Friday, August 10, 2018

How I'm Drawing My Maps

I’ve been mapping this dungeon now for about a month or so, and I thought I’d talk a little about what tools I’m using. At this point, you’re probably thinking, “graph paper and a pencil, duh!” But that’s not how I roll.

I find it most convenient to make my maps digitally using InkScape. This has a number of advantages, I find:
  • Digital files don’t have edges like paper does.
  • Mapping to scale is beyond easy, if you set some consistent pixel/foot scaling ratio.
  • Layers enable GM and Player maps in one file.
  • It’s extremely easy to ensure level entrances line up from one map to the next.
  • Digital maps are always with me via cloud storage.
  • InkScape is free; paper is not.
I’m sure there are other reasons I do this, but these are the main ones that come to mind right now.

Digital Mapping Tips

Here are a few tips that pertain to the digital medium:
  • Keep a file of commonly used objects, like doors, stairs, curtains, etc. that you can copy and paste into a new map.
  • Use the same coordinate system for all of your maps; this makes lining stuff up trivial.
  • Maintain a background layer, a floorplan layer, and at least one GM objects layer and one Player objects layer.
  • Don’t worry about the map looking pretty; what you need is functionality.
  • It doesn’t take much to make a functional map look appealing; making it pretty can take some work.
  • Group objects and areas together so if you need to move them later on, it is easy.
  • Keep a log of the coordinates of all areas, so you can put them back if you need to.
  • Be aware that your map can grow surprisingly large without you realizing it. That’s ok, but be conscious of it
These are what I’ve come across over the years, doing this. If I missed anything or you disagree at all, let me know. I know I could be a better mapper, and any tips and tricks are much appreciated!

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