View Full Version : Battle maps - which size is the best?

04-17-2011, 02:27 AM
As my plan to make a set of battle maps is still existing, I'm now looking for the best format to do them (after thinking about the settings). What would be the ideal size for a .pdf collection? Letter format? Additionally, which grid size would be best? 0,5 inch? :?:

I usually see most projects for which I am commissioned from the cartographic/artistic side, so I'm not completely sure about the gaming side.

I'm glad about any comments.

04-17-2011, 02:44 AM
Depends if your looking from the perspective of a VTT or a print product. If your intension is to print the squares need to be 1 inch to accommodate mini's for gameplay. If it's a VTT you general go either 50-100 px per square to accommodate lower file size for hosting and keep efficiency of usage. If you are doing it just to show a representation of the dungeon so then can replicate it on a dry erase etc.

04-17-2011, 03:39 AM
If you are intending for your battlemaps to be print-and-play (my favorite), you will want to go with one of the 2 primary grid-size conventions, either 1 inch square or 25mm square. As Gaemon says, Virtual Tabletop [VTT] uses either 100px or 50px as standard conventions (50px is more common, but 100px allows far greater detail), but then again if you are going down that route PDF probably isn't the best distribution format.

If your maps are intended for printing keep in mind that lighter tone with greater contrast is better than dark and subtle. Most home printers can't handle exceptionally high levels of detail, no matter how much the manufactures tout their products' capabilities. It is also a courtesy to the customer, saving on ink is always appreciated.

I personally would aim for an image size per sheet of no more than 8 in X 10 in, or 200 mm x 250 mm. This would ensure it could be printed on both North American Letter or A4 paper sizes.

That's all I can think of for now.

04-17-2011, 04:04 AM
Thank you both! I tend more in the direction of .pdfs for print.

04-17-2011, 12:43 PM
For other kind of maps to be printed, say a dungeon or a castle, would a smaller grid size be better? I make often maps with 0.25 inch grids.

04-17-2011, 02:56 PM
While a grid is used for scale, its primary purpose is for the placement of miniature figures, 1 square inch being the most common (or as mentioned above 250 mm is another), so creating grids smaller than that offers no benefit. The scale should match the base of the figures - so .25 inches is of no use for encounter scale maps. Also Sapiento, I use PosterRazor a free program that automatically slices large PDF files (maps) into printable chunks able to be printed from the home printer. You can set the size of unprinted area - I usually set to .75 inches to accommodate the least capable printer, its easiest to use that for converting your map to printable sizes in an easy to do method.


04-17-2011, 04:03 PM
They pretty much covered it. 1" squares are necessary if the map is going to be printed out for use with table top miniatures. If you also want it to be used in a VTT you will want to include an image that is grid free. This is because the VTT will overlay it's own grid and unless they line up just right (there are some settings within most VTTs for aligning) it's probably going to be a mess. Also, I'm pretty sure Torstan always includes a higher ppi image for printing so the image looks good printed. Using 50 for VTT is great but in a print format I guess it's lacking and most printers are capable of much higher.

Using smaller grids like .25 inch goes back to the old school days where the DM used it to keep track of where the party was at as they delved into the environment.

To be honest I still have issues printing on both my inkjet and my laser because things never come out right (Usually it's huge on screen and like 3" wide on print). I finally used MS Word to print something and it actually came out right. This lends me to thinking I have some stupid setting somewhere that is auto adjusting my images but I'll be darned if I can find it.

04-17-2011, 04:15 PM
Which is why I prefer working in vector rather than raster. When I create a map, I usually create them at 18" x 24" in scale, but ppi is of no concern until I export them for printing and use beyond the creating program. Even maps I create at 18" x 24", I often shrink to 8.5 x 11, 11 x 17 or at full 18 x 24 inches at 300 ppi. I also create 100 ppi versions for use in VT, all from the same map. I never worry about resolution until I export the file, then I export to whatever I need at the time. Since the map still exists in its native format, I can always export again to a different format and different ppi resolution. Becausing my printing software can slice maps larger than what the printer can manage on a single sheet (roll stock), I could effectively print a map at 50 feet x 50 feet (though that would be one expensive map...)


04-18-2011, 02:17 AM
Very helpful information. I see, I have to make some thoughts about this project.
I see some members making encounter maps for print (like The Red Epic) in different settings who uses letter format; as I understand it these would be for use in campaigns and not for miniatures.

I know this may sound like questions of a RPG newbie, but I played a RPG only once and this was 12 or 13 years ago. As mapper I seldom have to think about the game itself.

I appreciate the help and comments.

04-18-2011, 09:17 PM
I will echo the no grid preferences. All the PDFs that I buy have that option.


04-19-2011, 02:59 AM
OK, good to know, Bob. Campaign maps, too, I guess, not only battle maps?

04-20-2011, 03:42 PM
Yes Sapiento,

Everything I purchase does not have any grid or hex. Or they are removable.

Because I use everything through my VTT I can set the scale on the fly and change things as needed. Pop in a map of the city, then pop up a close up cropped shot at a different scale.

Then when I am lazy pop in the same shot, rotate or mirror it and change the scale and Presto! a new building. :)