View Full Version : [WIP] Worldmap

05-10-2009, 03:24 PM
After reading some great posts by folks who took what I had tried (and failed) to do and proved it was possible, I'm giving the worldmap another try.

Since this is for the novel I hope to one day finish, I want as much realism as I can get, so if anyone sees something impossible (or highly improbable) please let me know.

I saw a couple people mention that they really liked seeing all the steps that went into these (like climate modeling etc.), so here are mine so far.

First, I generated a bunch of random fractal planets with PlanetGen until I found one I liked. In particular, this one looked like it was tectonic-friendly, at least more so than most fractal planets.

Used hugin to convert from equirectangular to Mercator so I could see the actual shapes of everything. Then I moved the continents around a bit, thinking about how plates could have been moving, etc., and drew in tectonics around them (Red = divergent, Green = transform, Purple = convergent, Blue = subduction, Pink = hotspot).

Next I used the tectonics to draw in the basic locations of island chains (in black).

05-10-2009, 03:27 PM
Oops, hit submit on accident there. I'll continue with this post. It starts getting pretty ugly from here, since it's basically just sketching informational stuff.

So ... yeah. Next is islands, based on the tectonics.

05-10-2009, 03:32 PM
After the islands, I rough-sketched in where the mountains should be, in orange. Dotted areas are relatively low mountains, whereas solid strokes are relatively high mountains.

05-10-2009, 03:43 PM
The last step I have done so far is the air and ocean currents.

I also drew in the tropical, subtropical, temperate, subarctic, and arctic zones as a guide for the currents ... they aren't truly representative of temperatures yet (that's what I'm doing next).

Black arrows are air flow, red is surface (warm) ocean current, blue is deep (cold) current.

I hid the tectonics and mountains on this one, just to save eyes from as much ugly-sketch as possible. Everything's in layers in one Gimp file.

05-10-2009, 04:22 PM
Average temperatures. REALLY ugly now.

The good news is that I'm pretty sure this is the last bit of ugly. The next step is biomes, which can look clean again.

05-10-2009, 04:47 PM
Go Gidde Go! you guys are makling me want to digg out all my planet model maps and post the process... I love it when you guys show all the "dirty" maps, there not just good to look at but teach like a tutorial on world building.

05-10-2009, 05:17 PM
Thanks! I was sorely needing encouragement about there since I was posting such incredibly ugly stuff, lol.

Starting the clean-up process now, first landmasses. This is (I think) my final coastline.

Incidentally, I stumbled upon a new (to me at least) method of making "random" islands. After I drew a few by hand (which I just don't trust myself to do), I grabbed the "galaxy" brush in gimp, plastered my rough locations for archipelagos with it, then blurred/spread/threshold-alpha'd until it looked like islands.

Then I blurred/spread/threshold-alpha'd the ones I handdrew .... then I blurred (5px) and normal thresholded the whole thing so it was pure black and white, which had the added benefit of smoothing out the jaggies from fractalness and conversion.

05-10-2009, 08:26 PM
Then I blurred/spread/threshold-alpha'd the ones I handdrew .... then I blurred (5px) and normal thresholded the whole thing so it was pure black and white, which had the added benefit of smoothing out the jaggies from fractalness and conversion.

I do a lot of that too... glad to see I'm not the only one. I'm not nearly as good at it as you are.

You can oversmooth if you do too much of the blur->threshold work... at least I do a lot. I've had luck correcting it by merging a layer or blurred noise or clouds down on top of my oversmoothed landmasses and applying the threshold filter again.

Also, really nice to see your process. Even if its ugly!

05-10-2009, 09:22 PM
I do a lot of that too... glad to see I'm not the only one. I'm not nearly as good at it as you are.

Yikes! I'd hesitate to call me good at anything at the moment; I'm just learning how to do the stuff and it very well could be a fluke or beginner's luck. Thanks for the tip on how to fix oversmoothing ... I got pretty close to overdoing it a couple times while I was fiddling.

05-10-2009, 10:06 PM
This is quite good, so far. The only thing I see that I have major issue is in the ocean current stage. I could be wrong, but I don't know that ocean currents cross truly each other like you have twice in the southern hemisphere.

For the central one, I think the problem is the cold current. It probably wouldn't make it all the way to the equator on that eastern coast. Southern hemisphere currents tend to move counter-clockwise, and Northern hemisphere, clockwise (assuming a planet that rotates similarly to the Earth).

The warm band in the eastern current cross would probably swing northward, along the western edge of that larger continent. Currents don't tend to move in one sinuous, unbroken stream across the equator. You tend to get two separate and opposite currents in opposing hemispheres, from what I've seen.

But then, that's all based on the example of Earth from the viewpoint of a layman. I could be wrong, and even if I'm not, it's still made under the assumption of an Earth-like planet, which this may not be.


05-10-2009, 10:14 PM
Hmmm ... well, I did that with this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Thermohaline_Circulation_2.png) map of the earth's "conveyor belt" current up next to the one I was working on. I may well have lost something in translation though; I'll take another look at it. Thanks!

05-10-2009, 10:29 PM
Took one more quick pass at those currents .... is this any better?

05-10-2009, 10:33 PM
Huh, interesting. I've never seen that map before, and I thought I'd gone through all of Wiki's database. I guess they really do add stuff constantly.

Okay, looking over that, now, I vaguely see what they're intending. I don't think it's wholly accurate, but it gets a general idea across.

Personally, my preferred ocean current reference is this one:


05-10-2009, 11:06 PM
I like that galaxy brush idea for archipelagos...pretty cool.

05-11-2009, 07:17 AM
Aha! I think I see where our disconnect is; thanks for posting that pic. I had always thought the ocean "conveyor belt" was one current, but what it looks like from the map you put up is that in reality the conveyor is just the net effect of all of the various currents that follow the rules you're talking about.

For my purposes, I think the net effect is plenty to be working with .... all the currents on the real current map hurt my brain :(

05-13-2009, 04:58 AM
There is a difference between surface currents and the conveyor belt.

Surface currents are quite easy to determine once you've got the basic ideas.
The basics are almost all about circles. Warm currents from the equatorial regions flow norts and south (for example the gulf stream) cooling down and flow south again (like the canary current).

I've done a quick scetch on how your surface currents should work. No details, and it might need some work, but the basics are done ;).

If you've got questions just ask. And if you like to discuss your plate tectonics, I will be happy to do so ('cause there are some minor 'flaws', nothing serous, but just little details, which I would have done differently).

05-13-2009, 06:27 PM
Wow, thanks for doing all that work! I can see how this reconciles the ultra-simplified model I had with the current movement asp was talking about. Although, you two have utterly confused me regarding the difference between the conveyor belt and actual currents. I'll have to do lots more learning about that, apparently.

Lay on the tectonics crits :) I really do want this to work as well as possible physically.

05-13-2009, 11:04 PM
Next update ... I did some rough topography here to make the climate zones easier, based on the rough mountain locations above.

05-13-2009, 11:17 PM
I don't know much, yet, but I am learning pretty quickly, myself. If you want, I could share some of my other references and resources sometime, and/or go over some specific applications to your map. I really enjoy the direction your map is currently going, and I think I could learn quite a bit, myself, from it.

I have AIM, YIM, and MSN and think all three should be listed on my profile here, if you have any of them, and would like to have some extended one-on-one conversations about it.

Keep up the great work; I'm loving where this is going, so far!


05-14-2009, 04:19 AM
Wow, thanks for doing all that work!
Hey, it's my hobby to help others draw "realistic" maps (really, I hang araound in IRC-channel dedicated to this kind of topics), so thank you for giving me something to work ;).

Although, you two have utterly confused me regarding the difference between the conveyor belt and actual currents.
There are surface currents which are what most people mean when they say currents. Those are directly connected to a planet's windsystem. Those are currents like the Gulf Stream. They just affect the surface waters of the oceans and directly influence regional climates (for example Northern Europa is warmed by the Gulf Stream).

But there are depth currents, too. Those depth currents are driven by different temperatures and salinities of water masses, causing up- and downwelling.
For example in the North Atlantic there are two main depth currents.
The most important one has its origins in die polar regions, where cold water sinks to the ocean floor. This cold water flows southwards on the ocean floor.
Another depth current starts at the Strait of Gibraltar. The ocean waters of the Mediterranian have a higher salinity than those of the North Atlantic. So North Atlantic Water flows on the surface into the Mediterranian, while Mediterranian water flows on the ocean floor to the Atlantic.

The conveyor belt or thermohaline circulation is the interconnection of surface and depth currents. All currents are somehow interconnected.

Bur to determine your thermohaline circulation you have to know the details of your ocean floor's topography, because the flow of the depth currents is determinded by it. You have to know hot-spot tracks, oceanic large igneous provinces, submerged continental crust, etc. to truely get it "realistic".

Lay on the tectonics crits :) I really do want this to work as well as possible physically.
Any chance to chat via IRC even though we live in different time zones?

@ your mountains: thumps up.

05-14-2009, 08:08 AM
Thanks, that really helped :)

If I have the time zones right, I don't get out of work till about 10pm your time, unfortunately ... but on the weekends I can chat regardless of time zone issues. Send a PM if you like with when would be a good time, and we'll get together.

05-16-2009, 09:21 AM
Ok ... ocean currents, take 3 --

Still obviously simplistic, but I'm going for climate effect rather than shipping lanes for the moment. I gave up on the thermohaline idea once I finally understood thanks to Yoscha's great explanation of the differences between that and normal currents, so this is surface only.

Let me know how this looks, guys, and thanks for all the feedback!

05-16-2009, 08:58 PM
The only thing that I wanted on the world map that I don't have yet, as far as practical info, was climate information. Rather than continue to try to put in climate designations, I've decided to just treat this like one big regional map. The climate will go in as actual deserts, grasslands, etc.

Here I've got the landmasses with the green they'll have around most of their edges, plus the ice caps, and I converted it to a better-looking projection.

05-18-2009, 07:26 PM
Latest update ... changed up the style a bit, and added rivers.

Edit: I cannot get the full-res pic to upload, any suggestions? I got this to upload by passing it through picasa, but it shrinks it, and you lose 80% of the textures >.<

Edit again: Removed lo-res pic after a kind soul pointed out the filesize limit :)

05-18-2009, 08:04 PM
There are upload limits...4.7 megabytes for file size and for image size it's usually around 4000 x 4000 (supposedly it's like 36 million pixels total in width x height but I find the 4000 square works best).

05-18-2009, 08:34 PM
Aha! I was .2Mb high. I thought I had checked that but apparently I was blind lol. Thanks!

Ok, so here's the good version.

06-15-2009, 09:59 AM
I've been doing a LOT of experimentation with different styles, and I think I got this into the style I was trying for. I was looking for something that looked a little impressionistic, yet with a sense of height as well. Not so sure I like the end product, but at least I think I accomplished what I set out to do.

Also, I took out the rivers for now, as they probably wouldn't be visible at the scale used (10mi/px at the equator).

Comments welcome and appreciated!

06-16-2009, 06:35 PM
this is precisely what I am hoping to do for my group's shared world. kudos.

06-16-2009, 07:07 PM
Also in terms of desert placement for climate -- nearly all deserts are found around or on the tropic lines (tropic of cancer/tropic of capricorn). I forget exactly why, I'll have to look it up when I get home and post it because I remember the principles for it only enough to look like a complete idiot trying to state it.

06-17-2009, 08:07 AM
It's mostly because of the... Hadley cells, I think? I'm a little iffy on it, as well, and don't have time to go review it real quick before class.

From what I remember, though, it's caused by the warm, moist air rising at the equator, and by the time it reaches the tropics, it's beginning to cool and fall, which causes it to be able to hold less water, so it loses most of it before it reaches the Tropics.

There are similar convection cells all along the Earth's surface, with drier spots and wetter parts alternating.


06-18-2009, 12:57 PM
yeah I believe that's it