Great, Johnny! Thanks for that!
Hi everyone. So there's been some interest in a tutorial for the bandit camp battlemat that I made. I've got a little bit of time this morning so I thought I would write up an overview of the process I went through. Then if people let me know which parts they would like more detail on, I'll try to put together a step-by-step for those sections.
NOTE - Finished map is here: Bandit Camp - Battlemat
I knew the final output would be print. So I based it on two sheets of 13"x19" paper (max for my printer). So I created a new file in Photoshop CS3; 26"x19" @ 200dpi. Oh, and I started with a pencil sketch. Nothing I scanned in, just a rough layout to use as a blueprint if you will.
Now I used quite a few art assets from Dungeon Designer 3. I actually have made myself a pattern library of all of their textures by loading the png files in CS3 and creating patterns out of them. Yes it was tedious, but it gives me access to some nice seamless textures at any size I want.
I start creating the ground by making a new pattern layer in CS3 and choosing a grass texture. From here, I just made more and more ground layers of differing textures and put layer masks on all of them, keeping the masks black, so nothing shows through. Next I grab my trusty Wacom tablet and just starting painting in the layer masks with white to allow the different textures to come through. On some layers I messed with opacity and blend modes as well.
The objects came from either Dungeon Designer 3 or the Dundjinni user art forum. I would save the png files, open them in CS3 and then drag them into my image. From here it was a lot of using Free Transform to rotate and scale combined with Ctrl+Alt clicking and dragging to quickly make duplicates where needed. This was the basic process for all the objects and the trees, and the palisade to an extent.
For the palisade, I was fortunate to find art that was a series of single poles. So each pole in the palisade was its own image. I then made a new file where I combined all the poles into palisade wall sections. I then dragged the "sections" into my main image where I again copied and rotated to make the wall whole.
At this point, I had the elements in place, but the whole image was too flat for my tastes. I started by adding depth to the trees by giving them internal shadows. Think about it, if you look at a tall tree from above, some branches actually cast other parts of the tree into shadow in addition to the ground shadows. This was just a matter of a new layer set to Multiply blend mode and about 60% opacity. I then took my stylus and started painting in shadows. The trees look TONS better because of it. The shadows under the trees are basic PS drop shadows
The tent shadows were also semi-hand drawn. I just took an index card and folded it into a tent shape, then cast a flashlight down on it to see the shape of shadow it would create. In Photoshop I made a new layer and used the pen tool to create these geometric shadow shapes for the tents.
The palisade shadows took a while to figure out. I couldn't find anything in CS3 to make "projected" shadows. So I ended up taking the outlines of the wall sections and making brushes out of them. I had to set the brush spacing to 0 to get a solid shadow. I then used the pen tool to make an angled line that would define the direction and length of my shadows. I then stroked the line with the brush I had made. I repeated this process for each wall section until I had the entire palisade casting shadows.
This is the point where I came to this forum for help and was directed to the world of grunge brushes. Wow. I spent a couple hours just messing with different brushes. There are quite a few layers of grunge with differing blend modes, colors, opacities. It was just fun to grunge it up and make it feel more "used".
Well, that's basically it. I didn't use many complicated techniques. I think masks and blend modes are the extent of it. Ok, maybe the palisade shadows were a bit complicated. But mostly, I just spent a lot of time tweaking and tuning. So once again, let me know which steps you'd like more info on, and I'll try to put together something more in-depth.
Thank you JFJohnny5 for taking the time to share your process with us. I found several of your steps to be illuminating, particularly the liberal use of shadows at differing depths and the use of masks to develop convincing and interesting ground cover.
"Rationality is the recognition of the fact that nothing can alter the truth and nothing can take precedence over that act of perceiving it."
Atlas Shrugged authored by Ayn Rand
Excellent walkthough - thanks a million for this!
There has been at least one request for more detail on your shadowing technique for the trees. I'd also like to see some illustration of that. I think I get it, but seeing your layers would lock it in for me.
Thank you for the overview; it seems simple, but every glimpse of another artist's process is valuable.
Bryan Ray, visual effects artist