Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Still in the Hills

In the last posting, I looked at a couple of approaches for generating hills but I wasn't entirely satisfied with either of them.  In that situation, I always like to go back and look for inspiration in some of my references maps.  I found that I preferred hills that were with an elongated, organic shape, like these examples:

(The first example is taken from these brushes, and the second example is from Dain's spectacular Tanaephis map over at the Cartographer's Guild.)  Compare the above examples to the hills I generated in the last posting, and you can see that while the above hills flow gently into the land, my hills look more like rigid bumps:
The shape of my hills is essentially a semi-circle; I want something that is more like a bell shape.  A little searching led me to this posting over at Stack Overflow that discusses how to draw a bell-like shape in SVG using Bezier curves.  A little adapting of the code yielded various bell shapes:
The range of shapes in the middle looks about right to my eye.  An immediate improvement I can make is to trail off the line at each end of the hill:
I can also add the usual features that make it look more hand-drawn:
 Now I need to add in the shading, along the lines of what I did for the previous version of hills.
That looks pretty good.  The acid test is to see how they look on the map:
Not too bad.  Here's a close-up:
In fact, these hills look so nice it's making me re-think my approach to the mountains.  More on that to come.


  1. I really like this series of post!
    Looking at the first reference image at the top of the post i see that the shading usually extends below the boundaries of the hill's contour line, and this gives a nice 3d effect.
    have you tried this approach?

  2. Andij-- Good eye to see that. I haven't tried that, but it wouldn't be hard to push down the baseline of the mountain hill so that it forms a shallow arc rather than a straight line. I'll put it on the list to try.

  3. Skew the bezier to the left or right according to the prevailing winds and you'll have dunes.