Fractal Terrains issues
Greetings. I need some advice.
I've started using FT Pro to create the world I've been imagining for years (D&D). Maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree and I shouldn't be using FT, but what I basically want is a DEM that I can project different ways, depending on my mood, and then export chunks wholesale to something like CC3. So far, so good, right? FT Pro does that stuff.
My problem is that I've already got most of my world created on old pieces of 8x11 notebook paper, a few old .bmp files, etc. And so I'm not generating a random world. In fact, I've based a lot of my world on Earth, and so I figured it'd be easy to load up one of the Earth binary files that comes with FT Pro, do some quick modifications (e.g., put an inland sea in North America, sink Brazil under the ocean, move Antarctica so it was off the east coast of Australia, etc.), and then I could do the fun stuff (exporting to CC3 and then making the maps themselves). Except... doing terrain modification in FT Pro is a pain. The paint brush seems to "miss" where I'm trying to paint (e.g., I try to use raise the seabed of the Adriatic so Italy's boot is part of the European mainland, and FT Pro puts a ridge to the east of the Adriatic), I can't simply "cut & paste" a continent to a new location, and when I try to raise/lower terrain, I get funky results (e.g., creating a new mountain chain invariably scoops out some basins where I don't want them).
So I tried using an Image Overlay and painting climatic zones to match my imagination, and then burning those zones to the map. Lousy results. Maybe because I was burning them to the original Earth map? So I exported the Overlay to png, then tried several different ways of importing the png back to a blank world. No luck, as FT Pro tells me that there's an error with my png file that I just exported.
I tell ya, it's enough to make me want to... go into CC3 and do it from scratch there. But I bought FT Pro and it has to have some use, right?
The question(s), then:
1) Am I missing something? Is there some easier way to modify existing (binary) worlds in FT Pro? The documentation that came with the software, and that I've downloaded from ProFantasy, is really lacking. But if I could figure out a way to reliably and accurately raise & lower terrain on an existing (binary) world, I would just do that.
2) Has anyone ever done mods to Earth in FT Pro? What's the best/easiest way to do it? I don't want to create my world from scratch--particularly because the nice thing about using Earth as a reference point is that I already know climate zones, biomes, distances, etc. But I'd be willing to create my world from scratch... if there was a decently-easy way to do it. Right now, from the problems I'm having simply editing an Earth dataset, I'm not sure starting from scratch would be all that much better.
3) Should I forget the pipe dream of having a DEM that I can reference & export whenever I need a new map? One of my main goals was to be able to easily re-export a map at a different scale, or orientation, or projection, if I felt like it. Having a set of maps in CC3 is fine and dandy, but what if I decide I want to visualize something that isn't in my current atlas? Then I end up making a new map from scratch.
Thanks for your feedback/advice.
Well I know that there are some CCIII maps out there that are based on the earth. I actually think one of the Oerth / Greyhawk maps is based on a migrated continent version of earth. It would be pretty easy to adapt that one.
Importing a BMP image to use as a base for CCIII is pretty handy. I have done it with a map I had on a 20 X 20 inch I had hand drawn.
I don't have any info on FT, I've never looked at that program.
Waldronate is the guild master of FT Pro and Wilbur. In the mean time, have you looked at Wilbur as well ? I was led to believe that it had some height manipulation ability too and I think its data is compatible with FT Pro.
Ravells has just posted about another height map editing program which might create data compatible with FT Pro:
Here is another heightmap editor that looks quite interesting - if you load a terraced heightmap into it (eg one rendered in 8 bit) it fractalises away the terraces (or is supposed to). Costs US$ 20 though
As far as I know, sliding a continent around in FTPro is right out. The map elevations are a function based on the fractal function and the lat/long coordinates. Moving it around changes the coordinates. But I have never worked with a burned-in surface before, only randomly-generated worlds.
For filling in the Adriatic Sea, try drawing a selection around it and then setting elevation to 0, rather than trying to paint it by hand. Then you can go through and hand-paint any terrain features you want. You will lose the existing terrain though, so you if you wanted to keep something from it, save off an image and use that image to try and replicate it afterward.
I am not sure using the pre-generated Earth terrain file will do what you are dreaming of though. If I am reading right, you want a map you can zoom in to any piece of and be able to export a clean map, at any resolution. I would be willing to bet (but don't actually know for sure) that the map of Earth is a pixel-based image, and therefore has an inherent resolution limitation. Zooming in won't reveal more detail, just larger pixels. I am trying to get the same sort of result you are, but with a randomly-generated world (see my Gryphii WIP for the project so far). I've gotten as far as exporting map slices that have a 1 pixel = 1 mile resolution at the equator, but haven't yet started assembling them into regional maps, as other projects have bumped it for the moment. You might be able to adapt my work by starting with a flat FTPro world (it's one of the options when building a world) and then using the Pre-Scale editing tools to paint in your continents. You'll probably want to get a copy of the latest beta version from ProFantasy before starting if you haven't already.
Hope this helps, and feel free to contact me with any questions or issues. I'm hardly an expert on FTPro, but I might be able to help, or point you to a resource somewhere.
Yeah, but this runs into the same problem that simply trying to paint terrain runs into: I use the freehand selection tool to select an area, and then when I complete the selection, it's actually off--in the case of the Adriatic, I carefully select the seabed, and then when I complete the selection loop and click, the selection becomes the eastern half of Italy and western half of the Adriatic.
Originally Posted by Master TMO
I hear what you're saying about zoom issues. I guess I oversimplified what I was actually hoping to do: I don't necessarily want to be able to zoom to any scale to export maps. I just want to be able to not worry about re-creating base data when making new maps. If, for example, I have a map of the Mediterranean area, I want to be able to create a new map of southern Europe using the same data. I thought that creating the world in FTPro would be the best idea, so I could just re-export different views/scales to CC3 when needed. The more I play with FTPro, though, the less handy it seems for world editing--seems like it's more for random world generation.
It's frustrating to try to select & edit specific areas of the map, only to end up with the tools selecting/editing other areas. Which leads me to try to guess where the edits will actually happen, which leads to weird results (including the aforementioned problem of built-up terrain creating basins, and vice versa).
I'm going to try a few more things, take a look at some of the resources people have suggested, and then maybe give up on FTPro completely. I don't mind so much paying for software that turns out useless, but it does bug me that I won't have my world preserved in a single datafile that I can reproject at any point.
Phew. Just spent 5 minutes banging my head against this editing wall. More and more, FTPro is annoying me. I try to fill in the Adriatic, and I just end up making the Appenino taller. If I enter a value and try to paint the selection to that elevation (i.e., rather than raising or lowering terrain, simply entering "50" feet and trying to paint the terrain to that elevation), nothing happens. Filling in basins doesn't work.
Then I decided to go nuts and just try raising/lowering terrain, and putting in a value of "100" resulted in filling in 8000 ft-deep oceans with one sweep, and knocking 1500-ft tall hills into 1000-ft deep ocean with one sweep.
How the heck to people actually edit landforms in FTPro?
Last edited by Jaell; 03-29-2011 at 12:59 PM.
Can you post a before and after image of what you're seeing in the Adriatic? I think I may have an idea of what's going on, but I'd have to see it to confirm, so I don't send you off on a wild goose chase.
Fractal Terrains, in my experience, is a difficult little beast to master successfully, especially if you have specific outcomes in mind and you're going about it through self-learning. But you'll get there. I used to fight with it a lot with little or no success. Now, I just don't know what I would do without it.
Wilbur does in fact have height manipulation ability.
Originally Posted by Redrobes
Basically OP, what I recommend is:
1. Using photoshop, GIMP, or a similar image editing program, create a basic outline of your continents and large islands. Color what you want to be land white, and what you want to be ocean black.
2. Save that as a .png or .bmp file.
3. Open the file in Wilbur.
4. Using select> from terrain, select all the ocean and bring it to one or two miles below sea level. Select the land and bring it to around zero.
5. Using either filters>fill>mound (which unfortunately puts mountains in the centers of continents) or by using a brush (don't worry, it's not as hard as in FT pro) create some contours for your terrain, including where the major mountain ranges are.
6. For your oceans, you can just do a mound and then invert it. If it looks weird, try using fill basins.
7. Make it a bit random with percentage noise. I find a value of 5-10% works well.
8. Use the span filter to get your maximum and minimum heights how you want them.
9. Now erode it. Incise flow can work, but I prefer precipitation based, even if it takes longer. This will create more authentic-looking shapes. However, it will also wear down your mountains, so in step 7 you should make them a little higher than you want in the final result. This should also erode a bit of land and create continental shelves.
10. Adjust your land a bit with brushes and the exponent filter. If your continents are too high in altitude, you can probably use the subtract brush with high width and height but a low value, or use the exponent filter with a value for land between 1 (no change) and 2. If your mountains are too eroded, you can fix them with the span filter, but be careful, as it may affect the altitudes of low-lying land and shallow ocean.
11. Now smooth out your adjustments with a bit more erosion.
12. To make continental shelves, you can either use mathematical>offset to lower everything 500-1000 feet, or use the exponent filter with a value for "sea" of about 2.
13. One more pass with the erosion filter should finish smoothing things out.