So, real life finally gave me a few hours to play around with mapping again. I wanted to try to create an encounter map, so I took the principles from RobA's regional GIMP map tutorial and applied them to a smaller scale. One of the maps includes a grid and transparent foliage for the trees, so as to better serve as an encounter map. The scale is the D&D standard of one square = five feet.
The other map doesn't have the grid lines, and has some subtle depth added to the foliage.
My Finished Maps
Works in Progress(or abandoned tests)
Explanation of Layer Masks in GIMP
How to create ISO Mountains in GIMP/PS using the Smudge tool
Unless otherwise stated by me in the post, all work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
QUESTION: The trees seem really big, and as a player I feel I cannot enter their space. Is it possible to denote where the actual trunk of the tree is located?
I'd make the foliage transparent or an optional extra on the map. As it stands, any player who walks under the tree is going to look like he's flying. That will break the spell a little.
(For comparison, here is the original "Transparent Foliage" map from my first post
I tried simply making the foliage more translucent, and got this:
I'm not sure how I fell about this one - it seems that the foliage blends in to the ground too much. So, I tried outlining the foliage and got this:
I think outlining the foliage has potential, but I'm not certain I like this execution of the idea. I'm going to have to play around with it some more...
I think both have there advantages. I guess the question really is whether the players need to know the extent of the tree's canopy? I can think of no situation where this is necessary. Therefore the tree canopy is just pretty, not useful. What is useful is knowing where the stream is, or a rock that can be used for cover, or difficult terrain. From that point of view I like the first of the two you posted. I can see that the tree canopy is there, but I can also see what the terrain is doing. I don't see a need for outlining the canopy.
The tree on the left has a 20' wide trunk and the tree on the right has a 10' wide trunk, if these are 5' squares. That seems spectacularly large for any tree I've ever seen. Not sure if this was intentional.