Worldbuilding #5 — Ocean Depth and Land texture

Welcome back the the world building series. In our last episode we defined our land, and by extension our oceans. We even filled in the colour. Now we take our colour to the next level by adding in ocean depth and Land texture. The ocean depth is more for a visual effect to make it look interesting, but the land texture will be vital for the rest of the tutorial.

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Now it is important to note that much of what I do won’t be 100% repeatable on your end. We use an element of randomness, so your final product will look a bit different than mine. I will provide a file to download which will allow you to start at my point for the next lesson, but I do recommend you go through the tutorial anyways for designing your own map.


Now that we are starting to get into more details of our world, we will spend a moment discussing some things to think about for your world on each section we are doing.

Oceans are used mostly for transportation, and your landmasses are going to want to transport things over long distances, so they will be using the ocean to do that. If an place has a giant sea monster prevent ships from coming or going, they will have a very rough time.

On Earth, the deepest point is about  feet (11,000 meters). Roughly 7 miles. The longest mountain range on Earth is in the ocean (called the Mid-Oceanic Ridge), running at 35,000 feet. If you were to measure from the ocean floor to the highest peak, it would be larger than the Alps.

Over 90% of the animals found on Earth are in the Ocean. Light cannot penetrate 330 feet of water, so below that is a perpetual state of darkness.

Over half of the United States is below the ocean. So areas around the coast are higher elevations than those in the middle of a continent.

The deep sea on Earth is home to a host of forgotten relics of the past, more so than all the museums combined.

There are plenty of volcano’s and hot springs on the bottom of the ocean, which helps support life.

The ocean contains about 97% of the water on Earth. The remainder of the water is fresh water (1%) and glaciers (2%).

Blue whales are the largest animals on our planet ever (exceeding the size of the greatest known dinosaurs) and have hearts the size of small cars.

The average depth of the water in the ocean is 2.5 miles.

The list of facts can go on and on. While these facts won’t have a bearing on how you design your maps, it may have a bearing on the stories you write. When we do describe the deepest part of the ocean, that tends to be in the middle of the ocean, away from land. Keep that in mind when I go through the next part of this.

1. Create new layer
a. Name it “Deep Water”
b. set this on the top of your layers list

2. Click on World Base Layer
a. Use your magic wand
b. set it to continuous
c. select the ocean
d. Click on Deep Water Layer

3. Set your Colors
a. Select More on the Colors
b. Set Primary Color: 005796
c. Set Secondary Color: 002C4C

4. Tools: Effect -> Render -> Clouds…
a. Set Scale to 1000
b. Set Roughness to .75
c. Set Blend Mode to Normal

Try to aim it so the dark areas are away from land. Hard to do and may require you to reseed it a few times. However, the next step will change this.

5. Do the cloud rendering again, do not do Repeat Cloud (CTRL-F)
a. Same settings except Blend: Color Dodge and roughness to 1

Reseed a few times until you get desired result.

Color Dodge: Lighter pixels are kept light, whereas darker pixels must be blended with other dark pixels in order to remain dark.

Essentially, we are combining our bright colors to be brighter while leaving the dark colors alone.

Next, I suggest you zoom in so you can see this effect.

6. Tools: Effect -> Noise -> Reduce Noise
a. Set Radius: 10
b. Set Strength: .10

7. Tool: Effect -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur
a. Set Radius: 2

Now we have our ocean.

Land Texture

Not too much facts on land in this issue, but there will be in coming articles.

1. Create Layer
a. Name it Land Start
b. Position on top
c. Click on Magic Wand
d. Set to Global
e. Go to World Base
f. Click on the land (lakes and oceans should not be selected)

2. Set Colors
a. Set Primary Color: 00FF7F
b. Set Secondary Color: F4A460

3. Tools: Effect -> Render -> Clouds…
a. Set Scale to 750
b. Set Roughness to .50
c. Blend: Normal

The brown areas are basically dry areas. Not always deserts, but the more brown it is, that is where a desert will be. For smaller maps, set scale to 300, larger maps at 750. Don’t be afraid to have dry areas on the coast.

4. Tools: Effect -> Render -> Clouds…
a. Set Scale to 900
b. Set Roughness to .50
c. Blend: Multiply

For the Scale, do between 500 – 1000. Recommend between 700 – 900. Smaller maps can go as low as 250.

Multiply: Colors are multiplied, often giving a darker appearance.

5. Duplicate layer
a. Both layers will have the same name
b. Do the next edits on the top layer

This is a new correction I found when I realized there was a slight, almost unnoticeable problem after doing the steps below. Doing this will fix this issue of extra empty space.

6. Add Noise
a. Intensity: 33
b. Color Saturation: 0
c. Coverage: 25

If you zoom in, it looks grainy like sand.

7. Tool: Effect -> Blur -> Motion Blur
a. Angle: 25
b. Check Centered
c. Distance: 10

8. Merge Layer down.

9. Using the Magic Wand, go to World Base
a. Set wand to Contiguous
b. Select the Ocean
c. Go Back to World base (select blue in Layers)
d. Press DELETE

This final step will keep a separation of land and ocean.

There you have it, your land and ocean. It doesn’t look like much now, but we have added some details to our world. In the next few articles, we’ll be adding geological features to start making our land look like something.


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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