View Full Version : First Map Post

07-23-2007, 06:26 AM
Hi all,

I was lead here by RPMiller. I've been reading the posts and I've picked up some great tips. Here's a map done in gimp as a hand-out for the D&D game I run. It's a Zhent map of an underdark sea detailing basic troop movements. Any criticisms welcome.


The paper was done with a texture (gimp slate) and desaturated plasma layers as overlays - thanks to whoever posted those tips. I'm afraid I can't find that post again to give more specific thanks!

07-23-2007, 11:36 AM
Welcome torstan! Great to have you here. That is a great start. Is that map all hand drawn? If so, you definitely have artistic talent, and that is one awesome player hand out. It was hard, nigh impossible, to find something to give constructive criticism on. The only thing I could come up with was that the hand drawn lines could be a bit bolder to make that balance better against the colored lines. Well done.

07-23-2007, 12:34 PM
Yep, all hand drawn - most of the main features done at work on plain paper while bored and then scanned in. The rest was done with a tablet at home in Gimp.

An issue that I have with it is that the dotted lines don't look like any ink I can imagine. Any ideas on how to make more authentic looking ink lines in Gimp?

07-23-2007, 12:52 PM
Hm... I don't use Gimp so Gimp specific answers are out for me, but that is a good point. I guess the real question is would the maker of the map have any color available? If so it would be naturally occurring pigment, probably mixed with water or some other solution to make it usable in a quill.

There is a higher likelihood that instead of color the creator would use different types of dashed lines some dash-dot, dash-dash-dot, that sort of thing to show the different lines without depending on color.

07-23-2007, 01:00 PM
The're a rich trading cartel - they can afford coloured ink :)

I just wish I could get it more inky and less obviously digital.

07-23-2007, 01:24 PM
Ah! Excellent point then. How about going over the top of the dashes with the smudge tool, or maybe even using a light bevel to give the center of the dashes a slightly raised look and then using a Gaussian blur to blur the edges?

07-23-2007, 01:40 PM
Welcome, Torstan--and wow! what a mapping debut!

Like RP I had to search for something to advise on your map. I agree with the dotted/colored lines, but that's not as much an issue for me as the differing line weights/qualities of the map. While the (beautiful!) location sketches are sharp, with fine lines and such, the connecting lines and others are fuzzy, gray-ish lines. This lack of consistency hurts a tad, I think, in the believability of this as a hand-drawn map.

Great work, overall, though. Nice, nice job!

07-23-2007, 05:40 PM
Yes, you spotted it. The locations are scanned biro sketches and the connecting lines are 3 pixel gimp lines. The idea is that the areas in between are less well known and therefore lightly sketched in by the cartographer. It's definitely unknown territory , though the players don't necessarily know this. However that doens't excuse sloppy penmanship! It would be better if they were just lighter, sketchier pen lines. I'll have a go and see if I can get a better effect.

Thanks for pulling me up on that :)

08-03-2007, 08:19 AM
I've had a play and performed some minor tweaks. Here is the result:


By turning the coloured strokes to a burn layer and giving them a texture they've been broken up a little and don't stand out quite as much. The outline of the sea was harder. In the end I used a layer mask to shrink down the line width and this also broke the lines up a little. The variation in the line width helps I think and I was able to give it a light texture and also changed it to burn.

I'm not quite satisfied with it, but I think I would have to redraw them with my tablet and pressure sensitivity to get them to blend into the hand drawn elements properly (tablet is at home right now and this map has had quite enough done to it!).

On a separate question. I know that photoshop people can shrink their selections by a given number of pixels. Does anyone know how to do this in Gimp? Thanks in advance.

08-03-2007, 11:38 AM
They have the look of colored pencil.

08-03-2007, 12:15 PM
Damn, you are right. Had an idea for making them look a bit more like ink. Here:


08-03-2007, 12:30 PM
Those are more 'inkish', but the edges should be lighter than the centers which is the reverse of how they look now.

08-03-2007, 01:34 PM
Always another criticism :)

I'm not sure this is the case. Watercolours definitely go the other way - with the darkest area being around the edges. Have a look at this (http://www.sterlingtimes.co.uk/leeuwenhof_watercolour.jpg).

08-03-2007, 01:58 PM
How could we reach perfection without it? ;) Don't worry I'll eventually start posting some stuff so everyone can pick on me. :lol:

If they are watercolor dashes than what you have will work, if they are colored ink, than it is the other way around. I thought they were ink. Having taken many a drafting class, me and ink have a history. ;) Especially regarding the side of my hand. :lol:

08-03-2007, 02:29 PM
Okay, well it is watercolour now then!

I've done a bit of inking myself and I thought I remembered it being that way round. You've almost got me to go and get my brush out... Maybe over the weekend. What's the opinion on the new lines between the features. I'm not entirely convinced but I can't quite see what to do about it.

08-03-2007, 03:22 PM

Artist inking isn't the same as draftsman inking. Draftsman don't use brushes for example. Well, modern draftsman anyway. ;) But I'm pretty sure you would still find the center to not be diluted like watercolor. After all the point of inking is to make strong black lines.

I'm not sure which "new lines between the features" you are referring to.

08-04-2007, 04:19 AM
Fair enough.

Sorry for the lack of description. I mean the coastlines, for example the line between Safe Haven and the Duergar fortress.

08-04-2007, 03:28 PM
Fair enough.

Sorry for the lack of description. I mean the coastlines, for example the line between Safe Haven and the Duergar fortress.
I think the coastline lines look very hand drawn and fit the rest of the map for the most part. I would think that they would more closely match the dashed lines, unless the dashes were added to an existing map of course.

08-04-2007, 10:20 PM
Coming along nicely! I like the watercolor dashes (although they could use a blur of some degree to drop the sharp edges.)

The coasts are better now, much better.

Great work.

08-07-2007, 04:38 PM
On a separate question. I know that photoshop people can shrink their selections by a given number of pixels. Does anyone know how to do this in Gimp? Thanks in advance.

Sorry for the delay (and in case you didn't find the answer yourself) it is under selection->shrink.

-Rob A>

08-08-2007, 02:35 AM
Thanks! I had a work around which involved stroking the selection with anti-aliasing off.... but I won't darken these boards with it, as there is a proper way to do it now.

Thanks for all the C&C. I'll run a small blur over the brushstrokes and then I think the map is done - though it could do with a compass rose... :)

The Cartographist
12-20-2007, 05:54 PM
...of this Map?!

Torstan - Your last post said that you were going to make some more changes, and then you never posted the finished map. Did you make the changes? Is it finished?

BTW - I really like your map. The hand-drawn elements are really nice as is the parchment itself.