Printing scenario maps for the Gaming table. (tutorial)


GM Discussion

1 to 50 of 58 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
The Exchange 2/5 RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

50 people marked this as a favorite.

I often take maps from PDFs and turn them into printed maps. It's particularly effective for complex maps which are difficult to draw, but often it's just nicer to have a printed map. A friend of mine asked for some tips on printing them out so I put together a little tutorial, hope you enjoy.

Video Tutorial On UseTube.

PS: I know the sound is choppy. Sorry, first video. I'll do better next time.
PPS: There are some mild spoilers for Carrion Crown because that's the map I used to do the tutorial. I can't imagine this seriously spoiling anything, but if you are playing, you've been warned.

Sovereign Court 4/5

Excellent! I've been wanting a quick tutorial about this.

Note though; Adobe Acrobat copies the image to the clipboard the instant you click on the image and it turns blue. ;)

So I guess the most important thing was to have 25 pixels per inch. Hm, makes sense...

The Exchange 2/5 RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

The pixels per inch varies significantly based on the source image.

Sovereign Court 4/5

Dennis Baker wrote:
The pixels per inch varies significantly based on the source image.

So it all boils down to trial and error? Is there a nice way of determining the DPI to print 1 inch squares?

Liberty's Edge 4/5 *

I use Visio to fix the size. After copying the source image, I first paste into Visio, then count the grid squares and size the image appropriately using the handy display in the bottom toolbar (that tells you precisely how large the image will be in inches). Then I can copy it back out into my image editor of choice for slicing (if needed), or just let Visio print across multiple pages for me.

Thanks for the video, Dennis. I wasn't aware of the contrast fix you used to bring out the edge details. Unclear gridlines are the biggest complaint I get from my players, so I'll be giving that a try.

The Exchange 5/5

Thanks Dennis! I don't have the time I used to have for drawing out my maps. Your printed versions looked great. I'm definitely going to try this out.


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

Thank you for sharing!!

3/5

Great tutorial! I especially like the part about using Gimp to increase the contrast.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Great video, thanks!

Dark Archive 5/5 Venture-Agent, Washington—Redmond

wonderful tutorial! ^_^ I do printing like that more for home games than PFS, but I've been planning on printing up whatever I end up running at cons. The contrast section is a really great addition!

Liberty's Edge 2/5

This is actually one of the most awesome and appropriate things I have seen this year.

Some of the maps in scenarios (and Im only talking the scenarios here.. not the modules/AP stuff), are getting quite complex.

I have access to an A3 B&W printer at work Which I have tried to use to print out some pdf maps. They nearly always end up with gridlines blurred as the scalability of the map just gets ugly.

Ill have a watch of this tonight and see how I go.

(Note : Yeah I use a metric system for measurements. Inches give me a headache :) )

The Exchange 2/5 RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

An A3 printer is great, 1/4 the number of seams and taping!

Scarab Sages 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Captain, Isles—Online

great tutorial

i use photoshop for cropping and resizing once i have finished modifing the basic image.

i copy out a small section to a new image, crop to just a single square - then use image resize to make that square 1", noting the % scaling applied to the image.

i then resize the original image with that same %, and use posterrazor for breaking up the images into pdf pages for later printing at work on their A3 colour laser.

The Exchange 2/5 RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Thanks!

You can certainly scale the image before the printing step. It's likely more accurate if you measure 10 squares rather than just a single one. I used copying and pasting sections because it wasted less ink/ paper and because it avoids math ;)

Thanks for the link to PosteRazor, I'll definitely use this for more regular images.

4/5

Very nice - I just did a quick & dirty print with the poster setting of my printer and I'll see how that turns out (it was for a map that fills a pretty full grid so the technique of selecting individual sections likely wouldn't have been all that helpful. However I'll definitely try to figure out a means of getting the contrast corrected as you did here (perhaps installing Gimp - don't currently have it installed)

The Exchange 2/5 RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

The same stuff works in Photoshop... and a few other editors.

Silver Crusade 4/5

I really should watch this when I get a chance. I do print maps straight out of PFS scenarios regularly. I usually edit them up to size using IrfanView (freeware download). Then, I print them from MS Paint, believe it or not, because it splits up pages nicely.

Grand Lodge 5/5

I've always used Paint before, too, though I reall like how you mess with the contrast of the picture before printing it. I'm gonna have to familiarize myself with that program, I think.

5/5

Nice thise should be stickied.

5/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Chris Bonnet wrote:
Nice thise should be stickied.

I added the link to the shared drive ... under GM Resources :)

Grand Lodge

I swapped some work for a large scale printer. It can print full size posters and pictures. Is the process roughly the same?

Only reason I did the work was for the printer so I could do full size maps.

I can also print the maps on canvas. Have the ability just not the knowledge at this time.

Scarab Sages 5/5

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Deussu wrote:
Dennis Baker wrote:
The pixels per inch varies significantly based on the source image.
So it all boils down to trial and error? Is there a nice way of determining the DPI to print 1 inch squares?

I've printed quite a few maps so I'm pretty decent at this. In Photoshop (or whatever editor you're using) copy a one inch square from the map then check its size. I randomly pulled up a map and it was 27 pixels an inch at 72dpi, when you convert that to inches it's 0.375" (27/72). So now take 1/0.375 which gives you 2.7 this is the scaling factor for the map. Lastly, scale the map up 2.7x (so if it's current 1000px wide resize it to 2700px wide).

1/5

Has anyone compared resizing vs resampling to see which gives a better image when printed at scale?


Dennis Baker wrote:

I often take maps from PDFs and turn them into printed maps. It's particularly effective for complex maps which are difficult to draw, but often it's just nicer to have a printed map. A friend of mine asked for some tips on printing them out so I put together a little tutorial, hope you enjoy.

Video Tutorial On UseTube.

PS: I know the sound is choppy. Sorry, first video. I'll do better next time.
PPS: There are some mild spoilers for Carrion Crown because that's the map I used to do the tutorial. I can't imagine this seriously spoiling anything, but if you are playing, you've been warned.

I found the easiest way to scale the map is this:

Copy image in Adobe Reader with photo tool. Use the image grid lines as a guide. (If you cut at the grid lines (horiz and vert), the image will scale almost perfectly).

Count the number of squares for the image width.

Go to GIMP on the main screen without a canvas open. Choose Paste in the Edit menu (ctrl V). The new canvas should be the exact size of the pasted image.

Choose the Scaling option in the Image menu. Change the units to "in" and then set the width to the number of squares width of the image.

Hit OK and now the canvas will resize with each square being 1" X 1"

I was very happy with the quality of the map using this method along with the color adjustment in the video too.

5/5

5 people marked this as a favorite.

I've found Inkscape to be very useful. It also has means to depixelise images.

After extracting the image, fire up inkscape and import it.

Open Document Properties (File menu), set your page size, then go to the grids tab and add a new 1" grid.
Then, resize the image to fit on the grid.

Now, select the image, and go Path->Trace Bitmap.
Choose Colours, and set scans to 100.
Uncheck smooth, and in the options tab, uncheck all three options (suppress speckles, smooth corners, optimise paths).
Click OK, and wait for the magic to happen.

With any luck, you'll convert a pixelated map into a much better looking map (40mb).

Liberty's Edge 2/5

Dennis,
I'm relatively new to GMing in PF and found your video straight away. Awesome help for those of us without the artistic talent to recreate or the funds to purchase a bunch of flip maps. Thank you!

I am prepping for PFS scenario 6-03, The Technic League and am having problems. I was hoping you had encountered this or had a solution: When I copy the maps, they just show up as black. I successfully used your technique in GIMP for other scenarios and the very first map in this scenario (map of Nantambu) works fine. It is just the rest.

Silver Crusade 3/5

UKCraig wrote:
I was hoping you had encountered this or had a solution: When I copy the maps, they just show up as black. I successfully used your technique in GIMP for other scenarios and the very first map in this scenario (map of Nantambu) works fine. It is just the rest.

GIMP is a little buggy. Try quitting and restarting between maps that you are working on.

Liberty's Edge 5/5 * Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northeast

UKCraig wrote:
I am prepping for PFS scenario 6-03, The Technic League and am having problems. I was hoping you had encountered this or had a solution: When I copy the maps, they just show up as black.

All three of the Season 6 scenarios have that same problem. It was identified to Paizo right before GenCon and they were going to look at it after they got back, but I haven't seen new versions of the scenarios yet.

The Exchange 2/5 RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, Contributor

Glad you found the video helpful.

As far as blank maps goes, if you can't get copy/ paste going you are probably going to have to take a screenshot and work from there. Zoom in so it's as possible first.

Liberty's Edge 2/5

Thanks! I'll hope that Paizo will have a fix out soon and try the other techniques in the meantime.

Liberty's Edge 4/5 5/5

UKCraig wrote:
I am prepping for PFS scenario 6-03, The Technic League and am having problems. I was hoping you had encountered this or had a solution: When I copy the maps, they just show up as black.

There are a number of solutions to this problem suggested in this thread.

4/5

I managed to get a hold of a large-format printer for maps similar to Katt. A couple things I find helpful.

I prefer Paint.NET for editing images. It has some nice tools for playing with colors and such but I find it much easier to use than Gimp.

I'm lucky enough to have a copy of MS Publisher. It works beautifully for laying out the image on paper. Visio is more common and also works effectively.

thanks for the calculate size from a sample of squares tip. That's one I hadn't thought of. Doing it by trial and error on the whole image is a pain, especially since Paizo hates maps that are a simple number of squares. Why is every map something like 23.4 by 32.1 squares with partial squares on all four sides?


this is fantastic. drawing out maps at the table is a big mood breaker

Shadow Lodge 3/5

For the black map issue, has anyone tried using Some PDF Image Extract 1.5?

I'd link it, but I can't check the link from where I am to make sure it's the right version; you can't use version 2+.

It's my go-to map extractor, better than cut and paste and much better than screenshotting.


Very useful youtube video. Thanks!

Grand Lodge 4/5

Good video. Might have to get Gimp and see how it goes.

5/5

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I gave this a try...nothing. I'm using gimp and I've tried useing scale image but the size doesn't change. When I go to try to print it it doesn't let me change the size there either.

Dark Archive 4/5 5/55/5 *** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Midwest

I use pdfimage, part of xpdf. That gets the images out, and the I can use posterazr to size the images, creating a paginated pdf

Silver Crusade 1/5

Soluzar, you should try changing the resolution. Make sure to set your scale tool to "Inches" instead of "Pixels" and try to guess by how much your resolution needs to be reduced - I usually end up with 75 dpi or something along those lines IIRC.

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/55/5 **** Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

A combination of Inkscape and poster Razor works quite well for me, I will share pictures when it is opportune.

Shadow Lodge 3/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I wrote up a guide on printing maps, from start to finish.

I've been meaning to post this for a while, but hadn't confirmed everything's kosher - so it's here if anyone wants to check it out.

Feedback is welcome.

Silver Crusade 3/5

Avatar-1: what format are the images that come out of Some PDF Image Extractr?

Shadow Lodge 3/5

JPG

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/55/5 **** Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Avatar-1 your guide works very well for me, thank you very much.

Silver Crusade 4/5 Venture-Captain, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh

I've been printing out my maps without being able to find this thread, until Sebastian gave me enough info to spot it anyway. So I'm coming at this from a little different perspective since my wife and I have been munging steps together without seeing what the rest of the community is up to.

I hadn't thought of doing that much cleanup and contrast enhancement on the image. I'll have to experiment with that! It's a good thought. It makes me worry a little about blowing through ink...

A trick my wife showed me is using a spreadsheet application (Excel or LibreOffice Calc) for both sizing and printing the image once you've got it ready to go:


  • Open up a new workbook
  • Select all
  • Set both column width and row height to something slightly over 1" (I use 1.1 inches, so the minis have a little extra breathing room)
  • Import the map image
  • Drag resize the image until the map grid matches the grid you've made with the spreadsheet cells
  • Print!

It looks like my spreadsheet step replaces the Inkscape and PosteRazor steps in some of these guides... you do miss out on some of the Inkscape features if you're using some of its features for cleanup prior to printing, though.

I also laminate my maps, and tape them together such that they fold up for transport. The laminating really helps, at least for the way I draw all over everything.

I was thinking of writing up a blog post on the whole thing... might still do that.

Scarab Sages 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Captain, Isles—Online

posterrazor handles cutting the image into page size pieces for printing, it also allows for adding overlap to each page, great if your glueing them together

Shadow Lodge 5/5

chris manning wrote:
posterrazor handles cutting the image into page size pieces for printing, it also allows for adding overlap to each page, great if your glueing them together

Plus one billion for posterazor. That thing makes printing maps literally a 2 minute process from extracting the image from the PDF to printing the 1-inch-square maps. Plus the fact it overlaps makes map taping so much easier.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 5/55/5 *** Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East

I use a program to extract images from the pdf, then load them into AutoCAD. Scale it so a square is 1", and print from there. Unfortunately my printer is only 22"x34" so I sometimes have to scale it down a bit or cut off the edges.

Shadow Lodge 5/5

James Anderson wrote:
I use a program to extract images from the pdf

So everybody knows, a simple Ctrl-C works just as well. You can the Ctrl-V into whatever package is needed.

Silver Crusade 4/5 Venture-Captain, Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh

MisterSlanky wrote:
chris manning wrote:
posterrazor handles cutting the image into page size pieces for printing, it also allows for adding overlap to each page, great if your glueing them together
Plus one billion for posterazor. That thing makes printing maps literally a 2 minute process from extracting the image from the PDF to printing the 1-inch-square maps. Plus the fact it overlaps makes map taping so much easier.

Indeed. Spreadsheet applications won't create overlap, if that's the killer feature for you, but they do print things out in page-sized pieces without any additional work. So for me, since I'm also using it to resize the image appropriately, it saves me the two minutes it would take to open up posterazor. The lack of overlap doesn't bug me as I'm laminating this stuff anyway and taping it together, so there's enough overlap in the plastic that I don't need more from the map itself. It's just another option, I suppose!

1 to 50 of 58 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Organized Play / GM Discussion / Printing scenario maps for the Gaming table. (tutorial) All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.