Archive for November 10th, 2011

World building epiphanies.

Today I have need to create a texture map for a planet to be rendered in Maya and since I’ve never done that before, I figured I would be remiss if I didn’t at least invite the rest of you along for the ride.

What I was looking for was a way to build my own planet with its own unique land and ocean formations.  Luckily there are a few resources already out there.  A little Google-fu led me to a site which mentioned in passing the name:” An Advanced Guide to planet creation” which, as titled gives a pretty good primer for getting started in the process without being so restrictive as to suggest that this method was the end-all method.  Some of these techniques I already knew of just from years of playing with Photoshop.

Then I recalled this video I watched last month on some rather unique ways one can use the new content-aware fill feature in Photoshop and that’s when the epiphany hit me.  Because now with a few satellite images swiped from NASA’s website, one can bring together the two aspects of what I consider to be really good creative art: Abstract design and a grounding in reality.

But I’m getting ahead of myself a little bit.  Let’s start with the following image:

As you can see here, I’ve chosen to start with a background that isn’t a topological reference at all, but a grungy texture I had in my personal image library.  It’s close enough yet alien enough to serve as a good starting point.

Then, I went and grabbed one those NASA satellite topological photos of the Grand Canyon and put it on its own layer, shrunk it down and then proceeded to use the lasso tool to pick off a general area I wanted to apply the canyon’s texture to thus:

And within a couple of trial-and-error attempts with the content aware fill, that space was filled with the following pixels:

Now if I choose to, I can get rid of the original square-cropped canyon part, but that may not be advisable just yet because simply by keeping that selection and using new-layer-via-cut, I can repeat the process over and over again sporadically, each time with a slightly different generation of canyon texture and shape.  To put a cap on this iteration however, we’ll just blend the results by altering the blend mode and opacity for the layer.

Even though I started out by using a base texture, I didn’t have to.  Were I to say, want to create continents of various shapes and dimensions, all I need do is create a jigsaw puzzle of selection areas and as long as the samples I’ve imported are located somewhere in the same layer, using “fill content aware” will create a texture in the shape of the selection you’ve made, for land or sea (though I recommend creating the land portions first and using images of coastlines for oceans so that the fill command has some point of reference for creating the fictional coastline).  That’s the long of it.  The short of it is this:

Followed by this:

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