I hope you like my Lava and volcanic dungeon battle map's progress so far. Here it is:

Or, the direct link: http://img812.imageshack.us/img812/2590/lavaroom.jpg

A lot of detail was lost in the transition from GIMP's .XCF to .JPG...

I'm a total newb and I don't have much artistic skill except by drawing action figures with pencil and paper. I've been working with GIMP 2.6.11 and getting a little better. I don't use textures or copy-and-pasted objects, but I may start. All my textures are filters.

Since I know there are people like me who are new to this, I'll take the time to explain how I made this simple battle map. None of it is advanced at all.

For the hex grid, I used RobA's GIMP Hex Grid Script. I put it on its own transparent layer and made it of low opacity. I play GURPS, not D&D, so we uses hexes rather than square grids. In game terms, each hex is 3-feet, side-to-side and my map is 100 dpi, so I made the hexes 100 px side-to-side on Rob's script.

The lava was quick and easy to make. To render it, I made a new transparent layer and ran Render>Clouds>Solid Noise with low detail (1) and I think the highest X/Y size.

To change it from gray clouds to fiery-colored lava, I selected the Blend tool, and under the tool's options dialog, I changed the Gradient (it's a picture, click on it) to German Flag Smooth. I then ran a Colors>Map>Gradient Map. That was 99% of the lava!

To make the bubbles, I used the Paintbrush tool (not Pencil) with the Sparks brush by just dotting them along the hot spots. I think the Sparks brush comes with GIMP and I don't think it matters what color you use; it's always the same. I accidentally made the bubbles on the grid layer, so they have a low opacity, but I actually like them better that way.

I think I should have gotten rid of the darkest spots in the lava, though. Dark red should have probably been the "coolest" color. I think it looks good enough though, so I'm not going to try again. If I did want to do so, when I rendered the Solid Noise, I'd have made sure there was no dark black spots (click New Seed if so).

I used low detail on the lava's Solid Noise to make it slightly blurry because the lava is meant to be far, far below the floor, probably between 150-200 feet. The floor is far, far above it; it's not islands floating in the molten rock.

The ground was meant to look like parched, cracked earth baked from below and covered in black, volcanic soot.

I made a new transparent layer above the lava layer. I free-hand drew the floor's outline with the Pencil tool. Then, I filled it with Filters>Noise>HSV noise. I think I used the default settings. Bump maps make an image kinda look 3D, so I ran Filters>Map>Bump Map and selected the floor's layer in the Bump Map drop-down. I then messed around with the Elevation and Depth sliders till it looked about right in the preview.

I didn't like the edge the bump map gave, so I selected the floor and Select>Shrink to shrink the selection enough to where its edge was just along the bevel. I then inverted the selection (Select>Invert) and deleted.

To make the rough edges, I used the following tutorial: http://www.cartographersguild.com/sh...astlines/page5

After that, I added a bevel using Filters>Decor>Add Bevel. I used the default settings.

Next came the mosaic filter to make the dry riverbed cracks. I don't really remember what I used for the settings, but I started off my making a transparent layer with the floor still selected. Now that I'm working on the transparent layer above the floor, but with a floor outline selected, I used Filters>Distorts>Mosiac. I wanted the tiles to look as flat as possible, kinda like a dry river bed. All I can say is I played around with the settings till I got what i wanted.

I then set the mosaic's layer Layer Mode to Overlay in the Layer dialog's drop-down. By default, it's Normal. The overlay kinda makes it transparent so you can see what's behind it. I'm not sure what the difference is between that and just setting the layer's Opacity (with the slider) would be in this case, but that's what I did.

To make the circular dais, I first made a new transparent layer. I then used the Ellipse Select tool and held shift while dragging to keep it circular. I then filled it with 10% gray from the Default color palate. I then filled it with Filters>Noise>HSV noise. I went as low as possible with the top three sliders (Holdness, Hue, Saturation), then raised the Value slider until it looked "pretty rough." I then ran the regular Filters>Blur.

I then ran Filters>Render>Pattern>Grid and set the Width (of the grid lines) to 1 px, the Spacing to 100 (my battle map is at 100 dpi) and the offsets to 0 (which should be default, IMO, but it's not for some reason). On the Intersections row, I went down and changed all those numbers to 0, though I don't know what they do. XD

I then added a bevel using Filters>Decor>Add Bevel. I used the default settings.

I then Selected None (Ctrl+Shift+A).

That all done, it was ready for its bump map treatment, which really makes things stand out. I went to Filters>Map>Bump Map and selecting the dais' layer in the Bump Map drop-down. I then messed around with the Elevation and Depth sliders till it looked about right in the preview.

After that, I used Brightness/Contrast and slid the Brightness slider all the way to max dark. I didn't have to select anything because the circle dais is the only thing on the layer.

Then, I ran Filters>Light and Shadow>Drop Shadow and changed the X and Y Offsets to 0 because that will make it as if the light was coming right on top (kinda) rather than from an angle (I don't really know much about the offsets). I set the shadow's Opacity to 100 because the ground is so dark that any lighter wouldn't show.

Done with that level, I repeated the process by making another transparent layer and another, smaller Ellipse Select inside the larger circle.

For the pentagram, I didn't make the grid. Instead, I used what I'll call the "guide grid" to help me draw the lines by clicking View>Show Grid and View>Snap to Grid. But first, I configured the "guide grid" by clicking on Image>Configure Grid and setting its Spacing to 25x25 px.

I drew the pentagram with a ~5 px Pencil in gray (10%?). Then, I selected it with the Fuzzy Select wand. Then, I used Filters>Distorts and either Emboss or Engrave, I forget. I don't remember if I changed any settings on it, but it was simple.

Then, I did the whole bump map thing to it.

For the rocks, I just used the Pencil and a gray color and drew them freehand. Then, I selected them and added a bevel to them of about 20 px. I repeated the bevel three or four times. Then, I hit them with a light spackling of HSV noise. I think just the default settings on it. Then, I drop shadowed them.

That's about it, I think.

My question is, knowing my style and taking that into account, what should I do next?

I want to make a lava river, maybe bubling up from a pool of lava on the floor, but I'm having trouble.

Since the river will be on the land, it needs to be much brighter because it's much a closer perspective. I've got that. To simulate it flowing, I can use the Solid Noise filter and make either the X or Y size very low and the other one very high. See the following pic as an example:

Click image for larger version. 

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You'll notice it would work okay if the lava was flowing straight down from the top, but the river bends.

I thought about using the Smudge tool, but it produces less than spectacular results. I don't know.

Open for all suggestions, really.

Thanks! Happy mapping!