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Thread: Hello

  1. #1

    Post Hello

    Unfortunately I couldn't think up a more unique title for this message. Hi everybody, I'm Aabra. Since I've discovered the wonders of the Maptool program to play D&D I wanted to create maps for it and that's lead me here. From what I've read and seen so far this place looks like it will be an invaluable resource for me.

    I'm extremely new to mapping and I've never really been a photoshop guru although I know some of the basics. Hopefully I can change that with your help. Here's a map that I'm working on - my first one! It's a small city for a campaign I'm trying to put together. (Planning on converting the Sunless Citadel to 4E, but we'll see how it pans out.)

    Ya, I know that I've shamelessly used a lot of images that you can find on the rpgmapshare website but it's what guys like me with absolutely no talent have to resort to! Any quick suggestions that a novice like me could do to improve it?

    One quick question actually - I'm looking for some nice compasses to put on maps. Where can I find a good selection?
    Last edited by Aabra; 07-14-2008 at 03:56 PM.

  2. #2


    That's what rpgmapshare is for; no need to apologize for that!

    rpgmapmaker has generously shared a number of Photoshop brushes, including some compasses here:

    You might also browse through the Mapping Challenges forum, as there was a challenge last year to create a compass, and some very nice pieces of art were submitted there.

    You've got a pretty good start on your map already. The buildings don't look like they're quite part of the environment yet. A bit of shadow would probably remedy that. The easy way is a simple drop shadow layer style.

    Remember to try to have all your shadows pointed the same direction. I see that the grey building near the bottom of the map has strong shadows on the north-west side, but there's a rock that is shadowed on the south-east. Obviously, it's probably easier to rotate the rock than the building, so I'd operate under the assumption that the light is coming from the south.

    Welcome to the Guild, and I hope you enjoy your time here!
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist

  3. #3


    Thanks for the tips. I added the drop shadows as well as a compass I found in the challenge section. Wow were there ever some great entries for that. Here's the latest version of my map with the compass and shadows. I'm going to change the text for Oakhurst... it's just temporary for now.

    I was hoping to add some subtle variation in the land so it doesn't look quite so flat and artificial. Is there a good tutorial on how to do that somewhere? I spent several hours yesterday going through the tutorials section but there are so many that it's hard to find what you want. (Even when searching.)

    Any other suggestions of course would be appreciated. Man I feel like this thread should almost be moved to another forum as it's moving away from the hello topic.

  4. #4
    Community Leader RobA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Toronto, Canada


    What software are you using?

    If your software supports layers, just create a B&W cloud layer and set it on top in overlay mode:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    That was over the whole map, of course, you would just do it to the grass.

    A couple of other quick pointer....

    - The length of the drop shadow is proportional to the height. SO building should have a longer shadow than the rocks.

    - Battle-maps look best "grunged up" a bit Search for some grunge brushes at DeviantArt that you can employ a on a grunge layer with various blending modes.

    - You can Attach/upload images in your post to be hosted here (ask if can't figure it out...)

    -Rob A>

  5. #5


    Rob's suggestion will do fine if you want some random variation in the terrain. If you want a more controlled approach, here's a brief tutorial that will familiarize you with how overlay mode works (thanks Torstan!):

    Fill a new layer with 50% gray: Hit 'd' That will reset your foreground and background colors to black and white. Click on the foreground color to bring up the color picker dialog, and over where it says "B," type in 50. Fill your layer with this color.

    Put the new layer above your grass and set the blend mode to overlay. The new layer will vanish. 50% gray is completely transparent in overlay mode. Using the dodge and burn tools, you can add a little bit of shadow and highlight to your terrain. Burn darkens and Dodge lightens. You want the sides of the hills that are tilted away from the sun to be shadowed and the sides that are facing the sun to be lit up.
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by Midgardsormr View Post
    Click on the foreground color to bring up the color picker dialog, and over where it says "B," type in 50. Fill your layer with this color.

    Put the new layer above your grass and set the blend mode to overlay. The new layer will vanish. 50% gray is completely transparent in overlay mode.
    Learn something new everyday...

  7. #7


    Thanks for the tips guys! I'll try those out and post the results. I'm currently using Photoshop... albeit only version 6.0. I've got a newer version lying around but my main computer fried a while back so I'm stuck to using a Pentium 3 500 with 192 megs of ram. I'm not sure if it can handle the newer version or not so I'll stick with what works.

  8. #8


    I'm not sure what the rules are here regarding double posting. If it's frowned upon then please let me know and I'll edit my posts in the future. These tips you guys are giving are really making this map start to look pretty good. Almost as if I knew what I was doing!

    I first tried Midgardsormr's (or Torstan's?) way of modifying the terrain and found it pretty neat. It definitely gave me lots of control. Unfortunately for me control is something I shouldn't have as I just ended up making it worse! So I just rendered some clouds and used it as an overlay (first time ever using an overlay) as RobA suggested and it turned out nicely.

    Then I modified the shadows. Do they look right to you guys? I'm very weak in this regard. I remember getting terrible grades back in Art class when I was a kid because I couldn't shade at all. I did notice though that I had accidently given the path leading to the cottage a drop shadow so I had to get rid of that while updating the rest.

    I had to do a bit of searching to find grunge brushes that worked in photoshop 6.0 but I got lucky and found a brush search engine so I managed to get some in the end. I then had to figure out how to install them! (Or just load them as it turns out.) hehe

    Anyways, I just used the colour black and clicked with different brushes here and there. It turned out alright I guess but I could be doing this incorrectly? I also didn't grunge over my buildings... just because.... I dunno if it would look good but again I could be doing this incorrectly.

    Let me know what you guys think. It's starting to really come together IMO. Thanks so much for the help.
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    Last edited by Aabra; 07-15-2008 at 02:05 AM.

  9. #9


    I think it's looking terrific! You might want to put some gardens or objects outside the houses to suggest some form of human involvement - maybe piles of logs - that sort of thing.

  10. #10
    Community Leader Facebook Connected torstan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007


    It is indeed looking good.

    Here's a few extra suggestions. Your drop shadows are the same shape as your buildings but displaced. This means that the corners of the shadows come back in, whereas they should connect directly to the outer corner of your building.

    i.e like this:

    |################ \
    |## ----------------------------
    |## |...................................|
    ,\# |....................................|
    ,,,\ |....................................|

    rather than this:
    |## ----------------------------
    |## |....................................|
    ---- |....................................|
    ,,,, |....................................|
    ,,,, ----------------------------

    I hate not having image software at work.

    I'm not sure the long sharp line grunge brushes quite work. I'd use something a little more scrubby and natural to break it up. Also, probably best not to use straight black. Have a shot at using the grunge brushes on a layer of their own and then setting the layer mode to overlay. They grunge will then settle into the image more.

    Another way to do it is to use a very pale pastel colour for the grunge brush and then set the layer mode to burn. pastel red gives great blood spatters and pastel brown will do a good job of dirt or rust.

    It's looking really good. Keep up the good work.

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