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Mapping Tips and Tricks


Gamer Talk

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I've been putting together a few mapping tips and tricks and posting them on G+ and facebook at lunchtime 2-3 times a week. If you're interested, you can find them here:
tips on facebook
tips on Google+
collated tips on the blog (every Saturday more or less)

I hope the tips come in handy to people, and let me know if there's something you'd like to see covered.

Tips so far (from the last 3 weeks):
• Drawing top down hills
• City design - start with the roads
• Dungeon design and adventure flow
• Simple hatched city district styles
• Using the Shape Tool to create quick simple icons in Photoshop
• Hand drawn mountains
• Turning a map into an aged paper handout
• A classic gatehouse design for guarding your front door
• Creating isometric dungeon maps
• Quick and Easy Dungeons using Grids
• Using layer styles for attractive dungeons.
• Using paths to create pretty dungeon maps
• Old School Mapping in Photoshop and Maptool


Not sure if this is what you have in mind, but I have a recommendation for those who use those dry erase mats. Washable markers, particularly Rose Art brand, are key. They don't stain the mat, they come in a variety of colors, and the rose art ones don't smear too badly. They Crayola ones smear, but are okay if you give them time to dry.

When I say they dont's stain, I don't mean to leave them on there for weeks though. Just a suggestion.


I don't personally use dry erase mats, but that's a good recommendation. Thanks!


These are great I have been working on mapping for the last 6 months or so, and while I think my maps look okay they are pretty lame looking and some of the things you have posted already make me all giddy to try.

Keep up the posts and you will have someone there everyweek absorbing and trying your hints and tips!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Oh this is definitely going in my advice list! :)

Dark Archive

Wow! Blog bookmarked! G+ Circled! =D

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Oooh, thank you! This is awesome. I love your maps.

I use CC3 (which has some symbol sets based on your work IIRC) but the how tos for Photoshop still useful and appreciated.

Would love to see even more on cities as those always seem to stymie me.

And stuff on map scaling.


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Thanks guys! I'm glad you're finding them useful.

Deathquaker - you're in luck. This week the posts have been about map scaling:
How to resize maps for printing or for vtts.
Slicing up large maps into pages for printing at home

And yes, you're right about CC3. I created an overland and a Dungeon style for it - but I personally mostly use Photoshop for my work.

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Neat. The map slicing will definitely be useful for a map I use for running demos -- I was getting tired of drawing it onto a flip mat.


This might also come in handy: how to remove labels from published maps

- though I know Paizo is excellent at keeping labels on separate layers, if you're using third party material this can be very handy.

Dark Archive

Dude! That blue map GIMP tutorial was you? Holy crap! I loved that tutorial! I had read it when it was still new years ago, and absolutely loved it =D

...still do, lol


Wow you are awesome. As a new GM, been playing for less than two years less than 20 years old, creative mapping is one of my biggest current problems. These tips are sure to help me a lot, thanks!


Jason - I'm glad you liked it! I guess you ran across that on the CG, where I've been lurking around for a couple of years. If you hang around there too long you can't help but pick up tips and tricks.

pipedreamsam - You should definitely check out the Cartographer's Guild, it's a great place that will absolutely help you out with maps for your games.

In other news, today's tip more of a walkthrough of my method for colouring a map once the linework is done - on Google+ and facebook.


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The blog's been updated with the most recent tips from last week - how to colour a dungeon map and how to remove labels from maps - which should both work in Gimp and Photoshop. Today on G+ and facebook - some thoughts on uses and abuses of different tree styles on battlemaps.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I've used PowerPoint to create some decent maps. If you can find it, there used to be an old shared-world wiki site that was run by Lilith (Liz Courts) and a few other back in the days before the chatroom. I believe some of the aforementioned maps might still be there.

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Can I ask a question about city design?

I see Jonathan Roberts gives advice I've seen elsewhere -- start with the streets.

But -- how? How do you know how to design the streets? How many to put within a space, when to do twists and turns, when to leave things straight? I imagine some of it's random, but there's also usually some kind of logic to city design--what kind of logic do you apply and when do you decided for good reason, to deviate from it?

I know when I've tried to do "streets first"--I end up then realizing I need more space for X building or something and have to start over. Or the street network just doesn't look "natural." I'm sure some of that comes with time and practice, but it'd be nice to get some pointers.

Thanks.


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@Aberzombie - Any software that allows you to collate pngs into a single document will allow you to create a map - and powerpoint actually does that surprisingly well. I know I used to crate posters (not for mapping) using powerpoint. However powerpoint suffers when you have lots of objects, and (I think) lacks the means to group sets of items easily to show/hide. That might not be the case as I've not used it for a while.

@DeathQuaker - You're absolutely right. I know I said 'start with the streets' but that was a little disengenuous. You need to know where the streets are going to and from so you do need to know the locations of major landmarks first. So I think it's better to say - start with the important tactical terrain. Rivers and hills. You don't need to pin them down precisely and render them up beautifully, but you do need to know where they are.

Power centers are almost always on top of a hill as they started off small, and needed to be in the best place to stave off attack. Or they'll be in a bend in a river, so that they're defended on 2 or 3 sides by water. If a city can be beside the water it will be, and again as the city started small, the power center and the old town will be at the waterside. So you need to know where the rivers/coastline and hills are.

Once you've got that, you know where the old town is. All main roads to other cities will lead to the power center, because that's where they started. They'll follow the contours of the land and will be constrained by where they cross rivers. Draw these in, and feel free to put in wiggles and kinks - roads don't necessarily go straight.

Now you start creating the rest of the city. The old town normally has a wall around it - again from the history of being attacked. You need to decide on whether the newer wider city has walls around it too. Walls restrict the passage of major roads - so they're important.

So now you should have:
1. Rivers and hills
2. Power center
3. Walls on the old town (and newer town)
4. Major roads from the center to the outside world

At this point, pick some major locations that people are going to need to get to/from. Some ideas:
• Docks
• Market
• Granaries
• Arcane University
• Temple district/center of worship
• Barracks
• Secondary power center (parliament/royal residence).

It's also worth pencilling in the different demographics of the quarters of he city now as well such as:
• Rich merchant/nobles
• Artisans
• Slums
• Warehouses

The major locations will work as focal points for your roads - people need to get there, so large roads will come off them like spokes off a wheel. Again, don't make them rod straight, allow them to have kinks and doglegs in them - but make sure they go in one clear direction. If there needs to be a road from the barracks to the palace and from the Barracks to the city gates, make sure it's clear that it does - but still remember that roads also go round places, and are designed to leave roughly rectangular spaces for building houses.

Now you should have a spider's web of main roads and you need to fill in the big irregular spaces with little roads to define the different districts. This is where the demographic of an area comes in. Slums are unplanned and ungoverned, so roads go where they need to , not where they should. let your pen wander and lay in a messy labyrinth of twisting alleyways.

On the other hand, merchants and nobles live in large houses with land around them on straight tree lined avenues. Place straight(ish) or gently curving roads in these areas, with lots of space for mansions. Grids look good for this too, and quickly give off a sense of ordered planning. Middle class areas are similar, but with smaller areas between roads, or with tenements, and more alleyways. Keep the roads to straight lines and sharp angles here too to retain a contrast with the slums.

Now you should have a reasonably clear city plan - and you've defined it by drawing the roads. I hope that does the trick?


And I threw an example map up on the G+ page to illustrate the idea.

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

That's a great help, and I appreciate the detailed reply in such a short period of time. The differences between roads in the areas for different classes is particularly helpful, as that's something I wasn't necessarily gleaning from just looking at maps. Thanks!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thanks so much for elaborating more on cities. I'm currently trying to map out a new city for my campaign and I've felt like I've been spinning my tires in the mud. This should help quite a bit. :)


You're also welcome to fire over sketches to me at jonathan@fantasticmaps.com. I'm happy to provide advice if you're stuck on something.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

That's a gracious offer that I might just take you up on someday. Right now though, I had a question about a technique I've used in 3D mapping that I've not been able to duplicate in Photoshop...

At the moment, I've been working on use the techniques in this tutorial to create the gently the land area beneath where I intend to plunk-down the city that I'm working on.

While the bottom-most layer is the height map, for the adjustment layer I created my own gradient map that is more tailored to representing shallow coastal waters, sandy beaches, mud and low hills (as opposed to tall mountains). While using 16-bit color channels for the PNG eliminates the issue of color-banding, what I'd really like to do is create a gradient that fades not between colors but between seamless, panning texture maps like I'd apply to a terrain heightmap in 3ds max or Unreal Engine.

Any ideas on how to go about doing this? I'm using CS3 (PC) if it makes a difference.


My guess would be to do this as a two step process. Use a black and white gradient map to select the band of the height map that you want to represent with the texture - one gradient for each type of terrain. Then create 5 or 6 images that have the different terain areas in white and the otehr areas in black. This can be used as a mask over the texture to make sure that the texture only hits those areas of the height map that are the correct height.

That's a rough guess, but I'd have to walk through it to see if it's possible in practice. However I am pretty sure that photoshop won't take gradients of texture maps (sadly). On the other hand, I'm really not the best person to ask about 3D techniques as I've only scratched the surface on 3D work in photoshop, and definitely not used it to produce anything for publication yet.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hmm, that idea sounds like it could bear fruit. I'll have to bone-up on my layer masks I guess. Thanks!


Sorry if this is already posted somewhere and I didn't see it, but I am having a bit of trouble with originality. Specifically in designing combat environments. I find that when I go to draw a dungeon I end up with a bunch of squares and rectangles, (if I am feeling extra creative I may even throw in a circle <sarcasm>). I am a little better when it comes to outdoor environments, but it sorta ends up with the same basic feel every time, to the point where my players can basically guess when they are about to get ambushed, "You are in a forest, traveling along the path there are tress around and a bridge going over a river a few hundred feet away". Are there databases of maps that could give me some inspiration, or just general tips for breaking the mold when it comes to map designing?


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No matter how good you are at designing, you're always going to tend to fall back on a set of layouts for combat encounters. There are a couple of map libraries that you can check out, but I'd recommend the Wizards Map a Week archive from the 3.5 days. It's a treasure trove of maps.

Not all are high resolution, and not all are available without tags, but they do all have different encounter layouts, and you get to pick the brains of other designers for your combat encounters.

For designing your own encounter areas, think of how you want the combat to flow, and then design the area around that. So, if you want it to be an ambush, then you're going to need cover and an area that restricts player movement. Traditional areas are gullys and cuttings with the ambushers on the ridge and the PCs in the gully. A rock fall can block their forward and backward movement. If your players are good at spotting ambush terrain, then reward them. They should be able to sneak around their ambushers and catch them out. Then you have a fun combat on the cliff top beside the gully!

If you have a combat with an opponent that's vulnerable in melee, give them terrain to protect them - like a stream, a fallen tree, a cliff, difficult terrain, or a river of lava. That switches things up from just placing them behind two mindless brutes with lots of hit points.

Think about how the terrain can be dynamic. Have treacherous ground that can be set to slide by dislodging a boulder, piles of barrels that - if struck just right - will collapse on a hapless foe, pools of oil that force acrobatics checks and make PCs flat footed for enemy rogues to sneak attack. Then make sure that your enemies make use of the terrain - particularly if it's their home environment. As soon as players see enemies using terrain agains them, they'll start using the terrain to their advantage too. Higher ground, slippery areas, movement hampering difficult terrain - it can all be just as effective as a wall if ice spell, if used correctly. With more dynamic terrain, you'll get more dynamic combat environments.


Daroob wrote:

Not sure if this is what you have in mind, but I have a recommendation for those who use those dry erase mats. Washable markers, particularly Rose Art brand, are key. They don't stain the mat, they come in a variety of colors, and the rose art ones don't smear too badly. They Crayola ones smear, but are okay if you give them time to dry.

When I say they dont's stain, I don't mean to leave them on there for weeks though. Just a suggestion.

And they smell GREAT!

Singing Bunnies & Kobolds - DEATH TRAP!.

In service,

Rich


That's quite a nice database, I'll surely be able to pull something from that. The rest of the post is quite helpful as well, it makes sense now that I am not really doing anything wrong, I just need to think a little differently.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Jonathan, just wanted to say, "Thanks for all the help." While I haven't figured out the last matter, investigating it did help me to discover another technique that I've been hoping to use for some time now: Using textures as my paintbrush in Photoshop. This is sooo much easier than trying to layer and trace textures in MapTool and the results look so much nicer that I thought I'd share the technique here. (You may very well have additional pointers to add.)
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  • Overview: Essentially, we create a layer filled with nothing but the texture, then hide the whole thing. We can then paint on that layer to reveal the underlying texture. For best results I'd recommend using a graphics tablet so that you have some pressure sensitivity.
  • 1. Find a tiled texture that you like. My example used this forest texture.
  • 2. Open that file in Photoshop.
  • 3. Edit Menu-> Define Pattern.
  • 4. Layer Menu-> New Fill Layer-> Pattern.
  • 5. Layer Menu-> Layer Mask-> Delete
  • 6. Layer Menu-> Layer Mask-> Hide All
  • 7. Now we can get to painting. Here's the settings I used for the forests I wanted to paint...
  • 8. Layer Properties:
    —Opacity: 70%
    —Drop Shadow:
    —Bevel & Emboss: Inner Bevel, Smooth, Depth 200%, Size 3, Soften 5
  • 9. Brush Settings: (When working with a hex grid where 48 pixels = 12-miles across):
    —Size: 30, Hardness 0%
    —Mode Normal, Opacity 100%, Flow 80%
    —Color: White

Now that you have all that done, simply use strokes of varying pressure to draw in the boundaries of your forests the same way you would if you were drawing them on paper. Then, use the same sort of arcing strokes to fill-in the interior. It should give it a nice 3D look leaving gaps for clearings and giving it a bit of a misty look (perfect for the jungle I was creating). Best of all, you can draw forests really quickly using this technique. :)

Example of results: Relief Map + Jungle

Hope this proves useful to someone!

EDIT: Incidentally, the tutorial I used as a starting point to create the relief map above can be found here: here. I created a custom gradient to give more detail to the beaches, then put all the steps to generate the relief map into an Action macro so I can just run it on an existing height map. FWIW, painting the relief maps with the greyscale color depth set to 16-bit helps a LOT. Just save a copy of your main file and reduce it back to 8-bits per channel to render the relief map, then drag the relief layer from the copy back into the main file. (Only necessary if your version of PS can't perform lighting when using 16-bits per channel.)


That's a great walk through of how to use a texture - and the end result looks great!

One thought on the map - I'd recommend easing the heightmap variation on the rivers a little. At the moment they look like they're running through chasms. The darkest shdows should be cast by your mountains, and the lightest shadows by things that are almost flat - like rivers.

I love the gradiated heightmap colours. I really should work through that tutorial to see how it works properly. Thanks a lot for taking the time to write up a tutorial on it!

In other news - a new mini-tute on drawing trees is up today on G+ and facebook.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So in addition to taking your advice on the rivers, I kept plugging away at the textured gradient thing...

Never did figure it out. ;)

However, I was able to approximate it!

  • Overview: We're going to replace each of the color bands from a relief map with a texture of the ground and vegetation found at that altitude.
  • 1. Use Select Menu-> Color Range on the height-map for each color in you relief gradient (see the tutorial I linked to earlier for help on creating a relief map).
  • 2. At the shoreline I keep fuzziness low (~8), with it increasing to about 24-48 at higher elevations.
  • 3. Each time you selected a new 'color' on your greyscale height map do a Layer Menu-> New-> Layer via Copy.
  • 4. Create a pattern fill layer for each of those layers with tiled textures. The site Jonathan plugged earlier has tons of good textures.
  • 5. Arranged the pattern layers into the desired order (grass over scrub over mountains, etc.).
  • 6. Drag the layers created in step 2/3 to beneath their respective pattern layer.
  • 7. Right-click on each pattern layer and select Create Clipping Mask. You'll start to see the textures appear at the color ranges.
  • 8. Tweaking the opacity for each of the clipping mask layers to achieve a nice blend.
  • 9. In the Blending Options for your mountain's clipping mask layer, apply the Bevel and Emboss and Drop Shadow effects. The only change I made for drop shadow was to increase the distance to 55px. The Bevel settings were a bit more involved:
    —Style: Inner Bevel, Technique: Chisel Soft
    —Depth: 100%, Size 172px, Soften 3px
    —Use Global Light
    —Gloss Contour: The stepped one with Anti-Aliased checked.
    —Highlight Mode: Soft Light 95%
    —Shadow Mode: Multiply 75%

[ References: |Photoshop Layers | "Finished" Map ]

Easter Egg:
Yes, that's Smuggler's Shiv in the SW corner. Although on my world I call it Reaver's Shiv. :)

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This thread reminds me that I've got to try and get back to using my CC3 some more.


Looks really good. Could you post the raw heightmap? I'd love to see what your starting point was.

With the rivers, I've found that going from a very light blue at the source down to the sea colour at the coast works well to pul them out of the background. From the air, rivers reflect the sunlight, and can look like ribbons of silver. That helps give them some contrast and make them easy to read.

Love the stacked textures - that's working very nicely.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thanks, I'm really pleased with the results of all the new tricks I've learned recently. I'll have to experiment with the rivers a bit more, but I can see what you mean from that photo.

The starting point was essentially the monochrome output from Fractal Mapper 8. After doing some sketches by hand on the world map to figure out where I wanted my tectonic plates (and getting frustrated with Fractal Terrain 3), I decided just to loft the height map manually in Photoshop.

[ Linkage: | FM8 Output | Height Map | HM + River Layer ]

I'm still not really satisfied with how I'm able to represent the results of plate tectonics. What I'd really like is a program that lets me draw in the plates, set their weight and movement vector and move them forward/backwards thru time to see what happens, but I have yet to find a program like that. The closest I was able to find was this program. It can create brand new plates using a random fill, but there's no way to edit the starting state or save files.

Anyway, need to go about using another of your tutorials to whip up some map symbols now. ;)


:) A program that does full geophysical tectonic modeling might be a bit specialised for generally available software! But I'd love to hear about it if you find some.

The height map certainly shows why the rivers had the heavy shadows on them - they're the same tone as the sea, so you're telling the program that when you hit the edge of a river you drop from whatever elevation you're at to a canyon that goes all the way down to sea level. I'd definitely recommend adding the rivers in by hand at the end rather than relying on the height map for that. Thanks for sharing the works in progress.

In other news - all of last week's posts on trees and grunge brushes are up on the blog today.


After a little bit of downtime last week I've got back to collating some tips. Today - how to draw isometric mountains.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Finally finished working on a map of the city in which both my local and PbP groups will be adventuring. Had to put both games on hold for over a month while I've been working on all these maps, but I'm pretty pleased with the results. If the buildings look odd, and the shading mis-aligned, it's because I'm using the tokens from the Kingmaker adventure path to represent the zoning of each city block. (Those buildings already have the highlighting and shading on them.)

REALLY would have been a lot easier to be able to place the buildings in MapTool but without a free-rotate function, this just never would have worked. As a result, I've got a Photoshop file with about 6 or 700 layers. Thank God at least RAM is cheap these days! :D

City Map & Key: Port Eldarion

BTW, in working on this, I had to manually remove the green grass backgrounds from all of the KM buildings. Also, someone had made some new buildings for the Jon Brazer "Book of the River Nations" rules, but they were mostly very blurry and small so I remade several of those tokens.

If anyone is interested in having the KM building tokens with transparent BGs, let me know via a PM or something and I'll send them. (I'd put them up on my wiki, but I'm not sure of the legality of doing so.)


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That looks great! Sorry for the delayed response - I've been travelling over the last few weeks.

You can free rotate in maptool by the way - you need to hold down shift and control and that lets you smoothly rotate by scrolling the mouse wheel. You should post that upon the CG if you haven't already - it's definitely worth showing off.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
JonathanRoberts wrote:
You can free rotate in maptool by the way - you need to hold down shift and control and that lets you smoothly rotate by scrolling the mouse wheel.

*blinks twice, tries it... explodes with enough force to take about 700 layers with him

Wow, just... WOW! Haha! Wish I'd know about that a month and half ago! If I don't reply again it's because the men in white coats have taken me away until I quit laughing quite so hysterically. ;)

In all seriousness though, thanks for that tip, it makes a HUGE difference! If you've got other handy MapTool tips, maybe a blog post about them would be beneficial to folks here. For instance, it took me 2 years before I discovered that there were tons of tokens that you can download right from within the Add Resources menu.

Glad you think the map looks good, it's been a real labor of love and I've learned a LOT of new Photoshop tricks as a result. :)


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Figured I'd give something back and write-up a tutorial on a handy trick for getting a MapTool hex grid back into Photoshop...
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MapTool Hex Grid in Photoshop
Use 1: This tutorial is for those who have an existing map in MapTool and who want to do a bit more work on it in Photoshop while still being able to benefit from MapTool's grid in spite of Photoshop's inability to create a hex grid.

Use 2: This can also be used if you plan to create a new map and already know the scale and dimensions of the map you'll ultimately be exporting. In this case, you'll want to export a blank grey image of the correct size from Photoshop and create a new map in MapTool from it before proceeding with this tutorial. It will act as a placeholder for when you have the map finished later.

  • Start out in MapTool...
  • Get your hex grid set to the proper size and location relative to the map's background and set the color to white (255,255,255).
  • On the Object Layer, draw a solid black rectangle covering the entire map. All you should see now is a white grid on a black background with no map showing.
  • Zoom to 100%: View Menu-> Zoom-> Zoom 1:1
  • Export a screenshot of the full map using the current GM view: File Menu-> Export-> Screenshot As... Type: Entire Map, Layers: Current View, View: GM
  • Switch to Photoshop...
  • Open your original map AND the screenshot you just exported.
  • In your screenshot, select the entire map (Ctrl+A) and then copy it (Ctrl+C).
  • In your map file, create a new Fill Layer: Layer Menu-> New Fill Layer-> Solid Color.
  • Name it whatever you like, keep the opacity at 100%. Pick whatever color you want the grid to be. The entire map should now be covered in that color.
  • Select the new Layer.
  • Switch to the Channels window: Window Menu-> Channels
  • Select the Mask channel and make it visible (click the little show/hide box to the left of it so that a little eye appears in it)
  • Paste. The screen will probably turn red, but you should see your grid.
  • Hide the mask channel again and you should now see your hex grid looking just as nice as it does in MapTool.

Technical Stuff:
The reason to use this method instead of copying the layer from the screenshot and using blending options you ask? Blending the areas on the grid layer that are black will either leave a short of greyish shadow around the white grid or make the already-thin grid lines even thinner. This method produces cleaner-looking results and eliminates the need to convert the grid layer into greyscale and apply a color overlay or adjustment layer.


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That's a really neat trick. Thanks for posting that!


Some thoughts on cliffs styles posted today:

Three different cliff styles for RPG Maps

Dark Archive

Thanks for all the tips and tricks, Jonathan. You rock! =D


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Just figured I'd share a set of map symbols that I made this morning. Given the scale at which I've been working, fancy buildings and such were becoming difficult to see so I went for high-visibility B&W symbols.

FWIW, the technique I used is essentially same one that Jonathan outlined in his tutorials above.

Linkage: http://wiki.worldsunknown.com/wiki/File:Map-Symbols-BW.zip


Very nice - love the crown symbols. And the x at the bottom is perfect for pirate maps.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thanks, I've spent quite a bit of time cruising Dafont.com over the past couple years and found some pretty cool fonts for this sort of stuff. Some of the more unique fonts I used in this were:

One trick I've used in maps for the party before is to find a different handwriting-style font on that site for each PC. Then when they are exploring, I'll annotate new locations using the font of whichever character would have had the map at that time.

Serpents's Skull Spoilers:


That's a fantastic idea! I'd never have thought of that, but will definitely be doing it from now on!

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I've finally gotten back to working with CC3 again. I'd forgotten how much fun I have creating maps. Sadly, I can't link any of the current stuff, since the maps are part of an adventure I hope to run at PaizoCon for some of my fellow FAWTLY Folk.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Jonathan: I just recalled another tip I wanted to share, it might make a worthwhile addendum to your entry about printing large maps across multiple pages...

  • Overview: If you can save or export your map file to a PDF, Adobe Reader X actually has a poster printing function built right into it.
  • 1: Export your map to PDF. Be certain to set the print resolution properly before doing so.
  • 2: Open the PDF version of your map in Adobe Reader X.
  • 3: File Menu-> Print...
  • 4: Page Sizing & Handling: Click the "Poster" button.
  • 5: Assuming you set the resolution correctly, set the Tile Scale to 100%, un/check Cut Marks as you prefer and click Print.


@Lathorion: That's very cute. I'll have to try that out. That should even be able to print to file (on a Mac) as a super quick way of creating multi-page pdfs. I'll have a tinker with that and see.

@Aberzombie: I know the feeling of having to keep that stuff to yourself. Thankfully my players don't browse the Cartographer's Guild so I can post most of my stuff before we play. Always interested to check out things if you're up for sharing them by email? jonathan@fantasticmaps.com Otherwise I'll definitely look forward to seeing them when you've played through the game after PaizoCon.

Oh, and a very short tutorial on drawing isometric cliffs.

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