Grass Tutorial - I'd like to think of it as uber...

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Grass Tutorial - I'd like to think of it as uber...

Postby deadman » Mon Dec 05, 2005 10:32 pm

Updated May 28th 2010 by DeadMan... No more broken links!

In the past week I've gotten two people asking me how to make a good looking grass texture. I'm not sure if this trend will continue, but I figured that rather than keep getting more and more halfassed in my description of it, I would just make a tutorial with pics that every aspiring colormapper can enjoy. As it happens, I make grass textures in the same way I make all my textures, so for those of you who are interested, this is more or less how I colormap.

This is my method! There are many like it but this one is mine!

This is the process that I have come to rely upon, but you should experiment around. There are other methods by other excellent colormappers to be sure, and you should seek those out to broaden your knowledge too, if you can. However, considering that I have the ego the size of a planet, and a volcanic one at that, you can expect that I think my method is best.

Anyhow...

Start by filling a layer with whatever color you have currently in your palette. It really doesnt matter. This will be the base layer for our texture group. Next, make a layer above it, and group that with the layer you created before it. This time, the color does matter, so lets choose a grassy color. Say green, for example.

The reason why I do it this way is twofold: First off, the reason why I fill the entire document on the base layer is so I can put the texture anywhere I want to later on without any work. I just control where I want the texture using a mask applied to the bottom layer. For grass, this isn't that important, at least not the way I do colormaps, as my grass texture usually resides under everything. However, for the textures above it, such as rocks, water, dirt, etc., It's crucial. If I want to change where rocks are in the map, I just paint some white onto the mask. Had I just created rocks where I originally intended them to be, changing my mind would be more difficult and time consuming.

The reason why I make the color layer separate from the base layer (as opposed from making the base layer contain the color), is that all the layers we're about to add will use alternate blending methods than "normal" (they will primarily be "overlay"). This means that when I go to merge my textures all together into one texture, I don't have to worry about photoshop automatically applying the mask. I do however use an old version of photoshop, so maybe new versions don't necesarily apply the mask when you merge a group. So do whatever, I guess. If you don't plan on merging your textures, and 400 layer colormap files that weigh in at gig+ sizes are OK with you, then you can also disregard this step.

So here's what my layers look like. I went ahead and applied a mask to the base layer, even though it doesn't really do anything (it shows all presently). Note that the color layer (green) is set to normal. We will keep it this way:
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Next off, highlights and shadows. Make a new layer in the group and go crazy. I use big brushes for this, usually 100px and 200px. I follow the rule of thumb that darker means lower, and lighter means higher... It works pretty good in colormaps usually. That's about all the color theory I'm going to get into, as you may have your own opinions on the matter. Anyhow, just color a bit. Here's my stab at it:
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Magic begins to happen when we change the blending method of the highlights/shadow layer to overlay. Note that I'm also adjusting the opacity to taste. As this is not an exact science, I'll just play with the slider until I like what I see. As I continue on in this process, I'll probably go back and adjust the opacity of many of my layers. I'm not good at explaining it, but think of overlay as a means of telling the layer to influence the one below it, instead of just superimposing it's own information. black will make things darker, white, lighter, instead of just making them black or white:
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Next, use the clouds filter. Make sure your foreground/background colors are set to black/white, or you may end up with some pretty insane looking clouds. We're essentially making a random highlight/shadow overlay here, to put more variance into our grass. Although patterns occur in nature, we will often perceive them as randomness. So a good rule of thumb is that if you want something to look organic, make it random. Noticeable patterns are a no no when making grass. So here are the clouds:
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And here are the clouds set to overlay. Again, notice that the overlay blending method changes what looks like fog to darker and lighter shades of green here and there. Adjust opacity to taste:
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Now, we begin to put some legitimate texture into our grass. I use a small collection of textures (about 20 all in all) that I've used for pretty much every map I've ever made. Sometimes I hit google for something that I don't have, but that's a rare occurrence. People may disagree with me on this, but I think combination of textures is more important than any one "awesome" texture. Anyhow, what we'll do next is open our texture file, and use the offset filter on it. This is essentially a way to wrap the edges around so we can get at it's juicy, ugly edge, and kill it. I usually offset by 100 pixels in both directions:
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Using the rubber stamp tool at 100% opacity with a 100px brush works pretty good. Make sure you define a stamp area at multiple points, so you dont duplicate an entire swath of texture. You may want to repeat the process once just to make sure you get everything:
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Now that our texture will tile properly, let's define it as a pattern for future use. To do this, select all, then go to edit> define pattern:
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Next, fill a new layer with the pattern. Choose edit>fill> then select your pattern. Here I've filled the pattern and then went back to the fill menu so you can see what the menu looks like and see what the filled texture looks like in the same screen shot, yee haw:
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Here's the pattern set to overlay, and toned down a bit in opacity. The idea here is just to further influence shadows and highlights, so we really don't need a lot of opacity. This is the first time we've set a layer to overlay that has color information in it. Setting a layer to overlay will cause it to affect the layer beneath it not just in terms of luminosity, but also color, so that means that color information in the pattern will affect the color of what's underneath it. Sometimes, this will produce a nice affect (after all, nature presents us with perceived randomness in color as well as brightness) however sometimes it won't. You will have to play around to see what you like best:
Image
Last edited by deadman on Fri May 28, 2010 6:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby deadman » Mon Dec 05, 2005 10:33 pm

Part 2! - also updated...

You may notice that the scale of the pattern won't really work too well for grass, so we'll need to get some detail in there. Head back to the pattern. We'll scale it down and define it as a pattern again. Make sure when you scale it down that you do it by a percentile that won't fit in evenly with it's original size. Translation: don't scale it down by a half, quarter, third, etc. That way when we overlay this pattern over the larger one, they won't match up, and thus you will end up with a non-repeating pattern:
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Here's the scaled down pattern filled in a layer. Looks like crap like this, but don't worry, we'll see to that in the next step. While we're here, let me talk about shrinking textures. When you do this, they will get blurry. You may want to sharpen the texture after you size it down, however wait until you fill it in the new layer. The reason for this is when you use the sharpen filter, it doesn't consider the tileability of the texture, so if you do it before you define it as a pattern, you may end up with noticeable lines in the pattern.
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I ended up desaturating the layer, however I didn't sharpen it. Too much sharpness can obscure detail and just end up looking like noise if you use a lot of textures. This is one of those things where you will just have to play around and see what works out best for you. I also set the layer to overlay, as usual.
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At this point I decided the grass looked a bit too neon for me, so I went back to the color layer and adjusted the hue/saturation. I ended up bringing the hue to the left, which will cast a more reddish hue (warmer), and brought down the saturation so there's not as much color. Additionally, I darkened it a bit. Make sure when you do this you edit the color layer if you want to affect the entire texture (however editing the hue/saturation/brightness of a single texture is something I often do to get the effect I want):
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Time for a new texture. Offset, rubber stamp, define pattern:
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Overlay, play with opacity:
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Wash, rinse, repeat. This is the previous texture, sized down and sharpened, also desaturated:
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This texture may not seem like much, but it provides subtle detail. The little grains of dirt here and there provide a nice touch:
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I set that texture to overlay, without desaturating it, and then repeated the process with a smaller version of the texture. I also went back and toned down my original highlight/shadow layer (in terms of opacity). Here you can see all our layers: The base layer with mask, the color layer, the highlight/shadow layer, the cloud layer, then three sets of textures at varying scales and opacities. You can try other blending methods than just overlay too- Setting it to multiply will darken the layer underneath (so on a clouds layer, only the darker parts would affect the layer underneath), setting it to screen will do the opposite.
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This is the final result. I went back and adjusted the hue on the color layer a bit more (warmer again, towards the red end of the spectrum a bit), and toned down the saturation too. I also merged the layers and added a bit of noise, however a very small amount. To do this, just fill a layer with 50% gray (its an option in the fill menu we've been using for our texture fills), then add noise (I will almost always use monochromatic), set the layer to overlay, and then adjust opacity to taste. Adding noise can sometimes make a texture pop, or obscure it, depending on what you are trying to accomplish and the texture you've created.
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By the way, if you want a cool wave texture for water, take a cobblestone or river rock texture (make sure they are roundish), invert the colors, desaturate it, and increase the contrast. Then set it to screen over your water texture.
Last edited by deadman on Fri May 28, 2010 6:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby carlinho » Tue Dec 06, 2005 3:33 am

nice!
good job deadman!
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Postby Oroboros » Tue Dec 06, 2005 9:59 pm

U R PSH0P G0D MB

I ch33t on grass-scapes. I use Bryce. But you have some nice ideas on dirtying up the uniformity of textures.

Beautiful stuff, DM.

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Postby mauglir » Mon Dec 12, 2005 11:36 am

Nice tutorial DM. I think I recognize one of your stock images from my own collection.

I sometimes skip the tile process and just take a bunch of stock photos of dirt, gravel, tree bark, concrete, etc. and overlay them across my entire cmap. I use a different layer for each photo. Then I use various erasers and rubber stamps to shape and blend everything. I use a similar Render Clouds technique for creating the basic colors for a particular texture. Finally, I run some filters such as Noise over my entire cmap for extra shading and color variations. (Note that it takes a fairly robust computer to run filters on such a large image.) It's easy to get sloppy with this method, but with practice you can create some very nice color maps with very little repetition in the textures.
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Postby haravikk » Sun Feb 19, 2006 10:43 am

You need to put this into an HTML file and upload it somewhere, topics in this forum get pruned after a while! I just saved it from that fate by bumping it off the last page!
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Postby GizmoHB » Tue Feb 21, 2006 9:27 am

a grass tutorial that uses clouds, this is a problem for me, I dont like clouds, simply because I see em all the time, ppl use that effect for everything, it might look random at first but after yrs it isnt random anymore...

also the large contrasting parts within the texture isnt something I like, like u said, light colors = high ground and dark = low grounds, having a texture that already has that in it before u actually use it on your map doesnt work for me,

its sorta telling u which parts of your maps should be high ground instead of you deciding that on your own...so for me a simple grass texture should be pretty neutral just some small dark/light inperfections so it doesnt look fake.

heres how it could be done, its a lot of the same, so play around with settings, every step will give you a usuable texture, all you'll have to do is use the offset filter or pattern maker to make it tile
basic grass (doesnt use any textures):

1: basic this part is just like the vista tutorial
- create a new layers
- select 2 greens
- fill layer with lightest
- sponge 0 0 15
- gaussian blur 2,5
- noise 2,5 Uniform Monochromatic

Image

2: basic extra
- blur more
- sponge 6 0 1
- blur more
- noise 2,5 Uniform Monochromatic

Image

extras detail (these are just some examples of what u could do, there lots of different things you could do, but watch out, over detailing doesnt work for myth):

1: extra detail

- create a new layer

- open texture (in this case brocollitrees.tif http://www.simplygiz.com/files/Rest/grasstutorial/broccolitrees.tif (1 of my own) but it could be any high contrast black and white tile)
- scale to 512 x 512
- select all
- define pattern

-fill layer with newly created pattern
- set layer to soft light 27%

Image

2: Creating a rough terrain look (makes grass look less flat)

- create new layer
- select 2 extreme light greens
- fill with lightest of light greens
- sponge 0 0 15
- blur more
- noise 2,5 Uniform Monochromatic
- create layer mask

- open texture (in this case a mythIII detail texture http://www.simplygiz.com/files/Rest/grasstutorial/m3grass.tif, could be any grass texture (tile))
- scale to 50%
- select all
- define pattern

- fill layer mask with mythIII grass pattern
- disconnect layer mask from layer

- motion blur 45% 10
- scale mask so the edges look good (from the motionblur)
- set opactiy to 78%

Image

3: Extra detail 2 (same as 1, but different texture/settings)

- new layer

- open texture (in this case another mythIII detail texture http://www.simplygiz.com/files/Rest/grasstutorial/m3grass2.tif, could be any grass texture (tile))
- scale to 50%
- select all
- define pattern

-fill layer with newly created pattern
- set layer to soft light 24%

Image

4: cleanup

- flatten or copy merged/paste
- adjust brightness and contrast and hue/saturation so it looks right for your map
- noise 2,5 Uniform Monochromatic

Image

Image

http://www.simplygiz.com/files/Rest/grasstutorial/texture.psd

done

...Giz




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Postby haravikk » Sun Feb 26, 2006 5:47 am

I'd just like to note, if you feel a texture is creating areas that are too dark (as you say, that give a false sense of height) then simply decreasing the contrast of the texture layer will solve this. There are are more precise methods as well, but most of the time just decreasing contrast is all you need.
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Postby vinylrake » Fri Mar 17, 2006 12:58 pm

haravikk wrote:You need to put this into an HTML file and upload it somewhere, topics in this forum get pruned after a while! I just saved it from that fate by bumping it off the last page!

With the permission of the authors, the two grass-making how-tos in this topic have been mirrored (along with an old grass texture making tutorial from VistaCartel) at The Myth Graveyard. If the link is broken, type 'grass' in the article-title search box.
Last edited by vinylrake on Fri Mar 30, 2007 8:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby The Elfoid » Mon Oct 16, 2006 2:18 pm

Never tell girls you do this in your free time. Ever.
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Postby oogaBooga » Thu Mar 29, 2007 5:51 pm

Can we get some updates of the pictures? I just got CS2 and I wanna try my hand...
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Postby vinylrake » Fri Mar 30, 2007 8:18 am

oogaBooga wrote:Can we get some updates of the pictures? I just got CS2 and I wanna try my hand...


I fixed the link a few posts back to the mirrored copies.
Lots of Myth stuff at http://mythgraveyard.org.
Sometimes I put hard to find stuff in my my Udogs folder.
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Re: Grass Tutorial - I'd like to think of it as uber...

Postby deadman » Fri May 21, 2010 1:33 pm

Wow! this is still up here? If needed I can find those images I think...
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Re: Grass Tutorial - I'd like to think of it as uber...

Postby vinylrake » Fri May 21, 2010 3:23 pm

deadman wrote:Wow! this is still up here? If needed I can find those images I think...


that would be peachy - articles with pictures are so much purtier than articles with gaping picture shaped holes.
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Re: Grass Tutorial - I'd like to think of it as uber...

Postby Graydon » Sat May 22, 2010 4:27 pm

Deadman this was by far one of the sweetest tutorials on the internetz, and when those images disappeared I cried a bit.

If you could source them and get them uploaded to udogs hotline where they'll be permanent, we'd all love you for it!
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