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Minocra Map Tutorial

Fairly quick but not that dirty

I’m working on the Isle of Minocra map and thought a quick tutorial would be useful.

For this project, I’m using MapGen2 to create the initial map, then importing it into Photoshop where I’ll superimpose one of my hex templates and add symbols.

MapGen2

I’m assuming you have some passing familiarity with MapGen2 and how it works. The trick is getting a screen capture of the map you want. I’ve tried several monitor resolution settings to get a decent on-screen size, but as long as the capture is square (i.e., same width and height), you’re fine.

  1. Use the MapGen2 tool to create a map.
  2. Select “Perlin” from the Island Shape section.
  3. Click the “Random” button until you find an island shape you like.
  4. Select the “2D Slopes” view.
  5. Use a screen capture tool to copy the map image and convert it to PNG format.

Photoshop

Minocra GM Map

Minocra GM Map

I’m assuming you are using Photoshop. If you don’t have Photoshop, you might try GIMP, which is free, and (as I understand it) supports many Photoshop-like features.

  1. Create a new image that’s 8.5″ x 11″ and 300dpi (you want the high-res so that you can read the hex numbers later). Leave this image open in Photoshop.
  2. Open the desired hex template in Photoshop (note: the PDF versions in the hex template download are 300dpi, so they’ll work fine).
  3. Drag the hex template’s “Background” layer into the new image.
  4. Open the MapGen2 image in Photoshop.
  5. Drag the map’s “Background” layer into the new image.
  6. In the new image, re-size the map image to fill the hex template.
  7. Move the map image layer (Layer 2) below the hex template layer (Layer 1). The hex template will cover the map image.
  8. Select the hex template layer (Layer 1) and change it from “Normal” to “Multiply.” This will make the white background of the hex template transparent so the map image shows through. [1]
  9. Save the file in Photoshop’s native PSD format because you want to preserve the layers. (The file will be big (~41 MB) because it’s hi-res—if anyone knows how to make this file smaller, please share the knowledge.)

Symbols

Carta Normal Symbols

Carta Normal Symbols (PDF)

Most mapping software packages include symbols. And, truth be told, most of these symbols are pretty good. However, if you’re working with image software to produce your maps, it’s best to have your symbols in the form of a font. This saves you the time of creating them yourself, and they’re easy to replicate with precision from map to map.

  1. Download and install the Carta-Normal TrueType font. [2] N.B. Before the font shows up in Photoshop, you’ll need to save your work, close Photoshop, and re-open your map.
  2. To place a symbol, select the Text tool and switch to the Carta-Normal font.
  3. Type the letter or ALT-key combination of the symbol you want (see the Carta Normal Symbols PDF at right). Photoshop creates a new layer automatically, which I name after the hex number, but you can use whatever naming system works best for you.
  4. Select the text and adjust the point size and colour to make it stand out on the map (I recommend a red, yellow, or orange to make it easy to see against the map background).
  5. Select the text layer you’ve just created and apply an Outer Glow layer style.
  6. In the Outer Glow style dialogue, change the Blend Mode to “Linear Dodge (Add)” and choose the “Foreground to Background” style from the Gradient Picker. This outlines the symbol with a white highlight.

Continue placing symbols on your map repeating the process at Step #3, above, until you’ve placed all the symbols you need by copying an existing symbol, moving it to a new spot on the map, and changing the character. This preserves the formatting and helps keep your symbols consistent. If desired, add a map key that describes what each symbol is (though you can easily refer to the Carta Normal Symbols PDF).

Last, if you’re into the OCD, don’t forget to label each symbol on the map (for random names, I like EBoN for its large number of culture libraries). Maybe draw a road or two. Whatevs.

Final Words

This is a quick and dirty tutorial (written by someone who’s not a Photoshop wizard). I’m certain the experienced among you can devise some shortcuts to reduce time spent (not to mention filesize), but this should be enough to get you going.

Next up, I’ll provide short descriptions for each location on the map, in a style that fits your busy GM schedule.

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  1. Thanks to Reese for pointing this out.
  2. This is a free download from SearchFreeFonts.com. As far as I can tell, you’re free to use the font in your commercial work.

Categories: Mapping Tags: , , ,
  1. March 6th, 2012 at 08:21 | #1

    Nice. I haven’t used a MapGen2 map in play yet, but I sure like the look of them. Thanks for the tutorial.

  2. Dale
    March 6th, 2012 at 12:56 | #2

    Kinda wierd, GIMP recognizes most PDFs on my system but these just show up as blanks. Not sure what the deal is.

    Maybe I should get photoshop some day…

  3. Reese
    March 6th, 2012 at 13:41 | #3

    Thanks for the mention, Erin, much appreciated. I’m no power user of Photoshop by any means but try to pick up tips where I can and that one is quite handy!

    I’ve been most of the way through this process on my own, but I like the added step of putting some symbols onto the map. I planned on just using the mapgen version as the template to recreate and detail the thing in Hexographer one sub-hex at a time, but this is a neat trick for a players map.

    Consider the symbol font downloaded – great resource there.

  4. March 6th, 2012 at 20:23 | #4

    @Dale : It must be because I used children’s tears to make these PDFs, or PDFfactory. I forget.

    I’ll look into this, but in the meantime, try the current Hex Templates download – it has PNG versions that might be more useful to you.

  5. March 6th, 2012 at 20:25 | #5

    @Lord Kilgore : Sure thing. Let me/us know how the tut works for you.

  6. March 6th, 2012 at 20:27 | #6

    @Reese : The Multiply thing is great, but damned if I know how it works – I never would have figured that out on my own. Instead of using the PDF, I’m going to try creating a transparent PNG and using that – maybe it’ll cut down on the filesize of the PSD?

    Glad the symbols are useful. I was going to make a Hexographer version, but I really like the MapGen2 coastlines. The method here works well for an hour’s work, but I’m sure I’ll tackle a Hexographer version soon enough…

  7. March 10th, 2012 at 18:33 | #7

    I want to echo the thanks for the font, it is a really great font for mapping purposes. Thanks for sharing the find!

  1. March 6th, 2012 at 06:27 | #1

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