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Thread: May 2011 Challenge Entry - Saythen Empire

  1. #11
      Master TMO is offline
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    A couple moments of indecision and doubt on my map after looking at the other entrants. I wonder if I'm not overdoing the Photoshop effects a bit, especially around the text. The original purpose of the outer glows was to improve legibility of the text against the terrain shading. I've started experimenting with Inkscape a bit to see if I can do a better job of labelling and marking cities and towns in it.

    I'm also looking at the national borders - is the current hard 3D-ish line good, or would something softer be more effective with the landscape style? I've played around with different PS effects and come up with this variant, but I'm not sure if it's better, worse, or merely different.

    May 2011 Challenge Entry - Saythen Empire-saythen-test.jpg

    The outside burn definitely highlights the country itself, but at the expense of obscuring the underlying terrain.

    Alternatively, I can do a flat line, something like this:
    May 2011 Challenge Entry - Saythen Empire-saythen-test2.jpg

    A single borderline gets lost visually amidst the terrain effects, but a dual like this seems to be visible.

    I will keep playing with styles and see if I can come up with something that looks better. Previewing this post I can tell that the burn is definitely much more visible when the map is in thumbnail form. The borderline is practically invisible.
    My Finished Maps | My Planet Maps | My Challenge Entries | Album: Pre-generated Worlds

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    Assuming I stick with fantasy cartography, I'd like to become a World Builder, laying out not only a realistic topography, but also the geopolitical boundaries and at least rough descriptions of the countries and societies.

  2. #12
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    This might be more what I was wanting to do originally. I'll have to give it a bit of time to settle in and see if it's good or if it's just 'neat' right now and it the neatness will fade out the more I look at it.

    May 2011 Challenge Entry - Saythen Empire-saythen-test3.jpg

    I added more texture to it - the trees, the water, the hills, and I brought back the terrain shading to full force.
    My Finished Maps | My Planet Maps | My Challenge Entries | Album: Pre-generated Worlds

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    Assuming I stick with fantasy cartography, I'd like to become a World Builder, laying out not only a realistic topography, but also the geopolitical boundaries and at least rough descriptions of the countries and societies.

  3. #13
      Master TMO is offline
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    *evil laugh* I have finally figured out how to port these files into a 3D format. Now if only I could figure out how to operate the silly 3D program so that the center of the view is actually on the map rather than beside it...

    May 2011 Challenge Entry - Saythen Empire-3d-view.jpg

    The water is an easy fix, and is due to how I exported the elevation data originally. I have about a week to get the bugs out of this process enough to submit it.
    My Finished Maps | My Planet Maps | My Challenge Entries | Album: Pre-generated Worlds

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    Assuming I stick with fantasy cartography, I'd like to become a World Builder, laying out not only a realistic topography, but also the geopolitical boundaries and at least rough descriptions of the countries and societies.

  4. #14
      ravells is offline
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    Looks great in 3d? What 3d app are you using to render out the hightmap? One the problems I have with FT Pro when I import the the heighmap into Bryce is that I get a terracing effect as Bryce only uses 255 levels of greyscale (8 bit colour). You seem to have got some lovely definition to yours though.

  5. #15
      Master TMO is offline
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    I'm using World Machine to do the 3D render. One of the layers I exported out of FTPro was the elevation using a custom color scale going from #000000 to #FFFFFF using all 256 color steps. World Machine seems to accept a bitmap version of that just fine as a heightmap file.

    The water effect is because I also put a scale on underwater terrain when I exported in case I ever wanted it. I just need to cover the water up with black in the heightmap to erase that.

    I'm only using 255 levels also, so I'm not sure what the difference between this and Bryce is. It could be a matter of scale, since I'm not zoomed in really close on the map. Each pixel of the original image is about 2/3 of a mile.
    My Finished Maps | My Planet Maps | My Challenge Entries | Album: Pre-generated Worlds

    ------
    Assuming I stick with fantasy cartography, I'd like to become a World Builder, laying out not only a realistic topography, but also the geopolitical boundaries and at least rough descriptions of the countries and societies.

  6. #16
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    Rav - One thought I had, and I don't know if it's an issue or not, is what map you exported from FTPro. If you exported the whole world in a single file and then zoomed in to a region you would get lots of terraces because each pixel in the global map is the equivalent of several miles in size. I have FTPro export a lot of map slices (a 30x30 overlapping grid of them). The area covered in this whole map I'm using is a single one of those grid slices. So each one of my pixels is 1/30th the size of a global pixel (technically 1/900th if you measure by area rather than just width). That could explain the difference in resolution we're seeing.

    However, exporting that many map slices is time consuming. FTPro can do a single map slice in about a minute on my machine. To do this it builds 926 separate images (it makes some higher-level regional images too). 926 minutes is ~ 15 hours. And that's per layer I export - climate, water, elevation, rainfall, temperature, terrain shading, etc. I can see why most people don't take the time to mess with it in this way. In order to support this 3D I'm having to re-export the heightmap file to fix the water issue. It will finish in about another 12 hours.
    My Finished Maps | My Planet Maps | My Challenge Entries | Album: Pre-generated Worlds

    ------
    Assuming I stick with fantasy cartography, I'd like to become a World Builder, laying out not only a realistic topography, but also the geopolitical boundaries and at least rough descriptions of the countries and societies.

  7. #17
      Master TMO is offline
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    Well, for a beginner I'm reasonably competent at World Machine now, at least for my purposes. I'm only on the Basic version so my output files are limited in their resolution unfortunately. I'm still working on rebuilding all the effects I had in the last WIP I loaded, but I should finish that tomorrow, then I can start work on finalizing it. I have proved that I can add a 3D border to the terrain, but I'm not sure I like how it actually looks in practice.

    May 2011 Challenge Entry - Saythen Empire-3d-view.jpg
    My Finished Maps | My Planet Maps | My Challenge Entries | Album: Pre-generated Worlds

    ------
    Assuming I stick with fantasy cartography, I'd like to become a World Builder, laying out not only a realistic topography, but also the geopolitical boundaries and at least rough descriptions of the countries and societies.

  8. #18
      ravells is offline
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    Ah thanks Master TMO, that might be it. I'll have a play around with exporting by map slices and that should help with the terracing!

  9. #19
      Master TMO is offline
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    Another thing you can do, which I've actually moved to on this latest model, is zoom in to the view you want, and do your export based on the Current View. It may just be my machine, but I have to play with the view settings quite a bit to get what I actually want in the export file, as the image saved is not exactly what is shown in my FT window. Just do low-res image saves until it's the area you want shown, and then do a high-res version.
    My Finished Maps | My Planet Maps | My Challenge Entries | Album: Pre-generated Worlds

    ------
    Assuming I stick with fantasy cartography, I'd like to become a World Builder, laying out not only a realistic topography, but also the geopolitical boundaries and at least rough descriptions of the countries and societies.

  10. #20
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    I think I've migrated this through most every graphics program I have. It started in Fractal Terrain Pro, then to Photoshop, to World Machine, back to Photoshop, back to World Machine, and then to Inkscape.

    This is not a finished product yet, there's still some work to do. It's not as stylish, subtle or artistic as a some of the other ones, mostly due to some of the compromises I've had to make along the way. It's hard to put artistic touches onto a computer-produced 3D terrain and map, but the cgi is my style of choice. I just need to keep building maps to develop my own style and techniques further through trial and error.

    ### Latest WIP ###
    May 2011 Challenge Entry - Saythen Empire-sayth.png
    My Finished Maps | My Planet Maps | My Challenge Entries | Album: Pre-generated Worlds

    ------
    Assuming I stick with fantasy cartography, I'd like to become a World Builder, laying out not only a realistic topography, but also the geopolitical boundaries and at least rough descriptions of the countries and societies.

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