How to make a beautiful editor made forest - part 2


Sleeping Dinosaur
Oct 13, 2012
Reaction score
First Language
Primarily Uses

For forests, some things that I would do on other maps, do not apply. One thing that I generally avoid are autotiles with transparent edges. Why is that?
As cool as it is to have a nice, patchy ground, for forests I prefer to keep my layers for the trees. So instead of layering 3 different grounds over each other and then struggling to place my trees, I try to stick to one or maybe just two layers used for my base, so I can better layer the various birches and fir trees and so on.

That does not mean my ground has to look boring.
  • For once, consider how much of the ground you’d even see - depending how dense the forest is, there might not be that much of it uncovered anyways.
  • You can still add ground variations in the end, it does not have to be part of your first sketch. In this tutorial, we might do this in the end, depending how the map turns out.
  • You can have elevation on the map. If I walk through my local forest here, I do a lot of height changes and even is not really the word to describe it. So you can easily add some interesting variation to your ground by simply shaping it to your needs.
  • Rivers and creeks are options as well.

Here is my example for this tutorial:

To have a good excuse for the wavy path, I added some elevation to the map which would have the path be just the logical result of the terrain.
I also already considered using those elevated paths as a way to naturally block off my map and as a part where I can hide a bonus chest, maybe less obvious once the trees come in.

Thanks to Candacis’ tiles that I used here, so far, besides a small handful of tiles, everything could be placed on the bottom layer:


While the stair tiles will for sure go on layer 2, as there won’t be anything that goes below them, the edges of the hills will probably change layers - at least some of them. Depending on whether they end up behind a tree or if a tree goes behind them…

So this is my base for the ground, but a forest is mostly made out of trees, at least I heard so!
And what also should be no secret is that I have compiled a list of large(r) trees, that you are free to look through and see which ones you like and which terms work for your project.
I did so, and collected some by Venere Marte, NuraRay, PandaMaru, Candacis and Cyanide.
I could’ve chosen a different style or taller ones, but I like to avoid the ones that are just massive, as they stick out with the smaller ones and give me a feeling of a few very large trees instead of a closed forest if that makes sense.
So, I simply open a new B/C/D/E sized sheet in gimp, and copy the trees I like onto it in a way that they fit into the grid.

Something you can see in the shot above, I purposefully left the empty tiles on the top left and right there, so I can simply select each tree as a square. Forest mapping already involves a lot of flipping between layers and mapping stuff up and down, and this just makes my life a lot easier by sacrificing just a little space. I mean, this a full sheet - but I still have 3 empty ones left, space is of no concern here!

But what might be of concern is the style - as you can see, some are more or less saturated, some have more contrast. I have a more in depth tutorial here, where RTP and FSM are the focus, but basically those are the steps to take to bring any similar MV/MZ tiles closer to each other. (Also: shots fired FSM users, you can actually use more than the one tree that I see on most of your forest maps :p)
Because the linked tutorial should explain it quite we,, here is just a little “what I did for this set”: I looked at the grayscale image to see which trees seemed a little low in contrast and used my own trees as a guideline on where I wanted to be contrast wise.

Then I used the curves setting in gimp and the contrast method to bring them closer together:

Afterwards I looked at the image in non greyscale and used hue-saturation to adjust the ones that I felt did not look quite right yet. So this is my result:

(you could make sure all trees had the same shadow style on the ground, but this can be a little fiddly, I left it out for this tutorial)

Now we have a great base for a forest, right?
But we also have three empty B/C/D/E sheets, and while I might need another one for rubble (probably not even a full one, unless I plan to add a campsite or ruins…), I have plenty of space for…

parallaxing without parallaxing.

Wait, what?

You probably heard of clumping, you know, taking several tiles and putting them into a preset cluster, so you don’t have to map a table and a book and a quill, but only one table that has everything already placed on it.

Well, I did the same here.
I created another empty sheet, and kinda mapped a small patch of forest, making sure I could in the end set a proper passability to it. I like to have them in various sizes, smaller and larger clusters that come off as natural.

Tip: since the sheet is cut in half in the preview, I try to make sure that my clusters are not sliced up for easier mapping.
So here is the final sheet I made for this map:

Still plenty of room left in case I need more clusters, and yet, with this little edit, I saves myself a lot of time on the actual map!
Because let’s have a look:

On the previous base I have only placed my clusters. Since I made enough different ones and did not place two of them next to each other, at the first glance you don’t really see that those are clusters, they could just be carefully placed trees.
  • you save a lot of time, since you place a bunch of trees at the same time as you would need to place one
  • you save a lot of struggle with the layers: those clusters can go on one layer, maybe the upper part on layer 3 so you can place a tree behind it on layer two, but it is a lot easier to use them
  • you can make larger horizontal and vertical clusters to use for blocking off the rim of the map as natural borders

Now that I placed my clusters, I can use my other tree set to fill up the map:

This is fiddly. Your trees will often be split up layerwise. That is why I usually try to map as much of the tree on layer 2 as I can, and then add only to layer 3, what has to be above something that is on layer 2 and so on. With that many trees involved, it is a lot of juggling!

If you are happy with your tree setup, it is time to roughen the map up! Forests are not a kept lawn and clean path, so you can go back and make your path more patchy and add rubble, grass, dirt and other smaller details in:

Here I used some clumpings by Candacis and just the regular stuff from OutsideB and the little dirt patch from DungeonB.
Don’t forget the walls as well, they probably won’t be clean in such an area as well!
Tip: You can make this look even more natural by placing certain things that are just one tile by default into various positions so your map does not look as if everything was places into a strict grid.

And just like that, we are already very close to a nice result. Now that I have everything else set, I like to see where I need some ground variations:


The left two tiles are just the normal grass + candacis long grass that I already had on my A2 sheet (since I used hers as the base for this), but since I want to save as much as I can on layers, I pasted them already onto the grass. The same goes for a recolored version of one of Cyanides grass variations, if I really wanted to map that one to the edge of a cliff I needed the transparent version, but for layer saving I made a grass + other grass combo here as well.
And then I just go back on layer one and mix them in where I feel like I need them:

But here I don’t stop!
This forest looks like a nice place to live for certain animals, but… I don’t see any!

I placed most of my animals out of player reach, I want them to be decoration, nothing the player can run into. If the map was not a small “tutorial size” one, I’d probably place deer for example behind my “natural barriers”, so they add to the atmosphere, but the player does not interfere with them.
The bird on the tree stump - since the one by bluecarrot16 comes with sitting and flying - jumps on player touch and switches from sitting there to flying randomly across the map.

But there is one last element. Since I am not parallaxing here, I don’t add a lightmap.
Still, there is an easy way to add that little extra to the forest by using a picture overlay

Starting with a white, screen size image, I used the default vegetation01 brush in gimp in various sizes and opacity levels to kinda smooth out the edges. You might want your inner leaves to be more yellowish than the outer ones.
Just play around a little, until you like your result.

Then create a new parallel event on your forest map and use it to show the just created picture in the mode “multiply”. You will need to activate a self switch then and add a blank page activated by said self switch.

And then, let me testplay my map and show you the result:

A beautiful forest, just the editor, no plugin, no acutal parallax and no difficult edits, just small things everyone with Gimp can learn to do!
Last edited:


Old Raven following Rainbows
Aug 1, 2018
Reaction score
First Language
Primarily Uses
Once again a very good and clear tutorial I hope ppl take to heart :)

2 things I want to mention :
which would have the path be just the logical result of the terrain.
Basic rule but sooooo important - and so often overlooked.

Also the clumping of stuff doesn't only apply to trees. Please ppl consider underbrush and all other things one might find on the forest floor as well for this :)


Oct 8, 2018
Reaction score
First Language
Primarily Uses
I wish I could map like that, but it give alot of cool idea's, really nice tutorial again.
but there is so many aspects to take into accounts as well.

keep it up.


Jul 12, 2012
Reaction score
First Language
Primarily Uses
I love the idea of clustering the trees and other objects (as Finnuval has mentioned) within the tile set! This will save me time, since I tend to need to make a new tile set every new area I work on anyway. Even with MZ, some trees seem to layer over each other weird for me if I try to stack them separately, so this is a great lesson!

Thank you so much for continuing to make these awesome tutorials for us, it always helps me get a better perspective on what I'm doing, and how I can be doing things better. :LZSexcite:

Latest Threads

Latest Profile Posts

Man, the enemies in the new Sonic Frontiers update are totally roided up. I wanted a little more difficulty myself, but Sonic Team turned the dial a bit too far.

At least the new tracks for roaming Ouranos Island as Amy, Knuckles, and Tails slap hard.

This battle victory screen has been pretty fun to work on. Not only can party members set new personal records for their contributions to the fight, but when they do, the party remarks on the accomplishment!
When you love all your children equally, but the world sees it differently.
Found an old, unfinished project of mine, where you fight movie screenplays as an up-and-coming actress.
Turns out I used VX way back when. I may need to remake this in MZ, the premise was kinda hilarious.
Holy crow, logging in to 33 notifications! That was unexpected.

Forum statistics

Latest member