you ever seen a Topographic map similar to this image? The elevations
are mapped as contour lines.
This is a very common mapping technique practiced by government
agencies all over the world and consequently many people have developed
the skills to read and see the terrain in 3d while viewing this kind of
This tutorial will explain a very quick way to convert any
displacement map into a simulated Topographic Map using Photoshop.
are a lot of ways to get started on a new terrain design. You can hand
paint something from scratch or use an automated displacement mapping
program. Fractal generators are especially interesting as they provide
lots of detail with distinctive appearance.
Here is a fractal image that was generated in Bryce's
Terrain Editor at a 512 grid resolution. I have already painted a roadway
into it. It has a lot of detail but is also very blurry so its kind of
hard to visualize how a trail or manmade features would lay into it.
Here is a 3d render of the displacement map shown above.
the image has been Posterized with 25 colors.
Copy the original displacement map to a new layer and choose
Image/Adjust/Posterize with 25 colors selected in the dialog box.
is the simulated Topographic Style map. Cool huh?
Select Filter/Texture/Grain and choose speckle in the
pulldown box. Set the contrast and intensity as you wish.
A 0,0 setting was used to make this image.
If you are familiar with Topographic maps you may find this
to be a very helpful visual tool when laying out your tracks.
Compare your results to real Topographic maps. Imagine how
an engineer might work. Look for slopes with parallel contours. (An engineer
will usually layout the pathway perpendicular to the most even contours
to avoid lots of earthwork expenses.) Identify the natural plateaus in
the terrain. Locate the likely spots where erosion will occur. Etc. etc.
is a 3d render of the original displacement map with the Topo style map
skinned on as a texture. I do not usually take this extra step for my own
design work but I thought it would be a fun way to illustrate how useful
the Topo style map can be.
that is it for now. Remember this is a visualization tool that you can use
as a reference. The terrain may remain blurry, detailed, rough, smooth....
whatever you prefer.
is just one of the many ways I approach track design and
hope you find this tutorial helpful in some way, mike_mccue