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Creating an Embossed Terrain Shield in Bryce

Author: Theresa Ford

Tools Needed

* Bryce

* Adobe Photoshop (or other graphics program)

Support Files



This tutorial creates an embossed shield from a low-contrast bitmap used as a terrain canvas. While the example is simple, this same method can be used to create patterned cement walkways, floor tiles, wall murals, and other surfaces where some depth is required yet complex lighting makes materials (painted on) seem too flat, or where a bump map doesn't have the desired effect. First, the low-contrast bitmap is created which will become the embossing. Next the bitmap is applied to a terrain in Bryce and adjusted. Finally, the terrain is rotated up to become a shield. You should already know how to use your graphics program to adjust images and how to save files and find where you saved them. This tutorial uses Adobe Photoshop and Ts Orbit fractal brush (free from, but any graphics program and design will do.


Step 1 - Create the Image

In this step, a Photoshop brush is used to quickly create a nice design. A photograph or pattern can also be used, though the former is much harder to adjust.

Open Photoshop.

Install Classics brush set from - Instructions are on the same page.

Tip: Use premade brushes and patterns (many free on the web) rather than spending a lot of time drawing something new for end-image details.

Create a 512×512 white document.


Choose the Brush Tool (B).

Show the Brushes Window (F5).

Select the Ts Orbit fractal brush.


Hide the Brushes Window.

Reset the colors to black and white (D).

Resize the brush smaller ([) so it fits on the image.


Center and click once. This creates the base shield image.


Step 2 - Adjust the Image: Reduce Contrast

In this step, the image contrast is reduced using Change Levels to make the whole image light, with very light grey in the dark areas. As dark areas will be sunk into the shield, only the slightest amount is necessary to create embossing.

Select Levels (Ctrl+L or Image/Adjustments/Levels).

Drag the middle grey triangle to the left. The image gets greyer. The exact amount is not important.

Drag the bottom black triangle to the right. The image lightens. The exact amount is not important.


Click OK to apply the changes.


Step 3 - Save the Image

In this step, the shield image is saved as a GIF. Use shield.gif as the name.

Save (Ctrl+S). Change the type to GIF.




Step 4 - Open Bryce, Create the Terrain

In this step, the shield's foundation is set up by adding a metallic material.

Open Bryce.

Create a Terrain.


Click M to open the Material Lab.


Open the preloaded materials.


Select metals and choose any one.


Click OK to apply the change.

Step 5 - Apply the Terrain Canvas and Adjust

In this step, the shield image (shield.gif) is applied as the terrain's canvas.

Click E to edit the Terrain Canvas.


Click Picture to load the shield.gif.



The shield image is loaded.


Step 6 - Round and Clip the Terrain

This step finalizes the shield by making it round.

Click Round. This causes the corners and edges to darken and become “lower”.


Drag the bottom of the clipping bracket upward just until the black part of the terrain canvas changes color. In the example, it has turned maroon. This causes the black to be excluded from the terrain.



Click OK to save the changes.

If there are too many shadows because the pattern is too deep, the contrast in the original image is too high. Make it more grey/white. Only the tiniest bit of grey is necessary. See the eagle below.


Step 7 - Rotate and Scale the Shield

Rotate and scale the shield.



The shield can now be saved in the object library or exported for use in other programs like DAZ Studio.

Additional Exercises:

Try using a photo (Hint: desaturate it (Shift+Ctrl+U) to make a black and white image).

Try creating the shield shape in the bitmap (hint: use black).

Try using a custom material to color parts of the embossing.

Try creating “canvas” and then applying a bump map and coloring to create a realistic painted canvas with visible paint thickness.