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Ceraus
04-22-2009, 06:12 AM
EDIT (May 10): This thread is no longer restrained to slopes. It now covers tileable terrain in general.


(Follow-up to this thread: http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=4655)

My D&D campaign being full of wilderness encounters (in plains), I was tired of having only rocks, bushes and trees to show. Unfortunately, I've never seen a well-done slope, so I started experimenting (see the above thread).

Now that I'm satisfied with the way I can get slopes to look like, I started producing a slope tileset. The first useable result is joined to this post in a zip file along with pictures of what it looks like. There's only 2-square long slopes for now, but I'm working on more.

Each tile of the set covers multiple squares, with squares 64 pixels wide. They're designed so that a small set of tiles can be rotated every which way and fit together seamlessly to make slopes as wide as desired. To save memory, gain versatility and have more variety, they have no texture of their own and must be added on top of a background texture (generic "plain" will do, as will a few others). This allows for really, really big maps, and scenarios (chase, exploration, string of fights) which would not be possible with a single, stand-alone map. Gametable crashes with 15-square by 15-square images and hardly handles their splitting in smaller images (hard limit of 10 MB of usable images). Maptool won't handle 30-square by 30-square pictures and slows down considerably as cumulative image size increases (it is, however, crazily efficient with textures and tiles). Thus the tileset.

While I had realism in mind at first, my priority is usability. Each square must show clearly what kind of terrain it is. If I indicate a slope (using up precious memory), it's a steep one that affects the players. Otherwise it's not shown. Seen from above, real-life slopes are only visible if the sun is low, and even then, not if the light hits them sideway. I show them by making their top lighter than their bottom (easily seen in the leftmost picture) and adding a subtle gradient shadow (even though the slope should make none). I also reinforce them with a pale grass/earth/rock texture; the combination of texture and lighting make the slope obvious no matter the zoom levels and clearly delimits which squares are part of it.

The complete tileset will have edges (denivellations between two squares), 1-square, 2-square and 4-square slopes and the necessary transitioning tiles. I will surely make a matching cliff tileset, and maybe combinations between the two (if the cliff gets higher, surely there's a slope somewhere...).

Steel General
04-22-2009, 07:26 AM
Nice, I'm sure I can find a use for these somewhere.

Ceraus
05-02-2009, 12:23 AM
I've pretty much completed the base tileset, so here's a demo of a few elements. The whole (current) tileset can be seen at the left.

I'm working on texture transitions right now, so that going from earthy to grassy looks like the third image rather than the second. It's just a universal texture that's superimposed on the seams and fades out in both directions. Hopefully it's universal enough for many terrain types.

I'll also collect good-looking vegetation and rocks.

EDIT: Oh, and I'll make rivers too. And paths.

Ascension
05-02-2009, 12:25 AM
Lookin pretty good.

Ceraus
05-02-2009, 11:43 AM
A sample map I've made using the current (unreleased) tileset. Again, the whole tileset is visible on the left. I used two 8x8 textures, a few rocks I made and some vegetation I stole.

I estimate that this map would take about 10 MB if it was stand-alone. Using tiles, it takes 4 MB instead... not much smaller, admittedly, but I can continue expanding it without increasing memory usage.

Steel General
05-02-2009, 12:32 PM
Great work...

NymTevlyn
05-02-2009, 05:03 PM
Nice, I could put that to use pretty quickly.

Ceraus
05-02-2009, 07:13 PM
Joining the tileset. It includes the following:
Slopes 1-, 2- and 4-square long Cliffs and "steps" Transitions: 0-1, 0-step, 1-step, 1-2, 1-4, 2-4, step-cliff Appropriate ground textures: grassy, grass-earthy, sand Rocky texture designed to fit with the cliffs Details: rocks, trees, assorted vegetation
All elements are designed to snap to a 64-pixel-squares grid... I hope the low resolution is not a problem. The tileset is much more flexible than it appears at first; while there are many limitations to what exact shapes can be formed with the slopes and cliffs, the global result should not suffer (see sample picture above). The base textures and most of the vegetation are "stolen", but the rest is mine.

Although functional, the tileset is still WIP, but the current elements are pretty much set in stone. I'll continue adding to it -- paths, water and texture change come to mind, and urban environments eventually -- but I'm taking a break for now.

NymTevlyn
05-02-2009, 07:15 PM
Bleargh! 64px? That's a weird size. I run everything at a 100px grid in MapTool.

Ceraus
05-02-2009, 09:28 PM
...

I knew it. :x I was so focused on the results that I forgot to consider other resolutions.

I've always used 64px because one, that was the only Gametable resolution, and two, I base my player and NPC tokens on World of Warcraft icons (with remade borders), which are incidentally 64px.

So I wonder: is there a "standard" virtual tabletop resolution? What would be the ideal tileset resolution? I should adapt before I make too much stuff.

(Note: I confirm, slopy terrain is very much more fun than featureless plains.)

NymTevlyn
05-02-2009, 09:54 PM
Whenever you're creating textures and objects for use online, just remember this...

As big as you can make it the better. You can always shrink it down later and still maintain image quality within reason, but you can't increase the size and have it still look good.

torstan
05-02-2009, 10:17 PM
This is looking really good - and it's certainly not an easy problem by any means. Well done.

RPMiller
05-03-2009, 01:54 AM
I would suggest 100 px for all your stuff. That is a decent native size and it is easy to resize if the VT requires something different.

BTW, this is a great set!

NymTevlyn
05-03-2009, 06:51 AM
Dunjinni works at 200 ppi though.

RPMiller
05-03-2009, 01:44 PM
And Dundjinni is not a VT.

NymTevlyn
05-03-2009, 01:49 PM
So? It's often used to make maps for VT's and the slopes would be useful for more than just VT's.

RPMiller
05-03-2009, 02:06 PM
My original post was referring specifically to VTs. 200 pixels in a VT will make data transfer of the images take much longer than it has too. 100 pixels should be the maximum for VT objects. If we are talking about a single map, we need to consider the overall size of that map for transfer over the network. There is another thread around here that discusses all the technical aspects of resolution for VTs so I will not rehash them here. If you want to discuss it further, please search for that thread, read the details there, and post as needed. That way we won't derail this exceptional thread. Thank you for your understanding.

NymTevlyn
05-03-2009, 02:20 PM
This forum is for more than just VT mapping. If you're going to make something, you should always start with the largest resolution you're comfortable working with to provide greater control and detail. Then when you're done, you can run batch scripts to resize everything for the different resolutions and scales.

Ceraus
05-03-2009, 07:08 PM
Comments duly noted. I'll go check for that resolution thread.

What I understand, though, is that while 64px is all I've ever known, 100px is the VT standard. The inspiring Crypt tileset uses that resolution, too. Dunno why 100px is the standard, but I'll use it from now on.

However, I think I should draw the tiles at a higher resolution, maybe 200px, so that people can choose between resolution and speed. Agreed?

Oh, and if I'm redoing all that (which... I will, I guess), I want some feedback. Is the slope texture clear? Universal? Are the top and bottom distinct? Is every square's content obvious? Do the cliffs look right? And is the small number of tiles flexible enough?

NymTevlyn
05-03-2009, 07:55 PM
It looks clear enough once you start laying out the tiles. As for resolution, just remember, you can always resize them to be smaller using a batch process or saved action if you use photoshop. I can resize hundreds of images in minutes that way. I only suggested 200px because that's what dundjinni uses and mappers can always resize their finished maps if they don't use the tiles inside the VT itself.

trevor
05-06-2009, 03:35 PM
Ceraus, very cool :)

As a thought, you might grab Wink, which is a free screencast tool, and record yourself whipping up a quick map with your textures, that would be pretty cool

Ceraus
05-07-2009, 05:39 AM
That's a good idea. However...

MapTool is mean to me. For some reason, even though map objects can be brought to the front, sent to the back and put anywhere in-between, it's not saved. So when you start the program again, some cliff tiles are randomly moved under slope tiles. I have no idea how to circumvent the problem.

Slopes will do fine regardless, but I lose the possibility of having slopes right next to cliffs. Well, unless I make tiles specifically for that... which I might have to do anyway, as slopes over cliffs can't be done with the current tiles. Ah well, problem circumvented, in some way.

With essentially positive feedback, I'll keep the general slope design, although I might make some change to the slope "texture" before I start all over. I also intend to make a base tileset (what's been released so far) and an advanced one that includes even more slope configurations for maximum flexibility. I realize that some people might just want to use the slope tiles to make printable maps and don't need to worry about memory issues.

But for now, I'm still on break, especially after the MapTool aggravation. Hit a roadblock with path tiles, too, so I've been relaxing with beach maps. I'm not decided on the look, though.

Tiling the sand/water edge while keeping those gradients is going to be such a headache...

EDIT: I'm really incorrigible. I did the whole beach work in 64px. Good thing it's nowhere near to final.

RPMiller
05-07-2009, 12:06 PM
Hm... Are you dropping the tiles on the correct layer? What version of MapTool are you using? I recall that there was a bug a couple versions ago similar to what you are describing, but I thought it got squashed already.

:shock: That water is freakin' awesome! Love the look of those beaches. Great stuff!

torstan
05-07-2009, 03:34 PM
Yep, I don't find this to be the case in 1.3.b56. I have a map with lost of tiles under and over each other. They certainly remember their configuration between saves and reloads.

Those maps look amazing! I love the water. I agree that the beach gradients are going to be tricky, but you're doing a fantastic job of it. I'm impressed.

Ceraus
05-10-2009, 06:53 AM
(Apparently, I was getting behind on MapTool releases. I had no idea they pumped those out that fast. Works fine now as far as I can see.)

I switched to 100px to restart the beach from scratch. I had taken notes on the creation process, but no matter how I'd deal with the white border (as seen in the pictures above), I couldn't get it to look right. I don't know if it ever looked right.

So I kinda snapped, thrashed it and tried something else. Hit a lot of roadblocks, but I'm pleased with the first tile, which fits with itself (obviously) and should properly join any sand texture with any water texture.

Left: the tile
Center: the snap-to-grid background texture
Right: the result of the superimposition

Please criticize. I am looking for the following feedback:
Are the sand and water textures appropriate? Is the sand -> water gradient marked enough? Does the damp sand look right? What about the foam? Does it extend far enough? Does its top edge (water-side and sand-side) look right? Is it too crooked/smooth? If you had final say, would you have anything be any other way?
Personnally, I think that the sand -> water gradient is not apparent enough, that the damp sand has something wrong (looks like a shadow) and that the foam could stand being smoother. Also, the sand might benefit from a slope, of all things. However, when you spend a few hours on something, you just can't judge it properly anymore.

So please nitpick so I can try making the definite beach tileset.

Oh, and just in case you missed it: 100px ! (Forever.)

Ceraus
05-10-2009, 08:09 AM
Reworked the sand -> water gradient. The tiles will be 600px thick instead of 400px.

The image on the left subdues the damp sand texture. The image on the right also has some kind of sea floor texture that fades in at some point. Dunno if it's worth the trouble.

Tumorseal
05-13-2009, 11:57 PM
Between these and the dungeon tile set, noobs like me can make some really great looking maps. Thank you so much!

shpena
03-03-2010, 11:53 PM
Man, this is great stuff. Have you thought of sending an artwork pack to the maptools people? Regardless, these textures are great. Thanks for sharing!

loogie
03-04-2010, 01:03 AM
haha, good resolution for map tiles :P thats why i like working with vectors! i can just change it whenever i want! looking good!

Ceraus
04-02-2010, 09:59 PM
Hi people, it's been a while, but I'm not dead.

Last summer, I started a "modern" conversion of D&D 4th edition, and working on it has consumed my free time instead of tile-making. Must have put 500 hours into it so far, probably more.

Once I'm done, though, I'll come back to tile-making and probably start a new topic.