Tutorial – C.C.C. (Controlled Chaos Coastlines)

There are plenty of tutorials out there for coming up with new, random coastlines from scratch using Difference Clouds and Threshold in Photoshop. But what if you already have a coastline that you need to roughen up a bit? Give it more of a natural, organic, chaotic feel?

This is what I came up with (adapted from this tutorial – Old Guy Gaming – Realistic Coastlines Revisited). I’m sure I’ll be adding improvements to the technique as time goes on.

  1. New document (sample is 3000×2000, 72 dpi, 8-bit RGB)
    01
  2. New layer, delete Background, draw coastline shape (the more random and chaotic, the better).
    02
  3. Magic wand (Anti-alias off, Contiguous on, Sample all layers off, Tolerance 0) the land areas, Select > Modify > Expand selection by 5, fill with black.
    03
  4. Control-click the layer, Select > Modify > Expand selection by 15.
    04
  5. New layer, fill selection with white. Deselect. New layer between Layer 1 and Layer 2. Fill with black. Merge Layers 2 and 3.
    05
  6. Filter > Noise > Add Noise (100%, Gaussian, Monochromatic)
    06
  7. Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur (2.0)
    07
  8. Image > Adjustments > Threshold. Adjust slider to desired levels (important to leave enough white in the landmass so that the black areas aren’t contiguous).
    08
  9. Magic wand an open water area. Manually add lakes to the selection, if needed. Invert selection. Fill with white.
    09
  10. Magic Wand in the white. Create new layer. Fill with black. Delete or turn visibility off on Layers 1 and 2. (Optional: Delete Layer 2. Merge Layers 1 and 3).
    10
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