View Full Version : Map categories and photoshop question

09-11-2009, 04:13 AM
It is only a few days since I started searching for maps for a d&d game (new player here too). Now I find myself spending all my free time searching for maps and new techniques in photoshop and other programs.
I have seen maps that look hand-drawn
and others that look more realistic, like they were taken from a satellite(http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=6683&highlight=westeros).
A third caegory of maps is battlemaps, but that let's leave out for now.
I prefer the realistic look in the maps when they depict continents or countries, like the westeros map above (one of the finest samples I've seen), while the hand-drawn look is amazing when they show a region or the area around a city. Let me know what you think.
I also have a question about photoshop.

1. I loved the mountains and plains in the map in the first link. Is a way in photoshop to remove all coloring from a photo leaving only the black color. That way, I could add some of the mountains, grass, forests in the map I am going to create. Then I could add some layers to do the coloring.

Please let me know what you think. Any suggestion is welcomed.

Steel General
09-11-2009, 07:07 AM
Regarding your question... You can try SELECT > COLOR RANGE (choose the blacks), adjust the slider to keep what you want, select INVERT, then delete everything else.

09-11-2009, 10:46 AM
I've never been fond of trying to delete information out of an image in that fashion. It always leaves ugly edges.

Try a Black & White adjustment layer if you have it in your version of PS. Or just Image > Adjustments > Black & White if you don't. Play with the sliders to see what each one does, then set the image layer to Multiply and bring in your textures or what-have-you underneath. Here's a quick-and-dirty example:

09-11-2009, 01:38 PM
As a cartographer who experiments with all types and styles for generating maps, I have no personal preference for one type over the other.

As a professional having received many commissions over the past few years, I've learned a thing or two about what publishers want. It seems the brand new or only recently started small RPG publishers out there always prefer that realistic "satelite" style of map design. While the larger, older publishers like WotC, Paizo, Open Game Design, Mongoose all without exception prefer the "old school" hand drawn styled map for every type - continental, regional, city, even the battlemaps.

So it really depends on your intended audience and/or philosophy behind the commission of a map by a given publisher.

If your target audience is younger and more familiar with online games or console games - realistic maps are eagerly sought. If your target audience is an older crowd - more like many of us "old fogies" in the Guild (40+ years) a realistic map tends to be a serious turn-off.

Its all aesthetics and personal opinion, but for commercial fantasy cartography knowing or not knowing the intended audience or the design philosophy for a given publisher, will make or break your career in mapping.

Something worth noting, I think.


09-12-2009, 04:13 AM
Thank you all for your replies. I will try the methods you suggested to try and isolate the black lines, but now I'm thinking that it might be easier to try and draw the lines with pen and then scan the page, or try with the mouse. Thanks again.