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 Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR

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auntielynds
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auntielynds

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Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR Empty
PostSubject: Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR   Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR EmptyThu Mar 01, 2012 2:33 am

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How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR]




Napalm_VFR wrote:
Here is a tutorial on how to create a world in CAW using actual real height data that is readily available for most of the world.  The data we will use is in the form of DEM data (Digital Elevation Model), more information on DEM data can be found at wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_elevation_model

To get started you will need the following:

* Google Earth ( http://earth.google.com )
* MicroDem ( http://www.usna.edu/Users/oceano/pguth/website/microdem/microdem.htm )
* SRTM Overlay for GoogleEarth (Run from URL once you've installed Google Earth - http://www.ambiotek.com/topoview ).
* A graphics program, such as Photoshop, Paintshop Pro, etc.. to covert a TIF to PNG.  I will primarily be using Photoshop in this tutorial. (Please note it needs to be able to export 16-bit .PNG files)

OK, before we start, make sure you've installed Google Earth, the SRTM Overlay & Microdem.

1st Step: Google Earth

The first time you use the SRTM overlay you will need to run the actual file, just double click on the file named srtm41.kmz (or right click and select open), this will load SRTM into Google Earth and place it in your 'Temporary Places' within the Places categories list.  Put a tick in the option marked 'Elevation' under the STRM4.1 Category and you should see a load of boxes appear over the globe, each with a green dot in the middle.

Now, locate the area you want to create a height map for, in this example I'm going to use the lovely Greek island of Kefallonia.

Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR Keff_g10

Ok, on the pic above you will see the island and part of mainland Greece, you will notice a green triangle towards the right side of the map labelled 'Data for: srtm_41_05', this is the DEM data we require.

Click on the green triangle and you will get a page pop up, scroll that page down until you can see the link 'Click here to visualise terrain and access 1 degree tiles'.  Google earth will then split the larger box into smaller boxes and the display will change to a coloured height map view, in the 'Places' category list on the left you will see an additional selection called 'Elevation Preview', click on the plus next to this selection and then place a tick in the 'Global Legend' box (you might need to click twice).

Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR Ge_str10

From the Google Earth screen we can now select the relevant data we want to download, click on the small box next to the data you want to download, for example I need to download srtm_41_05_1_4, a pop up box will appear and allow you to download the required file (I have had problems with using the FTP link so I normally select the HTTP one).  Once you have downloaded the file you will need to un-ZIP it into C\mapdata\dems, once you have done that you can close Google Earth as you don't need it anymore.

2nd Step: MicroDEM

Open MicroDEM and then click File->Open DEM, in the Files of Type box make sure 'ASCII Arc Grid' is selected, browse to the folder you unzipped the DEM file, select the file and then click Open.
By default you get all the legends and other stuff you don't need, to turn these off. You'll only need to do this the first time, as it remembers these settings. Right click on the map & select 'Legends / Marginalia'. Click on 'Scale Bar' and untick the 'Include on Maps' box. Do the same with the Elevations button.  Then click OK to close the Map Marginalia window.

Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR Md1_310

The DEM files that we downloaded are too detailed for what we require so we need to 'thin' them, to do this select Raster GIS->Thin DEM (Decimate), select a Thin Factor of 3 and press ok.  We now need to select the area that we want to use, on the toolbar of the Map window (not the main MicroDEM toolbar) you will see a button which has a dotted rectangle with an arrow at the bottom right (9th in from the left).  This is the 'Create Subset' button, click it and then click and drag (whilst still holding the mouse button down) across the map area, try to keep the selection as square as possible.

Microdem will automatically zoom into the cropped area. If you made a mistake and cropped off an area you want, simply undo the crop (the crop operation is called a subset), by clicking the 'undo subset' button (to the right of the create subset button).

Next, we need to change the colour map to a greyscale map.  Right click on the map and select 'Display Parameter' and then select 'Elevation'.  Select the Greyscale option in the list and then click on the Z Range button. The Z Range basically controls how the heights are mapped onto the greyscale colours, the greater the height, the lighter the colour.

I usually leave the default values but if you have a problem with the map in CAW you can try altering the values, especially if the sea level seems wrong you can lower the Min Value to give more depth.  Click OK and Ok again and MicroDEM will convert the map into a greyscale map.

Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR Md2_410

The last thing we need to do before we export the map is to resize it to 1:1 pixel mapping.  On the map windows toolbar you will see the zoom and un-zoom buttons, between them is a button with a 1 in a magnifying glass, click this button and  MicroDEM will the resize the map.

To export the map we need to save it as a GeoTIFF file, click on 'File->Save Map as Image->As GeoTIFF, Screen Scale (Greyscale)'.  Locate the folder where you want to place the image file and then select 'Save'.

3rd Step: Photoshop or other image editing software

Open up the .TIF file.  The first thing we need to do is make sure the map is square, in photoshop the easiest way to do this is to use the crop tool and select a 1 x 1 crop.  Now we need to convert the map from 8-bit to 16-bit (if we didn't convert the map CAW would duplicate the map and create 2 islands instead of the one), select 'Image->Mode->16 Bits/Channel'.

Next we need to resize the map to the size that is required by CAW, remember that CAW has different size requirements for different size maps (Small map = 512 x 512, Medium = 1024 x 1024 and Large = 2048 x 2048).  In photoshop select 'Image->Image Size...' and then enter the required dimensions and then click OK, in this example I am using 1024 x 1024.

Finally we need to save the image as a .PNG file so that CAW can read it, select 'File->Save As...', browse to the CAW Map folder (my folder is located at - Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 3 Create A World Tool\UserToolData\HeightMaps), enter the name for the map in 'File Name' and then make sure the 'File Format' is PNG(*.PNG) and then click Save and then click OK in the pop-up box.

Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR Keff_510

That's the Height Map created all we need to do now is open up CAW, create a new world and select the Height Map we just created and your new world should appear as if by magic Wink

Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR Caw_610

All the world will need is a little bit of smoothing to get rid of the ripples and then you can create your world however you would like.

Hope this helps some of you creative guys and any Comments or questions are welcome.

Nathan







Last edited by auntielynds on Thu Sep 25, 2014 11:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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auntielynds
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Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR Empty
PostSubject: Using Google Earth to create height maps by Richdre @ BMC   Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR EmptyTue Nov 12, 2013 5:38 pm



@Richdre wrote:


If you are using CAW then you know that everything starts with a height map. EA supplied several with the program but most are flat and require a lot of sculpting to create a world. I've tried making my own in Photoshop but I'm not an artist and the results were bad. Then I found a tutorial that outlines how to create height maps from the data in Google Earth. I decided to give it a try and darned if it didn't work.

Here is the link to the tutorial.
http://builders.forumotion.net/t1151-tutorial-how-to-create-a-world-using-real-world-height-data

I followed the instructions and after I downloaded and installed the programs required I was able to create new height maps using real world data. It took several tries to get one that I could work with but I finally got the one in the picture below. The data is from a small section of the California coast line. A little rough but the basics were there. This saved me a lot of time because I didn't need to do the basic sculpting, I just flattened the areas where I wanted to build houses and smoothed out the rest. I did add some hills at the top of the map because I didn't want it to look like an island. I also added some more land at the bottom of the map. So bottom line,if your looking for new height maps or maybe you would like to make your hometown into a world this will do the job. I doubt that I will ever start with a flat map again.

The original map

Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR 111






After about an hour with the smooth and flatten tools I had a map that looked like this.

Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR 211






Several more hours and my world looked like this.

Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR 311



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Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR Th_cow10
Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR Dv-hea10
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Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR Empty
PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR   Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR EmptyTue Nov 12, 2013 5:39 pm

Honeybear wrote:

Thanks for sharing this Rich! I had found that tutorial a while ago. So glad you put this up as this is a great tool which can save a lot of sculpting time. I created a world using this method because of the small selection of EA maps. I had better better luck using an island and I found one called Tonga in the south pacific which was near the Samoan islands. It is one of those unfinished worlds right now we all have in our dusty folders. These are some that I've been fiddling with.

Tonga
Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR Tonga10





Hawaii

Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR Hawaii11






Australia

Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR Austra10






Please feel free to grab any of these should someone want them. You should only need to right click, then copy and paste them into your CAW Height maps folder.

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Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR Th_cow10
Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR Dv-hea10
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Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR Empty
PostSubject: Re: Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR   Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR EmptyWed Sep 24, 2014 5:42 pm

Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR Defaultavataraminovas   Posts: 1,541 New Member  
March 1   edited March 1  
Hi!
I almost posted in here a few weeks ago about this.

I have definitely used the techniques in this excellent tutorial on multiple occasions, to the point where I would say this is all a keeper in my tool box of CAW tools. And this is coming from someone who used to use DEM data professionally. The SRTM module for Google Earth and MicroDEM worked great, better than anything I was taught in school, and they totally replaced my other tools for achieving the same thing. So, please, I hope no one deletes this tutorial! It is great.

That said, I don't know what is going on with the Google Earth SRTM kml. I know that the SRTM databases have changed a great deal over the last year, and I haven't been able to get data through it for several months. I've tried on three different computers, reinstalled Google Earth etc. It is incredibly annoying. It used to be you just had to uncheck and re-check the "elevation" subset of the KML to get the grid to display with icons to download to files you wanted, but it is not working at all at the moment so far as I could tell. I'd bet money it has to do with the SRTM database changing and it is popular enough, they will likely update the KML. If they don't, it might be because DEM datasets are switching to cloud-based storage systems and in some cases the format of DEM storage seems to be changing.

So, here is what you can do to get the data in the meantime (and if this doesn't make sense, post back here and I'll run through it myself to see what I can do to make it more clear):
For US data, you can download from the National Map. I can't remember whether you need to use Earth Explorer or not. One of these databases does not host the right format of DEM that you need (GeoTiff), so, if you don't find it, try the other one:
http://earthexplorer.usgs.gov/
http://viewer.nationalmap.gov/viewer/

If you are looking for non-US data, it might be hard to find the higher resolution DEMs that are most useful for us. Do a google search for SRTM DEM data, and you should find some options. You may need to know the coordinates of the data set you are looking for, and Google earth could be helpful for that. I am sorry, I don't have the energy to run through this right now to explain it all better, but if there is interest in how to do this and these suggestions don't get you there, post back, and I will try to clarify.

Once you get your data as a GeoTiff, the instructions with MicroDEM and CAW are just the same. I will say that depending on the resolution you are working with, and especially if you are using the lower resolution DEMs and zooming in on a very small area, an island for example, that you probably won't want to "decimate" the data. Just take it into a graphical editing program (Gimp or Photoshop), crop to the right shape and resize, and apply a gaussian blur (~ 1 pixel radius).

Also, I have been trying out real world data in a program called World Machine and if you do a search on youtube for "real world data" and "world machine" I am pretty sure there are some how-to videos for getting DEM data into World Machine, and it works just the same for CAW.

Good luck, and don't despair (I turned into a raging lunatic when I finally figured out that KML wasn't working. Super frustrating.) Good DEM data is still out there, and I personally think it is well worth it Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR Smile

Edit to add: here is the youtube link to the video I using the National Map data and MicroDEM and World Machine: Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR 0
Post edited by Unknown User on March 1

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Tutorial - How to create a world using Real-World Height data by Napalm_VFR Dv-hea10
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