View Full Version : Photorealistic maps

10-15-2007, 11:34 AM
Over in the monthly challenge forum, Mapprinter said:

I hadn't seen too many maps in true photorealistic style, and I wondered if a mapper could make it work

So I figured I'd point you all over to the Dundjinni user map forum. (http://dundjinni.com/forums/forum_topics.asp?FID=6)

In my opinion, this is exactly the type of map DJ is designed to make easy to create...Photorealistic battlemaps for print or VTT use.

-Rob A>

P.S. Pretty much everything there is at 200px=5ft

10-15-2007, 11:45 AM
I concur! I've done a fair amount of tokens and objects for their forums and I'm continually impressed by the work that others do in the area of photorealism. Of course a lot of it is being done with Poser, D|S, and Bryce as well so that definitely contributes to the realism.

10-15-2007, 04:30 PM
I try to do battlemap scale work that tends towards photo realism. I have nagging concerns when I post stuff like my entry for the October challenege, that there is a tension between photo-realistic battlemaps and the concept of mapping in the true sense. Its really and esoteric question, "I like your map but is it a map?". I suppose I just wondering whether its actually cartography. Dont get me wrong I love the stuff and will continue doing it, and I hope others will too, but I would love to hear the sage advice of the community elders on this point.


10-16-2007, 12:14 AM
I have Dundjinni and I do dabble with it, its just that lots of things it can do, I can do with Xara, and lots of things with Xara, I can't do with Dundjinni.

That said, I know the cartographers (shared a booth at Gencon with them) at Gamemaster Syndicate, Dundjinni is the primary mapping program they use and doing phenominal work - I know, I've printed them in large format.

Often using 3D tools to create "roof tops" and such as map objects to bring into Dundjinni. So I know its a great tool.

One issue, when creating a transition between terrains layers of transparent filled areas were used to create a blend (not sure if this work was done in Dundjinni or not) - but this is lots of work.

With Xara, I create a polyline object and fill with the different terrain image fill than the background grass or whatever. Although a vector drawing program Xara allows me to apply a feathered edge onto the vector object and instantly create the transition between terrain fills.

Plus I've been using Xara for almost 3 years now, and Dundjinni for about 3 months. :|

And the upright statues used in the "temple transformation" monastery entry, were Athena statues I downloaded from the Dundjinni user forum - so I'm already familiar.

When I say, I haven't seen many photorealistic maps, I should clarify and say, I did not even know the existence or concept of battlemaps until March of this year. Although internet savvy for many years, I never explored the RPG community online ever until this year.

My gaming group play round the table, toss the dice. We don't even use maps. We have a sheet of acrylic, with 1 inch grid paper, I printed placed under and a grease pencil to draw the map in black in white, live while playing. There isn't even a PC (personal computer, not player character)in the same room where we play. The idea of looking for something different let alone getting involved in the industry directly, never occured to me, until very recently. So I never heard of Dundjinni until April (?) 2007.

10-16-2007, 01:03 PM
To me, PhotoRealistic maps have a big Pro/Con to them (yes, this coming from a guy who makes the nice Cartoony CC3 maps).

The pro is this:

Players LUV, abosolutely LOVE THEM!. Plop one down for that climatic battle, and they go gaa-gaa over them.

The Con is that GMs are not especially happy with them. As a GM, I want to see the map of the encounter with as little fluff as possible. Show me the room, where the doors are, the items of note (chests, barrels, etc), but as a GM when looking at my adventure notes, I don't really care about the broken tile on the floor infront of the altar that is cracked and crumbling on the left side (does it say that in the adventure key?)

This is why when I finish with my Map Challenge for October for the Monastery, I will be providing a few versions of the map. One the CC3 photorealistic style, and the second a more hand drawn-style, less visually demanding map. For both Camps.

10-16-2007, 01:42 PM
I can't agree with you more, Daniel!

The other big problem I have with printed photorealistic battle-maps is that they "load" the scene for players.

If there is a table drawn, they assume it is just set dressing and will ignore it. Same for (as an example) dead bodies. I ran a brief adventure that involved reanimated corpses. My problem was, do I include the bodies, or not? If they animate, then they still show. Same for things like, doors, walls (I have destructive players) and other inanimate objects.

Here is another one. A wizard throws a fireball through a door without looking. Now most of the stuff in the room is incinerated....BUT the map I had drawn shows all sorts of things that I had in the room...including some items that were hints to the adventure. Do I throw out the map now?

Even lighting effects. If I have a dark, gloomy dungeon, it isn't once my players light it up like the 4th of July.

I think the future for these detailed maps is in the VTT realm, where objects (stamps, whatever) can be moved around, replaced, etc.

-Rob A>

10-16-2007, 02:14 PM
I think the future for these detailed maps is in the VTT realm, where objects (stamps, whatever) can be moved around, replaced, etc.
This is absolutely correct, and the big reason why I keep bringing them up.

I have in the past, and still do, not even bothered with a map in gaming, but every once in a while they become a necessary evil especially for systems that are more inclined to using strategy instead of just hack and slash. So to that end I've found that VTTs are definitely a huge time saver. At first they are slow, but once you get used to the way they work and all the wonderful tools they actually speed up game play.

What is really nice is when you have VTTs like MapTool that allow you to actually create maps right inside them, you can actually use them just like the old crystal map, but they look cooler and don't make a mess. Then couple that with VTTs like Battlegrounds that allow you to use Flash animations in them and you can have a somewhat dynamic and "alive" map to use.

10-16-2007, 04:23 PM
Because I'm in the print business, in the last 6 months I've created printed maps that are laminated. On a whim, I printed a map object onto a piece of clear "cling stick" material and used a vinyl cutter to cut the shape out.

I've created "fireball explosions", dead bodies, normal floor pieces to hide traps, treasure, etc. In fact I have a set of about 50 different dungeon terrain pieces that I can place on a laminated map. Being cling stick, it sticks even if I roll up the laminated map and drag them out the next week, but not permanently adhered.

Just a thought on the issue you mentioned RP...

10-16-2007, 05:07 PM
I remember those fondly from my youth, before everything went digital. So if I were to want to buy 50 of those how much would it cost?

Compare that to MapTool = Free.
Objects I've downloaded from the web = Free.
Objects I've made myself = Free.

Not saying that is a viable alternative, but historically those "cling stick" packs didn't sell very well. I think I personally bought about 3 packs of them and used them a few times. I think most folks are going to go digital.

10-16-2007, 05:38 PM
Actually I'm not considering it for a product - in reality, too expensive for practical use. Its just something I did for myself. I'm not arguing its viability vs. Maptool.

Again if you read my post above - I may one day get involved in VTT to actually play (right now I'm mostly concerned as a service company, not as a player/DM), but my gaming group, that I've played on and off over the last 20 years are pretty set in their ways.

They don't play anything other than D&D, they won't touch D20 modern, horror, or anything that's not generic fantasy medieval - they won't play Rokugan or Sci-Fi.

Should I broaden my horizons and find a more amiable group, perhaps, but I have little more time than the one day a week I play with them.

The point being they will NEVER use VTT or a PC in use for playing RPGs, that's just them. :(

So other than the chance to study VTT on my own for the concept and what I can do with it, I don't forsee actually using VTT for play anytime soon.