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Easy grayscale heightmap to shaded relief?

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I'm making a fictional map and what I basically want is to turn a simple 8 bit grayscale heightmap image (around 3000 x 2000 px), into a shaded relief image. Is there any software that can do that easily? Photoshop has a lighting menu that produces what I want, but is unfortunately limited to 8 bit per channel images, which gives 255 height levels, the results are not smooth enough for a map. I can convert my heightmap to a 16 bit image, and then blur it to fill in the missing data, but Photoshop won't do it's lighting tricks to a 16 bit image.

What are my options? I don't need any fancy GIS stuff and complex databases and whatnot. Just a piece of software that can create 3d data from a heightmap and then apply lighting to it. I found some freeware mapping software, but after some unsuccessful fumbling around, I resorted to straight asking for help on this forum.

Edited by edgepixel, 13 June 2012 - 04:11 AM.



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I don't know if you've tried Bryce, but based on your description of the problem, it may do what you want:


Steve Richardson
2i3D Stereo Imaging

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