layer 1 alone.
7. Adjust layering settings until you find a combination you like.
8. Flatten Image
9. Added "multiply" overlay of paper texture.

That's as far, I think, as I'll go this way...now it's time to customize it. Up to here though, it's just been automatic functions that could almost be turned into a huge Action.

06-21-2012, 08:30 AM
4. Export an image of the texture only. This is produced by setting all altitude colours to white, and setting the Intensity to, well, whatever you prefer. I used the default in this example.

I don't get this step. Setting all altitude colors to white produces... a completely white image. Can anybody please explain to me how to make this texture?

06-21-2012, 09:09 AM
I don't get this step. Setting all altitude colors to white produces... a completely white image. Can anybody please explain to me how to make this texture?

Going from memory ( :D ) - on the Lighting and Colour tab where you can adjust land and see colours (altitude), make sure shaded is turned off, and change the colours for both land and sea to white for all levels.

It should end up looking something like this (doesn't match Abebe, but the same sort of layer):


(Did I interpret your question right? - I'm glad someone's trying this out; I hope you'll share the results!)

06-21-2012, 09:57 AM
Here is what I get when I put every setting on white. I'll post some screenshots. It's still on "show altitude", that's right, right?

First is with shades, which looks somewhat like your image but for some reason it's more metallic-y and second is without shades... nothing. The settings used are in the screenshot.

I am inexperienced with FT. I actually came by this thread while trying to figure out how to create the "height maps" that you mention in the PDF that you posted in your abebe thread. I'll try the method described in this thread too though.

06-21-2012, 10:08 AM
Yep - that's it on the left (looks different, I think, because you used a different method of making your world / different projection? ). I believe it's under the Intensity tab there.

I think there's a setting hidden away that let's you increase/decrease the degree to which it shows.

06-21-2012, 10:24 AM
I should add - make sure the lighting direction (under intensity?) is set to the same as you use in Photoshop as your 'universal' lighting for the layer effects and so on. Mine is usually in the top left (120-135ish?)

06-21-2012, 12:08 PM
It's just the default mercator projection. World got made by simple generation, tweaking of the simple settings that govern the amount of water etc. Strange that it looks so different. I'll try working with this though.

edit: its the equirectangular projection, but i think its just the default one anyway...

06-21-2012, 10:35 PM
Ok, I followed the process from this thread with the exception of rivers because I want to create my own and this is the end result.

High res version is here, since its too big to upload to cartographersguild. http://www.mediafire.com/?qdc8q4nl5lmc0nq

I don't think it looks very good. I'll try playing with it some more later today, but for now the thing that needs to be changed first is the texture. I would like to have a texture like yours. Mine has many ugly straight lines and it looks very different from yours. I tried changing many settings but it doesn't change a lot, and never even comes close to what you posted as a texture. I went through many projections too but it changed very little. And I changed the intensity in different ways. Also, you said to make sure to turn off the shaders, but I can only get the texture that you said is the right one by turning on the shaders. Turning them off just produces a white image. Perhaps you can load it into your FT and see if it generates a different texture cause of some setting that I missed? Or maybe you can tweak some settings to get a better texture? Here's the ftw file: http://www.mediafire.com/?y33e41sah1zs9ja

If you cant get the texture right, then it must be the way I generated the island... But what setting? The only setting that got rid of the straight lines for me is to set the Willbur fractal generation algorithm. But it still doesn't look anything like your texture. It just looks like lots of black lines on a white background, but your image actually looks like it has depth and it looks silvery/metallic (please compare our 2 texture images, put them next to each other cause it doesn't look right to me at all). What do I need to do to get that kind of texture?

Thanks for helping me.

06-21-2012, 11:04 PM
Here are the settings I've got going usually (haven't changed them in a while other than the seed):

(under World Settings)

Fractal Function:
Method: Wilbur Fractional Brownian Motion (fBm) (could be the difference)

Highest Peak: 30000 ft
Lowest Depth -20000 ft
Circ: 25000 miles (I think these were defaults)
Roughness: 0.45 (I'm wondering if this is the difference here?)
Percent Sea: 43
Land: 1.77
(these last 3 would be adjusted to taste)

Custom: the maximum number that works under custom (can't remember it off-hand)

I followed on of the tutorials for the Abebe project that was written up for getting more realistic worlds out of FT Pro (it's on their website, I think), which was some processing after (erosion, and a few other things) prior to running rivers.

I hope this helps...I believe the Abebe file, which was in v2 of FTPro died when loaded in v3, but that may have been a temporary issue.

You may need to also adjust the settings under the intensity tab in the colour window.

06-21-2012, 11:15 PM
I tried the file you sent (the .ftw) and changed the setting to Wilbur Fractional Brownian Motion (fBm). Try using that mode to create (of course it looks very different from what it was :/ ).

06-22-2012, 06:01 PM
The straight lines are a bug from version 1.0 of FT (I got a little too aggressive on the optimization in one place). I recommend not using the basic FT functions as described in http://www.ridgenet.net/~jslayton/CGTutorial/index.html .

06-22-2012, 11:26 PM
Per your request of showing what I come up with (guyanonymous) here is what I came up with so far. I'll work on further improving it later. I changed the original image generated by FT quite a lot. I still need to improve the mountains and put in rivers (and a lot more). What do you think? Do you have any ideas? For example, how do I make the forests look better? Your forests look like they have lots of little bumps, representing trees, how do I get that effect?

It's a relatively low res version since cartographersguild doesn't allow me to upload the original image, it's too big.

Thanks for your help.

06-22-2012, 11:56 PM
I think that looks great, myself. Hmm...for the trees, I did bevel them all, and, I think, created them out of noise patterns stretched and enlarged. Different transparency levels and...hmm, probably on Multiply. I've not worked on this project for a while - but your bringing it back up has me feeling enthused. Play with the different mixing modes, with bevels, with the order layers are in - I went through dozens of combinations, each having a different feel....

What resolution file did you work with? Did you use the same settings I'd used in the tutorial? Or did you have to adjust them to get the look as it is? I think it looks great - as I said before.

Thanks for sharing!

06-24-2012, 07:05 AM
I love the style... of all the map making styles I've seen on this forum it looks the most like an actual satellite picture. But what I love the most about it is the good looking ocean floor elevation. I think it really adds character to the map. Or satellite image.

As for what I've done to make it look like this, I've lost track. I tweaked all the layers with different colors, effects, filters and got rid of some layers and added and rearranged some until I liked how it looked. Copied the texture 2 times with different properties. I got rid of the generated elevation above sealevel and designed the elevation for the land myself (partly because FT sucks at that and I wanted to design the land myself) and put in the rivers. I also got rid of most of the lakes that FT put in because they are unrealistic, a bad side effect of random generation, which also happens when generating islands with clouds in PS and created some new ones.

The resolution is 15000x12000, my computer dies if i take it any higher. But really it's already huge. The size corresponds to a poster of over 5 by 4 meters, larger than a decent sized bedroom wall. You must have a monster of a computer to be able to handle 30000x15000 of such a detailed map. A 6 GB psb file while my computer only has 4 GB of physical memory.

Anyway, I wouldn't have been able to make this without you, so thanks a lot.

I'm still trying to find ways of improving in any way it so if you have any suggestions they are welcome. Tell me what you think. I'm thinking of adding smaller veins for the rivers, but I think the map would become a little too crowded with rivers if I did that.

Smaeyough v2:
First one is without region and city names and the next one includes them. The archipelago is located in the pacific, fictional of course. From the outer edge of the left most to the right edge of Sirodcer is ~1750 km, horizontally. Land area is about 1.1 million km2, as large as France and Spain combined. In 2012 it is inhabited by a modern powerful technocratic society that thrives on trade, production and exporting it and offshore oil deposits. It is close to the equator. Syanall, the capital, is an ancient huge city hewn out of the surrounding mountain walls. Cities used to be part of individual autonomous competing states and cities gained prestige for their beautiful architecture, which was continually improved. But only citizens get to enjoy said beauty because only citizens may wander the islands freely and those with a hard to get visum are allowed controlled access to the islands. They do this to prevent what they see as pollution of their lands by foreigners. They despise ugly concrete cities and superficial societies. To become a citizen and be worthy of living amongst them in the eyes of the society, one needs to prove him or herself, and in their late teens, young adults are sent into the world where they must prove themselves in order to be allowed to return. The Smaeyough enjoy the highest standard of education and living in the world.

edit: I just realized that you can't read the city names on the low res version of the map. Here is a higher res one: http://www.mediafire.com/?ddftufbmqd2ocz2

06-24-2012, 10:00 AM
I think it looks great. One of the challenges I had was finding layer settings (shadows, bevels) that looked good at 100% as well as 25% (or whatever was required to view at all levels).

Nice job - I'm pleased the tutorial was of use to someone!

(Edit - the 30000x15000 image slows my computer to a crawl with 6GB RAM - now that I have 24, it's better, but still needs more ram than that to avoid paging.)

06-26-2012, 03:56 PM
Post production counts.
Rivers generated by FT or Wilbur tend to suffer from long straight segments and pairs of rivers following close parallel courses for long distances. In nature, meandering will be especially prominent in exactly the flat places where the standard eight-directional deterministic algorithm makes dead-straight segments. All those close, parallel segments will tend to join together by avulsion unless separated by some pretty high barriers.

How to fix this? First export your rivers to photoshop. Unlike guyanonymous, I like to save the rivermask image as white rivers on a black background. That means that if you're following his instructions, just use white where I say black and vice-versa.

1)We have our river mask in photoshop. Set the background color to whatever color denotes an absence of riverness. Black in my case; white for mister anonymous. This facilitates erasure since my Wacom stylus has a nib on the back that maps to erase. Just like using a pencil: flip to erase...

2)Load in the shaded relief image to another layer. Place that layer below the rivermask layer and reduce the opacity of the rivermask layer till you can see the shaded relief fairly clearly through it. You could use a greyscale elevation map as your guide here, instead of the shaded relief, but unless you're really used to playing with those, it won't be as helpful a guide.

3)Working one fairly short segment at a time, erase straight segments from the river mask and redraw them as meandering about following the apparent contours of the shaded relief. Remember to try to follow valleys and avoid hills. For this step, ignore straight segments that closely parallel other such straight segments.

4)Now that you got all those loner straight segments out of the way, it's time to handle the parallels. It pays to deal with these a little at a time and in pairs, especially when you have four or five or six or more streams following each other closely in this manner. Erase a short segment of the pair and meander them a little till they join together. If you don't have a big cluster of parallel rivers, you can just meander the rest of the newly combined river along the course that the two followed as per step (3) until you reach the sea, another tributary or a cluster with another parallel stream. Iterate this step till you're happy with the result.

If you like the occasional straight segment or parallel set of valleys, feel free to leave some in.

Now if you're just going to use the shaded relief to make a pretty map, then by all means use this adjusted rivermask to continue with the instructions given in this tutorial.

Unless you're trying to build an elevation map like the folks at ME-DEM the next step is kind of a waste of time and effort so I'm going to kind of gloss over it unless there's some interest shown. Here is where you, "burn in," your new streams.

1)I start in Photoshop by making a set of, "burn masks." In this case these all need to be white rivers on black background. A simple inverse will do if you're doing the opposite.
One burn mask will simply be the adjusted river mask we just made. We'll call it, "hardrivers."
Another burn mask will be a slightly blurred version of the previous mask. Call it, "softrivers," if you like.
For the last mask, I like to use a radically blurred version of the original, otherwise unmodified river mask extracted from FT or Wilbur. I'll call this, "coarsevalleys." I often like to scribble or cross hatch between close parallel rivers before blurring this to kind of pull things together.

2)For the next steps I'd use Wilbur rather than FT or even Photoshop. Import the, "coarsevalleys," file as a selection. Use the mathematical Add filter with this selection to reduce altitude moderately. Say by -12, if you're using a 16-bit PNG directly for your elevation map.

3)Use, "softrivers," as the selection to lower that ground a bit less. Say about -4 or -6.

4)Now use, "hardrivers," as the selection to burn in your nice new rivers by, say, -1 to -3.

5)Once you get all that done it would likely pay to do a roughed-up basin fill as explained by Waldronate here (http://www.ridgenet.net/~jslayton/FunWithWilburVol1/index.html). A bit of erosion could be good too.

6)Check out the results of your work by generating a river texture. If you're happy with the results, cool, you're done. Otherwise try repeating the process from step 2, 3 or 4, depending on how far the river trace is from what you desire. With every iteration it's good to reduce the depth of your burn-in by a factor of two to avoid making the effect too drastic and obvious.

It's pretty easy to get visually good results with the first half of this procedure, but, as anyone who has tried to make a hydrologically correct DEM will tell you, getting the elevations to come together can be a time-consuming and frustrating game of trial and ERROR!!!