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  1. #1

    Question Here's a question for you

    I am writing a book that I want to make a map for.

    I installed GIMP to make this map with.

    I need a world map that consists of three different continents.

    I am wanting to make a color map with 3-d ish looking mountains such as I have seen posted here. (such as the one made in RobA's wonderfull regional worldbuilding tutorial)

    I have the basic shape/outline of one of the continents made.

    Here is what I see as my problems so far. I am not making just a region but a whole continent. (That and I am trying to create a world map as my first project in GIMP that is)

    I think I have a grasp on the basics in GIMP and from what I know, I am at a loss to figure out how to color/texture the land. (don't get me started on mountains)

    The map has differnet regions that are of course different climates.

    I can't just generate a noise layer and then auto color the texture and bump map it. That won't work. I need the different regions to have different colors and textures (and eleveations)

    I can't just paint it with a wide brush and have it look like what I want it to.

    How do I best go about this then?

    Just how does one create a world map such as I am needing the encompasses jungles, deserts, temperate, etc, conditions?

    How do you texture/color elevevate something like that?

    What would be the method that I should go about to acomplish this?

    Do I cut the map into segments and work on each segment and then somehow merge them all at a later date?

    Do I select what I think each region will be and texture those and somehow blend them afterwards?

    Do I somehow create layers of each regional climate and somehow piece them together at the end?

    I have hand drawn a map, and I know what I want (mostly) and where I want it.

    I am thinking about just cutting the map in 1/2 and only working on the northern for 1/2 now as the first book will only deal with this northern area. (I think)

    I would rather do the whole continent all at once though.

    I just don't quite know how to make it in GIMP with my limited understanding that I have of the program.

    Suggestions, links, advice etc would be most welcome.

    Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
    Community Leader NeonKnight's Avatar
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    I'll leave this to the GIMP experts
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  3. #3
    Community Leader Guild Sponsor Korash's Avatar
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    "This sounds like a job for the Masked Layer!!!" (cue cheezy superhero music and echoes)

    Seriously, if you want to break up a drawing into different "sections", the best way is to use Layer masks. There is a great Tutorial by (correct me if I am wrong folks) jfrazierjr on the subject even if it isn't for gimp. RobA's tut also goes into the use of layer masks quite a bit, and I can not recomend that tut forcefully enough.

    Basically a layer mask allows you to show only the desired portions of a drawings layer (like a forest noise layer) by hiding everything that is under the black portion of the mask. To create a mask (and here I might be mistaken and others should correct me if I am) create a layer (we will call it "mask") and fill it with black. Then using a white brush, color the areas that you wish to show through. Select the white area using either the majic wand or the color select, then go to Select menu and click on "Selection to Channel" (I think, cause I am at work and no access to Gimp). You now have a mask.

    Using the mask is simpler. with a layer selected, either go to the Layer menu or right click on the layer, and select Add Layer Mask, check the Use Channel box and sellect the mask. Click OK. Bingo layer now has a mask and only the areas of the original layer under the masks white will show through.

    Hope this helps.

    You can create all kinds of masks for all kinds of layers for your drawing

    :edit: and I am no expert
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  4. #4
    Guild Artisan Facebook Connected
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    Quote Originally Posted by Korash View Post
    "This sounds like a job for the Masked Layer!!!" (cue cheezy superhero music and echoes)

    Seriously, if you want to break up a drawing into different "sections", the best way is to use Layer masks. There is a great Tutorial by (correct me if I am wrong folks) jfrazierjr on the subject even if it isn't for gimp. RobA's tut also goes into the use of layer masks quite a bit, and I can not recomend that tut forcefully enough.
    I think you are wrong, but only half-so. The layer-mask tut was made by jfrazierjr. But it actually is for GIMP.

    It's a really great tut for newbies and beginners; it breaks things down pretty simply, I think. [note: I'm not much better than a newbie/beginner myself; I'm still learning tons of new things, but I think I had the layer-mask thing down pretty pat by the time of this tut.]
    Last edited by Karro; 02-24-2009 at 12:44 PM.
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  5. #5


    The last thing I did in GIMP was to take my continent and split it into three parts.

    I had the idea that I would create a Northern, Central, and Southern Land Mask.

    I was thinking that I could render the textures and colors for each region using the land masks and that way all three regions would have a different look/feel.

    What I wasn't sure about is how they would blend with each other, and, how to put them all together for the finished map.

    I would end up with three layers (more w/ the ocean but I digress) and I wasn't quite sure how I put those layers together and then blend them smoothly.

    Should the land masks overlap a bit? I was stumped on how to cut the continent up and then how to put it all together again.

    The map is 1800 x 2400 pixles so I suppose I could do segments of 600. The selection tool jumps 2 pixles at a time so there would be a pixle over lap however I do it. (which I suppose a one pixle overlap isn't too bad)

    What would be the best way to do this?

    (what I was going to do) Take the continent and use the rectangle select tool and select the segment, then white out the rest and create that as a layered mask. Then do the next section, then the next etc, and end up with three layered masks that I would then use to generate different colors and textures to each section of the continent?

    How to put them all together at the end is where I am somewhat stumped. (I probably know how I am just so brain fried trying to figure this all out and am suffering a tad of overload)
    Last edited by Lute; 02-24-2009 at 01:13 PM.

  6. #6


    I think what you need is not a different mask for each continent, but a different mask for each texture. You fill the entire image with the texture of, say, your jungles. Add a solid black mask to it, so the jungle texture vanishes entirely (transparent everywhere). Then you take a white brush and dab it on the mask wherever you want the jungles to appear. If you make an error, it's simple enough to switch to a black brush and hide the mistake. White reveals, black conceals.

    If you then want to blur or roughen the edges of the mask, so the terrain types blend together more smoothly, you can run the filter on the mask itself--only the edges will blur, leaving the texture completely intact.

    You will find that approaching it this way lets you effectively paint your terrain in where you want it. The difficult part is finding or making textures that look the way you want them to look.
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist

  7. #7
    Community Leader RobA's Avatar
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    Apr 2007
    Toronto, Canada


    Hi Lute-

    First off, if it is for a book, make sure your publisher is prepared to deal with a colour map, as most prefer B&W. That may affect the style you are aiming for.

    I think you understand the basics. With your whole continent, set a base ocean and land. Then use new layers to created common details, either with layer masks (for example, land undulations), or directly on transparent layers (for example, city icons).

    Follow through the layer mask tutorial by jfrazierjr, as it definitely covers the key concepts.

    I'll be honest that photoshop is easier for this type of work, mainly because it supports layer effects (i.e. bevels - refer to the recent photoshop mountain tutorial).

    -Rob A>

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