Creating Heightmaps

Is there a to convert a color map to a heightmap inside CC3+?


  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 28 images Cartographer ProFantasy
    edited July 17

    I'm having trouble imagining what you mean, bluefire, but you can't edit a bitmap image within CC3. You can, however, turn it black and white by using an RGB Matrix Process on the sheet with the bitmap on it.

    There is a saved setting for that effect that should do the trick

  • jslaytonjslayton Mapmaker Moderator, ProFantasy

    Having an example of what you're looking to convert would be very helpful in answering this question.

  • blueFireblueFire Newcomer

    First of all sorry for not being more clear on what I was wanting to do.

    A heightmap is a 2D representation of a map as viewed directly from above and is very similar to a normal 2D top down map as created in CC3+ except for the colors. Brighter areas on a heightmap are used to represent higher terrain like mountains, while darker areas represent lower regions like valleys. Height maps can be created as black and white maps (with white being mountains and black being valleys with shades of gray in the middle) or as color maps (which use two (or more) separate colors to represent different heights). Heightmaps can be imported and used in Game Engines to create terrain from a 2D drawing.

    Upon further consideration it looks like the best way to do this might be to add a gradient background to the drawing tools and symbols (and make the symbols the same gradient color as the background). I was hoping to find something that could take a map created in the normal way in CC3+ and convert it to a heightmap but that would involve changing the RGB colors.

    Out of all my experimenting the RGB Matrix process came closest but the colors were not in the right order (valleys ending up higher then mountains).

    Thanks for the responses though.

  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 28 images Cartographer ProFantasy

    It's almost impossible to create a true heightmap from a coloured topographical map because the colour scale isn't usually designed to be a straight tonal graduation when converted to black and white.

    It would really help if we could see the coloured map you are talking about.

  • Maybe this is the effect that you are looking for (?) - but with the ocean of course also in black...

  • blueFireblueFire Newcomer
    edited July 20

    Something similar to this image which is modified from the image above. The ocean black the island ranging from light gray (near the ocean) to dark gray (where the mountain starts) and the highest elevations being white.

  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 28 images Cartographer ProFantasy

    This is a true heightmap of the Michigan area. Notice how it's almost entirely black, and how impossible it is to see the shorelines of the great lakes. And yet all the information is there to generate a true 2.5D model of the area.

    The human eye is not capable of seeing as many dark shades as are necessary for a smooth transition at the bottom of the heightmap scale, so where you have a sharp line defining the edge of what is presumably an island in your suggested map, that shoreline would already be higher than anything in the southern area of the great lakes.

    Similarly there is a series of huge leaps between very different altitudes where you have that pale line artefact around the mountains borrowed from André's example. I know that is just an artefact of cutting and pasting, but artefacts in a heightmap of that nature can cause a huge ridge around the highlands a bit like a 20,000 ft wall.

    It is almost impossible to draw a heightmap by hand, or to cut and paste from one heightmap to another. If you really want a genuine heightmap for a serious 2.5D project (please remember that CC3 is only capable of 2D, or an illusion of anything more than that), I recommend using part of the real world, which you can get here at Tangram:, or learning how to use an app like Wilbur, which is a free heightmap editor There is a series of essential tutorials near the bottom of that page.

    Incidentally, and since we are talking about heightmaps, you can generate entire 2.5D random worlds in Fractal Terrains 3, which can then be edited in FT3, or exported to a special heightmap file called an MDR file, and edited/eroded in Wilbur.

    I hope that helps :)

  • blueFireblueFire Newcomer

    I will experiment with Fractal Terrains 3 and Wilbur.

    Thank you very much.

Sign In or Register to comment.