Guest Blogger Article: Printing Maps to a 1" scale

gnunn
gnunn
edited February 2010 in General Discussion
Okay, I would love to get a discussion going on the recent "Guest Article":http://newbiedm.com/2009/01/13/newbiedm-tutorial-printing-battle-maps-to-a-1-scale/, because printing custom battle maps is one of my favorite things to do.

When I make mine, I often use a couple extra tricks:
# I slide the mats into mylar sheet-covers (purchasable from any office supply store). This lets me add notations to the map using wet or dry erase markers.
# When I create a custom map on one side of a sheet of cardstock, I often print a blank grid on the other. This is super useful if you don't want to give away hints as to the shape of a dungeon (e.g. meta-gamer "He drew the entrance in the southwest corner of the battle mat... This must mean all the important stuff is to the Northeast.) If your slapping down a single 8x10 grid at a time, it helps keep the party guessing. Also, if you have your party going through a maze or something, you can pull up sheets to represent their memories getting fuzzy about the path out.

I like to use free software whenever possible, and I find "Map Tool":http://www.rptools.net/index.php?page=maptool to be an excellent option for generating dungeon scale maps... though it takes some initial investment to build up a library of images. "GIMP":http://www.gimp.org/ is also an excellent choice if you've got a little more graphic-editing skill. Finally, "Dungeons Unlimited":http://www.angelfire.com/rpg2/dungeonsunlimited/ ironically provides a limited selection of ready-made layouts. I have used their stuff quite a bit also.

Okay... your turn to talk!

Comments

  • Dethstryke
    Dethstryke
    Posts: 50
    Holy jesus. I'm a whore for maps.

    For fancy stuff, like finales, I take a map graphic and cut it up in a graphic program to print on letter size paper. I print that on photo paper and then spray mount it to foamcore. I take that, and cut it up along the walls into rooms or sections that fit back together like a puzzle.

    It's way too much work to do all the time, but for special maps it's sooo worth it. No one can game the map because they only see one piece at a time.

    Normally, I draw out the map with sharpies and watercolor brush-pen combos on gridded presentation pad paper from "Gaming Paper":http://www.gamingpaper.com/, depending on what I'm making a map of. Then I put in enough detail to easily fill in walls, doors and basic features with a black sharpie very quickly, but not give away enough detail that the players feel confident with what will be behind any door or corridor. I've also been known to draw fake walls and such, which I take out with a white-out ribbon tool before drawing what walls are actually there. Do that once or twice, and everyone questions it on every map. :)

    Eventually I want to have a rear-projected screen in my table and do all maps digitally through D20 Pro. I've made maps for GenCon RPGA events which were very well recieved by the SAGA Star Wars GMs for the last two years (probably won't happen this year with SAGA being cancelled) - those were laminated for multiple game play.

    I'll try to get some pictures of what I've done to illustrate.
  • ChainsawXIV
    ChainsawXIV
    Posts: 530
    If you like poster size maps - especially for battle fields you'll use more than once - you can actually get them printed quite inexpensively by "Costco":http://www.costco.com/PhotoCenter/PhotoCenter.aspx?cat=2781&cm_re=1_en-_-Top_Right_Nav2-_-Top_photo&lang=en-US. A 20x30 print is under ten bucks, and you can combine shipping if you get more than one done at a time.
  • Dethstryke
    Dethstryke
    Posts: 50
    Interesting. What is the typical turn around for those Costco maps over the internet in your experience, Chain?
  • ChainsawXIV
    ChainsawXIV
    Posts: 530
    I've only done one order, but if memory serves it arrived in under a week. There are various shipping options of course.
  • ketherian
    ketherian
    Posts: 203
    In my previous campaign, I used printed maps or rough hand-drawn sketches. I draw stick figures and stick-figure maps. I've played with all manner of maps - hand drawn on wipe-off maps, multi-page monstrosities that you had to tape together, suspended white boards and grid paper.

    The best print option is getting large-scale color maps made at a print shop. I've used one that allows you to submit your job online then go pick it up later. It's really convenient, but not very cheap (Staples).

    I never got the hang of keeping track of the maps; and unless they were maps I traded for written works, I often lost them and had to remake them. So, my advice - organize them well.

    Now I use my laptop connected to the TV for maps. I've just switched the klooge.werks and tried it out (rather successfully) tonight. The party didn't get into any fights or deal with encounters -- so there's lots more testing to be done. :)
  • arsheesh
    arsheesh
    Posts: 850
    This is a great discussion. Chainsaw thanks for the heads up on how to get poster size maps; I've actually been wondering how to do that for a while but have been too busy to look into it. By the way, for those here who are interested in creating their own custom dungeon maps, or even city or regional/world maps, I'd like to put a plug in for the Cartographers Guild. It's a site dedicated to people who love to make fantasy maps, and many of them are pretty damn good at it too. But don't let that scare you, I have found the people at the Guild to be incredibly friendly and helpful. If I remember right, you have to create an account to be able to see the forum pages, but it's totally free. Below is a link to the Guild.

    "!(media-item-align-center){width:250px}http://cdn.obsidianportal.com/assets/7924/cartoguild_banner.gif(Cartoguild banner)!":http://www.cartographersguild.com/
  • gnunn
    gnunn
    Posts: 423
    I second Arsheesh's recommendation of the Cartographer's guild. I have "an account there too!":http://forum.cartographersguild.com/member.php?9645-geoff_nunn Though I rarely use it. I'm still trying to settle on a map style I like.
  • arsheesh
    arsheesh
    Posts: 850
    Hey Grunn, nice to meet another Guild member. By the way, great job on the Fenwatch map, I love the vivid colors (I repped you for it at the Guild). I made my first map over the Christmas break using GIMP as well, following Ascension's Atlas style (Gidde translated the Photoshop tutorial to GIMP, God bless him). Anyway, you can find my account "here":http://forum.cartographersguild.com/member.php?15127-arsheesh if you're interested.

    Cheers,

    -Arsheesh
  • gnunn
    gnunn
    Posts: 423
    @ Arsheesh... your world map is gorgeous!

    Yargh! I've been struggling with creating my own world map in Gimp and have restarted it multiple times. You're giving me the itch to do it once again! I am sooo torn with forging ahead on my latest iteration and starting over... grr...

    So far, I've been using a style that incorporates isometric mountain symbols, but I feel like the scope of the map is too large for that to be actually useful. I have also started playing around with CC3, but this makes me want to revisit Gimp...
  • arsheesh
    arsheesh
    Posts: 850
    Thanks for the kind words Grunn. I haven't played around with CC3, or mapping symbols yet, but I've seen a couple amazing maps made this way (check out Gandwarf's "map":http://forum.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?7351-New-map-of-the-Valley-%28Campaign-Cartographer-3%29!). Of course if you do decide to go with GIMP, and like the photo-realistic style, you really should check out Gidde's "tutorial":http://forum.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?4084-[Award-Winner]-My-atlas-style-in-PS/page15, it's tremendously helpful. Happy mapping.

    Cheers,

    -Arsheesh
  • gnunn
    gnunn
    Posts: 423
    Hey, so I tried out the tutorial over at Cartographer's Guild and have a pretty good "work in-progress":http://forum.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?9495-Subcontinent-The-Westerlands-in-Gimp&highlight=arsheesh going after last night. There are a couple issues I'm having that I mention in the WIP thread, but otherwise I feel like the process was fairly easy to follow along with. I'll make sure to throw you some rep for tipping me off to Gidde's conversion. I hadn't been on the site in quite a while.
  • arsheesh
    arsheesh
    Posts: 850
    Wow, great job so far on that map Grunn! I made a few comments on your WIP post about a couple of ways that you might be able to correct some of the "mistyness" of the snow caps, but all in all, I think those mountains look great, especially given that you had to manually place them (I know what a headache that can be). Glad you found the Gidde tutorial to be useful.

    Cheers,

    -Arsheesh
  • ChainsawXIV
    ChainsawXIV
    Posts: 530
    I joined up over at the Cartographer's Guild a couple of weeks back as well. I haven't done any "map work":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/sanction/maps/show/2859 in a while, but next time I do I'll definitely have to post over there for some feedback as I work on it.
  • gnunn
    gnunn
    Posts: 423
    Ugh... Chain, I'm jealous that you got your map uploaded before they took away the added zoom levels for Ascendant members... Apparently those who had it already got to keep it.
  • arsheesh
    arsheesh
    Posts: 850
    Hey Chainsaw, that's a great map you got there! You should show it off in the finished maps section of the Portal. Also, thanks man for all that work you did in your now "official" unofficial sticky, it's been a great resource me in developing my campaign sites.

    Cheers,

    -Arsheesh
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