View Full Version : Idle Hands = Devil's Playground?

Greason Wolfe
02-18-2010, 08:46 PM
As of late, I've been on a rather extended hiatus, obviously. With the holidays, family events and trying to move into a larger place, I haven't had much time for pursuing creative interests. I've not been completely idle, however.

This project, which I've been plugging away at an hour or so at a time over the last several weeks, comes as a result of my entry for the November "Destroyed Lands" Challenge. One of the things I really enjoyed about that challenge was the path of discovery it led me on in terms of contour development and erosion. As well, I believe that I mentioned I intended to work on a larger (read that as expanded) version of the area in question. I've also taken a significantly different approach to landform development with this map.

Rather than relying on randomly generated terrain, I've been tracing out the contours based on elevation data for the area in question. I wish I could say that 1a) it's been easy, or 2a) that there is a quick way to accomplish this particular task, but 1b) it hasn't and, 2b) so far as I know, there isn't. I suppose I could have tried to isolate a DEM for the area and worked that through Wilbur, but the isolation process didn't work out so well for me when I gave it a shot, at least not for that small of an area (roughly 15 by 15 miles). So I've had to trace the contours line by line without the benefit of a tablet. All in all, I'm happy with the progress given the fact that I'm having, at best, only a couple hours a week to work on the model. What has made it this map the most difficult, so far, is the resolution I'm working with.

Terragen, version 0.9.43, requires a square image of 129, 257, 513, 1025, 2049 or 4097 pixels in size. Because I wanted to be able to get a good deal of detail into this map, I've been working with the maximum resolution and contours at every 40 feet or so ranging from 2088 feet to sea-level. That, in case you haven't guessed, is a whoooooooole lot of tracing. So far, I've managed everything down to about 600 feet, and some areas even lower.

The other side of that coin is the idea that I'm making it larger than life. In real world terms, the area measures approximately 225 square miles. In terms of the "fantastical" setting for this map, however, the area measures just over 5300 square miles, and the elevations are being expanded from sea-level to 2088 meters rather than feet. I did have to cut out a chunk of land in the southwest corner so that the southwestern islands (those sitting at the mouth of the southern river) made a bit more sense geographically speaking.

I've got a long way to go with the contour building, but thought I should at least post something to show that I've not completely abandoned the whole map making hobby. I've got a few new ideas about how I'm going to render textures in Terragen (particularly the forest textures) that will involve a bit of editing in both PSP and Wilbur, but if they work as planned, the results should be much better than I've achieved in the past.

In any event, here is a rough, low-end render (1/4 size of the intended final render) of where the map stands at this point. The coloring isn't "beautiful" right now, and I've not really started worrying about rivers/lakes other than the major ones, but, hopefully, it gives an idea of how far along the map is. As it stands right now, this map isn't connected to any of my other projects (most of which are on a back burner at this point), but it is doing wonders as far as helping me define (or maybe that should read "re-define") my own style/technique. I'll try to continue updating this thread as often as I can, but don't expect a rush of updates in the immediate future as I'm still in the process of moving and all of the wonderful things that go along with that particular task. The good news is, though, I'll be getting a high-speed connection much sooner than anticipated as the place I'm moving to is already set up for Fiber Optics. WoooooHoooooo!!!!!!!!


02-18-2010, 08:58 PM
Grats on the fiber optics and I hope the moving goes well! As to the map, looks pretty good for a rough render. Good luck on creating a new style, this looks like it'll come out well.

Steel General
02-19-2010, 08:04 AM
Welcome back GW!

02-19-2010, 08:21 AM
That's an incredible labour of love. I'm stunned - but the result is looking really great. Good luck with the move, and I'll be very interested to see how this develops.

Greason Wolfe
02-19-2010, 09:00 AM
Thanks for the welcome back. I've missed this place, but haven't stopped thinking about it. Every once in a while I was able to drop in and toss a few comments about, but I've just been so crazy busy these last few months. As for it being a labor of love and patience, no question there. I love the landform of the area I grew up in, the mountains, the valleys, the dunes and rivers. Every time I go home, I spend at least a day just driving around to re-familiarize myself with the area and always discover something new.

I spent about an hour, this morning, looking through some of my surface map/textures for Terragen and have a pretty good idea where the coloring is going to go with this, but that's gonna take a bit of major tweaking. The only thing I haven't even contemplated just yet is how I'm going to identify the cities and towns. I'm very tempted to try to do something in the Terragen rendering process, but may have to fall back on some post rendering edits in PSP. The same is likely to go for the major roads as well. But as I said earlier, all in all, I'm quite happy with the way things are going, and my enthusiasm for this particular map is overflowing to the point that even during my slower nights at work, I get to thinking about how I might accomplish some of the little details.


Greason Wolfe
02-20-2010, 01:01 PM
So my future landlord dropped the ball and didn't call the cleaning crew to get my new place ready for me, thus I'm stuck on vacation (which I took to move) with nothing to do but work on this map. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I had to cancel furniture deliveries and what not which is going to create havoc later on.

That means, however, that I have a bit of an update for this map. A two part update to be exact.

The first part of this update is, for the most part, nothing more than a slight shift of the terrain to make more ocean visible. I might, if the mood strikes me, try to add in a few more islands along the coast line.

The other part of this update is the filling in of another section along the eastern edge of the map. With the shifting of the terrain, I was able to isolate another portion and finish up the contour tracing in a couple of hours. This render is still fairly rough and low-ended (1/3rd the intended full-sized render) and the coloring has been trimmed back significantly for right now. I did jack-up the shadow-casting though, just to make the elevations a bit more visible. I'm hoping, since I'll have loads of free time this weekend, to finish up the southern portion of the map (those areas below the major river) and run another render before going back to work Monday morning.

Future plans for this (once all the contour tracing is done) include a bit of smoothing, some erosion/incise flow work in Wilbur, and then some major work on the base surface texturing. That will be followed by forest build-ups and river/lake plotting and then the more detailed surface texturing.

All in all, I'm still pretty happy with the way things are progressing, and have started jotting down some notes about where the villages/towns and cities are likely to go. I've yet to decide how I'm going to represent them (along with any major roads), but I have a couple of ideas in mind. I've also started working up some basic "fantastical" history for this map, but that is about as far, if not further, away from being finished as the map, itself, is.


Greason Wolfe
03-12-2010, 04:48 PM
Further updates for this project will be located here;