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  • Fantasy Map Photoshop Tutorial

    Creating fantasy maps is difficult without the right tools and know how.




    The internet has a lot of fantasy map programs that either look tacky, too difficult to use and frustrating to save into compatible formats. This tutorial is going to stick to Photoshop as it is highly accessible and easy to use.




    First we need to draw the map

    Now you need to have some kind of quick sketch that you have thrown together for your map, you can use this as a guide.

    1. For this tutorial I will be using some parchment paper by Teeth-man from Deviant Art. You can make parchment yourself non-digitally and scan it in, or you can use a variety of brushes - grunge, paper stains.

    2. Open the parchment image in Photoshop by dragging the file in or File > Open.

    3. Scan your sketch and drag the file into Photoshop so that it is a layer over the parchment.

    4. Create a new layer over the sketch and parchment (CTRL+SHFT +N). We will now start to draw the lines for your map!

    5. Use the Polygonal tool (P) to trace around coastline. Zoom in (Hold ALT and move the mouse wheel forward) so you can accurately trace the lines. Go around the entire coastline until you are back to where you began. Clicking the point you began with will activate a marquee.



    6. Using the marquee tool (M) right click inside the selection and choose Stroke.

    7. Set the coastline to 3px and inside border. Click Ok.





    8. To add a bit of style to your coast we will add another, thinner line. Go to Select > Modify > Expand. Expand 3px.





    9. Using the Marquee tool (M) again, right click the inside of the selection, choose stroke and set weight to 1px and inside border. Click OK.





    10. Clean up unwanted lines with the eraser (E).

    11. Now you have a basic map!




    Now we need to draw the map components

    You have created a fantasy world and you are not the greatest drawer. Never fear, those who find it difficult to draw may download a set of brushes that I have created for this tutorial - HERE!

    Otherwise, for those who are up for the challenge, I will show you how to make your own custom map components by drawing a few mountains and trees and using Photoshop to place them easily onto parchment paper.

    1. Get a piece of white paper.
    2. Get a 2b or softer pencil and begin to figure out what components you will need for your map. Below are some components I needed and is derived from the components of a Tolkien map. But be creative, find a style and stick to it.



    3. Play around with some techniques like hatching and shading. For the mountains, I scribbled a bit of shadow to one side to indicate its volume. The trees could be have shadows, or be just a little darker underneath. The water is a squiggle, nothing more.

    4. Scan them into your computer and open them up into Photoshop.




    Now to brushify them.

    The way making brushes works is that all of the white will be turned to 0% opacity and everything else will go to black. That means we can work on the background layer and not worry about separating the drawing from the white background.

    To make brushes for each component:

    1. Select the Crop tool (C) from your tools menu.

    2. Make a border around the custom component and then double click the inside of the box to crop.





    3. Go to Edit > Define Brush Preset... and label the component - for example: Mountain 1, Mountain 2 and so on.



    4. Go to Edit > Undo (CTRL+ALT+Z) to go back.

    5. Repeat steps 1-4 for the rest of the components until you have individual brushes for each.




    Adding the components into your map

    1. These brushes will overlap. So either space them away from each other, or if they do overlap, add a layer above and use the eraser tool to clear away the lines that overlap.

    2. Below is a way to put your mountains, hills and trees together. You can arrange them into long mountain ranges and large forests and hilly plains for your map, it is up to you.



    3. For dotted lines, select the brush tool (B) and choose a 3px brush. Slide the Spacing towards the right until there is a suitable distribution of dots.






    Add text

    1. Find a font to use. There are millions of fonts on the internet.

    2. Download them and go to Start>Control Panel>Font.

    3. Go to File>Install Font and go to the folder where you downloaded the font. Install the fonts.

    4. Start adding in the text. A few tips for this:

    a. As a rule of thumb don't have your text overlapping your mountains, trees etc. It is messy.
    b. Have a heirachy with your text. Generally, the larger or more important something is, the larger the text.
    c. To curve your text, go to the Text tool (T) and on the top bar there will be a symbol of a T with a curved line underneath.



    5. For the purpose of this tutorial I went with the Tolkien writing, but be creative and maybe write your own text and scan it in, or even create your own font.




    There you have it, a Fantasy Map.

    You will achieve a better result if you make your custom components yourself and convert them to brushes.



    Please post maps that you have created to help others see what is possible.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Fantasy Map Photoshop Tutorial started by Shards View original post
    Comments 10 Comments
    1. eth's Avatar
      eth -
      I used to draw random maps of places when I was a kid. I'll try and remake one of these maps over the weekend. Nice Tolkien imitation, btw.
    1. Shards's Avatar
      Shards -
      Thanks eth. As for re-creating one of your maps, that would be awesome!

      Btw I found another great way to create maps, it takes longer but looks amazing. Tune in.
    1. Legion's Avatar
      Legion -
      o.o Interesting. I see that this has more uses than just making fantasy maps. The only problem I see with this is that the line seperating the line from the sea somehow clashes with the softer lines used for the mountains and such. It's too hard or sharp, although I'm not sure whether you'd see that if you just glanced at it. >.> A solution may come in drawing said line with a H2 pencil, too, so that it has the same sharpness as the mountains and trees. Unless Photoshop has a tool which allows you to blur it somehow.

      Also the sea is overlapping a tree wtflol. XD

      Pity I don't actually own a version of photoshop and some time to experiment with this or skills for that matter. And I still have a couple of things to finish before I can do that - darn you evil artists for filling my head with ideas! >:V
    1. LoseR's Avatar
      LoseR -
      This looks pretty sick. If only my photoshop worked on my computer =(
    1. Shards's Avatar
      Shards -
      Quote Originally Posted by Legion View Post
      I see that this has more uses than just making fantasy maps.
      Well I may post up a tutorial to create a standardised method of mass creation of characters by creating tons of brush components (hair, eyes, arms, clothes, weapons etc). Take for example computer games like the Sims where you make your character and give them different clothing etc. The same can be done with brushes - but they can have a sketchy feel to it. I'd like to see what your take is on it though.

      Quote Originally Posted by Legion View Post
      The only problem I see with this is that the line seperating the line from the sea somehow clashes with the softer lines used for the mountains and such. It's too hard or sharp, although I'm not sure whether you'd see that if you just glanced at it. >.> A solution may come in drawing said line with a H2 pencil, too, so that it has the same sharpness as the mountains and trees. Unless Photoshop has a tool which allows you to blur it somehow.
      You're right you don't need to rely on different grades of pencils. In Photoshop you can use things like lowering opacity or the eraser tool on say 50% pressure. Or you can brush things with a grey rather than a black. The great thing with PS is there is always more than one way to do something.

      Also the sea is overlapping a tree wtflol. XD
      lol, you don't miss anything. This highlights a problem that I have found with using brushes is that they are transparent and when overlapped they get messy.

      Quote Originally Posted by Legion View Post
      Pity I don't actually own a version of photoshop and some time to experiment with this or skills for that matter. And I still have a couple of things to finish before I can do that - darn you evil artists for filling my head with ideas! >:V
      For those who do not have Photoshop I am pretty sure there is a free monthly trial always available.

      Quote Originally Posted by Loser View Post
      This looks pretty sick. If only my photoshop worked on my computer =(
      Cheers, but how come your Photoshop won't work on your PC?
    1. LoseR's Avatar
      LoseR -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shards View Post
      Cheers, but how come your Photoshop won't work on your PC?
      well TBH I had a pirated version of it, but it didn't work when I tried installing it on this computer. I'll see if I can get a version that works sometime soon
    1. TheEvilGenius's Avatar
      TheEvilGenius -
      Well I may post up a tutorial to create a standardised method of mass creation of characters by creating tons of brush components (hair, eyes, arms, clothes, weapons etc). Take for example computer games like the Sims where you make your character and give them different clothing etc. The same can be done with brushes - but they can have a sketchy feel to it. I'd like to see what your take is on it though.

      Do it. Do it noooowww.


      Great tutorial, as always.

      For those of you who don't have Potatoeshop, I believe GIMP or even Picasa have similar editing abilities. There's more here: http://graphicssoft.about.com/od/pix...eephotoedw.htm
    1. eth's Avatar
      eth -
      Okay, this is harder than I first imagined. I'm sorry Shards, but I deviated a little from your 'teachings' and I'm ending up doing something completely different from what I originally planned. (Using brushes was proving to be a bit of an irritant.)

      Also, I found it easier to trace the outline using the pen tool. The polygon selection tool doesn't allow any room for mistakes, which can get quite frustrating at times.
    1. Shards's Avatar
      Shards -
      Quote Originally Posted by LoseR View Post
      well TBH I had a pirated version of it, but it didn't work when I tried installing it on this computer. I'll see if I can get a version that works sometime soon
      Don't hesitate to PM me the error messages or whatever and Ill see what I can do.

      Quote Originally Posted by TEG View Post
      Do it. Do it noooowww.

      Great tutorial, as always.
      lol, I'll sketch out a prototype soon. Thanks though

      Quote Originally Posted by eth View Post
      Okay, this is harder than I first imagined. I'm sorry Shards, but I deviated a little from your 'teachings' and I'm ending up doing something completely different from what I originally planned. (Using brushes was proving to be a bit of an irritant.)

      Also, I found it easier to trace the outline using the pen tool. The polygon selection tool doesn't allow any room for mistakes, which can get quite frustrating at times.
      Good call eth, it is good to deviate. No really it is, your right that the pen tool is way better to use but I was thinking it would take longer to explain how to use it compared to polygonal marquee. In fact, do you think I should have the pen tool used in the tutorial instead? For larger maps, the pen tool is simply more practical.
    1. eth's Avatar
      eth -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shards View Post
      In fact, do you think I should have the pen tool used in the tutorial instead?
      Well, you can always add a note at the end explaining how to use the pen tool for selections or give a link to another tutorial that explains the same. An opportunity for a separate tutorial, perhaps?