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Making high resolution world maps tutorial.

Making terrain in CAW can be a challenge even for the best artist however you can simplify the process with just a few steps.

Things you will need.
    1. Some kind of paint program that supports PNG images.
    2. If your program only supports images in 8 or 24 bit like me you will need another program to convert your map to a 16bit grayscale PNG file.
    3. Most important an elevation map

Step 1
Getting your map can be a challenge. You need a spot with somewhat flat areas and if you like mountains then you will want those also. one of the easiest ways to do this is through the USGS web site using earth explorer.


Using earth explorer is easy. Just 4 simple steps and your all done.
1. Select your dataset(s): Look down the list on the left of the website and find Digital Elevation (Related Links) and open it. put a check the box beside SRTM.

2. Now for the fun part. Look at the map and zoom in on a location that looks good. (NOTE: Most maps are free however some are not.) It might take you a few tries to find a good spot for a map. You can drag the map by holding the left mouse button while dragging the cursor. Once you have found a spot that looks good your going to want to define the corners of the data you want to look at for your map. To do this simply left click for the top left corner and bottom right corner. (This is used to limit the amount of maps found for your search.) Once you have the area we move onto step 3.

3. Click the search button on the top right and wait for a list of maps.
(If your list is large you might want to try a smaller area. If you have less than 8 maps then your good.) Click on the SRTM link to display the results. (Note: this might take a while to load.)

On this page we want to look at a couple of areas.
First will be a small ICON of the map. To the right of the Map ICON is a link that says show. next look at the catagories on the top and find Entity ID.

Under Entity ID you might see there are 2 types of maps.

Example: SRTM1N37W106 or SRTM3N37W106

The most important part is this section SRTM1 or SRTM3. SRTM3 has more accurate data. If you click on the show link the map will show up and display a box showing the location of the data. the spot your intrested in might cover more than one map so check that you have the correct location on the map. If the location looks good then click the map icon. this will give you a larger 512x512 image. :P

Right click the image and do save it. (I like to save to my desktop to make things easy.)

Now you have a nice 512x512 map. However you might find that mountains in the image go above the CAW limits so the peaks become flat. However we are more intrested in a bigger map anyhow.

Next load up the map in your favorite image editor program. Your going to want to use the resize command and change your map from 512x512 so that it is now 1024x1024. (Note:I would recomend using a height scale of 100 in CAW for this type of map to start.) Once you have your map resized you will want to save it as a PNG. (You should now have a 24bit grayscale 1024x1024 image unless your editor can save in 16bit.)

Next we move onto converting your image to 16bit.
(If it's already 16bit you can skip this step.) 8)

Step 2
I use a freeware program called Raw Therapee. (Note: The menu system in this program is not user friendly so to make this easy this is a quick easy way to use it.)

Right click the map and select open with then brouse to Raw Therapee.
The program should now load with the map. Now we just need to save. Near the bottom right corner you will see the save as button. Click it. You should now see a menu that will probably show your file as 24bit. Change this to 16bit. Select the PNG file format and save then exit the program.

Step 3
Load CAW and click File then New world.
Use the ... button to load your map.
(Note: As I said before I highly recomend starting with 100 for max height however you might want to experiment.) then select Lush or Desert then ok.

You should now have a 1024x1024 map to work with however you will need to do some smoothing. On the terrain editing menu I tend to use the gental smooth option and set the strength to around 9-15 and the fall off to 100. smooth out the jagged areas untill your happy.

Making your ICON
On the world Layers section of CAW you can right click the top layer to name and describe your map. There is also an area for an ICON.

The easiest way to make an ICON is inside CAW with you map loaded pre4ss the print screen button on the keyboard. This will do a screen capture. Save your world and exit. Load your up your paint program and use the Edit menu then Paste as new picture. This is where it get a little harder.

Your going to want to use the selection tool or the crop option. I won't get into using crop if you know how to then good if not then using the selection tool might be easier. The selection tool normaly looks like a box with dotted lines. your going to want to drag a box around the area you want for your icon. yry to keep the box square it should show the length and width of the selection on the bottom toolbar some place. Once you have a square go back to the edit menu and select copy. Don't exit the paint program but close the picture of CAW that you made the box on. Now on the file menu click edit and paste as new picture. Now you will want to resize your image from the menu so that it's 256x256 then save it as a 24bit PNG.

Now you just need to go back into CAW and add in your icon then save.

Note: I did not cover all the steps in CAW for modifing your map. Once you smooth the terrain you will be unable to change where the sun goes up or down. Make sure you do this step for any map before making any other changes.

Enjoy your new world.


  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 3,293 New Member
    edited December 2009
    Ahh how do you change where the sun rises and sets etc.? Is there a north south east west?
  • VagabondVagabond Posts: 441
    edited December 2009
    If you look at section 2 part b of the walkthrough it talks about this.

    The walkthrough can be downloaded here as a PDF file.

    Well I just went back over that section and the sun is in a fixed position it seems they just wanted to make sure you make your terrain with the sun in mind. So you might need to rotate the map file to change where the sun goes up and down in your paint program before converting it to 16bit. On a side note if you are downloading a map like this the east is the right side of the map west is the left side.


    Here is a link to a picture of the map I made using my tutorial.

    My Map
  • SagittaSagitta Posts: 78 New Member
    edited December 2009
    If you are comfortable with mucking about with graphics programs, the combination I use and have used for years for maps for games is to use the USGS seamless website ( http://seamless.usgs.gov )then run the files it generates through a freeware program called Microdem.

    Microdem isn't exactly user friendly, but you can actually scale maps in the program to whatever size you want so that when you go to use them all you have to do is crop a chunk o' map of your liking right from the image it generates.

    I actually had a harder time trying to figure out how to get a 16-bit PNG then in how to get a map file, myself.
  • VagabondVagabond Posts: 441
    edited December 2009
    I have used that before also. Mostly when making scenery for another game. However that gets much more complicated and I wanted to make it a somewhat easy tutorial.
  • soccergirl1996soccergirl1996 Posts: 382
    edited December 2010
    could you make me a hieght map? :-) I have all the maps ready! Here they are: :!:http://edcsns17.cr.usgs.gov/EarthExplorer/

    Oh and if you do make it can you combine them to make a meduim and large map

  • auntielyndsauntielynds Posts: 3,071 Member
    edited December 2010
    I just saw on the MTS Caw forum someone who posted a hieght map for veronaville. Maybe he would be willing to apply his expertise to your map.

    Crossing my fingers for you. :mrgreen:
  • soccergirl1996soccergirl1996 Posts: 382
    edited December 2010
    I think I got someone to help me but not sure!

    But thanks
    I also posted on the TS3 Creators' Consortium and I think you replied :)
  • auntielyndsauntielynds Posts: 3,071 Member
    edited December 2010
    Good, I hope you get it done. I would try and figure it out, but I'm just so bogged down right now trying to get Whoville out. I'm already 3 days late for the Winter Showcase deadline at TS3CC, and I think EQ is starting to get miffed at me. :oops:

    If after I'm done, and you still need help, I'll do my best. :D
  • soccergirl1996soccergirl1996 Posts: 382
    edited December 2010
    Thank you auntielynds

    By the way I look at Whoville and it looks amazing :!:

    good luck
  • soccergirl1996soccergirl1996 Posts: 382
    edited December 2010
    Alright auntielynds well the person that I thought that could help she couldn't :( But I went on your link and asked the guy that made the hieghtmap but he didn't reply!! A mod the sims admenistrater did and was being really impolite :evil:
    here is the link: http://www.modthesims.info/showthread.php?t=427824So if its fine I'll just wait on you and If you need any help with Whoville
    I will help you!

    thank you
  • Pyronium3Pyronium3 Posts: 443 New Member
    edited December 2010
    A mod the sims admenistrater did and was being really impolite

    She wasn't being impolite, she told you the truth. In fact, she even offered to guide you through the process of learning this yourself, but it seems you insist on letting someone else do the work for you.
  • soccergirl1996soccergirl1996 Posts: 382
    edited December 2010
    Vagabond, sorry for all of my post above :oops:

    Ummm... The place that I want to do has five sections 2.jpg how do I combine them?
  • VagabondVagabond Posts: 441
    edited December 2010
    Wow didn't expect my old post to come back up. However you would need to use a graphic program to link them into one large picture. You might then need to scale it back down to a usable size map.

    The other option is to use the other mapping data site someone mentioned and a program to create and scale the map you want from the raw data using a seperate program like he said. I would stick to something simple for your first map and get use to the tools then expand to making more complex maps.

    You could even take an image from google earth and convert the area into a grayscale image and use it for a height map.

    If you follow my tutorial you should end up with something like this after a little smoothing.


    You could then edit the area and turn it into an island that is unique. This image is of the Taus New Mexico area.
    Post edited by Unknown User on
  • soccergirl1996soccergirl1996 Posts: 382
    edited December 2010
    I actually did it the microdem way but I need help on the rawtherapee! how do I open my files with it?

    sorry if that sounded confusing!
  • VagabondVagabond Posts: 441
    edited December 2010
    You can click the arrows next to the drive letters and search all over for your file or an easier way is to not open the editor. Right click the image and use the open with command then choose program. Look for the rt.exe file and click open or ok at the bottom and you should have the file loaded. The program is kinda clumsy to use but once you get the hang of it it's easy since you only need it to convert the file.

    To save the file down at the bottom right has save to the right click the as button next to it for save as and select the format to save in. That should be all you need it for. Just look at step 2 of the original post.

    I never used the program the other poster used so I'm not sure what kind of file you ended up with or if this program will convert that kind of file.
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