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Penchant
July 20th, 2010, 05:08
OK, here are some of my maps from games past.


Centrus is the world map for my previous campaign setting. I'm kicking off a new one now so this is now nostalgic. It is actually a simplified version from the one I originally had and grew tired of after 5 years.


Deathnought.jpg
This is a creation of mine called a Deathnought and is sort of the aircraft carrier of a necropolis. It was for a spelljammer like game I ran for a bit


Dwarvenhall.jpg
This map is one of the larger ones yet simpler ones I used. It was for the climactic battle between the party and a very mean read dragon that had turned one of those ginormous dwarven halls into its lair. This map was large enough for the dragon to fly and maneuver in.


Level1.jpg
And this is the first level of my new dungeon (the party just crossed into level 2 last weekend so I can display this now). It represents my new style of dungeon map making in that I don't use a gridded floor tile anymore. Since FG adds a grid anyways I just include a square in the corner of the map to set the grid to and let the program draw the lines for me. This way if the grid is off a bit, it isn't glaringly obvious like when my grid lines don't match the FG lines.



And that's it for now. You notice I don't add furniture or scene elements to the maps. I figure that should be taken care of through narrative. My level 2 map is much better and I should be able to post it after a game or two... Cheers!

Note: Attachments are acting wonky. I tried to insert the images in the body but it didn't work well. Sorry

Penchant
July 22nd, 2010, 17:16
Ok, so I've got 50 views and no comments. not a 'cool', not a 'meh', not 'that blows'. Obviously I'm not great at mapmaking, my skills are still relatively novice. What I do want to do is improve this particular skillset of mine. So I would like some sort of feedback. please? pretty please?

Also, I'm going to try making maps for needs other than my game, since I only need a new one every month or so for that purpose. If you have suggestions or requests for maps that you could use, let me know and I'll try it out.


That said, a few thoughts about mapmaking for FG:
The types of maps that you find that look like they should be printed in a module or as a fold out in a boxed set (if there is such a thing anymore) are not best for FG. Print maps don't have to be concerned with bandwidth. However since the DM has to host the maps on his internet connection things really slow up when you start preloading a sizable map out to 6 players. Myself, while I have a decent download speed, my upload is severely limited. This is why anything the pc's cannot see is filled with blackspace instead of the usual stone pattern you see in print books. I export my maps as .jpg which compresses flat colors very well. Small map files reduce the amount of times the players complain that Fantasy Grounds is lagging.

As I stated above, I've stopped putting gridlines on my maps. It should be obvious that they just aren't useful anymore. I include a blank square as a registration mark to line up the map when I set it up in FG.

Scenery... As yet I have added little to no scene elements. I have done a few maps that included them, but I was really uncertain if they made a difference to the experience. I could see an argument both ways. On one side you could say that providing a detailed map enhances the experience, especially if you are using text chat to play. A Picture is worth a thousand words, or so the saying goes. On the other hand, focusing on what is just a tactical representations could detract from what is supposed to be a largely narrative experience. I use Skype in my online game so I rely on descriptive narrative to set the scene.


So, disagree... agree? lets discuss

Penchant

ps. I include below an example of a high detail map I created, the flat belonging to a notorious pirate captain.
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adminwheel3
July 22nd, 2010, 20:01
I like the use of the shadows in your dwarven hall. I've been challenged by that in the past. How did you generate it.

Also, good work on using the pillows for the pirate flat to break up the re-use of the rug images. You might want to trim the tiles so they stay within the boundary of the walls, as well as give the walls some a texture or pattern of some kind.

You can find some great shared texture files at the forums for Dundjinni - even though the software is almost abandoned-ware the forums still have dedicated users and the search function is good enough to find a lot of interesting things.

http://www.dundjinni.com/forums/default.asp

Penchant
July 22nd, 2010, 21:21
The dwarven hall was one of my better maps. the shadow is a combination of two layers (I use corel BTW). The first layer was the lighting. This was a tool that corel had that highlights a center point and darkens the rest of the picture on a gradient. The tedious part was the column shadows, of course. i created a new layer and drew guidelines from the light source out to the edges of the columns reaching to the edge of the map. Then on another layer i used the rectangle tool with a solid black fill to block in where the shadows would stretch from the columns to the edge of the map. This gave me my shadows. Then I applied a blur to the layer to make it shadowy. The only think left was to delete the guideline layer and adjust the transparency on the two shadow layers, because they were a bit too dark.

the pirate cabin was my attempt at cheating :pirate: . I went to textile websites and clipped product images of tiles, rugs pillows, etc. Then I cleaned up the images and used them like stampers. after all that easy cheating, for some reason I felt the need to hand draw the top-down view of the curtain partitions (I hope that it is clear from teh shadows) that divide the room.

Thanks for the dundjinni tip. i'll see about that.

Phystus
July 22nd, 2010, 23:56
Very nice! And decent file sizes too. Well done.

I also avoid putting a grid on my maps. I just draw two dots up in the upper left corner to help set the grid in FG. Or just use an area I know is 5'x5'.

What are all the those things in the dungeon? The ones that look vaguely like fans?

~P

Griogre
July 23rd, 2010, 04:53
My experience is simple maps are best both because they tend to be smaller file size wise and because the players don't really care. Don't get me wrong - they will ooh and ah a pretty map... and then move on. So for me at least - is the few seconds of ohs and ahs worth all the extra time it takes to make a production quality map? And the answer for me, is no.

I have also found that too detailed a map can slow an online session because the players will want to interact with the details on the map. Ironically, I have found simpler maps sometimes seem more immersive just because the players fill in all the details while a nice detail map can just kill immersion if something is wrong about the detail(s) on the map.

I'm not in favor of just plain floor and walls but just them and the key furniture or other detail in the area seem to work best for me. Some people do enjoy making maps and if so there is nothing wrong with making beautiful detailed ones if you have the time.

Penchant
July 23rd, 2010, 08:17
@Phystus - yes. The map represents the ventilation system for the dungeon. The pc's entered through an exhaust vent. so those are indeed fans. And yeah, i just got a simple pic of a ventilation fan and stamped it into the map.

@Griogre - I agree with you 100%. less is more, right?

adminwheel3
July 23rd, 2010, 12:46
My experience is simple maps are best both because they tend to be smaller file size wise and because the players don't really care. Don't get me wrong - they will ooh and ah a pretty map... and then move on. So for me at least - is the few seconds of ohs and ahs worth all the extra time it takes to make a production quality map? And the answer for me, is no.

I have also found that too detailed a map can slow an online session because the players will want to interact with the details on the map. Ironically, I have found simpler maps sometimes seem more immersive just because the players fill in all the details while a nice detail map can just kill immersion if something is wrong about the detail(s) on the map.

I'm not in favor of just plain floor and walls but just them and the key furniture or other detail in the area seem to work best for me. Some people do enjoy making maps and if so there is nothing wrong with making beautiful detailed ones if you have the time.

Right, or that you put some detail on your map that you expect the players to interact with but they don't because they didn't notice or didn't care.

So short of a sign and an arrow saying "THIS IS INTERESTING - LOOK HERE!!!", you can't count on you map to convey anything subtle to your PCs. I think it's different on a live tabletop where you can have several square feet of map available to convey your ideas.

Zeus
July 23rd, 2010, 13:18
Nice maps Penchant. :)

Map quality is quite a subjective topic as its driven by personal tastes and by each groups setup. If for example like me your fortunate enough to have a 'fat' internet pipe, decent spec PC or Mac and good graphics card and display, having 1MB+ size map/images isn't a big deal as you might think.

Sure there's a small delay in getting greater size files over but if you like hand drawn or tile based maps its definitely doable.

I tend to agree with Griorge though, I think 'clean' maps tend to work better in play, for this reason and when I have finished my other 4E extension updates I plan to catchup with Foen and revisit the multi-layer image extension.

I plan to use simple room layouts (similar to the ones I have published to date) as a base layer and use tokens on a separate layer for 'furniture and dressing'. PC and NPC tokens will be operated on yet another separate layer eliminating token stacking issues.

This I think will significantly ease production time of mapping in FGII for DMs whilst offering flexible options for quality and depth of colour.

Penchant
July 23rd, 2010, 17:09
Thanks, DrZeuss. I've admired your map skillz for a while.

Actually I've thought about the possibility of making furniture, dungeon features and such as tokens at the same scale as the figure tokens but I didn't know of a way to create separate token layers in FG. This is an idea that I think should be developed. A community library of scenery tokens to flesh out and customize maps would be in the spirit of this board...and awesome:D

Hmm. I wonder what the feasability would be of creating whole dungeon tiles as tokens on a separate layer that could then be locked. Just like real dungeon tiles you could build on the fly, adjust the map, have semi-interactive dungeons (like moving rooms) and destructible environments. hmm. if size becomes too large you can remove whole sections that the party has already cleared. I'm no coder, so I'd just have to leave this ideer out in the aether.

Zeus
July 23rd, 2010, 18:38
Its definitely doable and the functionality already exists (if exploited in a ruleset or extension); so it probably closer to landing than you might think. :D

See this thread (http://www.fantasygrounds.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11966&highlight=layers) for some more insight into the topic and access to Foen's extension.

Penchant
July 24th, 2010, 00:19
that's... truly awesome. i've got nothing else to say about that. except I installed it and will work this week to make it practical in my game.

Penchant
July 24th, 2010, 02:48
Ok, I think this idea should be one step ahead, combining the idea of dungeon tiles with objects on a static background. This proof of concept uses a quick gladiator arena I made. In the great roman arenas the floors sometimes could be removed to reveal pits that could be flooded for mock sea battles. so this arena comes with a water filled pit and the floor covering.

Now I did get my pixel counts off so they don't match well, but it illustrates the idea. Currently when a map has a small sublevel or tower you have to move to an inset on the map or another map. This way you can just reveal the detail when needed. Plus, towns can be easily made with floorplans and removable roofs.
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Arnuphis
July 24th, 2010, 21:55
Love the dwarven hall map!

What did you use to make it? I'm looking to make some maps for Call of Cthulhu (1920's horror game) so ideas on making cellars, crypts etc. would be welcome.

Penchant
July 25th, 2010, 04:04
I make my maps in Corel Photopaint 11. You can use any program that uses layers and has a guide grid. I create a file with an approximate starting size. Usually 20"x20" at 300dpi for a small map (remember you can always reduce resolution, but never increase resolution). I set my grid at .5". Now the grid is at half the size of your miniature scale which is a 1" grid.

On your first layer you create a floor pattern. There are alot of public domain tiles available or you can make your own. As discussed above, if you intend to use it in Fantasy Grounds you don't need to use a gridded floor tile, just an appropriate material texture. In dwarven hall, I was still using a gridded pattern and it took me fifteen minutes just to line up the grids in FG.

Create a second layer. this is a sketch layer and will be deleted. Rough in your map walls. you can snap to grid or free hand it, but it just gives you an idea of your workspace. set the transparency on this layer to about 50%.

Create a third layer and move it under the sketch layer. This is your wall layer. Get a square brush that is the right size. For my dungeons and castle settings the walls are 5 feet thick so I use a 1" square brush with no feathering. This is actually fairly accurate to medieval castle building. For structures with wooden walls you can use a .1" brush to represent the usual 6 inch wall. Turn on the snap to grid option and just draw in your walls.

Once you have your wall layer complete, delete your sketch layer. Then create a duplicate of your wall layer. move this layer under the wall layer and apply a blur effect to it. you have to play with the settings but this creates the wall shadows that really make the maps pop. For my dwarven hall, refer to the explanation above for the long drop shadows. DrZuess is a great map maker, so do a search on his threads and read them. but... you know how to get to Carnegie Hall...

After all this you should have a basic map that looks decent. From there you have to do all the little things that make a map not-so-basic, which is what I am learning to do myself, so... yeah.

Penchant
July 29th, 2010, 20:35
Alright, here is my next work. i have a new custom cobblestone texture to go with this town section. This section has an inn with stables, an open air stage with bench seating and two as yet undecided storefronts. Plus the blocking for the smithy, which i was thinking about making open air as well.

the area is surrounded by structures that aren't intended to be 'functional' but would still be part of the set, so there will be windows that spies or snipers could perch from.

so, questions:
do the cobbles match the scale? the reference square is the black square in the top middle.
Do they look like cobbles?
does the floor pattern work?
How much detail should be layered on top?

Thanks

theox
August 3rd, 2010, 16:45
Penchant, I admire your work. Do you allow others to use your maps in their private campaigns? I'd love to incorporate some of yours in a new campaign I'm about to start.

-Ox

Penchant
August 3rd, 2010, 17:52
Of course. use away. I hereby declare the maps I post here fair use. just give credit where credit is due. Of course, I think that applies to anything you find on these boards.

Penchant
August 4th, 2010, 19:20
Alright, here is the same town as above, but I've dropped in the shadows and filled in the fireplace at the inn. i've also added in windows architectual style. I still have blocked out another structure but I don't know what to do with it. I was thinking about a smithy, but I can't do floor planking for that. So I'm still thinking about how to work that up believably. I'm still avoiding putting in furniture and fixtures so that others can block it in they way they want, or just mark it up with the drawing tools in FG. There is still the possiblity of the tokens-as-furniture idea that we were talking about before, especially if those guys can get the 2 layer extension working bugfree (I'm still having issues with the grids).

So, in this town we have an inn with stables, two storefronts (one large and one small), a stage and seating and some mysterious yet to be added feature surrounded by buildings that are functional facades...

i'm about %60 pleased with how this looks. The light effects take too long to draw in by hand, and don't really look great for the work. I might just delete them for a more practical look. I should also add other features like drainage (troughs for the medieval age) and perhaps dung piles? Not sure what would be most appropriate.

Phystus
August 5th, 2010, 01:31
For the smithy floor, I'd go with dirt. It's pretty common for blacksmith shops since it isn't damaged by dropping hot and/or heavy objects on it.

You might consider dirt for the stable floor too. Or at least scuff up the wood a lot and scatter some straw.

Shouldn't there be an outhouse somewhere? And a well?

~P

Penchant
August 5th, 2010, 02:10
*scoff* fantasy characters don't go to the loo. Good catch. i planned a well in the left corner of the inn, which is why there is a cut out there, plus one in the back of the inn's entry yard.

Good call on the dirt floor, i'll try to do something that doesn't look like a huge patch of brown. As for hay... i shall try. I'm trying to avoid pulling anything from the net as I want to scratch build all of it. That way I can claim full credit/blame for the work.

Good critique, thx

Penchant
August 15th, 2010, 22:38
My party just finished the next level of my dungeon, so i shall post it here. This one is basically a decrepit residential level. there are four large apartments with multiple rooms and service hallways. Oh, and of course the floors have fallen out in many areas revealing machine works below that spell certain doom (or at least inconvenient amounts of damage) should you fall.

I handled the lighting with a single layer of black set at 30% transparency and using a soft eraser to light certain spots.

saithan
August 15th, 2010, 23:02
some really great ideas. for some reason I get thoughts of silent hill with the machine stuff.
looks great!