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View Full Version : My first map, and it'll be a doozie.



SilverDrake3
07-22-2009, 05:28 PM
It is my hope that through the kind assistance of real cartographers, I'll be able to create a halfway decent map for my fantasy novel/s that I'm planning to write. I have a decent grasp of plate tectonics, erosion, currents, and climate but I'm no more than a novice in any of these areas.

The map will be of a full continent approximately 3,000 miles long from north to south. There will be a large mountain range to the south, possibly with areas of permafrost. In the middle will be mostly grasslands trying to invade more barren areas. Finally, to the north will be lush forests with extremely tall trees, possibly tropical in nature.

The Gimp is my weapon of choice, which I am already familiar with, and I'm thinking the first step will be to decide on elevation and general shape, paint that in grayscale, then hit it with a gradient map.

Thanks to the randomness of the noise generator, I managed to get the first inklings of a continent. By doing some very loose dodging and burning, I was able to bring a continent out of the floating mass of islands.

So far, I've managed to do this:

http://img194.imageshack.us/img194/2037/001egosvc.jpg

For those who'd like to help me out by figuring out where I should put my rivers and other bodies of water, here's the full image I'm working with:

http://img16.imageshack.us/img16/1045/currentcnh.th.jpg (http://img16.imageshack.us/i/currentcnh.jpg/)

Stay tuned! Tips are appreciated!

Gandwarf
07-22-2009, 05:50 PM
Well, just start with drawing a general shape of the continent and the major land features, like mountains and rivers. There's some great tutorials for The Gimp on this forum.

Feedback and tips are easier to get when you have posted your first work in progress, so just throw something at us.

SilverDrake3
07-22-2009, 06:13 PM
Alright, just in case people are curious, here are the maps that I attempted, then discarded.

http://img106.imageshack.us/img106/8696/map01.jpg

http://img195.imageshack.us/img195/626/map02.jpg

SilverDrake3
07-22-2009, 06:29 PM
Well, just start with drawing a general shape of the continent and the major land features, like mountains and rivers. There's some great tutorials for The Gimp on this forum.

Feedback and tips are easier to get when you have posted your first work in progress, so just throw something at us.

I just wish I knew where I want to put the mountains and rivers...

Every time I try to get something down, it doesn't look right somehow or someone tells me that land masses don't form that way. Argh!

RobA
07-22-2009, 06:53 PM
I just wish I knew where I want to put the mountains and rivers...

Every time I try to get something down, it doesn't look right somehow or someone tells me that land masses don't form that way. Argh!

aah! That is the funny thing about the real world... Name one "odd" geographic feature, and I bet there is at least one example of it on the earth. Not common maybe, but possible ;)

-Rob A>

SilverDrake3
07-22-2009, 07:56 PM
aah! That is the funny thing about the real world... Name one "odd" geographic feature, and I bet there is at least one example of it on the earth. Not common maybe, but possible ;)

-Rob A>

You're right, I probably am worrying too much about this. I'll give it another go tonight and upload what I manage.

Redrobes
07-22-2009, 09:08 PM
I was a bit bored tonight so I had a play with your discarded map. I think you discarded them too early. The dark mountains looked just fine and inverted made a great height map as a starting point. I also made a black and white sea only map so that I could drop the sea away a bit.

I loaded these into my GTS app though I reckon most of the terrain apps like Wilbur would do just the same. Then I added the height map and lowered the sea with the other one.

Then by erosion and some use of rivers and so on I progressed it up. I did not pick where these rivers were placed I got the app. I know that many people here have been using Wilbur to do that job real well. Anyway, after a while I got it to a stage I was happy then applied some textures to it.

Et voila...

(Color and height map attached if you want to play with it further).

Sigurd
07-22-2009, 10:48 PM
I have a tendency to reject any map I actually draw. (Sort of like Woody Allen never joining a club that would accept him :). ) I am of the opinion that making land is an unnatural act. Recognizing suitable land is however an exciting and liberating act. Primal discovery in our digital age.

I suggest you make a list of your requirements for your world. Then find a random generator you like and go through some iterations to find a world shape that inspires you. I can recommend Fantasy Terrains but there are several random generators out there.

Only when you start moving to different scales should you try making the land all over again and then you will have the random gen as a guide.

You can change anything and everything but most people are better editors than they are creators. Start from a random gen and edit. The computer wont mind if you reject its work and you won't raise a sweat.

Sigurd

Just my 0.02

Jykke
07-23-2009, 12:30 AM
I have to ask this, as it actually helps me when doing the next map of mine.. is it normal for the rivers be that much carved into the terrain? This question was for Redrobes :)

SilverDrake3
07-23-2009, 01:21 AM
Then by erosion and some use of rivers and so on I progressed it up. I did not pick where these rivers were placed I got the app. I know that many people here have been using Wilbur to do that job real well.

What is Wilbur and where can I get it? o.o


I suggest you make a list of your requirements for your world. Then find a random generator you like and go through some iterations to find a world shape that inspires you. I can recommend Fantasy Terrains but there are several random generators out there.

Where can I also find a random generator? I spent all of last night and most of this morning trying to find one.

I must note, I run Ubuntu Linux..

waldronate
07-23-2009, 04:47 AM
See http://www.ridgenet.net/~jslayton/wilbur.html for the Wilbur download and the Fun With Wilbur, Vol 1 tutorial for the example most closely related to this.
See the attached GIF animation for an example.

waldronate
07-23-2009, 05:08 AM
And the other one, just because I'm having trouble sleeping (and 15 minutes one way or the other isn't going to kill me).

SilverDrake3
07-23-2009, 02:53 PM
If I give you the plain black-and-white height map of the one I'm currently doing, could you send it through Wilbur and give me the results? I tried installing Wilbur using wine, but it complained that it couldn't verify the file and wouldn't give me an option to continue installing anyway :/

waldronate
07-23-2009, 03:44 PM
Sure, I can do that.

I'm surprised that you're having problems with the installer. Most likely it's a bad download or an older installer version.

Redrobes
07-23-2009, 04:06 PM
I have to ask this, as it actually helps me when doing the next map of mine.. is it normal for the rivers be that much carved into the terrain? This question was for Redrobes :)Maybe, kinda, probably not.

I was messing about so didn't have time to do it properly. Even if I did then some of them I would have wanted to cut in deep. In reality most of the gouges from the terrain are done by glaciers or by the mountains rising up slowly and the water cuts them away and there's other factors going on where softer rocks crack up and fall down to form scree slopes and so on. I turned some of these features on but when the mountains are miles high then its a bit off having scree slopes miles high too. All the apps I know which erode with water (including mine) cut much deeper channels than they ought. Its a problem in that you want to cut valleys out of hills but only want a little stream at the bottom to do it. Like the Grand Canyon, the water flowing seems so trivial to cut such a huge event. But in all numerical apps (and I haven't seen anyone try to do this algebraically yet) water has a finite viscosity, you cant move it about fast enough to model real water. So the channels have to be artificially deep to contain it. To do a better job id smooth the terrain out a bit each pass but that would have changed the edge shape. People generally want to keep the map shape but have all the rivers fixed up for it. Running terrain apps with river erosion would change the terrain by shuffling rock from mountains into sediment and depositing it in the low lands creating new coast line.

You will see loads of water spots on my map too - that's another 'feature' id like to get more of a grip on too. I have a permeability factor which makes water soak into the ground. You can see that on one of the movies on its web site. But that's hard to control in my app (what isn't...) and I could not be bothered to get it just right so I left them in.

Redrobes
07-23-2009, 04:14 PM
See the attached GIF animation for an example....Hey thats cool the way that the rivers match up so well between the two apps. I would have expected the obvious similarities but its strange the way that in both apps the rivers join up in the same place on many of the systems. I would have thought that there might be more randomness to it. A slight change here or there and the river cuts a new route. Perhaps its more deterministic than I had imagined.

waldronate
07-23-2009, 04:26 PM
In this case the surfaces are externally connected to the sink so there's no major difference between the two. The river channels are flowing along the edge of really large elevation steps, too.

I have this strange suspicion that GeoTerSys would have a different opinion on the map with the large, nearly flat internal basin. Wilbur's first opinion was quite different and I had to do some unnatural processing to get internal drainage.

Redrobes
07-23-2009, 04:37 PM
Well I am curious, a bit later when I have done my chores (sigh) ill run it up and see what it does to it. I have no idea because it really does not like extra flat areas. I have a mode to print out gradient in false color and where it goes red or black I know it will have an issue. I think here Wilbur will do a better job. I am expecting a large pool of water actually.

Redrobes
07-24-2009, 08:40 PM
I got fed up with eating sweets so I had a bit of a play with this one. The results were pretty much as expected in that the grad map shows that where red is pretty flat and it is going to struggle to get long thin rivers here. Where its black its dead flat so its obviously going to pool water in that area. The land could exist but it would need a desert in that region to make it realistic. Anyway for fun here is the results from a quick run.

Its given me an idea for another parameter to try to fix up the local pools of water. I have obviously got a little problem there that needs fixing. The longer you run it the worse the pooling becomes.

SilverDrake3
07-25-2009, 03:27 AM
Redrobes: Next time you get bored, could you please go for the image that's on the first post? That's the one I really want to work on, and I just can't figure out where the rivers should go.

Jykke
07-25-2009, 03:43 AM
Just read the river tutorial done by Redrobes, It will get you to start: http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=3822

Redrobes
07-25-2009, 08:19 AM
Redrobes: Next time you get bored, could you please go for the image that's on the first post? That's the one I really want to work on, and I just can't figure out where the rivers should go.Ok ill give it a quick go but don't forget that Waldronate gives away Wilbur on that link free. There seems to be a strong agreement between the rivers in Wilbur and in my app. Also talking about free stuff the 3D viewer that I am using is my give away too and you can find that here (http://www.viewing.ltd.uk/cgi-bin/viewingdale.pl?category=dragons_flight).

waldronate
07-25-2009, 09:37 AM
Here's the Wilbur opinion. We're likely to see some significant differences here because Wilbur is more likely to give river channels that flow "too closely" to each other than would a physically-based simulation.

The first image is simply rivers. The second is the land.sea mask I used to pull the original coastline (there are some JPEG compression artifacts visible along the edges). The third image is the height field (I'm hoping the JPEG compression doesn't do too many awful things to it). The final one is the rendered color version of the data for reference.

The biggest issue with the incised terrain is the depths of the canyons and lack of flat terrain. If this were an island about the size of Hawaii then the incision might be plausible, but without a scale it's hard to know what sort of processing to apply. The physical processes that need to be simulated depend heavily on the size of each pixel (for example, most sediment/flow models are suitable for roughly meter-scale pixels with relatively uniform substrate characteristics, but most continental maps tend toward 100 meter or more per pixel and substrate characteristics are highly variable at that scale).

So, umm... What is the scale for this map or have I failed at reading once again?

NeonKnight
07-25-2009, 01:24 PM
I am ALWAYS amazed when I see the wonderful work both Redrobes and Waldonrate can do with their respective software apps!

SilverDrake3
07-25-2009, 01:29 PM
Ok ill give it a quick go but don't forget that Waldronate gives away Wilbur on that link free. There seems to be a strong agreement between the rivers in Wilbur and in my app. Also talking about free stuff the 3D viewer that I am using is my give away too and you can find that here (http://www.viewing.ltd.uk/cgi-bin/viewingdale.pl?category=dragons_flight).

I already said that Wilbur refuses to install for me :( I tried redownloading, and it gave me the same problem. I'll try again, tho.

Redrobes
07-25-2009, 01:31 PM
I gave it a bit of a thrashing with the hose to try to get enough water to break the pool in the middle but it would not. I could have set the permeability up and it might have dried up eventually. If this were mine I would have added a drop to the terrain somewhere to force an outflow for it. Also I think generally theres too much high ground and my proggy was having a hard time with the sharp fall on the bottom left. But there we are you have the devs of Wilbur and GTS supplying maps of your land. Cant be bad huh ? Interesting for me as we haven't had a side by side comparison like this before.

EDIT -- Added a side view since its right here on my screen. This shows the problem with the large lake. Perhaps a giant push and it would overflow down towards the camera.

EDIT2 -- Looking back and comparing now to Wilburs I can see that it has done a better job than mine on the mountain top erosion. I like the pattern Wilbur is generating. Its also found a path to the right and it clearly had a big dip there so if it managed that automatically then that's impressive too. I don't make any attempt to automatically fix up basins, the program relies on it overflowing at some point and driving a new channel out of it. Usually that results in it dumping a lakes worth of water over the lowlands and eroding large chunks of that away in the process. That sort of overflow did occur on this map in the top right local below sea level areas which then breached into the sea fixing that up.

SilverDrake3
07-25-2009, 01:35 PM
Dangit.. not at all where I imagined the rivers would go. :/

Gandwarf
07-25-2009, 01:46 PM
Very cool Redrobes... love the first map.

ravells
07-25-2009, 04:10 PM
I really like the second...it's stunning. label it like with cocktail sticks with flags on (I'm serious) and it would really be fantastic.

waldronate
07-25-2009, 06:10 PM
Dangit.. not at all where I imagined the rivers would go. :/

Where did you imagine the rivers might go? I know a few tricks to force the issue. However, if you're mostly just after a map rather than a physically plausible height field then draw the rivers where they need to be and put in a few barriers like rift zones or cliffs to explain the issue.

SilverDrake3
07-27-2009, 02:46 PM
Where did you imagine the rivers might go? I know a few tricks to force the issue. However, if you're mostly just after a map rather than a physically plausible height field then draw the rivers where they need to be and put in a few barriers like rift zones or cliffs to explain the issue.

That's true... Maybe I am worrying too much about it being "realistic" and need to concentrate more on what will be good for the story.