View Full Version : Lazy man town using Alfar's context free buildings

11-06-2009, 06:01 AM
Just a doodle/experiment.

These are Alfar's buildings from his context free programme just jumbled together to make bigger buildings. Just a severe bevel applied to get the roof shapes and then a few filters to get the variation in colours / lines etc just to give them some texture and variation.

It's quite a good way to put down some very quick buildings. Just the bevelled buildings without any texture look quite decent too - a lot better than the old lazy man style I think.

Steel General
11-06-2009, 06:03 AM
Pretty cool stuff here Ravs...

11-07-2009, 08:01 AM
Thanks SG. The roof textures weren't working so well, so I've brought it back into vector. I think it's begining to look a lot better now. One or two little annoyances to work out and then I think I'll be using this method to build a new city. It will work with the buildings at a distance. It's reasonably fast, and should allow me to concentrate on the city layout without having to worry about all the hellish detail.

11-08-2009, 05:32 PM
Still-a-fiddling...this time with a more crowded city section to test negative / positive space with the streets. I'm begining to wonder whether on a larger scale it would look better with just a white background rather than the ground being textured at all. I kinda like the cartoony feel to it, although looked at closely many of the buildings are pretty lumpen.

Steel General
11-09-2009, 08:26 AM
There are definitely some 'funky' shaped buildings in there.

11-09-2009, 02:58 PM
Yeah, it's definitely a case of 'nice from far - far from nice' at the moment. I'll keep fiddling.

11-09-2009, 04:51 PM
I'm looking at these shapes and I can do the same thing with a layer of maximum noise then scale it up a whole lot so that the square pixels become really big "housey-shapes". I don't mean to discourage you but I think you could be chasing after something down the wrong path.

11-09-2009, 04:55 PM
No, no discouragement at all - it's all about getting reasonably believable house shapes down as quickly as possible. Not sure you could get as much variation with using just noise though...

I'm just after that magic filter called 'make a city'. - I'll never find it of course!

11-09-2009, 05:01 PM
Dang you're right! Just made this using your noise technique (no texturing etc)...I think I'm trying to re-invent the wheel again...the noise houses look a lot nicer too.

11-09-2009, 05:12 PM
What I haven't tried yet is to put the noise on a clouds layer so that I can get some clumping/clustering and thereby getting some control of where the houses will be. They won't align to streets but the clustering would be good for now.

11-09-2009, 05:19 PM
Pixellating them might be good too. The unexpected thing I found was that this method actually makes diagonals as well - which I didn't expect.

Steel General
11-09-2009, 05:25 PM
The noise method looks a bit more 'believable', almost like they were carved from stone or something.

11-09-2009, 07:44 PM
If you want your pixels to stay square and not get rounded off then go into Edit - Preferences - General = and where it says "Image Interpolation" set that to Nearest Neighbor (faster). Just remember to set it back to where it was on your next PS session.

Here's what I got:

1. 1000 x 1000 at 100 dpi, rgb, 8 bits
2. new layer, render clouds
3. edit-transform-scale=reduce to 10%
4. add noise = 100%
5. transform-scale=back to full size
6. image-adjustments-desaturate
7. image-adjustments-brightness/contrast=brightness at 0 and contrast at 100
8. new layer, fill with bison grass
9. hide grass, select color range=white
10. unhide grass, new layer, fill with white and deselect
11. transform-scale=up to 200%
12. layer styles
13. new layer under houses, make shadows

total elapsed time = 5 minutes cuz I was playing with layer styles and shadows :) this could be made into an action that takes about 10 seconds. since this is all layer styles, the base house shape is solid white...so therefore I could just Magic Wand any house and rotate it if I wanted to.

11-10-2009, 02:45 AM
Very nice indeed!

11-10-2009, 08:58 AM
You guys are great and it does seem that you are really going to find something doing this. I'd like to make this suggestion that maybe you haven't thought of which is an extension of Ascension's noise technique.

Now this took me about 10 minutes from first reading what you guys were doing so I'm sure this can be made a lot better... and I also haven't taken it to the finished lengths that Ascension did but you should be able to see where this fits in the stage list as it is.

Here's the image...


This was done by drawing some basic lines to represent roads, selecting them and stroking the outside of them 5px wide on a new layer. I then gaussian'ed it by about 12 pixels. I shrunk the image down to 10% size and then changed the blend mode to Dissolve. I had to flatten that layer down to a plain white background layer in before resizing it back up to its original size so that the dissolved layer grew as needed.

Anyway, this was an attempt to help get houses positioned around roads as required. I also tried just painting large areas between the roads, not gaussian'ing it and just changing the opacity of they layer once dissolved which works quite well.

11-10-2009, 03:28 PM
Ah cool stuff! The real challenge is to get the buildings to align to the roads without having to rotate them individually!....Gold medals for solving that one! I really like the spread of houses you got with that technique...need to work it in.

11-10-2009, 03:41 PM
Yeah, somehow I doubt it is possible to get the houses aligned to the roads without rotating by hand, which kind of defeats the object. Heh.

Anyway, I had another crack at this and took up to about the same stage as Ascension with a few textures etc...


This was done in roughly the same way except I drew the map at 5k x 5k and then reduced the layer to 5% in order to break it up and only have buildings at the roadside. I didn't gaussian blur it this time, just stroked it at around the thickness I wanted my buildings to be and then reduced it, dissolved it, lowered the opac till I got about the best that I could, merged it to an empty layer below it and then re-scaled the layer up.

I don't know how people do the shadows on houses. I read in a few WIP's that they need doing by hand because drop shadow makes them float etc. Anyway, maybe this is a new way, I don't know... I selected my houses, copied and pasted them onto a new layer and filled them in black.
I copied this layer twice. I left my original copied layer below the houses, moved one of the new copies to the extreme of where I wanted my shadows to reach and then the other one about half way between the two. Then I merged the 3 layers together and ran a Median filter on them which joined them up quite sweetly. The corners of the shadows are a little rounded because I had enlarged the houses already a little and it rounded them off.

Edit: Btw, running the median filter on the houses produced a very nice result where it is straight diagonal squares in a line. At a setting of around 20 it joined them up and they looked very nice. But lots of the odder shaped houses went a little strange.

11-10-2009, 08:49 PM

It is funny to watch this circle happen over and over again. Way back in mid '07 this same conversion came up, ran through the same iterations, and ended up with the same issues ;)

I created a brush for gimp http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=545 that would lay down buildings to align with a road. I could populate them with a bunch of context free generated shapes for more variation, I suppose, and get a better result.

Now with gimp 2.7 having more brush dynamics, it could end up being even simpler. I'll have to wait and see.

-Rob A>

11-10-2009, 09:05 PM
If I could combine my "Houses on a path" brush (directional control with some scatter) with Gimp's tube-structure of my other "House brushes" (different house shapes) then have the brush be totally random in what it picks as the next house, instead of the usual nature of the tube (next image is the next stamp), then I'd be set. I just never got around to doing it because I wouldn't know how to randomize a tube and since I never use Gimp anyway it never means that much to me.

11-11-2009, 07:12 AM
I was thinking along the same lines in using a vector to do the houses on a path. Yeah, it's reinventing the wheel again....but maybe this time we'll have a breakthrough!