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Test Subject
Original Poster
#1 Old 23rd May 2011 at 2:56 AM Last edited by Denethor : 24th Aug 2012 at 12:27 AM.
Default Lazy Terrain Painting
So I started creating this world I had an idea for but created the mountains etc by using a heightmap generator. This caused alot of creases etc which I quite frankly couldn't be bothered to paint by hand. So lazyness being the mother of invention I came up with a workflow to solve my dilemma, and thought I'd share it with your good selves. I don't often write tutorials so be prepared for possible waffle or small amounts of vague.

You will need, a copy of photoshop (I'm using CS3 but if you have the relevant filters it should work fine on an older version.) And the CAW tool - You should also have a fair knowledge of both apps - and optionally, I like to have a pint of coke. (Apparently this method also works with GIMP, so if you use GIMP instead of Photoshop you're in luck).

So here is my standard world in CAW, unpainted. My base layer is the standard lawn, I'm assuming you have no layers bar the base layer from this point on.





So now export your heightmap (Terrain > Export Height Map) Then open your heightmap png in photoshop, it'll look something like this:





Now this is where you start to colour the terrain. I do the mountains first so I'll add a layer called "mountains". Use the rock shale base texture and then hit "autopaint" And you're finished! hope you enjoyed my tutorial.





Just kidding, now after autopaint has vomited all over your terrain you'll have something like the above. Now rightclick the layer and export it as "mountains.png" or some other name to link it with the layer. Change the texture of the mountains or leave it as it is if you prefer. I'm using the texture martine_rock_granite_detail_b.dds from Martine's ridiculously good texture pack. You can find it here. Of course you can use whatever rock texture you like but I'd highly recommend that pack. If the texture vanishes at this point don't worry, as long as it exported correctly everything's fine.

Now we open the mountains png in photoshop along with your terrain heightmap.





WOO! ALRIGHT! Ok. Now select all of your heightmap and copy it, then paste it as a new layer over the top of your mountain png that CAW generated. So now in photoshop you have 2 layers, if one is called background and is locked right click it, select "layer from background" and click ok.





You might want to name the layers as above so it's easier to follow what I'm saying. Bring the mountain layer to the top, and with the mountain layer selected go to image > adjustments > curves. The curves window should pop up.

Now grab the arrow at the bottom left and move it up to about input 80 so the mountain map is nice and white. This will require a bit of trial and error as different textures seem to have different threshholds for showing up in CAW.





Now click ok then once that's applied go to filter > blur > gaussian blur and set the blur radius to 1.0 making it slightly fuzzy. Now change the mountain layer style to soft light. It should dull down a bit. now flatten the image and save it.

Now we go back into CAW and right click the mountain layer you made earlier, hit import and select your freshly photoshopped mountain map. Results will vary depending on how you fiddled around with the settings but you should get something like this:





That's the hardest bit done, now I'm gonna pick out the creases of the mountains. with some darker rock. So in CAW make a new layer called creases, or whatever you like. Pick a darker texture than the mountains, I'm gonna use martine_grass_medium_detail.dds as it goes with my lawn base. And then it's the same deal as before, export the layers texture map from CAW and open it in photoshop along with your main heightmap. And again, copy the heightmap into the creases png. You can flatten the image at this point as we wont be messing around with layers.

Now open up curves again, and move the bottom left (white) arrow to about input 50 and the bottom right (black) arrow to 95 like so:





As you move the arrows you can see what's happening, the left arrow brightens it while the right changes the contrast. By playing with these settings you can specify the height at which the following effect is applied. For my purposes the above will do.

Once you've brightened it up and adjusted your contrast go to filter > sketch > photocopy. This will pick out the creases. The darkness should usually be on max, detail I set to 10 but again, it's all a matter of preference.





Once that's done hit ctrl i to invert the image, or image > adjustments > invert if you fancy the scenic route. And gaussian blur the image, I used a blur of 1.0





Now go back into CAW and import this texture map into your creases layer.

Here's my result:





Last part for now is the highlights, same as before - make a new layer with a texture lighter than the rock mine is martine_rock_granite_detail_a.dds which is a perfect highlight for the rock texture I've used. Export it into photoshop, open it and and copy the world heightmap into the file, do exactly the same as before with the curves etc (I used left input arrow 50, right input arrow 88 as I only want my mountains highlighted)





Only now you invert the image before applying the photocopy effect. So invert it with crtl i and as before go to filter > sketch > photocopy. This time I used detail 3 and darkness maxed again at 50. Once this is done, invert it again apply a blur of about 2.0 and apply to the highlight layer in CAW the same way you did with the creases layer.

My Result:





The beaches I drew on roughly by hand with a large hard edged brush and simply blurred them in photoshop. You can also use a similar method to add some texture variation to the grass.

You won't quite get as good a result as with painting meticulously by hand but once you get the hang of the workflow and tinkering with the various settings, generating textures this way is an easier alternative if you have a large world to paint. My world is still a WIP, needs more gubbins.





Hope it was useful. This will probably get updated so if I've made something unclear or you spot a mistake, let me know

Update in post number 13 below
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Scholar
#2 Old 23rd May 2011 at 6:46 PM
Amazing work! Wow...
Test Subject
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23rd May 2011 at 7:34 PM
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Lab Assistant
#3 Old 23rd May 2011 at 8:12 PM
I can't wait to try this out. Your world looks amazing.
Test Subject
Original Poster
#4 Old 23rd May 2011 at 10:20 PM Last edited by Denethor : 23rd May 2011 at 11:08 PM.
Thanks all, don't forget to fiddle with the settings to get your desired results. Maybe, leave out some blur steps or try lower values to keep detail but eliminate rough edges, and try different numbers on the filters, the key is experimentation. I usually work with photoshop and CAW open so I can apply the textures then undo the changes and re apply until I like the results... I'm actually re-doing my world texture as I wasn't totally happy with it, but it won't take long which is what I like. And like sleepalldaypartyallnight (Sorry, Becca :D) said it's a good idea to retouch by hand afterwards. The textures make all the difference too, Martine's texture pack is the business.

Also, the heightmap generator I'm using is worldmachine, it's a good programme for heightmaps, fairly user friendly and not too expensive either
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staff: retired moderator
#5 Old 25th May 2011 at 11:27 AM
What a great tutorial, Denethor- well done! This will be very useful.

I will choose a path that's clear- I will choose free will
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Forum Resident
#6 Old 25th May 2011 at 6:45 PM
Thank you so much for making this.
Does this tutorial work with GIMP as well?
Test Subject
Original Poster
#7 Old 25th May 2011 at 10:33 PM
Thanks simsample

Quote:
Originally Posted by birdyfly
Thank you so much for making this.
Does this tutorial work with GIMP as well?


No problem I'm not sure to be honest as I've never used gimp - depends on the filters/effects you have available. If it has something that approximates those in the tutorial it should work, it'd be a matter of playing around with the effects to see what you can get.
Lab Assistant
#8 Old 26th May 2011 at 5:04 PM
Here is my attempt at Lazy Terrain Painting without any touching up. I used all the same terrain paints and added in a water. I changed most of the values though.



Screenshots
Test Subject
Original Poster
#9 Old 26th May 2011 at 11:13 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by tikkall
Here is my attempt at Lazy Terrain Painting without any touching up. I used all the same terrain paints and added in a water. I changed most of the values though.

*snip*


Yeah that's looking cool Now you've got the hang of it just play around till you're satisfied with your results.
Lab Assistant
#10 Old 29th Dec 2011 at 4:55 PM
Absolute Genius!
ARG!! If only I had found this before. The thing I hate the most is getting a solid base painting down in my world -- tweaking is fun -- but getting a good (not EA Vomit) base, especially on large worlds, is tedious and a headache.

I am actually looking forward to the process now -- so many thanks! Now I am off to pick out my base textures.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Denethor
So I started creating this world I had an idea for but created the mountains etc by using a heightmap generator. This caused alot of creases etc which I quite frankly couldn't be bothered to paint by hand. So lazyness being the mother of invention I came up with a workflow to solve my dilemma, and thought I'd share it with your good selves. I don't often write tutorials so be prepared for possible waffle or small amounts of vague.
Test Subject
#11 Old 5th Jan 2012 at 1:51 AM Last edited by holydust : 5th Jan 2012 at 2:07 AM. Reason: useless mountains! :D
Thank you SO much for this. I'm a digital artist by trade and I have a great pen tablet, and very little patience for mouse-sculpting. This has been crazy helpful, and even if it may not cut it for the full world design, it sure as heck gets most of the work done for you. I practiced with the default mountain/beach map (tweaked the contrast to change the overall depth in places), but creating one of my own should be pretty easy now that I've gotten this far. I learned to be cheaty with contrast/brightness and by adding random textures -- I got a good bumpiness by actually overlaying a texture of leather, blurring the heck out of it, and dropping it to literally 1% opacity. It actually made a huge difference. @_@

You took me from "avoided CAW for four months after it intimidated her in the first minute" to "did all of this in three hours". This hasn't been touched at ALL in CAW yet. S'all Photoshop. Freeze frame high five!


Test Subject
Original Poster
#12 Old 14th Apr 2012 at 3:15 AM Last edited by Denethor : 14th Apr 2012 at 2:05 PM.
Quote:
Originally Posted by holydust
Thank you SO much for this. I'm a digital artist by trade and I have a great pen tablet, and very little patience for mouse-sculpting. This has been crazy helpful, and even if it may not cut it for the full world design, it sure as heck gets most of the work done for you. I practiced with the default mountain/beach map (tweaked the contrast to change the overall depth in places), but creating one of my own should be pretty easy now that I've gotten this far. I learned to be cheaty with contrast/brightness and by adding random textures -- I got a good bumpiness by actually overlaying a texture of leather, blurring the heck out of it, and dropping it to literally 1% opacity. It actually made a huge difference. @_@

You took me from "avoided CAW for four months after it intimidated her in the first minute" to "did all of this in three hours". This hasn't been touched at ALL in CAW yet. S'all Photoshop. Freeze frame high five!


That's cool Glad you liked it, and thanks for the input as well - I'm gonna try playing around with some of that.

Update for errbody:

I'd add this to the top post, but it'd make it a monster.

So I've been away from the sims for a ages but just re-installed everything and am back working on my map, I decided to re-do the paint job again to try and get a little more depth on the terrain so I thought I'd come back and share my findings with you all.

This is the new terrain paint so far:





As you can see there's some random wavy bits, but I'll fix those in a bit with a blur or something... I want to start writing now though before I forget what I did... if I haven't already, lets find out.

I went backwards and forwards experimenting with filters and stuff so I'll just take you through it as it's layed out now. I'm gonna go a bit quicker though as you've already done it once at this point. You need to export a CAW autopaint map and leave it to one side as it comes in handy later.

This time in CAW I started out with the grass_dark_detail.dds as my base texture then I added another layer on top with the grass_medium_base.dds, and exported the layers the same way as before.

What I want to do at this point is add some shading to hilly parts that aren't mountains to make them pop out a bit more. So I open up my heightmap in photoshop (using CS5 now but the filters look the same) and open up curves.





I moved the left arrow right along to brighten up the lower portion of the landscape and moved the right arrow left a touch to up the contrast. This way the hills register, now I'm gonna use the "poster edges" filter in photoshop.

I used Edge thickness: 10, Edge intensity:10, and posterization 5. I then gave it a gaussian blur of 3.0 You should end up with something like this:





And just import it into your CAW lighter grass layer. This it what it looks like on mine:





See how it's framed the lumpyness of the terrain with a dark border? That's what you're after. The funky swirls you can fix later as I mentioned. If your lines are too thin, undo to before the blur and select all then modify the selection using "select colours" to select the black (or you could probably use the magic wand tool). Then expand the selection by 1 or 2 pixels and delete the excess. Add a black background and merge down.

Next bit is the mountains, I did the base of them the same as before but with one extra layer of dark shading. So in CAW, on top of the dark grass and light grass layers I made (in order) A layer for the mid colour rock, a layer for a dark rock, and one for a light rock.
Being as you know how to do the mountains I'll skip to the dark shading:





So here we are again. This time I'm gonna open the CAW autopaint png that I exported earlier. This next part probably wont work all that well on every map, but with a heightmap generator's map it worked well.

I was playing with the settings in curves and noticed that the autopaint actually picked out the all important creases in the map at a certain threshold:





It's fiddly to find but there it is, all the creases on the mountains... ideal data for shading. In the left window is your bog standard CAW autopaint map, the middle one is the result of the curves tweak and the right is the curves window with the relevant values for my heightmap. If you take the brightness up first, then the contrast little bit at a time each you'll find you details (hopefully). Then it was a case of applying that and brightening it up, and applying it to the landscape.





There you can see the creases picked out.

I added it in at full strength then gradually darkened it in photoshop, saved and imported over and over until I'd found the level of shading I was happy with. Highlights I did the usual way.

Here's another mountain view from somewhere else:





You might prefer the old way, but IMO this one looks better. There's a few routes now either way. Obviously the land still needs work afterward but the meat of it is done. If I was unclear about anything just ask, I'm in a rush at the moment as it's late

And if anyone else discovers something cool when playing around with it, let me know
Test Subject
#13 Old 18th May 2012 at 12:34 AM
I know this is a super old thread, but I can confirm that it does work in GIMP- I'm familiar with both the GIMP and PS, and I can say that the steps are almost identical in both programs. You might want to add it to the original post.
Test Subject
#14 Old 24th Jul 2012 at 4:22 PM
i've found using the height map as a terrain map looks quite decent. the only problem is that the terrain layer you've given the height map will color the whole map shades that paint, but probably from then on you can just touch it up to show other colors through. i'm going to tweak the height map and maybe make it a little darker to maybe blend everything better. that's a suggestion for anybody who's experimenting further with the use of this tutorial. by the way, both of them were really fantastic denethor. thank you so much.
Test Subject
Original Poster
#15 Old 24th Aug 2012 at 12:25 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anitalawyer
I know this is a super old thread, but I can confirm that it does work in GIMP- I'm familiar with both the GIMP and PS, and I can say that the steps are almost identical in both programs. You might want to add it to the original post.


Awesome! I'll add it in now, thanks :D

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrayOwl
i've found using the height map as a terrain map looks quite decent. the only problem is that the terrain layer you've given the height map will color the whole map shades that paint, but probably from then on you can just touch it up to show other colors through. i'm going to tweak the height map and maybe make it a little darker to maybe blend everything better. that's a suggestion for anybody who's experimenting further with the use of this tutorial. by the way, both of them were really fantastic denethor. thank you so much.


Nice work, glad you liked it, cheers :D
Test Subject
#16 Old 9th Oct 2012 at 11:51 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denethor
- and optionally, I like to have a pint of coke.


Check! Sitting right here in front of me! ... Well, it's Diet Pepsi, but still...

Anyway, I do have GIMP somewhere but won't install it if another imaging/paint programme can do the same... So will Paint Shop Pro work for this? (I'll probably need to convert to 16-bit .png, but I've got that covered already)

Thanks for the tutorial, will be using it for my world project!
Test Subject
#17 Old 31st Oct 2013 at 7:30 AM
Thanks so much ! this helped me alooooot :D

i wasnt very good at doing the creases so i changed the time of day and umm went over the shadows worked GREAT !
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Test Subject
#18 Old 8th May 2014 at 9:17 PM
please painting my world. I have problem with this tutorial.

Just to give you height map or something else?



Test Subject
#19 Old 2nd Oct 2014 at 9:37 PM
What a awesome tutorial! I only have one question. How are you able to save the png files in such high resolution? Mine are 256x256. I haven't found an option yet to save them as higher res files.
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