Jürgen's Cartography Tutorial - Vegetation

Now open Inkscape again. Create a new layer at the bottom named "BackgroundImage". Go to File->Import and load the map image you have just created. Move it around until the lines of the Inkscape map are directly over the bitmap image.

Now you can place new terrain features directly on top of the main map! You can simply put cities, names, or more intricate features on the map with Inkscape and export it together with the background image, without messing up your existing work and having to do it all over again.

But let's first add some vegetation into the background. Create an additional layer called "vegetation". Since this is supposed to be a simple tutorial, we will only two two different types of vegetation - grassy plains and desert.

Simply draw lines on the land areas depending how you want to divide the land into different vegetation zones.


Then save this layer together with the Coastline layer (as usual, make all other layers invisible before saving) as "VegetationLayer.png"


Now load "VegetationLayer.png" into GIMP.

Let's start with the plains. Select all areas you intend to be plains with the Magic Wand. Now create a new, all-white layer named "Plains". Go to the new layer and bucket fill the selected area with the color 00f817. Deselect everything and apply a Gaussian Blur with 40 px.

Again, pick the background color with the Color Picker and transform it to Alpha. Duplicate the layer and merge it.


Now apply the following:

Filters->Noise->Scatter HSV with 2/70/160/10
Duplicate the layer.
Apply Filters->Generic->Erode to the duplicate, set its transparency to 50%, and merge it with the original.
Layer->Color->Hue-Saturation with 0/-50/100
Filter->Artistic->Softglow with 10/1.0/1.0
Filter->Distorts->Wind with Wind/Lef/Leading/10/10

That's it for the plains! Looks nice, doesn't it?


Now let's switch to the deserts. Go to the zone outline and select the desert regions with the Magic Wand. Create a new white layer named "Deserts" and bucket fill the selection with ffeb42. As before, deselect everything, apply a Gaussian Blur with 40 px, turn the background color to Alpha, dublicate the layer and merge it again.

Now apply the following:

Filters->Noise->Scatter RGB with 0.2/0.2/0.2/0
Filters->Blur->Motion Blur with Linear/15/135
Duplicate the layer.

Apply to the copy:
Layer->Color->Brightness-Contrast with -100/100
Turn the color black to Alpha.
Erode the layer and unify it with the original.

Now merge the Plains and the Desert layers and save them as "VegetationColor.png".


Then add the other layers - Moutains, Rivers, Oceans - that you have created previously. The vegetation must be below all other layers with the exception of the white background! Now you have a finished Background image - save it under the same name as before, and you can immediately use it under Inkscape!


While I like the general effects, they have several downsides:

- It is hard to get the vegetation zones precisely the size you wanted them to be. Does anyone here have any suggestions for this?

- They don't look good in greyscale, either.

If anyone has any ideas how to cope with these, I am all ears.

Apart from that, I created these effects purely through random experimentation with various filtering effects. If anyone has a better combination of effects - or ideas how to create other vegetation types - please tell the rest of us how you did it!

Forest Variant

Create two new transparent layers. Switch the mode (in the layer dialog) of the upper layer to "dissolve". Pick a dark green color and a large brush (like the Circle (19) brush) and use the "Paintbrush" tool with low Rate and Pressure. You will now paint lots of small dots instead of a continuous stroke.

After you are finished, merge this layer with the other transparent layer, which will result in a layer with dots with a "normal" mode. You should now have something like this:


Copy this layer and apply a Gaussian Blur with 3 px to the copy. Merge the layers again, and it should look like this:


Repeat the same process with a light green color:


Create a drop shadow under both of the green dotted layers. These should have a displacement of 4/4 and a blur radius of 10.

The result is a nice, two-layered forest. Feel free to experiment with this process, and tell us about the results!

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