World Map Design. Continents.


Description

In this tutorial you can learn how to create custom World of Warcraft - styled worldmaps that can be used either in the game or just as an artwork. This tutorial covers mostly the continent creation (main worldmap) and does not cover any tech parts about worldmaps.

Introduction

Difficulty: Relatively easy

Estimated time: 30 min - 1.5 h.

Requires: Adobe Photoshop, MapTemplate.psd.

MapTemplate.thumb.png.0f461e33a72bae141e

Here is the example map that I am going to use as an example for the tutorial. The shape of the continent belongs to one Russian Minecraft project (Medieval Minecraft) and represents their world Asteros. I was too lazy to make something up on my own, so I decided to take this shape. I made this map in about one hour using a graphic tablet (can be also done without it), so it is not that complicated as it may look like. 

I created a new version of MapTemplate.psd based on the old one by Soldan and using the new WoW worldmap assets provided by Vellear. So, let's begin! B|

Creation process

Step 1. Getting the shape.

Launch your Photoshop and open MapTemplate.psd. Choose the Ocean layer you prefer and make it visible (it may be with or without watermarks, I used the one without watermarks). 

Select the ground layer without making it visible. Now use the Lasso Tool (L) to paint the shape of your continent. You can also do it in many other ways, but the main point is to get a properly shaped selection on your canvas. 

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Now switch to Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) and right-click somewhere on the selected space. In the context menu choose "Layer Via Copy". 

Clip2net_151223221904.thumb.png.41d3d001Now you will get the continent shape displayed on a new layer. It may look a little unsatisfactory (such as having a lot of rubbish around, weird shapes and so on), so you can clean it and master the shape using Eraser tool (E).

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Here is what I got after cleaning and working on the shape:

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Step 2. Adding details.

Now pic up small radius hard brush and use Eraser Tool to paint small rivers, lakes and other details involving the landscape. It is important to use hard brush because soft ones make bigger borders around themselves, so it does not look that good. For this task graphic tablet with pressure sensivity saves tons of time. Here is the result:

Clip2net_151223233348.thumb.png.5dcb5bb5

Now it is time to add some mountains to your continent. Select the layer with the mountain pattern and scale it to fit the size of your continent. You can reduce layer trasparency to see the continent shape through it, so you can decide the average size of the mountains. 

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Switch back to your continent layer and right click on it, choose "Select pixels". This will select your continent again.

Get back to the mountain layer and press "Ctrl + Shift + I" in order to reverse the selection. Press delete. Now you have your continent entirely filled with mountains pattern.

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Use soft brush and Eraser Tool to get rid of the unnecessary mountains and blend them with the ground. You can also make a copy of the original mountain pattern and cut some bigger mountains from there. Be creative to make something interesting. Here is what I got very quickly.

Clip2net_151223235441.thumb.png.a7e31210

Let's finish the shore lines now when the mountains are done. Switch to your continent layer and select its pixels. Go to Selection - Modify - Expand and enter some value like 10 or 12. The space between expanded selection and your continent is going to be your shoreline (water shelf). 

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It should look somewhat this way:

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Choose the Coast Line layer, select Rectangular Marquee Tool, right-click on selection and choose "Layer Via Copy" in the context menu. Now you will have your shore lines, though they would not look blizzlike. In order to fix that we need to change layer blending settings.

Clip2net_151223235736.thumb.png.d74ce563So, double click on the little icon representing the layer in the layer manager. Set a check box to "Inner Glow" and choose the appropriate color.

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Now it is time to get some decorative lines, representing the sea waves or whatever Blizzard thinks they do. They really add much style to the map. Make the Sea Lines layer visible, select continent pixels, get back to lines layer and press "Delete".

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Now remove the unnecessary lines all over your map using soft brush and Eraser Tool. You can also slightly increase the opacity of the layer as the default one is not on max. It will get more of a Blizzlike feeling.

Clip2net_151224000639.thumb.png.dc1a34f4

Step 3. Coloring the map.

This is basically all you need to do to get a Blizzlike continent. Though, as we are modders, we should improve something, not simply replicate what Blizzard do to their continents. Let's make the map more interesting by coloring different climate zones or something like that. In general, let's go from the boring parchment color theme to something more colorful.

Make a backup of the continent and mountain layers. Set the brush mode to "Overlay". Now use soft brush and Brush Tool (B) to paint colors on the ground. Then do the same with the mountains if necessary. That's all. Don't hesitate to leave feedback about my tutorial in the comments ;)

MapTemplate.thumb.png.0f461e33a72bae141e

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Great tut! :D I'll still never be able to produce a map such as yours tho x)

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Great tut! :D I'll still never be able to produce a map such as yours tho x)

Thanks. You will. It just requires a tiny bit of practice. Though, having a graphic tablet makes details easier. But anyway this is not complicated, so you should definitely give it a few tries. I am also very satisfied with how this map turned out because it took me about an hour to make it and it looks so much better than things I usually do in Photoshop. The main thing here is that template has some predefined effects, so you don't need to paint most stuff by hand :D

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you should definitely give it a few tries

Oh, it's far too mouthwatering not to give it a go, I defintely will!

 

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This looks really stunning, and thank you for writing the tutorial. I'm looking forward to getting my tablet out and trying this myself!

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Easy to learn, easy to understand, easy to edit and use for the artistically challenged like myself, and all of that for a really nice and easy to do map.

Perfect tutorial in my book !

Will you do something similar for zones & subzones in a near or distant future ?

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Easy to learn, easy to understand, easy to edit and use for the artistically challenged like myself, and all of that for a really nice and easy to do map.

Perfect tutorial in my book !

Will you do something similar for zones & subzones in a near or distant future ?

Thanks for kind words! I will when I find some time, I am extremely lacking it at the moment.

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great tutorial, I like them even better than the original blizzard maps haha! :D:D

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Hi, the map is great but still can't follow the tutorial though. The template we can DL is very different compared to the one in the tutorial.

For example: where is the "ground" layer from the step 1? I only can see a group called "Ground" with in it 3 differents ground textures. And where is the "Cost Line" layer from the tutorial?...

Well we got a template from a tutorial but the tutorial isn't about this template, making the tutorial very harder or impossible to follow...i don't know...

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On 11/21/2018 at 5:10 PM, helf said:

Hi, the map is great but still can't follow the tutorial though. The template we can DL is very different compared to the one in the tutorial.

For example: where is the "ground" layer from the step 1? I only can see a group called "Ground" with in it 3 differents ground textures. And where is the "Cost Line" layer from the tutorial?...

Well we got a template from a tutorial but the tutorial isn't about this template, making the tutorial very harder or impossible to follow...i don't know...

This tutorial is out of date. You can watch this video to know how to manipulate with the layers:

This tutorial is for subozone map, but overall concept is the same.

Tutorial for World Map will be recorded later.

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