View Full Version : Handdrawn satellite map inspired by Norway

06-01-2009, 11:49 AM
I love satellite maps. The shades of the mountains, crazy colours of the deserts, flowing lines of some geographical features, unexpected shapes, it's just awesome. I like it so much, I want my map of the world I'm working on to be like that.
Preferably like Norway. Oh, how I love looking at those fjords, gletsjers and valleys in
Google Maps (http://maps.google.nl/maps?hl=nl&ie=UTF8&ll=61.188272,6.317139&spn=1.008666,2.892151&t=k&z=9). Scotland and some other northerly parts of the world have these beautiful features too. I want to go there and see them myself.


I want to make maps that look like real world satellite maps. I've tried Ascensions tutorial (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showpost.php?p=57235&postcount=38), and it gave good results, but it's not really my cup of tea... It's too much fussing with Photoshop stuff, while I prefer drawing and painting in Painter. So, I set out to somewhat duplicate Norway. Try to get the same feel, same look, but in Painter.

Here's what I did, all the while referencing Google Maps' Norway:

1) Made a very dark blue background, with a little bit of colour variation (it's barely noticeable, but still breaks up a flat colour nicely). Then in relatively bright colours freehanded some shapes for the border of water/land, lower/higher parts, en higher/snowy parts.

2) Filled it up with colours used. This took very long since I had everything on the same layer (non-destructive mapping, never heard of it! :P) and filled up most of it freehand. With a size 2 pencil.

3) After applying some shades, I figured the brown didn't work, so changed it to green.

4) Messed around with some Painter brushes I never used before (Oily coloured pencil), creating the snowy areas.

Now, this looks nice, especially on very small scale (like the thumbnails of the attachments). But I'm stuck on the detailing, it's rather hard doing that convincingly, for me. Somehow every detailing I try in Painter ends up looking bad (it doesn't read well, wrong colours, etc). Perhaps I could throw it into Photoshop, see what I can do there, but for now I'm searching for some way I can achieve the shaded relief-satellite type thing in Painter.

For the record, this is very much a 'how-the-heck-do-I-do-this' type map, finding a way to eventually pull it off on a full continental map. Also, it needs some textures, but I want to see how far I can get without 'em.

Any comments? Ideas (anything, if you know something in Photoshop that has nothing to do with freehanded painting it, that would be cool as well)? Is my fourth attachment looking any good in full size? Is it too messy or do you have no idea what all those white spots are? Are my colour choices way too bright for your tastes (I'll be honest, I like bright, saturated colours)?

edit: Noooooww, I typo'd the title :o. Can a mod please make an end to the jarring lack of an 'a' in satellite?

Steel General
06-01-2009, 12:03 PM
Title fixed per request...

Never used Painter, but it seems you're on your way to getting the result you want. :)

06-01-2009, 12:39 PM
That's pretty fancy. I, too, have never used Painter. Sounds a bit like a hassle. Though in truth I can't say that Photoshop isn't.

But anyway, everyone loves fjords. Including me. So good job :D

06-01-2009, 02:11 PM
Cool - since your color scheme is approximately greyscale I made it greyscale and used that for the height map and overlaid your map as the color over it.

If you like playing with 3D like this then you can pick this up (http://www.viewing.ltd.uk/cgi-bin/viewingdale.pl?category=dragons_flight) completely free.

06-01-2009, 04:40 PM
Ya know, I'm gonna have to unzip VD one of these days and learn how to use it. This looks like a much cooler way to do things than learn how to work Bryce or Terragen.

06-01-2009, 06:52 PM
Have you looked at this thread? (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=3727)
Do so if you haven't already.

This picture (http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/gallery/?2005290-1017/Norway.A2005290.1150.500m.jpg) might be worth looking at as well.

06-02-2009, 04:33 AM
Thanks for all the replies. I'll probably fool around some more this afternoon/evening, and try to update a bit on my progress.

RedRobes > That's awesome! Haven't really touched any 3D stuff yet, but that just looks good. Think I'll fool around with that program a bit.

gorkamorka > Ah, NASA. I hadn't considered them yet, but those are some beautiful satellite images. Though I really like Google Maps, there's little consistency in satellite imagery over larger areas (and sometimes smaller areas too). I'll definitely be referencing those photos, thank you for the link.

And indeed, Painter can be a bit of a hassle, there are a lot of brushes and different ways to approach a picture. And it's really a painting program, there are not much options for doing anything else.

06-02-2009, 01:03 PM
Small update, since Painter is being annoying.

I decided that I wasn't happy with my mountains, so I went back to a previous stage and drew in my mountains once again. The overall shapes definitely look better IMO, now just to get Painter working properly and then figure out shading and stuff...

06-03-2009, 05:00 PM
I've taken the flat colours and thrown in some shades. Digital shading in many ways is really hard for me. I seem to get lost in all the colours and ways of shading and end up with muddy unrefined shades. Like here.

I am considering changing my approach to this. When I paint people or so I always start with a black and white layer exploring lights and darks. This helps me in placing my shades when I do the colours. I should do this for these mountains too, I think. Make a layer of shaded relief (perhaps in monochrome, instead of black and white), then put some other colour on top or underneath.

I've also considered first making a sketch in which I place rivers and mountains simultaneously. In this example, I keep having to figure out the natural flow of rivers as I shade, while my flat colours should have already taken these into account. Doesn't work that well. Or at all.

Expect more approaches to this problem as I draw them ;)

06-03-2009, 05:40 PM
What a lot of us do is to put a layer of 50% gray (rgb 128, 128, 128) on the very top layer then set this layer to overlay (effectively making it invisible). Then use the dodge/burn tools to add shades and tints to the gray and what this does is shades or tints the terrain. You could use straight black and white paint instead of dodge/burn. To use the technique with what you have here, you might need to blur the boundaries between the color shifts. It's very much of a time-killer and it can also end up looking more painted but I always like it :) What you have is nice and I think you're right on the verge of something really cool.

06-04-2009, 03:05 AM
A small modification to Ascension's method is to use a 100% white layer(255, 255, 255 rgb) set to Multiply mode. This is especially good if, like me, you have a tendency to use excessively bright and garish colors.