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Good morning gentlemen !
So many years without a post, you may think I had quit SC4 for good ! But in fact no, I'm still lurking around on the forums and city journals like a ghost...
Anyway, I post today here as I just rediscovered a long conversation I had with our map guru Drunkapple (also known as Dobdriver) when I was trying various mapping techniques and discovering the joys of 16-bit mapping techniques. At the time this conversation begun, I had already uploaded some 8-bit maps, elaborated from my own solitary experimentations and get noticed by Drunk who started the chat with me.
I thought this long dialogue could be an usefull tutorial for anyone interested about accurate SC4 mapping, finding the good tools, the good dimension formulas and the good spots on the internet where DEM gems are hiding. I'm almost sure that Drunk would have agree to see this text here and, if I reads me (one never knows), let me cheer up a beer with him !
So here it is : a "from the foundry" brutal Copy/Paste of our private conversation from 2011-2012 !
Part 1 of 3
Started conversation: November 5, 2011 · Report
That is a lovely collection of maps you are amassing.
A couple of things: Do you have or can you get photoshop or photoshop elements? One does need to do work on these maps outside of terraformer etc and ps or elements is about the only software easily available that works on 16bit pngs and tiffs.
I downloaded your La Isla Tiburon and Cabo Tepoca map. What formula are you using to scale latitude and longitude? I ask because your map is a little under scaled both in latitude and longitude.
After exhaustive experimentation and a lot of walking with a tape measure... ( Nah all bloody lies).
Hunting around on the internet led me to some sites with the conclusions that although latitude does change slightly north to south, there was an accepted constant that 1 degree of latitude is equal to 111.325km over the entire globe. This in SC4 is equal to 7124.8 pixels which can be rounded up to 7125 pixels.
This is okay to use but as SC4 is binary: 1 pixel = 16m, 64 pixels = 1 small city tile = 1096m, there is an extra 96m in every small city tile so I divide the above figure by 1.024 to give a result of 6958 pixels for 1 degree. Remember this is the same for all maps irrespective of latitude or longitude.
Longitude as you well know changes considerably as one travels further from the equator both north and south. The formula I found to determine longitude at any given latitude is: Cosine(latitude) x 111.325 or you can use cos (lat) x 7125 if no binary scaling or lastly cos(lat) x 6958. Again this is 1 whole degree.
I usually only scale for longitude at the point of interest in the map with everything else being either slightly wider or narrower, but one can scale over the whole map by using transform-perspective if one desires. The difference in 1 degree of longitude at 60 latitude is about 1.6km or about 105 pixels and decreases as one moves toward the equator. For interest 1 degree of longitude at 60 lat is about 55.66km.
I have used that method when making large scale maps over a couple of degrees of latitude.
ps. I'd take what blade says with a grain of salt. Aside from a few individual countries 1" arc data is not available world-wide.
Replied: November 7, 2011 · Report
Good morning Drunkapple, nice to read some words from you.
Very honored too, as I consider you and your maps as an absolute model
I thank you very much for these advices about dimensions calculations, I was just living in a medieval world, where everything is flat. And you, heretic, come here to say to me that we live on a globe ?
In fact, my method is pretty archaic and, shame on me, completelly ignoring the fact that the Earth is rounded :
I simply searched around the internet a distance calculator between two geographic points. For each DEM map, I enter coordinates of each corner. According to this calculator, distance between two corners of the same longitude is always 111,122 km on every latitude on the globe. Given that, in my medieval world, 1 km = 64 pixels, it gives 7111,808 pixels, rounded to 7112. This is this number I enter when resizing my original map.
Same action was done for longitude calculation.
At this point of the reading, you should think : "What a $%&^! ! : only empirical deductions and estimations, and absolutelly no trigonometrical approach for calculation !"
So, after reading you, can I say that ?
1 degree distance in longitude is always 111,325 km
formula for distance calculation on latitude, in kilometers :
Cos(lat) x 111,325 km
Example : distance of 1 degree between a point of 47 degrees of latitude and a point of 48 degrees in latitude is :
Cos(47) x 111,325 = 75,923 km
...is that correct ?
Now, let's convert all those measures in pixels :
111,325 km gives :
111,325 x 64 / 1,024 = 6957,8 px, rounded to 6958 px
75,923 km gives :
75,923 x 64 / 1,024 = 4745,2, rounded to 4745 px
A map of 75,923 x 111,325 km will be converted in a 4745 x 6958 px picture.
Do you agree ?
Regarding Photoshop, I don't earn it and only work on GIMP freeware at the moment. I know this program cannot handle 16 bit pictures, but I would be very interested to know HOW your work on this type of files ?
At present, my method of working is based on Microdem software, Gimp, and SC4T. I use layers to redraw rivers and streams or specific areas... but I would be curious to know how YOU do the job
I've experienced Fantatsicoast a bit, but cannot see where I can put it on my methodology...
Replied: November 17, 2011 · Report
Thank you Izi.
Moi! Heretic, but I'm the president of the Flat Earth Society.
Yep, you look like you've got that ok.
I presume that was a typo:
1 degree distance in longitude is always 111,325 km. It's latitude is always = 111.325km. North to south or height.
Longitude is cos(lat) x 111.325km. East to west or width. eg. Paris is at lat N48° 51' 26.95", the distance of one degree of longitude at Paris is cos(48.86)x111.325 = 73.24km
It almost seems there are no free editors out there that handle 16bit images, I certainly haven't found one yet and I've been trying a few out but nothing. I'll keep looking though.
Most think dem maps are hard to produce, the hardest bit is converting the files to a usable format and finding a 16bit editor.
The part that makes a map shine is the water as you discovered when when you asked Blade to make the French map, dem doesn't really follow the coasts all that well and a helping hand goes along way to fixing that. By the way that is his pretty much stock in trade answer you received. And while his maps are certainly playable and by god he's made a lot of them, they are neither particularly accurate in scale or terrain and the water is mostly just something else again.
My method for collecting water has never really changed.
I use the satellite images from google maps at 200 or 500m (depending how good the images are). I also use alt-print screen to capture and paste them into photoshop, on top of each other in layers. (This is so I only have to do one crop to cut them all out.) Once I've collected them all sometimes up to 60 individual images I paste and align them in a new image. You can use the blink method to check the alignment is good, but there are usually distinct pixels on the border. I then merge and save the behemoth. Next take a perfectly good mouse and choose lasso and start drawing around the coasts, rivers and lakes. Again not so hard but can be terribly time consuming. Save often by creating a new layer and painting what you have lassoed. (It does get easier the more you do:))) A good colour to paint it is the 1st or 2nd below sea level.
Does GIMP have a transform tool?
Next open your dem image in 8bits it should be bright enough to see the detail and copy and paste your painted water layer onto your dem, it will be much larger than the map so use transform to make it smaller. Pulling and pushing on the sides until it fits and aligns with all the features on the dem. If it mostly fits but there are a few places where the rivers jump out of their banks or the coast doesn't quite align, then and only then use a warp command (again I don't know if GIMP has this transform command). This will allow you to pull parts of the water about without upsetting other parts too much.
Doing water levels and whatnot has changed considerably over time and I will go into that in more detail in another post.
I tried out the first script thing he wrote and it worked quite well, but I never tried fantasycoast as I couldn't be bothered installing dotnet4 and besides I feel I can make better coasts than puter generated ones anyhow.
Whew! How's that.
Replied: November 17, 2011 · Report
How are you today?
Ok ditch your 8bit stuff I've found a 16bit editor that can open and save 16bit pngs ;<). It's not free but relatively cheap at 59euros, certainly a damn sight cheaper than photoshop. It has layers, will work in French and has a 30 day trial period. It supports both 32bit and 64bit operating systems and there is a Mac version also if that is your bent. Allround worth a go I should think.
Now does Microdem export out 16bit files? Because if it doesn't... Well you get the picture.
PS. Here's my basicColors.ini for mapper and terraformer.
Replied: November 18, 2011 · Report
Good day mister President, nice to read you again !
First, thank you for your colors
I completelly agree with your point of view about Blade's map of french Brittany. Knowing the region very well, as I spend most of my holidays in this area, I was a 16-bit... ...oops... a bit disappointed when receiving his map. I didn't recognize very well the coastline and some areas...
At this time, I was thinking this map was just a rather crude DEM conversion to SC4 standards.
Now, I may think we agree about the fact that sea and coastline is probably one of the most important thing on a map. With mountains, sea is the first any SC4 map-uploader guy will look at carrefully before doing anything, no ?
My first attemps at ameliorating the shoreline quality were based on GIMP tools. In my file, sea is represented with a "true" blue color, and land is grey. When selecting the blue area and using some specific tools, this selection was very well. But many details were still lacking...
So, I started to add layers, with Google map view screenshot, and I repainted in blue over it. After merging the whole blue zones, I had a "sea layer". However, I only redrawn some details, like harbour and streams... ...not the whole coastline !
Now, reading you, I finally admit (you know I'm so lazy) that I would have to draw the whole map !
This is very time consuming as you said, but not impossible of course. I'm now working at a map of Almeria (Spain) with your advices and method. But don't expect to see the map too soon !
About those famous 16-bit...
First, let me point you to the Microdem page :
Please upload the software, as it is completlly free. Sadly, after reading for hours the help files, I think this program doesn't export 16 images. I please ask you to have a look, as I'm getting lost with all that stuff...
I've also download the trial version of Photoline and will have a look to. It looks like GIMP for many tools (here too, you may have a look to this free software), but I don't figure out how 16 bit works...
I also have seen the Global Mapper free download, which seems to be the ideal tool, but very expensive !
Well, as you can guess, I'm a bit confused about all that. I can probably improve at making 8 bit maps (which is my first goal for the moment), but 16 bit world is still very foggy for me... dooh !
Cheers from Paris,
Replied: November 19, 2011 · Report
I am not going to load that piece of dinosaur snot on my 'puter ever again. I have three or four times previously and every time I never get it to work. I don't like reading copious quantities of garbled garbage to to get a piece of sh!tty software to work. I have always thought of Microdem as written by boffins for boffins!
Anyhow on a brighter note. I'm glad you popped up as it has given me the reminder to continue to develop mapping techniques, I normally use Global Mapper and Photoshop and had progressed to the point where I could churn them out quite rapidly depending on what water there was to incorporate. The paid version of GMapper converts quite well to tiff which of course PS can deal with but as you've found out it ain't cheap, and using it as a one trick pony tends to make it prohibitively expensive.
Last year I developed a technique to convert hgt files using a nice little freeware proggy called 3dem and terragen to convert to through a variety of types ending with a raw file which PS could open. (The guys' had PS). 3dem outputs a 32bit tiff while PS can open it, it struggles to work effectively with it. I made one map using the technique to prove it up, (Notorious in two centuries, Tasman Peninsula) and was quite satisfied with the outcome.
Now enter Photoline, Photoline is able to correctly open the 32bit tiff from 3dem as a hdr image. The image is ranged from black to white irrespective of actual height (this can be re-ranged in terraformer). The bicubic interpolation algorithm for resizing looks a little better than PS's and does not do spurious dark artifacts around the coast line. Lastly you just need to crop the map out and save it as a .png and make a config. Tonal manipulation is not required if the map is not including the highest part of the dem.
Aside from being a frail, shaky piece of crap, unfortunately terraformer has a few bugs that unfortunately Wouanagaine is never going to fix. It amazes me how people bemoan Maxis for not fixing bugs in SC4 yet those very same people are guilty of the same crime with their own software. Anyhow the bug that affects this technique is that terraformer flat tops the final 7% of the greyscale at the white end. ie over 6000m everything is flat, mapper on the other hand will show everything up the the correct 6553.6m. The full 16bit range but alas has no compressor for setting the elevations.
Like everything it is fixable:
The flat topping started around 2040m (2290m in SC4) so I set the high in terraformer's compressor to this figure and exported a new .png. On the original map from 3dem I lowered the output level in Photoline from 100% to 93% in Histogram Correction and exported another map. The real height of the affected area is about 2173m (2423m in SC4) and this what I set terraformers compressor to. The lower level on both maps was set to 193m (443m in sc4) and exported another map from terraformer. I then layered these in Photoline and cut and pasted the piece I wanted. There are no manipulations for the join (blurring etc). As the height of the fixer map is 133m higher I first tried with a lower limit setting 133m higher also but this left a visible scar as such.
While most would not notice or care I do.
If you like I could write a more coherent tutorial for you concerning all this stuff. Oh I cannot really remember the addy for 3dem so you can get it Here ;<).
Greetz from Darwin
Replied: November 20, 2011 · Report
Late breaking news!!!
Hold your water on patching I have discovered something cool!! It's an extra step but it saves making a second map or jiggering with tones and the histogram.
Replied: November 21, 2011 · Report
Dear FES* member,
I'm always very proud and unpatient to read your posts !
As I'm waiting your last discovery, I would like to list you the actual tests I did today.
The source :
First, let's grab some candies over there : http://edcsns17.cr.usgs.gov/NewEarthExplorer/ This USGS website allows
you to download DEM maps in .dt1 or .bil format from areas all around the world.
Converting these raw datas :
I used to open the .dt1 format with Microdem and save a magnified image in PNG (8 bit) in order to edit it in GIMP, but things are changing ! I now open the same file and save it as a GeoTiff file.
I then open the GeoTiff file with 3DEM, change the projection settings and resave it, still in Geotiff format.
Opening the beast :
Let's start serious things : I fire up PhotoLine (let's call it PL) and import my last file as a raw picture.
Then, I set the layer properties to greyscale - 32 bits and save the whole thing in a PNG format.
Of course, for the moment, I'm not talking about rescaling and retouching anything. I just want to see if all the factory I'm building produces 16 bit stuff.
Testing with SC4 Mapper :
First, please imagine my old frustration with this software, as I really never succeeded before as creating a new region importing 16 bit datas. Today, things appear to be quite different !
Testing with SC4 Terraformer :
Same procedure here, with the difference that I can't select directly a 16 bit png greyscale, on the countrary with SC4M. Of course, on my examples, still no modifications or compression.
1/ Is this procedure is usefull ? What is the difference between my ol'8 bit handcraft method and this new one ?
2/ About resizing : can I do it in PL, or is there a thing to do before ?
3/ About sea, streams, harbour and other details : I guess I have to "paint" the see in black, on a new layer, but
how can I realize a "gradient" effect, from the seashore to the bottom of the ocean ? Is this doable in SC4T with the compressor ?
4/ About SC4T compressor : can you teach me HOW this works ? Do you only use that function to set proper elevations, and doing nothing before (like in PS) ?
* FES : Flat Earth Society ;-P
Replied: November 30, 2011 · Report
How are things going mate?
Mmmm they're nice lollies. Earth Explorer looks to be the successor of the seamless server, a truly ugly and clunky piece of snot.
To that extent I decided to find their storehouse of goodies. and consequently have been using the tradesman's entrance ever since. http://dds.cr.usgs.gov/srtm/version2_1/.
SRTM1 directory is US 1 second data, SRTM3 directory is the rest of the world 3 second data and SWBD directory is the water shape files you found that are quite inaccurate and the reason I do not use them. Oh I've tried them. The files are named for the lat and long of the bottom left or southwest corner and are in .hgt format. They can be opened in 3dem and also no registration is necessary to download. A truly wonderous cavern of treasure!
Okay back to EE, I tried it out until it said log in to collect, GRRRR, I didn't. Does it serve the dem in any other format? Not that it matters so much as .bil files will open in 3dem without the need to go via that dino snot Microdem. I tried out your method anyhow making a 16bit tiff in gmapper then running that through 3dem and on to PL. While it delineates the water, it is not overly accurate and you could easily end up making maps like some other well known mapper ;<).
Other more important things though: because the importation method - Camera Raw, PL change it to RGB and assigns new values to all the pixels changing all the original heights but when converting back to greyscale the old values are not restored. The test map I am using - Hiroshima the original top height was 5600+m, the camera raw version produces a top height of 6100+m causing several large flattop areas. When re-sizing the elevations with TF the intermediate elevations are also out.
I just had to re-load my OS as terraformer started acting up and even deleting and replacing it with a new copy didn't fix it. Out with the trusty ghost and 10 minutes later all is new, the whole 24 gigs of c drive including programs are now fresh as a newborn's bum ;<)
Basically I'd drop the import as camera raw as it is fraught with many things to ruin a good map, including inaccurate water mask, inaccurate elevations, the change to rgb, and the change to 32bit. There is enough work with capturing good water to keep one busy without making the dem conversion a fiddle faddle every time. That said the only way to eventually get 'puter generated water is to keep experimenting with different techniques and I like that you experiment.
I like it that you came along because it spurred me to experiment again and I think the following method I will describe is currently about the most accurate for the intermediate elevations I have used so far. In times past my intermediates could range +/-10m again while most would not notice or care I do and I had ended using a customised rgb method which is especially useful for raising ground below sea level. This new method is simple clicks not requiring the use of the histogram or anything. Very quick, very simple, very good.
1. Go to the candy store, either EE or the Treasure Cave. Personally I prefer the treasure cave to the point I downloaded everything from it so I have all the SRTM dem on my hard drive ;<). If you still prefer EE download the files in .bil format. If you use the treasure cave the files are in .hgt format. Both formats will open in 3dem.
2. Start 3dem and choose SRTM then navigate to your file(s) and select it/them. Yes you can open more than one.
3. Once it opens with your map click File>Save Geo Tiff DEM and then click OK in the Dialogue. Personally I do not change the projection as it changes the map size and I have not tested that with my lat and long formula. Close 3dem.
4. Start PL and click File>Open and navigate to your newly created tif image, select it and click Open. On the header bar along with it's name it will say HDR Gray Picture.
5. Zoom in and look for any dead (black) pixels around the area you wish to make the map. When you find some zoom right in and use the Color Picker (I wish they wouldn't use American spelling, it 5hits me). The colour picker is nice because it shows the value of the pixel, dead pixels usually show as -2.1. You can test all the pixels around the spot, when you find an appropriate one to use click it with the colour picker and change tools to the pencil (make sure to change the size to 1px) and click the dud. Continue in this fashion until you have fixed all the duds in the area of interest. It pays to put keyboard shortcuts on these tools to make switching between easier, faster and all around more enjoyable, I use V for the colour picker and B for the pencil. They are next to each other so it is very easy.
6. Next is to resize it, click Layer>Layer Scale and in the dialogue for Mode choose Formula and for Interpolation choose Bicubic and type in the width and height figures then click OK.
7. Last operation in PL for now is to cut out the map, we will assume for now it will not be including the highest area of the dem.
8. Now Save As or Export, it does not seem to make any difference. File sizes are the same, if you choose Export select Export again from the flyout.
9. Make and paint a config. Close PL.
Now it's on the Terraformer, Terraformer will open maps from any directory as long as there is a valid config.bmp in there. So you do not need to store all your map making files in SC4's region directory. We will also assume that this map will encompass the sea.
10. Open your map, the first job is to ascertain the highest point also remembering that we are not including the highest elevations of the dem. Click Compressor and in the dialogue change only "max height will map to" to say 255 and click OK. Everything will sink below sea level. Scan the Overview and find the top that is poking above sea level, now open google maps or google earth, (I use maps) switch to terrain and find that high point of your map. If it is named You may well find a height on the ether webby for it otherwise we just use a best gestimate between the contour lines.
11. Ok back in TF click Configuration tools>Undo last terraforming. Go back to Global tools and click Compressor again, this time input 250 into "min height will map to" and the figure you garnered from the terrain plus 250m allowing for SC4's sea level into "max height will map to". Leave "unchanged value" at 0.
12. Last thing is to export it as a 16bit png. You now have a very accurately scaled map in lat/long and elevation (No bogus artifacts as in my previous efforts but you do need to scale lat and long first in PL before elevation in TF or you will get artifacts). Close TF.
The actual making of the map to this point is by far quicker than both writing it or reading it.
OK now some additions:
I. Making a map that does not include the sea. Follow to point 10 and then...
11. Ok back in TF click Configuration tools>Undo last terraforming. Go back to Global tools and click Compressor again, this time input 245 into "min height will map to" and click OK. Scan the Overview and find the puddle of water again checking the terrain in google maps or earth for the low point. Now you have both the low and high points of your map, Undo the last terraforming and in the compressor input these numbers remembering to add 250m to both to allow for SC4's sea level.
12. Export it as a 16bit png.
II. Some non-coastal maps are not conducive to adding rivers, it depends on how quickly riverbed rises over the map and sometimes the lowest points of the map do not contain rivers. In these cases I leave the maps at full height and add no water, this requires the punter to add the river with PW if they wish and are not too lazy (most punters I think are too lazy though). In other cases the maps can have rivers aded with no ill effects. This step follows from point 11.
12. After setting the highest and lowest elevation click Lower Terran and input the low height minus 250, then click OK. This will lower the whole map by that amount and the lowest point will be at sea level. The elavation falls will remain accurate between the high and low points.
13. Export as a 16bit png.
III. Making maps with the highest parts of the dem and the 6000m bug in terraformer. I discovered this bug when I made Hunza Valley. Rakaposhi is over 7800m, when I lowered the valley to 251m Rakaposhi was still at a height of 6239m and opening in TF it was bloody flat along with Ulta and a fair amount of other country side. I fixed it by compressing it 239m, trust me it's still a fair old drag to climb to 6000m though ;<). This was importing the 16bit png, I don't know if it affects importing an SC4M file though. But and there is always a but! It does not affect importing game files from SC4's region directory ;<))). So the fix without making a second map goes like this after point 9.
10. Start Mapper and Create Region from 16bit PNG.
11. Save region. Close mapper.
12. Start Terraformer and choose to open your newly created region in MyDocs>SC4>Regions. Now follow along from point 10 in the main technique.
This is quite a rapid process to create the map ready for water.
So far I have not used PL for the water side of things but I shall be testing soon. I am comfortable using PS and have not found the feather tools and others necessary to create good water in PL. I will be checking them soon though. I collect all water in rgb and 8bits so if you are comfortable with the gimp you can continue to use this capture water. Can you input colours with hexadecimal numbers in gimp? If so use 0c0b09 as the water colour equates to 247.8m in SC4.
This has taken a few days, a few hours and a few computer re-installs to get here, so I'll leave it at that for the time being. We will get on to water and the pasting on to a map and contours etc. I promise.
Take it easy and good experimenting
Replied: December 1, 2011 · Report
First, let me say that your last post is pure gold for me ! All these indications are unvaluable, thank you !
I've also had a look to the treasure cave you indicated. I found it very usefull and better than the other web interface.
All this is saved and bookmarked
I very carefully followed your steps with a new .hgt file, it's the south western french coast and the spanish border, along the Atlantic coast :
Maximum elevation is 1294 meters (1044 meters in real life). Some zones of dead pixels have been repaired, the whole map has been correctly scaled and edited in SC4T.
Absolutelly no smoothing at all.
Now, I plan to draw the water line, but I wonder how can it be accuratelly possible.
What about editing a "shoreline" layer in PL, PS or GIMP, using the overview PNG file (rather that the elevation PNG file exported from SC4T) as background ?
I wonder if it is easier this way... ...so I will experiment that !
- draw the complete shoreline and rivers with the 0c0b09 colour (possible in GIMP, I've checked).
- create a "gradient" effect from 0c0b09 to 000000 colour in this zone (I still don't know how to do that)
- put the layer onto the elevation PNG file exported from SC4T before and merge both
- import this new file in SC4T
What do you think about that ?
Cheers from rainy Paris,
Replied: December 2, 2011 · Report
Cool, did you find it made sense and easy to follow?
Now you could make a shore line from the overview but it still would not be accurate because it was generated from the dem in the first place and as we have seen previously the dem is not that accurate.
There are two overviews, one is from a water collection as you suggested from the overview, the other is from my normal method of collection, ie lots of google images and lasso them cows pardner. While at first glance it looks okay, closer inspection reveals a lot of work is still required to attain a good standard. Whilst the vertical rise of SRTM is usable The horizontal is quite piss poor and much of the smaller islands are just missing altogether. They are the same dem and you can layer them and blink for a good comparison.
You do not have much water to lasso in your map above so is a good practise for lassoing it. when you have done so I'll fill you in on pasting on to the dem and adjusting the gradients. Of all the parts of map production this is the piece I have experimented the most with. Nothing is more heartbreaking than capturing all that small detail then losing it when painting it on.
we were having a big storm yesterday also when you wrote. probably copped a couple of inches.
Replied: December 3, 2011 · Report
This next comparison is using those water .shp files overlaid on the dem, unfortunately 3dem will not open shp files so I made it in gmapper. The image is a 3 layered tiff the bottom layer is gmapper's output, the middle is my water overview and the top is the basic water generated from the bottom file. Again you can see the inaccuracies of the shp files, they may be useful for a simple coast but for a complex coast like Stockholm I do not think it is the answer.
Shape File Comparison
I think the answer to collecting water lies somewhere in being able to convert the google images into 16 or 256 colours to be able to easily magic wand the sea accurately and quickly. Lassoing is accurate but can be dreadfully slow.
Replied: December 3, 2011 · Report
Bonjour Drunk !
After reading and seeing what you've prepaired here, it really seems that the lassoing technique is the better one.
However, I tried a little variant, which is, in fact, not really the best one : I used the terrain rendering (I mean no satellite photos) of the Google map site, and collected numerous screenshots of the coast and major rivers on my map. In fact, I had in mind to select, after everyrhing was collected and correctly scaled, all the blue color of those Google images and put it as a zone in a new layer.
This zone is then filled in black.
Unfortunatelly, this method still requires many corrections. The Google map still have texts and roads which make impossible a perfect selection of the water at first. I still had to walk around the map and correct some spots, like bridges, harbour, etc... So I think it is better to use real images.
Finally I had a complete layer where water = black. (I mean 000000).
Saved this layer as a separate file, opened it in PL, converted it in HDR grey 32 bit, and pasting it as a layer on the original PNG file I exported before from SC4T.
Sounds intelligent or not ?
If I continue this way, some difficulties appear :
- change the 000000 colour of the sea layer to 0c0b09 in PL
- create a gradient effect of this black zone (how to ?)
- correctly merge the two images and see what happened in SC4T
I have followed all your precious indications to start something else : the Saratov region, Russia. This main town is along the Volga River. Look at this magnific river there, with all these curves...
How can it be possible to edit water here ? I think the lassoing technique with real images would be very hard... ...it is why I started to see what would be possible with "terrain" map Google screenshots. You see ?
Well, I continue to experiment and will post here (probably on Monday) some examples of what I'm talking about here
PS : the Burgas map I will upload Monday too is born from this drawing technique you told me. But I'm still not very about the quality of the result.
Izy, the young apprentice !
(edited to add the pictures)
Replied: December 5, 2011 · Report
Here is the last step about this map !
The main drawback is the "gradient effect" of the water zone. I still don't know how to do that in PL.
Before in Gimp, I filled the water zone in "grey" (I mean not a complete black) and methodically reduced the zone by 3 or 4 pixels, then filled again the zone with a darker grey. And I continued until I reached almost pitch black value. You see ?
Here, the bottom of the sea is 230 meters (-20 m), and this setting was done with the SC4T compressor tool.
Still not satisfied about that
Replied: December 8, 2011 · Report
I finally successed in making a gradient effect all along a coastline :
Contour was made in an "hybrid" way : I collected the satellite photo from Google, and put them in GIMP, over the SC4T overview picture. I used this software only because I feel more easy than in PL.
I opened PL and add another layer (greyscale 16 bit) and drew a contour line. Then, I created a inner gradient effect to the black zone. This contour layer was then copied and pasted on the PNG file I exported from SC4T at first. Merged the 2 layers and imported again the new PNG file in SC4T.
The only drawback for the moment is that the gradient effect considers the border of the picture (here left border) as the border of the gradient too. I had to flatten everything in SC4T...
The gradient setting is still too strong maybe...
Replied: December 14, 2011 · Report
Yes that variant does work but you have to check between the images and the terrain (or map) at how accurate it is. Some countries have very accurate map and terrain water while others, it is quite slap dash. And sometimes countries have quite good water in places and other parts it looks like dog piddle running down a tree.
I usually scale the water after I have painted it as it is much easier to do all the fiddly stuff with the biggest images. Also you will get softer edges on the water if you layer a larger image on the map and transform it down in size.
I would not worry about converting it before pasting onto your map as it will become 16bit and greyscale and therefore unnecessary to be 32bit.
The things I need to find in PL is the feather command and change colours.
I will write to you shortly
drunk(as per usual)
Replied: December 16, 2011 · Report
How are you ? Nice I hope.
Have you seen the Saratov map I finished ?
Today, we're enjoying a little storm around here, rainy and very windy...
About PL, I've tried the "Inner gradient" function. You can find it in the "Effects" menu, then "Layer Styles", then "Inner gradient" at the bottom of the list.
Before using this, I select the whole black zone corresponding to water, then launch the effect. You can adjust the gradient by moving the little buttons from right to left... ...well, I'm sure you already know to do all that in PS.
The drawback with this function is that the inner gradient runs along the border of the map (if the water zone touches the border, of course). It's then necessary to erase and softer it ; I do that in SC4T.
If you find a trick to avoid that drawback... ...let me know how to do !
At first, you will find your layer a bit strange, where water zone has an almost white or transparent border.
I then modify the layer style from "normal" to "Multiplicate" or "multiply" (don't know the exact english version) and adjust slightly the transparancy (between 100 and 90% max.).
I check the color values and then, I merge the two layers : background and "water".
Sometimes, several tests are usefull
Actually, it's the way I found the make gradients in PL. It's not perfect but it works ! Please tell me if it's possible to improve this method or if you can do the same effect another way.
About "painting" : I first collect the satellite photos and adjust their dimensions before painting the water.
I will follow your advice and do the countrary : keep the images full size to draw, before adjusting it over the map.
I plan to make two other maps of Vietnam, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh with this technique !
Take care Mr Map Guru !
Replied: December 18, 2011 · Report
Thanks I'm fine but my modem blew up the other day, lightning. We get a lot of that at this time of the year. And then last night I almost lost 290GB of data on a usb drive. I formatted it with a 32GB fat partition, somehow the drive names and letters had got mixed up while I was making a bootable virus stick for ghost. Luckily I found a great little proggy called testdisk and it ditched the fat partition and re-wrote the partition table. Phew.
I had a looksy at your map and it looks great, you are one fast learner amigo!
Righto, this is the latest water pasting/painting technique I use. Some parts I have been using for a while now but the last bits I have only been using for a few maps and it appears to be okay. I'll start from after pasting onto the dem, if I need to warp the water it changes the colour to the equivalent 257m in which case I use change color and set the output to -4 otherwise the colour will remain 0c0b09.
Pasted, transformed, set to go.
1. Make a layer copy of the water, so now you have two water layers, This helps the definition of the smaller creeks.
2. Select the water with the magic wand, feather it by one pixel. make a new layer between the dem and the water and paint it with the colour 0a0c0c. This is just above sea level and will help give definition to the coast and also give a very smooth coast.
3. De-select and re-select the water, not the new layer. Contract the selection by three pixels and feather by one pixel. Copy the water and paste on to a new layer above. Use change colour and set the output to -5.
4. Select the water and contract it by 5 pixels and feather by 2 pixels. Copy the top layer and paste on to a new layer. Again use change colour and set output to -5.
5. Back to the water layer and select it again, contract it by 7 pixels and feather by 2, copy the new top layer and paste again on to another layer. Change colour by -5.
6. Once again select the water and contract it, this time 12 pixels and feather it by 3 pixels. Copy the topmost layer and paste to a new layer. Change colour this time by -12.
7. Okay the drill is select the water and contract it by 22 and feather it by 6 pixels. Copy the top layer and paste it onto a new layer, change colour by -18.
8. One to go. Select the water, contract it by 37 pixels and feather it by 8 pixels now copy the top layer and paste it on to a new layer, change the colour by -24.
9. Flatten the image to background and save. Waters done ;<) almost.
10. Fire up terraformer and load the map. click compressor in the minimum box input 65 and in the Unchanged Value box input 250 and click ok.
Now that's it, job's done water is finished. That is how I do it with photoshop, I just have to find the feather, contract and change colour commands in PL and my technique will be ready to publish
*The only other number one can use in the "Unchanged Value" box is 250. When it is left at 0 terraformer stretches the whole map from the lowest height through to the highest. When one inputs 250 terraformer will only stretch the map from sea level. it will do this either way from sea level to the lowest point or from sea level to the highest point. It is one nifty trick.
Although I personally think terraformer and mapper are both flaky, shaky proggies. Compressor is by far the best 16bit histogram manager.
This will keep you occupied for a while.
Hopefully your storms will ease and you will have a fine Christmas.
All the best for the festive season to you and yours.
Replied: December 25, 2011 · Report
Just this small note to wish you a Merry Christmas to you and yours
A little hint about PL : after 30 days you think you need to register ? NOPE ! Just reinstall the whole thing and the countdown restarts from the beginning
Some days of holidays for me : no mapping session scheduled, just try to PLAY the game by itself (which was rather rare these times).
Cheers with a glass of Champagne !
Replied: December 28, 2011 · Report
Thanks mate, I hope you had a swish time. Mine was alright although I worked on Christmas Day. Not so for New years though.
That's very thoughtful of them not to leave a bomb so you cannot re-install. Three hearty cheers for PL. Them Huns aren't too bad after all ;<)
One thing I may not have mentioned is Accuracy is Ones Hallmark.
And another, you may notice that your last map has not received the complimentary 1 star(s) (yet). That my dear friend is because he has not been on since a few hours before you uploaded it. To tell the truth a lot of the time that was what kept me going making so many just to give him the 5hits so to speak. In time if you are observant you will also see who it is. I have photos (or screen shots).
Play the game? I haven't really played the game for years.
All the best for the coming New Year to you and your beloved.
Cheers, chugga lug lug.
drunk(crissed as a picket or vise versa)
Replied: December 29, 2011 · Report
Some holidays for me, far away from my mapping machine... but before leaving house and closing the suitcase, I've finished rendering the Saratov Region :
Map is 14 x 14 big tiles, so 196 cities to open = quite a long time in front of the screen !
I was wondering if it could be better for me to wait before uploading maps, that I have 3 or 4 files to upload, rather than only one. Then, the main page of the Simtropolis site is full of MY maps ahahah !
Then, I will wait to finish the last maps before uploading :
- Saratov (done)
- Tucson (not rendered)
- Sanya (China) (not rendered)
- Pskov (Russia) (small, but not finished at all)
I still have to experiment the lassoing technique further on, as I recently discovered it in PL : much more accurate and rather simple. Before, I was painting with a 1 pixel wide brush and it was difficult to make small details and long lines (like in harbours for example). Be sure that I will try Pskov map that way.
I agree with you about the idea of the hallmark : accuracy is the challenging part of mapping, no ?
Come back at mapping probably next year !
Cheers and Happy New Year !
Replied: December 29, 2011 · Report
That looks swell!
Replied: January 16, 2012 · Report
I must say it has been a lovely month seeing the maps rated more fairly without snotbox being around to stick his grubby little finger on them. They do garner less ratings though but I suspect that was to try to compensate for the c_cksucker.
It would be nice to think he won't be back, unfortunately though he has been around since 2005 so I suspect he will be.
Anyhow mate you are starting to make some really grand maps, I see them up on the STEX and momentarily I think that's mine then realise it's one of yours ;<). I do hope you continue to make maps because I see in how you have progressed you have great ability and understanding of your 'puter and programs and the necessary skills to achieve the results of A class maps.
Continual improvement via new techniques and programs is essential though because without that we would be still scratching on rocks.
Replied: January 16, 2012 · Report
Thanks for the kind words, I'm always very honored to read your comments and posts about my maps (yes, it's supposed to be... ...maps). Each time you realease your works, or just posting screenshots in forums, I feel like a child in front of the Christmas tree, looking at all those presents I have to open ! I hope my modest contribution can do the same for other SC4 fans... ...so let's keep practicing and progressing (I try to) !
As almost nobody still have replied on my Simtropolis topic, I started to look at the "Map requests" topic, in order to make me a little "known" by the forumers. Arnhem and Ubatuba are those 2 maps which result from this. Recently, another guy suggested in a private conversation another Croatian spot called Sibenik, which could be interesting to do.
Some other maps are in the pipe too : a croatian map of Dubrovnik (you will think I'm always around that area of the world !), Jefferson city in Missouri and (little wink from me to you as you realeased Hiroshima some times ago) Nagasaki, Japan.
Recently, I was wondering how to render the maps in SC4 with specific terrain mods. I usually use "Italian" mod, but snow appears at about 500 meters above sea level. Then, some maps can really appear completelly white of snow, which is an effect I don't want to have sometimes.
I disabled the mod, but the standard maxis textures don't please me. Do you have any suggestion or (even better) a mod to upload in schedule ?
Another question : how do you upload files in the LEX ? I'm still wondering if it could be usefull/smart to upload the maps in STEX and/or LEX... What is your opinion about that ?
Final question about Arkanghelsk : where did you find the DEM datas ? The northern part of the world seems to not be available in the server. When looking closely at the map, it seems that the contours are slightly more "straight" and geometric than in other files you've made, no ?
Anyway, the mapping machine is still running, no worries about that ! I keep looking at Google Earth, rolling on the planet and thinking : "Hey, here it could be nice... ...oh wait, that spot is better... ...oh wait... ...etc" ! Feel like child in a candy store.
Always glad to share a conversation with you,
Cheers (and what about red wine this time ?),
Replied: January 25, 2012 · Report
I think you are the one I have been looking for!
Do not be disturbed that nobody yet replies in your thread, the important thing is to keep posting and advertising your wares. It keeps your thread on the first page and near the top. I myself am not a big commenter in threads but if you look at my thread on sc4d you will see it took quite a lot of posts before people started rolling in, now it is one of the most looked at "threads per comment" on their site. If you look at all the "I've started a thread" threads here at simtrop you will notice that after a few half-arsed maps they give up and their thread sort of dies a lonely death and soon gets buried beneath the plethora of "mapper and/or terraformer doesn't work" threads. You also have another request in the Sibenik comments for Pula.
I started on the back end of the request threads last year and have so far made about five of them, I'll race you to the middle. It seemed such a shame that these people requested maps and nobody could be bothered to make them. I was hoping to have more done but as my requests grew and grew and grew throughout the year I had less spare time to continue, but this year I shall endeavour to complete that task. I also took a look at sc4d's map request board and will make a start on that soon.
Here is a little mod for Italia with the high snow variation, it needs to load after the terrain mod. It will work with Cycledogg's other terrain mods also with varying results because he individualised the terrain exemplar for the different mods. It will take the snow up to about 4000m.
Hmmm the bsc, I once seen them described as neckbeards and I would say it's mostly appropriate. Some are okay but most who run the site can be a bit of a pain, pretentious and presumptious. Their boards do not garner as many downloads either. I applied when TD was formed on Joel's request. Submit three items for our scrutineers for admission to upload to the lex is what it said. You will notice that my lex admission thread has been moved and is un-viewable because after the first three maps I sent them and one of them whined like a banshee that they were too big, the mountains were too rugged and where there was no beach there was no beach. I felt I had a right of reply and fair stuck it up them ;<). Anyhow fourteen maps (I wasn't going to let the bastards beat me.) and the flying carpet mod later they finally relented but changed their rules and said I was only allowed to upload maps (The cheating pricks.). They also stipulated I had to be a map scrutineer of which there has only been one map submitted since. I wonder if they will ask me to scrutineer yours ;<)
So make three small maps 16 or 20 by (as rugged as you like), two small images for each 250x180px and a jazzy readme. they have some template .html files which is what mine started as and I have slowly changed them over the course of time. Read the uploading to the lex thread at sc4d. Then submit them, it may take a few months. Mine took about 8 months but some have been trying for years and others just give up.
See I said you had an eye for detail. Yes the Archangel'sk map was made with dem that was made from Russian topo maps. That is the only dem available for such northern climes as the SRTM all stops at 60 degrees. Nobody else ever notices these things. I've got about 700gigs of dem on file.
Mmmm Don't mind the odd bottle myself. Chin chin
I've had this idea for a project in my head for about a month now and I can't quite find the perfect map to use for it. I've formulated this nascent story that I feel I could tell really well via C:S, but I need a map that fits with the emerging narrative in my head.
I already have chapter one written (describing the map) and if I were any good at map making I'd have the map done as well. I don't enjoy map making much (probably because I'm not as good at it as I'd like to be), so it has been a major bump in the road.
If anyone enjoys map making and wants to work together I'd love to share my ideas and see if we can come up with something that works.
MAP FILES INCLUDED: Folder: Earth Grayscale Heightmaps
All files listed above and below are in the same sequence as the previews.
Earth Signature 1x1
Earth Hemispheres 1x2
Earth Squared 2x2
Earth Continents 2x3
Earth Relief 2x3
The following text is contained in the zipfile in readme.txt and HTML.
INSTALL the REGIONS Folder: SC4M Earth 2x3 Relief
I have included an .SC4M map of the '05_Earth_769x513_2x3_Relief' map in a new folder. To load the map in SC4 Mapper, click on 'Create Region' and select 'Grayscale'. SC4 Mapper creates the city files and a config.bmp file by default, but not a region.ini file. A region.ini file is included in the folder which may be cut and pasted into the Region folder SC4 Mapper creates. Included above are 2 new previews (to the right) showing an image from SC4 Mapper, and the rendered map in 'SC4 Region View.'
FOR ALL OTHER MAPS using the SC4 in-game Map Renderer
From the unzipped 'Regions' folder select any or all of the sub folders, cut and paste into your user '/Documents/ SimCity 4/Regions' folder. Each of the Regions will then appear in your 'Region' menu in the game with the same name as the folder. Each folder contains a region.ini file and a config.bmp file, defining the name and layout of the region.
The 'Earth Signature' region is a 1x1 large city tile, containing only one large blank terra-formed tile. This folder also contains 1 city file (662k) named 'City - New City.sc4'. This region does not have to be rendered and may be viewed and used immediately in the game. The city has not been 'Start'ed so is still named 'City - New City.sc4'.
All other region folders only contain the region.ini and config.bmp files, the maps must be rendered in SC4 region view using the included grayscale heightmaps in .bmp (256 indexed grayscale 8-bit) format.
The grayscale heightmaps in this package were hand designed for use with the SC4 in-game map renderer using a popular color relief map. If you use SC4 Mapper or Terraformer, smoother surfaces and smaller file sizes may be achieved, but elevation interpretation is different, generally the water level is one increment shallower, some land area may go under.
Instructions for rendering the maps with SC4 can be found at the bottom of this page.
SCALING in SC4 3D SPACE: The maps are not proportionally scaled either horizontally or vertically, they only represent a general idea of area and height.
Horizontally, the term 'tile' is used for both the grid of squares in the city view and the grid of cities in the region view. One city view tile is 16m x16m, and one large city tile in region view is 4km x 4km.
Grid lines in city view may be toggled on/off by pressing the 'g' key. Grid lines in region view may be switched on/off by checking/unchecking 'Show City Boundaries'.
Vertically, buildings are scaled in (cubic) meters, but land area and elevations are more often very disproportional. In my 'Earth Relief' map one increment of land in region view is about equal to 1800m, so 5 increments from sea level is the highest point on Earth at near 9000m.
There are 62 (62 x 1800m) increments from the bottom of the sea in SC4 to the top of its 3D space, sea level cannot be raised or lowered from its 6 increment setting. In terms of my 'Relief Map' then 6 x 1800m is the deepest surface below sea level at 10,800m, almost 11 kilometers. Actual scientific measurements indicate about the same depth.
Consistently, the top of SC4 space is (62 x 1800) 111,600m, about 112km above the solid surface of the Earth. Objects below about 160km in orbit are considered to be below "Low Earth Orbit". The International Space Station orbits at about 3 times the height of SC4 space in the same spherical area defined as the 'Thermosphere' of the Earth.
INSTALL INSTRUCTIONS: 1.) Launch SC4. In Region View use the Load Region scroll menu to locate and open the region you want.
2.) In Region View press CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-R. You should now have a window in the top-left corner.
3.) Navigate to the 'Earth Grayscale Heightmaps' subfolder in the unzipped 'SC4 Earth Maps 256 Grayscale' folder.
4.) Scroll to the bitmap (.bmp) corresponding to the region you have selected and click 'Okay'. (The exact file names of the region and map must match)
The simulator should begin processing the map. If successful, you will see the region with city layout. The processing takes from a few minutes to several minutes to complete.
This file includes the following readme.txt file and an HTML file with info and resources for map-making.
1.) Launch SC4. In Region View Create a New Region. Name it 'The ArcoDonut' or whatever you want. Save the region by clicking Create Region and exit SC4.
2.) Navigate to your Regions folder in your user profile under SimCity 4. In the Regions folder is now a new folder named The ArcoDonut, or whatever you named the Region. Inside the folder are two files: config.bmp, region.ini. Delete the config.bmp file and replace it with the one found in the unzipped folder. Leave the region.ini file as it contains the name given to the region.
3.) Re-launch SC4 and load the ArcoDonut region. In Region View press CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-R. You should now have a window in the top-left corner.
4.) Navigate to the location of the 'Grayscale Heightmap' subfolder and open the file 'Z_ArcoDonut_833x769.bmp'. The simulator should begin processing the map. If successful, you will see the region with city layout. The processing takes from a few minutes to several minutes to complete.
5.) Before starting a new city, the terrain may have to be raised by one increment in the large cities to give you plenty of area to build on, depending on what terrain mods are installed.
Thanks to @CorinaMarie for some helpful critique, technical details and editing on this project. For more discussion of methods of making maps see: C.O.R.I.M.A.P.S. - A Tutorial for SimCity 4
The grayscale height-map could be 8-bit and 256 shades of gray, but it must also be 'indexed' specifically as a grayscale image otherwise SC4 will simply render a flat region.
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