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Thread: How do you come up with your continent-shapes or regional-shapes?

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      Eilathen is offline
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    Default How do you come up with your continent-shapes or regional-shapes?

    Hi CG-lers,

    After another try to draw a world map that satisfies me (mostly my eyes ) and horribly failing, i turn to you gals and guys.

    How do you come up with your landshapes? Are there any cool tricks to get random coastlines for a region or a whole continent?

    Some of you guys just nail it almost every time...and i am envious (i am especially looking at Diamond and torstan).

    How do you do this? Drawing by hand and scanning it in? Drawing with a mouse or tablet? Something entirely different (like random generation of continents)?

    Please, tell me. CG, you're my last hope [/Star Wars pastiche]


    Thanks in advance
    E.

    P.S.: Pointing me to a Tutorial is also fine.
    I'm trapped in Darkness,
    Still I reach out for the Stars

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      Eilathen is offline
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    No one?

    Maybe it's a "too easy" question? Unfortunately, for me, it seems not to be. And i'm looking for some different ways of coming up with landforms...especially random ones.
    I'm trapped in Darkness,
    Still I reach out for the Stars

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      ravells is offline
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    Hi Eilathen,

    I have to say, I just fake it and add smooth & wiggly bits until it seems about right. One way you can do it also is to take real world coastline silhouettes and invert, resize, stretch, cut up and stick together until you have something new, but the coastline should have the right amount of 'wiggliness' since you have used real coastlines to start with.

    In terms of overall shapes there are a few tutorials out there on world building, you could look at those. Or you could use a generator like 'Fractal Terrains' . Regional shapes are often defined by natural barriers like rivers and mountains and following those gives them a more natural look.

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      - Max - is offline
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    I lately tested this one: I draw the area very quickly painting with a large round brush in PS to set the general shape then I just grab the select tool and select all around the mass the areas I want to erase, which build the coastline at the same time.

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    i just draw lines with my tablet until something looks good. most often i feel i get it right the first time. other times it takes a few passes.

    having said that i find i when i used to draw coastlines by hand and scan them in i used to be more pleased with the results...
    Last edited by vorropohaiah; 04-08-2013 at 09:15 AM.

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      baamenabar is offline
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    Several times I've found chipped paint or deteriorated in walls to be very inspiring, I snap a picture, trace it, and play arround joining splitting untill it looks fine.
    Like these: How do you come up with your continent-shapes or regional-shapes?-2012-01-24-17.36.36.jpg

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      Chashio is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by baamenabar View Post
    Several times I've found chipped paint or deteriorated in walls to be very inspiring, I snap a picture, trace it, and play arround joining splitting untill it looks fine.
    I do that too. It works with coffee, rocks, clouds, moss clumps, broken glass, etc. Ink blots are a good source too. Etc etc... You can combine random objects until you have something you like. Get some paper with a random grain such as handmade paper (big art/craft stores like Michael's and AC Moore usually have this in the scrapbook aisle) or find a sketchbook with a subtle variation (it's very subtle--think watermark--but it can help with drawing coastlines). Buying a lot of special paper can get expensive though, so you might want to pick up a pad of tracing paper and draw on that so you can use your special inspiration paper more than once.

    Also:
    - Pull out a world atlas and flip through til you find a shape you like, grab a sheet of paper and a pencil and visually copy it (draw on the paper while following the atlas coastlines with your eyes). You'll get something similar but not a direct match. It also improves your hand-eye coordination with a lot of practice Also good to just study the shapes in the atlas (or google maps) to build up an eye for natural-looking coast with different terrain types.

    - Hand-drawn masking: draw the general shape you want, on paper with a good dark pen with lots of flow, then 'chew' into your shape to refine the landmass (the interior white space is your landmass). You can leave some white space for islands as you work in, or build them up on the outside of your original line. Scan it--or take a photo--then select and mask it off. Or if you're working on paper, trace it onto your mapping paper with a graphite transfer sheet. Or if you have a tablet you could just do it on the computer... but be sure to bump up your resolution so that the brush doesn't snag on the horizontal and vertical lines so easily.
    Last edited by Chashio; 04-19-2013 at 02:09 PM.

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      su_liam is offline
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    Coffee spills make excellent archipelagos!

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    What I used to do before getting a little better, was to generate clouds, and them with the threshold i started molding the continents (all of this in PS, and also saw this technique in Tear's tutorial!).
    But one day brownsing CG Textures, I saw this textures of painted metal, and never really worked on something, but I think it has a lot of potential, with the landmass and oceans
    [CG Textures] - Textures for 3D, graphic design and Photoshop! go to Textures - Metal - Painted

    Example: MetalPainted0101

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      foremost is offline
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    I don't think there's a surefire way to make a cool-looking continent shape, if that's what you're aiming for, but I know there are some ways to avoid the boring and unrealistic.

    First, it's common to see mistakes where people draw square continent shapes or sharp edges. Nature doesn't often involve any perfect shapes, and a continent that looks like it's a bunch of squares isn't generally realistic. It may help to focus on the practicality of a shape - rivers usually run from mountains to the coast, and bays may exist where the river meets the ocean.

    Keep your coastlines interesting not only with pleasing shapes, but maybe some activity too. If you know you'e going to have a coastal village somewhere, for example, instead of drawing the coastline to fit the village, you might draw the coastline naturally and determine where the village would most likely be built. Obviously, this isn't just for coastlines and villages.

    If you still aren't satisfied, maybe your coastline needs a point of interest - one thing that holds attention over everything else. Go dramatic, I guess, and maybe you'll be happier with the final result. Good luck!

    -FM
    The best maps are the ones we like the most after looking at the longest.

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