As of late, I've been on a rather extended hiatus, obviously. With the holidays, family events and trying to move into a larger place, I haven't had much time for pursuing creative interests. I've not been completely idle, however.
This project, which I've been plugging away at an hour or so at a time over the last several weeks, comes as a result of my entry for the November "Destroyed Lands" Challenge. One of the things I really enjoyed about that challenge was the path of discovery it led me on in terms of contour development and erosion. As well, I believe that I mentioned I intended to work on a larger (read that as expanded) version of the area in question. I've also taken a significantly different approach to landform development with this map.
Rather than relying on randomly generated terrain, I've been tracing out the contours based on elevation data for the area in question. I wish I could say that 1a) it's been easy, or 2a) that there is a quick way to accomplish this particular task, but 1b) it hasn't and, 2b) so far as I know, there isn't. I suppose I could have tried to isolate a DEM for the area and worked that through Wilbur, but the isolation process didn't work out so well for me when I gave it a shot, at least not for that small of an area (roughly 15 by 15 miles). So I've had to trace the contours line by line without the benefit of a tablet. All in all, I'm happy with the progress given the fact that I'm having, at best, only a couple hours a week to work on the model. What has made it this map the most difficult, so far, is the resolution I'm working with.
Terragen, version 0.9.43, requires a square image of 129, 257, 513, 1025, 2049 or 4097 pixels in size. Because I wanted to be able to get a good deal of detail into this map, I've been working with the maximum resolution and contours at every 40 feet or so ranging from 2088 feet to sea-level. That, in case you haven't guessed, is a whoooooooole lot of tracing. So far, I've managed everything down to about 600 feet, and some areas even lower.
The other side of that coin is the idea that I'm making it larger than life. In real world terms, the area measures approximately 225 square miles. In terms of the "fantastical" setting for this map, however, the area measures just over 5300 square miles, and the elevations are being expanded from sea-level to 2088 meters rather than feet. I did have to cut out a chunk of land in the southwest corner so that the southwestern islands (those sitting at the mouth of the southern river) made a bit more sense geographically speaking.
I've got a long way to go with the contour building, but thought I should at least post something to show that I've not completely abandoned the whole map making hobby. I've got a few new ideas about how I'm going to render textures in Terragen (particularly the forest textures) that will involve a bit of editing in both PSP and Wilbur, but if they work as planned, the results should be much better than I've achieved in the past.
In any event, here is a rough, low-end render (1/4 size of the intended final render) of where the map stands at this point. The coloring isn't "beautiful" right now, and I've not really started worrying about rivers/lakes other than the major ones, but, hopefully, it gives an idea of how far along the map is. As it stands right now, this map isn't connected to any of my other projects (most of which are on a back burner at this point), but it is doing wonders as far as helping me define (or maybe that should read "re-define") my own style/technique. I'll try to continue updating this thread as often as I can, but don't expect a rush of updates in the immediate future as I'm still in the process of moving and all of the wonderful things that go along with that particular task. The good news is, though, I'll be getting a high-speed connection much sooner than anticipated as the place I'm moving to is already set up for Fiber Optics. WoooooHoooooo!!!!!!!!