Fractal Terrains Pro - suitable for what I want?
Recently I have been thinking about purchasing Fractal Terrains Pro as it seems very good from what I can see, however I have a few specific questions as I have a certain type of map in mind.
Basically, a random world is fine (such as FT generates), but I would like to be able to produce something that looks like this which looks quite neat and realistic and has contour lines without too much colour - most of the FT maps I saw were in full colour:
Also, is it possible to make maps with limited colours (such as black and white and perhaps grey or brown for mountains) or maps only showing the coastline? I ask this because my main interest is to plot languages and dialect groups via the use of shading etc. So I will also want to make things similar to this:
I realise the shading and such will probably have to be done in GIMP, but does FTpro seem suitable for what I'm aiming at?
As far as I know, FT will not draw contour lines against a single base colour. It can export contour lines as a CC or svg file and get your contours that way. You could also export each altitude as a 'flat colour' save the image as a .png, bring it into something like gimp or photoshop and then make your contours that way. Using a 'trace contours' filter it doesn't take long. See image below.
It is possible to make the colour palette as limited as you want for mountains, so yes. See second picture. Hope this helps!
Easy to do one-color land, you just set the altitude to one band, and depths of sea to one band, pick colors you want, then output.
You can improvise a coastline right in FT, if you're not too picky about the look of the line. You set the bands of above-sea-level altitude to one, set it to the desired land color, then set as high a quantity of bands as you can select singles with your mouse/ pen/ touchpad. You'll have, say, thirty bands all in beige. Then select the single band just above sealevel and make it black (or whatever works for your color scheme). Voila - a very narrow altitude color band; practically a line. It'll be fatter in low-slope areas and thinner in steep places.
Otherwise, you can easily work with a one-color-land / one-color-water output from FT, in some other package. I'll typically do black/white, then select all edges (trace edges, in some apps' terminology). In my preferred graphics package, PhotoPlus, a 'find edges" goes one way or the other from the actual black-white boundary - If I find I've accidentally drawn my coastline "out at sea" as it were, a simple flip of the b vs w and a find again will 'move' the coastline up onto land.
Even if you don't want topographic data on your thematic map, it can help to work with some kind of countours, altitude, shading, or whatnot as an overlay -- impassible mountains are as good a barrrier for language spread as oceans, right? Refer to the topo layer when laying in your topical areas, and hide it when doing a final output. An example of a thematic map - see adjacent gallery pix for other ways I used the same base map derived from FT.
Thanks both - very informative, especially since I'm just getting used to things.
Jbgibson, I was wondering did you create your world mostly in FT? I ask this because your maps are exactly the style I am looking to create myself.
Also, you said " then set as high a quantity of bands as you can select singles with your mouse/ pen/ touchpad.", I'm not quite sure what you meant by set a high quantity as I can select singles...?
Last edited by davoush; 11-18-2011 at 01:23 PM.
Sorry - I missed this. Yes - the world is generated in FT, with significant editing of the plain fractal shape. It needed plains to go along with those nice jagged mountains. I also went to the trouble to figure a little of climatic effects like rain shadows, and manually modded the rainfall to suit. But it doesn't take into account the subsequent detailed climate analysis work we did -- we were too impatient to Get Something Useable In Place :-).
I don't have my FT at hand now, but seems like in the color & lighting dialog there's a place to enter how many altitude bands one wants. Hint - don't type in something like "12", else as you enter the first character it'll go to ONE band, only jumping to twelve as you hit the second digit. Instead, type a 12 in a text editor, copy and paste into the field, and it'll jump to the desired number immediately. For instance, you can select four bands, manually color those four - possible since the eyedropper pointer can select one of four, reliably. Then when you boost it to a higher number i think I remember it interpolating colors in between the ones you manually set.
"as many as you can select among singly" means that if you get up into 20-30 -more bands, it'll start to get hard to select the right one at a time to set a color on. At fifty or eighty, where a single band next to sea level would look decent as a coast outline, the bands in the color selector panel are just a few pixels wide, and mediocre mouse control will drive you nuts trying to click the RIGHT one.