View Full Version : [WIP] Dungeon maps - seeking advice

05-23-2013, 05:43 AM
So, we started playing dungeon crawls in '81 Basic D&D using roll20. For this i needed some dungeon maps. I picked up some one-page dungeons and converted them using RobA's dungeon script in GIMP. I attached an example from Dyson's delve, level 1.

But now i would need some advice, as i am not really experienced in GIMP, or in mapping in general.

Is there some tutorial how to add objects/elements to dungeons fast? Or is the only method manually adding them from my gathered objects?

Also, as you can see on this attached map, i actually create several "maps" for the different parts (on different layers), but the transitions are not very smooth, so if someone could give me an advice how to make that nicer, that would be nice.

And in general, i welcome any suggestion, opinion about this.


05-23-2013, 07:56 AM
Well, creating battlemaps in GIMP is pretty much all I do here... And I get plenty of great advices from talented posters like Jacktannery.
Unfortunately, I am on the phone which hardly makes justice to a map, soI can't really comment.

But to answer your question, I drop my furniture in the map, then fuse this layer down to a new one, when I can move and resize the objects as needed. Once I am satisfied, I fuse this new layerdown to another one so that all my furniture end up on one or two layers. I don't like to multiply layers unnecessarily, on the other hand it is good when piling up objects and working with shadows (the chair should cast a shadow on the carpet but not on the table....).

As an aside, Jack game me a great advice to manage lighting source (it's in the latest project I worked on, the Yuan Ti temple). That should work great for a subterranean scene like the one you are working on..

05-23-2013, 08:35 AM
Scarow, as Simon explained you need to add objects to maps manually - there is no automatic programme or script that can do it for you. However adding an object that you have saved as a .png elsewhere on your computer is a simple matter of dragging it over the gimp window and it will drop right in. It only takes about a second. I'm not sure why you would want to speed this bit up. After that, you would need to rotate it, resize it, (in my case, recolour it), shadow it, etc: these bits take a bit more time and need to be done by hand.

Also, as you can see on this attached map, i actually create several "maps" for the different parts (on different layers), but the transitions are not very smooth, so if someone could give me an advice how to make that nicer, that would be nice.

Where the transitions overlap, it is quite easy, and you have two options:
(i) simple: use the eraser, select fuzziest brush, and carefully delete parts of the upper layer where it overlaps with the lower layer to create a subtle transition.
(ii) advanced: use layer masks on one or both layer to create the same effect as (i) but you can get it to look better.

Where the transitions do not overlap, you will have to draw a new section yourself to create an even transition. You can use the clone tool to make this a lot easier.

05-24-2013, 05:58 PM
Ok, now I can look at it on my home computer...

Well, first of all, that's a really nice map. Especially for a first try...

Now... lemme see what could be improved...

The first thing I notice is the weird thing outside the walls, it seems like the floor texture is reflected or something? Personally, I'd get rid of it, it is a bit confusing, I think.
Jack already talked a bit about how to improve your transition... I'd use these techniques between the sandy and the stone floor, to try and make it look like some of the sand is spilling on the stone. Alternatively, just put your stone floor on a layer above the sandy one, then create a new layer in between and go over the transition with a black brush. Gaussian blur (7 pix, shoud do) and reduce this layer opacity to 85%. That way, the last stone casts a small shadow, making it look like it is laying on top of the sandy floor...

There seem to be a solid wall between the two stone floors, so it looks a bit weird to see the corridor continue... I also don't really like how the stone floor look on the bottom right, I feel like the lines of the stones conflict with the grid. I think that, personally, I would reuse the other stone texture, it looks great. If you want some change, you can tweak the colours... I think it would look better.
You can also redo the trick with the black blurred outline, if you want to suggest a step between the two floors...

05-26-2013, 12:57 AM
Overall this is a nice map. Jack and Simon are much better at Gimp than I am so I can't give much advice on it's use. I agree with Simon that I don't care for the blue-grey floor tile on the right side. If you would like a different color of the upper floor tile it should be easy as I have the originals. Do you use them as the individual 200 x 200 pixel tiles or in a larger set like 800 x 800?

How's this look?
54904 54905

My other comment is that the narrow tunnels that come down the center of the map may be to narrow, they only look about 13-14 inches wide. Or is that deliberate to force them to take off their armor?

Keep up the good work.

05-27-2013, 08:15 AM
Thanks for all the good advice. Unfortunately, i didn't have time in the last couple of days to work with this map, kids getting sick and all, but i will definitely will consider all the suggestions.
Actually, the more i look at it, the more i agree that the floor on the east side is not so nice, so thanks Bogie, i will use these from your post.
As for the transition, i actually managed to make them nicer, i don't know why i didn't think of eraser :) My only problem now is that the script i use creates like 6 layers for each section, and i have to modify all of them, for each transition. Kind of fiddly...

I would like to point it out once more that i didn't design this map, it is from Dyson's Delve, here: Dyson’s Delve | Dyson's Dodecahedron (http://rpgcharacters.wordpress.com/maps/dysons-delve/)
It is a hand drawn map, and i don't think there was any intention like forcing the players removing armor. Though not a bad idea, actually :)

I will report back hopefully in a couple of days, after processing all the suggestions.


05-27-2013, 05:44 PM
As I see the battlemap experts have already given you some excellent advice :) I will merely say that this is a fine start and I look forward to seeing this progress :)

05-28-2013, 04:22 AM
I had some time to spend on this last night, here is the result.

Next, i will try the suggested method for lights and shadows by Jacktannery from that Yuan-Ti thread. For now, i would be happier if the objects somehow stood out more. Do i do that with some shadows?

Also, i would need some advice for the cave entrance on the south, i have no idea how to make that nice. And also on the south eastern part of the caves, there supposed to be these natural steps down, but i don't know how to do that. As you see my attempt with some overlay didn't come out very nice :)

(As a side note, i removed the map from the first post as it was quite a big file. This one is smaller.)


05-28-2013, 04:56 AM
Scarcow, huge improvement – great job on the area transitions and well done for taking Simon and Bogie’s advice regarding your tiles on the lower-right side of the map. Regarding the three points you raise:

1) your map already has nice tonal variety so I don’t think you even need to do a lighting layer.

2) Making objects stand out – yes to a point shadows can help but ultimately the key problem is trying to cram too many different fiddly little objects of different styles and clashing colours into a map rarely works. In my opinion it is better to select fewer, stylistically-consistent objects and make them a little larger. Stuff like rugs, furs, piles of clothing, etc. can be hard to identify and just clutter the map without adding anything. These sort of things are never going to stand out the way you want them to. The way to make light sources stand out is, of course, to create a light/dark layer. Specific to your map, I would advise standardising bed styles, wall-sconce style (I really like the ones in the tombs), wood style (see your clashing bench and table), brazier style and sarcophagus style. Don’t forget with GIMP you can easily recolour, desaturate, rotate and brighten/darken each individual object. Well that's all just what I think anyway - obviously some people love all lots of detail and variety so feel free to ignore.

3) Cave entrance to the south? Why don’t you extend the cave tunnel to the southern edge of the map – that should do it and is simple and effective.

4) Yes your circular steps ovelay in the bottom-right is not working. I would delete that and start again. To make rough stone steps leading into darkness you should do them by hand – it is quite easy. Step One, you make three-four steps. Draw the step outline, then draw a fading shadow below each one. Step Two, select the entire area of the steps/tunnel end and use the gradiant tool (set to transparent>black) to fade it out to black as you go down the stairs, so your lowest step is virtually impossible to see.

05-29-2013, 04:58 AM
Ok, here is my next iteration. I tried to follow the advice, as much as i could. With the lighting, i am not sure how and why i should use 2 layers, black and white. But all in all i am getting pretty satisfied with the map.


05-29-2013, 05:06 AM
Dark but good Scarow. The steps down at the bottom of the map is the biggest improvement on the map - much better.