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The ultimate map making guide

Discussion in 'Maps' started by Goates, Jul 23, 2011.

  1. Goates

    Retired Staff

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    The ultimate map making guide.​

    I welcome you all to the “How to be like Sue” tutorial. Here I will teach the map section certain tips and tricks they might already know or may not know and will love me for. I’m not that great when it comes to explaining the basics, but I will give everything a shot anyway. Before I get started, I will be explaining everything through Adobe Photoshop CS4. Any other version of Photoshop will probably work the same way. But I am not too sure about other programs.

    Table of contents:
    - Tips and tricks.
    - Orderly layers.
    - Optimizing for others.
    - Proper blurring.
    - Colour editing.
    - Combining objects.
    - Plain VS Simple.
    - Use of space VS cluttered.
    - Custom snow.
    - Streamed classes.
    - Resources.


    Tips and tricks:
    - When wondering how to setup a map, look at the original place in Maplestory for a reference. This way, you will tend to have a good looking map easier than when doing it on your own. As the creators from Maplestory, probably know how to make a Maplestory map.

    - You only adjust colours if you need to. Not if you want to. No, different colour objects do not look good in your map. The map has a certain colour scheme you have to follow. So trying to be unique by changing the colours, usually ends up in failure.

    - Look at actual places in real life or in other games. It helps quite a lot when you’re just out of inspiration or originality.

    - Objects belong behind the tiles. Except if your going to hide their bottom at the bottom part of the map, making it a front object.

    - Keep your workspace neat. If you’re aiming for map making and wish to use colour edits, you don’t need anything but your tools, layers and adjustments panels. Don't forget to merge tile layers together, as they usually take up quite some space in your layer panel.

    Here’s a screenshot of what it should look like, you can always put in personal preferences of course:

    [​IMG]

    Tips by Josh:

    - When creating a map, try not to make it any smaller than 500x200 pixels. Smaller than this, and it will probably not be easy to use it.

    - A map should not have anything that doesn't remain constant without slowing down to a stop. By this I mean, nothing should end abruptly. An example of this:

    [​IMG]

    - Avoid using the inside of tiles without having the top of them (the ground part).

    - A map may not have any transparency.

    - Avoid misaligned tiles.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    - Avoid floating objects.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Orderly layers:

    Sometimes when creating a map, you will end up with 50 layers. If you’re working with a slightly bigger map, you will end up with 100 layers. After a while, you simply just don’t know what is what. This will also mean that you will probably not bother with editing according to someone’s CNC. Here’s a layer setup of a properly cleaned up map.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, all the layers are properly named. Objects have been grouped together with the group’s name showing where in the map the objects are located. Layers that should never be moved are locked.


    Optimizing for others:

    There are several things you have to keep in mind when making a map meant for animation.

    1. Animated objects.
    2. Overlays.
    3. Layers and PSD files.
    4. Size.

    Animated objects.

    I see that recently, animators rather go for self created maps than those created by map makers. Which is an obvious mistake as most animators don’t really tend to make the greatest maps. They tend to leave out objects and such.

    The reason for doing this is because certain layers in maps, should be animated along side the characters. For example, water, clouds and those sparkles you often see. Not animating these will look really odd and probably lazy. With a still map, animators don’t get the chance to animate these.

    Now let’s grab an example map.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, there is water going down in this map. Therefore you have to split up the map like this:

    [​IMG]

    And here the objects so that they can be animated:

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    As you can see, I took out the water from the still map so that animators can place it atop of it after animating it.

    Now, the rocky sides of the cave on the right, are also overlay objects. Keep in mind that everything you place in front of the tiles, needs an overlay provided. Because the character walking on the tiles must be able to walk behind it. Therefore the map would look like this:

    [​IMG]

    And once again, include the objects:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    And yes, I think it's clear that you should save everything as a TRANSPARENT .PNG.

    Final result:

    [​IMG]

    Now let's move on. I already explained that not just water, but also clouds need to be animated. Not just clouds, but the way tiles and backgrounds move along each other is something that could be animated.

    Now, we can't split up our entire map and provide it in bits and pieces. What we can do is upload the .PSD for others. This way, the animator can fool around with the PSD himself. As I showed earlier, your .PSD should be neat and easy to follow. By naming your layers and such. Make sure to lock the layers that are not to be moved. You still have a say in this as a map maker.

    One last point for maps meant for animation. Try to not go over 800x400 pixels. Larger maps don't do well in animations. Smaller maps tend to work out slightly better.


    Proper blurring:

    Let's make this clear. A normal blur basically looks horrible in a Maplestory map. Nowhere in the game is there a regular blur to be found. Nexon has a different style for their blurs. This style is very easily achievable in Photoshop. In fact, any foreground object can be mended into a background object with this.

    Let's compare the two right away.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Let's give that a closer look shall we?

    [​IMG]

    How to perform this blur in steps:

    1. Place the object you wish to blur. You may want to resize it. This is not a must.

    2. Add a Gaussian blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian blur). It usually depends on how big the object is. But go for a radius of about 2 pixels. This should be enough.

    3. Sharpen it till you get a similar effect to this.

    [​IMG]

    4. Take out one sharpen. If you went even further than above, take out two.

    Example of when you really go too far with the sharpen:

    [​IMG]

    5. Duplicate the object layer.

    6. Sharpen it once again.

    7. Set the opacity to this layer to about 35%.

    Now to add one little thing to the blurring part. Make sure that you realize that the farther away the object, the more blurred it needs to be.


    Colour editing:

    Something people often ask me, is how to properly colour edit. There's a very simple answer to it. You don't. Never when you WANT to colour edit an object, will it look quite as good as when you NEED to colour edit it.

    Having unique colours to your objects usually only makes the map look bad. They have their original colours for a reason. Because it looks good that way. Let's keep it that way shall we?

    But of course, when mixing certain objects together, from different parts of the game, you might need to edit them slightly. This is sadly, something I can't really learn anyone. It's something you need to practice and after a while you'll see that the colour edits work out better than before. Just keep the basic rule I gave above in mind.

    Now, one thing I can explain about colour edits is how to properly make a different time of the day map. Or even a rainy or sunny day!

    Let's begin with a rainy day. I'll assume that you know how to use hue and saturation. If you don't, look up a tutorial on that on google.

    Just like when it's night, when it rains everything loses a bit of color. Therefore, decrease the saturation. Saturation decrease means that less colours are going to be shown. Make sure this is your top layer.

    For your sky, please make sure that you use a gradient with a colour blue that goes slightly towards gray. For example the colour #226677. Don't make it too gray. The colour will also be under the saturation adjustment. You don't want to lose all the colour.

    For a rain map remember to:

    - Decrease saturation.
    - Decrease brightness.
    - Always add in clouds. A clear sky and rain? I didn't think so either.
    - Background gradients should contain a gray of the original colour.

    Adjustments in this map:

    -40 Saturation.
    -24 Brightness.

    Result:


    [​IMG]
    *Don't worry, I will explain how to make the rain effect later on.

    Now on to night time. During the night light disappears. Colour and light are kind of each other's best friends. When there's less light, less colour is visible. Therefore you can't have an incredibly colourfull night time map, unless there's artificial light somewere. Therefore, again you have to decrease the saturation. But this time, you will want to include some more blue. Let's see the result first.


    [​IMG]

    The difference between a rain map and a nighttime map is, that you have to add a blue layer set to overlay on top of all your other layers. You are also allowed to take out the clouds and change the background gradient to a lighter blue and a darker blue. Keep in mind, that if you pick two identical dark blues, the gradient will disappear. This is because of the dark blue overlay you will be adding.

    Adjustments in this map:

    - A layer with the "Overlay" blending mode.
    Colour set to #0e195d (or any similar dark blue).
    Opacity set to 50% (you may play with this).
    - Saturation -35.
    - Lightness -30.

    And now let's go to the final time-of-day map. Evening maps. Unlike rain and night maps, evening maps contain a lot of warm colours and the saturation does not decrease. This is because the sun is still around even though it is setting.

    Here is our final result.

    [​IMG]

    Now because we are working with fairly bright colours, you will have to handle this a bit differently than the other maps.

    First let's start with the background gradient. I tend to pick a warm orange and pink colour for the gradient. These colours always work well with evening/sunset maps.

    Now, add your hue/saturation adjustments. Keep in mind that these should ONLY cover the foreground and background objects. NOT the gradient we just applied. The settings for the objects are quite different compared to rain and night maps. As a first, we will be editing the hue a bit. The settings are as followed:

    Hue: -20
    Saturation: +15
    Lightness: -25

    Keep in mind, that for every map and for all objects, this might be different. You may play around with the settings.

    As a final touch, you will be taking your background gradient and placing it atop of your layers. Make sure that this only covers your objects. Once again, your background gradient (the real background gradient, not the one atop of everything) may not be adjusted. Set this to overlay at about 35%.

    Combining objects:
    I can't tell you exactly which objects go well together. That would take a while as a lot of objects do. Though let me add a little tip. If you're not quite that good at making maps yet, please refrain from adding objects from other places. This takes a bit of practice to fully understand. I think this wonderful example Josh made a while ago, covers this statement completely:

    [​IMG]

    I think we don't need to discuss this topic any further. Don't do it if you have no idea of what you are doing.

    Plain VS Simple:

    * I rewrote Scott's small thread about this. All credit goes to him.

    [​IMG]
    A plain map, created by Zman.​

    As you can see, the foreground is close to being empty. Though the background, is cluttered with trees. The map is most likely going for a cluttered forest theme or a barren snow path. This map is plain because the foreground is in dire need of objects. The foreground and the background don't mesh well and is therefore, plain.

    [​IMG]
    A simple map, created by Raider.​

    At first you'd say that this map is plain. But think about the overall theme of the map. You can see the foreground and background are portraying a barren desert. Would this map need a rock or a cactus to look better? No, this map looks fine without any of it.

    The following text is no longer part of Scott's words.

    As you can see, the second map looks a lot better than the first map. This greatly because of the contrast between the foreground and background. You always want to even out the foreground compared to the background and the other way around.


    Use of space VS cluttered:

    Maplestory does not have objects spread all over the place. In game, you can see that not everywhere you see tiles, are objects. You actually see places of nothing and places with a certain amount of objects together as one. This is the main key to avoid cluttered maps.

    I will take for example, a map made by Josh.

    Note: THIS IMAGE IS LARGE.

    Alternative click: http://www.majhost.com/gallery/JoshMM/Maps2010/000000011.png
    [​IMG]

    As you can see, objects are scattered all over the place. This making it look cluttered. Now, let's look at the next example Josh provided.

    Note: THIS IMAGE IS LARGE.

    Alternative click: http://www.majhost.com/gallery/JoshMM/Maps2011/300001300.png
    [​IMG]

    As you can see, the map is now less cluttered while the objects are now closer together. This creates a nice contrast between open space and closed space.


    Custom snow:

    As I promised before, I will be covering rain weather effects as well. Creating custom snow is fairly easy. You only need quite a lot of patience to actually get it done. Before you start making anything, please make sure to save the following pictures.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    These two images contain the shades for snow. You will want to open them in Photoshop next. You're going to create 2 different patterns.

    To make a pattern:

    1. Open the image in Photoshop
    2. Press edit > Define pattern > Ok

    Do this for both of the images. You will be using these two later.

    Let's start off with showing what we're going to create. After that I will show you what to start with. You may use my map while practicing it.



    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    First thing we're going to do is get our regular brush in whatever size you want and draw the snow. Jepp, you hear it. We're going to draw it. You can do this with your mouse. It's not that hard as it's really just random shapes. Do make sure you do this on a completely cleared out layer.

    After you're done drawing the snow, we're going to add a drop shadow with the following settings, the colour used is #011d25. Not pure black.

    [​IMG]

    It will look like this:

    [​IMG]

    Now it's time to start using those patterns I gave you just now. On the right part of the snow, you use the darkest pattern. On the left of the snow you use the lighter pattern.

    Note: Use the pattern stamp tool for this (it's in your toolbar under the quick key S).

    We're looking for this:

    [​IMG]

    Now we're going to add the hue and saturation adjustments. These are the settings, you may fool around with it yourself.

    Hue: -6
    Saturation: -41
    Lightness: -11

    After this you will have the results as I showed at the start. Except for the weather effect. The weather effects need a small tutorial of their own.

    Rain and snow weather effects start out the same.

    1. Make a new layer. Atop of the others.

    2. Make this layer black.

    3. Filter > Noise > Add noise.

    [​IMG]

    4. Filter > Blur > Blur more.

    5. Image > Adjustments > Levels.

    [​IMG]

    6. Set the layer to the screen blending mode.

    FOR RAIN:
    7. Filter > Blur > Motion blur: WITH THE FOLLOWING SETTINGS:

    [​IMG]

    FOR SNOW:
    7. Filter > Blur > Motion blur: WITH THE FOLLOWING SETTINGS:

    [​IMG]


    Streamed classes:

    Class number 1: http://livestre.am/WTV1

     
    Eternal Space and Lynus like this.
  2. Goates

    Retired Staff

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    If you have any questions, please ask them below. Of course, corrections or suggestions are welcomed as well. If you want anything to be added, go ahead. A little word of thanks is also, really welcomed.​
     
  3. kikonami123

    kikonami123 I Don't Like You.

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    Oh thank you,......Now i can learn to make maps jush like you......:i
     
  4. Loofan

    Loofan ×Yellow×
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    This is amazing Sue. Good job. I've learn't so much from this tutorial! *Goes to make a million maps*
     
  5. Goates

    Retired Staff

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    YOU BETTER MAKE THEM AND POST THEM. And I saw you had a sneak peak before this was posted :victory:
     
  6. Loofan

    Loofan ×Yellow×
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    Just a tiny one :stud: And I will. But I really want you to CNC them.
     
  7. Goates

    Retired Staff

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    I will make sure to CNC all of them when I get back ;3
     
  8. Goates

    Retired Staff

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    Excuse this double post for a minor update.

    A link to a full resource thread has been given.
     
  9. Goates

    Retired Staff

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    Update:

    Added streamed classes.
     
  10. Surani

    Surani undying envy
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    Thank you for this tutorial, it was very helpful.
     
  11. Josh

    Josh Wizet Wizard
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    [youtube]Vz5o_LQfCrY[/youtube]

    I made this for another purpose but I might as well put it here
    this is how I make snow p3p
     
  12. Blank

    Blank Newbie
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    Must say Good Job.
     
  13. Nero16

    Donator

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    Wow... O__O you dont know how much this guide has helped me! Thanks alot for posting this, and thanks josh for posting that video as well!
     
  14. Clay

    Clay Supah Veteran Membah'

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    Thank you Goates for posting this now I can start making maps the right way