View Full Version : [Award Winner] Quick-and-Dirty Buildings for a Town Map in PS

01-20-2010, 06:07 PM
I wanted to have a map ready for a game last week, and hadn't drawn in the buildings (mostly because it sounded kind of grueling). Instead, I whipped up a quick process that ended up looking real nice.

The image series is attached, and I'll describe each step here. I worked at 2400 px by 3000 px.

1. Work out your geography and draw some roads on a separate layer. Plenty of better mappers than me have tutorials on doing that part, so I'll skip the details on it.

2. Select your roads layer (CTRL + Click the layer image. Invert your selection (CTRL + I). Contract your selection by about 20 px. Anywhere you've got a dotted line will be like a thread through the middle of your buildings, so deselect anywhere you don't want.

3. Convert your selection to a Path. In the Path window at the bottom-right, there's a button for it.

4. Now you'll need a building-shaped brush. I used a 40 px square brush with the following settings (all the Controls are set to "off" with one noted exception):

Spacing: 200%
Size Jitter: 50%
Min. Size: 50%
Angle Jitter: 1% (Control: Direction)
Roundness Jitter: 25%
Scatter: 100%
Count Jitter: 100%

5. Select the roads layer again and expand the selection by 6 px, then Invert. Make a new layer, and stroke the path. I usually do two or three strokes, and you can experiment with using different brush shapes, sizes or settings.

6. Clean up any stray marks. You can leave it flat for a quick black-and-white map suitable for a game, or use some layer effects to prettify things.

7. As a final step, you can select your buildings layer and create more layers to add depth to the roofs. Just repeat the path-stroking step on new layers and change the layer effects. I added second stories and peaked roofs in the example.

01-20-2010, 06:08 PM
Images for the last two steps.

Steel General
01-20-2010, 06:08 PM
Looks like you're definitely on to something there.

01-20-2010, 09:10 PM
Exactly how I do mine in my city tut but with a different brush. This process looks like it might be the easiest and fastest way to do buildings and it can be adapted and changed a bit as well with what brush is used. Since great minds think alike I'll say very nice job :)

01-20-2010, 09:16 PM
I figured someone was bound to have thought of it first. :)

What I like is you can use this technique and refine the buildings for a really nice map, or just slap them down and print for game day. You can also add extraneous buildings by just drawing a few stray path lines manually.

Which brush do you use, by the way?

01-20-2010, 11:32 PM
I use a custom rectangle brush and a thatching brush for making thatch roofs. You can find those in the Elements section where I keep my brushes. And yeah the technique is easy...just push a button. Can't get easier than that.

03-01-2010, 11:03 AM
I missed this tut when it was posted. Very useful and elegant technique! Repped and rated.

03-18-2010, 08:20 AM
This looks like it would be quite useful in doing quick maps. I'm wondering, as a GIMP user (and a complete newbie to cartography) if anyone else who uses the GIMP has done something similar to this or has adapted this tutorial for us in the GIMP? If so that would be quite the useful tool. I've attempted to apply your technique to a map I'm currently working on for my online game, but there seems to be more fine-grained brush control available in PS than in the GIMP (at least as far as I can tell) with things like jitter, directional stroke and spacing/such...either that or I'm missing something. Any help with this would be much appreciated, and thank you for taking the time to put up this tutorial.


03-19-2010, 07:43 PM
The soon to be release 2.8 will provide similar control pf jitter, angle following, random sizing, etc.

In the mean time, you can make your own image hoses using my rotating brush script (see sig) that could produce similar results.

-Rob A>