View Full Version : Getting Photoshop to do the hard work...

Joel Fagin
02-12-2010, 02:18 AM
I was tossing up whether to drop this post in Member Introductions (as I'm new) or here but here won out, so, uh hey to everyone and sorry if this is a faux pas. I'm a Dungeons and Dragoner with a side of graphic design, so obviously I use Photoshop for mapping (and borrow the A3 colour laser printer at work to print them out http://www.between-worlds.com/emoticons/icon_razz.gif).

I was prodded in this direction after I showed a little map-related project to a friend. Honestly, though, I think there are Photoshop gurus enough here that I reckon someone's already tried this idea. Ah well. Que sera sera and all that.

What I've done is set up a bunch of Photoshop layers with copious quantities of filters. Draw on the "Grass" layer with a white brush and you get grass, draw on the "Water" layer and you get water and so on. Took a while to set up (and it's still a work in progress) but now that its done I can run off custom maps in a couple of minutes. This little creek crossing took me three (it's shrunk here but is an A3 map on my hard drive)...

Creek crossing (http://www.between-worlds.com/!junk/Creek-Crossing.jpg)

I'm completely baffled by your attachments, alas, so I'm afraid I linked from my own webspace. Here's a bigger (4xA3) map of a gully entrance. The cliff edges need work, though. I don't like the bare, grey rock.

Gully entrance (http://www.between-worlds.com/!junk/Gully-entrance.jpg)

The only problem I'm encountering with the maps is, now that I'm using them for dungeons as well (Like this cellar (http://www.between-worlds.com/!junk/Cellar.jpg)), I need lots of things that can't be created on the fly by Photoshop like barrells, chairs, fireplaces, fountains and so on.

Has anyone here done anything similar? Anyone interested in sharing cool layer effects?

- Joel Fagin

02-12-2010, 03:51 AM
Layerstyle maps with nice pattern fill textures are a great way to make maps quickly in photoshop with the added bonus that if you want to extend the map off one edge, you can just increase the canvas size and keep drawing (and crop afterwards to make a new map if you want to). If you're after objects, then I suggest you either look at the Dunjinni website or in the 'news' section of this site (look for Mark Olivia's symbol sets), where you will find lots of pngs of objects like Barrels, armour, statues etc to put in your dungeons.

Welcome to the Guild! You have some nice clean battlemaps there!

02-12-2010, 08:09 AM
Theres loads of resources of items as bitmaps like PNGs. You would have to taken them, scale and rotate them. What you need is a stamp tool which is what that is for. So make the base map in PS, stamp chairs and chests down on top. There are some good free stamp tools as well as pay for ones. You can also use a VTT as a stamp tool as well. I write one (see sig) but its a pay one. There is Dundjinni too. DungeonForge is a free one which is also good. MapTool can do this as well as Battlegrounds RPG as two VTTs both very capable of it.

For resources the Dundjinni forums have a lot of items. Our forum has some stuff. The CUSAC is a very large repository of images to use as stamps too.

02-12-2010, 09:25 AM
Hi Joel,

I'm new here too.


Is another good site for objects.

02-12-2010, 01:12 PM
I've seen references to CUSAC before, and I think I actually found it once (around a year ago) when I was working with MapTool from RPtools (another good suite of VTT tools). Where can I find it?

Joel, where did you get the texture you use for your clif face layer?


02-12-2010, 03:29 PM
I've set up several dungeon maps with layers with built in bevels and drop shadows. I usually bring in the floorplan from Illustrator, make a selection of it, then delete it from one of my layers.
I wish PS had a library of symbols like Illustrator does... it would be nice to just drag items from a palette as opposed to opening other files and cutting and pasting.

02-12-2010, 03:58 PM
I wish PS had a library of symbols like Illustrator does... it would be nice to just drag items from a palette as opposed to opening other files and cutting and pasting.

Dumb question - can't you just drag and drop in from a image browser (like faststone (http://www.faststone.org/FSViewerDetail.htm)- my preference)

-Rob A>

02-12-2010, 04:05 PM
Yes, Adobe even has Bridge which is an image browser.. but it's still going outside of PS to get an image.
Illustrator keeps entire libraries within a palette which is really nice. No need to go looking, just load up the library with the things you need and drag them out as needed.

02-12-2010, 04:15 PM
The CSUAC is here:

You need to get a login to the site.

Aval Penworth
02-12-2010, 04:45 PM
Nice. I've been doing some similar stuff in photoshop myself. I think you are doing it better though.
Using those techniques I can create A4 dungeon tiles quickly and easily. You have inspired me to create a few more layers.

Joel Fagin
02-12-2010, 06:57 PM
Thanks everyone for the resources. One thing I meant to ask but didn't is... does anyone want the file? Apart from being useful, I figure other people playing with it might generate some more interesting layers. (I noticed someone working on some lava somewhere in these forums, I recall.)

The only problem is that it's 322MB and I don't have that much web space to host it. Actually, it'd probably be easier to post some textures and instructions.

Joel, where did you get the texture you use for your clif face layer?

I went to a an old quarry where they do abseiling and took some pictures of rock faces. I use it for the boulders as well (although with a few more layer effects).

Edit: Made a better cliff effect (http://www.between-worlds.com/!junk/cliff.jpg) that overlays on any other layer (in this case, the dirt layer).

- Joel Fagin