Drawing a Map in Photoshop

Topics: Color, Web colors, X11 color names Pages: 16 (7064 words) Published: October 25, 2009
First thing’s first; this tutorial is written mainly to remind myself of the steps I go through when making a map…much of this will sound like a lecture but it’s how I work and what I’m thinking, my steps might not be perfect and my observations might be incorrect. Next, look at a GLOBE of the earth not a flat map, this is because a flat map will distort things near the poles to make them look larger than they really are (Greenland looks huge on a flat map). Get the proportions of landmass to ocean roughly in your mind (our earth is 70% water, I think) and take some measurements if you want to by using a piece of string then holding the string up to a ruler. For this tutorial I’m going to do a small continent (2000 X 2000). 1. To get maximum detail I set my resolution way up there at 300-600. The size of the image will give us 1 pixel = 1 mile thus 2000 miles high and wide and the resolution is only for print purposes. I could do this at 100 dpi but if I printed the map it would be larger and then most printers cannot handle much beyond 300 dpi so if you intend to print your map then go with 300 dpi. If your system cannot handle these dimensions without chugging it’s guts out then cut the size in half, this will give you 1 pixel = 2 miles, still not too shabby, eh? If your system can handle this then try a higher image size, this will give you 1 pixel = ½ mile, or ¼ mile or whatever. Or try doing a full earth (the earth is roughly 25,000 miles in circumference around the equator and slightly less from pole to pole so it wouldn’t roll very well due to this beer-belly but for simplicity’s sake I use 12,500 so use 25,000 X 12,500). This image size really makes my pc chug so I just make a bunch of continents and at the end make one big composition. 2. Background information: look at some topography maps or Google earth maps of mountain ranges, swamps, beaches, deserts, rivers, lakes, forests, canyons, arctic poles, or any other geologic phenomena you want in your map so that you have an idea of what to shoot for (take a look at those volcanoes in Hawaii). Personally, I use FlashEarth.com because the Google maps are too distorted, splotchy, and incomplete and it takes up a huge amount of memory on my computer. 3. Initial thoughts: cold near the poles, hot around the equator so I plan to eventually have a gradient from white at top to gray to brownish (tundra) to ochre-green (plains) to green to dark green (tropics) to pale yellow-orange (deserts). You could put your poles around the equator if your planet is tilted over on it’s side but deviations too far from earth-like are too hard to wrap your brain around, even for fantasy…this is true for sunrise as well and what most people don’t realize is that by putting in more than one moon the tides get totally messed up as well as how long a day is and a year (without our single moon our days would be much shorter and our year so the life forms on our planet would be totally different). 4. So let’s get to work then… Foreground black, background white, Filter > render > clouds. 5. [pic]

6. Duplicate this layer.
7. Create a new layer and Edit > fill = 50% gray. Set the layer’s mode to hard mix and change the name to “base”. 8. The hard mix will change the look of things to straight black and white with no grays. Click back on the background copy layer and grab a large brush (not pencil) with an opacity of 10%. I use the various big airbrushes. With white I brush in extra land and with black I brush in extra water. What you want to keep in mind is that we do not want any land near any edge of the screen by at least 50-100 pixels. Land that goes off the side will never get completed since the clouds layer doesn’t extend beyond the edge so if we were to make a new image with new clouds they would never line up (unless you have certain third party plug-ins that make tile-able clouds). If you want icecaps across the top or bottom then that is...
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