View Full Version : Thorin's map

08-07-2013, 08:25 AM
Last night, I stumbled upon (not for the first time) WETA's site, the guys behind LOTR and Hobbit.

I saw Thorin's map (http://www.wetanz.com/thorin-s-map-prop-replica/) prop replica. What got me reading is the description of the printing and aging (distressing paper) process.

Here's the map:
56705 (http://www.wetanz.com/assets/Uploads/hobbitthorinsmappropalrg6.jpg)

Anyone has any experience with aging paper and or printing it out the same way that WETA does it?

The reason I'm asking is that we'd like to give a map parchment with Riftforge's map to the first X players. I'd love to be able to do something along the lines of Thorin's map, of course, without the $200 price tag.

- Max -
08-07-2013, 09:04 AM
$199 for one mountain and a dragon? Meh...

08-07-2013, 09:34 AM
That's my point!

If I can print my map out and know how to distress it, I can send it to players for free. I hope it will cost me less than $10 per map.

08-07-2013, 10:21 AM
Distressing one map is fairly straightforward (start with good linen or rag paper, crumple a bit, fold a few dozen times to get relaxed fold lines (folding almost but not quite in the same places each time), spill one or more kinds of tea on it for staining, bake in an oven to get a more brittle and aged paper, whacking repeatedly and possibly hitting it with sandpaper to distress the edges). Doing them in bulk is something I wouldn't want to contemplate. It's probably much easier to distress one, scan it, and print multiples of that.

08-08-2013, 02:51 AM
Thanks, Waldronate!

You are probably right about the "multiply it by 100 times" problem. I'm planning to get rough Arches paper and some distress inks and give it a shot. I'm hesitant to use real tea (or coffee) because the acid will deteriorate the paper in the long run (100 years?!?).

P.S. My better half seems to have plenty of free time, maybe I get her involved.

08-08-2013, 03:05 AM
If you use iron gall ink, it'll eat through the paper on its own in a hundred years or so (depending on storage conditions). Modern inks may have a different set of characteristics, especially printer inks. There's always the bicarbonate treatment to eliminate the acid problem if that's a concern to you (wash the paper with a magnesium bicarbonate solution to neutralize any acid).

08-12-2013, 03:27 AM
I'm waiting for a call from the print shop today. Will post progress (if any!).

08-12-2013, 03:45 AM
I print things out quite a bit, and then "age" them for my rpg group. Distressing something, scanning it, and then reproducing it - just like making something look "distressed" via photoshop/gimp - it just never looks right to me when you print it out. It looks too perfect to me, and then you still end up having to fold it and what not. Keep in mind, you want to use a laser printer - not a inkjet (or the like).

Steps I use are:
1. Print on higher quality paper (usually resume paper or the like) using laser printer.
2. Take a Tea bag, let it step in hot tea for say - 1 minute. Then use it to go over both sides of the paper, making sure to coat it completely. Till you get a nice "Tan" parchment like look.
3. Fill a bowl w/ balsimic vinegar - and dip the edges so they come out w/ a darker look aged look.
4. Crumple up into a little ball.
5. Unfold and iron out (this is like the ovan step from above, but get's the paper back to nice and flat and is pretty quick).
6. Fold where you want it a couple time, and then set under a heavy book.

If you want to add a few more steps - try rubbing used coffee grinds over the paper after you've "Teabagged" it :) (hehehehe. Yes. I went there). Also, wet the bottom of one of your coffee cups and set it on the paper after you've ironed it to get some pleasent coffee wring stains.

I frequently keep a couple extra pieces around blank, and have a nice black pen that to use on them for quick hand drawn maps &/or notes that my group finds.

Also, the acids in the tea, coffee, and vinegar will affect the paper's longevity - one of the reasons I like a nice higher quality paper. However, it's quick and even then "distressing" the paper, like distressing jeans will affect the longevity. I would image though, if you take care of the paper, it should easily still last a very long time. That it's so easy to do, makes up for any loss of longevity IMO.

08-12-2013, 05:49 AM
As others have said, the aging process is relatively straight forward. You basically do the things to a document that would actually be done to a document over its lifetime. The difference is you do it all at once, instead of over a period of decades. (I say "straight forward" but there's an art to it, and making it look good takes some skill).

Incidentally, in the film industry we call it "breakdown". Oh, and just for some trivia, the difference between the "regular" Thorin map (which is USD$29.99) and the replica one is considerably more than just breakdown. They're noticeably different in terms of quality in every aspect, not to mention the regular art print map has all of the copyright information on it! Of course, the other thing to bear in mind is that film art and costume department finishers (the people who break down props, sets and costumes) are much better at breaking things down than either you or I, so a big part of that price is paying for the expert work that actually makes the map look like it really is hundreds of years old and not just a picture someone screwed up and spilled some coffee on!

FYI, I've seen Thorin's map and it's a beautiful piece of work. I was highly tempted to buy one. Definitely worth $200 for one mountain and a dragon. :D

08-12-2013, 10:42 AM
I don't doubt the prop replica looks nice. I've seen photos of several and they all look "identical" and not in a bad way. The types of creases are very similar. In short, it's a very precise work for the calligrapher who did them.

That said, it's a treasure map, not an area map like ours. It's also done by a calligrapher, while ours is done by Sapiento. So there's that.

Again, thanks for all the advice. I plan to follow through with the bits that will be safe for the paper, and only use coffee/tea as an experiment. There's a Ranger distress ink called Tea, so probably you can do a decent job of just simulating teabagging (there, I said it).

08-15-2013, 08:39 AM
Here's one of the test maps. It's one of four tests. This happens to be with one with text labels (some pretty small, so will be removed) and no parchment texture added in Photoshop.

All the wear and tear are physical - rasp and sandpaper for fold lines and details, hobby knife for the edges. The stains are mostly Ranger distress inks (Walnut, Soot). The dotted lines and crosses were done in acrylics to test paint absorption. Lava has been heavily repainted too and it works fine. I'm wondering if I should seal with a W&N matte varnish.



Here's one with parchment texture. It's pretty dark, so I've used it for testing. Yes, there's even sand glued to the side.

Last, I'd love to tie the whole package and seal it with red wax but somehow I can't find a suitable arrangement. Any ideas?

08-15-2013, 03:28 PM
Last, I'd love to tie the whole package and seal it with red wax but somehow I can't find a suitable arrangement. Any ideas?
Multiple sheets of paper? You can roll them and seal them, or you can fold them up and stack them and then have a blank sheet which you put them in the center of and fold it so the seams meet in the middle. Or you can copy the idea behind a modern envelope (which is obviously a derivative of this sort of thing) and have the corners meet in the middle. There are lots of ways to do it really. Paraffin (candle) wax probably isn't the best choice for this though. If you have a bottle of Makers Mark you can probably steal the wax from that , or alternatively stationary stores might have wax sticks just for this purpose (they may also have wax stamps of letters). At least I think that is where I got one but that was like 18 years ago.

08-16-2013, 12:55 AM
That will be a lot of bottles of Makers Mark! But really, wine shops here sell red wax for sealing bottles (or envelopes).

I got inspired from this image of Daniel Reeve (WETA) sealing a stitch.

08-16-2013, 05:42 AM
Pfft, like you can have too much Makers Mark. ;)

Really I thought you were talking about one package which you would be giving the group of players, but I may be in the wrong conversation here. Also I thought you would be doing one seal where the strings or whatever meets. Do you intend to seal all the seams? Do you intend to stitch it together (I'd recommend a linen wrap in that case)?

08-16-2013, 06:35 AM
@ Falconius I'm open to ideas!

The map needs no stitching as it is. It's folded in three because there's a total of 9 areas (3x3), so the folding makes sense.

I tried tying it together and it doesn't look half bad. Maybe a red wax seal on the knot where the strings meet would be OK. My only concern is that this will force players to break the seal in order to look at the map. I was looking for a way to enable them to remove the strings and the seal intact.

08-16-2013, 06:53 AM
Well the whole point of a seal is to break it open :)

You can do what monarchs and such did with important documents and have a seal on the document page itself (they used to use the royal seal or whatever next to the signature, generally with ribbon tails and whatnot too). Or you could go the Asian way and have an ink stamp on the inside.

If you want to do the string thing and be able to slid it off you could do it with saran wrap or some clear polyethylene between the stings and the paper. You should be able to peal that off the wax back leaving it looking good but still have the seal removable.

08-19-2013, 07:51 AM
So wrap it and place the seal on top! Sounds like a good plan :)

01-01-2014, 10:00 AM
When I was younger i tried to age paper for a school project. I read of using oil on the paper and then drying it out in an oven. Two issues, do not use any animal fats or oils, the second make sure you know the smoke point of the oil and the ignition point. I almost had to replace my mom's oven. I then tried to use the burn edging approach for making paper look old. With practice I stopped burning the entire sheet of paper. It took me about 50 sheets to get to that point.

Advance to the present.

Aging paper has gotten easier with the popularity of art supply stores and chains. Yellowing paper to make it look old you can either buy the paper that way or get an aging kit at n art store. I have also been told that exposing the paper to the elements, moist to dry over an over again will age it quicker. I have not tried the last one yet.


01-13-2014, 03:13 PM
Bit expensive imo.

I'd do what was all ready suggested, though if you go the route of scanning the finished product to duplicate it, I'd be sure that (if you want something quality) the scanner you're using is professional grade. If you're in college or have one close to you, oftentimes the photography programs and graphic design programs have really rad scanners.