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Thread: [WIP] My first mapping attempt - small cave lair

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      Pineapple is offline
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    Wip [WIP] My first mapping attempt - small cave lair

    Hi everyone, this is my first crack at a dungeon map. (Or any map, actually.)

    It's being created in GIMP following the great tutorial by Jonathan Roberts at NewbieDM.

    It's going to be the final encounters of a 1st-level adventure. After tracking some kind of cave-dwelling creature (I'm thinking kobolds) back to their lair, the party will finish them off.

    So here's the map as it stands right now:
    [WIP] My first mapping attempt - small cave lair-cavelair.jpg

    I'm still juggling ideas for the northernmost room. It could be a makeshift prison, or a dumping ground for caravan goods the kobolds have stolen that are not as interesting to them. I also considered the idea of it being the territory of some other cave monster the kobolds either avoid, or feed their prisoners to so that it doesn't get hungry enough to attack them.

    The two main encounters with the kobolds themselves will happen in the two medium-sized rooms with pools of water.

    I know it's small, but that's intentional. We only have a couple hours to play on Sunday nights and this will be for our first attempt at using a virtual tabletop over the internet, so I want to keep it simple and let everyone get a feel for the interface. (And there are a couple players who are either new to D&D or rusty.)

    Plans for finishing it:
    1) I'm actually realizing as I'm looking over it to post it that it's going to have to get larger, at least in one or two places. The rooms are just too small for a full party to maneuver in against multiple NPCs. I might accomplish that just by shrinking the grid (currently 100px).
    2) Naturally I'll eventually have to add a few touches to make it look like a place sentient creatures have been using (some simple bedrolls or the like) but I don't want it to get too busy.
    3) I'm not crazy about the parchment texture look for cave floor. I'd really like to try to get the floor to look like naturally water-smoothed cave rock, so any input on how to do that would be very much appreciated. I'm fine with the walls, the tutorial's approach leaves a nice, neutral, non-distracting wall.
    4) I'd like to make the cave floor right in front of the pools have a glossy sheen without losing the appearance of rock, as though it's wet and slippery - and any character that finds him or herself fighting or running too close to the water has a chance of slipping. I would love pointers on that as well, if anyone has any.
    5) There's supposed to be an underwater tunnel connecting the two easternmost rooms that have a wall between them. What I would like, though, is for the PCs to have to go looking for it. When they first enter the room in the virtual tabletop, fog of war will hide the small room at the other end of the water tunnel. Adventurers brave enough to try to poke around underwater will find the tunnel, and the side room will contain some extra treasure the kobolds had hidden away. I'm trying to decide whether to have the suggestion of a hole/tunnel at the bottom of the cave pool faintly visible, or to simply leave the search up to game mechanics.
    6) I haven't had a chance to put in shadows, but I was waiting until I figured out whether I had a way of doing a more cave-like floor texture first.

    I hope that wasn't too much explanatory text. I would welcome any feedback, tips, ideas, etc. Thanks!

    Edit:
    Here's tonight's progress, which includes a smaller grid, some shadows, cave textures and blended borders between water and stone.
    [WIP] My first mapping attempt - small cave lair-cavelair.jpg
    Last edited by Pineapple; 04-26-2013 at 11:58 PM.

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    Guild Artisan Jacktannery's Avatar
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    Interesting map you have there Pineapple. The cave floor texture is quite unusual.

    You have got to a great start on your water. I think now you need to darken your pools a bit and make it looks a bit more sinister and shadowy.

    The only thing I have noticed is that your cavern wall edges are slightly pixelated (they are 'aliased'). The map would be improved by running a slightly gaussian blur (between 1 and 5 pixels, depending on the scale of your map) on the appropriate layer(s) or layer mask(s) to give the walls a more rounded natural look (anti-aliasing). Hope that makes sense.

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      Pineapple is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacktannery View Post
    Interesting map you have there Pineapple. The cave floor texture is quite unusual.

    You have got to a great start on your water. I think now you need to darken your pools a bit and make it looks a bit more sinister and shadowy.

    The only thing I have noticed is that your cavern wall edges are slightly pixelated (they are 'aliased'). The map would be improved by running a slightly gaussian blur (between 1 and 5 pixels, depending on the scale of your map) on the appropriate layer(s) or layer mask(s) to give the walls a more rounded natural look (anti-aliasing). Hope that makes sense.
    Thanks for the input, I noticed that too. I know what you mean by aliasing.

    I'm actually probably going to redo the map for the next iteration at 200-300px. I did a test run on our tabletop software and if you zoom in to get a close look at two or three characters in melee the image pixelates really quickly.

    The cave floor is from a picture of an actual cave floor, naturally. I'm not sure I love the "real life photo" look - I'm still playing with it.

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    Guild Artisan Jacktannery's Avatar
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    The cave floor is from a picture of an actual cave floor, naturally. I'm not sure I love the "real life photo" look - I'm still playing with it.
    It looks a little stretched and blurry here - presumably it will look even more stretched if you increase the size of your map. Perhaps use a higher-resolution background photograph, or tile the photograph several times over the image and heal the seams?

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      Pineapple is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacktannery View Post
    It looks a little stretched and blurry here - presumably it will look even more stretched if you increase the size of your map. Perhaps use a higher-resolution background photograph, or tile the photograph several times over the image and heal the seams?
    Sorry, I didn't explain fully but that's what I meant. When I do try the map again I'll have to find something that can tile well so I can keep it at a pretty high res. I don't expect to find a photo for download that would be high res enough to just use a single one for the larger version.

    I cut a 2000 by 2000 selection out of a photograph that was 3072 by 2048 or so, so I thought it would look fine, but I don't think it holds up at a useful zoom for a map.

    Thanks again for the suggestions.

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    Guild Artisan Jacktannery's Avatar
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    One thing you might consider is trying out a very plain texture (try a really high-resolution photograph of old concrete because the colour will work really well) for the cavern floor, and get a rocky cave texture full of bumps and features for the walls.

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      foremost is offline
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    Hello to you both

    I noticed that you wanted to have an underwater tunnel connecting the easternmost rooms. Cool idea, but I would probably expand the size of the lower east room and make the water darker and larger. Right now it looks as if you have a shallow puddle. An underwater passage would take up more room and probably be distinguishable from above the water. Love the idea though. Think of the things you could do with that!
    The best maps are the ones we like the most after looking at the longest.

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      Pineapple is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by foremost View Post
    Hello to you both

    I noticed that you wanted to have an underwater tunnel connecting the easternmost rooms. Cool idea, but I would probably expand the size of the lower east room and make the water darker and larger. Right now it looks as if you have a shallow puddle. An underwater passage would take up more room and probably be distinguishable from above the water. Love the idea though. Think of the things you could do with that!
    Yeah you bring up a great point. I'm going to play with gradients a little bit and try to get the water transparent near the edge and just about opaque at the deep end where the tunnel would be.

    Jacktannery, that's a great idea, I found a couple concrete textures to play with, I just need the time to do it now.

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      Simon33600 is offline
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    For a first try, it is a nice one!


    Personally, I would make the grid a bit wider and reduce its opacity...

    I'd probably also put the grid layer under the pool one.

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      Pineapple is offline
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    Default Kobold Cave Lair Version 3

    It took a while before I could get back to this project. We had a German exchange teacher staying with us for a little over a week.

    [WIP] My first mapping attempt - small cave lair-koboldlairhighres.jpg

    One of the most obvious changes is that I restructured the whole layout to waste less space on the map and allow for larger rooms. This let me go with 300dpi and still have a 20x20 map without the image size being redonkulous. The PCs also now have a choice of which direction to go first, which gives them a little more control over the flow of things.

    Instead of going with a photo texture for this run I changed to a more neutral background and added a bump map overlay to give it a water-carved cave floor feel. I smudged and burned the bump map under the water areas so it would get gradually lower there. I darkened the water and added a dark to light gradient overlay to make the back end where the tunnel would be nice and dark and deep. (I'll probably still go even darker for the final version.)

    I also took the advice of making the grid a little wider, although in the final version it won't be there anyway, since our virtual tabletop will add one at the players' option. It's just to give a sense of scale here.

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