View Full Version : Any Encounter/Battlemap Tutorials?

06-25-2010, 01:46 PM
Hello all,
I am new to the site and have tried searching, but am just a bit overwhelmed by all the material already compiled on this site. :) Thats a good thing.

I was wondering if anyone can point me in the direction of tutorials related to encounter maps for Dungeons and Dragons utilizing Photoshop, GIMP, or similar software?

The group I game with uses a projector to display encounter maps in MapTool. While MapTool is an excellent program for map creation in its own right, I want high quality maps with all the nice contouring and color you get in Photoshop. I can then bring the map into MapTool and add any objects, vision, light, and Fog of War effects that I desire.

Thank you all in advance!

Jeremy AKA ScenesFromAMemory

06-25-2010, 05:22 PM
I can't think of any tutorial for this but there have been a number of discussions on the subject. There are a few of us around here who are into doing these kinds of maps. I'm learning myself and have recently sort of finished up my first map for Maptool (although, I imagine it would work in a number of VTTs). I can tell you I learned a lot doing my first one so I'm looking forward to doing another.

If I ever finalize how I create them I wouldn't mind putting together a tutorial on it because I was pretty lost when i started out. I think you are the 3rd person since myself to come along and wonder how to begin.

So, just ask away and we will try to answer as best we can to keep you going in the right direction.

06-25-2010, 05:55 PM
Well I dont think we have any tuts for maps specifically for map tool or even VTTs in general as most of the time they are normal maps without the moveable stuff on them. But we do have a forum for VTTs in the main listing so you should be able to look through that and find some maps you like and check out how they made them.

Also, I would recommend looking in the finished maps section and looking for the sticky thread for the finished map thumbnails and paging through the maps there till you find some you like and looking at the threads. They usually have a link to the WIP thread for the map before it was finished.

My opinion tho is that most of the time you are doing either a small bit of terrain maybe 100' - 200' square so you just layer up loads of textures of real stuff - mud, grass, scrub, bushes, trees etc or else your doing a city section in which case its all the previous plus some house / roof textures. Try creating layers in PS / Gimp etc and spraying down some textures which you can get from a load of places and we have a topic in these forums of resources which list places to get useful stuff. My preference is CGTextures.com tho mainly cos the site is so easy to use.

Id also point you to this challenge:

with these entries:

which may also give some inspiration.

06-26-2010, 04:02 AM
Made a few [backyard (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?10686-Battle-Map-Backyard-in-City)] [market (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?10689)] and working on a lot more (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?10800-Battle-City!&highlight=battle+city) ... also made some tiles (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?9612)
havent made a tutorial but I might ;)
I usually start with making a grid so I can get the scale right - I always use 1 inch = 5 feet
Then I add the mayor elements (or sketch them in) checking the scale fits
Then I add obstructions/fun stuff
Then I start to draw and texture

hope it helps :)

06-27-2010, 10:00 AM
Thank you all so much for the advice. I guess I am just looking at in the wrong direction. Many of the techniques I have seen in other styles of maps work here, its just all about scale.

Thank you for the excellent links redrobes. Thank you for the examples tilt.

I think what I may do is attempt to recreate a map from WotC or one I find on here, much as you suggest redrobes. Maybe I could do it as a work in progress thread and help someone else thats lost like me :)

06-27-2010, 11:18 AM
it is difficult to do a tutorial for battle maps since they can be with just about any elements on them .... "challenge accepted! ... this is gonna be... legen... wait for it... dary!" ;)

06-27-2010, 11:34 AM
it is difficult to do a tutorial for battle maps since they can be with just about any elements on them .... "challenge accepted! ... this is gonna be... legen... wait for it... dary!" ;)

Ok then, but there better be Cows in the map legend. :D

06-27-2010, 12:02 PM
Well this is all rather new to me, so I think what I need is an example of how to get started so that I may experiment. For example, my group is currently running through a module provided in Dungeon magazine called "Haven of the Bitter Glass". At the next game session, there is a cavern area containing a fortress which is under siege. Several encounters occur here. However, the WotC map is not so great and I would like to recreate it for higher detail and to add dynamic objects the players can interact with. I believe I have correctly attached the file from the Map Gallery.

I am curious as to getting started. I thought of using an Alpha map to create the basic shape of the cavern interior and over hang. But all my attempts at making the background look good have turned out poorly. I am just getting comfortable with using patterns and the deeper mechanics of Photoshop, so when I use them the pattern looks tiled. I would like a more randomized stone look like the original image.

No one has to give me a step by step on how they would do it, but maybe a few friendly nudges to get me in the right direction? :)

06-27-2010, 12:46 PM
There are three ways I can think of to overcome the appearance of tiling. The simplest is to use a bigger texture. If you have a texture that is half the size of your map or larger then the tiling won't be visible. Or, you can mix another texture with a different resolution with your original texture. This can be done with a simple blending mode changes (overlay is usually the way to go, especially with stone), or with a mask on the top texture that reveals the bottom texture in places where the tiling is most obvious.

The toughest way is to find or modify your texture so that the features that make the tiling obvious are minimized. Depending on the texture, this may be impossible, but it can usually be done. I think it was Redrobes who posted a good tutorial on how to make seamless textures a while back. You might look around for that if you decide you need to modify the textures.

Finally, a good source of texture resources is CG Textures (http://www.cgtextures.com). They have thousands of high quality, high resolution images ,and their license permits royalty free use for any application except scrapbooking (I have no idea why that particular restriction).

06-27-2010, 01:27 PM
there is at least one tutorial for making seamless textures in here.. .basicly you take your texture - cut it in half vertical shift the halfes so the outer borders are now in the middle - then you merge them again - then you cut it in half horizontally and shift the halfs again and merge again - so now all your outer borders are seamless cause they represent what used to be the middle. Then you fix the new middle with healing brushes, stamp tools etc to make it look good (remember not to get to close to the new edges) and Voila! a seamless texture :)

06-27-2010, 08:16 PM
Got a few points to make.
1. Yes, this thread will make an excellent WIP thread for your new map so make a start. try to move it as far as possible and then when stuck, ask away.
2. We may have to remove that map cos its a WotC map and copyrighted. If you can provide a link to the map on a WotC site or whatever then can you edit the post.
3. CGTextures is a great resource and I like it cos its easy to use. You can use the textures in commercial and non commercial maps but you cant use them in creative commons maps or any maps that have a license that makes the parts of the image free to use. So not CC or GNU etc. They specifically dont allow scrapbooking where you collect up the textures and repost them online as a set of textures - thats their big no no. But as long as you cant extract a good version of the texture back out of your image then I think your basically ok.
4. I wrote a seamless texture tut here: http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?1373-Tutorial-on-how-to-create-seamless-textures-out-of-anything which is basically the process tilt is describing.
5. You get get a GIMP plug in courtesy of RobA (I think he has a link to it on his sig) to do that process or in that thread is a script which will run it automatically using image magick. Otherwise its a bit of a chore by hand.
6. :D

06-27-2010, 08:38 PM
I will remove the image after dinner.

But thank you guys so much! You are quick and incredibly helpful :)

06-28-2010, 02:24 AM
Does CC require that source elements of a piece be available in that manner? I haven't read the lawyer-speak, but I don't recall seeing anything in the plain language version of the licenses that suggests that elements of a work need to be made available under the same license. I thought only the final work was licensed. If that's the case, then the licenses are far less useful than I had previously thought.

GNU, though, is very stringent on that subject, so you're correct about that. Not to mention the onerous requirement of including the entire license text with the work. I can't imagine using GNU for visual artwork. I considered it for a video project a couple of months back, but there's not any practical way to fulfill the license terms with a short video distributed on the 'net, so I had to forgo using a bit of texture.

06-28-2010, 02:37 AM
I believe its the other way around, that they don't want their textures to be used in CC cause then they are "free" to use by others afterwards (if they can be extracted).

06-28-2010, 06:29 AM
The basic principle is that stuff you create is copyright by default and that all elements that your using which you have not created yourself need permission from those that did in order to use them. If you are using elements to make an image that is CC then the license states how you can use those elements in your work without having to specifically ask the owner. If you use public domain elements then you can use them in your CC images as they are ownerless or owned by the public.

So no, you can use all copyrighted stuff in a CC image if you get permission from all the copyright owners to do it. If we were talking about a professional art repository like Associated Press or something similar then they would not give it at all in any way because thats their business. The license that CGTextures is giving is not CC or public domain but is their own and states how you are able to use their stuff and they are not by default saying you can do whatever you want with them but they are quite liberal about it. Because they are not saying do whatever you want they are correct in saying that you cannot re-license their stuff on their behalf. So you cannot license work with their stuff in it as CC or GNU doc or whatever. They are saying you can use it to make work and even sell that work, publish it and do most things with it but the texture within that image is still theirs and is not yours to legally give away.

Its an odd situation and is where the licenses of free and copyright clash. There is an incompatibility with the licenses. Your right in that GNU code in programs is much the same. You can license your own written code as GNU but you cant take bits of other peoples code, make up some new programs using parts of it and then license the code as a whole as GNU. And once its GNU then it stays GNU unless the original author says that his code can be used in another way. This is like the CC license when you use the "share-alike" bit of it. Every image that you make using one bit of CC with SA element in it needs to be CC-SA as well.

GNU and CC etc are there for your protection. It says that you have specific written permission to use it. Nobody can come along and claim that you now owe them money for using their stuff. And the flip side is true when you put a CC license on your new work and publish - you are stating how you are, by default, allowing people to use your work. When using CC without the "no derivatives" mark on it then people can and will take your work, make a mash up of it and repost it.

The short of it is that if you want to do whatever you want with your work then make it all yourself or use public domain material or extremely liberal licenses like the MIT / BSD ones. This is the route I take with my code but with my art I do CC stuff too but I don't knowingly use copyright material without a license or GNU. In fact I don't generally use even the lesser GPL or some of the mildly restricting licenses in my code.

Licenses are a necessary evil but also like having a free insurance policy on your work and I would urge people to mark the actual image with whatever license or copyright symbol as applicable.

06-28-2010, 12:46 PM
I went back and looked at the CGTextures license in preparation for starting another thread to clarify this matter, and I saw the clause "It is NOT permitted to… Release the Textures or derivative products under Open Source Licences." So the issue is actually the CGTextures license, not CC. I'm going to start a new thread in General Discussion where we can get at this in more depth, since it's off-topic here. Look for "Creative Commons licensing questions."

06-28-2010, 06:10 PM
Yes thats right. CGTextures are not CC, and tho liberal in scope, they don't allow you to make CC or GNU images out of them. If you look at my sig with the Unless otherwise stated... bit it says "Sometimes the maps use content which is not permissible under CC terms." Thats pretty much there for CGTextures sake. I can give the map away for free to use for gaming but sometimes the map may not be CC so no rehashing of it. I don't use all that many CGTextures textures cos I have quite a substantial amount of ones I took myself which is the way I like to be.