[WIP] Lord of the Isles
Since we started dividing up the map for the RPGBN Campaign setting I’ve been trying to come up with a way of mapping my islands at the standard I wish I could attain every time I start a new campaign setting. There’s usually no surprises when at the beginning of the first session of a new campaign that I whip out a map from an old boxed set just to start us off.
Don’t get me wrong. When it comes to smaller scale maps I’ll be the first to reach for a scratch pad and pencil but I always like the main map to look good. It’s been about 10 years since I last draw a map free hand for my main map and been happy with it.
The first thing that struck me about the the guild was that almost all the really good tutorials generated a random map and left you to use any artistic abilities to push and pull that into the shape you wanted/needed it to be. I may as well do it freehand going from those tutorials as the amount of artistic ability in my body would barely fill a finger tip.
So how did I go about getting to where I am now? Well we started off with MadBrew’s map. From that I cropped out my islands and blew them up so that they fitted onto a 2000×2000 canvas.
It was turning this map into something usable where I had the problem. What I ended up having to do was follow the random map tutorials through until they had they’re land masses created and then copy and paste the coast lines around the island in such a way that they follow the general outline of the blown up islands from the original map. It takes absolutely ages though on a laptop using a touchpad.
There are quite a few things I’m not to happy about though. The colour isn’t quite right, the hills do not blend into the mountains very well and the ocean doesn't sit right with me.
I've got a lot of work ahead of me :)
Okay before I get in to anything in the ways of pointers I need to know what color scheme you are going for...the one from my tut or the one that you have going with the brighter blue ocean? Second I also need to know if you want the green mtns or brown ones like in my tut? Overall, though, I think you're doing a fine job so far.
Not a fan of the bright blue it has to be said. It was a quick choice to try out something different from my previous attempts.
As for the mountains I'm not sure about brown purely because my bunch of islands are supposed to be nearer the equator which I equated with lush forests and lots of rain. Not sure how that would work with the mountains though
Okay here's something that I whipped up since my last post (approx 2 hours of work). Mainly what I wanted to focus on was three things: ocean color, mountain color, and overall texture.
I put your B&W image into a 2000 pixel square, desaturated it (to remove any possible colors) filter-pixellate-crystallize at 12, 6, and 3 to break up the coast, then filter-noise-median at 2 to smooth it a bit. Renamed it "base", inverted the colors (ctrl-i) and deleted the blacks.
Added clouds on the background layer, duplicate that then filter-difference clouds (two times) to give me a base texture for the mtns. They're not exactly in the same place as yours but I'm more interested in describing a process for ya. Filter-render-lighting effects, delete the blacks add my normal layer style and name this layer "mtns". Copy this layer and change the brown color overlay to a green (color code 465A1E) set to color instead of soft light at 20% opacity. Added an inner glow of the same color set to multiply at 75% opacity and size of 51...this sort of gives us a dark ring around the mtns like a forest and it turns the brown mtns from below to something greener.
For the land I duplicated the background clouds again and ran a lighting effects with the 5 omni lights. Trimmed it to fit via the ctrl-click on the base layer, invert, delete. Color overlay of a dark olive green, inner bevel with lowered opacities and big size. Call this layer "land". Duplicate this layer and remove all styles except the color overlay, change the color to something brighter, add an outer glow of something light green, and lastly a light tan stroke.
Duplicate the background clouds again, add some noise (5%) and run the omni lighting again. Delete the blacks, trim to fit, and add a 5-pixel emboss and call this layer "hills".
Duplicate the background clouds again and move it to the top of the layer stack. Duplicate the base layer and move it to the top. Outer glow of white with a low opacity (and a size of 100) and turn the layer's opacity down low as well. Merge down, lighting effects, gradient map of some various blues and call this layer "ocean". Move it under the land layer.
I added a continental shelf as well because I have some weird obsession with doing so. I plopped down some rivers and forests and then duplicated the land layer, removed all styles and set it to multiply and renamed it to "land bump". Then I did the same thing for the mtns. This gives us a bit more contrast and definition and texture for our terrain.
Here's a quick lil bit on getting your colors right:
Black is 0, 0, 0; white is 255, 255, 255; and middle gray is 128, 128, 128 (in RGB mode). These three numbers correspond to red, green, and blue (it's a science thing and not an art thing). So straight blue is 0, 0, 255. It's very vivid so in order to mute it change it to something like 0, 0, 100. I like to add in a bit of green to give me more of an ocean feel. I'll usually go 50-90% as much green as blue so for this I have 0, 75, 100. Adding red to this mix will take us closer and closer to gray so I added 25. This gives me the darkest part of my ocean; the lightest part is 128, 188, 205.
For doing greens I like mine to be sort of an olive color or a swampy green color. Straight green on a computer is 0, 255, 0 and is very vivid and bright and light. Because computers were not developed by painters we have to add red in order to get yellow (idiots, in real life red + green [which is yellow + blue] = dark brown). This results in 255, 255, 0 for straight yellow, it's bright and vivid. For a good land color I'll go 70, 90, 65 and for forests I'll go 56, 64, 0. If we add any blue (the last number in our system) we'll get closer to gray so for a good swampy color I'll go 48, 64, 32...a dark swamp.
For deserts we start with yellow 255, 255, 0. For a good tan color we decrease the green and to make it all lighter we add in some blue. Crazy, I know. A good tan will also be overall darker. For my tans I am usually around 180, 140, 90 and for the lighter parts I'm around 255, 224, 192.
Quite long-winded, sorry about that. If you've followed along my tut then you should have some basic idea as to the steps that I've described here. If you'd like we can break it down into smaller parts and I can be more descriptive (and probably even more gas-baggy). :)
Edit -- holy smokes, it took me 45 minutes to type this out...I gotta learn to type better.
Thanks for that I'll give it a shot later tonight when I get the free time :)
Gave it another try.
Colours are a bit better and the hills and mountains blend better but still nowhere close to your own. Your mountains make it feel like quite a small island where as this one is supposed to be around the size of Scotland.
No matter what I try I've yet to get the shelf to look right so I'm settling for the water as is ;)
Still not 100% liking my attempt but it's an improvement I think.
I'll keep digging away at it :)
I know i'm jumping in pretty late but i have to say that that looks pretty nice.
What colour did you use for the mountains, because I've been trying to get that kind of effect and most of my mountains end up looking to brown and "dirty". Also, what do you do for the base land colopur, again my base land ends up looking too dirty.
On a side note to Ascension, how do you do your forests?
The default 14-pixel scattered dry brush that comes with photoshop...the one that's wider and not too tightly clumped. Give it some green color and then a small outer bevel, sometimes I'll throw in a pattern overlay to break up any solid colors that may seem too dominating and sometimes I'll texture the bevel too.
In all honesty I just followed Acensions post above combined with his tutorial. The colours for the land and mtns were identical.
Originally Posted by LonewandererD
Latest update. Not much has changed really.
Gave some areas a bit of colour to break up the monotony of green that I had using the scatter brush Ascension mentioned.
I've named the main islands although I'm not set on the placement or font.
Placed villages, towns and capitols. Red is the capital of each island, Yellow is the permanent villages and towns and blue is for the longphorts or temporary villages that crop up when ships over-winter or for a trading post.
I don't think I'll be naming them all on the map how ever.