A really quick and easy way to make realistic fantasy maps...

Was playing around in photoshop this morning and I stumbled across a really easy way to make a good looking fantasy map; as far as I know it only works in photoshop, but the principle should work in other programmes assuming they have similar options. Are you sitting comfortably? Good, then I'll begin... :D

First, open a blank document of whatever size you want your map to be. As I'm just doing a tutorial I'm going for a small one. Once you've done this, go to 'Filter', 'Render' and 'Clouds'.


You should get something like this...


Now, go to 'Image', 'Adjustments' and then 'Brightness and Contrast'.


When the box comes up, move the contrast all the way to maximum; your image will now look similar to this;


If you don't like the look of the coastlines, just start again from here- the cloud rendering is random so each time will be different. You can also alter the map to your needs at this point with the pencil tool- get rid of the islands you don't want and fiddle with the coastlines. You could just leave it here and colour the different areas to whatever you like with the fill tool; I'm going to add some outlines to the shape however.


When you get something you're happy with, so to 'select', and then 'color (sic :rolleyes: ) range'. click on one of the white areas, and then 'ok'.


This will select all the white part of the image, which I'm going to make the sea. Go to 'Layer', then 'Duplicate Layer', and then press the delete key.


This will delete all the white area in the new layer. While you've got the land area selected, fill it to be the colour you want- make sure you get all the small islands. Now, press Shift+Ctrl+I. This will invert your selection. Click on the layers tab and choose the other layer.


Press Ctrl+A and then the delete key to wipe out everything in the layer, then fill with whatever colour you want the sea to be. By this stage, you have something similar to this;


Now, we're going to add outlining. Go to the layers tab, and double-click on the layer with the land. On the window that comes up, click on 'stroke', and then alter the variables so they're the same as in the screenshot.


The result should look like this;


And there you go! if you want to change the coastlines again, just use the pencil tool with the right colour- photoshop will automatically alter the outline to fit. When you're happy with that you can either flatten the image and then edit it like any other file, or create a new layer for the text and cities, etc.
 

Thande

Donor
Where exactly do all you people get Photoshop CS from? :confused: It's several hundred £s whenever I've seen it retailed, and I can't believe you've all got illegal copies...
 

Highlander

Banned
Well, I use it at school.

Very sweet; my eternal thanks :cool:

There's some red around the edges of my land masses after I adjust the Brightness/Contrast. How do I get rid of this?
 
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Where exactly do all you people get Photoshop CS from?
Couldn't possibly comment I'm afraid ;)

In all seriousness, it's not too difficult to get hold of if you have a look- if you want to go the legal road I'm sure you could find a cheapish one on ebay. Never used it myself, but if you're after a free programme that does similar stuff, I hear this is quite good although I've never used it myself.


There's some red around the edges of my land masses after I adjust the Brightness/Contrast. How do I get rid of this?
I'd make sure that the colours in your pallette are the default black and white- you can set this by pressing 'D' at any time. Failing that, I'd go "image" , "adjustments" and then "desaturate"- when you up the contrast after that it should be black.
 
As a side note, when you up the contrast try fiddling with the brightness tool as well- this lets you choose the proportion of land to water in the map and is also a very good way of getting realistic contour lines or showing the results of global warming or an ice age.
 
First problem: I can't find out how you fill areas, sorry. Every time I try, the whole screen goes gray.

Second problem: Since I didn't find out how to use fill, I used replace color, and every color I tried resulted in a shade of gray as well. It's so complicated!
 
First problem: I can't find out how you fill areas, sorry. Every time I try, the whole screen goes gray.
Sounds like you have a layer problem there- check the layers tab to make sure that the correct layer is selected, as if you're working with the wrong one then the fill tool won't be doing what you think it ought to be. If you have a blank layer on top for example, then the fill tool will just cover the entire document.

Second problem: Since I didn't find out how to use fill, I used replace color, and every color I tried resulted in a shade of gray as well. It's so complicated!
Replace Colour is an odd beast to be honest; from what I can see it can't colourise black or white areas but only alter existing colours. The best way round this is to do the "select colour range" thing I described in the tutorial, and then 'Image', 'Adjustments', and 'Hue/Saturation'. Make sure the 'Colourise' box is ticked in the window that comes up, then play with the three sliders until you get the colour that you want.

Hope this helps! Photoshop is very difficult to get your head around to start off with, but it really rewards the effort- if you keep at it then eventually it becomes a wonderful tool.
 
In all seriousness, it's not too difficult to get hold of if you have a look- if you want to go the legal road I'm sure you could find a cheapish one on ebay. Never used it myself, but if you're after a free programme that does similar stuff, I hear this is quite good although I've never used it myself.
Great lesson, EdT. You should put together a little mapmaking tutorial of some kind and put it on the wiki. As for GIMP, I use it, though I'm hardly an image editing guru. It seems to have a lot of the basic functionality of Photoshop, though the Windows interface can be a little confusing.
 
Great lesson, EdT. You should put together a little mapmaking tutorial of some kind and put it on the wiki. As for GIMP, I use it, though I'm hardly an image editing guru. It seems to have a lot of the basic functionality of Photoshop, though the Windows interface can be a little confusing.
Glad you like it- I like the idea of doing a larger tutorial, people might find it handy. I didn't realise there was a wiki, mind giving me a link?

As I say, have never used GIMP myself being a photoshop junkie :rolleyes: but I post a fair bit on b3ta and the people there seem to see it as the best freeware alternative out there.
 
Glad you like it- I like the idea of doing a larger tutorial, people might find it handy. I didn't realise there was a wiki, mind giving me a link?

As I say, have never used GIMP myself being a photoshop junkie :rolleyes: but I post a fair bit on b3ta and the people there seem to see it as the best freeware alternative out there.
Here's the link to the wiki (still in beta): https://www.alternatehistory.com/wiki/doku.php
There isn't a namespace specifically for maps, art, etc, but you can put it in offtopic for now, I suppose.
 
Cheers... I'll see what I can do in putting something together; might make it a biggish project and do the thing properly.
 

HelloLegend

Banned
EdT.

The one of the definitions of Genius is to take something fundamentally mundane and make it fundmentally different. Congrats, on your insight.
 
hmm, I cant seem to find color range. in fact, I didn't even know I had photoshop untill today. Actually, maybe I did, but never gave it a second thought while I looked through my start menu. is it possible color range is called something different on mine? I looked through all the menu things (yah, I know the terminalogy all right:rolleyes: ). may someone help me?
 

Valamyr

Banned
Where exactly do all you people get Photoshop CS from? :confused: It's several hundred £s whenever I've seen it retailed, and I can't believe you've all got illegal copies...
Can't believe that we've all got...

Wow.

Short version: We do.
 
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