How to make stunning CC maps in Photoshop
NOTE:DOWNLOADABLE PDF VERSION OF THIS GUIDE
(PS: All the images in this guide are thumbnails, you can click them to view a bigger resolution)
== Tools ==
- Adobe Photoshop
- A nice stock map drawing or photo
- Mouse skills
== Preface ==
Before I begin, let me just tell you that I am a very casual user of Photoshop, and have figured these techniques out by pure experimentation. There may be tools or tricks that I am oblivious too, and probably should be using. If you see anything of such nature in this guide, please let me know.
This guide uses very basic tools in Photoshop, and is based on Layers, Eraser, and simple Layer Blending effects.
== Let's do this thing ==
First off, get hold of a nice looking map to start with. It can be either hand drawn, a photo, a google maps screen capture or whatever. The trick here is: the better looking the map, the better the result.
After I open the map in Photoshop, the first thing I do is decide what area I will be working with. In this guide, I will be working with the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). When I have decided on my area, I go ahead and select the RECTANGULAR MARQUEE TOOL, then make a generous cut around the area I'm working on.
Then, I cut and paste the selection. CTRL+C, followed by CTRL+V. I now get a new layer in the LAYERS box. This layer will end up being our background and working surface. I now hide the big map from view by clicking the eyeball next to its layer. What you will notice is that a checkered surface appears - this is Photoshops way of indicating "nothing".
In the picture you can see I have renamed the layer (right click the layer - select rename) to something sensible like in this case "iberian peninsula", I have also zoomed in on the piece i'm working on. The next step is crucial: I now right click the "iberian peninsula" layer and select BLENDING OPTIONS.
This opens a message box, and in here I first (1) click INNER GLOW (make sure the checkbox is checked as well as the background highlighted) then (2) I select HARD LIGHT in the drop down box, and lastly change the color to black (3) - this color can be anything you want, really, i pick black because it's nice and crisp.
I OK out from the box, and now you can see that our layer has a nice black border on its inside. Now it's time to start cutting up the zones that will divide our iberian peninsula. I have decided beforehand that I'm gonna make 4 zones: Portugal, Southern Spain, Eastern Spain, and Northern Spain. Eastern Spain is also going to contain the islands off the coast: Mallorca, Ibiza and all those.
Let's begin with Portugal: I right click the "Iberian Peninsula" layer, and select DUPLICATE LAYER. I name the layer "Portugal" in the box that pops up. Note that the layer "Portugal" is 'above' the 'Iberian Peninsula' layer. that means it is physically on top of that layer.
Now select the ERASER TOOL in photoshop. And make sure you got a nice big eraser to work with, and that the OPACITY and FLOW is set to 100% - we are going to cut out the basic shape of our zone.
Make sure the "Portugal" layer is highlighted, then cut in on the image! Here you can see how I just cut right in on the middle of the image, and the black INNER GLOW has adjusted around the big eraser we just pulled across the screen. You might notice that the map seems intact.. the eraser only wiped out the "Portugal" layer, the "Iberian peninsula" layer underneath is intact, as we only have the "Portugal" layer selected.
Let's try something! Shall We? Go ahead and hide the "iberian peninsula" layer by clicking the eye next to its layer, just like we did with the background layer. Look at that! we can see the checkered "nothing" now.
Go ahead and un-hide the "iberian peninsula" layer again by clicking the eye... and lets continue carving out portugal. You can see in the next image that i have erased a very simple rectangle around portugal.
Since we are only interested in keeping the picture that actually represents the zone here, we will delete all the outlying areas, we do this in the following fashion:
Click the QUICK SELECTION TOOL
Click the area representing portugal, note how Photoshop selects the erased-out area.
Then right click the screen and select SELECT INVERSE.
Then press your DELETE KEY... voila! everything except our portugal chunk is gone.
Right click and select DESELECT
NOw, click the ERASER TOOL again and adjust your eraser size to something smaller, and start cleaning up the borders.
Zoom in, adjust eraser size again and clean up more... jagged edges look nice.
Zoom out and .... nice nice! look at that! we got our first zone done
Now the trick with this layer is that we can manipulate it independently of other layers, say I wanted to make it greenish in hue. Make sure I have the "Portugal" layer selected, then go to IMAGE->ADJUSTMENTS->COLOR BALANCE. then adjust the color balance towards green.
Color balance stays forever on the layer though, so be careful if you apply it - you will have hard time to change it back. Another way is to go into the BLENDING OPTIONS again.
Here, i've selected EMBOSS.. giving portugal a cool raised effect.
Here is COLOR OVERLAY with 43% blending (transparency), I don't think it looks as good as adjusting the overall color balance, but color overlay is more convenient since you can go in and change it whenever you want.
I won't apply any effects right now, and you can play around with them to find cool combinations. Instead I will move on and add our next zone: Southern Spain. As we did before, select the "Iberian Peninsula" layer, then right click and select DUPLICATE LAYER. I name this layer "Southern Spain".
Assure that the "southern spain" layer is selected then carve out a basic shape I like. As you can see, the eraser goes "underneath" the portugal layer we created earlier.
Now do the whole QUICK SELECT, SELECT INVERSE, DELETE motion again, then up the borders as before.
As you can see, I still have the border to portugal left, this is the "tricky" (not really) part. I now erase along the portugal border (on the portugal side of it) - I know this is happening because i can see the dark inner glow creeping in on the southern spain side.
Now, I can hide the "portugal" layer to see how it worked out.
You can see the "cut" along the border, I now go ahead and erase the unwanted rightmost parts that got separated from my zone. Then show the "portugal" layer again. Two zones down! Here I have added color overlays to the zones.. Green for portugal, and yellow for southern spain.
In a similar fashion, I now carve out northern spain.
Lastly, eastern spain. I carve this out as before, but as you might have guessed, i leave the balearic islands in ..
tidying up the borders
The 4 zones side by side.
It's really that simple, and Photoshop is an amazing product which only your imagination is the limit.
Good luck and hopefully this guide helped you a little bit!