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Thread: D&D Map #1

  1. #1
    Guild Novice
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Florida, United States

    Wip D&D Map #1

    This is my first try at doing regional mapping. I have done some level mapping for some video games but that is it.

    I had started a storyline and backstory for a continent for a D&D campaign I want to run and then went to make a map and realized the story had become kinda cliched. So I removed alot of the story and started making this map. I am hoping that it will be easier to write the story when the map is mostly laid out.

    I want this map to have an older feel, and look like something drawn out on parchment, but not just ink. Definitely needs a hand-made feel. Not going to use any complex symbols or icons. Do not want it pixellated in any way, not cartoony or 8-bit. (Yeah, I am being specific, but I think you get the point.)

    Anyway, here is what I have so far. Not done designing yet, but if you can see the texture difference, I have put down a base texture where all the mountains are going to be. Will also be adding some more cities/towns, not too many tho.

    Looking for any design ideas, like where to do forests/marshes, rivers, a few more cities, etc...
    And perhaps if anyone knows of any methods for making mountains that would match the style I already have going (my own style I think, haven't read any tutorials yet) you could post the link. Thanks!

    Oops, sorry, thought I put it in the Regional category but guess I wasn't paying attention.
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    Last edited by Eesu; 03-02-2009 at 11:55 AM. Reason: Miscategory

  2. #2
    Guild Apprentice shpena's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009


    Looking good mate. I like the mountains. Putting this on nice parchment background would look absolutely pimp in my humble opinion. If you need some parchment backgrounds, let me know and I can hook you up, or you can search these posts for 'textures'. I got a few from some guy (can't remember his name) on flikr or one of those photo posting sites.
    "Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils."
    - Louis-Hector Berlioz

    All my work is released under the Creative Commons 3 license. Feel free to use and copy, but please give credit where it's due

  3. #3

    Post Clean and Clear

    Good game support to be sure.

    Is it all dust and rock or are you going to add vegetation, rivers etc....


  4. #4

  5. #5
    Guild Novice
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Florida, United States


    Shpena: Thanks, but I have plenty of textures and stock photos. And I like searching for new resources.

    Sigurd: I am going to add alot of stuff, I just haven't decided where and what technique to use to draw it in. Any suggestions would be very helpful.

  6. #6


    I'd like to give you more detailed info but my monitor died and I'm typing on a tiny laptop with no graphics to speak of.

    Detail - hold off on the detail until you have considered your immediate needs from the map. If there has to be a forest or lake in a place do that first. Leaving areas you aren't concerned with vague is not a bad thing - it extends the lifespan of the map. You can add detail there later.

    Rivers - good tutorials on rivers here. Consider designing them roughly in photoshop then exporting that layer to a vector program. I find it useful to work backwards with rivers. If you return to the coast (where the river is widest) and then draw your rivers into where they are smallest your lines will overlap in the right areas.
    Rivers have two regions on a map. A flood plain where they have eroded the severe slopes and a river bed. Plan the river bed and then stroke out the flood plain.

    Vegetation - This is affected by height, wind and rain. Only height is obvious in a map so you have pretty free reign. Cloud patterns that 'look good' are better for me than planning every detail. In photshop pattern overlay is your friend. Consider lighter base layer (probably a cloud pattern) with a darker overlay. Get your colour from the cloud pattern and your detail from the overlay. You can also emboss a layer on top of the colour. Experiment with competing layers. Plants are competing for space - variation feels more natural.
    Be content to throw layers on top of your land mass and remove where you dont want them. Use your river layer to carve out sections of forest unless you think the trees would have grown over the river.

    I think its a very successful strategy with maps to mediate between methods to keep a compromise of layers. Flood plains should not be uniformly wide or deep. Trees should not be one colour. Not all vegetation should be trees. Gravity always wins but not uniformly - some rock resists erosion.

    Whatever software you use commit to layers and work out a pattern that works for you. It will take a while for you to find out what you like and how you like to do things. Once that happens things will go much faster and more consistently.

    On the topic of layers - one trick I use a lot now I borrowed from Torstan. (wont find better maps than his IMHO) Make a gray layer set to overlay. The gray should be 127,127,127. This gray is invisible when you set the layer property right. Now you can darken or lighten your image quite a bit without touching the lower layer. Simply Burn or Dodge the gray layer. This is great for shadows and highlights. Most important its non destructive to your original layer.

    Detail - yes again after much of your work is done. I don't have to tell you that you may plan what you want but sometimes the best details spring as inspiration from the map. When you've got the thing as you like it, take a moment to look for anything it might be telling you. If you're gaming its a pain to share a work only to find that there's this tweak that changes too much, but its such a great idea!
    Prepare your players with the idea that maps might develop as the story develops and don't get too attached to any one view. Your game world will develop faster and more completely. My players need a new adventure and my world just might sprout another ruin, mountain, town or trade route. This is when I really appreciate a map built with layers and a little elbow room to 'get it right'.

    Anyway, Thats it off the top of my head. There are many more adept map makers on this board and you're off to a great start.


    There are some fantastic textures and elements in the 'Mapping Resources' > "Mapping Elements" Section of the website. Don't miss these.

    Ascension has some great photoshop tutorials.
    RobA is on track for becoming our Uber Gimp
    Torstan will show you how powerful the brush and decent drawing skills can be.
    I've read many, if not most, of the tutorials here and they all have something to offer. Its much faster to read tutorials targeted at mapping but there are many more for whatever software you use.
    Last edited by Sigurd; 03-02-2009 at 03:26 PM.

  7. #7
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Steel General's Avatar
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    Jun 2008
    Ft. Wayne, IN


    Nice start, looking forward to see where you take it.
    My Finished Maps | My Challenge Maps | Ghoraja Juun, my largely stagnated campaign setting.

    Unless otherwise stated by me in the post, all work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

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