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Creating Unique Overviews: PS Wave/Polar Filter

Category: Level Design
October 23, 2008

One of the ways I create top down views and flow of my maps is using Photoshop Wave Filter and Polar Coordinates Filter.

Although this will not create a flow for you it will create a unique top down view where you can modify and start from.

Its fairly simple to use and its random so each time you use it you will end up with something new.

Here are the basics of the filter and what you need to make it work in your favor.

Create a new document any size you want and any resolution.

File --> New --> New Document

Use Marqee Tool and draw basic shapes on your canvas.

Use Shift to add or Alt keys to take way from selection.

After you have your selection, just fill it with black.

Now this is where it gets fun.

Go to
Filter --> Distort --> Wave

I work with the following sliders

- Square (checked)
- Number of Generators
- Wavelength
- Amplitude

You will have to play around a bit to get what you like. It acts a bit out of control when you have low number for generators and high wavelength so play around a bit.

Click ok and this is what I ended up with using different settings.

Original Marquee Selection

Wave: at different settings


I wouldn't use what photoshop gave me for a level top down view but I can see using this as a base to start from. Better then what I did with just a marqee tool.

Polar Coordinates

Polar Coordinates filter was very unique and gave me very good results.

Filter --> Distort --> Polar Coordinates --> Rectangular to Polar



Polar Coordinates applied twice

I tried using Wave filter then Polar Coordinates and this is what it generated.

From Wave Filter

To Polar Coordinates

Polar Coordinates generated some very cool top down views.

Here is another test, using a bit more simplistic layout then above.

Hope you found this useful and it will help you generate more unique and interesting top down map flow.

Reason I like these two filters, because it creates random abstract shapes and allows you to have lucky accidents which is more creative then logical and rational approach.

Let me know if you found this useful.

Updated & Revised - Preproduction Blueprint: How to Plan Your Game Environments and Level Designs

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