Hi, I am trying to make a set of maps to run an online D&D game using d20pro because you know friends move away so it makes it hard to run a D&D game. Well, I am new at using any program (I remember a bit of Design In from highschool but that's about it) I also have a Bamboo Connect graphics tablet new at using that too (so odd look at the screen instead of down, also is it useful to even have one of these for making maps?). I have access to GIMP, trial Photoshop CS5 Extended, and Autodesk SketchBook.
First of the maps I am trying to make is a roadside battle, think scottish highlands. I don't know really where to beginning... I did make this
But now I am at... What do I do? Is this what I am trying to do? and lots of AGRS! and/or sighs.
I think that is an excellent start.
You probably need a grid. In Gimp, this is how I do it (there's probably a much better and easier way – please let me know if you find it).
1) make a new transparent layer over your current layers, and call it GRID. Then fill it with white, so you can longer see you map.
2) Go to FILTERS > DISTORTS > MOSAIC.
3) In the mosaic options select SQUARES, tile size 100, tile spacing 1, tile height 1, tile neatness 1, colour variation 0. Make sure to untick COLOUR AVERAGING, or it will be a disaster.
4) Now you have the opposite of a grid, with white squares over your map. Select the 'Select with Colour Tool' in the toolbox and select the white colour, then press delete. Now invert the selection (SELECTION > INVERT) and drag the black colour (or whatever colour you like) onto the main image. Now you should have a black grid over your map.
5) Decrease the opacity of the grid layer to 30% or whatever you like with the slider, and tick the LOCK box in the layer menu; now you can drag any colour onto the layer and it will change the colour of the grid only.
6) You can make your grid bigger or smaller by scaling the grid layer.
Hope that helps.
I think it looks like a good start as well.
The grid mentioned by JT is a good idea, but if it is a road side battle, you need to figure out the route of the road, then/or before figure out what sort of scale you want. This would help determine what other features (and size) and details get added to it later. What I am talking about when I mention scale is are you planning on using the map for figures, or as a representation of the land, and just marking the character locations on it. This would depend a lot on how many people (combatants) are going to be on the map, and whether or not you want this to be a bit of a running battle that could move away from the roadside...
Actually, rereading your original post, I noticed that you want it for VT gaming...definitely put in a grid (size of grid i believe for VT is usually 50px or 100px per 5 feet. Some one else with ANY knowledge of VT maps should be able to correct me on that though.), but you still need to figure out the route.
As for the tools, yes having a tablet is helpful when doing digital graphics, and yes it does take some getting used to....and if knowledge of gimp is a problem...we DO have plenty of tuts on Gimp...
First I'd like to apologize for my double topic that I made like a moron. Second thanks for the grid tip I follow it step by step and then like a child was like "ccooll a grid!" with eyes all big. Third @Korash I am thinking of the players starting on the road but having it become a bit of a running battle that moves away from the road/roadside.
Windth, I feel a bit sheepish regarding the grid advice. I have since discovered (about ten seconds after I posted my advice above) that you can draw a grid with FILTERS > RENDER > GRID, which is a LOT easier. Sorry about that! Still, it's good practice I am sure.
There's two ways of going about putting a road through hilly terrain and it depends on what is more important: the terrain or the road.
You've started with the hills, so really that's going to determine the shape of your road in many ways (both geographically and technically when drawing) so I'd say a simple solution here would be to cover a layer in a dirt/road texture, throw up a Layer Mask > Hidden on it, then use a soft brush to draw in the shape of road with an Overlay on the layer so the road contours follow the shape of your hills. Your other method would have been drawing the road first then building up the hills/terrain around it, but as you've already worked on the hills then might as well work with what you've got.
From here start building up main terrain features like trees, thick bushes, broken walls, large rocks, etc. generally the stuff that can be used in the map as cover, etc. Then build up the small details like smaller bushes and flowers, and finish with lighting effects at the end (at least that's how I go about it).
Bleh, posted some stuff in the other thread then saw this was a double post :) If a mod wants to move that stuff into this thread then please do.
Your best bet is to sit down with a pencil and paper and work out how big you want this map to be, where it starts, where and HOW it moves to the next map ie. some significant event in the battle that makes people move, if it's mass combat then this is going to be a retreat/strategic retreat that can move an entire army, otherwise players might get the idea of going wherever they want. Once you've designed it on pencil then work on it digitally.
If you are going for a large scale map then there are few things to take into consideration:
1) What is the largest distance your attackers can fire from in ranged combat? If they can shoot 30 Squares then you need to keep this into consideration otherwise you end up in a situation where your ranged tokens are on one map when they retreat and your melee guys on another.... confusing :) Touching on the above I've worked with a map where the grid squares were 25x25pix, any smaller and you start to struggle to see the tokens. The larger your maps grid obviously the longer it takes to load in a session. If you do go for 25x25 then you can get a 100x100sq map (2500x2500pix) which is big, but not TOO big imo for one image. If your battleground is going to be bigger than this then consider how you want to break it down.
2) When designing the hills don't worry TOO much about the details of smaller hills because they wont matter too much to the battle. The larger hills that actually affect movement, etc. are more important when it comes to the look of the map and determining what terrain is leveled out, etc. The example you have made, whilst nice, might be a little confusing during the session. Large scale battle maps really do work better if they're simpler (in my opinion anyway).
3) Think about larger terrain features like buildings, trees, walls and rocks and where they would be situated (for realism and also to be best used during the battle. If there is a feature you really want to be used then obviously the best place to put it is smack bang in the middle of the map as that is where everyone will drift to). From there add in small details as needed (again, depends on the scale/view distance of the map).
Moved Yospeck's post as requested and deleted the 2nd thread. I now return you to your regularly scheduled mapping :)