• Ascensions' Atlas style in Photoshop

    I might be giving away the farm on this one, since I consider this to be my best style, but since I like to teach and make a tut for just about everything -- I present to you my atlas style. It's not meant to be the end-all be-all but rather an introductory course...where you can take it and adapt and change things as you see fit. I know my tuts tend to be lengthy and sometimes difficult so I'll do my best to help you out with any questions/problems you might have.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: [Award Winner] My atlas style in PS started by Ascension View original post
    Comments 47 Comments
    1. DeadlyFish's Avatar
      DeadlyFish -
      thank you for the quick reply. i think that ill get it now. i have never used photoshop before and i was just looking through the different brushes thanks again
    1. Mare_Nostrum's Avatar
      Mare_Nostrum -
      I have an assignment for a history class to make a map using a blank jpeg map of Italy. How would I insert the jpeg to use as a template with this method?
    1. Papaclint's Avatar
      Papaclint -
      Le PDF marche pas !!!
    1. Papaclint's Avatar
      Papaclint -
      C bon !
    1. wolfen's Avatar
      wolfen -
      Thank you very much for the great tutorial!
    1. Abramelin the Mage's Avatar
      Abramelin the Mage -
      I found Step 10-11 confusing, with the linking layers and merging them. The result I got wasn't nearly what was probably intended. When I defined the white land mass and black oceans, I tried following the instructions but my map got all distorted and smaller. I was able to do Steps 12-20, but after that I got so lost, as my results weren't matching the tutorial. Could you please post more screens of you showing step-by-step the process? Thanks.
    1. Jean-Christophe Mojard's Avatar
      Jean-Christophe Mojard -
      Superbe tuto d'une déconcertante simplicité quand on maîtrise l'outil et le savoir-faire. Et merci pour la traduction.
    1. JediKnight83's Avatar
      JediKnight83 -
      I must thank you very much for your tutorial. It has aided the design of my game considerably. I used a much bigger image size (36" x 18", @ 300 px/in). How could you fully apply this tutorial for a sci-fi setting?
    1. Kindari's Avatar
      Kindari -
      Really interesting tutorial!
    1. Ozz's Avatar
      Ozz -
      Thank you for the tutorial.
    1. Irish1970's Avatar
      Irish1970 -
      Just getting started making maps for my RPG group and appreciate the tutorial. What version of Photoshop are you using? I'm trying GIMP to start and struggling with it a little bit since it doesn't do exactly the same things as PS.
    1. fifty's Avatar
      fifty -
    1. daeVArt's Avatar
      daeVArt -
      Just using your Tuts, and finished my 1st map with this AWESOME tuts... Just something i really wanted for building my world ^^
      Thanks for the Tutorial.
    1. Antonymph's Avatar
      Antonymph -
      Like it! Nice one.
    1. Drakedragon's Avatar
      Drakedragon -
      This tutorial has been a huge help for me, but I noticed it lacks directions for certain terrain types like marshlands and deserts. What would you suggest for doing that?
    1. pdusen's Avatar
      pdusen -
      Would it be possible for this tutorial to be updated for newer versions of photoshop? The lighting section, for example, doesn't work at all in CS6.
    1. Andrew Dacey's Avatar
      Andrew Dacey -
      Quote Originally Posted by pdusen View Post
      Would it be possible for this tutorial to be updated for newer versions of photoshop? The lighting section, for example, doesn't work at all in CS6.
      2nd try, I'd just typed a long response to this and lost it.

      CS6 has redone lighting effects but it's mostly UI changes, you can still make the tutorial work with only a few modifications. First of all, Adobe has an excellent tutorial on the new interface at here. That should help you get the feel for using the filter.

      Now, for the mountains layer here's what I did. The default preset (chose default from the top if this isn't what loaded) is a single spotlight which is what you want. It will be shaped like an oval where the light is in the top right of the oval and it fades to the bottom left. Take that handle that's in the bottom left and drag it to the bottom right corner of your image. This will stretch the oval and have it now pointing from the top left corner to the bottom right.

      Next, chose either of the handles on the side of this stretched oval and pull it to its corner of the image. You should have a circle encompassing your whole image now. Watch out though, sometimes I found while I stretched this out the light flipped directions on me, not sure why or if that's a concern.

      The settings for the light are identical to what's shown on the screenshot except for a few minor differences. "Focus" is now called "Hotspot" but it still should be set to 100. Still use red as the texture but there's no "white is high" option any more, the height slider that's the default now so it's not a concern. The big difference is the height slider. I found that when I used 100 I got a ridiculously rugged result. In some ways it's cool, it almost looks like a satellite image, but it's not the result that's in the tutorial. I found that something between 5-20 for the height seems a little more reasonable. Another approach would be to use a higher height value but then increase the ambience to fill in the dark areas more. Adjust to taste. A third option could be to apply a bit of gaussian blur to the layer after the lighting effects to tone things down a bit.

      The hills layer (step 17, screenshot step 1 is much the same with the additional note that "omni" lights are now called "point lights". Otherwise it's the same process, create the 5 point lights and position them as noted in the tutorial, the same notes about height apply here too.

      One final thought is that if you're using CS6 then you can make use of smart filters (I skipped several versions so I can't say for certain when these were released and when Lighting Effects got smart filter support). I'd highly recommend converting the hills and mountains layers to smart objects. What this will allow you to do is when you apply the lighting effects filter (or any other filters on that layer that support smart filters) it will save the settings as a smart filter on the layer. You can then continue working with the layer (such as applying the effects) and see what they look like, if you're not happy with how things are looking (too rugged, not rugged enough), double click on the lighting effects smart filter for the layer and adjust your settings. It can be a bit slow if you're working on an older system but the flexibility it gives you is huge.
    1. Garmagr's Avatar
      Garmagr -
      Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Dacey View Post
      Would like to add to anyone who is having any technical issues with using the new Lighting Effects filter.
      1. You might have to set your document (on photoshop) to RGB from Greyscale. That can be done via the Image > Mode > menu.
      2. You might need to enable your GPU for the application. You can do this through Edit > Preferences > Performance menu. Inside you will have to check a box next to the "Use Graphic Processor" option. This might be unavailable if you are either

      A. Using a MAC OS that is 64 Bit; In this case you have to run the program as a 32bit by changing it's preferences. (Not sure how, I use a windows OS)

      or B. Have a GPU that is either unsupported by the adobe products or is not strong enough to enable the needed acceleration to use Lighting Effects filter.

      Another issue I've gotten and addressed was the fact the handles were not showing. If you manage to get your Lighting Effects to work, but you can't see the handles they keep showing on many tutorial screenshots, the solution that helped me was to delete and reset my user profile. Do this by running your photoshop and then holding down Ctrl + Shift + Alt. It will prompt you on whether to reset your user preferences. Select YES.
      However! note that some people might have made changes to their workspace, created automation for certain workflows ETC, these will be deleted as far as I know when you reset your preferences.
    1. Katylyst's Avatar
      Katylyst -
      Thank you for the very well-done tutorial. I did the entire process yesterday and am amazed by the map I made. Now I want to use the actions, but I'm stuck. I'm at Atlas 1-Step 7, and when it gets to "difference clouds" (Hills layer is highlighted) I get a PS dialogue box saying "Could not complete command because the selection area is empty". The Hills layer is indeed empty. If you could help me past this spot, I'd greatly appreciate it.
    1. Zelbinian's Avatar
      Zelbinian -
      I posted this message before finding the new tutorial. And you can't delete posts, so... hello.