LESSON Map Making for you Photoshoppers Out There!

Discussion in 'CREATING WORLDS & SETTINGS' started by Mowkie, Jan 1, 2015.

  1. Hiya!

    Here in the Worldbuilder's Guild, there's just about two of every subject one could ever need when it comes to doing what many of us love to do - building a world. Some of us want worlds that are technologically sound, while others prefer a world filled with magic, dragons, and just plain awesomeness. For many long-lived RPs where the characters are going to go to a lot of places in the length of the story, it's very helpful to have a map so that the GM/Storyteller can communicate just where those places are and how they need to get there.

    Now, I'm a fantasy lover, myself. I have one world that I'm continually building upon, for I see no reason to have more than that. I have four large maps - my World Map, and a map of each of the three continents. Each map took, roughly, between six and eighteen hours to build, entirely. Map making is certainly not for the faint of heart.

    However, they turned out well, and now anyone who wishes to understand the world can look at my map and know just where they are going and how they're going to get there. Every time I have shown them off, I've always had people ask me how to do it. I've done lessons over Skype with close friends, and I figured, if they want to know, so do others!

    So here we go!

    PLEASE NOTE: *Disclaimer* Though these works of art are 100% made by me, I do have access to various brushes made by other artists. These artists will be listed at the bottom of this tutorial. Also, please remember that this tutorial, like all others here on Iwaku, is completely free. I do not promise success to anyone on this site, as map-making is a very tedious process that requires diligence, patience, and PHOTOSHOP. Thank you. :3

    I'll give my world map as an example of a completely finished product.

    [​IMG]

    Yes, this is done entirely, 100% on Photoshop. Cool, right? XD

    So, to the first steps of map-building. I, myself, used a tutorial for the initial phases. You can view the first steps below.

    The Author's Guide to Drawing Maps

    Now, right around the time you are done with the initial steps, you'll have your land-mass, shore-lines, and if you've already done so, rivers. Shadows will have been placed delicately over the land, and it really seems to be coming together nicely.

    Now, if you want your map to look entirely like mine, you might want to know some changes that I might have made. You can read these below.

    Change #1 - Coast Line
    Just as you've done the two wispy, whitish-blues, you might want to add a darker blue beneath it to give off the fact that your world actually has water. On a map with the textured background like what I have, it's practically impossible to see the water that the tutorial tells you to use, so I improvised and created a body of water (filling in darker beneath rivers, lakes, etc.) using the color code <#5a9a86>. Now, some of you might want to go lighter, and some darker. The key is to play with it and figure out what looks best for you.

    Change #2 - More Blending Options
    For those of you who want your map to stand out just a little more, here's what I did for mine. Some of this might be repeated from the tutorial.
    ~Drop Shadow - Multiply, 75% Opacity, Distance & Size 5, Spread 0, Angle 120 degrees
    ~Inner Glow - <#6f7544>, Normal, 23% Opacity, Precise Technique, Size 13px, Range 50%
    ~Stroke - <#737845>, Size 2px, Outside, Normal, Opacity 100%
    ~PLAYED WITH IT! Remember, that is key when doing anything with Photoshop!

    Change #3 - Rivers & Marshes
    As the tutorial doesn't really get into rivers or marshes, I'll go ahead and explain how I did them. Steps are below.
    1) Duplicate Land Mass Layer - Seriously, if you mess up, you're going to want that second copy just in case. Once it's copied, hide it.
    2) Grab your erasers! - Depending on the size of your map, you're going to need an eraser that ranges in size from 5px to roughly 13px. Make sure the eraser is hard, not soft, and its opacity is at 100%. For marshes, be sure to grab a textured or spotted eraser. You can find these in the basic list of erasers/brushes. Mess around until you find one that you like. Size differs from eraser to eraser.
    3) Start from a Large Body of Water - Like any traditional river or stream, the main source is a large body of water, from a large lake to a bay to an ocean. From there, you'll draw a river like you would on a piece of paper. Don't expect every curve to be perfect. You want the lines to be shaky, but also be sure that you continue the same line without taking your hand from the mouse. Otherwise, the river might look partial or incomplete. For marshes, dab your textured eraser a few times over the land mass until satisfied. Or, you can do small lines with your round eraser. However, that technique may not always work out.
    4) Add the Streams - This is where things get a little more meticulous. For those of you who want all the little streams added, this, alone, could take an hour or so. When doing streams, make the brush slightly smaller - no more than a pixel or two. Zoom in to your main river, and line up your eraser with the already-erased line. Click and drag, slowly, in the same manner as making the large portion until satisfied. This step can be repeated as many times as needed.
    5) Add a Mouth - Don't forget that most rivers open up to their larger counterparts. Be sure to add a mouth at the end of your rivers to show that they're opening up to the ocean/lake/body of water.
    6) Add Color - Your marsh may still feel incomplete without a little extra color. Marsh water definitely isn't the cleanest. In fact, it oftentimes takes a greenish tone over the blue of the ocean. To add some color, I took the color code, <#6fa703> and a soft brush, lightly coloring beneath the land mass and over the other water colors. Play with the softness and opacity of this to create the desired effect.

    Change #4 - Land Colors
    What continent is so bland that one cannot see the colors of the land? There are deserts, mountains, and tundras that need exploring! Here are a few tips to help bring your continent even more to life!
    ~NEW LAYER - Yes, that's right! Make a new, blank layer, and name it "Land Colors." Be sure this layer is directly over the land mass so that you can create a Clipping Mask (For those of you who don't know how to do this, simply right click the layer and find, "Create Clipping Mask.") This will keep any colors from going over the edge of the land mass. Then, change the layer option from "Normal" to "Color."
    ~DESERTS - For these miles of sand, we need a sandy color. I recommend the color code <#b99933>
    ~TUNDRAS/MOUNTAIN - For the colder areas, where there's almost always snowy plains and caps of ice, I'd use a gray color. When in color mode, it really doesn't matter what type of grayscale you use, so long as there is absolutely no color within. I do have some who prefer to add a light shade of blue, however. Remember that this is an option.
    ~MARSHES (Alternative to Erasing) - Some people don't want a 100% realistic map, so there's always the option to create a color for bogs and marshes. I recommend the color <#4e602d>. Trust me when I say that the color ends up a lot lighter than it actually is.

    Change #5 - Texture
    When dealing with mountains or cold areas, large deserts, or boggy areas, there's oftentimes a great deal of color with absolutely no texture, and let's face it, that is just too plain jane for any of my fellow artists! So, I've devised a way to make it a little more interesting. Here's how:
    ~Another New Layer - Make sure this one sits just over the Color Layer - name it Texture. You can create a clipping mask if you want, but that's not necessary.
    ~Got a Wispy Brush? Dunes? Perhaps some Grass? - Be sure to have a brush for mist/sand/grass of any sort. You can find countless free brushes on DeviantArt, but be sure to give credit to the artists who made them! Once you've found the brush of your choosing, use it and size it to the proper length/height.
    ~Tap, Tap, TAP! - Lightly tap your mouse over the areas that you think would need clouds. Play with the opacity of the brush as well as the layer, itself, to add depth to the area you are painting. Don't drag these brushes! Otherwise, it'll look really silly!


    These are all of the very basic changes that I've made from the tutorial. Of course, this doesn't include all the stuff the author tells you about terrain, borders, etc. Honestly, I didn't even mess with canvas or anything like that, as I found it to be too over-complicated. You can find steps on how I did my terrain below.

    Always keep in mind that each of us are different in the way we think, feel, and express ourselves. These changes worked for me, and it took me hours of play and three very different maps to devise what I truly enjoy. You can do the same!

    Below are the different steps, from the completed land mass after the basic tutorial to the various changes I made on my own. Take from it what you like. ^^

    Maps - WARNING: LARGE (open)

    Map Steps (Individual Spoilers for Various Maps)

    1) Step One - Following the Tutorial

    Keep in mind that your water isn't going to look very pretty by itself. You'll need texture beneath it to make it look more like a map.

    Kabola
    [​IMG]

    Ethos
    [​IMG]

    ~Note that this was actually my very first map, so I didn't do the rivers the same way, nor did I have a bonus layer. Good thing I didn't mess up! Or did I?? O.o

    Fortuna

    [​IMG]


    2) Step Two - Adding Your Touches

    Still looks pretty icky, huh? Don't worry, it'll get really cleaned up soon

    Kabola
    [​IMG]

    Ethos
    [​IMG]

    Fortuna
    [​IMG]


    3) Step Three - Adding Terrain

    Find the brushes that suit you best for your own terrain. This step is always tedious, and while you are working on it, it might appear silly or off in many different directions...but as you add the finishing touches, you'll see the land really come together. Take your time, put on some good music, and enjoy yourself!

    Kabola
    [​IMG]

    Ethos
    [​IMG]

    Fortuna
    [​IMG]


    4) Step Four - Location, Location, Location!

    Now add your cityscape and various locations, marking the most important places. Keep in mind that most of these locations must be labeled, so don't add too many! I know I did.

    Kabola
    [​IMG]

    Ethos
    [​IMG]
    **Ethos is the only one of my maps that requires a border. My borders are a lot simpler than the design on the basic tutorial. Simply make a layer beneath the labels, draw a solid black line with a 5px to 7px hard round brush where you want the border. Then grab an eraser the same size and start erasing to create a dash. Much easier, and it only takes a couple of minutes. XD

    Fortuna
    [​IMG]

    ~Please Note that, in my error, I forgot the mist. Be sure to look at it on this map!


    5) Step Five - Labels!

    Labels are always the WORST! Folding them and finding ways that they can show. Some are dark while others are bright. No matter what, they'll probably be a little hard to read, but you can always break your map down into sections later.

    Kabola
    [​IMG]

    Ethos
    [​IMG]

    Fortuna
    [​IMG]

    6) Step Six - Add Finishing Touches

    Here's where the last touches come in. Your map texture should be done at the end, after everything else has been placed. I like to use a dark, rugged texture for my maps to make them appear worn and used, but yours can look as good as new. All you gotta do is find or make the texture of your desire! You should also find a good Compass Rose to add.

    Kabola
    [​IMG]

    Ethos
    [​IMG]

    Fortuna
    [​IMG]


    If you could read all of that stuffs, then you are well on your way to making your very own map! Here are a few tools to help you continue on. Please note that none of these brushes are my own, even the one I uploaded, which were created by my amazingly talented mother.

    Brushes

    Be sure to post your finished maps on this thread! I and many others would love to see the work of dedicated authors building a tangible world. For those of you who don't want to complete these steps and would rather someone else do so, let me know. I plan to open a map shop soon. Be warned, though...it'll cost ya! XD
     
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  2. Can I make one editing suggestion. Instead of erasing use a masking layer, still make a duplicate of the original layer, but use a masking layer in place of erasing anything. Allows for a wider range of mistakes and it's non-destructive editing. Otherwise, superb guide.
     
  3. [​IMG]

    This guide was a big help. Thank you! :D
     
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  4. Great advice, @Egolegume !!

    And a wonderful map, @Asuras ! I'm glad someone's making good use of this guide.