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Thread: [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map

  1. #11
      RobA is offline
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    Post 9:Finishing the Land.

    After the bump map we now have this. You can adjust the opacity of the bump map to make it less noticeable if desired:
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post9-1.png

    This is OK, but it is a little two green for me. One option is to change the overall colour by adjusting the hue, and that would be that. Instead, we’ll add a dirt layer. This will be a combination of a filter generated mask layer, and hand painting the mask.

    Create a new layer called “Dirt” and fill it with the “med dirt” colour. Add some noise (Filters->Noise->HSV Noise):
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post9-2.png

    Now bump map this layer on itself to give a bit of lighting texture:
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post9-3.png

    Duplicate the “Land Mask” layer, bring it up to the top of the layer stack.
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post9-4.png

    and blur it by 50px or so:
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post9-5.png
    Last edited by RobA; 10-31-2009 at 10:33 PM. Reason: Thanks matrixm!

  2. #12
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    Post 10:Finishing the Land (cont.)

    Create a new layer on top of the blurry one, and fill it with rendered clouds, maximum detail and maximum size, then set its layer mode to Difference. This gives a noisy blaxck outline of the coast. (This is also a nice technique to make a light water effect along shores…)
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post10-1.png

    Merge down the difference layer, invert it, then bring up the layers dialog and adjust it to be a wider band of white on black. This will be used as the layer mask for the dirt….
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post10-2.png

    Go back to the Dirt Layer and add a layer mask, using the “Land Mask” channel. Now right click on the layer mask and select “Apply layer”. This will erase everything that is not above the land.

    Go back to the noisy blended layer you had created in the last stop (called land mask copy). Select all and copy this layer (ctrl+a, ctrl-c), Then select the “Dirt: layer, and add a layer mask and just select “White”. Now with the dirt layer mask active, paste the copy (ctrl-v). This will create a floating layer. Just hit the anchor icon to drop it down into the dirt layer mask. Now you can delete the temporary “land mask copy” layer:
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post10-3.png

    This can be improved by applying a Gaussian blur (Filters->Blur->Gaussian Blur, 10 px) and some pixel spread (Filters->Noise->Spread 10 px) to the mask. I also took a soft white brush with 60% opacity and coloured in the areas I want to be desert. To make this easier, I moved my original sketch up to the top and set its blend mode to burn. This let me see where I needed to fill in deserts. Lastly, I reduced the opacity of the Dirt level down to get a nice looking blend.
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post10-4.png

    Here is where we are so far:
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post10-5.png

    Coming soon... Mountains.

  3. #13
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    Post 11:Let There be Mountains

    Before you continue, there is a better way I found to make mountains located over here. It works well with the rest of this tutorial, and seems much easier and predictable than what follows here...



    The technique for making the mountains is very similar to that of making the land. Because we have an idea for a map, we will start in this case by sketching a blurred representation of where they should be. Otherwise, just use one of the random techniques:

    Create a new layer “Mountains”. Fill in white for the general areas of the mountain ranges, and apply a 50 px (or so) Gaussian blur. It is helpful to keep the original sketch on top with reduced opacity to act as a guide. Don’t worry about going in to the sea, because we can we can erase those areas later:
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post11-1.png

    Now the noise layer (I used detail 8 and size of and set the blend mode to multiply. Then add a third layer (remember the TLS) as a clipping layer, and use the levels dialog to bring it down to show the mountains you want Here is the screen showing the three layers
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post11-2.png

    Use the magic wand again to select the non-mountain area (like with the land) and create a new layer called “Mountains Mask” with a white on black. (Also the white colour selection as a new selection mask using Select->Save to Channel).

    Now we want to create a heightfield from this. The easiest way I have found to do this is to copy the current visible image (Edit->Copy Visible) then paste it (CTRL-V) to a floating selection. Click the New Layer button to get it on its own layer rather than a floating layer. Now stretch the colour range out (Color->Auto->Normalize):
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post11-3.png

    Rename this layer to “mountain colour”. Make a duplicate and call it “mountain bump map”. Now set the foreground colour to “lowest dirt” and the background colour to “highest dirt”, and on the “mountain colour” layer, do a Color->Map->Gradient Map.
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post11-4.png

    Normalize the colours (Colors->Auto->Normalize) and add a layer mask, using the mountain mask channel. (Note, the Dirt layer was turned of in this image by accident).
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post11-5.png
    Last edited by RobA; 09-01-2009 at 01:51 PM. Reason: update to better mountain

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    Post 12: Let There be Mountains – continued

    Similar to the dirt, apply a Gaussian blur and noise spread to the layer mask blend the mountains in a bit better. (Note, the Dirt layer was turned of in this image by accident)
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post12-1.png

    Create a new layer called “Mountains Bump” and fill it with 50% grey, and set its mode to overlay. Now run a bump map filter, using the “mountain bump map” layer you had made a duplicate of a while back. Play with the elevation and depth to get something that look good.
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post12-2.png

    To make the mountains pop a bit more, you may want to duplicate the “mountains bump layer.
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post12-3.png

    This is another useful technique. Make bumpmaps on a 50% grey layer and they can be overlayed on colour below. That lets you go back and edit the colour layer without affecting the bumpmap. Since GIMP doesn't support layer effects this is one of the ways I have come up with to to keep the image editing flexible.
    Last edited by RobA; 11-11-2007 at 10:21 PM.

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    Post 13:Finishing the land up.

    Forests are done the exact same way. EDIT - A Good Tutorial to making nice forests in this style in Gimp is here (Thanks arsheeshA). I used the same bump map as for the grass but increased the depth effect. I also put all the forest stuff below the mountain layers, so the mountains would appear to come out through the forest. You could do it the other way, and the forests would appear to run on the mountains. (as long as you make the forest colour layer slightly transparent. Here I duplicated the forest layer colour layer and set the mode to Grain Merge to emphasize the colours a bit.
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post13-1.png

    This is where you can start playing with colours to get them balances, adjusting the hue and saturation, etc….Here I also added a new bump map hinting at under-water features. I also added a layer of low detail , small scale cloud noise over the whole map in overlay mode, and toned down the dirt bumpiness.
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post13-2.png

    The last thing is to stroke the shoreline to give it a less jaggy edge. Go to the Chanels tab and right click on the Land Mask channel, and go Channel to Selection. Set the foreground colour to the High Dirt colour (or a colour that complements the piece), and stroke the selection (Edit->Stroke Selection) with a 3 px fuzzy paintbrush:
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post13-3.png

    Rivers can be added by drawing with a fine fuzzy black brush on the “Grass” layer mask.
    It helps to apply a small blur and then sharpen to clean up the lines:
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post13-4.png

    For additional effect, this mask can be turned into a bump map and applied to give the rivers a bit of a bevel:
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post13-5.png

    End of Part 2.
    Last edited by RobA; 04-15-2010 at 03:50 PM. Reason: Added link to forest tutorial

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    And here is a pdf of everything in Part 2 (up to this point)...

    I haven't written the rest (yet), but plan to continue with part 3:

    It should finish up the map and include:
    -Cities/towns
    -Roads/trails
    -Labels
    -Legend/scale/compass rose
    -Border

    -Rob A>
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-using-gimp-create-artistic-regional-rpg-map-part-2.pdf  
    Last edited by RobA; 11-27-2007 at 01:30 PM.
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  7. #17
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    Loving it! Can't wait for part three, this is a REALLY helpful tutorial. I really like the way you've done the lakes & rivers.

    Is there anybody with an idea of how to create that wispy cloud effect on the coastline in Photoshop?
    Joshua
    Graphic Designer
    & Amateur Photoshop Cartographer

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    FAIK, there is a displace filter in photoshop.

    Here is a tutorial

    -Rob A>

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    Post 14: Cities
    At this point, you can spend some time playing with colours, saturation, different overlays, etc. to get the land looking the way you want. Once all that is time, it is time to start detailing the non-terrain elements of the map. If you have an idea where cities and roads are to be located that is great. If not, here are a few suggestions:
    • All settlements need water - fresh water for drinking and agriculture.
    • Communities usually have a reason/industry for existing in the first place – farming, mining, shipping, commerce, defense etc. This purpose is often tied to natural resources in the area.
    • Accessibility is important for communities to interact with the world, and people will take the easiest path possible, not the shortest path. Water is one of the easiest ways to travel.

    Once you have a mental idea of where you want settlements and roads, start adding them. I have found the simplest way to make cities is using dingbat fonts. The one installed on every windows machine is called “wingdings”. Here is the character map for wingdings generated by a free Windows font manager called “The Font Thing”. (You can get the link by searching in the forums.):
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post14-1.png

    As you can see, there are some nice symbols for mapping here, depending on your map style. Using a font manager will let you find these easier. For this tutorial, I will use some similar characters to indicate settlements; I will use the symbol that looks like a ship’s wheel (“]”)to indicate ports, the little square cloverleaf (“z”) for walled settlements, and the simple dot (“l”) for all others.

    Create a new transparent layer called “Towns”. When using GIMP’s text tool, it creates text on new layers above the currently selected layer, but we will be merging all of them down to the “Towns” layer. Select the Towns Layer, and click on the text tool. Pick the font Wingdings. You can leave the colour the default (black) or pick a different colour now. Click in the general area you want a town marker:
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post14-2.png

    You can change the text size, alignment, spacing and such at this time. Notice the new text layer created in the layers dialog. Selecting the Move tool and toggling “Move the Active Layer” will allow fine positioning of the icon. This process can be repeated with as many icons desired.
    Note: I have not found a way to get non-keyboard symbols into GIMP text. In other Windows applications you can hold the alt key and type the keycode (like ALT+177 to get the crosshair dingbat). Cutting and pasting from another application into the GIMP text dialog does produce non-keyboard fonts, but not what you would expect.
    Once this is done, all the icons will sit on their own layers. (I used a smaller size for the solid dots as they looked too big at 22px):
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post14-3.png

    Now merge all the text layers down into the town layer. This can be done one at a time right clicking the layer and selecting “Merge Down” or by turning off all the other layers and selecting “Merge Visible Layers”. (I added a keyboard shortcut via File->Keyboard Shortcuts to make Alt-m merge down to speed up this action.) You should end up with all the text layers gone, and just the “Town” layer left.

    The colour can be changes very simply at this time by checking the “Lock Alpha Channel” checkbox. You can then just drag colours (or patterns, or paint with tools) from the Palette Dialog, and all the transparent areas will remain transparent!
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post14-4.png

    Create a new layer below Towns called “Towns Outline”. This layer will be used to help the town icons stand out. Right click and Alpha to Selection on the Towns layer. Enlarge the selection by 2 px or so (Selection->Grow) and optionally soften the selection (Select->Feather). I used 5 px on the feather. Now with the Town Outline layer active, drag black (or a contrasting colour to the town icons) to the screen. Lock the transparency.

    With both layers having transparency locked, you can drag different colours, or play with the colour adjustments (hue, saturation, lightness) and layer blending modes. Here I ended up with the icons using the “Roofs 3” colour and the outline the “Roads” colour.
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post14-5.png

    White on black (or vice versa) also work well if set to overlay mode.

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    Post 15: Roads

    Now that you have some civilization, they need to get around. A few things to remember are that people will travel the easiest way possible, even if it is longer. That means that one thing that roads are not is straight (at least in a pre-industrial world!). Even so, roads should be smooth. Trying to draw roads by hand is extremely difficult (especially if you do not have a tablet). My preference is to use paths, and stroke them as desired.
    In truth, I prefer Inkscape for editing paths as I find it easier, and it is very trivial to have a workflow that integrates GIMP and Inkscape. However, this tutorial said using GIMP, so that’s what we’ll use.
    ASIDE TIP: To bring an Inkscape SVG into GIMP as paths, right click on the little triangle in the Path palette to bring up the Path Menu option, then go to Import Path.
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post15-1.png

    Just follow the dialog. There are two options at the bottom. Merge Imported Paths will cause all the vectors to be imported as one path. Scale Imported Paths to fit Layer will scale op the extents of the SVG image to fit your gimp image size. If not merged, each path will come from Inkscape as a separate path, so combine (not group) any paths you want to be imported as a single element.

    Once you have decided where your roads go, start drawing them with the path tool. Click on the path tool (pen icon) and to draw curves, uncheck the Polygonal option.
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post15-2.png

    Click on the drawing where you want a path to start (a town) and drag in the direction you want it to go. Then click the next node of the path and drag to set the curve again. This can be continued as long as desires. The edit mode can be used to move and change the handles of notes. It is also worth mentioning that paths can be edited while zoomed in. This makes it easy to accurately set where they are:
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post15-3.png

    Using the path tool will automatically create a new path in the image. Paths are not really visible on an image, but can be turned into selection or stroked with any of the tools. Paths can be made visible by clicking on the eyeball icon (just like layers).
    Paths can even extend beyond the drawing edge.
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post15-4.png

    Once you have all the paths that represent your roads (or all the roads of a particular style) merge them into one path my making them (and only them) visible in the path dialog and right clicking Merge Visible Paths. Then rename this path to “Roads”.
    [Award Winner] Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional RPG Map-post15-5.png

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