View Full Version : Messing with the GIMP and Battlemaps

08-24-2009, 05:00 PM
I've been toying with GIMP and used it for a battlemap I'll be playing on this Wednesday. The party is in a swamp, so I'll be trying different techniques along the way. For this one, I experimented with masks. The trees are symbols and the slope for the land was done with Bryce. Everything else is textures applied through GIMP using overlays and masks.

Steel General
08-24-2009, 06:02 PM
It looks like the perspective of the texture you used for the water isn't top down which makes it look 'off' to me.

Other than that, it's a nice little map. Masks can be your very bestest of friends in certain situations. :)

08-24-2009, 06:06 PM
I definitely like it. I personally think the tree tiles looks really nice and are very functional on battle maps even though I don't like them on more artistic maps. And I think the terrain features on the swamp will be a lot of tun.

I am working on some battlemaps for an upcomming game too. Are you playing 4e? If so, I have some questions.

I was trying to figure out how big they needed to be for a normal combat encounter. I did some research and was pretty sure i should use 1" by 1" grids, but I was worried I might make it too small. I decided on a 16x21 grid on a 17x22 inch page because that would cover at least a full turn of movement for a PC. Is that excessive? Its my first time using 4e and battlemaps for a game, so I'm just not sure.

08-26-2009, 12:54 AM
Steel General, you're absolutely right. I've been trying to find a texture that is from above, but something is always throwing it off. I guess a water texture directly from above is harder than I thought. I then tried drawing something myself with a cloud render, but that didn't work out too good for me either because it didn't go well with the grass texture and photo symbols. The moral here is that textures are not the be all and end all. It explains why so many of the excellent mappers on the site draw their own. Living and learning...

MSA, a 16x20 is a good size for what the DMG calls "an important encounter." The small map above is for a small battle. The key is to make the distance count. If all the players are going to do on a 16x20 map is move forward to melee, then the space is wasted. Set up obstacles that make travel interesting. I don't mean traps -- although those can work -- but perhaps walls of minions, soldiers, or brutes to delay the party while the artillery and controllers do their thing behind a second wall of melee guys. Of course, you're going to need the XP budget to be able to afford all that stuff. For smaller battles, a 10x10 is sufficient. In the battle for tomorrow, I deliberately made the terrain an obstacle in of itself. Although the space is tight, it should make for an interesting -- and brief -- charge forward. I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow. :)

Steel General
08-26-2009, 06:25 AM
BeZurKur - check out Spiral Graphics (http://www.spiralgraphics.biz) Genetica viewer, it's free and has some nice textures in it that you can manipulate and render at various sizes. You may find something that works better for you.

08-26-2009, 07:49 AM
Bez, thanks for the advice! I'll have to look at the DMG a little more carefully and try to find that part you talked about.

I guess a water texture directly from above is harder than I thought.

You might try to create a ripple around the perimeter of the shore. In gimp, here is what I do:

1. Create a transparent layer
2. Select the land
3. Grow the selection by a larger amount
4. Fill with the highlight color
5. Shrink the selection by a small amount
6. Cut

To break it up and stop it from being a solid line, I'll do this:

1. Create a white layer mask
2. Fill with random correlated noise
3. Blur by 20-50 (depending on map resolution)
4. Threshold and find a value that breaks it up attractively

I also sometimes throw some distorts, or I'll mount the highlights on a black (or white) background and do a spread->blur->curves to make it a little less even.

08-26-2009, 07:26 PM
About that Genetica Viewer, it's freaking awesome!:!:

MSA, i will be trying that technique. I'm still learning GIMP so I'll take any and all little nuggets of info. :)

I'm off to my game and finished -- this version -- in the nick of time. It has changed a bit.

Steel General
08-27-2009, 09:00 AM
About that Genetica Viewer, it's freaking awesome!:!:

Glad it was useful to you...I use those textures all the time.

08-27-2009, 11:27 PM
Masks can be your very bestest of friends in certain situations. :)

Masks are my best friend in all circumstances....:P

08-29-2009, 02:03 AM
This got me thinking. Rather than a simple texture, it seems to me that water, might be better handled as more of an effect.

Take the heightmap, and threshold it at the level where you want the water. Then take the heightmap again and adjust the levels so only the portion of the scale below "waterlevel" is retained. Use the first as a mask for a surface layer, and the latter for layers representing depth.

I managed a fairly good "swamp water" effect this way.