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Thread: [Award Winner] Assorted tips and tricks

  1. #51
      torstan is offline
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    Default A Note On Background Textures

    This is less a tutorial, and more a note following the previous post on drawing grasslands. The results of that tutorial strongly depend upon the background texture used and I wanted to highlight that with this post.

    To recap, the original grass image (Panel 1 in the attached image) is a combination of four layers: 10% normal green, 100% overlay green, 100% overlay light and dark, and a final colour burn layer for the dark grass tuft details. All of these layers allow the background texture/colour to show through and the overlay and colour burn layers actually depend upon the background colour/texture for their results. So the choice of textured background is critical.

    [Award Winner] Assorted tips and tricks-grassland2.jpg

    Here I've taken the same set of layers and dropped different backgrounds (all from cgtextures.com) in behind them. I'll go through them one by one to explain what's going on:
    1. Parchment - as before. Here we see the results from last week's grassland tutorial, re-used here to provide a datum for comparison.
    2. Paper. This is a straightforward paper texture with roughy the same tone as the original parchment. You can see all the grassland, and it looks pretty nice. However the fact that the background is much less saturated than the parchment, and specifically less yellow, completely changes the feel of the grass. It could be some wintry tundra if it looked like this.
    3. White background. So here we pretty much just see the 10% normal layer. Overlay layers lighten and darken the colours beneath them. It's not a linear relationship, meaning if you have a light background, you're going to need a lot of dark overlay layers to build up a shadow, but a little white on an overlay layer will brighten it up quickly. If the background's white, you'll never get any purchase with dark overlay layers. The lesson? Make sure you're background has a tone somewhere near the middle between light and dark (open up the Levels dialog and make sure the hump is somewhere near the middle).
    4. Here I've used 50% grey. So having just said that overlay layers have trouble lightening dark backgrounds, and trouble darkening light backgrounds, if the background is exactly 50% grey then light colours on overlay layers will lighten it and dark colours darken it just fine. So you can see we get a perfectly respectable result here, but the background isn't adding anything to the image here.
    5. Rock. Here I've just dropped in a rock background. The colours over the top are perfectly visible as they combine well with the greys (as in 4.). However the detail on the rock overwhelms the detail in the art over the top. It's as if we've ink washed a slab of granite - less a painting on the rock, and more like painted rock. The darkest shadows are coming from the texture - which is generally something you want to avoid.
    6. Earth. As with the rock texture, the texture dominates. If I were to use this, I'd lower the opacity of the earth texture so that it suggests the texture rather than shouting it.


    I hope that shows a few of the pitfalls and opportunities for using texture as the base for a map, and how that interacts with overlay/burn layers. Let me know if you have any questions.
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  2. #52
      Lukc is offline
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    Default

    Nice post there, Torstan. I've had interesting effects by duplicating and triplicating the texture photos and then using one of them as an overlay, another a screen and a third a multiply or burn layer. It's fiddly but fun and allows a lot of control over the final result.

  3. #53
      arsheesh is offline
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    Why hasn't this tutorial won an Award yet? Come on people, let's show T some love for offering such invaluable cartographic tips & tricks!

    Cheers,
    -Arsheesh

  4. #54
      torstan is offline
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    Default How to Draw Forests

    Thanks Arsheesh I don't think CLs need to worry too much about being given awards, but thanks for the vote of confidence!

    Today - forests.

    The dark and foreboding wood is a staple of fantasy literature and our own folklore. The Forest looms large in the Grimm Tales - an enemy in its own right. Mirkwood, Fangorn and the Old Forest all harbour ancient powers and perils for the characters of Middle Earth. Without Sherwood forest, Robin Hood would be just another outlaw. Forests are the Wild Other in many stories, acting as borders, sources of mystery and sources of resources and are key to any world map.

    [Award Winner] Assorted tips and tricks-forests.jpg

    Here I've shown two types of forest, coniferous and deciduous, and I'm working in 3/4 view as before.

    1. Draw in the outlines of the forests. For deciduous forests, use rounded lines. For conifers, use sharp vertical strokes. Don't worry about keeping the border complete. We're just showing the edge, it doesn't have to be perfect. Make sure the forest flows around hills and mountain edges. The forest's movement will help to delineate the hills and mountains, making them easier to pick out.

    2. Add the details. Fill in the areas around the edges of the forest. Try to make sure that lines and features tend to join up horizontally rather than vertically. This will help to sell the 3/4 perspective. Also, make sure you detail forest along ridges and edges. This gives shape and form to your forests, and helps the viewer see the hills beneath the trees. As before, use curving lines for deciduous forest and sharp vertical lines for conifers. If you're doing a black and white map, congratulations! You're done. But if you want colour, read on.

    3. Base colours. Here I've shied away from my standard parchment background. Instead I've laid in the base colour on a new layer (under the lines) set to Normal blend, 100% opacity. I used some large grungy brushes with low opacity to build up the colours. You want to start with the lights and then build up to the darks. For the forest, I set colour jitter on the brush settings and added scatter to the brush. This gives a dappled spread of slightly varying greens, which is perfect for selling the varied colours of a forest. I use a yellower green for the deciduous and a bluer green for the conifers. I also take a low opacity dark blue and add a shadow around the base of the trees. It's subtle - but it immediately nails down the forest as a 3/4 view forest with some bulk. It makes a big difference.

    4. Colour detail. Here I've added a new layer, with overlay blend mode and 100% opacity. First use dark blue and grungy brush to lay in shadow across the forest. Then I use a very light yellow to pick out the bright highlights on the deciduous forest, and a very light turquoise on the conifers. Again, use rounded shapes for the deciduous trees, and vertical spikes on the conifers.

    And we're done!

    Here's the psd file for people who want to look at it layer by layer:
    [Award Winner] Assorted tips and tricks-forests.psd
    Last edited by torstan; 04-13-2012 at 03:10 PM.
    Fantasy Map Blog | My food illustration
    Everything I post is free for use and redistribution under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 licence, except where noted otherwise in the thread.

  5. #55
      jfrazierjr is offline
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    Torstan, would you consider linking to your psd files for these tutorials? I don't expect them to be very large, and at least for PS and Gimp users, it might help shed some light into the details, especially if you use multiple layers... Good layer names including whats being down and/or tutorial text reference would he exceptionally helpful if you have the time...
    My Finished Maps
    Works in Progress(or abandoned tests)
    My Tutorials:
    Explanation of Layer Masks in GIMP
    How to create ISO Mountains in GIMP/PS using the Smudge tool
    ----------------------------------------------------------
    Unless otherwise stated by me in the post, all work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

  6. #56
      torstan is offline
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    I forgot we were able to upload psd files directly now. I've thrown the psd for the Forests tutorial up. Organising and uploading the older files might take a little time. I'll make sure new posts have the files though.
    Fantasy Map Blog | My food illustration
    Everything I post is free for use and redistribution under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 licence, except where noted otherwise in the thread.

  7. #57
      jfrazierjr is offline
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    Thanks!!! after playing with the psd, I would LOVE to see you do some watercolor images. Without the lines is a very nice artisticy image!
    My Finished Maps
    Works in Progress(or abandoned tests)
    My Tutorials:
    Explanation of Layer Masks in GIMP
    How to create ISO Mountains in GIMP/PS using the Smudge tool
    ----------------------------------------------------------
    Unless otherwise stated by me in the post, all work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

  8. #58
      torstan is offline
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    Not sure I can get away without my lines! I started playing with a watercolour approach to colouring when I started illustrating the images for my wife's cooking blog. I can't use a parchment background for those! But I do still stick with line art and wash for those.
    Fantasy Map Blog | My food illustration
    Everything I post is free for use and redistribution under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 licence, except where noted otherwise in the thread.

  9. #59
      jfrazierjr is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by torstan View Post
    Not sure I can get away without my lines! I started playing with a watercolour approach to colouring when I started illustrating the images for my wife's cooking blog. I can't use a parchment background for those! But I do still stick with line art and wash for those.
    Well.. for this last tip, the mountains can easily get away without lines IMHO. The trees can too, but might need "something" to give a bit more volume(more shadows) and perhaps some indication of tree trunks.
    My Finished Maps
    Works in Progress(or abandoned tests)
    My Tutorials:
    Explanation of Layer Masks in GIMP
    How to create ISO Mountains in GIMP/PS using the Smudge tool
    ----------------------------------------------------------
    Unless otherwise stated by me in the post, all work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

  10. #60
      arsheesh is offline
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    Default Torstan's Tips & Tricks for Regional Maps in PDF format

    Hey Torstan, I hope it's OK with you that I did this, but I wanted a pdf format of your tips and tricks relating to regional maps so that I could have it as a reference when I'm off line. However, I figured I'd upload it here for anyone else who might like it as well.

    Cheers,
    -Arsheesh
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails [Award Winner] Assorted tips and tricks-torstan-tips-tricks-regional-maps.pdf  

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