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Thread: [Award Winner] Assorted tips and tricks

  1. #61
      torstan is offline
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    Not a problem at all! Looks good.
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  2. #62
      cereth is offline
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    Awesome stuff!
    "Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government."

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  3. #63
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    Fantastic thread, perfect for newbs like me. Thanks!

  4. #64
      KiwiRose is offline
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    Awesome tutorials, very helpful! Any advice on doing rivers, waterfront, et cetera?

  5. #65
      Xanthemann is offline
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    This has been extremely helpful! Thanks!

  6. #66
      torstan is offline
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    Default Using your phone to 'scan' a hand drawn map

    After a long hiatus (winter came) here's a new mini-tutorial:

    Converting a Phone Photo to Digital Line Art

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

    1. The Photo
    Okay, so here's a photo I've taken with my phone of a drawing made with a ballpoint pen. When taking the picture, try to do the following:
    • make sure there's lots of light.
    This will decrease camera shake and noise and give you the cleanest end result. Note - your phone almost certainly has a white balance built in and will believe that the white paper should actually be a midtone. A picture that's 99% white will be read by your phone as over-saturated. Hence in this picture the map is mostly around 50% grey. There's not much you can do about this unless your phone is so advanced you can control it's white balance (surely only a matter of time...)
    • try to make sure that the light is as even as you can get it.
    Here you can see the bottom left of the image was darker. The more uneven the lighting, the harder you'll have to work later, so it's worth taking 5 mins to get this as even as possible.

    2. First use of levels
    So here I'm using photoshop. However any tool that allows you to adjust the levels in an image (even preview on the Mac - and all photo editing software) can do this. You may even be able to do it on your phone to some extent.

    In photoshop I use the layer adjustments dialog and select Levels. This brings up a histogram of the shades in the images. Here you can see a large block in the middle of the range - these are the paper tones. They should all be right up at the right hand end - in the white region. So, we start by moving the white marker (the white triangle) down into the block, and we see a lot of the areas of the image that should be white turning white. However if we go too far we'll see a lot of the lines start to disappear!

    At this stage go as far as you can with the slider without losing your line art in the brighter areas. Then commit the change (merge the adjustment layer down)

    3. Dealing with the non-uniform lighting - layer masks
    Okay, so the top right looks pretty decent, but the bottom left is still mired in grey. We can't do a uniform adjustment because we'll lose detail the bright regions before we gain anything to the bottom left. Thankfully there's a way around this. The trick is to use layer masks. I create a new adjustment layer (Levels again), and click on the layer mask. To start with it should be all white. Now I take the gradient tool (g) and drag a linear gradient over the area. This creates a gradient where the area I want to target (the bottom left) is white in the layer mask - and the area I want to leave alone (the top right) is black. 3b shows the layer mask blown up a bit bigger. Now when I adjust the levels, I can lighten the bottom left without touching the top right! As most non-uniform lights are diffuse, this form of gradient mask is generally pretty good at handling non-uniform lighting.

    4. Rinse and Repeat
    Don't try to do 100% of the correction in one go. Create an adjusment layer, edit the layer mask and adjust the levels to clean up. Rinse and repeat a couple of times and you'll end up with something cleaner than if you try to get all the way to a clean image in one go.

    5. Play!
    Once you have the clean line art, you can do whatever you want! Here I've turned the image into a multiply layer (so that only the black lines are visible) and placed it over a parchment background. Then I've darkened the sea and changed the colour slightly.

    The whole process is pretty quick once you've done it a couple of times. Once you're happy with it, you can quickly snap a picture of a sketch and have a pretty digital map in 5-10 mins.
    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. #67
      waldronate is offline
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    If you want to get cheap and "good" lighting and you're willing to spend a few dollars, Ozark Trail 24 LED Portable Tent Light - Walmart.com is a good product. Just turn it on and shoot through the center hole - often there are no shadows at all! Real ring lights cost more than $4, of course...

  8. #68
      torstan is offline
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    Good call - thanks for that!
    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. #69
      inzeos is offline
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    Great tips! Would be awesome to get a follow up PDF with some of the tips that are missing from the current compilation.

  10. #70
      torstan is offline
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    Default Drawing Realistic Coastlines

    Here’s a quick tutorial to get back into the swing of things for 2013. I was asked about drawing coastlines. This is just a technique question so it’s software agnostic.

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

    1. Starting point

    Here’s the basic shape of the coastline – this is what I see a lot in turnover sketches at the early design stage. It’s very blobby and indistinct, and looks nothing like a real coastline. The key is the regularity and smoothness of the line

    2. Break it up!

    I’ve followed the general shape of the coastline, but broken the line into a more jagged pattern. Some regions are almost sawtoothed. Try not to make features and variations the same size. Coastlines are fractal – they should look similarly broken up at a range of different zoom levels. Add some smooth coves for beaches to give variety (like the beach under the 2.)

    Add islands along the coast. I tend to add them off peninsulas – where a spur of rock stretches out into the sea and leaves a trail of islands pointing out – or in inlets where the islands can mimic the shape of the negative space.

    3. Edge detail

    At this stage I’ve added a range of marks to the land to indicate the structure of the coastline and hint at hills, valleys, and the form of that beach I mentioned earlier. A lot of coastline has a sharp drop to the sea, and these lines hint at that structure.

    This now comes as a video as well:


    More tips on the blog (which is back up!)
    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.

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