Texturing the terrain Edit
Summer Duel is awfully bland right now, and it doesn’t represent summer in the least. We need to add textures to the ground to give it some flavor. We will focus on the left hand side of the map just like before. Once that is complete, the right hand side will be created by rotating the textures in Photoshop. Texturing the map is relatively straightforward. Textures are placed in different layers called strata. Stratum 1 covers up the Lower Stratum, Stratum 2 covers up Stratum 1, Stratum 3 covers up Stratum 2, and Stratum 4 covers up Stratum 3. Strata 5-8 are unused.
Let’s begin texturing by making the base texture a nice dirt. Select the Lower Stratum layer in the Layers window. Make sure the Resources window is open by checking Resources in the View menu. The Resource Browser should look like this:
We are interested in the Stratum tab. Select the Desert tileset in the Tileset dropdown. Drag the picture of des_gravel01_albedo.dds from the Resource Browser onto the Albedo picture of the Strata Properties window. You should see a noticeable change in the look of your map. Next drag the picture of des_gravel_normal.dds from the Resource Browser onto the Normal picture in the Strata Properties window. If you are zoomed in closely enough you will see a second change.
Next go through and pick some textures you like for Strata 1-4. The normal part of a stratum is not required, but will improve a stratum’s look by imitating small variations in height. You can adjust the repeat rate of strata across the ground with the scrollbars in the Strata Properties window. The official maps tend to use relatively high repeat rates (low values in the number box). The normal textures are designed to have the same repeat as the color texture, although there is no particular reason they can’t be different. Many of the official maps use mismatching repeats to great effect.
Now comes the fun part: the actual painting! With a stratum selected (1, 2, 3, or 4), click the brush button on the top toolbar or press B. This interface should look familiar. Go nuts and paint the left half of your terrain into a work of art. Keep in mind what natural formations look like. For example, cliff faces will typically be rougher surfaces, and flat areas will be covered in grass. Don’t feel bad if it takes you a long time to get it right. This can be the most time consuming part of map creation.
If you like the symmetry of the terrain, you can use Photoshop to mirror each stratum. Click on the Export Mask button in the Strata Properties for each stratum. Save each to a .raw file with a distinct name and rotate them in Photoshop as you did for the heightmap. Then go through and reload them with Import Mask. Important: The terrain texture masks are half the size of your map. For a 256x256 map such as Summer Duel, they will be saved as a 128x128, 8- bit texture. Make sure these settings are correct when you load the masks into Photoshop. Here’s the new and reborn Summer Duel:
What a difference textures make! Note that unless you have a superhuman power for creating perfectly symmetrical images freehand, there will be a seam down the middle of your map. Minor touchups should correct the problem. Textures don’t impact gameplay, so absolutely perfect symmetry is not required.
Unfortunately, there was an unforeseen problem. Notice the tan strip along the bottom and right of the map. These portions of the map will only be covered by the Lower Stratum, so plan your map carefully if this bothers you. Later on we will see a nice trick (defining an AREA) to hide the ugly truth and make the strips invisible.