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Your Conworld in 3D: City Maps in DAZ Studio and Bryce

Author: Kemp Sparky

Tools Needed

* Paint Program

* Bryce

* DAZ Studio

* Desired Building Models/Props


After receiving several requests for a tutorial on the subject, I have decided to relent to popular demand, and write this tutorial, which will show you, in essence, how to create city maps for fantasy worlds in Bryce and/or DAZ Studio.


Step 1 - The Map

Open your map in your favorite paint program. This (fig.1) is mine, I know, it's a masterpiece, and it could never be improved upon. Make sure you've got your map centered on a square canvas and begin by painting the roads white, and all other areas black (fig. 2). Once this is done, copy it and save it separately, you'll need it later. Now turn the document negative, and even out the difference between your roads and your ground, so that the roads are slightly depressed (fig. 3). You could also paint darker lines around the roads for drainage ditches if you so desire. If your citadel has a moat around it, or a river running through it, paint the water black. You may also want to mark the locations of other features, such as buildings, trees, walls, or, as in my case, sewer access, to guide you when it is time to insert them, but keep in mind that these will only be temporary, so save a version with, and without them. I chose to have the land bulge a little bit for trees and walls and a slight indentation for the buildings and manholes. (fig. 3)




Step 2 - Into Bryce

In Bryce, create a new terrain, click the “E” to open the terrain editor. Apply the height map including your building placeholders to the terrain.

Step 3 - Adding the Buildings

If your buildings are poser props rather than Bryce Objects, you might find it easier to position them using DAZ Studio. If this is the case, export the new terrain to a Wavefront object (*OBJ), naming it something like “cityterraindummy.obj”. Click on the DAZ Studio icon to open DAZ Studio. Import the dummy terrain and begin to place your buildings in the indentations of the terrain, you may need to scale the buildings in order for them to fit into the spaces. This will help to vary the buildings if your models are limited. I used models from the Castle Creator and Medieval City by Faveral, and the Village Blacksmith and Courtyard by Redhouse Studios (all available at DAZ) foremost among others.


Step 4 - Back into Bryce

Import the models into Bryce. Replace the height map (which includes the placeholders for buildings and other features) on the terrain with the height map you saved earlier with only the roads and waterways (unless you like the effect of the previous map). Texture your terrain and duplicate it. In “Attributes, ” rename this new terrain “Roads, ” and move it slightly above the original terrain. Choose a new texture for this terrain, a nice cobbled or dirt road texture. We're not done in the material editor yet, click on a clear channel next to transparency. Click the little blue “P, ” and then the pink dot above that, to open the picture editor. Click the black circle above the picture of “Leo, ” it'll ask you if you're sure you want to delete, click “delete.” Now, above the second box, click “Load, ” and navigate to the road transparency map I told you to save at the very beginning. Click the check and the bottom right corner which takes you back to the material editor. Click the grey triangle that reads “Material Options” when you mouse over it and select “Blend Transparency.” You should now have a material preview similar to mine (fig. 5). That should take care of the roads. You may also want to make similar transparency maps for other differences in the terrain, for example, grassy areas and dusty, well trodden areas. Position your imported buildings, and insert and position your water planes, trees and so forth.


Step 5 - Alternatives and Tips

If you're having trouble importing your models into Bryce due to low memory, as I did, you should try importing only a few of the models at a time. Save the scene file that includes all of your props for later, then, depopulate your scene. Try deleting all models but those of a certain type, such as all wall segments, all vegetation, or all houses. Save a separate scene file for each group of props. Import each scene one at a time into Bryce.

If you aren't comfortable using Bryce for the final render, export the terrain as a Wavefront object in high resolution, with all applicable material settings. Import the object into DAZ Studio. In all probability, the exported texture maps will be less than satisfactory, but they will be useful as templates and resources for improvement. You can use this terrain for the road and any other necessary layers–apply your transparency maps and material settings as you would in Bryce, or paint it all directly on the texture map. I did a combination of both, painting everything on the base terrain, but having a separate layer for the roads. You may have to do several renders, each containing different models, try the same technique as above for importing models into Bryce, starting with the terrain layers, and rendering objects closest to the ground first, using the previous render as a backdrop; or you could render it in low quality, I could render my complete scene by using the OpenGL preview render setting.

Step 6 - Final Notes

My final map (low-res, unretouched version) is below (it looked better before resizing, I promise!), still a decided improvement over my former, elementary MS Paint map.


I fully expect you to put these techniques and tips to great use. Feel free to E-Mail me if you have any questions, and if you find these tutorials useful, I would love to see your work!