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Thread: Quick and Easy Land Sculpting in Photoshop

  1. #1

    Tutorial Quick and Easy Land Sculpting in Photoshop

    I came up with this technique on my last map as I've been trying to find a really quick and easy (and easy to remember) way to "sculpt" the land into hills and ditches and things.

    1) First of all you take your base ground/grass layer or whatever and once you are happy with it, select it all and copy it.

    2) Start a new image, paste your land layer to it and then define it as a pattern. Call it whatever you want, then close the image.

    3) On your original image, create a new layer above your base land layer. Open up the layer style menu for this layer, add a pattern overlay (using the pattern you just made), and add some bevel and emboss using similar settings to the one in the attached image. You can play with it to get the sort of effects you want.

    4) Take a low opacity (about 33%) soft brush and just begin drawing in your contours. It might take a bit of practice to get it took how you want it too, but it's very quick and simple.

    I hope someone finds this useful.
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  2. #2


    This is a good technique for creating nice hills and valleys, but it can be simplified a little with a neat PS trick, though:

    1.) Have your base ground texture, then create a new transparent layer above it.
    2.) Apply your bevel/emboss layer effect, and lower the "fill" (the number right beneath the layer opacity) to 0%.
    3.) On this top layer, use whatever brushes you want (color doesn't matter because it won't show up with fill at 0). Just spray it on like you did before, and you'll basically just be painting the height effect directly on.

    This saves you the extra step of defining a pattern and ticking the 'pattern overlay.' Fill is almost the same as opacity, but it tells PS to continue to show the layer effects, just not whatever you've painted on the layer.

    Hope this helped!
    Last edited by RecklessEnthusiasm; 10-04-2010 at 10:56 AM.

  3. #3


    Ahh that is very useful to know, I shall try that! Thanks!

  4. #4

  5. #5


    I'm happy to share what little I know!

  6. #6
    Guild Novice Mordizer's Avatar
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    Sep 2010
    Liverpool, UK


    So *that's* what Fill does!

  7. #7


    Yes, I've been playing with it since RecklessEnthusiasm's post and it is much better because it doesn't cover up the lower layers with a pattern as my original method does, but is otherwise identical in result. And I have also learned exactly what fill does!

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