03 January, 2014

An alternate way to draw maps (Part 4)

Now that we've drawn up the topographic map in Photoshop, we can do some interesting things with it.

One of those things is to determine where water levels will be when the terrain is applied to Bryce...you don't need to export it across to Bryce to do that.

Flatten the image (or select the whole thing, then do a "copy merged" and paste it into a new layer).

Using this, you can go to "Image-> Adjusments -> Threshold".

Since we now that light areas are higher than dark areas, we can set the threshold to a certain value...everything below that value will be underwater, everything above that level will be dry.

Sliding the threshold value up and down gives us an effect like this...

When the threshold is set highest, it leaves only the outer rim mountains above the waterline, and when it is set lowest, there are only a few scattered lakes of water within the defined region. To keep things interesting, I like to make sure there is a balance between the two extremes.

In this case I'll aim for a threshold somewhere around the 112 mark.

That leaves me with a map like this.

There's a horizontal peninsula landmass just below the central that looks vaguely like Italy...there are a few narrow bits of land and narrow seaways where kingdoms could place themselves for strategic importance. A few islands, a few lakes, certainly enough interest for the placement of a variety of adventures and mysteries.

This isn't the final stage of the map, but it's starting to give me some good ideas about the world being created.
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