Author Topic: How do I stitch together a bunch of screenshots in to make a map?  (Read 15361 times)

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Offline Rew

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Hey everyone--so first things first, I'm an absolute neophyte at creating maps myself. Even though I've been here a long time, it's always been as a spectator/requester; I've never actually tried to make a map by myself.

So right I have about 40-odd screenshots from an overworld map, and I'm sitting down to put them all together in when I realized... I don't have a friggin' clue how to actually do that. I mean, how do I get them to line up pixel perfectly? To do this properly (i.e. by hand) seems like it would take hours and even days of painstaking precision, lining up, moving them just so. Like the world's most obtuse jigsaw puzzle. But that seems horribly inefficient; I feel like I'm probably doing something wrong.

How do you all do it? Do you really sit down and measure things out pixel by pixel and line everything up by hand?
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Offline TerraEsperZ

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Well, I've been using good old Paint (no .net here!) and yeah, that's pretty much what I've always done. I paste the screenshot in the canvas while zoomed in at the appropriate level, then I move it around until it's exactly where it needs to be. Considering that Paint doesn't have layers, that's not always easy and sometimes I have to change the "background" colour and the transparency mode in order to temporarily remove said colour to make the alignment easier. I sadly have no idea how to do it using  something more sophisticated like or Photoshop :(.
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It sounds like a lot of work, but this is probably the easiest and least confusing way to map a game. One thing you need to keep in mind while taking your screenshots is how you are going to stitch them together later. A screenshot goes to waste if you can't remember where it goes.

Try to get something that's easy to see in every screenshot, so you can "stitch by landmark" by having these objects overlap when you paste them onto the map. An example of landmark stitching might be like finding a town in Dragon Warrior, and taking 4 screenshots with that town in each corner of the screen. That way you know for certain what goes where.

Also a good idea to only take 20 screenshots at a time if you're working on a BIG map so you don't lose track of what you're doing.

Offline Grizzly

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I also created all my maps with the plain old Paint. The way to get it done pretty fast was to take a memorizable path through the game while taking the screenshots and creating the map directly after playing a section so I always knew where the text part went.

Otherwise you might try to use a tool like the Screenshot Autosticher by maxim.

I also always dreamt of such a tool, this was basically the reason I stopped making maps because I wanted to create the ultimate stitching helper tool. But I never got anywhere because I couldn't figure out programmatically which part of a screenshot belongs to which of the many parallax backgrounds.

Offline mechaskrom

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Re: How do I stitch together a bunch of screenshots in to make a map?
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2018, 11:58:38 am »
Manually stitching screenshots is probably the most straightforward method, but it's tedious and has a high chance of mistakes. It's also hard to map areas without "landmarks" e.g. Solar Jetman (NES) which has big areas with the same color or pattern. You could facilitate this by using cheat codes to move the camera around in discrete values or keep track of it with a memory/ram watcher. That way you know how the screenshots fit together. You probably need camera cheat codes anyway to reach inaccessible parts and cover everything.

Reverse engineering the game to create a tool or editor that can extract maps is probably the complete opposite method to manual stitching. Technically very complicated and requires great programming skills, but in return makes mapping a lot easier and faster.

Fortunately there is a way to automate screenshot mapping with only modest skills and that is to use scripting or an external tool to control the emulator. All my maps are done with this method. Take NES-games for example were I use FCEUX which has many excellent tools for mapping, particularly lua-scripting:
You can write a lua-script that essentially moves the camera, take screenshots and stitches everything together i.e. automating the whole process of ripping a map. Creating a working script can take some time though, but a lot less than manual stitching. You probably need to manually fix some things in the rip afterwards to, but most of the work can be scripted.

Unfortunately good emulators with scripting is a bit lacking. So if any emulator author is reading this, please add great scripting support to your emulator and you'll make me a very happy mapper.  :)
« Last Edit: September 08, 2018, 01:19:43 pm by mechaskrom »
Some tools and other stuff I've made: