GIMP mapmaking tutorial - Part 2a

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GIMP mapmaking tutorial - Part 2a

Postby natty dread on Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:45 pm

GIMP Mapmaking Tutorial
Part 2a: First half of part 2
(c) natty_dread 2011

show: Table of contents



0. Introduction

Welcome to the first half of the second part of my tutorial. If you haven't already, you should read the first part of the tutorial, which can be found here. For this tutorial, we are going to assume that you have already completed the first tutorial, so you should be at this point now:

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Bonus areas, bonus area borders, textures and gradients should be done.

When this tutorial, 2a, is done, you will have also created: territory borders, territory labels, mountains and sea routes. The rest of what is needed for a complete Working Draft will be explained in part 2b.

Here's what the end product of 2a looks like:
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The completed .XCF file at the end of part 2a can be downloaded here:
http://www.fileden.com/files/2010/2/7/2 ... ktut_2.xcf


1. Territory borders

First, create a new layer named "territory borders" and put it above the "bonus borders" layer:
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Now, there are many ways of drawing borders. I like to do them freehand with the pen, but if you only have a mouse, drawing freehand can be a real pain in the arse... unless you have a really good mouse.

So, since freehand drawing does not (or should not) really require any assistance (what to say about it? You use the paintbrush and draw... simple as that) we are going, for the purposes of this tutorial, go with a different method. We are going to use the path tool.

1.1 Using the path tool

Now, pick out the path tool from the Toolbox. It's the one that looks like a pen with a yellow tip. First, click on two spots on the screen to create a simple path from one point to another (we'll call these points "anchors"... because that's what they are called.)

This is what you should see:

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Now on the layers window, if you haven't changed your settings, there should be 4 tabs, represented by buttons with icons, right below the image name. Change from the "layers" tab to the "paths" tab - the paths tab is the one with lines and dots, obviously:

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You'll see your new, although short, path has appeared in the paths list. You can modify this path at any time by double clicking the preview image.

Now, let's draw another path. Holding the shift key, click elsewhere on the screen. A new anchor should be created that is not connected to the previous path. Then click again elsewhere to create another anchor. Now you have a second straight path.

Now, holding the ctrl key, click on the latest anchor and drag the "handle" of the anchor - the anchor itself should not move. Do it again to drag the second handle of the anchor. See how the path changes when you move one of the handles? The other handle does nothing yet, because one of the handles affects the part behind the anchor, and one in front of it, and there's nothing in front of this anchor yet on this path.

It should look like this:

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The square is the handle, the dots are the anchors.

The paths are actually bezier curves. You can read more about bezier curves here to get a better grasp on how the paths work.

Now, each path can have as many anchors as you want, so don't be stingy with them. They consume very little memory or resources, so you can go nuts with them and create really accurate lines. It's easy to make your paths very accurate when you work zoomed in. So, using what you have learned about the path tool, draw all of the borders you want on the map, like this:

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Note that for the purposes of this tutorial, we are just winging the territory borders and divisions, and we aren't making them very detailed. You can - and in most cases, should - create much more detailed paths with more anchors for your map.

1.2 Stroking the path

Now, it's time to actually stroke that path. Switch the layer window back to the Layers -tab, and select the "territory borders" layer. Then select the Paintbrush from the Toolbox, and set the settings for the paintbrush so that your borders will become thinner than the bonus borders. In this case, unlike when stroking a selection, it's best to use a hard brush (not the fuzzy ones). In this example we're using a 3px Circle with 0,5 scale:

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Now, remember how we stroked those selections in Part 1? Right in the same Edit menu, right next to the Stroke selection function there is another option, Stroke path. We are going to use this option:

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Click Stroke and you should have something like this:

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Pretty smooth, huh? Paths, being made from vectors instead of following a bitmap grid like selections, naturally can be stroked much more accurately. This is why we can use a hard brush instead of a fuzzy one without fearing of anti-aliasing.

Protip: you can also convert selections to paths. When you have an area selected, you can select To path from the Select -menu, and a path that follows the selection more or less accurately is created. It's not an exact science, so use it at your own risk.


2. Sea routes

We are going to create sea routes with the same method as we did the territory borders, by using the path tool.

First, switch the Layers window to the paths tab, and create a new path by clicking the "empty paper" icon, the same way you create new layers on the layers tab.

Name the new path "sea routes". While you're at it, you can rename the previous path "territory borders":

Click image to enlarge.
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Now, double click the preview image of the new path, and you get switched to the path tool. Draw the paths for your sea routes the same way you did for the borders:

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Now, with the paths done, switch the Layers window back to the layers-tab. Then, create a new layer named "sea routes" and set it above the "sea" layer. Select paintbrush with the following settings: White colour, 5px Circle, scale 0,45, and 150% spacing. You can adjust the spacing of the brush from the lower part of the Layers window, where you should have a "Brushes" tab right in the left edge, as shown in the next image:

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Now by adjusting the spacing, you can draw dotted lines even freehand. We are going to use the Stroke path -function again, though, to get smooth and nice sea routes. Use the Stroke path, then set the layer mode of the "sea routes" layer on Grain merge (you can try other layer modes too, if you feel experimental... in fact, experimenting is how most great inventions are born) and you should see results like this:

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Wow... Nice sea routes, man!


3. Territory labels

Onwards to Territory labels. For the purposes of the tutorial, I'm using mock-up territory names, again in a demonstrational fashion - hey, the territories are made up anyway... if you want an actual Denmark map, you will soon have the skills to make one yourself... ;)

3.1 Using the text tool

First, create a layer above the "territory borders" layer, and name it "territory labels". Choose the text tool from the Toolbox, and choose a cool looking font that fits the style of your map. You can download lots of cool fonts from DaFont... just make sure they are Free for any use, and not just personal use - CC maps are considered a commercial use, after all.

Select the colour white, set the font size - I'm using 16 px here, but the relative sizes of fonts varies, so you'll have to use your own judgement here. Scary, I know ;)

Important: Check all the checkboxes on the font tool options. Anti-aliasing is self-explanatory. The other two enable font hinting, which makes your text over 9000 clearness units clearer... read more about font hinting here.

Click image to enlarge.
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Now click on a territory, and the text box appears. Type the name of your territory in the text box:

Click image to enlarge.
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You can then move the text around by simply dragging the text on the image. When you're satisfied with it, click close on the text box.

Now, a text layer has appeared above the "territory labels" layer. Due to various reasons it's a bit inconvenient to have each territory name on it's own layer, so we're going to merge the text layer to the labels layer.

Note that after you merge the text layer, you can no longer edit the text with the text tool, so make sure it's done right before you do. If you want to change it later, you'll have to erase it from the layer and redo it.

You merge the layer by right-clicking the text layer on the layers list, then selecting "merge down", like this:

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Now, repeat until you have all the territory names on the "territory labels" layer:

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3.2 Creating a drop shadow

For those who are lazy, there's a GIMP script that can create drop shadows and other layer effects, here. The instructions on installing scripts can be found on the same site. The python version is better, but getting python scripts to work on GIMP is a real hassle... it took forever even for me, and I'm a really smart guy... :---)

Anyway, the plugin saves time, but it is also good to know how to create things like this on your own, so we are going to show here how to do it without the plugin.

First, use the old Alpha to Selection -function (you should remember this from Part 1, it's in Layer > Transparency) on the "territory labels" layer:

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With the text area selected... create a new layer, below the "territory labels" layer, and name it "territory labels dropshadow":

Click image to enlarge.
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Now we use some new tricks. First, go to the Select -menu and pick Grow, and set it to 1 pixel:

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From the same menu, select Feather and set it to 2:

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Next, fill the selection with black. Remember, you can do this by setting the foreground or background colour to black and dragging the colour from the Toolbox to the image:

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Now, adjust the opacity of the dropshadow layer:

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Next, select the Move -tool from the Toolbox, and move the dropshadow layer down and right, by 1 pixel each:

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Your dropshadow is now done. Good work!

Protip: You can use the arrow keys to move things 1 pixel at a time, when the main image window is active.


4. Mountains

Mountains are often quite difficult to create, and the only way to get really good at it is lots of practice and experience. So in this tutorial, we are just going to create a very basic type of mountains - which is not to say that mountains like this can't look great!

4.1 Drawing a mountain

Create a new layer named "mountain" which goes just above the "territory borders" layer. Now, you just have to use your artistic skill a bit. Pick a gray colour and the paintbrush tool, zoom in anywhere on the map and draw a basic mountain shape:

Click image to enlarge.
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Now, use Alpha to Selection to select the mountain shape, then select a slightly lighter shade of gray, and draw on the left side of the mountain thusly:

Click image to enlarge.
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Next, draw the black line on the top edges of the mountain - leave the bottom edge without one. This can take several tries and undos to get right. If you want the lines straight, use the straight line function of the paintbrush by first clicking on the start point, then holding shift and clicking on the endpoint (this can be done on any drawing tool, btw.) Here, I just did it freehand though:

Click image to enlarge.
image


Now we have a mountain. We just need to get it to the right place and get a lot of similar looking friends for it.

4.2 Mountains to their place

Pick the rectangle selection tool and select the mountain. Then, from the Edit menu, select Cut, or you can use the shortcut Ctrl-X if you haven't changed the keyboard shortcuts (yes, you can do that btw.)

Click image to enlarge.
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When you do this, the mountain you just drew disappears. Now don't panic! The mountain isn't gone, it's just on the Clipboard. And you can use the clipboard as a brush by simply selecting it from the brush list:

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Now, with the paintbrush, paint the mountains on where you want them one by one, and you should have this:

Click image to enlarge.
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Now here are some final Protips for that last step: firstly, you can create variation to the mountains by adjusting the scale of the paintbrush between clicks. Here I was lazy and didn't do it, but often slight size variation does wonders for mountains of this type. Secondly, if you need to put a mountain behind mountains you already painted, you can change the mode-setting of the paintbrush to "behind".


And now we are at the final result again:

Click image to enlarge.
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This concludes the first half of Part 2, also known as Part 2a. Stay tuned for Part 2b, where I will show how to create a legend, a title, more advanced textures, and more...
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Re: GIMP mapmaking tutorial - Part 2a

Postby Riskismy on Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:51 pm

What do you mean 'make the land borders'?
They're on that image, so follow the tutorial?
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Re: GIMP mapmaking tutorial - Part 2a

Postby natty dread on Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:54 pm

Well, there's lots of straight lines there... should be easy with the path tool, or with the freehand brush using the straight line function, but I recommend learning how to use the path tool, it's a very powerful thing.

There's lots of 4-way borders on that map though (places where 4 territories are connected by their corners, forming a "cross") and those are not good, because they confuse players, so I suggest fudging those borders slightly so that only 3 territories are connected... let me show what I mean...

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Re: GIMP mapmaking tutorial - Part 2a

Postby 40kguy on Fri Apr 01, 2011 9:12 pm

Do I just make a territory smaller then?
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Re: GIMP mapmaking tutorial - Part 2a

Postby natty dread on Sat Apr 02, 2011 1:46 am

Do it like you want to, just make sure you don't have borders like the upper ones.
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Re: GIMP mapmaking tutorial - Part 2a

Postby 40kguy on Sat Apr 02, 2011 7:47 am

if i want to draw a square how do i do that? because im trying to but its not working
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Re: GIMP mapmaking tutorial - Part 2a

Postby natty dread on Sat Apr 02, 2011 7:49 am

How about, use the rectangle select tool and stroke selection.
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Re: GIMP mapmaking tutorial - Part 2a

Postby 40kguy on Sat Apr 02, 2011 7:53 am

natty_dread wrote:How about, use the rectangle select tool and stroke selection.

ok found out.

how do i make curve borders? like the one in the UP? do i just draw it?
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Re: GIMP mapmaking tutorial - Part 2a

Postby natty dread on Sat Apr 02, 2011 7:54 am

With the path tool. It's all explained in this tutorial.
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Re: GIMP mapmaking tutorial - Part 2a

Postby 40kguy on Sat Apr 02, 2011 8:41 am

why are my colors all colorful? like the kine when you get a finger print on you computer screen.
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Re: GIMP mapmaking tutorial - Part 2a

Postby natty dread on Sat Apr 02, 2011 9:28 am

40kguy wrote:why are my colors all colorful? like the kine when you get a finger print on you computer screen.


Maybe you chose wrong colours?
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Re: GIMP mapmaking tutorial - Part 2a

Postby 40kguy on Sun Apr 03, 2011 5:29 pm

is there any way to rotate your text?
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Re: GIMP mapmaking tutorial - Part 2a

Postby natty dread on Sun Apr 03, 2011 6:33 pm

Yes. Use the rotate tool, in the toolbox, or the rotation function in layer > transform > arbitrary rotation
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Re: GIMP mapmaking tutorial - Part 2a

Postby koontz1973 on Fri Apr 29, 2011 7:23 am

2 questions.
Can text be circular? I mean as if it was written going around the outside of a circle.

And

When is the next part coming out? This has been one of the best things I have found on the site. Great job.
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