View Full Version : [WIP] "The Underkeep" iso Dungeon Map & Map Tiles

03-15-2012, 01:41 AM
I was inspired by Immolate's map (here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?16989-Into-the-Mines-an-dungeon-map-in-3-4-perspective)) to try my hand at iso dungeon maps. I am happy with the results so far but would like to keep working at this until I have a full/finished map.

Here is the basics of what I did.

1. Made one light brown solid square and added a dark brown layer style stroke. (so all vector at this point)
2. Placed that one shape in a folder
3. Used the built-in PS grid to line up copies of that shape in different ways 3x3 ect...
4. Selected the whole folder of shapes
5. Turned it 45 degrees
6. Re-sized it to a -60% vertical scale (Transform set to 40% vertical scale)
7. Merged the folder into one layer (no more vector)
8. Selected the shape of the layer and filled a new layer with the dark brown
9. Copied that new dark brown layer 4 times moving it down each time
10. Merged the dark brown layers... and put it under the flat other merged layer.

From there I just made some of the standard types of shapes found in dungeon maps and started using them to make a test.

As you can see. If you add texture to the square before step 3 you can have even nicer looking ground. I am interested in what you all think about this method and how you think the test turned out...

All suggestions on how to take this from "test" to "finished map" are welcomed!

Here is the results so far:

Here are the raw shapes as a PNG:


03-16-2012, 01:40 AM
I have been working on trying walls... They still need a lot of work. But I think that the angle of the map it to steep. it I make it less harsh of an angle I think the walls will not run into each other so much. I also, made the under block part bigger to give it a more solid feel.

I hope to hear your thoughts as I work through this.

Here is the new test.

03-18-2012, 04:50 AM
I think you'll need to just "suggest" some walls. Or make them lower perhaps. Anyway, I think it looks very good. :)

03-18-2012, 01:00 PM
I think I would have tried making the walls more solid (give them a bit of width), and leave the floor under block alone. But I haven't really done an ISO map, so I might not know what I'm talking about.

03-18-2012, 03:06 PM
I do know what you mean... and you are both making good points. I just need to find a re-producible way to do it. With this project I need to figure out how to do it over and over the same way... I guess you could say I am trying to build a system. In the one Immolate did the walls do have depth and I am working on a way to do that. I am also working on making the tiles look nicer.

I think if I only do walls on the back-outside of the map it will look better. But the walls are still sort of "not there yet". Here is a new tile test. I like the stairs better with smaller steps.


03-19-2012, 01:41 AM
So, here is a test of the walls. I ended up making them the same way as the tiles but much thinner and with a much taller shadow. I guess I should have thought of that before... I am not sure about the corners though...


03-19-2012, 04:33 AM
They look good, but you'll need longer tunnels to make them work visually, methinks :)

03-19-2012, 03:10 PM
you could also see about throwing on the walls close to you on a transparent layer so you can see through them, but still see that they are there... It would allow you to use the same tiles without having to change them at all.. if you were really creative you could make it a mask instead of it being entirely transparent, and create a more fluid visual effect (making the bottoms of the foreground walls almost fully visible and have them fade out more to the top... lots of work, but i think transparent would be acceptable...

03-19-2012, 09:54 PM
Thank you for the feedback!

I started in on a first version of the UnderKeep. I did a test of the transparent walls and made sure the tunnels where longer so the rooms were further apart.

I have also been playing around with some things to fill the place with... trying to see what looks good and what I can do. Not sure yet what I will add or take out. The color is also subject to change.

What do you think?


03-20-2012, 04:02 AM
I think it looks very good, but like you say - the walls are the biggest complication. I'm not sure if you even need them. Thinking as a DM, they would confuse me more than help me. I would only use them occasionally, in handouts and the like.

03-20-2012, 06:45 AM
I think the previous choice of drawing walls only on the far side is better. What you want to show is the interior of the room, especially if you plan to use some textures to give a sense of color.
If you want them to be less invasive, I think loogie's idea is good, 100% opacity at the bottom and it fades as the wall rises.
Then, perhaps I have a solution for the corners, and this SHOULD allow you to use narrow corridors too:
Instead of putting the wall on the whole side of a room, stop a square before the last. Then, draw some "angle" pieces that cut the wall rectangle into half.
Aww, trying to explain this is more difficult than drawing, here is a sketch of what I intend. Sorry, it was handmade in 15 seconds, so it looks... well, not worthy of a cartoghaper! :D

Hope this helps! ;)

03-20-2012, 08:35 AM
I think having the back walls in the back corners of the map is a nice idea to reinforce how it should be envisioned but you do not need them everywhere. The transparency just does not work for me sorry.

I also think it would be better with a more solid background, it sort of gives me the feeling now of the place floating in the clouds rather than being underground.

hmmm that could be a nice touch, no walls, just the flooring and bottomless chasms on either side :)

Overall a very nice job, glad to see how even the mostly clueless artists could take those pieces and turn it into something worth showing.


03-20-2012, 09:32 AM
I agree with what others have said about walls on the far side, but if you're interested in experimenting, one other option can be to have quarter-height walls in the foreground. Perhaps with a rough top to visually communicate that the wall is broken away to help the reader see beyond.

03-20-2012, 11:10 AM
I was thinking of doing somthing like that for the Red areas in Morgan's picture... Thanks for the ideas!



03-20-2012, 12:48 PM
No problem! :)
And I think it should come out nice. The broken wall section allows you to show the bricks or at least the colors of the wall, so you can better determine the general atmosphere of the room.
On the other side (the viewer's side), as anstett was suggesting, you could draw some rocky chasms below the floor to avoid the "floating dungeon" effect. I think the general effect would be cool, like some old style Amiga videogames! :)

03-20-2012, 02:56 PM
I am not sure how I will pull of the "cave look" part, but it sounds cool and I will try something with that idea. I do think that it will help with the "floating" problem. I was also thinking about making some of the rooms "cave like" by making the floor not square.

At work there is no photoshop :-( and not much time to think about this. But later... ... :-)

03-20-2012, 03:41 PM
Umm, I can figure it in my mind. I'll drawn a sketch later when I have time to explain what I mean! :)

03-20-2012, 05:59 PM
... not very refined at this point but here is a new test.

Here is a test of some ideas.

Yellow: The walls with the "slant" and the "broken look".
Red: A fall off to the bottom of the world look.

And a big cave, thing...


03-20-2012, 09:09 PM
Yep, this is what I had in mind, more or less. But I think you should make the chasms longer, perhaps till the bottom of the map, so that it gets a more "interior" look.
Also, I think that archways obstruct visibility, not sure about them. Well, I did my sketch so I'm posting it anyway! :)
I visualized the background as a rocky-thing too, but a bit different from the chasms, perhaps darker texture/color. What do you think?

03-22-2012, 01:46 PM
Your picture explains better what you were saying and I like it. I have also found some other references for this type of map after doing some image searches. There are some things I would like to try but it will take me some time to figure out how to implement them.

Some things will need to wait until I have unveil my finished March competition Map.

Thanks for your intrest in this map and all of your help,

Stay tuned :-)

03-22-2012, 02:27 PM
Yes, I found it difficult to explain :P
As for the interest, well, you kinda reminded me of cool iso-videogames of old, Amiga style, like Heimdall or Darkmere. And, I also kinda owe you 'cause it was from your tutorial on youtube that I came to know this site! :)
Can't wait to see the result! Happy mapmaking! ;)

03-24-2012, 03:12 AM
I'm going to steal your isos once you're done and do something with them :D

04-06-2012, 02:32 PM
I also kinda owe you 'cause it was from your tutorial on youtube that I came to know this site! :)
Can't wait to see the result! Happy mapmaking! ;)

Really! That is so cool, I have always wondered if the tutorials helped others to find this great site.

I'm going to steal your isos once you're done and do something with them :D

I will make sure to post a set of tiles once I finish figuring out how I want them to look

Now that I have the tablet I can't stop trying to add hand-drawn to what I am doing. Here is a test of that.

I want to make a finished map in this iso style but can't seem to get the right look... I guess the "tests" will keep going until I find something I like.


04-06-2012, 07:23 PM
Really! That is so cool, I have always wondered if the tutorials helped others to find this great site.

It did! I'm living proof! :D

Your test is cool, I like the hand drawn style. The only thing is that perhaps it appears to be too "cartoonish."
You should try reducing the opacity of the outline layer, and/or perhaps add a little color. That is, not painting everything black, but a darker tone of the color on which you're drawing (for example, a dark blue/grey for the outlines of the floor in your image).
I'm taking inspiration from old-school iso games, as in these images:
Even in the second one, that is definitely cartoonish, the borders are more morbid, and I think that improves the overall effect.