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Thread: ...make realistic coastlines and topography in Gimp?

  1. #1

    Default ...make realistic coastlines and topography in Gimp?

    Now of course I don't expect to be good at this right away, but I'd love to get started on creating my first map. I have NEVER created a map before, newbie here, be patient with me!!!

    I have created a basic outline and shape of my map. It's not a world map but it's definitely considerable in size as I would like to have it rather detailed.

    My main interest though is the geography/basic layout out the land...the country borders, cities, towns, roads etc. can come later.

    How can I make the coastlines look more realistic? How can I add some depth to my map (mountains, valleys, grasslands, rivers etc...)?

    Can anyone suggest a good tutorial to get me started? OH btw, I use Gimp 2.4!

    Any suggestions would be fantastic!
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  2. #2
    Community Leader NeonKnight's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
    Surrey, Canada, EH!


    Well......To answer your question requires the answer to another question. Scale. How far is it North/South and East/West.

    If it is only 1 mile x 2 miles. Looks good. Is it something like the Cost of Africa/South America geography wise (mostly coastal plains/lowlands) or more like British Columbia (Coastal mountains = Lots of Inlets)?
    Daniel the Neon Knight: Campaign Cartographer User

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  3. #3


    North to south it is roughly 450 miles...east to west (to the furthest tip) it's about 840 miles

    Original image size is 2000x3000 so had to shrink the copy down so it was small enough to upload!

    Little bit of both NeonKnight, but I would be leaning more towards British Columbia...

  4. #4
    Administrator Redrobes's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
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    I would say you need to get some more detail in your coast...

    Then pick where you want your mountains. You can think about tectonic plates and where they might be crashing to form them. Once mountains are in then work out where hills and lower lands are formed.

    Then when you have a good idea about the height over your land do the rivers.

    Once rivers are in then work out lakes and paths that people would take to get around the land. Then at ports, junctions or convenient or strategic locations put down your towns.

  5. #5


    OK...coastline is looking better and I had a play around with the land and the ocean...wanting to put mountains in next but not quite sure where to start? I roughly know where I would like to place them, but that's about it!!!

    Still learning how to use the Gimp...I got pretty good at using photoshop back in college but that was a few years back, and Gimp is a bit different!
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  6. #6


    There are a number of great GIMP tutorials in the Tutorial section of the site. I would recommend going through a couple of those so you learn some of the techniques for GIMP. I know there is a coastal tutorial and I'm pretty sure I remember a mountains one. At least you have some PS background. When I joined here I didn't have any digital background. Gimp was my first such application and I've only done a couple of the tutorials but have learned tons.
    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

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  7. #7


    Thanks, there are heaps of great tutorials, think I'll just have to keep going through them and trying different techniques till I find what works best

  8. #8
    Guild Novice Solomiranthius's Avatar
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    Jun 2010


    I'm a GIMP newbie too and found these tutorials really helpful, although it might not be quite the style you're going for?

    RobA's "Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map" and "Simple Mountains in GIMP"
    Arsheesh's "Making Photo-realistic Trees in GIMP: A Mini-Tut"

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