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Author Topic: Making a map guide, tips & tricks  (Read 4751 times)
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« on: April 03, 2016, 07:41:52 pm »

This may be beneficial for some! This is a guide to how you can approach map making, from my perspective.

1) First, check the sticky which has all the resources, I recommend checking Aneurysm's PDF-guide first and foremost.

2) Create the overhead:
Spoiler (Mouse-Over to read)
I will elaborate on the reasoning behind why the overhead looks like this.

First, notice there is a white border around, this is approximately the space you need on a 64x64 map in order to get decent map edges. If you find yourself with edges that are too small, you can go to a 128x128 map and simply halve the size of your overhead.

Notice that I use a few shades of dark, contrasting. I block the map in using the line tool in photoshop. Doing this you can quickly get a feel for the map, and change it as you'd like.

Also, try to get a feel for how big blobs of color you need to have in order to get a nice piece of terrain on the map, i.e. not too small, not too large. This overhead is a good representation of how it can be on a 64x64 map.

Notice in particular what I don't do. I don't go into fine detail on the terrain. I don't do smooth transitions between terrain types.

3) Apply the overhead:
Spoiler (Mouse-Over to read)
Simply apply the overhead to a fresh map with any texture. I use le_terrain_mergestrength 100 and usually apply it 3-4 times.

At this simple stage, it is good to fly around the map to get a feel for the general scale.

One of the things you should aim to avoid is the oversized syndrome, where the map is much too big compared to the characters.

If you need to reduce the height of certain cliffs, you can create another overhead and apply it seperately, such as this:
Spoiler (Mouse-Over to read)

Areas of black will stay the same height, white areas will increase in height. This is a good way to even out cliffs (which may be hard or impossible with only one overhead, the contrast just isn't strong enough)

4) Starting on terrain, cliffs:
Spoiler (Mouse-Over to read)
The first thing I always do is to round off the impassble terrain cliffs. Just use the raise tool a bit and make them puffy to stand out.

I will also use the smooth tool to enable passage between areas that were too different in the overhead file, but I know for certain that I want to be made passable. This way you don't have to put in transitions between areas in the overhead file, it is much easier and gives you better control to just use the smoothing tool in game.

5) Adding detail to the terrain:
Spoiler (Mouse-Over to read)
The terrain is the absolutely most important thing in the map, and you should spend a lot of time on it, at this stage probably an hour or so.

Since I didn't have any detail in my overhead file, I will now add detail. It will be much easier to get what I want, since I can edit it and see the result at the same time.

In particular I want to mention the Cut tool. It is the best tool for editing terrain. You can press 'e' to see the Z position of your cursor. Using this you can easily cut out cliffs and other areas like the one above. This will be one of the best things to diversify your terrain and make it interesting.

If you are in doubt, use the cutting tool.

6) Texturing:
Spoiler (Mouse-Over to read)
Texturing will be the other main feature of your map. I like to make it simple.

Select one main ground texture (MGT). In general the texture on the ground should be light.

7) Texturing cliffs:
Spoiler (Mouse-Over to read)
Select one main cliff texture that contrasts well with the MGT.

Cool Blending:
Spoiler (Mouse-Over to read)
Selecting one blending texture (BT). It will generally be darker.

Now this is the moment where you will stop and consider and try many different combinations. This is an important feature of the map style, wether or not these three textures fit well together. This is where you can experiment, find something nice that fits the map you want to make.

9) Laying it out:
When you finished deciding, you map it out and check it.
Spoiler (Mouse-Over to read)

10) Basic paint:
Spoiler (Mouse-Over to read)
After you are done, you apply paint.

First, cover the entire map in something medium dark, for example 0,6x3.

Then, looking from up high (as in the screenshot), imagine the sun being at one side, then paint in shadows as it would cast. These shadows should be significantly darker (0,12-0,2x3).

11) Highlights:
Spoiler (Mouse-Over to read)
The highlights are simple. Turn your camera around from up high and you will see roughly where the sun would hit. Delete the paint in these areas, to your choosing.

Note that in this image I have added a secondary texture variety. This is because I tried to play the map, and I noticed quickly that it needed diversity.

Having said that, I must emphasize how important it is that you load up your map while you're making it and walk around. It will give you many good ideas and a great perspective.

12) Adding fairy-tale contrast:
Spoiler (Mouse-Over to read)
This is an important step in adding character to your map. In general, transitions in height if they are great enough should be darker. I go around every edge and add a darker shadow (regardless if the "sun" would hit it). This shadow is very dark, at most 0.08x3, almost black.

Use a light brush to get just the right amount.

13) Props:
Spoiler (Mouse-Over to read)
Once you have the basic shadows in as detailed above, you can start adding props. I will not go into great detail here, but I will give you some rough pointers.

In general, keep your selection of props low. Pick a few that you will mix and match, do not use all styles and do not use oddballs. This will greatly improve the feel of your map.

Start with the large props, most often nature. Here, I start with the big trees. This is to get some flesh into the map, and also because it generally doesn't matter a lot where the trees are (whereas a building might have to be placed in a very specific spot), so it gives you freedom to just place stuff to get a general feel.

When you're done with larger trees, place a few smaller ones, and so on. After the trees, place rocks.

14) More props, buildings, advanced props:
Spoiler (Mouse-Over to read)
Props generally come in two varieties. There are ones that won't look out of place regardless of location (trees, bushes, etc, most nature props). And those which you need to pay very much attention to the location of (buildings, etc).

Pictured above are an example of buildings. This is the hardest part to use right and to make it look decent. Here you can see I use very few types (to maintain style), and use props that go well together (the red tree fits the textures).

Try to combine color, style, size, type, etc.

Another good way to make a prop look less out of place, is to place multiples of that prop. For example, one rock might look out of place, but if you place three of them down, they suddenly don't.

Another way to think of it is in terms of space. Some props create a space where other props can exist (trees, bushes, etc). Meaning, if you place a tree, then you can select many different props which would go well with it. Some props need a space in order to exist, again, notably buildings.

Creating this space for your props is not only done by adding other props close to it. This space for the props is created also by changing the terrain a little bit (making a small high ground, for example) or by adding specific textures.

Advanced editing:
Spoiler (Mouse-Over to read)
One example I want to specially point out. This is the highlight texture for the cliffs (used in layer 3). You should use highlight textures for your main ground textures. It gives them great depth. For the grass, for example, I use the white flowers in this map. For the wheat terrain, I use sand.

Also when it comes to highlight textures, you can consider where you place them. For example, the sand I place on low grounds. The white flowers I place in areas that are lit up.

Being consistent like this, gives your map a feeling of belonging together. The point is; try to have a plan behind how you apply your advanced textures/props, so at least yourself you know what you're doing.

Spoiler (Mouse-Over to read)
No picture here, but my final statement is that these are the basics outlined above.

After that, there is a ton of iteration. You place some props down, look at them from different angles. Change some.

Throughout the entire process you will keep changing the terrain as well, the cutting tool is your friend.

Play your map a lot while you're making it as well, to get a perspective for where things need to be.

Once you are somewhat happy with everything, the absolutely final thing you do is add TOD, scripts, effects, triggers, and check for worker pathing, fix exploits and block unintended areas.

Spoiler (Mouse-Over to read)

You can check the map I made here:

I hope you find this useful, the main point is to give you an idea how to lay down the foundation of a map with proper terrain, proper textures, proper paint. Not so much how to finish it from the prop stage and forward.

And absolutely finally, here are some screenshots:

« Last Edit: April 03, 2016, 10:17:30 pm by SavageBeard » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2016, 07:51:30 pm »

Nice guide savagebeard ! Thank you ! Just Mining Da Stone Cheesy

Good information !
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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2016, 10:02:39 pm »

Nice lil tut mate  Afro
I make maps and stuff
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2016, 12:46:34 pm »

Great stuff, ill add it to the tutorial compilation! I'm actually using your guide as a guideline for a new map! Guess what step I'm atm:

A pro-tip for using the cutting/flatting tool: instead of pressing "e" to make the elevation show up next to your cursor and writing it down manually you press "c" to copy the height of your cursor directly to the flatten/cut box. So what you can do now is just point at a height you like, press "c" and applying that height with right click.  Epic time saver!

Also if anyone is wondering how you can apply a heightmap you made yourself using photoshop/paint/image editing tool look at Aneurysm's Moster Mapping Guide, page 9.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2016, 05:43:19 pm by Tjens » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2016, 05:06:41 pm »

Looks cool  Afro It's tricky to use colored paint properly  Beast Mist I would go over the paint step properly with dark shadows and also use less of the cliff texture, maybe use a darker colored grass for a proper "hill" texture (i.e. impassable hills, can be found in grassroads or aztec), if you're going for the green hills.

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« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2018, 02:07:47 pm »

Better late than never, gj Savagebeard, great guide. I think your command of texturing and colour has improved dramatically from back when I was still active. You should be proud of your achievement.

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