THE SANTHARIAN MAPS TUTORIAL
CHAPTER X: WORKING WITH TEXTURES

TEXTURIZING A MAP




TEXTURIZING A MAP

 

Textures

A selection of ground textures.

Basic Mapmaking Resources
Now that we have a flat, somewhat "mappy" looking land mass it is time to make it look like something proper. Time for textures! Depending on what kind of map you want to make, you should try to find something that matches your ideas in terms of textures: earth, sand, rocks, dirt, cracks, ice etc. - Fortunately there are a couple of textures already included in the following package, which we've put together for you - along with a plethora of elements that will come in handy later on. So make sure to download the follow file for a start:

Map Elements (2.65 MB)

This should suffice for a start to get something going, but always keep your eye out for more good textures. Here are some suggestions where you can get them for free:

- Spiral Graphics
- Gamemaker Games
- DesignM.AG


Now open your Map Elements file and have a look around. Again, layers are named properly, so that you know what you get if you show and hide a layer. First, pay attention to the layers at the bottom of the layers list (Black, White, Land and Sea). These are example backgrounds. You can use them to see how elements look if you place them in front of an entirely black background, a white one (good to see problematic outlines/transitions etc.) or how effective they are if there's textured land behind, or sea.

The various layers are meant to be seen separetely in combination with a background layer, so only activate one at a time, then move on to the next. Check out all the layers and see what they have to offer. The layers at the bottom show map elements like buildings, mountains, cliffs, and at the top there are texture layers with grass, dirt, stone, and so on. These will be our main interest for now.

 

Map Elements

A couple of Santharian map elements
sitting on their own layers, waiting
to find their way onto a map.

Expanding your Resources Repertoire
Expanding your repertoire on resources is crucial. Whenever you find something that looks great on a map, you should go ahead and add it to your resources, so that you can easily access it the next time you need it. Always make sure to place the new texture on its own layer and name the layer, so that you can identify what's behind it at first glance.

Textures aren't always ready made to perfectly fit your needs, though. They might be too large, too dark, too light, and you probably cannot just use them as a continuous pattern (like tiles put together, often seen in games), because the edges don't match. Some adjustments can be easily made, though:

- Reducing texture size
If a texture is too large, paste it on its own layer. Select the Selection Rectangle (M) and mark it as a whole (Ctrl+A), then right-click and select Free Transform, then pull one of the edges towards the center. Confirm with ENTER and you've reduced the size of the texture to hopefully serve your needs better. Just be careful not to actually enlarge a texture, because it loses details that way.

- Adjust your texture
Another way to alter your texture is to adjust it in various ways affecting the look. Try the Image --> Adjustments menu. There you can alter e.g. Brightness/Contrast
or the Levels which often help with greyscale textures the way we use it and make things look nicer and crisper. Play around with these settings in case a texture still needs a bif of a touch up.

- Texture patterns
Texture patterns can only be used if the texture is actually made for exactly that purpose. You will find a lot of such pattern textures used in games, e.g. to make continuous brick walls or cover the whole ground with grass. If you've got such a texture, make sure to make it a Photoshop pattern.

Here's how you do it: Open the texture file, use the Selection Rectangle (M) and mark it as a whole (Ctrl+A), then open the Edit menu and click on "Define Pattern...". Name the pattern and save it. Now add a new layer on your Map Elements file and select the Fill Bucket. In the options of the Fill Bucket you can then specify whether you want to fill an area with the foreground color or a pattern. Select the latter and specify the new pattern, then fill the whole layer with it. Et voilą - you've got yourself a seemlessly filled layer!

Pattern textures are the ones you can use most efficiently, so whenever you find something great, expand your resources with them! 

 

Applying a Land Texture
Now on to actually putting a texture on your map. Open your map file and the Map Elements file. At your map make sure that you are on the Landmass layer, so that you clearly see what shape you'd like to texturize. In the example below it's a peninsula.

Select the shape with the Freehand Lasso tool (L), ideally with a feather setting of, say, 5 - this ensures that the transitions at the borders will be soft, fading out towards the actual line you've drawn. The feather setting needs to be applied before you do the selection by the way. Also remember: You don't actually need to select it all at once. Select a portion, then hold down SHIFT to add another selection, or Alt to remove a piece of the selection. Finally you should see something like the second picture shown below.

Leave your map for a moment and look at the Map Elements. Make only that one layer visible where you'd like to use the texture, e.g. a mud texture. Put the Map Elements window right next to your map window, then make sure Lasso is still selected. Move your mouse over the selection you've made (indicated by a selection symbol), left-click on the selection, but don't let go of the mouse button. Instead, move the whole selection now to the second window, on top of the texture layer. The result: You've moved just your selection, maintaining the shape of the peninsula.

Landmass before selection The selection of the area you want to texturize The same selection on the texture on the map elements

Selecting a texture while maintaining the shape of the landmass.

Now copy what you've selected in the texture layer, easily done by pressing Ctrl+C. Return to your map and paste the whole thing, done with Ctrl+V. Note that  the initial selection is still there, so if you insert what you've copied into the clipboard now, the texture shows up exactly at the spot you've selected. - There are still two things wrong, though. The texture looks too strong and crude. And the outlines of the peninsula aren't visible. This shouldn't bother you.

Check the layers list, and on top you see some options for the currently selected layer. See the Opacity field there? Go for it and reduce the value somewhat until you like the result. The new texture now merges with the background and doesn't look anymore as if it was just pasted on it.

The second thing you should do is to make the outlines visible again. To see the actual outlines you might want to reduce the opacity even more temporarily, so that the lines shine through clearly. Then grab your Lasso tool, once again ideally with a feather setting, and select the parts you'd like to remove. Hit Delete and get them out of the way, and your texture will eventually look nicely embedded in the shape you wanted it to be. - Alternatively you could try next time to copy already with a smaller feather size, but then the transitions won't look as good. But it depends on what you want to achieve, so feel free to play around with settings!

The texture on your map Layer opacity applied Edges trimmed, and there you go!

Moving the texture onto your map and make it fit to the outlines
you've defined.

In order to keep your work organized look for the layer you want to harbour your newly added texture (I'd suggest Textures, Bottom), and then join the layers as described in the Working with Layers chapter. Please make sure that the Textures Layer is the first one you select when you join the layers, so that you keep its name. Also you should be aware that once you join the layers, the texture stays as it looks now, in the opacity you've defined, but how much opacity you reduced gets lost and you won't be able to increase that value anymore later. It's part of another layer once you've joined it and this layer has its own opacity settings.

Very well, you've applied your first texture to your map! The great thing is that the texture is on its own layer, separate from the Landmass layer behind it - and you can change it anytime you like later on. The same applies to further layers you're about to add: You can add further textures and elements and it all stays independent from each other, allowing you free artistic reign.
 

Applying a Sea Texture
Textures don't necessarily have to be added to landmasses only, they work just as fine at the already ripple-effect altered sea. Such textures are great to show shallow areas around the outlines of the landmass, which makes e.g. an isle look embedded realistically into its surroundings, as it rarely happens that there's deep sea in direct vicinity - the land usually just fades into the sea. Like this:

A part of the map without a sea textures Sea with texture added

A texture is put on top of the Sea layer to represent shallow areas.

You do pretty much the same as in the land texture example above: Take a texture which you think fits the bill of representing shore (e.g. a stone or dirt  texture) and select the area with a feather selection - the more you'd like to have the land fade into the sea, the larger the selection should be. Then decrease layer opacity. At a sea texture opacity of the overlaying texture is usually very low, so that the sea level dominates the composition. Nevertheless, even with a barely visible ground texture you make things look much better and realistic.

Surround your landmasses with such textures, then merge the layers as you're used to with the Textures, Bottom layer, and enjoy the new look.
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Layering Layers
T
o get a more complex look on your map, you should add more and more textures. Not too many in the tiny areas (they should extend somewhat to have an impact), but enough at least to add to the diversity. Basically you always start with the main look and feel of an area and cover it mostly with, say, grass. This is placed in the Textures, Bottom layer. Feel free not to cover a whole area at once with the same texture, but do it in various steps, each time using a different opacity. That way you can make an area lush with grass, and another area covered only marginally (see the first picture to the left below), which gives the impression that the texture fades out.

Coastlines however rarely feature grass, instead they are characterized by being sandy, rocky, craggy etc. Therefore in the example below the textures for the coast area first were omitted intentionally, then you can see a cracked earth texture added in these areas. This texture was merged with the Textures, Main layer, so that it lies above the main one. Before it was joined with this layer we of course reduced opacity of the cracked earth additions once again, so that the grassy background still shines through at the transitional parts. Should you want to try something different later, just hide the Textures, Main layer, and try another approach with a different texture.

The second textures layer can also be used to make a texture more prominent (added with increased opacity) or to add just a transitionary layer. Example: If you've surrounded your little isle with just slightly visible land textures placed in the sea, but want to have areas which are extremely shallow or are rockier, Textures, Main is the layer to go. The selected area could also include parts of the landmass and parts of the sea, and that way putting a half-transparent texture on that layer makes the ideal transition.

The Textures, Bottom layer Textures, Bottom and Textures, Main are visible Textures, Bottom, Main and Top are shown

Left: Only the very basic Textures, Bottom layer is visible.
Center: The Textures, Main layer takes care of uncovered areas.
Right: Swamp on Textures, Main is once again covered with grass.

There's also a third texture layer in the tutorial map, which is called Textures, Top. You might have guessed that textures on this layer go on top of all others. Yep, they do. This is useful if you first cover an area with grass, then add e.g. a swamp texture, and finally you'd like to still have certain spots within the swamp where grass dominates. Rather than making a hole in the swamp texture to let the original grass texture shine through, it's more efficient to put the grass on a top layer. That way it is also easier to remove it again if necessary.

Besides, the third layer is great to cover other map elements with a texture. For example to make hills look grassier. See the last picture above - here you see bare hills in the center of the image, while the lower hills are covered with a grass texture, thanks to Textures, Top.
 

Streets and Layer Styles
Before we move on to using map elements, here's another thing that has to do with textures: Streets. On your tutorial map you have a layer named Streets. You'll notice a special symbol next to it on the right side, indicating that a style was applied to this layer. If you click on the arrow next to the symbol you will actually see what kind of styles are currently active. Right-click on the layer and select Layer Style in the context menu to see details. One important style applied to the Streets layer is a texture, which affects everything you draw on it.
 

A part of the map without a sea textures Sea with texture added

Streets with and without the applied Streets layer style

Try this: First change your foreground colour to black. Then pick the Pencil (Shift+B) tool, it's a sub-tool in the Brushes menu (click on Brushes, keep the button pressed and the sub-menu will appear). The Pencil tool has hard edges, so that's better for our purpose. Now choose a brush size of, say, 5 and draw your streets. As you'll see, what you draw aren't actually black lines, but cobblestone streets, thanks to the texture at work here!

You can delete the layer style by the way if you like by right-clicking on the layer and select Remove Layer Style. Then you'll see the actual black lines you drew. You can also copy a style used somewhere else. Take the Elements file for example, look for the Streets layer, right-click on it, and select Copy Layer Style. Now return to your drawn black lines and apply the style by selecting the layer, right-click on it and select Paste Layer Style. Layer styles are cool things and will make sure later that e.g. the texts you use at the maps all look the same. For now it suffices to know the basics on how to apply them.
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 Date of last edit 3rd Frozen Rivers 1671 a.S.

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