I've been using textures a lot in my recent maps (see the link in my sig for examples) and I promised I'd start putting together a tutorial on some of the techniques I've been using. Since it seems unlikely that I will actually complete a document in the near-term I figured that I should start a thread and just post to it as I get time. Hopefully, when I've got enough material I can put together a more formal document with step-by-step instructions in PDF format. I'll upload that here when the time comes. So, without further delay:
Creating area maps with textures
a WiP tutorial by mearrin69
I'm a big fan of artistic, hand-painted maps but they take a lot of time and skill. Some maps, maybe all maps, can be created in another, more-rapid style: using textures derived from photos (or algorithmically, if you have access to Genetica or similar). This tutorial will explore some techniques for using textures to build area maps. I used Adobe Photoshop CS4 to create the images used in this tutorial but the methods should translate fairly well to other versions of Photoshop and (I hope) to any reasonably advanced image editing package.
One thing you'll need is a texture library. There are a lot of sources for textures (including your own digital camera!) out there. Here are a couple of which I'm familiar:
http://www.imageafter.com - This is my main source of images for textures. The site features tons of photographs that can be turned into seamless texture maps (there's a tutorial around here showing you how to do that, so I won't go into it here). There are no restrictions on these images, other than regarding redistribution (but check for yourself because I'm not a lawyer).
http://www.spiralgraphics.biz/ - The makers of Genetica (an algorithmic texture generation tool) have a free library of textures available for download, along with their free viewer. Some of these are good (especially the terrain textures) and some are cartoony. All are seamless, saving that step.
The Base Map
The techniques I've been using relies on creating "base" layers over which textures are applied. I tend to separate my drawing into groups of layers related to function (ground, buildings, vegatation, adjustments, etc.) - see screen capture. I suspect most everyone has a similar organization scheme, but include mine here for completeness. Most of these groups will contain a base layer of some kind that will serve two primary purposes: 1) as a selection short-cut (just Ctrl-click the thumbnail in the Layers palette) and 2) as a foundation upon which to add textures and layer styles. In the attached photo, you can see the main base layers of my House of the Four Winds battlemap. I have made each of these a distinct color. The ground is grey, bushes are light green and trees dark green, buildings are pinkish red, walls are black, and the roofs of the wall towers are dark red.
There are lots of ways to create this base map - as long as you end up with organized layers containing some nice hard-edged shapes representing your final map objects (soft-edged shapes have a place too but we'll get to that later). This base map was created by taking a blown-up snip from my Haibianr city map, over which I used the selection and fill tools to draw in the buildings and a dynamic brush to scribble in trees and bushes. My Brushy, Kansas entry for the August mapping challenge started as a map generated by the RPG Citymap Generator, which output a bitmap image that I then cleaned up and separated into layers. For Argria (a WiP city map created for the CWBP) I used Adobe Illustrator to create the building shapes and then Placed layers from that drawing into Photoshop. I did the same with my Docks of Haibianr area map, working in Illustrator over a snip from my larger city map.
Next time: Laying the groundwork...