View Full Version : Current project in GIMP

10-03-2007, 08:15 AM
Since I discovered this site a couple of weeks ago I've been updating the maps for my D&D game.

It all started with this map.

10-03-2007, 08:20 AM
I then tried to get hold of photoshop and illustrator and discovered the outrageous prices attatched to them so I hunted some more and got GIMP and Inkscape.

I found a tutorial for Sathurian (Sp?) maps which I had a go at and produced this..

10-03-2007, 08:26 AM
I was really pleased with that but my players didn't seem impressed. I think they were expecting me to build a scale model rather than a very stylised black and white map.

I then went on to produce this map, which showed contours and much more colourful and also allowed me to do close up sections with villages and small detail.

10-03-2007, 08:31 AM
Finally in the last few days I've been looking at adding a thousand years to my campaign setting ready for the next edition release in May.

I looked at raising the sea levels to change my maps and because I'd saved the contours as seperate layers on the previous map it was actually quite easy to do. I simply had to flood the bottom two contours and add a little more erosion to the next and hey presto flooded lands!

10-03-2007, 08:36 AM
Having given myself a fairly crash course in GIMP I can say that after a few tutorials and a bit of experimenting you can achieve very satisfying results fairly easily and in very little time. In addition none of the software cost me any money so all I've really spent so far is a small fortune on printer ink.

I've ordered myself a graphics tablet which everyone advises as the next step if I want to do this a bit more seriously and so I'm looking forward to playing with that.

Any advice or comments on the maps?
The last two are both works in progress so any ideas and input is welcome.

10-03-2007, 08:49 AM
Very Nice. I like the "advance a few thousand years" aspect to prepare for the 4E release of D&D.

10-03-2007, 09:58 AM
Looks pretty cool to me...I really like the forethought you put into the flooding...thats very cool, and it worked out very realistically considering.

My only crit of your map is the aliasing...You've built perfectly functional maps, but now that you've got the function down its time to start working on the art side. I always consider mapping or cartography as an artform...if you smooth out the lines and do some layer effects and fill styles it would take the map to the next level.

Note though, I'm not complaining about it at all...I'm just saying that there is another level, and those things would take it up to that level...its a very well done functional map though.

10-03-2007, 10:12 AM
Thanks for the positive feedback guys.

What does aliasing mean?
How could I smooth out the lines?
What do you mean by layer effects and fill styles?

Could you give me examples or point to tutorials.
I'm here to learn and I'm not going to take it badly if people have suggestions for me.

10-03-2007, 10:22 AM
Here's a look at anti-aliasing: http://lunaloca.com/tutorials/antialiasing/

Layer effects and fill styles are something you'll have to wait for one of our regular GIMP experts to step in on. I use Photoshop so I can't quite relate yet...

10-03-2007, 12:15 PM
I actually prefer the second map over the others. It is much more stylish and still has function. If you could combine, that map with the others I think you would definitely be onto something. I also liked the flooding approach you took and will have to add that to "tricks to remember". Thanks for sharing!

10-03-2007, 01:54 PM
I believe the comment on antialiasing is directed to the rivers and coastlines (and contour lines) They display the "jaggies". How did you draw them?

If freehand, use the paintbrush tool rather than the pencil tool. This will give smoother lines. Alternately, create them as paths (either in GIMP directly or in Inkscape then imported into GIMP) then stroke the paths.

For the contour lines, again, I don't know how you created them... stroked selections should not look as jagged as your do.

Overall, however, nice work, with a decent colour palette choice. I, too like the B/W map, but there are two issues I see - no roads/trails are clearly shown, and the river seem to get lost in the Fell Grave.

-Rob A>

10-03-2007, 02:11 PM
I'm going to pinch that anti-aliasing tutorial and pop it onto the tutorials section - very useful! And I love the way your map is coming on Faide, nothing to add to what the others have said (which I'm sure will keep you pretty busy)!


10-04-2007, 05:45 PM
Originally, every line was drawn by mouse with pencil line. Which is why it had the "jaggies". (which I never noticed until it was pointed out)

I've redone the layers by dint of much stroking and the lines are definitely smoother now.

But, is it just me, or does it all look somehow more cartoony?

Perhaps I now need to fade the colours down a bit?

Thanks for all the feedback. It's set me thinking about the different kind of maps you need as a DM and want as a player handout.

Possibly more art, less function for a players map? I dunno.


10-04-2007, 06:29 PM
It's been a while since I've seen that contour style used. In fact I think this is the first time I've seen it used on these boards. It gives the maps a really detailed feel. If the map looks cartoony, it's only because of the black outlines and the colour fills.
Try this:
1. Make the strokes of the contour lines thinner and play with shades of grey rather than black. (Although black works for me with this map).
2. Do a search on 'Hypsometric colour (or color) - for those of use who don't use the superflous 'u' (or should that be a superfos 'u'? ;)), it should bring up a couple of threads on colour choices for this style of map. Generally to show height you want the higher altitudes to fade to white and the lower altitutudes to be a deep green. BUT (and here's the problem) If you have say, desert, at low altitudes, using a green suggests vegetation, so you need to make some compromises there. Looking at the colours of atlases should help here.

10-04-2007, 07:48 PM
Actually, it's superfluous. Two u's.

I really liked the second map, too (the greyscale one (or should that be grayscale?)). My response to your players would be: You want a different style? You're welcome to make it, and maybe I'll give your character a cool bonus as a reward.

These maps are the product of only a couple of weeks' worth of learning GIMP? Do you have prior experience with other paint programs?

10-04-2007, 10:05 PM
Wow - thats much smoother!

And thanks for stating that this was done with only a couple weeks playing with GIMP. One think I always hear is "GIMP is too hard to use"...but I think you demonstrate well what a GIMP "newbie" can accomplish...

One suggestion to make it less cartoonish...(and getting into intermediate GIMP now :) Bump mapping...

1) Isolate a copy of all the rivers as a new layer, white on black.
2) apply a small (3 px) blur
3) Adjust the levels to the colour goes from black to 25% (dark grey)
3) Isolate a copy of your greyscale contour map (black=water, white = peaks)
4) Blur this layer so so the contour lines are gone.
5) Adjust the levels to the colour goes from to black to 75% (light grey)
6) set one of the two to addition, and merge them together. This will give you a heightfield corresponding to the contour, with the river beds "pillow embossed" into it.
7) Apply a bump map to the main image, using this heightfield.

This is the same technique I used on my Niagara contest map.

-Rob A>

10-05-2007, 03:23 AM
I've actually found GIMP to be very instinctive to use.
The first thing I did after downloading it was to run through this tutorial;


Which produced the black and white map. After that it was just picking through the various tutorials I found on this site and modifying some I found on Youtube for Photoshop.

I think my players expected scale models because I've made them for them before. I made a simple foam model of an underground dwarven city so they could figure out where everything was (Before it got sucked into a volcano) and I've made a few terrain pieces where I couldn't get a battle map to show the three dimensional elements clearly.

I've done plenty of hand drawn maps in the past for my games but I've never done any computerised ones before and haven't touched a paint programme since school.

I'll have to see if I can find the magic words to get my scanner to work again and I'll upload some of my other maps.


10-05-2007, 08:10 AM
Hi Rob

I tried what you suggested but just ended up with a dark blurry mess.

1) I took a copy of the rivers white on black no problems with a little gaussian blur.
3) When you say adjust the levels of colour do you mean slide the arrow to roughly 25% from the left or is there a way of reading an exact number?
3?) Isolating a copy of grey scale contour map...Hmm that was pretty tricky. I copied and coloured each of the successive layers evenly from black to white using the value number on the FG/BG dialog box
4) I gave a 6 pixel gaussian blur
5) adjusted the colour levels to roughly 75%
6) Set the top layer to addition and then merged them
7) And then eventually found a bump map command but it didn't seem to do anything.

I ended up with this curiosity

What did I do wrong? I'm guessing at the contour shading stage.


10-05-2007, 09:30 AM
Oops. I messed up the river. They should have been black on white...

Here are some grabs of a quick (and messy) test to show you...

If I get the order right, they are
- the "flat" map
- the greyscale heightfield, with the rivers merged on the terrain.
- the bumpmap dialog. Select the flat layer (or a copy), then run the filter. You have to pick the heightfield layer as the bumpmap (or it defaults to the selected layer)
- the bumpmap applied to the flat map.

Hope that is clearer... :) Also blur your countour heightfield to get rid of the steps changes in colour, or they will show up as distinct flat bands in the bump mapping process...

-Rob A>

10-05-2007, 12:02 PM
Thanks for clarifying that Rob.

That's a phenomenal effect, I'm quite amazed.
I've got loads of ideas of how to use that.

In my experiments I found it hard to make the rivers consistently deep over different contour levels, rather than carving a deeper channel in the higher levels. Using the soft glow mode on the river before adding it on top of the height chart seems to calm it down a bit and make it work better.

I'll post my experiments later.

10-05-2007, 01:08 PM
Rob you need to put that into a tutorial in the tutorials forum (so that I can find it easily when I go looking for it later. ;) )

10-05-2007, 03:01 PM
Faide--one thing about your map is that it strikes me as absolutely stunning from a distance, but up close it gets that starkness that ruins the effect (i.e., looks "cartoony"); it reminds me of an impressionistic painting in that respect. If this map was much smaller-scale but had this level of detail, I say keep it. If this is a large area/continent map, yes, keep playing around! Looking great.

10-05-2007, 06:07 PM
Faide--one thing about your map is that it strikes me as absolutely stunning from a distance, but up close it gets that starkness that ruins the effect (i.e., looks "cartoony"); it reminds me of an impressionistic painting in that respect. If this map was much smaller-scale but had this level of detail, I say keep it. If this is a large area/continent map, yes, keep playing around! Looking great.

Actually, a Blur (Guasian maybe) applied to the colored maps (everything but coastlines and rivers) would greatly help soften the map, and make it appear nice even close up. Possibly.

10-06-2007, 05:10 PM
I've had a lot of fun today playing with bump maps and merging noise into things. Unfortunately most of the resulting Jpegs are too big to upload to the site. But here's one I have been able to do.

I took an old handrawn map and played with it.
I realise it's a bit confusing. It's a map of a huge part of the continent with just the ancient symbols for the cities on and the musical notation they used to activate their teleport circles.

(And yes the script is a bastardised form of tolkien elven)

10-11-2007, 10:31 AM
This is the latest of my mapping efforts.

I received my graphics tablet through the post recently and so this map was done using it.
It took me twice as long to do most tasks but it's getting quicker. Certainly the drawing parts are much more comfortable to do rather than with a mouse but the general fiddling with layers and levels took much longer.
I'm sure I'll get the hang of it eventually and it will become just as intuitive as using a mouse.

The map is of a section of caves that the party has explored, it was given to them last night after they'd finished the section and staggered out under the weight of too much loot.

I'm not happy with the mapping of the Well of Savarius, it was meant to be a massive deep hole into the ground with wooden posts driven into the walls forming a spiral staircase. I couldn't figure out a nice way to represent it.

The Underfolk lair was a side tunnel off this staircase.

Tell me what you think.


10-11-2007, 10:40 AM
Nice little map, Faide. Clear, simple, and a nice color pallette.

And enjoy that tablet--I like mine so much I'm thinking about upgrading!

10-11-2007, 11:17 AM
It took me twice as long to do most tasks but it's getting quicker. Certainly the drawing parts are much more comfortable to do rather than with a mouse but the general fiddling with layers and levels took much longer.

I've ended up using both the mouse and pen intermixed. I find for vector work, adjusting node positions, and such (where click and drag is required) I am much steadier with the mouse. And I've given up completely double-clicking with the pen on my tablet, as I can never do it without moving :( But I would never try painting with a mouse again. Pressure sensitivity makes all the difference in the world!

(Additionally, I work with a dual screen setup, and have the tablet pen area mapped to just my main screen, so I need the mouse to get to the other screen anyway.)

And a question on technique - the undergound map still looks like it has jaggy lines on the outlines....how are you stroking them?

-Rob A>

10-11-2007, 01:42 PM
Cheers guys.

I'm using a stroke path command with antialiasing on, but you're right they do look a little jaggy.
I think I might have changed wall colours at some point, maybe the antialiasing was lost during that process.

I'll have to have a closer look at the files again.


10-11-2007, 03:22 PM
I really love the Mourne's cave map. It's beautifully executed and the composition and colours are really pleasing.

10-17-2007, 09:35 AM
I really like the greyscale map, its looking gorgeous and I also love the thousand years idea, though I don't like the style of those two colored maps, but this is personal tastiness.

10-25-2007, 06:57 PM
Following Pyrandon's excellent tutorial on making city maps has led to making this weeks map for my game group.

As I've been learning to make these maps and start a new campaign I've been steadily zooming in on them.

The party has taken their loot from Mourne's Cave, travelled to Four Trail Keep where they've sold most of it, and then (taking me completely by surprise) they've rented a house in the town, deciding to wait until spring to go adventuring again.

Fair weather adventurers..grumble...grumble.

Next week: Floorplans of the house ready for Night of the Relentless Zombie Attacks.

The Gif file really doesn't do it justice but it's too big as a JPEG to upload (By 0.13MB). Maybe if I just trimmed a bit off the top?


10-25-2007, 09:26 PM
Thats some of the best City Designer symbol combining I've seen in a long long while...I LOVE the way the buildings flow together in this map...

10-25-2007, 11:17 PM
Looking nice, Karl!

I might suggest shrinking the wall towers a bit, since they are larger than many of the houses. That would use up a lot of rock!

-Rob A>

10-26-2007, 03:19 AM
Really nice clean style! My only suggestion would be to put a slightly darker or lighter circle within the towers and to crenelate the annulus it forms (if it's that sort of tower) so that the level of detail of the towers are consistent with the level of detail of the buildings. Super map!

10-27-2007, 12:04 AM
Looking great! :) :) :)