View Full Version : Heightmap to in-game map?

06-07-2009, 12:24 PM
Im looking for advise, on how I might convert a greyscale heightmap used to create the 3d terrain used in a game, into a map of the same area (Fantasy RPG, parchement, antique looking suitable for use in-game)

Are there tools or pluggins available that will help, or is it a job for Photoshop/GIMP. If so are there any tutorials etc, around.

Any help would be very much apreciated.

06-07-2009, 02:06 PM
Depends on what you're aiming for. If you're wanting to render some more 3d terrain then something like Terragen or Blender or some other 3d program would be the way to go. If you want to take a grayscale image and just turn into a basic 2 color map (just as a starting point -- black ocean, white land) then any raster program like Photoshop, Gimp, Paint Shop Pro, etc could handle that. Each of those programs has a different way to get there in terms of which buttons you click but the process is basically using a threshold adjustment or a brightness/contrast adjustment. Once you have your land separated from your water then you can start putting down colors and symbols and text. If you have Photoshop I can go into this further if you'd like, if Gimp then one of the guys who specialize in that can help further. So the only thing left is which programs will you be using and can you post the grayscale?

06-07-2009, 03:40 PM
The file I'll be working from is actually a lightmap, which looks like this:


The original .psd source image is here:

It's a little Island about 1km across, that I guess dosnt look to dissimilar too a map already.

I think I just need to extract the rough shape, lines and such to add that to a parchment type background and add a compass and maybe a faint grid.

06-07-2009, 07:18 PM
A lightmap is a whole lot different to a height map. Do you have that height map or really just the light map ?

06-08-2009, 05:36 AM
For this one, unfortunatly I dont have the heightmap, I'm running with a pre built terrain for speed.

I have a couple of other areas that I'm working on that do have heightmaps, however they are far from complete.

I was just thinking this maybe a path well travelled as terrains for 3D computer games usually start from a heightmap. And I guess was hoping that a decent looking map suitable for use in-game could be achieved by a few clicks (or a few well defined steps, even automated via a pluggin or tool?)

I have searched for such tutorials, however did'nt seem to find what I was looking for, possibly due to lack of knowledge on what sort of questions to ask.

06-08-2009, 08:16 AM
Read through the Tutorials section. Every map I do starts with grayscale clouds that acts as my heightmap. Jezelf and Su Liam also have similar techniques for Photoshop. You could probably turn a lot of these into Photoshop actions but not all of the steps can be automated...sometimes ya just gotta do something by hand to get the right look. There are also similar techniques for Gimp.

06-08-2009, 10:30 AM
Thanks for the advise, will go through the various tutorials and play around with the GIMP.

I think I might position a camera directly overhead and take a screenshot in game, then could play around with some filters, colour balance etc, etc.

Again, thanks for you help guys.