View Full Version : New Member looking to make zoomable maps

Bad Hair Day
04-17-2011, 08:37 PM

Thanks to all who make this website and forum possible.

I'm forty-something and a life long D&D player. I'm going to start a new campaign in Sept. 2011 where I will be the DM. I'm pretty good at drawing by hand, and can make all the maps I need. But as I struggle to put my world together, I find what I need is the ability to zoom in and out on my map. I'd like to start with a continent that is about 20,000 miles across (having the different nation-states isolated from each other is an important plot element). I'd like to be able to quickly and easily draw in the usual geographic (mountain chains, rivers, lakes, plains, deserts, etc) and biological (forests, grasslands, marshes, jungles) details.

Then I'd like to be able to zoom in and draw a detailed city state, down to the level of a single square mile, or smaller.

As far as how realistic the maps look, that doesn't matter much to me. If I need them to have a good description, I can do that with narrative. If I need them to have a good map, I can draw one for them. It's more about the book keeping to me- to be able to roughly calculate distances and to be able to put down a specific detail in one area, and a different specific detail in another area, and have the map program remember it all.

I've read the basic links, and I will continue to look for more information in the forums here.

Thanks again!


Mark Oliva
04-17-2011, 11:23 PM
There are a number of mapping methods and program tools that can take you to your goal. Each has its own learning curve and level of difficulty. With some, those curves can be pretty steep. We've found that the very best program for what you want to do is Fractal Mapper (TM) 8 from NBOS Software, for two reasons:

1) The relatively low learning curve of FM8 compared to other cartographic programs.

2) The multi-zoom ability of FM8 with raster maps. I know of no other cartographic program that can come up to FM8's measure in this respect.

Fortunately, you can evaluate it all for yourself at no cost:

1) Download the free trial version of FM8 at:


2) Download the starting tutorial (PDF) at:


3) Download our free raster mapping tutorial for FM8 at:


The raster mapping tutorial has a full section on implementing the multi-zoom features of FM8.

04-18-2011, 06:53 AM
This is my app ViewingDale running the CWBP world (community world build project) found here on these forums.


Its windows only and is icon based so you have to draw all the maps with a paint package and it will put them all together into your world. It allows you to have unlimited zoom and scale to at least solar system sized scale down to about 1mm. You can link in web pages, pictures, text, videos, sounds and any other file into the map with hot spots.

You can use a standard image as a character sheet and overlay your text and links like this:
or make one up using icons like this:

Oh and its also a VTT where you can link the app to other similar apps and you can control their view or it will send over missing content from one to the other. I.e. you can move some monster tokens about and players can move their character icons about and everyone gets the updates even if they are a thousand miles away.

The website link is in my sig. Any questions then just shout.

Steel General
04-18-2011, 06:53 AM
Welcome Aboard!

04-18-2011, 12:36 PM
Welcome to the Guild. I can't really help with the question you asked although the experts have pretty much covered it . :)

Bad Hair Day
04-19-2011, 01:34 AM
Wow. Those were some thorough and excellent answers.

I spent the day puttering around with Fractal Terrains Pro 2.3, it is fun so far, but I still can't quite get the zooming thing to work right in going from a 2,000 mile world up to a 40,000 mile world.

I will try those two other suggestions tomorrow after noon.

Thanks to everyone and anyone!


04-19-2011, 06:17 AM
Fractal Terrains is a fractal world generator which does have the ability to view the world up close and from farther out. Fractal Mapper is a different application for making maps and drawing stuff. Though I think you could render a world in fractal terrains and put it into either Fractal Mapper or ViewingDale and then get the zoom ability. Certainly on my ViewingDale app video I linked to, the world sized CWBP shot is from Fractal Terrains. Fractal Terrains works on a globe but most mapping apps work on a square grid - as though it was rendered with Mercator projection. Only a very specialist few do real time zooming on a globe.