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Thread: [Award Winner] Atlas Walkthrough [Fractal Terrains & Illustrator]

  1. #1
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    Tutorial [Award Winner] Atlas Walkthrough [Fractal Terrains & Illustrator]

    Hi all,

    In this thread I will walk you guys through the production of one of my atlas maps. I plan to cover it in pretty good detail, but as always feel free to jump in if I'm rushing through something or if you have a better method for handling anything that comes up.

    We're going to work on the last of six regional maps for the continent of Jalaun, which just happens to be entitled "Central Jalaun."

    Step 1. Setting up the Projection
    My regional maps all use the Lambert Azimuthal Equal-Area projection, as it is easy to work with and relatively distortion-free for regional areas. I have my world file saved in Fractal Terrains, and I'll use that to set up my projection. First of all I want to know the extent that I'd like to map; for this map it's approximately from 144°W to 165°W, and from 3°N to 16°N. All you need for a Lambert Az is a center, so I'll pick a center close to the center of my coverage: 159°W, 10°N. I also make sure that the entirety of my coverage is shown in the map window; it's fine if there's extra showing, but I don't want to underrun. When I've got the projection set correctly, I'll save the FTW file as "CentralJalaun.ftw" for later reference.

    Step 2. Creating the Basemap
    Now that my projection is set I can export the images I will need from FT. First I want an image that has land in one color (I use white) and water in another (I use blue). I don't want this to have any relief shading, and I also want to make sure the graticule is turned off. The first attachment here shows the settings I use. I'll save this map as a jpg, and I'll make sure it's pretty large (I use 4800 pixels wide and highest jpg quality).
    Secondly, I want an image with relief. I'll set the land and water to white and turn the shading for the land on. (I've made the water white here in case there is any misregistration of the land/water polygons; if the water was blue there might be tiny little slivers of blue along the coast, which I don't want). The second attachment shows these settings; I've saved this image as well, using the same 4800 pixel size.
    Finally, I want an image that shows the graticule. The third attachment shows the graticule settings I use; I also set the land to white and water to blue again, and turn the shading off. This image I can make smaller, so I save it with a 2400 pixel size.

    I've set up my Illustrator file with a black box showing my final map size (10" x 16" for me). I place the three jpgs I've generated in FT here, setting the land/water image at the bottom, then the graticule image (set to multiply) and finally the relief image (set at 25% opacity).
    Next I use Illustrator's nifty Autotrace feature. Select the land/water image and push the Autotrace Button. The fourth attachment shows the settings I use. Expand and ungroup the result, select everything that's white (the land) and delete it. This leaves a nice set of polygons for your water fills, which you should color whatever color you like your water to be. To smooth out some of the wierd FT-derived angles, I go to Object > Path > Add Anchor Points and then Filter > Stylize > Round Corners (0.5 pt). I then copy all of these water polygons into a new layer, stroke them, and remove the fill (this is my coastline layer). The fifth attachment shows where we are now, which is a good place to stop for this lesson.

    -Rob
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails [Award Winner] Atlas Walkthrough [Fractal Terrains & Illustrator]-land-water.jpg   [Award Winner] Atlas Walkthrough [Fractal Terrains & Illustrator]-relief.jpg   [Award Winner] Atlas Walkthrough [Fractal Terrains & Illustrator]-grid.jpg   [Award Winner] Atlas Walkthrough [Fractal Terrains & Illustrator]-tracesettings.jpg   [Award Winner] Atlas Walkthrough [Fractal Terrains & Illustrator]-mapnow.jpg  


  2. #2
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    Step 3. Setting up your Layers
    All of my maps follow the same layer structure, which helps immensely when you get to step 4 (below). I have these layers (attached!), along with the map frame, saved in a file I call "template" which is what I open when I start a new map. I've grouped all of the type layers together ("labels") and all of the linework layers together (in a layer called "type mask"). The reason for this will become clear later.
    Also, you will notice a layer called "image." This is where the completed photoshop background will go when it is done. Below that are all of the landcover layers ("glacier", "rock", "deciduous", etc.). I keep the landcover layers below the photoshop image because they are not needed for the final map.

    Step 4. Copying in what's ready
    Okay, the other attachment here shows where my map is now. It looks like I've done a lot since the last round, and I have, but it's not that complicated. I've simply copied and pasted in the work that's already been done on the overlapping maps. For this map, it's quite a bit. The western edge was from the Kolbyana map, the north edge from the Central Zarakhan map, the east edge from the Southeast Zarakhan map, and the south edge from the Gurhana map. It makes for quite a bit of overlap and will save me some time in completing this map. I've made sure that all of the copied-in features are in the correct layers, and I've saved for now. The next step is filling in the empty square in the center.

    -Rob
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails [Award Winner] Atlas Walkthrough [Fractal Terrains & Illustrator]-layerpallete.jpg   [Award Winner] Atlas Walkthrough [Fractal Terrains & Illustrator]-mapnow.jpg  

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    Community Leader Facebook Connected delgondahntelius's Avatar
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    Sorry to interrupt what will prove to be a very useful and detailed tutorial... one of the mods perhaps can delete it later...

    one critique note: perhaps explain at the beginning what programs you intend to use to produce the atlas... I'm guessing that FT is Fractal Terrains and Illustrator refers to Adobe Illustrator... If i'm wrong, i'm going to feel really dumb.

    I have photoshop and FT but I don't have illustrator... can you explain what the Autotrace button does (again, i'm assuming from the name that it auto traces what you have selected) and for those without Illustrator... perhaps an alternative ... and barring that... what would one have to do if they had to do it by hand... i'm guessing (again, i do that a lot) that it would require some lengthy time consuming task for the very reason an auto button was made...

    Del
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      jswa is offline
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    Keep going, Rob!

    I simply must know how to make an awesome atlas!
    Just another RATMAN ASSASSIN.
    If orangutans could type...

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    Alright I'm back.

    Just to clarify, I am using Fractal Terrains (an old version), Adobe Illustrator CS2, and Adobe Photoshop CS2. Older versions of photoshop will probably work, but Autotrace is only available in Illustrator CS2 and later editions.

    Step 5. The Creative Stuff
    The first image I've attached below shows where I am now. I've added roads, trails, settlements, cities, boundaries, rivers, and labels to the map; and I've also finished drawing in the landcover polygons. It looks like the map is complete, but there are actually a few more steps to do before it is finished.

    Step 6. Creating the Raster Background
    To create my photoshop background image, I need to export four files from Illustrator. First of all I'll create a crop box from the outer map frame so that all of the exported images register correctly. The first image to export consists of all of the landcover layers. I'll export it at 300 dpi and in CMYK color, but I don't want layers. The second image to export is the relief layer (make sure you set the transparency back to 100% before exporting). This image should also be 300 dpi, and the color should be greyscale. The third image is the water layer (300 dpi, CMYK), and the fourth is the pink casings I've created below my boundaries (also 300 dpi, CMYK). Go ahead and open all four of these images in Photoshop.
    Start with the landcover image. Change the color mode to RGB to open up some of the filters we'll use. Then use Filter > Brush Strokes > Spatter to fractalize the edges between landcover classes a bit. I will also go ahead and add a bit of Gaussian Noise to this layer as well. Set the transparency of this layer to 80% and add a layer of just white underneath it. Change the color mode back to CMYK. The next layer above the landcover should be your boundaries, which you can bring in using Image > Apply Image.
    Next we will need to adjust our relief image a bit. Start by changing the color mode to Duotone, and select a tritone of pure cyan, pure yellow, and pure magenta. This will make the relief a nice gold color which looks better than black when multiplied with the landcover. You can then change the color mode to CMYK. Select all and get rid of some of the roughness of the relief by using Filter > Noise > Median, with a value of around 5 or so. I also like to Gaussian Blur this image a tiny bit as well. Now it can be brought in above the boundary layer. Set it to multiply and use a low opacity, around 25% or so.
    Above the relief, bring in your water fills as a new layer. I'll add a slight inner glow to the water fills and my background image is done. Place it on the appropriate layer in your Illustrator file.
    I've attached an image that shows where we are now; there are only a few more steps to go!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails [Award Winner] Atlas Walkthrough [Fractal Terrains & Illustrator]-mapnow.jpg   [Award Winner] Atlas Walkthrough [Fractal Terrains & Illustrator]-mapnow2.jpg  

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    Step 7. The Graticule
    Unfortunately, I don't know of an easier or more accurate way to do this step. To get a nice grid of latitude and longitude lines, I turn on the graticule image I created in FT way back at the beginning, and trace it with the pen tool. I really wish I knew of a better way to handle this step, but I don't.

    Step 8. The Typemask
    In order to prevent ugly crashes between type and linework, I've set up the layers in my Illustrator file to handle a clipping mask for type. To make this mask, create a new layer and copy all of your type into it. Outline the type (Type > Create Outlines) and give it a stroke (usually 1 pt). Outline the stroke (Object > Path > Outline Stroke). Now copy your map frame into this layer, select all on the layer, and Divide (using the Pathfinder pallette). Ungroup, deselect the outer frame, and delete. What you will have left is a compound path including the map frame and a half-pixel buffer around all the type objects. Move this into the Type Mask layer and set it as a clipping mask (Object > Clipping Mask > Make). The linework around type should disappear if you've done this properly.

    And that's it! The final map is attached below. Thanks all and feel free to bombard me with questions.

    -Rob
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails [Award Winner] Atlas Walkthrough [Fractal Terrains & Illustrator]-centraljalaun.jpg  

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    Community Leader Facebook Connected delgondahntelius's Avatar
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    Well.... I did it.... I went and bought the Adobe Creative suite with Illustrator and CS 3 Extended .... so I expect I'll be trying this tutorial out soon... whenever I get it in the mail that is ... and then get it set up ...

    Great tutorial by the way...
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    Wow, getting Adobe CS for mapping.

    $_$

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    ya.. not just for mapping, my wife and I have a publishing company we started, so it will have other uses...but $_$ is right... almost made me sick spending that much... however, it came in today and so far... it's money well spent. Well, spent, anyway

    If I had spent that much on a program just so I could use it to make maps... well, I'd either be a little slow in the head or uber-rich... I'm working on the latter and I've always been the former...
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    Of course, if you can get it with an educational discount you would be silly to pass it up. I bought a full edition of CS2 for $200 when my wife was in school. That's a great deal. I think it retails for something like $1200.

    -Rob

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