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Thread: [Award Winner] Local-scale tree texture in Photoshop CS3

  1. #1

    Tutorial [Award Winner] Local-scale tree texture in Photoshop CS3

    As promised, here is an easier-to-follow tutorial for the tree texture from Cartotalk. This is a refinement of the technique used in Mennin's Hallow, and the technique I am using for my current Challenge Map, Galerius Hallow.

    First, set up a document at whatever resolution you intend to work at. For the purposes of this tutorial, I'll be working at 1280 X 1024 pixels. To start out, you'll need two layers. The top one will contain your texture and the bottom your base color for the forests. Mine are named Texture and Color.
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    Fill your Texture layer with solid black using the Paint Bucket tool.
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    Filter > Noise > Add Noise...

    Set Amount to 1 - 3%. Distribution Uniform. Tick the Monochromatic box. Changing the Amount will alter the scale of your texture. A lower number will make bigger trees.
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    Set your foreground color to black. ("D" on the keyboard will set your colors to the default black foreground and white background.)
    Choose Select > Color Range... Set the fuzziness to 5 and click "OK."
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    You should see a big mess of "marching ants" now. Hit the Delete key, and then Ctrl-D to deselect everything, leaving only a lot of specks everywhere.

    Now it's time to start adding some color. Choose your Color layer and fill it with the base green you want your texture to have.
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    Last edited by Midgardsormr; 01-13-2009 at 01:37 PM. Reason: simplified the process
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist

  2. #2


    Now select your Texture layer again, and click the Layer Styles button, which is circled in yellow in the following screenshot. From the drop-down box, choose Bevel and Emboss...
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    Now you can play with the settings to get just the texture you want. You'll want to set the Highlight color to a light green and the Shadow color to a very dark green. The Contrast value you chose when applying the Grain filter will strongly influence what settings work well here. A lower contrast grain will probably look better with an Inner Bevel style, while the higher contrast that I used works best with an Outer Bevel.

    Here's what my texture looks like at this point, filling the entire document:
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    Go ahead and flatten the image at this point and rename the resulting layer "Forest." Then click the "Add Vector Mask" button.
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    Click once on the white rectangle that appeared in the Layers window and use the Paint Bucket to fill the mask with black. Your forest will vanish, leaving an apparently blank document.

    Switch to the Channels window (Window > Channels if the tab is not visible next to the Layers window tab), and click on the Forest Mask channel. Now, using a large white brush, paint on the mask. Everywhere you paint white, the forest texture will reappear. Painting black will hide it again.
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    You can use the technique of your choice to roughen up the edges. I like the Spatter filter. Filter > Brush Strokes > Spatter. Remember that you want to roughen the edges of the mask channel, not the texture layer itself.
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    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist

  3. #3


    And, finally, the forest with its roughened edges:
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    If there are any questions about this process, please ask, and I'll do my best to clarify.
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist

  4. #4
    Guild Artisan Hoel's Avatar
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    Nov 2008
    Skövde, Sweden


    I think it looks a bit too sharp. I'd go a bit softer or maybe blur it a bit.

  5. #5
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Steel General's Avatar
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    Ft. Wayne, IN


    Thanks Midgard! I tried to work through that a few times and kept getting confused.
    This is much easier to follow.

    I dub thee newly repped *bonk*
    Last edited by Steel General; 01-10-2009 at 10:55 PM.
    My Finished Maps | My Challenge Maps | Ghoraja Juun, my largely stagnated campaign setting.

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  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by Hoel View Post
    I think it looks a bit too sharp. I'd go a bit softer or maybe blur it a bit.
    I'd say that's something to leave until the rest of the map is done and you're trying to make all the pieces look right together. You don't want to do something destructive to the texture too early.

    edit: and if you like it, don't forget to rate it! I want me one of them fancy badges eventually.
    Last edited by Midgardsormr; 01-10-2009 at 08:58 PM.
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist

  7. #7
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Ascension's Avatar
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    St. Charles, Missouri, United States


    Nice results and easy to follow because it's explained well. Good job my friend.
    If the radiance of a thousand suns was to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One...I am become Death, the Shatterer of worlds.
    -J. Robert Oppenheimer (father of the atom bomb) alluding to The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 11, Verse 32)

    My Maps ~ My Brushes ~ My Tutorials ~ My Challenge Maps

  8. #8
    Guild Novice
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    Very nice, smooth and very easy to follow. I will be using this again!

  9. #9


    Update: I changed a step. The original tutorial on Cartotalk required use of the grain texture, but equivalent results can be obtained with the noise filter set to monochromatic and about 1%. This eliminates the need to change the color space and allows the technique to be used at any point in the image creation instead of requiring that it be done at the beginning (or pasted in from another document).
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist

  10. #10
    Guild Journeyer Vandy's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
    Durham, NC USA

    Question Will this work with PS CS2?

    Hi, Midgardsormr.

    Ah, Denver. Great city. We lived in Jefferson county (Wadsworth and Ken Caryl) from November, 1987 through February, 1990.

    This is really a nice tutoriala and I'm interested in trying it. Before I do, however, I have a question.

    Have you used any PS CS3 features / functions that either aren't available or couldn't be adapted to PS CS2?



    In the end you will see, you is you and me is me.
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