View Full Version : Quick Cliffs in PS

11-11-2009, 03:12 PM
Someone asked about doing cliffs so I put my hand to it.

This tutorial uses Photoshop CS3 and a little bit of Pressure Sensitive stylus but mouse can be used, just be sure to change brush size and opacity often to create a drawn/painted "look" if that is what you are going for.

1. put a layer of black under your map -I did this tutorial with a finished/flattened piece from my Voradin map, so cliffs can be an after the last minute addition to your map.

2. Using the polygonal lasso tool I cut the map layer in half with a jagged edge and seperated the top half to a new layer above the bottom half and the black layer at the very bottom. Next I did a Warp under edit>transform, and just lifted up the lower middle control vertices a bit to actually create a gap between the top and bottom halfs of the map. I didn't touch any other vertices besides the middle ones so the edges on the sides are still in their original positions, creating a tapered mouth-like shape.

3. On a new layer in between the bottom of the map and the black layer I painted in ground with a small hard brush, sampling colors from the map ground areas and drawing in vertical sweeps...I alternated shades and just made it vertically streaky. Then I added noise and faded the noise to about 20%. Then I rendered fibers and faded that to about 20% as well...this roughed it up. I painted way beyond the borders of the actual cliff hole, since the top and bottom map layers effectively mask this area and if I wanted to cut in more details to the top or bottom map layers there would be cliff ground there to expose.

4. As a last pass I used a small hard eraser to rough up the edges of both the top and bottom halfs of the map. Added rocks and debris to the bottom map layer up against the edge of the cliff using sampled ground colors and a small hard brush - I am drawing lighting in here, keeping the top left edges of the rocks brighter and shadowing the right edges, also added shadowing under the top edge of the cliff and in broader stroks to change the shade as the whole cliff face changes angles.

11-11-2009, 10:58 PM
Thanks Tom, that is super!

It is great to show how a simple technique can produce such great results.

-Rob A>

11-12-2009, 04:31 AM
Step 2 pushes out us poor pre-CS2 users. :(

It would be easy enough to just cut a section out with another polygonal lasso to get a similar looking effect on the empty space left but that wouldn't change the terrain of your original image to make it appear to have shifted.
I'm sure it would still look ok on all but the most detailed of maps though, or to the most nitpicky of observers.

Great walkthrough once again Tom. :)

11-12-2009, 04:35 AM
For us pre-warp CS users I'd just make a jaggy selection on a new layer, fill it with noise, motion blur it, and then set it to multiply.

11-12-2009, 04:51 AM
Tom, that's a fantasic solution to the problem. Have some rep (If it will let me). I'll definitely be using it for my cliffs in future maps.

All the best


11-12-2009, 12:30 PM
RobA - Thank you! I am glad to contribute here.

Ramah - Yeah, sorry. For the most part its 99% the same as doing a cut out of a jagged selection. The payoff on using warp is where you can show the distortion of the rising or dropping land, easily.

Ascension - Yup that works just fine as well. One of the things that makes a good piece of graphic software GOOD is being able to take different routes to the same solution. It is one of the reasons I keep getting my eyes opened by everyone here, you all keep showing me ways to do things that I never thought of on my own. That's saying something when my day job has me pounding stuff out in photoshop all day long.

ravells - Thank you! I will share what I can as I continue my cartographic adventuring.

11-12-2009, 02:15 PM
Hmm.. here is my quick-o attempt in GIMP using a different method(layer masks of the shape....

11-12-2009, 02:27 PM
Ummm ....errr... after rereading the thing... my attempt is more of a yawning chasm in the ground as opposed to cliffs as the cliffs as Tom originally intended...even still.. I like mine quite a bit other than the bogus looking top left end... but like I said.. I did this in just a few moments of work...

11-12-2009, 02:40 PM
jfrazierjr - That works quite well. Chasms appear easily with just a lighting change - darker at the bottom and lighter at the top and a slight change to how the rocks and debris are layed out and contoured.

02-26-2010, 01:00 PM
I just stumbled across this looking for something else! Awesome. Rated and repped.