View Full Version : GM Tools-GIMP-Map Editing

January 17th, 2013, 18:25
Well I think I may have a hand at GMing one of these days. I'm trying to put together one currently. This will take a while for me, no clue how any of it works.

I'm curious if there is a good tutorials out there on how to use GIMP to edit maps and grids? I have the GIMP program but no clue how to use it. I believe Skellan's gonna help me at some point but I figured I'd try to learn as much as possible beforehand. Thanks.

PS: If there are any other tools you guys would suggest please let me know. I've looked at the GM tools section on these forums already.

January 17th, 2013, 18:48
You can do quite well just searching the internet via Google on something like "D&D adventure maps". Just a thought... I've got probably 300 maps just by doing that.

January 17th, 2013, 18:52
You can do quite well just searching the internet
Oh yea, I've found some great maps already. But I need to be able to removed things that shouldn't be on the map,ie, things that are meant for the GM. Also with some maps they don't have grids, so was looking at how to do that too.

January 17th, 2013, 19:11
Look for manuals or tutorials in the top menus of Gimp. It will lead to many web pages that walk you through many operations you are likely to want to use Gimp for. When I was trying to learn it, I went through one fifth-ish of the pages, and learnt a lot of stuff (I knew nothing beforehand on image editing, I was starting at level 0...)

January 17th, 2013, 19:40
The best tool to use to remove "stuff" from a map is the clone tool - basically you can select a portion of the image and use this to blank out another area.

Tools -> Paint Tools -> Clone.

As lachancery says, there is plenty of help available for tools like Clone and others on the internet.

Additional tools that are good to have:

Measure - allows you to measure a straight line along a grid and check if the grid is actually square.
Use the select tools to select a portion of the image and then use "crop to selection" to cut your image down.

Also, see Xorn's "Map Rescaling" tutorial under the archived video tutorials in the downloads section - I seem to remember this is not for GIMP but you can apply similar techniques in GIMP.

January 17th, 2013, 19:47
Thanks for info, Yea the main issue is just me learning GIMP. So I'll make that my 1st priority with the info you guys gave me.

January 17th, 2013, 19:53
Do searches in youtube - "gimp clone tool tutorial" returns some good results.

There's loads of info out there - perhaps not specific to making maps, but using GIMP has a ton of info available.

January 18th, 2013, 04:12

I use GIMP to make my maps. Most of them are from classic D&D modules, so I don't know if I can post them without violating copyright laws, but maybe I can give you some tips... I have been considering posting a brief tutorial - my artistic ability is nothing special, but a few simple tricks can go a long way.

Let me know if that sounds like what you are looking for.


January 18th, 2013, 04:21
Let me know if that sounds like what you are looking for.
Yea anything would be great. I've actually got a map off Google images for a Pathfinder game. I was able to cut, copy and paste an area to another area to add benches and tables. Then i cleaned it all up using the "clone tool". I removed entire parts of map using clone tool. And found a nifty trick. If you go to "colors" there's and option called "curve" it is a diagonal line from upper right to lower left. If you drag the line up top out to the left just a little bit and the bottom of the line out the the right. Good Day! It makes pictures pop, I couldn't believe it, i saw it on a random youtube video. Anyway, I'm all about more tips :)

January 18th, 2013, 05:33
Understand how gimp works first.
Get your head around the layers and anchoring.
Try selecting something on one layer and then change layers - your selection outline is retained but can now be applied to a different layer.
Open a second image or if you have something in windows buffer choose edit -> past as new image, and then drag the new layer (not the image in the image pane) to your first image.
Those first few tips should help make things a lot clearer/easier.

January 18th, 2013, 10:20
The Cartographers Guild probably have tips for creating maps in GIMP. I'd head over there and see what they have: http://www.cartographersguild.com


January 18th, 2013, 10:49
Also, if you plan to use maps with FGII, don't add grids in GiMP, instead apply the grid from within FGII. Much easier.

January 18th, 2013, 16:28
Also, if you plan to use maps with FGII, don't add grids in GiMP, instead apply the grid from within FGII. Much easier.
This is a good tip - I sometimes put just a single 5' square off to the edge of the map somewhere so I can get the scale of my grid right within Fantasy Grounds and then use the FG image "nudge" buttons to align it correctly.

January 19th, 2013, 13:21
I add a grid as an overlay at 50-80% transparency, so it is very faint. But I do not use the FG grid, so I agree that it is not necessary.

I spent some time at the Cartographer's Guild, and I also would recommend it.

The basic skills you need, I would say, are...

Layers: I use these extensively. The first ones I add (http://docs.gimp.org/en/gimp-layer-new.html) are are "Walls", "Grid", and "Background", all transparent except Background, which I initially set up as a White layer. Those are listed top to bottom, btw.

Grid: It's super easy... Filters -> Render -> Pattern -> Grid (http://docs.gimp.org/en/plug-in-grid.html)... I set the spacing to 50 - this is basically your grid size, 30 is probably more than enough resolution. I like to set the Offset to 0. This just aligns the grid with the upper left corner of your map.

Walls: I use a size 3-5 round brush. If your grid is 30 or you have 5' wide corridors or small rooms, I would go with a 3. If you left-click a spot, then hold Shift and left-click a second spot, it will draw a straight line. I freehand cave/natural walls, but some people like to use Apply Jitter (http://docs.gimp.org/en/gimp-tool-paintbrush.html) with that for even more randomization.

Background: I like cgtextures.com - you need to register (free), and there is a daily download limit, but they have some nice stuff. I have a cool parchment background I use when I just want an ink-drawn old map feel. Recommend Google or Cartographer's Guild for that.

When you are comfortable with that...

Mask: Add Layer Mask (http://gimp.open-source-solution.org/manual/gimp-layer-mask-add.html) on your Grid layer if you have one (default opacity is fine, I think it is white). Fuzzy Select (http://docs.gimp.org/en/gimp-tool-fuzzy-select.html) outside your walls (or select inside the walls and Select -> Invert), then fill selection with black. Make sure your mask layer is selected when filling. The black will hide the grid outside your walls, which is a standard map effect. I like to create a White layer above my Background (unless of course you keep your background white), set as Overlay at 60% transparency, and create the same mask as my grid mask to highlight the floor area of my map.

Wall Shadows: Duplicate (http://gimp.open-source-solution.org/manual/gimp-layer-duplicate.html) your Walls layer and move the duplicate below the Walls layer. I like to rename this Walls Shadow, or whatever. It doesn't matter as much for walls if the layer is above or below, but it does if you start creating object shadows so the shadow only shows around the object and not over it. Filters -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur (http://gimp.open-source-solution.org/manual/plug-in-gauss.html). I set the blur radius to half of my grid size (25 for my 50-pixel grid), but experiment to see what works. All shadow layers should be set at 80% transparency or less. I like to fuzzy select the area outside my walls (on Walls layer), select Walls Shadow layer, and Colors -> Invert (http://gimp.open-source-solution.org/manual/gimp-layer-invert.html) to make shadow outside the walls white - this will give you the illusion of depth for your floors.

Doors: I create TWO layers for this - Doors and Doors Color. I always make separate layers for colors, with the colors layer under the lines layer. If you don't like a color, it is much easier to change it later. Rectangle Select in the shape of your door. Click the Doors Color layer and Fill Selection with white. Then select the Doors layer and Edit -> Stroke Selection (http://docs.gimp.org/en/gimp-selection-stroke.html). I like to use the brush at size 2 for doors, stairs, and other details, but it's up to you. Some cartographers apply a bevel to the white part to give it that gray shadow in the lower right borders, also your call. If you do that, a bevel of 3-5 should be right.

Water: I like the Gimp pool texture as an Overlay, but it can be a normal layer too. I make a Water Color layer for the shade of blue, then a Water Texture layer on top of that for the pool texture (Overlay 60-80% opacity) desaturated (http://docs.gimp.org/en/gimp-tool-desaturate.html) so it's black and white. It gives you more control over your water color. Sometimes a little highlighting helps (again, make another layer as either an Overlay or semi-transparent), white at the borders of the pool or dark curvy lines for waves or currents.

More Textures: Last thing... I like to create a Paper Texture layer on the very top. Fill the layer with Gimp's paper texture (looks like a crosshatch). Set as Overlay with 60-80% transparency. This gives a nice gritty feel to the map!