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Thread: How should I trace a scanned city map?

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  1. #1

    Question How should I trace a scanned city map?

    Hello everyone, first Post here after lurking for a while =)

    I'm currently creating/drawing a city map for an ongoing D&D campaign. I'm not the DM, but I have pretty free reign on the details since we haven't seen much of the city yet, only the general shape and major landmarks are fixed.

    I started out by drawing a map on paper, mapping out the major districts and main roads. I then scanned the sketch and am now starting to trace it in Photoshop using the Brush and Pencil tools. Now I'm wondering how much I'm going to hate myself later on for not using vectors and wanted to ask your opinion on the matter. I prefer using the brush because it feels more natural and I'm not really very used to the Pen tool in PS. However, I can see it becoming a problem for the smaller roads.

    Any advice on that matter? I attached the raw scan and my partial trace to the post.

    Thanks in advance,
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2


    If you make it a vector image then you can resize at will without things becoming nasty and pixelated. Should probably start with designing the roads first, then work buildings around the roads. Also, regardless of the file type, be sure you work at a high dpi and resolution. The filesize will be large, but it gives you a lot of room to fiddle with and makes fixing mistakes easier in the long run.

    You definitely don't need to use Illustrator or even the pen tool, but you'll want to make sure to be careful with making layers and naming them. If everything's drawn on the same layer, you're kinda ****ed.

  3. #3


    Aight, thanks for the advice. I generally work with higher DPI values than necessary anyways, so that's not an issue.

    After a few iterations of the design I decided to use the pen tool for the Houses, mostly so it's easy to change them later on if needed since we'll be playing in this City quite a bit. For the roads and terrain I used the brush tool.

    Here's what I'm currently at, not finished yet, but definitely starting to take shape.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  4. #4
    Guild Journeyer rgcalsaverini's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014


    Wow, this is looking very good already! I want to see how this one turns out.
    I see that you wrote down 100 m^2 per adult, is that of housing space alone? Do you use it as a guideline to set the city size? How you came by that number?

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