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Thread: Stairs - Trying to get better

  1. #1
      mthomas768 is offline
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    Help Stairs - Trying to get better

    I've been working on a good methodology for producing stairs that look like stairs, and I'm not quite there yet. Here's an example, showing a straight staircase descending north to south (100dpi 5' per inch scale). It's not terrible, it's not even bad, but I think there's room for improvement, especially at the bottom, where the descent shadow mixes with the final step shadow on the floor, producing a missing step. My basic process (Gimp):

    Lay out steps using standard fill techniques.
    Build a series of step shadows using Gaussian Blur in a Soft Light layer.
    Build a single gradient descent shadow covering the steps in a second Soft Light layer.

    The walls are just black placeholders, and they have a light shadow applied.

    Stairs - Trying to get better-stairtest.png

    Any thoughts on how to improve this?

  2. #2
      Jaxilon is offline
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    I think you might make the lower level darker because as soon as the shadows of the stairs end it becomes as bright as the upper level. This blows the descending look you have going. If this is in a larger map and you don't want to show the entire lower level in a darker shadow you would have to have a light source, such as a torch or something. You might also be able to pull it off by just darkening the shadow for a ways down the hall and gradually returning back to the same shade as the upper level but it might just look like a ramp.

    That's what I would try anyway. If I have time tomorrow I will try to show you what I'm talking about in case I'm not making sense. I'm a little brain shot right now.
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      mthomas768 is offline
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    Thanks for the feedback Jaxilon. This is part of a larger map and I am trying to keep the upper and lower areas (both shown), evenly lit as much as possible. The full project is a set of geomorph-style tiles, so arbitrary sections of floor may end up rotated and reattached elsewhere. With that in mind, I don't think I can extend the floor shadows much.

    One thing I need to do, based on this test, is put together a larger area of flooring top and bottom to get a better feel for how the stairs will sit in a bigger picture.

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      mthomas768 is offline
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    Here's a revised version showing before/after this round. Added darker shadows at the base of each step, fixed the lower floor shadow, and added a faint highlight along the exposed edge of each step. I also altered how I was doing shadows so the layers aren't blowing up some of the colors in the stair texture.

    I think this looks quite a bit better. Thoughts?
    Stairs - Trying to get better-stairtestab.png

  5. #5
      Jaxilon is offline
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    Well, I think that the one on the right looks great and succeeds in depicting stairs going down...or up as the case may be.

    And hopefully, you do your shadows on a separate layer. If not, I'm pretty sure there is a simple tutorial on that.
    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

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  6. #6
      mthomas768 is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaxilon View Post
    Well, I think that the one on the right looks great and succeeds in depicting stairs going down...or up as the case may be.

    And hopefully, you do your shadows on a separate layer. If not, I'm pretty sure there is a simple tutorial on that.
    Thanks! Yes, layers are our friends. The right image has 10+ in it.

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      Bogie is offline
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    I agree with Jax, the stairs on the right are the best, the darker shadow right at the step edge gives the definition you need to see it is a step. Then you can play with how far out the shadow fades which will indicate the height & width of the stairs.

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      mthomas768 is offline
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    And in the interests of full-disclosure and a bit of fun, I give you the clown-dungeon version...

    Stairs - Trying to get better-clownstairs.png

    That's the shadow masks laid over the pattern I used to fill the marble blocks of the stairs.

  9. #9
      Jaxilon is offline
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    Like...I don't even know what you are talking about, LOL. It must be one of those Photoshop tricks or something. I tend to just do things by hand because then I don't have to futz around with anything but whatever works is good.
    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

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      RobA is offline
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    Here is a png overlay I keep on hand for quick steps.

    Stairs - Trying to get better-12.png

    I've also attached a zip of the xcf I used to see how I build up stairs with four layers.

    -Rob A>
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