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Fantastic Landscapes... and How to Make them
(part 1)
The joys of digital landscaping with Project Dogwaffle:

PD ArtistPD Howler also supports digital painting,  animation & video, 3D and visuall effects

   More Landscape tutorials  |  even more Dogwaffle tutorials 



We've seen a few basic ways to ame some useful elevation maps for many variants of landscapes. Now let's explore some extra techniques.

Sinoid Deformation

Let's say you have some sort of basic elevation map. Perhaps a repetitive wave form of rolling hills. Now let's use a transform filter to add extra deformations. This can be useful to show some sort of disruptions, or extra hills. Here's an example:




From that, we can create variations with additional details, extra interesting features. Some painted, some by filters, masking and other tools. Try this one for example, using Puppy Ray to render it.



Let's explore some of the great transformation filters.

Start with the Sinoid transform filter:



The Sinoid tool will add a deformation that's in the vertical direction and follows a sine wave form:




Here's the finished image so far:





You can also add one in a different direction, by first transforming the current image with rotation. One easy way is to transform it by 90 degrees clokwise or counter clockwise:




In the same Image menu, you'll also find the Free Transform option, which can add rotation and other deformations too. After having rotated the image, use the Sinoid tool once more:



Now we have a combination of two sine wave deformations:



Yet another convenient way to apply transforms, especially if you don't want exactly 90 degreesrotations, is with the Transform filter. It can also scale and shift (move), and replicate (tile) it.



Here we have slightly rotated and scaled the image and also shifted (moved) it a little. You may likely see a seam where one end of the image jumps back to the other end as it is tiled.

This will call for making the mage seamless before you transform it, unless you don't mind the sudden drop or increase in brightness. As it will be used as an elevation map, sometimes this will look rather cool and interesting, like a sudden abbyss or wall, but in most cases it will add a disruption in the elevation that should be dealt with.





You can paint / wash / blur it away or you can make the prior image seamless. There are other techniques. Here's a quick technique, suitable for many scenarios, from the Image menu:




You can adjust the trim level if you want but the default overlap sizes are usually just fine.




Here's a seamless version, ready for extra transformation:



And here's a transformed version. One way to use it is as a displacement or embossing image vs. the prior image.



Another interesting transformation comes with the Twirl tool, also from the Traforms submenu in Filters.

1) Click-and-drag the hand icon to move the twirl hotspot in the image.
2) click Keep to freeze it at current location. Drag the hand for another twirl at another location
3) Adjust the sliders for different twirling levels, have fun exploring
4) there are extra levels of strengths and reach of the twirl possible

This is quite useful for planetary cloud systems.





Another tool to explore is the Warp tool. Right-click the tool icon below the Curve tool. Try different values for the Bias. A low bias is particularly interesting to create some distinct domes which only softly shift the trailing terrain. Hi bias levels will fully displace the landscape along which to
paint your brush stroke for the warping effect:




Here we have a few combined extra warps.




When you render something like this in Puppy Ray or other tools that use the greyscale image as an elevation map, here's an example of the 3D landscape it can produce. Those twirls and warped shapes can be the source of a winding canyon.




A more interesting landscape will be one that is a combination of several land formations. You can combine one image with another, such as with 'Greater than' blending mode when one image is in the main image canvas (Main buffer) and the other image is in the Swap image. (or in a layer). You can also  add further subtle details by mixing in select regions. One such technique will use a selection mask in the alpha channel. Start by storing the current alpha selection (even though it's just selecting all pixels).



The stored alpha image can be replaced with a copy of the current image. It converts the RGB into a greyscale for the stored alpha. For example, here we have a plasma noise that was rendered from the Render filter.




Once that is the stored alpha, we can replace it back into the live selection mask. This essentially completes the steps: transfer the image to stored alpha, then Replace the current alpha with the stored copy. If alpha Overlay is enabled in the Selection mode, the non-selected pixels (dark value in alpha channel) will show in pink tone after you click Replace in the stored alpha panel:



Once you have the desired selection mask in the active, current alpha channel, you can combine parts of another image with the current image. For example, from the swap image, through the Filter > Combine with Swap menu. Or with two images in separate layers. Or here with a stored image. Click the small triangle tab in the lower right corner, and choose Combine from the popup menu. Then select the desired combination mode, such as Additive, Multiply or Screen mode and others. The Alpha selection mask will prevent some areas from being affected by the operation, while other areas will succeed.






If the transition between selected and non-selected pixels is too sudden, too crisp, you can create a blended transition, a softer zone where the combination gradually fades. You can blur the selection or adjust it, from the Selection menu. You can also shrink or grow the selection.




Oh, and let's not forget the Free transform selection.... in the same menu. It also can create great new selection mask derivatives.





A few steps later: we have combined two elevation maps. One has that original un-transformed rolling hills pattern. The rest is patchy clouds, from blurry transforms or plasma noise, or other effects.



The flowing shape could also be seen as some glaciers, or lava beds. A lot of ways to shape it and color it.


Here's another example of a rendering. With some flooding. Half of the elevation map is under water.




Sometimes you don't want it crisp and detailed. Here's some extrapost work with  Bokeh blur and sharpening. This is a nice background for posters, games, you name it.




More water and waves. A cold world.