Friday, August 12, 2011

Adding a Crease to Paper in Photoshop

With my new degree program came the tools and training to make some fantastic graphics. And though I'm well versed in how to use the software I've found an endless font of tips and tricks to create great new effects. Add to that an old nerd hobby of mine, Dungeons and Dragons, and you suddenly get a new way to add life to a game that traditionally takes place, for the most part, only in the player's imagination.

In my quest to make some nice looking maps I came across a youtube video series on fantasy cartography that provided a great repertoire for building maps with simple techniques and a minimal amount of artistic ability.

There are almost 20 videos in the series, but past video 7 or so the techniques get very particular to town or city type maps. At the time, I wanted to build an overland map, so around video 7 or 8 was where I stopped picking up useful tricks (until, of course, I decide my campaign needs a city map!). In the end I came up with quite a nice looking map of the northlands in my campaign:

Everything on the map (except the font) was made by hand using techniques from the videos linked above. The fold lines in the paper, however, were an extra touch I wanted to add to make it look better as a player handout.

Initially I tried scanning a folded piece of paper, but the effect just didn't feel right. In the end, this is how I ended up creating them:

1) Add a hole in the paper using the technique used to create the frayed edge of the paper. As an added touch it helps to use the burn tool with a low exposure to darken the area surrounding the hole.

2) Make a rectangular selection with the upper side passing through the end of the hole as shown.

3) Fill the selection with any color on a new layer. I used white, but it's not really important what color you use as we won't see it at all.

4) Turn the fill of this new layer down to 0%. In effect, this causes any pizels in the layer to be invisible, but the layer itself is still visible since we haven't turned down the opacity.

5) Dounble click the layer (not the layer name or thumbnail), or click the FX button on the bottom of the layer pallete and click Blending Options. Use the following settings:

6) To make the vertical crease duplicate the layer by dragging the layer to the new layer button on the bottom of the layers palette or right click the layer, click Duplicate Layer, then OK. Then, with the duplicate layer selected, open the Edit Menu, and go to Transform -> Rotate 90 degrees CW.

Use the move tool to position it properly. To position a second fold where you want it keep this layer selected and hit Command+T or Control+T to enter free transform mode and drag the handle on the side until the folds of the paper are where you like them.

7) As a finishing touch, take the smudge tool and set the strength to around 30-40%. Make sure you have a soft brush by clicking the dropdown for brush selection and turn the hardness to 0%.

Then, on the two fold layers star using the smudge tool in a perpendicular motion to the fold you're working with. If you have holes in the paper, this will help smooth the glow out of the holes. If you don't have folds it will soften the corners in the paper fold and make it look more worn.

You can use this technique for all shapes and kinds of folds. In the map above I made a circular fold at the bottom by painting in the shape with a hard brush and the same layer styles.

Friday, August 5, 2011


It's been a long time since I posted and it's long since time for an overhaul. Some obvious changes have been made including a facelift and address change. The less noticeable change is that of format.

Instead of trying to maintain a blog about a specific game or a specific avenue of play I'm refocusing this into a more personal blog. The refocus will include all avenues of my life from gaming to web design to my soon-to-be-expanding family.

Becoming more of a journal, this blog will become place I can vent and channel a portion of the creative energy I have and provide a record of some portion of myself.

Topics I'm likely to post on:

- World of Warcraft
- The Old Republic
- Console Games
- Photoshop
- Web Design
- Movies
- And anything else I feel passionate about!

To whom it may concern - enjoy.