Simple command-maps in Photoshop

Yesterday I was asked if I know how to make a limbo/command map using Photoshop, and if I can post a tutorial here.

As 1st thing I would like to mention is that I am not a PS master, and I just use few tools that I learnt about through years.
So this is just an amateur job, but if TITS commandmap would be enough for you, this is the way I made it.  ;)

Here you can see the map I am gonna work with. So lets setup map coordinates, delete trees, CPs and all other unnecessery stuff, and generate the tracemap.

Now lets open Photoshop. Even tho tracemap is a small picture, we want a proper big commandmap. So go into File -> New.., and make a 512×512 pixels file. (or any other size if you want)

Import the tracemap in Photoshop and fit it to 512×512 pixels. Dont worry about quality, because the tracemap image will not be visible at the end of job.

Go into Layers section and make a new layer.
Layers in PS work similiar to Gimps layers or any other software with layers. They are simply separate pictures placed on top of eachother.

Now Im gonna color all buildings similiar, and get them together on one layer. So make sure the new (empty) layer is selected.
I choose Polygonal Lasso Tool to select buildings, and Paint Bucket Tool to color the selection. These tools are really common thing and I guess that you know them already.
Buildings are usually grey on commandmaps, so lets use this color. The result is shown on the picture.
Tip: Zoom the image to 200% to select buildings properly. Zoom can be found in down-left corner.
Tip 2: CTRL+LMB on layers image to select everything painted on it. RMB on layers text to see its menu.


Buildings are colored together on one layer. Now lets color the terrain. Start with the the most down floor.
Make a new layer and move it under the layer with buildings, as shown on the picture.
Give it nothing but a dark green color. This will be the down floor, and we apply another floors on it in next steps.

But well, we dont see the tracemap anymore, so we will need to keep it invisible for now. Click on the eye icon in Layers section.
We will come back to this layer later.

Its time to make 2nd floor of terrain. I use Lasso Tool to make a new selection.
Select the darkest places. Now go into Menu -> Selection -> Inverse.

After the selection is inverted, apply color with the Paint Bucket Tool, as we did before.

If you make Layer2 visible now, this is how it should look.

We do the same job with another terrain floors until we get to the top of hills.

At the end of job, we dont need tracemap anymore and we can make all layers visible.
But its still missing something – Strokes and some Patterns.
Pattern is something like a texture. It is applied on pictures/layers to make it look like a texture.

When you right-click on the layer text, a big menu will show up.
So right-click on the layer with grey buildings, and go into its Blending options…
Note to the future: The 1st layer called “Background”, and Shapes dont have Blending options.

Apply the Stroke option, as shown on the image. I never use clear black color personally, just very dark grey.

After you are happy with the stroke you made, apply Pattern Overlay option.
For buildings, I like to use a pattern that reminds me of gtkradiant 2D view. Give it some opacity and choose Blending mode that looks the best.

Now select layers with terrain and apply Stroke and Pattern on them, too.
Stroke: Terrain should have more thin stroke than buildings, and the color should be a little more light.
Pattern: Choose something that looks like an old paper, or something like that…

Apply the same Blending Options on all terrain layers.

The last thing we do is the white path that you can see on commandmaps. It can be a mess if you dont learn Pentool properly.
So, choose Pen Tool and try to play with it a little. Make sure it on top of all layers, otherwise you might not see it.
On top of screen, there are options for Pentool. Fill, Stroke, and others. Dont use any fill, and give it white stroke.
Note: No-fill is the 1st icon with red 45° line.

What you need to know to work with Pentool:
– Left-click on Pentools points change their geometry.
– CTRL+LMB on Pentools points change their position.

We play with Pentool a little and the result should look like this.

Go to its Blending Options and apply black stroke on it.

The map is made. Save it as .PSD (photoshop format) so you can work with every layer later.

After it is saved as PSD, select all layers (SHIFT+LMB, just like everywhere), rick-click on layers, and choose Merge layers.
It becomes one picture and you can adjust it all together. This is handy if you want to, for example, change brightness and contrast of whole map.

Brightness & Contrast can be found in top menu. Image -> Adjustments -> Brightness/Contrast…
..there are many nice options for color effects in Adjustments menu.  ;)