View Full Version : The mountains... always the mountains.

11-28-2009, 01:24 AM
Hello, everyone. This is my first post regarding anything I've created :)

Anyways, I've been experimenting with quite a few different techniques (for quite a while now) to create Mountain Ranges in a kind of realistic fashion.

Problem is, I'm pretty much incapable of accomplishing it ;)

So far I got the image at the bottom to work as the base relief, but it still has a lot to be made so that I can actually like it. So I decided to post it here to see if you guys have better ideas than I do.

First what I don't like about this, and questions I would like to ask you guys:

1) I want to create a mountain range, and it kinda looks like this one only has a single mountain crest going on. I've yet to experiment on duplicating (or triplicating, perhaps) the technique used to make this crest to come with somewhat-parallel crests, more broken, and make the middle ones stand taller than the peripheral ones. Do you think this idea holds any promise?

2) So far, it looks too big! I'm not sure about the real geography measures for mountain ranges are but, so far, with the single crest, this thing is getting around 13 Km (almost 10 miles) from one side of the range to the other. Is this a reasonable "width" for a mountain range in the scale of, highest peaks, around 2 or 3 miles high? The scale used in this map is of 1px : 200m, or 8px : 1 mile.

3) I can't texturize it properly, no matter what I do. What would you guys consider a good technique for (in GIMP) making a nice rocky texture for those mountains?

Well, that's all for now, I guess. And all in all, please don't limit yourselves to the questions pointed out above.... all criticism and suggestions are welcome!

Oh, and I'm using GIMP for it, although I can have access to Photoshop CS2, though I don't own a copy for it, so it's rarer: I use it at my brother's place some times.


11-28-2009, 01:38 AM
There are two main things that people often overlook with mountains (myself included sometimes) and they are spurs and foothills. What you have so far looks like a good spine but that spine needs some ribs sticking out (those are the spurs). They don't have to be long or tall or very pronounced but mainly serve to break up the linear look. Mountains then transition into foothills before finally descending onto the plains. Foothills are basically smaller versions of the mountains but with a green color instead of browns and grays. Desert hills would, of course, be tan and not green and polar hills would be white but you get the idea. Lastly, mountains slopes often have forests on them but that's a whole other barrel of monkeys. So what I would say is that you have a really good start, one of the best starts I've seen in a while. Just add some spurs and foothills and you should be a lot happier with it.

11-28-2009, 01:53 AM
Thanks! I've actually tried the spurs before, but couldn't get them to look nice enough. I'll keep trying my hand at them!

And indeed I completely overlooked the foothills. That's another thing to try to study for the next days!

To be honest, though, it's not like it's a "great start". It's only that I'm too critic with it, so my real "start" was around two weeks ago and I've been scraping and starting it all over for at least half a dozen times already ;) But thanks for your comments! I'll try to put the ideas into action.

11-29-2009, 11:19 PM
Well, I'm back at it :)

I'm not exactly happy with the results so far, though they did improve in some aspects from previous attempt: I added spurs, and tried my hand at foothills, though I think they just don't fit yet.

What do you guys think?

11-29-2009, 11:37 PM
The shape looks a lot better. Well done not making the spurs too regular, also; my first attempt at spurs was woeful, looked like a caterpillar.

11-30-2009, 12:35 AM
Thanks, Gidde. I had to go through various attempts before settling for those spurs. A lot of them looked like caterpillars! :D

I still hate those foothills, though, they simply don't look like foot hills at all :-(

11-30-2009, 02:53 AM
Mountain ranges are always tough because they depend on so many factors, not the least of which is scale. Narrow mountain ranges tend not to be terribly long. Some mountain ranges look totally different depending on which side you're coming from. Some inspiration:
Area with thin, well-defined ranges of varying types: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=37.70338,-106.089478&spn=1.625428,2.458191&t=k&z=9
Area with high and low points (to be specific, Mt Whitney and Death Valley in the USA): http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=36.580247,-117.542725&spn=3.299326,4.916382&t=k&z=8
The classic craggy mountains that are more of a blob than a sinuous range (the Alps in Europe): http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=45.989329,10.17334&spn=5.709811,9.832764&t=k&z=7
A nice mountain range that's a bit longer than the blobs (the Alps in New Zealand): http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=-43.842451,170.881348&spn=5.926837,9.832764&t=k&z=7
A huge block with a nice sharp edge (the Himalayas): http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=27.751608,91.955566&spn=7.26899,9.832764&t=k&z=7
THe classic giant sinuous mountain range (the Andes): http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=k&ll=-8.895926,-77.321777&spn=8.112302,9.832764&z=7

I recommend looking at the items above in both terrain view and satellite view to see how the appearance of the underlying terrain is affected by local climate conditions. One thing I don't see here a lot is that high mountain ranges are often colored differently on one side than another (and sometimes not).

12-01-2009, 09:17 PM
Hey, waldronate! Thanks for the tips. I've been checking the links and studying formation of various mountain ranges in the world. Mostly "young" mountains, such as those in the Death Valley.

I decided to try my hand in recreating this kind of formation in a height map. This is what I got so far (attached). Could you guys give me your comments on those? The picture holds three different attempts at techniques to recreate those, with the last being the one to the right.

I know it still has a lot of room to improve, specially since it's not as strong as the reference mountains (below), but I'm considering trying to develop this technique for more "realistic looking" mountain ranges in maps. Do you guys know of anyone playing with this kind of thing, perhaps it has even already been done or something :D

Other than improving the height maps, I'm not sure how I'd go on texturing that. I have no idea on how to make a mountain look like a mountain ;) .

So far, the idea was to replicate some of what can be seen here:
http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=p&ll=36.374856,-117.070312&spn=1.10128,3.515625&z=9 ... the "caterpillar-like" mountains to the east of the valley.

12-01-2009, 10:06 PM
The bottom left looks most realistic in formation, the next one is good for hills. The top left is the most striking because of color dynamics grabbing the eye.

12-01-2009, 10:24 PM
I'd love to see more different opinions on this. For instance, the one I thought looked more realistic was the one to the right. Although I'm aware that it lacks a proper blending and it'd need a good work on foothills to make it look less like "popping out of nowhere".

Anyways, do you guys think the technique is worth exploring? I mean, can you potentially see a good mountain range coming out of those examples? If so, which looks more promising?

Steel General
12-02-2009, 06:04 AM
I think if you took the left & right most of the 'caterpillar' styles and found a "happy medium" between them it would look pretty good.

Personally I liked your original mountains more...