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Thread: Map with contour lines

  1. #1
      davoush is offline
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    Post Map with contour lines

    Hello all, first I'd like to say I'm a total beginner when it comes to map drawing. At the minute I have a specific type of map in mind which I would like to recreate but have no idea about how to go about doing so. Basically, I want to be able to draw a map similar in style to this one: http://tzirtzi.ipage.com/akana/image...-physical3.png

    Eventually I want it to be used as a linguistic map which I can shade different language/dialect groups over it or show the movement of language families across the map. I'm not so bothered about detailed colouring as long as I can show altitude somehow and perhaps maybe fertile/desert areas.

    I realise I'm probably going to sound like a nuisance, but which programs would you recommend me to use for this style of map (bearing in mind illustrator/PS is out of my budge range right now). I have messed around on GIMP a bit and so far got semi-decent results on very basic maps, but I'd like to be able to do the contour lines and maybe some shading? Any help/advice/pointers would be very appreciated.

    Many thanks!

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      AlexTna is offline
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    You can do those things in GIMP too. Check out the tutorials section, you will find answers to most questions there, if not I'm sure a more experienced member will help you.
    Oh and welcome on board!

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    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
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    For that map, I'd say Inkscape would be the tool of choice. Inkscape is to Illustrator as Gimp is to Photoshop. I wouldn't try something like that drawing with a mouse, though. I'm not sure what Inkscape's terminology is, but when I created this map, I used Illustrator's Pencil tool to draw the coastlines and contours. Draw the lowest, largest shapes first, and move upward. The beauty of working in Illustrator is that you don't actually have to style it until the end, since you can change fills and strokes at any time. I'm fairly sure that Inkscape works similarly.
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      davoush is offline
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    Thanks, I was starting to think that inkscape might be more suitable. So basically the contours have to be manually drawn in? The map I posted has really tight contour lines, I'm not sure how I'd go about doing that? Are there any tutorials on here for inkscape, haven't been able to find many!

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      Hai-Etlik is online now
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    Quote Originally Posted by davoush View Post
    Thanks, I was starting to think that inkscape might be more suitable. So basically the contours have to be manually drawn in? The map I posted has really tight contour lines, I'm not sure how I'd go about doing that? Are there any tutorials on here for inkscape, haven't been able to find many!
    Inkscape has a built in set of tutorials under the help menu.

    There are ways to generate a set of contours from a Digital Elevation Model (DEM), but that goes beyond normal graphics software into the realm of specialized geographic software, both to build a DEM, and to produce contours from it.

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      MitchPjm is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hai-Etlik View Post
    There are ways to generate a set of contours from a Digital Elevation Model (DEM), but that goes beyond normal graphics software into the realm of specialized geographic software, both to build a DEM, and to produce contours from it.
    Take a look at Wilbur. If you have a heightfeild of the map you wish to draw, Wildur provides the abiliity to generate contour lines for that heightfield map.

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      Redrobes is offline
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    Yes its important to know whether you have the heightmap data or whether you just have this as a 2D map you got from somewhere. If the 2D map is of high res and has the lines in it clean then there are techniques to get at the contour lines and get them into inkscape as vectors. My advice tho is to look at starting your map with the height data before you start coloring it. If its a real world map then you can use existing real world height maps generated from various sources such as the space shuttle radar to get a height map. That data is free and there are loads of tools you can use to extract it.

  8. #8
      davoush is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redrobes View Post
    Yes its important to know whether you have the heightmap data or whether you just have this as a 2D map you got from somewhere. If the 2D map is of high res and has the lines in it clean then there are techniques to get at the contour lines and get them into inkscape as vectors. My advice tho is to look at starting your map with the height data before you start coloring it. If its a real world map then you can use existing real world height maps generated from various sources such as the space shuttle radar to get a height map. That data is free and there are loads of tools you can use to extract it.
    Unfortunately it is not a real world map, just a fantasy map for my own purposes - would just drawing the contour lines in and shading
    each area provide somewhat acceptable results?

  9. #9
      cantab is offline
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    It should do, provided you've a good understanding of how contour lines work, and how features like river valleys, ridges, depressions, and cliffs will be expressed in the contours. You'll likely have to make to with discrete colour steps rather than a continuous gradient; note your example uses discrete steps and looks pretty good.

    If you want as much detail as the example map, you will need quite a bit of patience to draw them all. Inkscape's fractalize tool will let you add detail if you have a general outline, but it'll still be a fair bit of work.
    I am a geology nerd.

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