5/21/2014

My Work in Progress for Another Long Underground River

My Work in Progress for Another Long Underground River
A week or two ago I mentioned a large underground river map I was getting set to work upon. I had started with some USGS maps of a river I was familiar with and pieced together a number of maps to form one long chain of the river.

All I got to on that post was getting my scope outlined and kicked around a few ideas.

Today I went ahead and started working on my map.....and "finished" a version that I'll put up for free after this post.

The first thing I had to do was take my eight pages of PDF and stitch them together in Photoshop to get a more usable working file. After that I simply printed out a few pages so I could work on paper as much as possible....well, as much as possible for me.

Steps in the map-making process
Click for a much larger version


1) Using my relatively cheap DIY lightbox I roughly traced out the printed river sections. I wasn't too careful here because I wasn't looking for an exact copy of my source river map.

2) After scanning in my traces, stitching and then cleaning up the connections in Photoshop I ran the now large map (roughly 4" by 25") through Adobe Illustrator to get a nice, smoothed out series of map lines. Unfortunately there are a lot of weird artifacts introduced from where some of my lines were too weakly drawn or close together. If you look closely at the map above you can see some blobbish circles or overly thick connected lines.

3) Another trip through Photoshop to clean up the artifacts I run the file back through the same Inked Drawing tracing option in AI. This forms my real "base file" I get to work with from here on out. Steps 4-6 are more for making the free map and will probably be discarded on my finished map.

4) I go in and start coloring the river. since everything is black I have to go through and color in by hand all the areas where the river connects with the walls of the caves it passes through. The river channel sometimes has a wide bank and others in restricted to a narrow channel. Coloring actually takes a lot more time than expected even with the generous use of the Paint Bucket tool in Photoshop.

5) This next step is kind of easy. I just find an appropriate texture file to add in to the river channel. since this is an underground river, the river channel is rock. I find a rock texture I like and add it in.

6) Now I add my stippling texture. This time I did things a little different in making the heavy stipple extend 15 px out, the medium another 30px and the light 50px. These layers are stacked on top of each other with the heaviest on top of the medium, which is on top of the light. Once everything is done I merge all the layers and run the file through a different trace option in AI.

If you came straight-in to this post you might want to click on the free map post to get a better look at the whole map and get a free download.