View Full Version : Freetown Campaign Map - OSRIC Campaign - WIP - need help with labels

11-09-2012, 10:11 PM
I've been hammering away at a map - my first one I feel good enough about to post - and was looking for help with text. I just don't like the photoshop text tools, and though I tried to search this forum for help, apparently I'm a noob, because I can't find any posts that deal specifically with this.

Can you guys help me out? What do you use for your map labels?


I created the map in CS 2, primarily using pasis' "Creating mountains and other terrains in Photoshop" tut, with the coastlines and 'shelf's' from Ascension's Atlas style tut.

I'm 'grouping' my labels by type (city names, country names, etc), but was hoping for something much easier.

If you have any pointers about the map, I'd appreciate that as well.


11-09-2012, 10:36 PM
The map looks very good. Your labels aren't all that bad. I'm not sure what you are looking for but I know a lot of members use Inkscape to do labeling. It's a vector program and very good for text. I can't give you any personal testimony as I use GIMP for just about everything. Good luck and keep up the great work :)

11-10-2012, 08:48 AM

It's having to create multiple label layers, and then to keep the list nice and tidy, having to group, etc to condense it. Makes for a real pain. I'll have a look at that Inkscape.

11-10-2012, 09:52 AM
I find the labels hard to read ... especially the ones with the slanted brush font. They change colours and some are particularly hard on the eyes, especially for a mildly colour-blind person like myself! Red-green-brown combinations have to be handled very carefully.

11-10-2012, 07:30 PM
For point features, it's best to use a simple horizontal label.

For linear features, it usually best to have a label following the shape of it with even spacing repeated as needed for clarity

For area features, there's a bit more variety in how you can do it, but the best way to handle it is usually a slightly curved label running approximately over the maximum dimension of the area with the spacing of the letters adjusted to cover the area.

Things to avoid are:

Simple rotations of labels. This usually looks really ugly and is hard to follow. A label should be either straight and horizontal, or curved, straight but at an angle is bad, except for a few special situations.

Decorative typefaces. Use clear, simple typefaces. Map labels are mixed in with a lot of visual clutter as it is so don't make them harder to read than you have to. Also, don't mix wildly different faces.

As jtougas said, Inkscape is very good for this. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the text tool and all its options. In particular the spacing/kerning controls and the text on path tool.

To set yourself up for labeling. Import your raster map image. Go into document properties and size the document tot he drawing with no margin. Create a new layer and "lock" the bottom one. Then add your labels. When you are done, turn off the bottom layer, and export with the default resolution. You should now have a transparent raster image the same size as your original map with just the labels on it. You can then import it back into your raster graphics editor as a layer.

Inkscape is also very good for building the initial geometry of your map and for applying effects along linear features like rivers, coastlines, etc.

Check out the tutorials that come with Inkscape under the help menu for the basics. I've written a sort of tutorial covering some of the Inkscape features useful to map making here: http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/15185-inkscape-mapping-basics.html

11-10-2012, 10:31 PM
Awesome stuff guys.

Thx again. This project will eventually span around 12-16 tabloid sized pages, so I definitely want to get this right.

07-23-2013, 06:06 PM
Finally got around back to this, but reading various Tut's on this thread deciding on trying something new, finding various brushes online. This is in the North East part of my map's continent, where my AD&D players current campaign is focused. Thoughts?


I like the lettering and think it fits well. Two things I intend to change are the rivers (lose the black and use ripple effect) and the glaciers...which didn't really turn out well. (I'm trying to figure out how to draw glaciers (incl in a mountain range), but I haven't found any info I like to use. I've also tried to scour the web for tutorials on lava fields for the three volcanoes, but haven't found any. BTW, the glaciers I did draw were basically using Ascension's Atlas tut (creating the Continental Shelf).

Any help would again be appreciated.

07-23-2013, 11:44 PM
Can't help you with the glaciers really unless you think you could hand paint them in? The white would look good on that background if you did.

There is a minor issue with your mountains though, you have some of them backwards with the light coming from the left rather than the right.

07-24-2013, 03:22 PM
you have some of them backwards with the light coming from the left rather than the right.

Hah. Never noticed, thanks. :)

07-24-2013, 05:11 PM
There's another odd thing about your mountains actually; some of them are sharp while some are blurry. Otherwise, it's looking good! I'd advice writing the river labels less spread out, to make them easier to read, and maybe decrease the amount of cities or move them around a little as they are very evenly spread out now.

07-30-2013, 05:05 PM
I used two different sets of mountain brushes, but maybe its an affect of layering? Re the cities, yeah a bit clustered, but each of the smaller keeps is supposed to represent a barony, the next size up earldom and then the capital. The area covered is fairly large, about 300km between the kingdom capital (Whitestone) and the Earldom of Hawkstone. I had to hammer it out rather quickly because my AD&D group is in this area now. But thanks for the advice.

Noted re the river lettering...Battle and River are way too far apart, just given the clutter I wanted to avoid duplicate labels.

07-30-2013, 06:39 PM
Looks pretty cool. OP map reminds me of the geography in my hometown, hehe.


04-04-2015, 11:40 PM
Been awhile, but since I'm starting up another AD&D campaign in my homebrew, it was time to revisit it. This overview map doesn't have the city labels (saved those for area enlargements for clarity's sake).


I'd like to thank the awesome members here at this site and the helpful tutorials and brushes I was able to use to make the map.

Ascension's atlas style, jeself's_tut_map03 and 05, saderan_tutorial and a crapload of brushes (sorry I can't remember who made them).

Thanks all.