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Thread: Advice on how to proceed

  1. #1

    Post Advice on how to proceed

    I want to create a map as closely replicating a google "terrain" map (see attachment).

    A regional map, totally fictitious.

    I recently, today, discovered Wilbur, and am trying to work through the "Mountain techniques using Wilbur and GIMP" tutorial. I'm new to GIMP, only started using it today so I could do the tutorial, my main program is PSCS4.

    I don't have an issue with randomly generated terrain although I would like to control how many mountains there are. In other words I may want a map that is fairly flat with a few notable elevation levels. Or I may want one that's more mountainous.

    This is the method I'm current using to do elevations in PS:

    I'm very comfortable with it, but I realized today that GIMP has some neat features that offer an alternative such as the bump mapping.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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  2. #2


    I'm fairly certain that there are bump-mapping plug-ins out there for Photoshop. I know that nVidia at least has plug-ins that can generate normal maps. If what you're using in photoshop works for you then stick with it.

  3. #3
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Ascension's Avatar
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    St. Charles, Missouri, United States


    I've never been able to get that Normal Map Filter to work. As for advice, I'm not really a terrain specialist so I don't have the foggiest idea as to where to point you...sorry 'bout that.
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  4. #4


    Actually I was looking to replicate the look and feel. I believe the shading technique I linked is perfect for the job. What I'm looking for is a painless way to generate the height map. I believe Wilbur is what I'm looking for, but I don't know enough about the program to get it to do what I want.

    The primary sticking point using Wilbur is my ability to control the elevations. I think it's capable of doing what I want, I just don't know how to do it.

    I'd like to be able to generate maps that look fairly decent at 1:50,000 scale or smaller.

  5. #5


    You could use a cloud filter/generator to get different levels. That can then be tweeked using Brightness and contrast. Contrast will define your features. More (greater diversity) less flattens the height field. There are other filters you can use as well. Working in layers you can work pretty quickly (faster then in wilber I've found). You have less actual control as your using filters to do your work for you. You can work on area's individually. Take a smaller area and duplicate (flip/mirror) and so on as well.

    Using the magic wand you can select large area and change there depth or height. Creating rivers. Use a blur to give you gradients for shore lines and river banks.

    One thing is to save multiple versions of your map as you move through the design phase. This will let go back and work forward again if you get stuck.

    The most painless way to create a height map (normal/bump) is to use one that already exists for a planet or other such mapping. Any bump map will do you can then add or remove to make it your own design.

    You could also go 3D. In Blender you can sculpt a mesh pushing and pulling on it to get the shape you want. I hadn't thought of using it for mapping but could be used in combination to a normal map.


    Blender is a GNU 3D modeling suite including a game engine as well. I myself have used it for map visualization and works quite well at generation. As it has material editing very similar to filiters in 2D software. With the added benefit of 3D shading and so on.
    Last edited by Ronson2k10; 01-14-2010 at 02:24 PM.

  6. #6
    Administrator Redrobes's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
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    I write some terrain generation tools and two of them are free. One is called Instant Islands and is here :

    the other is a 3D terrain viewer called DragonFlight :

    The instant islands saves out a Height.bmp and a Height_minor.bmp. You can use just the height.bmp for 8 bit height info or add in the minor for 16 bit height. The viewer takes those two files and also a Color.bmp file (also produced from the Instant Islands) to show the 3D terrain. From those height maps you can create a) the google type color scheme for it and b) view it in 3D pretty fast.

    Very recently tho, Waldronate has posted up some fun with Wilbur threads about creating terrain with it so check those out too.

  7. #7
    Software Dev/Rep Guild Sponsor waldronate's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    The High Desert


    Look at the tesselation tool in Wilbur. It may make what you're trying to do a little easier. has an example applied to the classic Erebor map from The Hobbit. Yes, it does show water, but that's a trivial thing to adjust.

  8. #8


    Thanks guys.

    I will try everything that was suggested, and use what works.

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