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Thread: [wip] The Isle of Cathava

  1. #1
      Brennall is offline
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    Wip [wip] The Isle of Cathava

    Recently after a 20 year gap I returned to thinking about D&D. I had ran a campaign many years ago and now my daughters are older and interested I wished to run a small campaign for them. This time however I wanted to learn more of the art of making a fantasy world live and breath. Luckily I had joined this website a while ago, when I felt the urge to do some role-playing returning.

    My first thought was to make a map, I had often found in the past that just the act of putting something onto paper started me thinking about what was happening in that area of the map. So after some time spent looking at all the cool tools available to people these days I was most intrigued by a product used by a number of people here, Fractal Terrain Pro. I already had access to Photoshop and Illustrator at work, so I went and purchased Campaign Cartographer and Fractal Terrain Pro to round off my Software collection.

    Fractal Terrain Pro turned out to be fascinating and the tutorials on this site and the authors helped make it usable. After attempting to make three or four worlds from the ground up, I finally got the hang of it (no expert mind, but I could get it to do most of the things I want). My latest world with the right touch ups, desert making and temperature fiddling turned out the way I wanted it to be. It took that long for me to "get" that I had to use the product to make the worlds I wanted, rather expect it to churn out perfect worlds from scratch. Once I "got" it, it turned out to be a great tool for the job and I would recommend it to anyone "making worlds"!

    Armed with a world, I set out to find a 200mile long island to play with. After a quick look I noticed one perfectly placed in the southern hemisphere, and after a quick session of mountain raising and temperature fiddling it met my requirements perfectly. Oddly I also notice it had not had any generated rivers on it, although the rest of my world had a number, but more on this later.

    Having found my Island, I named it the "Isle of Cathava" and saved the "View" of it in the view manager, and set about extracting the useful information from Fratal Terrain Pro. First of all I produced a large JPG file about 4096 pixels wide, with the shading turned on for land, and all the altitudes set to white, and the sea was black. I took this and opened it up in Photoshop, where I captured and moved the shading to a new layer, made a blank white outline of the island on another layer and saved it all for later as a PSD file. You can see an example below and if clicked upon will take you to a higher resolution image.



    In FTP the island is pretty much covered in Temperate forest, apart from the top of the large mountain, which has some ice and tundra. The background story had a fallen Hobgoblin civilisation inhabiting the island, which had fragmented into a number of different tribes of Hobgoblins, Goblins and Bugbears (with a few other nasties thrown in here and there). Human settlers had arrived 40 years or so ago on the southern tip of the island and had rapidly spread north deforesting and settling en route.

    Moving forward I wanted at least three maps, showing terrain, contours and political. As the contour information is held in FTP, I saved my view as a CC2 file, took it into campaign cartographer, where I saved it straight back out again as a DXF file. I loaded the DXF file into Adobe Illustrator, selected all the contour lines and cut and pasted them as a smart object onto my map in photoshop in another window. After a small amount of resizing and placement it fit exactly where I wanted it to and I had the start of my contour map.

    With a little selecting and painting of Hypsometric colors stolen from an 1880's french map on reliefshading.com I had the basics of a reasonable contour map, after quickly turning on the shading layer (relief from now on) and halving the opacity we end up with a contour map which you can see below, click on it for a larger version: -



    With the contour map almost finished (still need rivers), I moved onto playing with textures for the terrain map, this process was more complex than I can explain here. Suffice to say the southern tip has significantly less forest to account for the encroaching settlers. Anyway to cut to the chase here it is, unfinished, but starting to come together. Again, you can click for a larger version: -



    As you can see I added a scale, compass rose and some text, I am still unhappy with the scale and plan to remove it and try again with something less modern looking, the rest is ok. Also please note no rivers ...

    Then with increasing confidence I grabbed hold of Wilbur (from the author of FTP), exported the view of my island as an MDR and headed off to generate some rivers. Only to be sadly thwarted, when the rivers seemed to do all kinds of weird things. If anyone else can get it working, I would love to see the result, here is a link to the MDR file I exported from FTP.

    cathava.mdr

    Not being one to be put off, until I can work out how to get Wilbur to do what I want, I read the river police thread and attempted to add my own rivers. It would be most helpful if anyone could check them over for me and tell me where I have made any mistakes in placement. Once again please click for a larger image, in addition this time a yet larger image is also available below: -



    Much larger image (2mb)

    There are notes regarding river placement on the map itself, these reflect changes which need to be transferred back to the source maps.

    Please note these maps are all works in progress and as such may be a little rough in certain parts. I would be interested in any comments anyone has to share as this is my first foray into mapping.

    Brennall

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      Ascension is offline
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    I'd say that you have done your homework quite well...A+. The author of Wilbur is a member here, Waldronate, and he should be able to help you with anything there. Other than that, welcome and great work so far.
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      Locution is offline
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    Wow phenomenal work! Well done indeed!

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    Guild Artisan Juggernaut1981's Avatar
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    My suspicions are that your two doubly-forked rivers immediately above your compass rose might actually join via the little "point" of the lower contour. AND that many of your rivers will be "streams/creeks/things that aren't rivers but still drain water"
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    great looking map

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    Community Leader Facebook Connected Steel General's Avatar
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    Very nice...looking forward to seeing more from you.
    My Finished Maps | My Challenge Maps | Ghoraja Juun, my largely stagnated campaign setting.

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      waldronate is offline
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    Rivers. Always a touchy point with software. The models are always wrong and the users demand so much.

    The most likely reason that FT didn't find any rivers is that FT runs rivers at fairly low resolution. If the map area is 200 miles across then FT might be able to put almost one river simulation grid cell across the area. Not conducive to getting godo results. Pulling the area out and trying it in Wilbur is a good idea. There is a difficulty with this process, however, as you have found out.

    FT uses an algorithm that generates information at all scales. To get a semi-plausible fractal forgery, the algorithm generates both positive and negative values that sum to zero on average. The BIG lumps during the initial generation process (positive lumps = continents, negative lumps = oceans) are modified with progressively smaller and smaller positive and negative lumps to get the final result. This process unfortunately gives little basins all over the place at all scales. Rivers run into these basins and stop because the river routing tool in Wilbur and FT both assume that the landscape flows downward to desired basins. See the attached image for an example of what rivers look like when routed from your MDR before and after fill basins.

    To fix the problem with river routing in Wilbur, do a fill basins operation before finding rivers. It will fill in your lakes, but that's a minor nuisance that can be easily fixed (see http://www.ridgenet.net/~jslayton/Fu...ol5/index.html for an example). The second image is the result of playing with the tutorial referenced above.

    The river network shown is fairly plausible, but there are some minor issues. When you're routing rivers on a contour map, remember that rivers ALWAYS cross contour at right angles. It's the path of steepest descent. The rivers joining in the little basin in the middle-right of the map seem a little awkward. Otherwise a pretty good job. I'm too lazy to put that much effort into my work, though.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails [wip] The Isle of Cathava-untitled-1.gif   [wip] The Isle of Cathava-cathava-merged.jpg  

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      waldronate is offline
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    I added a mask to get only the lake you wanted (to a first approximation) and added a little noise to prevent the rivers from being too straight to get the image shown below. It's still the generic Wilbur color scheme, though. I should probably stop now.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails [wip] The Isle of Cathava-cathava-shaded-height.jpg  

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      Brennall is offline
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    @ Everyone : Thank you for your comments, I am pleased at the response for a first try.

    @ Waldronate : You definitely shouldn't stop, its really good to see what can be achieved with Fractal Terrain Pro/Wilbur at such a scale. It looks amazing ... You don't perchance have the MDR file available do you? <grins> I would love to see how you did that and it would save me a lot of work!

    Its exactly what I was trying to achieve, thank you so much for all the effort. Its nice to know I was on the right track heading to Wilbur to add the river detail and even more pleasing to see it looks great.

    Is there any easy way to extract the river data from the MDR, so I can convert it to a vector form in Illustrator or some such ?

    I kind of get the feeling that at this point, I leave the work in FTP and work up close in Wilbur for each section of the map that I am interested in adding detailed rivers to, before moving to the final phase of making it prettier in Photoshop / Illustrator.

    Ok I am off to experiment some more with Wilbur!

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      waldronate is offline
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    I didn't keep the MDR file. It only takes a couple of minutes to generate it so there didn't seem much need. It was pretty much a basin fill followed by selecting everything above 0 followed by a uniform noise of 10 followed by a height clip between 0.1 and 100000. Then a basin fill and river run to get the river mask.

    The final image was assembled in Photoshop from bits and pieces made in Wilbur as per the Wilbur Rivers and Lakes tutorial. The only things I did differently were to use the basins image and select only the lakes I wanted, turn that image into a black and white mask, then feed it back into Wilbur as a selection mask for another Basin Delta round.

    I keep hoping to get some new features into Wilbur that would simplify this sort of thing but I just can't seem to get the magic combination of free time and enthusiasm at the same instant.

    The next step would be to extract the colors from the base map you were using and set those colors as the height information followed by slapping a contour shader on top of that.

    There isn't a good way to export the vector contours from Wilbur. Note that you can take the MDR that you modified in Wilbur and then put it back into FT as a new world as shown in http://www.ridgenet.net/~jslayton/ThereandBackAgain/ - just fudge the boundaries so that the top and bottom are at +/- 90 and the left and right at whatever place is appropriate to keep the image aspect ratio. All of the FT tools including river finding will then be available with effectively greatly increased resolution. Note that some of the tools won't be semantically correct (great circle distance computations, for example, will be totally meaningless; climate, temperature, rainfall, etc., will also be incorrect), but most of the tools don't try to deal with context too much.

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