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  #1  
Old Nov 30th, 2006, 01:35 AM
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Easy, Quality Maps

Alright this is going to be a very rough run-through of how I have made the beginnings of a map I plan to use in a campaign. This is basically I very simple tutorial for photoshop that I have come up with through some piddling that provides some very decent results. Sadly this method does not allow you to directly manipulate the later composition of the landmasses, yet I will work with that as I think on it and see if there is a way to allow for you to selectively make ones you enjoy (I'm sure there is).
Depending on what size, quality and resize ability you want choose any width and length you care to, opening a new blank document with a background of any color it will soon change.

Next you have some choices to make. Color first.
You need to select a color for the landmasses and one for the oceans, or in theory it could be land and land, but honestly I haven't messed with similar colors too much. Set a fore and background color to whatever you want, I chose a green and blue. (Land/Water)

Then you have another choice to make once you have set your colors. Simple or slightly more involved.
1) Simple - Render>Clouds ....
-Sketch>TornEdges: (Settings)
  • Image Balance: (Small images I find 4-6 works well, larger anything from 11-15) although anything that you like here, this gives you the defined masses.
  • Smoothness: (13-14 here is a good range as it helps give definition to the edges of the masses. Lower values give more blurry edges I find, but too high can be over exaggerated.)
  • Contrast: (17-18, depends on preference. Helps give the masses some pop.)

You should get something like this. There, simple you have your outlined continents, islands, whatever!
2)Slightly more, not bad. -Make a gradient with your selected colors (Star/Radial) works best.
-Render>Difference Clouds (Now you can do this as many times as you care to do it, just be sure to end on the render which is closest to your colors - likely green if you used green, etc. Or simply ever other one.
-Sketch>TornEdges: use the settings above, go at it. You'll get something similar. to the above.
Method 1) and 2) seem the same? Well, they basically are, but I find that using the gradient first provides a lighter/darker section in the difference clouds, giving me some control over the final product - but only a small bit.
What you can then do is
Use the magic wand to select either the land or water.
Going to Selection>Select Similar to ensure you get all the areas of either land/water and aren't forced to CNTL+CLICK each one.

Then stroke the selection with a 1 to 2 pixel black stroke to make it pop, generally I stroke it on a separate layer first to ensure I preserve the "continents".

For a more involved idea of what I've been working on using varied layers, fills, and other techniques you can see that this can provide you with a very workable map to add some bit of neatness to your campaign.


Show me yours? Help me refine this as I really like the idea of being able to give kinda neat-o maps without having to use one of those nasty dungeon crafting programs, cause then I'll have to learn to use it too. :P
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Last edited by Treslo Kresha; Nov 30th, 2006 at 01:36 AM.
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 06:16 AM
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I got kinda excited when I looked at your maps.

I liked the crisp lines and colors. In seconds I began thinking up adventures and nations and sailing shore to shore from what you could do with the image.

I also love making maps. I make mine much the same way as you. The land mass I had created was first made with Photoshop, then I created roads and towns with the percise vector art of Illustrator. The city was created entirely by Illustrator because cityscapes are so angular. Both are uncompleted and I have A LOT more.








Last edited by PIG; Nov 30th, 2006 at 06:23 AM.
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 05:02 PM
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My maps are a little bit more complicated. They're done completely in photoshop, and can be very hard for someone who doesn't know the program. Luckily I did all the learning for everyone. I'm currently searching down a brief tutorial I gave someone so I can post it here. Once you understand the process, you can crank maps out daily if you so desire. This particular map I am about to show you was done over the course of a few months, as I had no idea what the hell I was doing most of the time.

This is a closeup of the land. It gives a good range of the different types of colors and terrain I used.

The white dots are trees.

This is a half-sized picture of the entire continent. Most of the islands are not finished, as is obvious. But I feel it's necessary to show the full scale of the map so far. I would have liked to upload it at its full dimensions, but it would have been at a very low quality.



And to put it in perspective with the rest of the world, I scanned in my original continent drawings. I usually begin a map by sketching out what I want to continents to look like, then I do all the spacing and artistry on the comp. This continent is circled.



I'll post the tutorial as soon as I get it. Look for a game featuring this world in a few months.

I like your city map, PIG. I may try something similar when the time comes.


Yay, he still had the tutorial. Here it is.

Start off by making continental outlines that you can scan (if you drew them by hand) into photoshop.

Make sure that when you've got it imported that you 'clean up' the lines. You want the lines to be solid black. Photoshop tends to have the center of a line as a solid color, but toward the edges the color fades to lessen pixelation. In this circumstance, it's very bad for business.

Once that's done, fill in your land color. For that particular continent I used a brownish green to white gradient. Don't worry if it looks cartoonish, the additional layers of mountains and hills will make it look textured. Make sure it's on a separate layer. In fact, make sure everything you do is on a separate layer and that you never use your outline layer for anything but getting the right selection sizes (more info about that ahead). I assume you know how to fill the color of a selected shape into a blank layer. If you don't, feel free to ask.

Next thing to do is select the inside of whatever landmass you want to make terrain for. When you have the inside selected, select the outside line as well. (wouldn't want continents with unearthly black lines around them, would we?)

Now make a blank layer and create a layer mask that reveals only the selection. Go to the filters menu and select Render -> Clouds. The clouds should now cover your unmasked area, and consequently, the continent color. Now, with the cloud layer selected, mouse over to the 'Channels' Tab in the layer toolbox. It should show the separate R, G, & B channels as well as the combined RGB channel. control click on the RGB, then hit your delete key.

I have no idea what the hell that does, exactly. All I know is that it makes it work. Go back to the layers tab and change the fill opacity (not layer opacity) to 0. Deselect all. Part of the unknown procedure involves leaving some of the clouds selected, and the next step wont look right if you don't clear it.

Go to the layer styles dialog and create an inner bevel. Make sure preview's on so you can actively mess around with it until you've got it the way you'd like.

For the larger mountains, you want to do the same thing but DON'T hit delete after you've done the unknown procedure. You'll now want to make sure that a smaller amount of cloud is deselected than you had for previous layers. After you've got a desirable amount, hit delete and deselect. Now you can lay on a heavy bevel and it will look convincing.

BEWARE! I had to play around with a lot of variables to get it looking perfect. The large mountains still left a lot of remaining large terrain. I had to go over a lot of it with a low-opacity eraser to get a realistic transition from hills to mountains. Also, to create varying landforms (such as craters and plateaus) add a contour style to your bevel (and also play with the contour in the bevel/emboss panel). Interesting effects can also be made by using different types of bevels and embosses. Give them a try to see what you like best.

Viola! You're done.(heh) I have about five or six different intensities of bevels to make the dynamic land that I've got. The rivers are simple bevels on top of blue brush strokes. I used a 'wet media' brush because it scatters randomly (much much less work for you)

I also have a graphics tablet. It's a must if you want to get nice detail in bumpy lines and other things that looks bad when done with a mouse. (I could very well paint my continent outlines directly on the computer now.)

Last edited by Impothix Nu; Nov 30th, 2006 at 06:14 PM.
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 08:28 PM
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Oh wow. That is seriously cool!
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Old Nov 30th, 2006, 11:31 PM
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Awesome work you two, I really like the city-scape type maps pig, had thought about trying my hand with those but was a bit afraid to start that before I first tackled the 'how to' of making relief terrain, mountains and the like.

Nu, really like your maps as well - I would enjoy learning the relief techniques used, have you considered using a scaling brush for your rivers? I found in my experiments that using varied sizes helped provide a bit of detail to the rivers reality. Being that using one size to do larger sections, then fading into a pixel smaller (bearing in mind that rivers generally become more errant at smaller sizes to help add that little bit of detail), then a pixel smaller at times to finish the river off in a wisping tributary.

Great stuff, I haven't had the time to read/work with the above info you provided yet but I'll get back to you all on that. Should pool our efforts on various nerd related works and techniques. :P
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Old Dec 1st, 2006, 12:32 AM
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The original size of my map was too small to give me the proper scaling variation. Being that it's my first attempt at it, I find several things that I wish to change, but will instead implement more in the the other continents (because going back that far will be a bitch). When I realized that the scale of the map in general was just a little bit too small for the details I wanted, I doubled it. That gave me a lot more free reign in the size dynamics, but at the same time made any additions after the size change look just ever-so-slightly different than the effects created before the change. Live and learn, I guess.

The other two aspects that will be much more refined are tree sizes, as they're unrealistically large, and the transition between mountain bottoms and the valleys. The technique I used to do that transition was a rudimentary manual-type feathering that just isn't convincing. Also, I'm very new to the graphic tablet so I don't really have much refined control yet. All the more reason to practice, I figure.

I suppose I'll break away from Seronia for now and focus on another continent to see what I can do with more concrete knowledge.

Arg, I should have known my perfectionism wouldn't let me ignore the fact that the rivers are just too freaking huge. Luckily I have separate saves at nearly every part of the proceedure, so I don't have to go too far back. Let that be a lesson to you all. Save multiple copies until you could go through water torture and still not say your work was below your expectations.

Last edited by Impothix Nu; Dec 1st, 2006 at 12:38 AM.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2006, 11:13 PM
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Quote:
Once that's done, fill in your land color. For that particular continent I used a brownish green to white gradient. Don't worry if it looks cartoonish, the additional layers of mountains and hills will make it look textured. Make sure it's on a separate layer. In fact, make sure everything you do is on a separate layer and that you never use your outline layer for anything but getting the right selection sizes (more info about that ahead). I assume you know how to fill the color of a selected shape into a blank layer. If you don't, feel free to ask.

Next thing to do is select the inside of whatever landmass you want to make terrain for. When you have the inside selected, select the outside line as well. (wouldn't want continents with unearthly black lines around them, would we?)

Now make a blank layer and create a layer mask that reveals only the selection. Go to the filters menu and select Render -> Clouds. The clouds should now cover your unmasked area, and consequently, the continent color. Now, with the cloud layer selected, mouse over to the 'Channels' Tab in the layer toolbox. It should show the separate R, G, & B channels as well as the combined RGB channel. control click on the RGB, then hit your delete key.
I don't know if I did this section wrong or what but all I seem to end up with is a gradient of the selected area that is supposedly a mask. I donno - perhaps I don't understand how to work my masks as I should properly.
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Old Dec 4th, 2006, 12:12 AM
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Not sure I understand what you mean. Do you have a screen shot?

Make sure that all of the landmass selecting that you do is done on the outlines layer. And make sure that you're rendering black and white clouds by resetting your two color boxes on the toolbox. Also, the clouds layer should be on top or else you wont be able to see it (you probably are well aware of that).

When I said cloud layer selected I meant 'active layer'.

Your land color should also be on a separate layer that only has the fill for the item you're working on, otherwise it wont work properly.
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Old Dec 4th, 2006, 12:54 AM
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Nice stuff. I also use Photoshop, but mostly for smaller scale combat maps.

Here's a photoshop map of a game taking place in the sewers.
The party (Yeah, I just use initials...) is on a 10' wide walkway, with a river of sewage to the west. There's trash-like piles of sludge and who knows what all over the walkway, and there's a deep cart, kind of like a miner's cart in the middle.

So, I created a canvas that would be easily divisible by 4 in this case.
I made a selection that took up one half (vertically) of the area, and made a new layer from it. I used "Layer Style - pattern overlay" to create the bricks. I did the same for the gurgling sewage. I added gridlines, by just using the airbrush at would would be the 5' markers (hold shift key for straight rule), but did them at 50% opacity. I flattened and saved this so that I could use it for all future sewer encounters.

Then it's just a matter of opening it, adding layers for players and other stuff. I keep these as a PSD so that I can open the orginal, and click on each layer to move the people each round, and I use save for web to generate the final file.

The cart and trash piles were used by creating a selection in the shape of the item and by applying layer styles. The cart uses bevel/emboss for the 3d effect, and pattern for the color..
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Old Dec 4th, 2006, 01:03 AM
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Your next task should be fiddling with some tutorials and coming up with pixel art icons for people instead of the letters, it would be classic. I think I might do something like that just for fun. I'll try to get you a screen shot of where I stood with things Nu. I haven't had much time with finals to experiment recently.
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Old Dec 4th, 2006, 01:12 AM
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That wouldn't be too hard to do, but there's additional time involved. I'd probably sketch them, scan them, and pull them into Illustrator for redrawing before pulling them into Photoshop. I'm just too lazy, and don't have Illustrator on my laptop. (I do have it at work though)

Some people have made some of those in some other thread, I've thought about using some of them.
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Old Dec 4th, 2006, 02:51 PM
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Maps!

Here is the excel resource I put together for anyone to download. No programs needed other than excel. It comes with a bunch of maps ready for use and hundreds of creatures and character icons (PNG's) to place on the maps. Some examples to follow as well:

(Link removed, see sig for new downloads)

I put a lot of work into customizing many of the PC icons that are being used. You can use something as simple as Paint to rework various icons. The maps have plent of terrain icons you can copy and paste and place where you want. Be sure to send all maps to the back layer before placing icons on top of them though.

(You may notice the character icons here at different times are wielding different weapons. I have icons to show when they have a bow or their weapons and facings for left and right. The colored letter icons by their image is to show their facing. The red dots show creature facings.) Feel free to download and enjoy.
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Last edited by Davion; Dec 18th, 2007 at 10:30 AM.
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Old Dec 4th, 2006, 03:23 PM
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Ah-ha, I figured out what I was doing wrong. Some time later to give the technique some more practice and I might post some stuff with it. I wasn't leaving the correct portion highlighted when I applied the bevel, so - cool. Kind of funky I want it to not emboss the country lines - might have to see if I can find some way to make the lines contour to the land without taking on the emboss.


Nice stuff Davion, I like that as a nice little collection. Still working on more icons or is it basically done?

Updated my map with a very quick experiment with the technique you outlined about Nu. Works well thus far. Although I will need to work on fixing the edges, too raised and removed from the waters.

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Last edited by Treslo Kresha; Dec 4th, 2006 at 03:44 PM.
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Old Dec 4th, 2006, 04:47 PM
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I am always working on new icons and digging up new resources to add to it, just am not updating the file every time I have a few new ones, but it has been a month since, so I will upload the latest version.
DnD Map & Icon Template 11 meg download with working example of how I put all the stuff together for connected maps and encounter tracking.

Link removed, see signature for newest downloads.

Last edited by Davion; Dec 18th, 2007 at 10:31 AM.
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Old Dec 4th, 2006, 09:29 PM
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I can help you fix the water-to land problem. I actually add a bevel to the water as well, using the same techniques but fiddling with the specifics of it. Usually you'll want to put smoothing onto them and in some cases choose down instead of up for the direction. Try adding a contour to it as well, some interesting effects. I forget the exact combo I used, but it was able to overlap the water with the land to create minimal 'cliffing'. Also, keep in mind that I happened upon this technique for landmasses that are much larger in scale than yours so the amount of cliffing you've got there would be passable in my unnecessarily massive image.
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