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Thread: Quick Dungeon Making in Gimp

  1. #1

    Post Quick Dungeon Making in Gimp

    It's a nice evening on friday. You are relaxing in front of your PC to just shut yourself off a busy week. Suddenly the phone rings. It's someone of your gaming group asking you if you have time to play this night. Well it is a bit spontaniously but you think you can give it a shot. So you all assemble in chat, Teamspeak or just the phone to discuss what to do exactly this evening. It soon becomes clear that you all want to play a roleplaygame but there's nobody prepared to be the GM. Given the fact that all of you having the time to play on the same day is a rare circumstance, you declare yourself ready to do the job. So now you are missing the time to prepare something in detail but still want to give the players something looking not all that bad and still focus more on the idea behind the adventure?

    I've been in this situation and being in that situation I thought of a method making quick dungeon maps using the only graphic program I have: GIMP (could surely be also done in Photoshop). And that's what I thought of:

    These are the steps to prepare this thing. If you want to do this, I recommend doing it before you get in the situation I mentioned at the top.

    1. Make a new image. I use 1000x1000 Pixels with 72ppi to later print them out at 50% on one paper, cut them out and assemble them as a map at the game table. But it depends really on how you do these things.

    2. Create 3 Layers. The one at the top should be transparent. Name the one at the bottom "Floor" the one in the middle "Walls" and the one at the top "Grid"

    3. Choose 2 colors. These colours are used for your floor and the walls. I choosed a 70% gray for the floor and about 30% gray for the walls. Fill the corresponding layers with their colors.

    4. Duplicate the Walls Layer and move the copy to the ground. Rename it to "Chasm" or whatever you want. Fill it with a bit darker color than the Walls layer. I used 20% gray.

    5. Go to your Grid Layer and make a Grid. (Filters - Render - Pattern - Grid) How big you make the grid does really matter on what you plan to do with the map. I usually choose a grid with no offset and a spacing of 100 pixels.

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    6. Now turn off the visibility of all layers except the floor layer and add a new layer directly above the floor layer and name it "Floor Noise".

    7. Use the Solid Noise Cloud filter on the floor noise layer (Filter - Render - Clouds - Solid Noise). I recommend experimenting a bit with the properties of this filter until you get the result you like. I used a detail, the X- and Y-size of 8 for the floor.

    8. Set the blending mode of the floor noise layer to overlay.

    9. Create another layer directly above the floor noise layer, name it "Floor Bump" and fill it with 50% gray. Now use a bump map on it. (Filters - Map - Bump Map). As the bump map take of course the floor noise layer. I set the map type to sinusoidal. My Azimuth is everywhere in every map 120 but you can set it to what you like I think. I played around a bit with the Elevation and the Depth until I get the Effect I want. In my test tutorial map the elevation was 35 and the depth 10.

    10. Set the blending mode of the floor bump layer to overlay.

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    11. Now to the walls. Repeat steps 6-8 with the "Walls" layer but use other values. For the Solid Noise Clouds I used a detail of 15 and a X- and Y-size of 10.

    12. Create a new layer named "Wall Bump Map" and will it with Solid Noise Clouds setting the mode to turbulent using a new random seed. I used a detail of 15, a X- and Y-size of 16. Turn the visibility of this layer off.

    13. Repeat Steps 9 and 10 only use the "Wall Bump Map" layer instead of the "Wall Noise" layer as the bump map. My elevation in the test map was set to 40, my depth 20.

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    14. The Chasm area is done exactly like the walls only at step 12 you use a smaller Y-Size for the Solid Noise Clouds. I use a detail of 10, a X-size of 16 and a Y-size of 6. For the Bump Map at step 13 I used a higher depth. In the test map it's 30.

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    Now you are all set up. Save this image. I use it as a baseline for every dungeon map I make. I tried keeping as modular as possible so you could easily change things without having to start over again.

  2. #2


    Well let's begin making a Dungeon Map.

    1. Add a new layer directly under the grid. Fill it with White and name it "Dungeon".

    2. Now take a black brush and start painting the dungeon. I turn the grid on so I can better orientate on the picture in my mind.

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    3. Blur the map a bit using Gaussian Blur (Filters - Blur - Gaussian Blur). the amount you blur it is highly dependent on how the walls are made. Are they natural? Take a high amount. Are they artifical? Take a low one. Mine are natural so I took about 100 pixels.

    4. Add a new layer above the dungeon layer and fill it with Solid Noise Clouds. The values here will determine how random the walls will be. I used a detail of 9 and a
    X- and Y-size of 10.

    5. Add a new layer above the noise layer. Fill it with white and set its blending mode to "Lighten only". Now open the levels dialog (Colors - Levels) and slide down the white arrow at "Output Levels". Watch the dark area of the dungeon area appearing and stop anywhere you like. The dark area will define the walls.

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    6. Take the fuzzy select tool (the magic-wand-like-thing). Check "Sample merged" and set the Threshold to 0. Now select all the dark areas that are your walls.

    7. Add a new white layer and fill the selected areas with black. Name it "Wall Mask" Turn the visibility of this layer off. You can now delete all the layers made after step 1 of this section. I keep the Dungeon layer for.. well... keeping sake.

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    8. Save the Selection to a Channel (Select - Save to Channel) and name it "Wall Mask"

    9. Rightclick on the "Walls" layer and click on "Add Layer Mask". Check Channel and choose the Wall Mask. Repeat this with the "Wall Noise" and "Wall Bump" layers. I blurred each mask by 20 pixels and added a 5-10 pixel Noise Spread (Filters - Noise - Spread) because I think it looks better.

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    10. Add a new layer under the grid and name it "Chasm Map". Fill it with black and turn the opacity down so you can see the grid, the walls and the floor.

    11. Take a white brush and start drawing the areas where your chasm will be (I really hope thats the right word for it...)

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  3. #3


    12. Repeat step 3. I blur by 70 pixels this time.
    13. Repeat step 4. This time I used a detail of 8 and a X- and Y-size of 8 and I set the mode to Turbulent.
    14. Repeat step 5-7. Name the last layer "Chasm Mask"
    15. Save the Selection to a Channel (Select - Save to Channel) and name it "Chasm Mask

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    Add the saved Channel as a layer mask like in step 9 to the "Floor", the "Floor Noise" and the "Floor Bump" layers. I blur each mask again by 20 pixels and add a 5-10 pixel Noise Spread. It looks more like broken away that way.

    The Map is now done. The Map making itself doesn't take that long and you can even speed it up by skipping step 3-5 if you lack the time. And I think it doesn't even look that bad for a fast made map.

    If I helped at least one of you or gave you new ideas for making maps. Also if you use this method often it doesn't hurt to make a toolbox of things so you can easily add them to the maps like doors, treasure boxes or something. I dind't add them to the map because I have such things printed out in the same format of the map so I can move them. It really helps with the doors.

    Well here is also the map I made in this tutorial. I changed some things because I noticed at the end that some things where wrong. I changed the color of the floor and the Layer Mask of the Walls.

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    I hope my english was understandable and not that bad....

    So long

    *mumble* Now back to my campaign map *mumble*

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


    Thanks for the tut Malygon!

    I just wanted to point out that much of this can be automated using my map prettier script for Gimp

    The download is on page 2.

    (It was posted here a little before your time )

    -Rob A>

  5. #5



    Man I wish I had seen that before the last friday or before I started making this.

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