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Fantastic Photoshop - Weekly Challenge #24 - Final Results!

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 Final Results Announced! [Link] 

Fantastic Photoshop  (Weekly Challenge #24)

Show us your creative image editing skills!

Header Image

Images in our cities can look realistic, but editing them with Photoshop can make them seem lifelike. Take them to the next level, add extra effects and details which aren't possible in the games. Yes, it's time to get artistic and put your editing skills to the test...

This time we're looking for an image from any city-building game, using at least one image manipulation technique. This can be subtle or complex, it's really up to you.

There's really endless possibilities, and any scene can be used for the image. Also it doesn't necessarily have to be edited using Photoshop -- there's lots of alternatives out there (e.g. Gimp, Paint.NET, or even web-based tools). Even Word has some basic built-in tools!

Extended Submission Period

As there's a bit more work involved this time, this will be an "extended" challenge running for 2 weeks. It also means that (depending on the number of entries) the prize fund will be somewhat larger than a regular weekly event. ;)


Submit your images in the album below

Submission Requirements

  1. Going with the theme of this challenge, the image must be edited or enhanced in some form.
    This can be done by any photo manipulation software, not just limited to Photoshop. If the editing is subtle, it might be worth briefly mentioning in the description which techniques are used. For example, sharpening or colour correction.
  2. Please submit only one image per challenge album.
  3. For the purpose of voting, please check your image has a full title & description.
  4. This challenge is open to all city-building games (SC4, C:S, SC13, CXL, etc).
  5. To qualify for entry, please ensure your image is uploaded to the above album, and complies with these requirements.


Voting will start on the 4th of November, an announcement will be made when that is available. Votes will be cast by rating images inside the album. You may rate any image you wish at any rating you wish. Try to rate as many as you can as this will help the album ordering.

The winners will be the top 3 rated images after a 5 day voting period. Reputation prizes will be awarded based on the number of entries, and the overall average rating. See this post for more details.

Good luck everyone! :D

The Next Challenge

Leisure Activities


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a fantastic view of this marvelous European-style city. I love the sea-wall. It makes the city even more life-like. I wish I knew how to do that with my cities.

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  • Original Poster
  • Results

    The ranking has been calculated, and I'm pleased to announce the Photoshop challenge winners...

    (Click each image to view the album entry)


    Fantastic Photoshop   (Weekly Challenge #24)   460 Rep Prize Fund

     1st Place   230 Rep
    Shuttle Drop on Menae - Huston


     2nd Place   138 Rep
    Bassen - The Netherlands - kelistmac


     3rd Place   92 Rep
    Whale Watching - SimCoug


    Congratulations everyone! :D

    It was a close run contest, with Huston coming out on top by 0.03 of a vote!

    All rep prizes have been awarded, and the top 3 images from all challenges have been entered into the Hall of Fame.


    As with previous challenges, the full results data can be viewed at the following link:
    ST Challenges - Results Data   (Excel spreadsheet shared on OneDrive)


    Thanks again to all contestants for making these challenges possible.

    The next theme will be...

    Leisure Activities

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    • Similar Content

      • By FrankSobotka
        I hope its okay to start a new thread documenting my experiments. Busy week but I was able to reproduce my efforts last week in a much shorter amount of time. 
        I made this welcome sign for my city - an early 1990s fictional city on the California coast between LA and SF. No LUT or any realism photo mods yet for pictures so they are more vanilla than most posted 
        Great thanks to Hemeac, Badi Dea and Avanya for the assistance and encouragement getting me started!

      • By Koesj
        Check out what I'm working on right now at the end of this thread; my initial post continues below...
        Hiya people! I've decided to bite the bullet and (re-start) my modeling efforts for Cities: Skylines. My last effort kinda faltered at not knowing how to have a decent enough workflow going, and real-life commitments being in the way.

        Still, as a pretty long-time SketchUp modeler, I really felt like I should pick up this hobby of mine again and apply it in-game. As you might be able to discern from the picture at the right, I quit in exasperation at the point where I had just figured out object instancing in 3ds Max (my intermediate software solution) and some kind of UV-mapping workflow  Fixing up normals, efficiently doing multiple texture maps, and lods were still out of my grasp though.
        However, after putting a number of decent-sized (and seemingly popular) interchanges on my C:S workshop page (http://steamcommunity.com/id/koesj/myworkshopfiles/?appid=255710) I decided to really delve into getting a nice building done.
        And immediately bit off more than I can chew, because I wanted to do this one: 

        1000 de la Gauchetière in Montreal. Yeah. As a first building? Yikes!
        However, I came prepared with a ton of free time, and an urge to prove myself in this, so let me sum up the 10-day long process of trying to get this thing done with pictures and some descriptions  
        I luuuurve Sketchup, too bad that it generally produces nasty models for games:
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        Through instances, for... instance:

        So I started UV-ing:

        And filling up my texture atlas:

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        I feel like I'm pretty much done with the geometry though, and a quick diffuse for a post-modern building like this one isn't that difficult either:

        Never mind specular and illumination, those pretty much build themselves.
        Still, I feel like I've still got some nasty challenges ahead of me. Somehow my instantiation messes up normal maps (even after resetting normals post-collapse in Max), and properly baking stuff into textures kinda eludes me at the moment - with my lod showing stupid mistakes all round. Also, my texture atlas is an inefficient mess, with lots of empty space and stupidly rotated elements (before I 'got' what normal maps are for). 
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        Footprint: 10x10
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        Tris: 4575
        Texture maps: 1024x1024 - 10cm surface detail resolution throughout the model. And yeah I'm kinda regretting this right now!
        To continue the discussion we were having in your thread, AJ3D...
        Yeah I'd already figured the baking into the diffuse channel out myself
        Re: SketchUp. To be fair, I've kept ngon creation to such a bare minimum that it has only affected me once throughout the entire building. I look out for tri interpolition throughout my modeling workflow by importing into Max and checking the polys there. And honestly, SketchUp is so intuitive to me (in years of mucking about) that I'd rather stick with it until I've fully figured the texturing side of Max out. Only afterwards comes the point at which I'd consider upping my modeling game by learning to do it in another program, since right now it's way ahead of all the rest of my skills. 3ds Max is of course the place where I already do my UV-ing mind you.
        Let me check up on the normal map situation because I'm tearing my hair out over it!
      • By kschmidt
        What´s your favorite photo editor ?
        Adobe Photoshop since early this is conscidered the top Photo editor. Photo graphic effects making, differs from editor to editor. Personaly I always used the Jasc Paintshop Pro series. There several other editors like GIMP, what is you´r favorite photo editor ?
      • By Gn_leugim
        Hello everyone
        Are you new to BATing? great, this is for you! are you not? also great, it's for you too, you may learn and give to learn on the process!
        So, first of all, this tutotial or shall I say, set of topics, are not design to teach you how to model, how to apply texture on models, set UWV maps or any kind of modeling done in Gmax/MAX!
        For that matter, you can find excellent tutorials
        or you can find more information on the BAT essentials too.
        Other useful tips on modelling and applying texture on models can be found
        So, what is exactly the point of this topics? To introduce you to Photoshop/GIMP techniques to create good textures for your models. Why create? why not use textures found on texture databases such CGtextures? Because only in very rare circumstances already made textures fits good the game grand scheme! most of them are taken from real places, and they fit those places nicely, but they are not your BAT. also, the game has it own criteria regarding saturation, hue and luminosity, on which most textures need to be worked upon. And on my usual work, I rarely use them, and only as patterns overlay and other stuff, not as base textures!
        But, lets say that you have a particular texture you want to use and it does not look ok, maybe you may want to take a look at these steps in how to fix textures.
        Nevertheless , that is why it is commonly said that good textures are not found, are made! And also remember! This are just simple stepped basic demonstrations, Further experimentation and personalization are not recommended, are mandatory!
        So, what you need?
        º Photoshop/GIMP to start with. this will be the main tool on usage.
        º Some tools like brushes and patterns found here. you can however find more and use more!
        º Some texture/image databases such as http://www.cgtextures.com/, http://www.imageafter.com/ and http://grungetextures.com/
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        1.1- Noise Effect
        1.2- Gradient
        1.3- Texture
        1.4- Overall Variance
        1.5- Weathering
        1.6 -Colour correction
        2-Tile Roof Basics
        3-Asphalt/Concrete Roofing
        4-Using a Texture as base texture
        5-Wealth Basic Specs
        6-Grungy and Decaying Paradise
        7-High Wealth Details
        1- Wall Basics
        Some of the most important items on your bat are walls! they, together with roofs compose much part of your bat, and the larger and most visible items on a BAT. Therefore, more than other items, textures play a huge role in how a BAT looks, good or bad. In my opinion Walls and roofs are where you are more likely to spend more time making and tuning textures right.
        So, let's say we want to make a plaster wall texture. First step, is to get a base colour/tone for the texture. We should find one that meets the overall game's colour pallet (will upload mine as soon as I can).
        So, make a new file and size it so, for each meter on bat, it has 20 pixels (i.e. if the wall is 10m long, the file shall be 200 pixels wide). This is the ratio mts/pxl I use, and it works fine, but you can use others, try it out. it is important, though, you use a consistent ratio there after.
        Fill it with the colour you have choose.

        if you apply this texture and look in game, it does not look good does it?

        no, it looks rather bare, cartoonish and stands out to much!
        1.1- Noise Effect
        Lets get rid of the bare look. we gonna make that colour looking better by adding some variation on the colour. one simple way to archive this is to go to Filter, Noise, Add Noise. Set it to monochromatic, Gaussian and 10%. Then, go again to Filter, Noise, Dust & Scratches, set both paramethers to 10 and OK.

        Save it, and apply it to gmax and see on game.

        subtle, but is improves the texture largely.
        1.2- Gradient
        One of the most dramatic effect you must include in any texture is a gradient! It came back to the time of simple sprites for early games and it a major improvement on any texture!
        So, the easiest way to archive this is to create a new layer (Ctr+$%&^!+N), Select the gradient tool, select the white to black gradient, apply it on the layer. Change the layer setting to Multiply and change the opacity to about 20%

        And in game looks something like this:

        again, a large improvement!
        1.3- Texture
        Now, the texture is still detailess, and we want a plaster looking texture. For that matter we are going to use some filters and layers.
        First, create a new layer, Go to Edit, Fill, select grey 50%. Select the Layer and make it Clipping Mask (alt+crtl+G)

        Then, go to Filter, Texture, Texturize. Select Sandstone and fill in the following parameters. Set the layer to Overlay.

        In game shall look like so.

        Why make this on a separated layer? and not apply it already on the base layer? well, because this way you have more liberty to change the texture/base colour, without having to remake all over again
        1.4- Overall Variance
        The noise effect is good for having some variation on the colour tone, but you may also want some variation on the luminosity, and on all building sometimes. To do so, do as follow:
        start by resetting the colours to white and black. Create a new layer set it to Overlay, 25% opacity, go to Filter, Render, Clouds. repeat this (or just press ctrl+F) as many times you wish to archive the result you want.

        1.5- Weathering
        The whole mighty weather takes its toll on any exposed surface. And so it shall not be forgotten when making a texture for a BAT.
        there are two major events on weathering we should consider:
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        2- water leaking from the top of surfaces. a bit like the above, but this time due to water poring down the walls, from the top. like the following picture shows:

        In the end usually both take part of any wall. in any wealth set, there should be some weathering visible. more on low wealth, less in the high wealth though. In both pictures you can see that time, and careless have taken it's toll and have changed the appearance of the walls. remember this!
        So, how to mimic these?
        Create a new layer. with white color on, load the brushes SS_Driping, that you can find in the site mentioned on the top. now, choose a brush, and apply on the top, once or twice, try not to be repetitive. change brushes a lot, size of them too. then load the SS_Scratchout and apply on the same way, on the bottom.

        you shall end with something like you find bellow. Select the smudge tool and smooth and personalize out the top drippings

        Now lets give it some colour and texture. Double click on the layer, to open the layer style window. select overlay pattern, with a grunge overlay (you can find many on the net and on the sites said above) and set texture too, as seen on the pic bellow.

        in game preview:

        doesn't it look better?
        1.6 -Colour correction
        Here is where more people fail, IMHO, they just forget to correct their colour settings to match up with the game. It is very common to find oversaturate textures, bright colors, standing out textures, that gives the look of cartoonist BATs.
        Luckily, there are several tools to help us out. From them, we will use: Curves layer, Brightness/Contrast Layer and Hue/Saturation/Luminosity Layer.
        First of all, you need to calibrate your Photoshop for gmax, i.e, create a .acv file for your textures. More details can be found on the link, READ IT, DO IT
        Now, you can apply those curves at the end of the line, when the texture is done, but I find it easier to add it as a Layer on the texture .psd file. For this, and before you create the layer, you have to load the .acv so open the curves map window (crtl+M) and load the file you created. then press cancel. now the file is on the memory and can be loaded at the layer. Click on the circle under the layers, and from the list select Curves...

        Now double click on it, and you will find a drop menu on the top, open it and select your file from the drop list.
        REMEMBER, this layer shall be on top of everything, most of the times.
        To create the other two layer, go back (select layer) and in the adjustment layers (the circle) select the other 2 I talked about.
        With this two, you can tune (usually) down or up the saturation levels, brightness etc etc, without having to change a thing on the bitmaps.
        At this point, you should test and test. not just go with the first result you get! This is probably the step I spend more time on, when texturing.
        open both, PS/GIMP and Gmax/MAX, and keep tuning the texture, saving it, testing it on the gmax and in some screenshots you have from the game. over and over until you are pleased with the result.

        Here is a picture how the final texture looks like. Notice the 4 top layer, the three adjustment layers I spoke about and a colour one. Some say, the game is pinkish/pearish in colour. truth is, some textures do look better when I: Create a new layer, select a pinksh colour, fill the layer and set it's opacity to 10%. This is not imperative, but it may help, and is easy to test.
        and, to see the end result, facing the first texture I started with, let me scale up the boxes and put them side to side.

        2-Tile Roof Basics
        In this part of the tutorial we will look opon the tiled ceramic and slated roofs, usualy tilted. for that we will use a simple model, like this one.
        What most people do is to get a tiling texture and apply it to the roof, ending up like something like this
        although it does not look very bad, it is bland, it stands out and could use some colour and luminosity life.
        2.1- From the scratch
        so, lets start by viewing the model from the top, with all the details it has, and take a screenshot of it. open your image software, create a new file, and paste the shot in it. go to Filters>Stylize>Find Edges (this is for Photoshop, other softwares may have different menu configurations).
        Then crop the image to fit just the roof and relevant details of the roof and resize it according to your ratio (As stated, I use 20px per meter). Also, select the white and erase it, leaving just the outlines of the model.
        Select from a game's color pallet a roof color of your like. apply it to the background layer. Then apply the same method described in 1.1
        lets see in game
        Not big thing yet, off course,  but again, this adds some variety to the texture and make it a bit less monotonous. and gives us a starting point.
        On the next step, we are making more for that purpose. First, if you look at some maxis buildings, and even to some real life textures, you see that not all tiles look the same.  In fact, most of the times, Maxis didn't define well the outlines of the individual tiles, leaving to the differences in hue and albedo to make the job. That's what we are making here today.
        (Still on the making!)
      • By Doctoryzer
        Noggin Thinker of the week question:
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