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View Full Version : [Award Winner] Making Not so Random Coastlines in GIMP - alternative method



RobA
09-17-2007, 02:48 PM
I just posted this tutorial on making coastlines based on pre-defined shapes (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?p=7096).

Two things I don't like are the slight blurriness in the coastline, and the inability to play with the effective water-level (like you can do with the threshold method).

SO to this end, I came up with a variation on the threshold level as an alternative to my other not-so random coastline tutorial, this time with clever use of multiplying levels, rather than differencing levels.

Here is the "Not So Random Coastline Tutorial - alternative method"

NOTE: There is a description by Juggernaut1981 on creating multiple islands an still maintaining detail (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?p=96746) that gets inserted after step 7. Jump over there for the details!

RPMiller
09-17-2007, 03:05 PM
You do realize that if you keep this up, I'm going to be in rep debt to you don't you? ;)

Good stuff! I have to spread some rep around before hitting you again, but I will. Perhaps someone else can rep you for me? ;)

RobA
09-17-2007, 03:06 PM
One more addition...

If you pick the "Turbulent" option in the cloud noise, this will have the effect of chopping up the shape much more. I used that to create an Atoll (attached) that shows the original white shape (outlined in yellow) and the resultant random coastline.

-Rob A>

ravells
09-17-2007, 06:48 PM
Rob this is brilliant! The ability to have the coastlines made for you while you do the general shapes is invaluable. It's a like having a very controlled fractallisation command.

Rep? You can have my eye teeth!

Ravs

RobA
09-18-2007, 09:22 AM
:blush: Gee Thanks! I just hope people find the techniques useful. I'd like to see what others end up doing with it!

-Rob A>

(p.s. what...no blush smiley?)

pyrandon
09-18-2007, 01:44 PM
Wow--amazing. And although written for GIMP, I can so yoink this for Phosotshop as well. Great great great. Repped!

ravells
09-27-2007, 11:03 AM
I tried this tutorial using Paintshop Pro last night and it worked like a charm. I'm going to try it again, but using different fills apart from noise to see if anything useful turns up. Thanks for the tut, Rob - very handy indeed.

Ravs

RobA
09-27-2007, 02:34 PM
Good to see it can be applied in other software. (I used PSP back at version 4, but that was a while ago :) )

One other bit is to play with the curves dialog before blending the images. That will let you do things like the attached - and island ringed by a reef. (FYI - I just started with a blurry blob but used the curves adjustment to make the "ring" appear. I can grab the curves dialog if anyone wants, to show what I mean...)

-Rob A>

RPMiller
09-27-2007, 04:32 PM
This is just rockin'!!

pyrandon
09-27-2007, 07:59 PM
(FYI - I just started with a blurry blob but used the curves adjustment to make the "ring" appear. I can grab the curves dialog if anyone wants, to show what I mean...)

Would you mind? That would be really helpful.

RobA
09-28-2007, 10:31 AM
Sure - (and a picture or two being worth 1000 words)

Here I started with a straight gradient, then used the curves dialog to make it into a bunch of concentric rings. This just maps the input levels to the output levels. The height on the curved line represents output intensity. (I am working here on the "value" channel, which just means brightness.) I just followed the original steps to get the final result...

-Rob A>

Faide
10-03-2007, 12:49 PM
For the total GIMP newbie (Like me) I've split this process up more clearly.

When I first looked at RobA's post I couldn't figure out most of the techniques, so I wrote this as I went along.
I can recomend the GIMP Help Index files as they helped me to do this from RobA's descriptions.

So here we go.

Open new file
Add a layer and colour it black (Ignore the background layer)
Use the lassoo (sp?) (and shift key for more than one) to define some blobs
Bucket fill white.
Unselect everything
Filters>Blur>Gaussian Blur
Set radii to 100ish and apply

Open a new layer below this one (Helps to make the top layer invisable)
Filter>Render>Clouds>Solid Noise (Crank the X and Y values to max)

Tools>Colour Tools>Levels
Slide the grey arrow in the centre to the left a little (about 1.9) and let go. The dark areas will become greyer.

Make the white blobs layer visable again and make it the active layer.
In the layers dialog box is a mode option with a drop down menu, click on the multiply option.
This should put the noise where the white bits were.
Then merge the layers together. (Layer>Merge Down)

Tools>Colour Tools>Threshold
Fiddling with the black and white arrows adjusts the outlines of the shapes.
Then press OK

Filters>Edge Detect>Edge
Press OK in the pop up box
This gives you a white outline on black background.

Layers>Colours>Invert

This should give you a black outline on a white background.

I hope this helps, I learned loads doing it.

Karl

RobA
10-04-2007, 12:36 PM
I made a quick video tutorial and uploaded it to youtube, but I think the quality is too poor to be really useful (between the resolution decrease and the compression)....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlYRWvpj1GE

It is just as fast to do something like this as using screen grabs (and easier than typing up a tutorial)

Thoughts?

-Rob A>

Faide
10-04-2007, 03:02 PM
RobA

That's brilliant!

Despite not being able to see exact details it's still incredibly helpful.

Did it take long to make?


Karl

RobA
10-04-2007, 04:52 PM
Since I didn't edit the video, it didn't take that long. Just as long as typing in the text, and a couple of play-throughs to make sure the titles lined up to the actions.

-Rob A>

pyrandon
10-04-2007, 06:07 PM
OMG! Rob, that is incredible!!! Seriously, that didn't take long to make?? Wow--intensely helpful, clear, and all with a beat you could dance to! Thanks!

ravells
10-04-2007, 07:18 PM
Excellent! I'm sure there are file sharing sites which give you more bandwidth if you want more definition.

Airith
10-04-2007, 08:38 PM
agreed great vid, doing it right now as well xD

finished, way better than the plain text ones :)

RobA
10-05-2007, 01:51 PM
I made a quick video tutorial and uploaded it to youtube, but I think the quality is too poor to be really useful (between the resolution decrease and the compression)....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlYRWvpj1GE

It is just as fast to do something like this as using screen grabs (and easier than typing up a tutorial)

Thoughts?

-Rob A>

OK - I have gone and remixed the video and only downsized it to 800x600 now (Original was 1024x768, guess I should watch that if I do it again...) as much of the noise and compression was due to Microsoft MovieMaker.

I also looked an an incredible number of "free" file hosting sites and video hosting sites. Revver (which seemed the most promising, and their video quality is quite good) doesn't want to allow uploads today. The rest of the video sharing sites either shrink my video, or compress it so badly that it is as bad as youtube.

As RAH said, TANSTAAFL! and that is especially true for file hosting sites. Either they limit the download size, delay for minutes, try to infect you with spyware, or require you to install some suspicious software to use them :)

Since I have my own server at home, I decided to make the full video available there. It is set up so it is not a hot-link, you will have to visit this downloader page to get the file. This lets me track the number of downloads, and make sure my usage doesn't go through the roof :)

Anyway - you can find it here:
http://ffaat.pointclark.net/blog/index.php?serendipity[subpage]=downloads&thiscat=15&file=19

And I apologize in advance for the possibly slow response of both the site and the download rate, as it only allows one downloader at a time :(

-Rob A>

RobA
10-06-2007, 01:30 PM
And I finally got it up at Revver. Still downsized, but much clear than YouTube:

http://one.revver.com/watch/423497/flv

-Rob A>

Darth_Gimp
11-29-2007, 04:48 AM
I've gotten great results with this tutorial. But as a noob to map creation, what would you use this for? Would it then serve as a basis for your other tutorial "Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map"? Or are their other uses for this?

RobA
11-29-2007, 10:26 AM
I am poor at spending the effort to draw little squiggles to make a nice looking coastline, so this was a way to make the program do the work for me :)

It is basically a basemap for anything you want - an artistic map, a diagram, whatever!

I did use a variation of the technique in the artistic map tutorial. I also used it to answer a request for blank maps that someone had asked.

-Rob A>

aeronox
12-07-2007, 11:40 PM
I can't get this working at all :(

EDIT: nevermind, it's just tricky getting it the first time

RobA
12-08-2007, 10:07 AM
aeronox -

If you questions with specific steps, or feel some sections need clarification, please post them (or pm them). I am trying to take any feedback before I compile the thing into a single file. This will have a bit more detail, have the formatting cleaned up, and (hopefully) have a few more examples of different styles/options at the different steps.

-Rob A>

aeronox
12-08-2007, 09:15 PM
The Threshold tool in Photoshop is under Image -> Adjustments (down the bottom)

The Render -> Clouds filter in Photoshop is too large, so I used GIMP to make one (I selected "Tileable" and filled it as a pattern, because I needed smaller details in a larger-res map)


A nice use for this method - increasing detail (the opposite of generalisation). So you have a low-res large-scale map, you can first apply the "Not-so-random" effect at that scale, then resize the image, blur a bit, and repeat. It can give you increasing levels of detail, much like the way real cartography works. It's not perfect, but it's close enough.

RobA
12-10-2007, 11:45 AM
A nice use for this method - increasing detail (the opposite of generalisation). So you have a low-res large-scale map, you can first apply the "Not-so-random" effect at that scale, then resize the image, blur a bit, and repeat. It can give you increasing levels of detail, much like the way real cartography works. It's not perfect, but it's close enough.

Surprisingly, that is something I have been using this technique for, without mentioning it here! I find keeping the blur small and choosing the turbulent option in the gimp render clouds help maximize the randomization while keeping the overall shape reasonable accurate.

-Rob A>

OneSeventeen
12-13-2007, 06:02 PM
First post here.

I tried to work this out in Photoshop and had no luck. In general, I would get too-smooth edges on my shape. Is this because the clouds aren't... rough enough (as you can't change them in PS)? I love this idea because of the success I've had with using clouds for general randomness. Suggestions?


117

RPMiller
12-13-2007, 08:06 PM
Welcome to the Guild 117! Always glad to see new members. I believe you hit on the primary cause of your frustration. I'm trying to figure out a possible solution for the problem, but I'm not sure how soon that will be.

aeronox
12-13-2007, 11:18 PM
I downloaded GIMP solely to create the noise pattern.

Open GIMP
Make a blank image something like 800x600
Filter -> Cloud/noise it at maximum
save it
open it in Photoshop (the copy/paste seems to not work between the two programs)
go to Edit -> Define Pattern...
go back to your map
set your blurred-map-shape layer to "Multiply"
create a new layer underneath it
now use the bucket, set to "Pattern", and fill. (i actually applied it as a Layer Style, so that I could adjust the pattern scale)
Ctrl+U to adjust the lightness, bringing it up so that the darkest grey is around 25%.
merge the two layers
go to Edit->Adjustments->Threshold

it takes some trial-and-error, with the amount of blurr to your map-shape, the scale of the clouds, lightness of the clouds, and the threshold slider. just give it a few goes.

RobA
12-14-2007, 09:54 AM
Wow Aeronox - Gimp is pretty heavy just to generate noise :)

Have you tried any third party plugins? I quickly found one called Clouds 2.2 (http://mura.hey.to/) half way down this page. It is an .8bf filter (works fine using the pspi plugin in Gimp) that has a few nice presets for clouds, and can generate very fine cloud turbulence.

-Rob A>

mmmmmpig
12-17-2007, 03:24 PM
everything here can work in PS as well. Thanks for the method!

OneSeventeen
12-17-2007, 06:24 PM
Care to elaborate, m5pig? I can't get interesting coast-lines using just Photoshop. I have done the texture-in-GIMP-then-import-to-PS thing, but that's cumbersome. I may post my results later, if I think of it and have time.


117

mmmmmpig
12-17-2007, 10:43 PM
The process I used is basically the same.

Create white object on black background
Gaussian Blur
Create new layer of black
Filter-> Render-> Clouds on the solid black layer
De-saturated the clouds (Levels, Curves, Variations, however)
Set the original Black and White image to Multiply
Flattened and Thresholded
Filer -> Stylize -> Find Edges

Here is my result

http://img518.imageshack.us/img518/8368/shapesms8.th.jpg (http://img518.imageshack.us/my.php?image=shapesms8.jpg)
http://img214.imageshack.us/img214/6852/cloudop2.th.jpg (http://img214.imageshack.us/my.php?image=cloudop2.jpg)
http://img214.imageshack.us/img214/444/mergene7.th.jpg (http://img214.imageshack.us/my.php?image=mergene7.jpg)
http://img214.imageshack.us/img214/8868/thresholdwy4.th.jpg (http://img214.imageshack.us/my.php?image=thresholdwy4.jpg)

Now we will see if I can post multiple images...

Woo Hoo the post worked!

OneSeventeen
12-17-2007, 11:19 PM
Thanks for posting, m5pig. I think I may have figured out what my big problem was: resolution. I was working on a 10x7 inch piece with 100 pixels per inch.

When i cranked the size up to 2550px x 2550px I had much better results. What kind of resolutions and sizes do people work at? Specifically, I'm aiming at printing to an 8.5x10 sheet of paper and not taking up the whole thing (just so I don't have to muck with printer margins, etc.)


117

mmmmmpig
12-18-2007, 12:07 AM
I very rarely work at less than 300 dpi for anything I am doing, whether it be maps or digital painting. When I go to print or post on the web, that is when I down-sample. Just an FYI, to minimize downsampling artifacts, only resample at most by half at a time. If you have a 600 dpi image and you want to get it to 96 dpi, start by resampling to 300 dpi, then to 150 dpi, and finally to 96 dpi.

su_liam
12-18-2007, 04:04 AM
I may have said this somewhere already. If so, excuse me, please.

I've made some interesting noise with good ridges and channels by running Filters>Render>Clouds then Filters>Render>Difference Clouds a few times. I used to hate the look of Difference Clouds, but it has grown on me. I suspect the ridgier noise would produce more peninsulas and fjords and suchlike. I like fjords. Call me Slartibartfast. Mostly I use third party noise generators, anyway. One I like is planet by Torben &Aelig;gidius Mogensen. To get heightfields suitable for import into PS, I created a special greyscale color scheme. There's also some thing in Java I mentioned in another thread.

DarkOne
03-28-2008, 02:12 PM
RobA, I trying to follow your GIMP tutorial but failing miserable. What version of GIMP are you using and which noise, blur, etc filters are you using?

From all your examples this is an excellent method for creating coastlines.

EDIT
I found your first how to, which gives all the correct filter to use.

Only problem I have is when you add a mask to the layer I don't get the last option of selecting a channel, so I can select the Land mask. What could be the error? This is at the stage of creating sea contours. Which is also applicable to this how to using another method of multiple instead of overlay.

RobA
03-28-2008, 03:33 PM
RobA, I trying to follow your GIMP tutorial but failing miserable. What version of GIMP are you using and which noise, blur, etc filters are you using?

From all your examples this is an excellent method for creating coastlines.

EDIT
I found your first how to, which gives all the correct filter to use.

Only problem I have is when you add a mask to the layer I don't get the last option of selecting a channel, so I can select the Land mask. What could be the error? This is at the stage of creating sea contours. Which is also applicable to this how to using another method of multiple instead of overlay.

Are you in the right topic? I don't recall setting up channels in this technique.... (did you watch the video (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showpost.php?p=7755&postcount=20)?)

By "failing miserably", can you give more information/post a result? The main problem I have seen is blurring too little compared to the entire image size. For example, if you are starting with an image of 3000x3000, a 100 px blur won't provide much of a random coast, it will look pretty much like the original hand picked blob...

-Rob A>

DarkOne
03-29-2008, 01:48 AM
Your first "How to" did solved my failing miserable. I also using 1 version older GIMP that you that is probably why I missing the option to choose Channel on the Add Layer Mask.

Xeviat
04-27-2008, 08:29 PM
The process I used is basically the same.

Create white object on black background
Gaussian Blur
Create new layer of black
Filter-> Render-> Clouds on the solid black layer
De-saturated the clouds (Levels, Curves, Variations, however)
Set the original Black and White image to Multiply
Flattened and Thresholded
Filer -> Stylize -> Find Edges

I'm having trouble with the "Set the original black and white image to multiply" step. Is that through the blur tool or the blur filter? Thanks.

PS: I downloaded the tutorial video, but all I'm getting is audio.

Midgardsormr
04-27-2008, 09:22 PM
That's a blend mode, accessible from the layers window. The layer you want to change needs to be above the layer you are blending it with. Then click the drop-down box that currently says "Normal" and change it to "multiply." You should see the clouds layer reappear with the black areas of your original shape superimposed on it.

Honestly, I haven't been able to get this technique to work in Photoshop, either, but this is the first I've seen m5pig's translation.

For the sake of further reading, here's a tutorial about the different blend modes and what exactly each one does: http://www.cgtextures.com/content.php?action=tutorial&name=blendmodes

Xeviat
04-28-2008, 04:09 AM
I just noticed that the ocean ripple distortion can create some interesting designs. If you start with black shape and use this method to create a coastline, you can hit the black shape with an ocean ripple filter before outlining it. I used it to make my islands more random, and it creates "wetlands" style coastlines with very ill defined coasts.

RobA
04-28-2008, 11:01 AM
I describe a similar technique here to make a coatal water edge (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showpost.php?p=9413&postcount=8)...

-Rob A>

Azurecrusader
08-06-2008, 07:34 PM
I don't know if anyone is still having trouble with this in Photoshop but I have had some good results with the following:

1. Create a new layer.
1a. Filter - Render - Clouds
1b. Filter - Render - Difference Clouds (do this a few times until you get something with a large variety of white and black)
1c. Image - Adjustments - Levels and move the black output levels to about 75-90 on the lower slider.

2. Create a new layer above the first.
2a. Fill the layer with Black.
2b. Use the lasso tool, or the pencil tool or anything else to create some shapes and fill them with white.
2c. Filter - Blur - Gaussian Blur, the amount will depend on your resolution, at 300px/inch I did about 40.

3. Create a new fill or adjustment layer (the little half black/half white circle at the bottom of the layers palette) of the Threshold type above all other layers.
3a. Adjust the threshold until you get what you want.

This method has given me similar results to what Rob has produced in Gimp.

...and hi :)

DoubleA
08-11-2009, 07:08 PM
Brilliant!

I kept thinking that there ought to be an easier way to generate up a random coastline than just drawing out a coastline by hand and here it is. It took two tries to get something almost exactly what I was looking for.

I am using PSE2.0(!) and, after I found all the locations of the functions, I was able to follow the tutorial pretty much exactly. There are a few functions here and there that aren't replicated but there might be a way around them.

Thanks for taking the time!

ravells
08-11-2009, 07:25 PM
I keep telling RobA that he deserves Medals for this tutorial (I use this method pretty much all the time now)...but he's too modest to accept them!

RobA
08-11-2009, 11:54 PM
:blush:

-Rob A>

absinthesparrow
08-28-2009, 03:34 AM
Wow, this tutorial is incredible. I've always drawn maps by hand (and not well; it's sort of a side-hobby to writing), but I tried my current continental layout with this technique and it came out beautifully. Makes me wish I hadn't spent all that time coloring my hand-drawn map!

Steel General
08-28-2009, 10:31 AM
Makes me wish I hadn't spent all that time coloring my hand-drawn map!

Hand-drawn maps can be pretty darn awesome!

skolapper
09-04-2009, 07:56 PM
Brilliant

Thanks Bulefooted, stunning image, and the tutorial explained a load of things Ive been wanting to ask for a while.

Yay, its gonna be fun trying this out.

I cant beleive your not a pro.
Having quickly checked out your other stuff....
I still cant beleive it

Thanks.

Erdan
11-12-2009, 03:15 PM
Wow.
Thanks to RobA for all these great tutorials.

I've messed around with them a bit, this sand bank is what I got.

Perhaps anyone can comment on this?

Meridok
01-01-2010, 02:46 PM
Wow! This just made me very happy. ^^ I've been wanting to do something about the coastline on my continental map for a while now, and using the steps right at the beginning of this thread, I made one (well, several) that I really like. ... Now I just need to figure out how to get the fjords into one certain part of the map, without making it look pathetic. xP I think I'll have to hand-draw those in though. Or snatch them from Norway somehow...

And thanks + rep to Faide, who summarized the steps for GIMP newbs on page 2. ^_^

Legiazus
05-23-2010, 02:00 PM
This is purely genius. As a newbie, this is just great.

I however, have a small question. The effect seem to be less effective at higher pixel maps. I am currently working on a rather large on for my entire campaign world ( it is 3200x2600 ) and after the process, the coastlines just doesn't seem as "roughed up" as when I'm working on smaller maps. Is there any way to do something about the? Thanks in advance. And once again thanks for an awesome tutorial.

RobA
05-23-2010, 08:24 PM
This is purely genius. As a newbie, this is just great.

I however, have a small question. The effect seem to be less effective at higher pixel maps. I am currently working on a rather large on for my entire campaign world ( it is 3200x2600 ) and after the process, the coastlines just doesn't seem as "roughed up" as when I'm working on smaller maps. Is there any way to do something about the? Thanks in advance. And once again thanks for an awesome tutorial.

It is the noise scale. The default noise filter in gimp is proportionate to the page size, so you are limited...

I have previously recommended the felimage noise plugin (http://fimg-gmplugins.sourceforge.net/) as it has better control and types of noise and will work just as well on a smaller mas as a larger map.

-Rob A>

Also, Old Guy's tutorial (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?9056) is another great method with different but also excellent results.

-Rob A>

Legiazus
05-24-2010, 07:19 AM
Thanks, been looking at Old Guy's tutorial now. A quick newbie question though - how do I install plugins for Gimp?

Kazou
01-14-2012, 03:48 PM
Whoa! This one actually worked! (Others are way too hard for me to follow as a beginner) I'm so glad now that I found this place!

pavelvon
06-26-2012, 07:17 PM
Exactly this was the best starting point for me as a newbie to cartography :). After few weeks of trying to find a good starting tutor ... I found this.
I have a concept and using this tutor I was able do this in 1,5 hour. Understandable, usefull and whole tutor is in a single image. Thanks!

Just consider yourself:
46033
and the workouts:
46034

sim97fan3
08-17-2012, 12:31 AM
Can someone explain step 5? And step 7? I'm still a rookie with GIMP.