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Old 08-02-2007, 04:17 AM
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How I Make My Maps

I have been asked a number of times how I do my maps - so I am finally getting around to putting this thread out. It will be a basic description of how I do my maps. Feel free to post questions, I will try to answer them


Generally, I try to make my maps simple, but effective. The main points are to translate where the characters are, where their opponents are, and where any other things that can effect or be effected by them are. Light is, of course, included in this.

I generally use two programs: Microsoft Excel, and MSPaint.

Microsoft ExcelExcel comes as part of Office...can be pricey, unless you are a student and can find an academic version. There's also an Open Office version of excel (they call it Calc), but it isn't as good, in my opinion.
MSPaintThis comes free with Windows, but if you have some other operating system, you probably have a similar basic drawing program. Yes, you can use more expensive ones, but I don't have them, so I just use Paint


Excel is used for the map basics, then I take a screen shot, paste it into paint, and get rid of the bits I don't need, and edit it for light / visibility. Then I save it as a png, and upload!

I have also recently discovered a tool based on WOTC's Dungeon Tiles. Here is the main information page.

I have also found http://www.rpgmapshare.com/ and http://dungeoneering.net/ to be quite good sites for pieces to work with.
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Last edited by hvg3akaek; 12-26-2008 at 06:51 PM.
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Old 08-02-2007, 09:07 AM
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First, I set up excel to my liking. I usually work full screen, but that would be a bit of a waste of uploading-ness Note that I have four tool bars down the bottom of my screen. I find them most useful.


The first is the "Drawing" bar, where I can access most of my shapes, colours, text options, lines and so forth.

The second is a subset of this - clicking on AutoShapes, clicking on Lines, then removing the next menu and placing it on the excel frame. This one just allows me to get to lines easier. Good for when I am doing drawing (freehand lines) and the like.

The third one is the "Borders" bar. Very useful, as you can draw in walls, stairs and so forth without having to add objects. There are pros and cons for objects and lines, but with everything else equal, go lines. They take up less memory!

The fourth bar is greyed out, but it is the rotate/flip option. You get this from Draw => Rotate or Flip => and take this menu. I also find this one great for easy manipulation of objects.


Now that I have my excel tools at easy arms (or mouse) reach, I need to make it more map-like. Clicking on the square to the left of the "A", and above the "1" selects the entire worksheet. (ctrl-a does this too) Then, with the mouse, click between two letters, and drag the cursor to resize the columns. I find 25 pixels a nice size to work at, but see what you like the feel of.

Do the same for the rows, and you have a nice sheet of squares!

At this time, I usually delete sheet 2 and 3, and copy my main sheet a few times, to save me from having to resize each sheet. But there we have it, excel ready for mapping!
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Old 08-05-2007, 07:57 AM
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On Screenshots

How to take screenshots: Well, there's a few ways. But first, find the "Print Screen" button. On my keyboard, its above the "insert" key, above the arrow buttons.


Pressing this takes a screenshot, but often saves it in a strange place

Pressing Ctrl + Print Screen takes a shot of the entire screen, including task bars, and other screens, if you have more than one! I think that the difference between this and just "Print Screen" could be that it doesn't automatically save a copy somewhere...?

Pressing Alt + Print Screen takes a shot of just the window you have active at the moment. This is what I usually use.

With either of the above, open up paint, and paste in the image (Ctrl + v), then align it and work onwards!
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Old 08-13-2007, 07:59 AM
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Basic Maps: Lines and Shapes

The easiest way to draw maps is with the border tool. With it, you can select various sizes and styles of lines, representing different walls, fences, edges, and so forth. You can also use different colours to add to this detail.

In the first example below, I have drawn a simple two-room building. Thick black lines for walls, thin dotted lines for windows, and double brown lines for doors.


You can also draw diagonal lines, from one corner to the opposite of one cell, but borders limits your choices to that. For more interesting shapes, you will have to return to the Draw tools.


The easiest Draw tools to use are the straight lines. If you turn on Draw => Snap => To Grid (I make a shortcut on my main window, to make for easy toggle), you can make lines arrange quite neatly. To move them around without snapping to the grid, hold down the Ctrl button. The second example is the same picture, using lines. Not much difference, really - until you try to edit it! Editing borders is quite time consuming, whereas with objects, you can resize, recolour, copy, or delete them with ease. And, if you select multiple objects, you can group them, so that they act as one object. (right mouse button).

Once you get the hang of using lines, move onto other shapes. Squares, circles, arcs - they all can do interesting things! The third example is a bridge house made from borders and rectangles (coloured brown for some (ugly) doors, and gray for stairs)

The fourth example is a mage's home, created from an assortment of shapes, and some borders. The light green "bushes" are the freeform tool, the dark green "trees" are explosion objects. There is also some layer work (look around the large circular building), where I have had to order certain shapes so that the ones on top covered parts of the lower ones.
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Old 11-19-2007, 11:19 PM
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Just adding a link to a thread containing a wide assortment of useful images, thanks to Davion!
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Old 12-10-2007, 10:45 AM
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You're welcome, nice work there hvg3akaek... (how the heck to do you pronounce that name anyway?)
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