Worldbuilding #4 — Ocean, Continents, Lakes, and Islands

Welcome back to the next edition of the Worldbuilding series. Hope you’re enjoying it so far, I know I am. Today we’ll be focusing on the base coating of our world. We’ll be adding some colour, but it will not be our final colors. I know you want to get to designing some of the details of the world, and we’ll get there very soon, but this is a crucial step. In just a little bit, you will see why.

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Our goals for this article:

  • Define the ocean
  • Define the continent
  • Expand the islands
  • Define the lake

It might seem strange that we are defining thing, as it is already clearly marked. White is land and black is ocean. However, it is not as simple as black and white. Literally. Zoom in on one of the continents, where it meets the ocean, as close as you can. You should see this.


As you can see, there are shades of grey. 20, 30, maybe 50 shades. Who knows. We’ll deal with that problem in just a moment, let us go ahead and get started.

1. You should only have 1 layer of your complete map. If not, click on the top layer and click merge down in the Layers box. Keep doing that until you have only one layer.

2. Now, click Properties of this layer and change the name to: DO NOT CHANGE. As you can tell, this will never change. This is in case we mess up down the line, we can always refer back to this.

3. Make sure layer DO NOT CHANGE is highlighted blue. Then click duplicate layer 2 times.
a. The second layer, change name to Define Lake
b. First layer, or top layer, change name to World Base
c. In order from top to bottom: World Base, Define Lake, DO NOT CHANGE

We have a slight problem with our current map. Look at some of the lakes. They feed into the ocean. If we color in our ocean, the lakes will be filled in too. We don’t want this, as we want a separation between the two.

4. Uncheck DO NOT CHANGE and World Base Layer, make sure that Define Lake is selected
a. Make sure white is set to your primary color
b. Select the Pencil tool
c. Up top, set line width to 2
d. Go to each place the lakes meet the ocean and draw a line to separate it. See diagram below. You’ll have to do this quite a number of times, so go to each continent and island and move around the shore. Do the same with larger islands.

closing lakes

This is good to do, as you will get a better feel for the land. Hell, you might find a good vacation spot. Now this is not a permanent change, and won’t use this for our final design, it just helps us with the next few steps and possibly some ones in the future. Do not delete this layer ever.

5. Next, go to World Base
a. Check World Base, uncheck Define Lake
b. Set magic wand to Global
c. Select the white land
d. This will select all land, including island.
e. You can either enter in each value for RGB or the hex code. I find hex code better. R: 244, G: 164, B: 96. Or Hex F4A460 (Sandy Brown)
f. Click on the window, then hit BACKSPACE, then ESC
g. Now, zoom in on one of the big islands. You will see a lot of light grey, dark grey, light black (sounds weird, but yes, that is a color), and white.
h. Set the Tolerance for Magic wand to 20 (if Tolerance is too high, then it will select the whole continent), then select the non-black specs and non sandy brown specs. You won’t be able to select all at once, but when you do select them, hit back space and go onto the next set. Be sure to scan other islands and continents, be sure to get them all.

6. Click on Define Lake again (you don’t need to check the box again)
a. Select the magic wand, and set it to contiguous (we want to make sure we only select the ocean).
b. Select the black ocean
c. The black ocean is highlighted while the lakes are not.
d. Check and Select World Base
e. In the Colors box, hit More
f. Set Hex: 004A7F (can’t find a name for this)
g. Click on the blue bar on the top of the window, it should read
h. Hit BACKSPACE, this ESC
i. This fills in the ocean

If you did this correctly, the black overlaps with the the blue

if you did it right

7. Create a new layer, name it: Lakes
a. Make sure it is the top most layer
b. Click on World Base again
c. Make sure magic wand is set to Global
d. Click on the black lake
e. Now all black colors will be selected
f. Go to the Lakes layer
g. Set Primary color to hex: 0094FF
h. Select blue bar

Congratulations, if you did it correctly, you should have this below:

Why did we make Lakes a separate layer? Namely because if we need to edit Lakes later, it is easier to edit them from just the lakes rather than try to capture them from a whole image. If that doesn’t make sense, it will make sense in later lessons. It also helps in case we make a mistake. We want as many layers as we can get.

That does it for this issue of worldbuilding. Next article will be at the end of the month. Should be adding dept to our ocean and texture to our land. What you see now will be gone very soon.

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or concerns; please post them below.

Help Keep This Site Running

This site is a great achievement for me, but due to being unable to work, I may not be able to keep this site running. With your help, I might be able to.

I need $125 by October 30th, 2017. Anything you can give will help.

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