STEP SEVEN: THE HILLS HAVE EYES (not really)
This step is really easy because it is "mountains lite": I'm going to create a new layer called "Hills", then draw on hills just as I did the mountains, except more hill-like. Then I added some shading to the right-sides & with the same bright brown I used for the mountains, I dabbed that on. Note I did not create a new layer for the color, since there's so little of it.
This took a whole of 5 minutes. Screenshot below!
STEP EIGHT: HERE A LAKE, THERE A LAKE
There are many ways to add lakes & rivers to my map, all of them acceptable. I will paint them on top of the land in a new "Lakes & Rivers" layer. First I use a bright blue so they stand out & are easier to visualize. (see image below)
Remember (& forgive me if this seems condescending): Rivers flow from high ground or springs to the sea, not the other way around.
When all are drawn, I choose the Magic Wand tool, click anywhere on my blue, and the entire system of lakes & rivers is selected. I will keep this area selected for the next few steps.
From my Swatches I first select a light blue that corresponds with my oceans, then I use the Paint Bucket tool to fill the area.
Next I choose a slightly darker blue and quickly dab & draw around the lakes & rivers with a fuzzy brush at 50% fill. I do this again with a darker color, too.
Next I Filter>Artistic>Sponge the water, playing with the settings to somewhat match the sponging of my oceans. I repeat the sponge two more times.
Finally, I create a new layer above my Lakes & Rivers layer called "River Outlines"; then in that layer I Edit>Stroke the selection with a 2 px. black line. Now all my rivers & lakes are outlined.
I can Select>Deselect (Ctrl-D) now.
Hmm, I see two things I don't like:
1) the black outlines appear very harsh, so I will Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur the River Outline layer at about .4px, just to take the edge off.
2) some of my rivers do not connect with the sea as well as I'd like, so in the River Outlines layer I clean them up with the eraser & a couple dabs of river color.
Below is the final image result!
STEP NINE: IN THE JUNGLE, THE MIGHTY JUNGLE
Forest time--one of my favorites! First I will--yep, you guessed it--create a new layer called (surprise surprise!) "Forests".
Basically I'm following the same sequence I followed with both the water & the land. In this way, my entire map will flow. So, choosing a light green hue that coordinates with the rest of my map (a really tough job for me!), I use a sharp-edged brush to color in my forests.
Next, on a new layer called "Forest Colors" I randomly mark up the forests with a couple darker colors, using a soft brush & a very low fill (about 15%). Then I merge the Forest Color layer down into my Forests layer, and apply the Filter>Artistic>Sponge about 3 or four times. The first image below is my end result.
THE TREE PATTERN
Now, although like the mountains I could draw on the forest details by hand, I will instead save time by creating a pattern for them. It'll still require some hand-drawing, but not nearly as much.
So first I create a new Photoshop document (300px square & 300 px/inch) & make a new layer above the white background. Then, using a soft 5px brush, I draw squiggly tree outlines in the center, never touching the edges. (see image below) As you can see, I also add a few thinner "leaf squiggles" inside the trees. DO NOT TOUCH THE EDGES, though.
When the center is filled with trees, I apply Filter>Other>Offset. The settings don't matter much, as long as "Wrap Around" is clicked. As you see, the image shifts, leaving me new areas to fill with trees. I keep Offsetting until I have nowhere else to fill.
Finally, I need to define this as a pattern, so I go to Edit>Define Pattern, give this a name (TreeFill, or something), and it's ready. I close this little document (you can save it if you want to) & go back to my Thracioth map.
APPLYING THE TREE FILL
Back in my map I Magic Wand tool select the forests by clicking anywhere in the green. Then I create a new layer above it called "Forest Details."
With that new layer slected, and with the ants marching around my forests, I click the "new fill or adjustment layer" button at the bottom of my layers screen (it looks like a half black-half white circle), and I choose Pattern. The screen will pop up that allows me to select the forest pattern I just created, plus to adjust the scale (mine is at 30%). Click OK & voila! I get chills every time!
I now Select>Deselect my forests. I also decided to set the blending mode of that Forest Details level to "color burn", because I like the orange-ish edges, but this is not required.
Finally I need to play with the edges, since my fill is imperfect there. I could stroke these, but it looks too smooth for my tastes, so I will go in by hand & draw the edges with my squiggle lines, then hand touch-up with green. Below is my final version.
EDIT, June 11, 2007: The above system for tree fill works great, but had I the chance to redo, I would instead create an entire fill layer / layer mask for my forest pattern, then "paint" them in. While essentially the same result, it does offer more flexibility. (For a wonderful video tutorial on this system, watch Butch Curry's video tutorial "Fantasy Cartography with Adobe Photoshop 3")
STEP TEN: THIRSTY? HAVE A CUP FULLA DESERT
Just for fun I'll throw in some desert/dune details. On another layer ("Deserts") I draw with a light yellow, then again on top with a slightyl darker color. Then I Filter>Gaussian Blur at about 1px; then Filter>Artistic>Film Grain & play with the settings. When all is said & done, I play with the opacity of the Desert layer to taste.
Now would be a great time to save the file under a new name.
STEP ELEVEN: THE CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION
Because I'm liking the idea of Thoracia being a dragon-home, I'm going to have it be sparsely populated. Perhaps these hearty cities are strongholds who dare defy the dragons to reap the riches herein--or perhaps they only recently have agreements with the dragons. Or, maybe they have recently driven the dragons into the mountains, so civilization is just now flourishing... I can figure that out later.
I create a layer for "Cities" & choose a gold color for my sharp brush. Then I simply "dab" circles around. (I could use the marquee tool to make a perfect circle, then copy it all over, but I'm liking the imperfections of the map; they give character).
After I have dabbed all my circles, I Magic Wand tool one, and when all are chosen I Edit>Stroke them with a 1px black line. Finally I Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur these at around .5 to take off the hard edge.
Now I will add some text. The font I'm using is a GNU called "Isabella" (from dafont.com.
I use 11 pt. size, plus the same color as my city dots. For names..well, I looked for inspiration close at hand.
Once all names are how & where I like them, I select all text layers (Photoshop makes a new text layer each time you type) by Ctrl-clicking each. Then I Layer>Rasterize>Text, which turns the text into "drawings". Note that this means I can no longer edit these as text, so I double check my spelling! I rename this layer, which now sits just above my "Cities" layer, calling it "Text."
Finally, I click the "add layer style" button (it looks like an "F") at the bottom of the layers window & apply three styles to the Text layer: Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, & Outer Glow. I played with the settings until the text seemed soft, raised above the map slightly, crispy, and golden. I do, simultaneously, try to make sure the effects do not distract from the hand-painted look of the map, though.
Awesome so far! Looking forward to more :)
Enjoying the place names ;)
Great series. I love step-by-step walkthroughs.
And how cool to have a mountain named after me! :D
STEP TWELVE: ART FOR ART'S SAKE
The final stages of this project are superfluous: the map is complete & I could easily print it as is, or perhaps place it on the standard worn parchment.
But if you recall, for some reason that even I cannot now comprehend, I decided to frame the map & place a dragon close by. Why a dragon (aka "Rob") would be standing by a framed map of Thoracioth I don't know. Why do you have to be so critical, people? Work with me here...
The steps below basically speak for themselves: I created a new document (using my original sketch as the pattern), then drew in the final dragon. The frame I created in the exact same manner I used way back in step two or so: select & stroke, then repeat.
Coloring is in stages, and there are no bells or whistles here: I went completely by hand, first coloring the frame & Rob with simple colors (notice I decided, after making the dragon green, to change it to darker brown.) Afterwards I bent back, filled in details, then added shadows (using "darken" blending mode) & highlights (using a "color dodge" blending mode). For every single step I created a new level.
Since this step is not "mapping" per se but simple Photoshop use, I'll not tutorial step by step through this, but please feel free to shoot me a question if I can help. Like I said, this is pretty simple & straightforward.
STEP THIRTEEN: ART, FOR GOODNESS' SAKE!
Next I copy-paste my completed map from before, placing it below every layer save my background white.
Next, to give the frame a bit of depth, I add "drop shadow" layer styles to my map frame layers, playing with the settings to taste. (I also needed to go back & add the shadow for the dragon's tail by hand.)
The text for the frame itself I wrote in using the standard text tool, using the "create warped text" button to get the arc. For the carved-into-the-frame look, I followed an on-line tutorial (it's basically just an inner shadow on a darkened text outline). I added the little happy little flourishes for fun.
And finally, I did not like the plain brown background I'd originally planned, so I created a plain gray background, then stacked up two brown layers, each with Filter>Render>Clouds; I then played with their opacities.
Were I to continue with this map, it may be neat to instead of clouds create a background that's a blurred, ginormous map of the entire world or something. I can also think of plenty of fun things to do to the map frame, such as more carving fretwork, iron wrought decorations, etc. The map itself could also be textured, worn & frayed, etc. I could spend a looong time "playing with this map, and I'm a notorious fiddler; but I'll stop since this was for fun, not for use.
And that's it, folks! I would love your input, advice, and improvements. Thanks, and I hope this at least gives you an idea &/or inspiration. Take care!