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View Full Version : [Award Winner] Creating Realistic Coastlines



OldGuy
01-29-2010, 04:09 AM
I developed my own method of creating realistic coastlines. I'm very pleased with how it turned out:

Old Guy Gaming - Creating Realistic Coastlines (http://oldguygaming.com/adding-realistic-coastlines-to-a-map)

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I'm ready to begin work on the actual map. My sketch shows the basic shape and dimensions that I want but the outline is too smooth. I wanted to rough it up to make it look more realistic. I looked through various tutorials but everything I tried distorted the original outline more than I wanted. Probably the result of my being new at this and not following the tutorials properly.

I kept at it though until I hit upon a process that I'm pretty happy with. This was done in Adobe Photoshop.

I started with my island in white and the surrounding area in black as shown in the first image.

* Filter | Noise | Add Noise (gaussian, monochromatic, set to 100).
* Filter | Blur |Gaussian Blur (set to 2).
* Image | Adjustments | Threshold (adjust to taste). *
* Select Magic Wand Tool, click in black surrounding area. (contiguous checked)
* Shift-Ctrl-I to invert the selection
* Fill with White. (contiguous unchecked)

That's all there is to it. Now I have the beginnings of my very first Photoshop map.

* -- Move the slider to the right. You want to eat away at your landmass. Don't worry about how the land looks at this step. We will fill it back in. We just want to roughen the edges. By creating "holes" everywhere, we are trying to let the outside creep in a little bit. If there are too many holes, the outside will never hit anything to stop it. You want just enough holes to let it creep in a little but then run into a boundary. You may have to undo and try different amounts a few times to get the effect you want. Once you've done it once, it will be much easier to do than it is to explain. : )

EDIT: There is an updated version of this tutorial at Old Guy Gaming (http://oldguygaming.com/realistic-coastlines-revisited).

Ascension
01-29-2010, 07:58 AM
I'll have to try that.

Djekspek
01-29-2010, 03:00 PM
owh thats a real good trick! This will be a time-saver for sure! thanks for posting

ravells
01-29-2010, 04:03 PM
Now that is really clever....got to give it a go. Any chance you can cross post the method here rather than just a link? It's just that if you decide tomorrow to go to the Far East and collect butterflies, we'll have your method recorded here for prosterity.

cheers

Ravs

OldGuy
01-29-2010, 05:31 PM
Any chance you can cross post the method here rather than just a link? It's just that if you decide tomorrow to go to the Far East and collect butterflies, we'll have your method recorded here for prosterity.

I don't expect to be doing any more butterfly collecting. :) But I edited my post so it has the info and not just the link now. (I was too lazy to figure out how to use image uploads with lightbox but I got it sorted now)

waldronate
01-29-2010, 05:47 PM
Nice work. Do the same sort of thing for mountain outlines and apply a shapeburst to it and you'll probably get a fairly plausible result.

OldGuy
01-29-2010, 11:51 PM
Nice work. Do the same sort of thing for mountain outlines and apply a shapeburst to it and you'll probably get a fairly plausible result.

Thank you thank you thank you for teaching me how to use shapeburst! That is amazing.

I took your suggestion and continued the same technique I used for the coast on other elements. This is pretty rough but it makes a good proof of concept and gives me a starting point.
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ravells
01-30-2010, 05:01 AM
Hmm I can't seem to get it to work properly...what were the dimensions of the image you were using to start with? I think it may be a question of scaling the noise correctly relative to the image size

Cheers

Ravs

OldGuy
01-30-2010, 04:17 PM
Hmm I can't seem to get it to work properly...what were the dimensions of the image you were using to start with? I think it may be a question of scaling the noise correctly relative to the image size

Cheers

Ravs

That is exactly it. My first drawing was 1440 x 830 @ 72 dpi (designed to be a wallpaper for my notebook). Last night I was testing to see how PS handled a big image as part of determining how big I want to make my continent map. I used 7200 x 7200 (24" x 24" @ 300 dpi) and made eight layers with clouds rendered on them. PS handled this very well. At 150 mb per layer that's a 1.2 gb drawing!

I then tried creating a sample map using the technique described above. The noise was completely lost at that scale. I spent half an hour with other filters trying to create larger noise "chunks" but wasn't very successful. Mosaic seems the most promising so far but I haven't found anything that I would call a success at that resolution yet.

EDIT: Maybe I'm slow and this is what you were hinting at, but it just occurred to me to create another drawing at a smaller res, apply noise, rescale the noise drawing to match your map drawing and then copy and paste the noise drawing into your map drawing.

ravells
01-30-2010, 04:59 PM
Ahh that would explain it then...I was using a 1,000 x 1,000 ish drawing....I'll try it on the same resolution you used for your wall paper.

RobA
02-03-2010, 11:59 PM
Works well in Gimp, too! Very nice technique. Duly repped!

Translated to gimp steps I used were:
* Filter | Noise | HSV Noise (Holdness 1, Hue 0, Sat 0, Value 255).
+ Edit | Fade (Darken Only)
* Filter | Blur |Gaussian Blur (2 or adjust to taste). *(1 will create very fine distressing and the larger the blur, the larger the effect)
* Colours | Threshold (adjust to taste). *(I found 160 is a good start, up to 185 for a lacier coastline)
* Fuzzy Select Tool (Threshold 0), click in black surrounding area.
* Ctrl-I to invert the selection
* Fill with White.

-Rob A>

ravells
02-04-2010, 04:22 AM
Hurray I got it to work....I was being dumb (not unusual for me) .... the extra explanation about the threshold slider made it all make sense. I took the liberty to amend your tut to just add that contigous should be checked on the selection and unchecked on the fill....hope you don't mind as that threw me for a bit.

What a super tutorial. It's the fastest, simplest coastline method I've seen yet and you don't get the 'lakes at the edge of the coastline' effect.

I've rated this tutorial a straight 5 and hope that others do the same so that it gets the award it so richly deserves.

I've added this tutorial to the quickstart mapping guide.

OldGuy
02-27-2010, 07:32 PM
I've been away for awhile. Thanks for the kind words. I'm so glad someone found it useful.

Meridok
02-27-2010, 08:17 PM
Wow. I really love this tut. Huge thanks to OldGuy for posting it, and kudos to RobA as well, for translating it into GIMP-speak for us GIMP-newbs (well, not really newb, but not pro either...). I love what this has done to the coastline of my continent-map project. I began with a rough hand-drawn sketch on paper, that grew itself, and then once it was put onto the computer, it was transformed into something I was pretty impressed with via a sort-of version of RobA's 'creating coastlines' tut. But then what this did... wow. It was really easy to follow, and easy to play around with. I ended up selecting various regions of the map to give slightly different coastlines (the north being much more glaciated at one point, and given to fjords, and then going more minimal down south), and then even did a smaller, finer noise/modification on top of the original northern fjord-work to give the "fjords" themselves a more realistic, detailed look.

Love, love, love. Have some rep! And a rating.

OldGuy
02-28-2010, 01:48 AM
Thanks : )

jelmore
03-08-2010, 01:17 PM
This is very good information. :)

The tip about starting with a smaller image to get more bang out of adding the noise and then scaling up worked very well for me.

jelmore
03-09-2010, 05:30 PM
And, because I can't leave well enough alone, I turned this tutorial into a PDF and added some screenshots for the interim steps and dialog boxes. (I like having these handy when I'm between WiFi hotspots...) All credit for the original process belongs to OldGuy.

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OldGuy
03-10-2010, 04:07 PM
Thanks for making the pdf. I was too lazy to create the step by step screenshots but I think they help explain the process. One change though. Instead of reducing the image resolution, adding the noise, and then increasing the resolution back (which could lose some detail), You might try creating a second drawing at the reduced resolution, applying noise to that, increasing the resolution and then cutting and pasting that layer from the second drawing into the first. That should accomplish the same effect without sacrificing any detail in the original.

I haven't tried this in Gimp but it should port over. Also, I believe Gimp has the ability to scale the noise directly.

Glad you like the technique. Thanks again for the pdf!

StillCypher
03-13-2010, 01:29 PM
Excellent and simple way to make awesome coastlines! Thanks!

ravells
03-13-2010, 02:59 PM
Don't forget to rate the tutorial so it can get the award it so richly deserves! ten 5 star ratings (I think) is what is needed.

PS. good to see you still about Still Cypher (I need to incorporate your amendments into the City Design tutorial)....haven't forgotten!

OldGuy
03-14-2010, 10:20 PM
Don't forget to rate the tutorial so it can get the award it so richly deserves! ten 5 star ratings (I think) is what is needed.

Here here... I second that! <grin>

Map Novice
04-21-2010, 01:54 PM
Very cool technique! I've been trying to figure out how to do that. Everything else I've tried ate away at the original too much.

RobA
05-10-2010, 11:04 AM
Congrats OldGuy!

The people have spoken, the member have rated, and this is now an award winning tutorial!

-Rob A>

OldGuy
05-10-2010, 08:32 PM
Congrats OldGuy!

The people have spoken, the member have rated, and this is now an award winning tutorial!

-Rob A>

Woo Hoo !!! :) :) :)

Saule
05-14-2010, 12:35 PM
Very usefull! Thanks for making this.

Legiazus
05-24-2010, 06:18 AM
This looks great. And I'd really like to get it to work. I use Gimp, but there are several functions I can't seem to get to work, most notably the Add Noise function as you have described it. Is there any way to do this using Gimp?

Thanks in advance and grats on the award :)

RobA
05-24-2010, 04:21 PM
This looks great. And I'd really like to get it to work. I use Gimp, but there are several functions I can't seem to get to work, most notably the Add Noise function as you have described it. Is there any way to do this using Gimp?

Thanks in advance and grats on the award :)

See Post 11 top of page 2 by that RobA guy. Supposedly he used Gimp, too.

-Rob A>

Legiazus
05-25-2010, 01:43 AM
Oh, didn't notice that before. Thanks!

Jkaen
05-27-2010, 09:29 AM
Inspired by this (and I admit unable to get it to work in GIMP due to my limited knowledge), I stumbled upon a similar and even simpler approach that works ok for me:

Filter - Noise - Spread (50)
Filter - Blur - Gausian Blur (5)
Colours -Threshold

RobA
05-27-2010, 10:43 AM
Inspired by this (and I admit unable to get it to work in GIMP due to my limited knowledge), I stumbled upon a similar and even simpler approach that works ok for me:

Filter - Noise - Spread (50)
Filter - Blur - Gausian Blur (5)
Colours -Threshold

I don't think PS has a spread filter... so this might be gimp specific.

-Rob A>

Steel General
05-27-2010, 04:30 PM
I don't think PS has a spread filter... so this might be gimp specific.

-Rob A>

There isn't in my CS3 Ver. 10 - but someone may have built a custom filter to duplicate whatever it does.

ravells
05-28-2010, 07:19 AM
What does the spread filter do?

RobA
05-28-2010, 09:32 AM
What does the spread filter do?

It randomly moves individual pixels based on a normal distribution. Each pixel is preserved, just moved.

-Rob A>

Ascension
05-28-2010, 06:02 PM
That looks like the Brush Strokes - Spatter filter in PS.

Steel General
05-29-2010, 06:39 AM
That looks like the Brush Strokes - Spatter filter in PS.

Didn't even think about that...

RobA
05-29-2010, 09:39 AM
That looks like the Brush Strokes - Spatter filter in PS.

Looks similar (from a quick google search). Spatter looks clumpier, though that could be a result of the smoothness setting.

-Rob A>

Sinastir
06-03-2010, 10:16 PM
Thanks for the tutorial! I am new to this all (including PS) and I found this easy and very helpful!

kael.stormseeker
07-13-2010, 11:04 AM
Itīs a really nice manouver you teach us! (or me only =p)

Thanks for the help!!!!

kael.stormseeker
07-13-2010, 11:21 AM
I hope you guys donīt make fun of me, i know i am a newbie =)))

Is this the idea right?
(Completely Random!)

http://img713.imageshack.us/img713/9969/idea.jpg

Gallifreyan
07-20-2010, 01:14 AM
Thanks OldGuy for this fantastic tutorial, it helped me a LOT. And thanks RobA for adapting this tut to GIMP.

You can see my WIP thread over here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?11211-Admiria-My-First-quot-Real-quot-Mapping-Endeavor).

asdel
08-26-2010, 10:21 PM
Works well in Gimp, too! Very nice technique. Duly repped!

Translated to gimp steps I used were:
* Filter | Noise | HSV Noise (Holdness 1, Hue 0, Sat 0, Value 255).
+ Edit | Fade (Darken Only)
* Filter | Blur |Gaussian Blur (2 or adjust to taste). *(1 will create very fine distressing and the larger the blur, the larger the effect)
* Colours | Threshold (adjust to taste). *(I found 160 is a good start, up to 185 for a lacier coastline)
* Fuzzy Select Tool (Threshold 0), click in black surrounding area.
* Ctrl-I to invert the selection
* Fill with White.

-Rob A>

Rob A -

This is a simpler version.

* Edit | Noise | Pick (50/50)
* Edit | Blur | Gaussian (2 or so)
* Threshhold (128, but play with this a lot.)

this will add and remove from the coast line, rather than simply add to it. It maybe works better on simple shapes.

Sharpe
11-04-2010, 11:40 AM
Works well in Gimp, too! Very nice technique. Duly repped!

Translated to gimp steps I used were:
* Filter | Noise | HSV Noise (Holdness 1, Hue 0, Sat 0, Value 255).
+ Edit | Fade (Darken Only)
* Filter | Blur |Gaussian Blur (2 or adjust to taste). *(1 will create very fine distressing and the larger the blur, the larger the effect)
* Colours | Threshold (adjust to taste). *(I found 160 is a good start, up to 185 for a lacier coastline)
* Fuzzy Select Tool (Threshold 0), click in black surrounding area.
* Ctrl-I to invert the selection
* Fill with White.

-Rob A>

Great tut, OldGuy! Thanks for taking the time to write this! It works amazingly well. How do you guys figure this stuff out?! XD

And, thanks, RobA, for converting it to GIMP!

I might have went a little wild. XD

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Midgardsormr
11-06-2010, 11:14 AM
Ok, I know I spent too much time playing video games when I was a kid, but is that the map from Dragon Warrior?

Sharpe
11-07-2010, 12:52 AM
lol, yeah.

Here's an old version that I've re-done several times since then:


I tried again to faithfully recreate the 1986 Dragon Warrior 1 map and think I've gotten somewhere this time.

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This is with the original map at 10% opacity so you can see just how surprisingly close it is to the original (http://www.woodus.com/den/gallery/graphics/dw1nes/maps_overworld/dw1-over2.gif):
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Time to start in on the mountains... I'll place them reminiscent of the Nintendo map, without sacrificing too much realism.

Vandy
03-16-2011, 10:04 AM
Hello, All.

I've linked the "Creating Realistic Coastlines" tutorial by OldGuy and PDFized by jetmore.

The link can be found in the Tutorials in PDF Format (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?4987-Tutorials-in-PDF-Format) thread on Page 1 and in the "Photoshop-Related Tutorials" section of Post 2.

Enjoy.

Regards,

Vandy

d4saken1
03-28-2011, 10:03 PM
Here is what I did with your tutorial and Chucks Photoshop Mapping Tutorial (Just using difference clouds and thresh hold) On the making a realistic coastline, I kept my white land mass layer on top and the black below and then:

* Filter | Noise | Add Noise (gaussian, monochromatic, set to 100).
* Filter | Blur |Gaussian Blur (set to 2).
* Merge the layer onto the black layer
* Select Magic Wand Tool, click in the black it will give a slight buffer around the area you intend for your land mass.

Then I inverted and then inverse and used a brush to paint in the inverse selection with white.

And that comes out to the picture below.

http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b226/d4saken1/map.jpg

Its larger just had to use photobucket which resized it.

Just thought id share this info i stumbled on while using this tutorial.

Thesslian
01-18-2012, 01:23 AM
Thanks. This was extremely helpful. I was reading about a technique for doing this using cloud filters and I was dreading doing it like that. I set this up as an action in photoshop and now I can rapidly erode the landscape. Doing it a lot makes spiffy little islands along the mainland. Very cool.

Klaus van der Kroft
01-25-2012, 11:53 AM
Excellent!

I had been unsuccessfully experimenting to get something like this working on some scanned map sillouettes, and your guide worked wonders.

You have my thanks, good sir!

ahriman667
02-21-2012, 09:51 PM
Ditto.

I'm using this technique on a current project, and want to add my thanks.

cheers.

juampi_l
07-07-2012, 03:02 AM
That's works! It's magic! LOL

ccaccus
08-09-2012, 08:08 AM
Thanks for the tutorial. It worked wonders on my current project. =)

Kieserson
08-19-2012, 10:43 AM
Excellent idea - I love making maps more 'real' and this fills in coastline randomness nicely. Thanks muchos!

BookOwl
03-08-2013, 02:01 AM
Awesome tut! I used this a couple of years ago and then this year I came back to a couple of my older maps and for the life of me, I could not remember where I figured out how to make those awesome coastlines. But I finally found it again!

Riggs802
01-14-2014, 09:24 AM
Thank you for the tutorial, it worked perfectly. Exactly what I was looking for :)

fantasymapsbt
03-18-2014, 07:20 AM
Very nice. Play with the values of the filters are a funny way to make interesting landmass.

JefBT
03-19-2014, 09:33 AM
Great tutorial. I've found that using Filter > Distort > Glass can make a very similar effect.