View Full Version : Huge map, does this mean massive file?

06-24-2010, 12:24 AM
I am Zach Johnson, a designer for Schadenfreude Games. We are currently working on a large strategic board game that consists of a map approximately 3 ft. wide by 2 ft. tall. We have made a hand drawn map, but want to move it into the digital realm for a possible print and play for playtesters, I imagine sending interested persons a pdf with the map spread out on several 8.5x11 pieces of paper which they can simply print out and connect together. I dug into the tutorials hard, and have produced an amateur looking map using GIMP, but very small. In one such tutorial I read that to have print quality for a map you should set the resolution to 300 pixels per inch. I did this for a full sized map and the file size for the blank slate was 1.3 GB! Needless to say it froze my computer for several minutes, after regaining control I closed the program and resumed playing around with a smaller image.

If I am to print out an image (I don't need publisher quality, just playtest quality) how many ppi should I have so it doesn't look terribly pixelated? Or is there some trick to make it in parts? although I'm not sure how to line them all up then.

Thanks in advance!

06-24-2010, 12:59 AM
150-180ppi should give you good visual quality for testing. I am not familiar with tiling in gimp but you could always layout some guides diving the map into print-sized parts with a tiny registration dot where the guides cross, then put a guide about .25" to .5" (1cm) on either side of those guides to mark desired overlap (makes it easier to reassemble without ugly white gaps)... then copy and paste each of those sections (including a section for overlap) into their own document for print. Hope that makes sense?!

If you have access to Adobe Illustrator.. you can place the map and set it to tile in page setup.


06-24-2010, 01:07 AM
Thanks for your quick response!

So 150 being half of the 300 I'm thinking this may still be massive and unwieldy?

It seems that the best way to make it all line up perfectly is to as you say just tile up a single image, but as this single image was huge, I guess I'm wondering if there are any techniques to match up several images into one map?

06-24-2010, 02:48 AM
you can't go much lower than 150 dpi.. 120 perhaps.. but 72-100 is for screen quality and that will be pixelated when you print. (but viewable).
If its possible for you - don't know the complexity of your map - maybe you could make the map in illustrator, this will produce a vector file which could be much more compressable than bitmap files.

A map of 36x24 inches in 150 dpi should take up about 60 mb space ... if you save it as jpg at quality 8 of 12 it should only take up about 2 megs ... so I'm guessing something is wrong somewhere... if you need help - send me a mail jesper (a) catapult.dk

06-24-2010, 03:04 AM
Just so you know 150 dpi is much less than 300 dpi, not half. What you have to remember is its really 150 x 150 dpi per square inch which is 22,500 dots, whereas 300 x 300 dpi is 90,000 dots, which is four times the resolution. 600 x 600 dpi is 360,000 dots or four times 300 dpi resolution. The difference in quality between these three commonly printed resolutions is vast, really.


06-24-2010, 06:59 AM
The image size + dpi and the file size for it are not related in a linear fashion. There are a number of options to reduce the file size whilst keeping the original image large. It depends whats in the image. In general tho images that have lots of random detail mean big and those with large areas of single colour are small.

We had a challenge once to make a map of a certain size and the file size was no bigger than 75Kb

Here are the resulting entries.

Some of these images are very nice maps and 75Kb is not a lot of memory for such an image. So there are options. I think that you need to post the kind of image you have that needs to be made a smaller file size. If your printing out on A4 sheets to stick together then you don't have one big map you have lots of smaller ones. This means that the computer does not need to allocate a lot of memory to print the whole map in one go. So I think the only issue is the disk space needed to ship or download the whole set of them.

Also, to cut a complex story short. Full commercial print is 400dpi +, good quality prints is about 300dpi, average or FAX quality is 200dpi, and below this looking at it in front of you your likely to see it pixelated.

I would also look into a little free app called posterazor (http://posterazor.sourceforge.net/) which takes one big image and breaks it up into A4 sheets with a little overlap so you can print and stick them together. Tho the PC needed to break up the image needs some RAM to cope with the big image, once broken up it will be easier for a smaller PC to print them a sheet at a time via a PDF of the pages.

06-24-2010, 07:16 AM
agree with redrobes .. and if you have acrobat pro (or similar) you can print to pdf instead of a physical printer - thus actually doing the "cutting" of the image before you mail it to anybody

06-24-2010, 07:19 AM
Posterazor will do the cutting, overlap and collating and embedding into a PDF doc of A4 pages ready to print. Its free (GNU) as well and very cool.

06-24-2010, 11:11 AM
I'd agree to the suggestion to keep it in the "vector" world for now. Inkscape is a FOSS alternative to Adobe illustrator.

Keeping it in the vector world means you can create extremely large images that are resolution independent. It also makes tweaking map item much easier while in the development stage. When you are done your playtesting this can then be taken over to a raster application for "prettyfication".

If you want to hand this effort off, please feel fre to post in the map request forum. Several members here (myself included) have worked in this sort of role for board game makers under NDAs in the past, and may help you speed up your development cycle for a reasonable cost.

-Rob A>

06-24-2010, 07:30 PM
Thanks all for the helpful replies!

First yes when I went and created a 150 ppi map last night I discovered that it is indeed MUCH smaller than 300 definitely not half :) I think I'll probably end up going with a 200 to get some quality to it.

I was looking into using something similar to what you are saying already redrobes, but I will definitely check out yours as well thanks for the resource!

I think I will look into the suggestions about keeping it in the vector, but I'm getting pretty comfortable with GIMP and like the image produced. As for hiring someone to do it, we are trying to keep costs to a minimum for this project, although I will most likely come to this forum in the future to possibly recruit some map making artists for the final product.

Definitely loving the resources this forum provides, keep up the good work guys!

06-25-2010, 02:36 AM
As for hiring someone to do it, we are trying to keep costs to a minimum for this project, although I will most likely come to this forum in the future to possibly recruit some map making artists for the final product.

just wanna note, that the offer to help you with your file was just that - help :)

And remember to post what you got when you go public with the game (of course in low-res) cause we'd love to see what you do :)

06-25-2010, 07:18 PM
of course and I understand and appreciate the offer, I definitely considered posting an add in the help wanted section, but I'm more of the type of person who has to at least attempt a project myself before I just go and beg others for help on it. I felt bad enough that my very first post was in the help section ;)

I'll definitely keep you guys posted on my map! I'm liking what I've produced so far, even though it is far from the perfection it will need to be in the future.

06-26-2010, 02:47 AM
understandable ... but especially with stuff like document and file size - one can get stuck in some settings that are hard to find if you don't know where you went wrong ;) ... looking forward to seing more :)

07-27-2010, 09:44 AM

I've loaded up the map that I was working on while asking these questions. Its posted at the following thread:


07-27-2010, 10:50 AM
What no one has mentioned is that a what is perceived as a quality varies with use-- i.e. how close you expect the person's eyes to be to the printed object.
A poster for a bus might be printed at around a dozen DPI. A banner that hangs from a regular ceiling might be 100 DPI or less. If i touch my nose to a 300 or even 600 DPI item the dots become visible. It's all about how it will be used.

If the users are expected to have their eye-balls more than say 18 in. away from the printed object then you can go lower than 300 DPI without a perceived loss is quality.
Unless your map has excessively small details or type, i'd guess no one would notice the dots in the 72 to 200 DPI range, depending in part on how many cards or other game paraphernalia they are expected to have between themselves and the map.

07-27-2010, 08:41 PM
I have a tut about bitmapped images which includes DPI stuff here:
this covers what jwbjerk says about distance to item. Though I think in this case were looking at being sat around a table with this on top. Maybe asking game board printers what DPI they want in the master file would be a good start to picking the DPI for the image.

Anyway, glad you uploaded the image as it makes it clearer what type of image were talking about and I think it does lend itself to being bitmapped or could be mostly done with vector with that bitmapped texture masked in. If that texture was made of the seamless tiling type then I think the file size of the vector image + bitmap texture would be very small. I think a modest PC would cope better with this type for this particular type of drawing.

I think I would try to see if you can get this done with some help in Inkscape or let someone else do it (or partially do it as a starting point) with that, Illustrator or Xara. It could be done as easily with a bitmapped image if you happen to have the right kind of tools and PC. Whether Gimp is the right tool for that is something I cant answer as I am not familiar enough with it though id expect someone who was, to say "not" in this case, based on previous posts about its handling of big files. PS seems better as it has some large image format thingy.

Although I know you said that costs are an issue, this does seem like the sort of image GamerPrinter with his Xara seems to knock out in no time.

Nanba sempai
10-04-2011, 12:26 PM
Dear Zach!
I can recommend you to use this poster making software (http://www.ronyasoft.com/products/proposter/) for printing big maps multipage.