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Thread: Relief shadows on Illustrator

  1. #1
    Guild Journeyer Nathan's Avatar
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    Question Relief shadows on Illustrator

    Quite simple question.
    This is a quick look of Beltane, a province of my fictionnal country :


    Let me zoom to a random mountainous part of it :


    I'm using Adobe Illustrator (a layer for each relief colour) and wonder how to make relief shadows ?
    I found tutorials to create them from a scratch using Photoshop, but to you think it is possible to create them from pre-existing relief to make it more realistic ?
    (like in this real exemple : http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...cation_map.jpg
    of a part of Alsace in France)

  2. #2
    Guild Journeyer Marken4's Avatar
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    Don't use Illustrator, sorry, but nice map

  3. #3
    Guild Journeyer Nathan's Avatar
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    I don't mind using something else than illustrator
    Even if i rather use it

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    Community Leader Gracious Donor ravells's Avatar
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    Generally to get relief maps like that you need a grey-scale heightmap or DEM data. I can't think of a way to do it in illustrator other than drawing a million vector objects as the shadows which would take you a year and a day. Or I guess you could autotrace an existing heightmap, but then it's really hard to get a fit.

    Have you seen Tom Patterson's Shaded Relief website? There's a lot of good stuff and tutorials there.

  5. #5
    Guild Master Gracious Donor Midgardsormr's Avatar
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    Yeah, Illustrator isn't really the tool to use for shaded relief, although it's outstanding for many other cartography needs. Your existing contours are fairly low-resolution (not very many steps), but you still might be able to use it to generate shaded relief in Photoshop or the Gimp. You'll need to find a way to reliably interpolate between the different elevations in order to get a smooth greyscale gradient. Ideally, you'll want the very highest point to be white and the very lowest to be black. Then use that image to generate the lighting information. In Photoshop, that would be done by copying the greyscale data to an alpha channel and running the lighting effects filter on whatever image you want the relief to be applied to. I recommend a layer filled with 50% grey, so the result can be placed over anything and set to overlay—that will apply the relief in a non-destructive manner to anything you like.

    You might also look into Wilbur, which can potentially add a lot of erosion detail to your heightmap, and I think it will also output shaded relief, although I don't think it will do much for creating your initial elevation map.

    The Gimp might be the way to go to get your gradient, as it has a very nice tool that can create a gradient from the edge of a selection to its center, something that Photoshop can't do, as far as I know. Illustrator might be able to do it using a gradient mesh, but I'm not sure how that works, and it's far more complicated than the simple Gimply approach.
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist
    http://www.bryanray.name

  6. #6
    Guild Journeyer Nathan's Avatar
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    Thanks for your answers, i'll give it a try even though i'm not very used to map making in photoshop

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