I’d made this map a while ago but hadn’t gotten around to posting about it yet. After a bit of repair of some things I forgot, I can now post this Wonderdraft remake of another WatabouPerilous Shores map.
I liked the large format of this map, and the great number of trees on it. What would be a challenge is those dead trees, as I don’t have an asset for those yet. I ended up choosing to use regular trees but to color them a sickly brown to indicate dead trees. To create more variation, I also tried to color the other oaks with some yellows and reds to create a bit more of a fall look to the map as a whole.
The other thing that I’m practicing right now is making the labels look nicer. For the region label, I chose a Torchbearer style with orange lettering surrounded by a dark red outline, in a font that is reminiscent of that style as well. For the forests and mountains, I tried using a darker font with a light outline, and to vary with the sizes and spacing to indicate major and minor locations. Overall, I think it came out quite nicely, with lots of detail that doesn’t look to cluttered either.
I uploaded both maps to imgur, so for large versions you should be able to click the maps themselves.
I’ve been continuing my Watabou Hex Map practice every other day or so, and I’m really pleased with the Wonderdraft tricks I’m learning from doing this. Perilous Shores gave me a basic outline of the Anthir Lakes, a region that is oppressed, dark, and dangerous. I took the prompts to really focus on creating a grungy, dirty-looking map.
The entire map is shaded with a brown tone, and I focused on getting greens in the map, including in the water tone, so that the two colors combined would create a gross-feeling tone to the map as awhole. Among all the places on this map with their dark themes, I love that the central village is called “Rabbitway”, a bizarrely friendly-sounding name.
Another aspect I enjoy about this map is the brown color I’ve given to the pines that were marked as dead trees on the Watabou map. Without having a dedicated dead tree asset, I think this was a nice compromise that ended up adding to the dark nature of the map as a whole.
I’ve made another Wonderdraft version of a Watabou Perilous Shore map. This time, setting it for a medium-sized land area with highland features. That resulted in the Bassland:
Every time I’ve been doing this, I’ve gotten faster at the basics of map-making—experience paying off! Previously, I’d exported the Watabou map and worked with the .png file as a reference; this time, however, while I did export it, I kept the Watabou-generated map up as reference. This helped me discover a cool little feature in Perilous Shores: there are actually more named areas than the legend would suggest! By clicking around the map, I discovered that most little areas actually were named.
That gave me more opportunities to inidividually label mountains, forests, and a few mountain peaks directly, and experiment with the placement of titles like those. It was quite interesting working out what I would want different in naming a large mountain range such as the Mountains of Crosses versus a small range such as the Strong Ridge. On top of that, two peaks had individual names: the Hill of Stones and the Sand Peak. So that gave me three total types of mountainous areas to label differently. Another interesting challenge to explore is that the Outer Forest and the or Woods differ so massively in size, so their titling would have to be differentiated somehow. In the end, I made sure to use the same fonts and colors but differentiate in size, spacing, and outline thickness for clarity.
A thing that I hadn’t figured out how to add comfortably to this composition is a compass rose. The map is so filled with elements that the only place to reasonably add it with some visibility was in the top-right corner just above the Dunes of Savage Fear and to the left of the Whispering Downs. However, that put it on such an odd spot in the map that it seemed disruptive rather than cohesive. As I’d already wanted to add the measurement to the bottom-left, I didn’t really have much other map real estate left to put it, so I ended up leaving it out altogether.
If you want to have a look at larger versions of these maps, you can take a peek at the Reddit post I made about it:
If you have any suggestions for me, I’d love to hear them!
I’ve been enjoying making Watabou Perilous Shores maps into colored versions using Wonderdraft, so I figured to do another attempt. This time, Watabou gave me the map for Theron Lakes:
A lovely little map with an interesting amount of marshlands, which is just perfect! I’ve been struggling with the look of marshlands, so having them aplenty will help me experiment with coloring.
A crucial thing I learned this time is how to properly overlay the hex grid. Last time, I wrote about having to resize the canvas and carefully moving around the image so that finally the hex grid would fit, because I couldn’t figure out how to move the grid. Well, as it turns out, you just click and drag with the grid tool selected to move the grid. Duh! So, fitting the grid to the right space was much, much easier this time.
I’m getting relatively practiced with making the maps themselves, so I’m quite pleased with how easily that goes. The coloring is quite interesting this time as well. The more I went on, the more I realized how grungy and dirty this area would be. It has so many marshlands that it’s a tough place to live in the first place, and then there’s towns like “Midyanglink Town” which sounds quite Lovecraftian but the main city is called “Suncaster City” to contrast this with. The longer I went on, the grungier I wanted to make the map look. So, this time, I applied a strong vignette, shifted the colors on the entire map a little to brown, and made the water color a bluish green. The end result is a sickly-looking area which looks quite oppressive to my eyes.
The one thing that I’d want to improve is the coloring of the oak trees: they just look a little too light green to me. However, the unofficial rule I’d put to myself is to accept these the way they are and move on. If I keep fiddling on the same map constantly, I’ll just get stuck on the one thing. In this case, I’d rather practice with as many varied maps as I can.
Well, without further ado, here’s my version of the Theron Lakes:
Like I did on Monday, I wanted to experiment some more remarking a Perilous Shores map in Wonderdraft. After some rerolls, Perilous Shores gave me the following wonderful little hex map:
This time, I learned how to better fit an overlay image to the map and vice versa. For one, since Perilous Shores produces square maps, I just made the canvas square—easy win but quite worthwhile. Because both maps were the same shape, it was much easier now to rescale the overlay image to fit the canvas exactly, making it must easier to faithfully adapt the map compared to last time.
This did make me face a new issue, however: previously, all I did was adjust the size of the hexes in Wonderdraft to fit the overlay image, and then moved on from there. Now, however, since I was trying to exactly lay the overlay image on to the canvas, I couldn’t get the hexes to fit up neatly. The way Perilous Shores and Wonderdraft lay out the hex grids differs and I couldn’t find a setting to offset the grid in Wonderdraft, so I was left with a grid that I couldn’t match. Fortunately, I figured out that I could resize the canvas selectively (i.e. in specific directions), which ended up resolving the problem. What I ended up doing was resizing the hex grid in Wonderdraft until all the hexes were the same size as the Perilous Shores hexes, and then I lined both hex grids together, and just readjusted the canvas until it was the same size as well as the same position as the Perilous Shores overlay original. As a result, I could get a much more faithful recreation than I got on Monday.
Coloring remains something that I want to practice more with (hence this very exercise), and while I’m not fully there, I do feel I’m starting to move in the right direction. This time, the marshlands look far more accurate to me. The teal coloring of last time seemed quite out of place, and just using a darker green coloring portrays the same feeling but looks more natural to my eyes. I can imagine adjust it slightly with a blue to make it more marshy but I’m already pleased with this look.
Another thing that I think worked better was labelling the regions. What I changed was to make them more transparent but slighly larger than other labels. That way, they fade more into the background of the map, almost “sinking into” the terrain. For colors, I picked a similar color to the terrain itself but shifted the font a few shades lighter and the outline a few shades darker. The end result has it fit a little more into the map. It worked quite nicely on the marsh, though I think for the font on the mountains it came out a little off. This time I eyeballed it, so I think that next time I’ll use the dropper tool to have a more stable basis for the color.
Lastly, I chose to not differentiate the label for the village and the town but to introduce the difference in the dangerous location. As you can see, what I did was have settlement labels be white-on-black whereas the dangerous location is black-on-white. What I like about this is that the font is the same, making these places feel equivalent, yet the coloring suggests an inverted relationship. In retrospect, though, I do think next time I want to differentiate the villages and towns from each other to more clearly indicate size differences. That might also immediately help me signify the size of dangerous locations, if I keep that consistently inverted as well.
I’m quite happy with how faithfully my map recreates the Perilous Shores map even down to the very placement of the trees themselves. I feel like it’s an important skill to be able to create an accurate representation of something else. When I can faithfully recreate these types of maps well, I suspect it will also help me create my own maps better.
I wanted to get a little bit more experience making maps in Wonderdraft and particularly with coloring maps. I figured it would be easiest if I took a simple, small map to work on so I could really focus on the process of it. Fortunately, Watabou, over on itch.io, has a map generator called Perilous Shores that outputs wonderful old-school–style map:
I love the simplicity of a little hex map, and it gives a varied set of items to work with. So, I went to work in Wonderdraft to try and create a colored version of the same map:
It’s a fun little look, and nice to get a map done quickly like this. I’m not too happy with the coloring, as the label color for the marsh looks off to me as well as the marsh coloring itself. However, the sea color works quite nicely, and I think the forest ground and sandy plains colors work quite well. I think the next thng that I want to look at testing more is the coloring for labels so make them look more natural and integrated with the map itself.
The past few days I’ve been enjoying playing around with my two new pieces of mapmaking software. It’s been really fun to work directly on something that I can also use in my RPG sessions. I’ve tended to have general ideas of what I’d want in maps but I currently lack the drawing skills to realize those ideas. These pieces of software have allowed me to sidestep that part with nice results.
I’ve been working bit-by-bit on the map for my Burning Wheel campaign, slowly adding a thing here or there. The first version can be found in this post. However, since then, I’ve updated it, both based on what happened in Session 1 as well as just my growing understanding of the software.
It’s rather empty by design, as I want the players to have the freedom to create the world through play. I’m quite pleased with the coloring so far, and the mixing of foothills and mountains.
In Dungeondraft, I haven’t been creating things that I can use directly, as I’ve been making small vignettes to practice with the software. It would be interesting to see whether I can make use of them somewhere in the future, though. The second map I’ve made in this software gave me a chance to try a little environmental storytelling:
I’m fairly happy with the objects in this map; I feel like there are enough to make it varied, but not so many that it looks cluttered. Furthermore, I tried to make the scene as a whole suggestive of far more through the use of the objects themselves. What I think could use improvements is the muddy little courtyard – it’s quite plain so far, and next time I would like to improve it by adding more clutter in that part. Perhaps some differently colored sections, a splash of water on the ground suggesting recent rain, or some hoofprints would have been good.
Yesterday, I went ahead and bought both Wonderdraft and Dungeondraft as well. I’ve mostly played around with Wonderdraft right now, because it will be more immediately useful to my Burning Wheel campaign. I can tell you, it is tremendous fun to be playing around with it! My first experiences are really positive, as just in the first ten minutes of figuring out what options and settings are, I already managed to make a map that looks fairly decent. And that’s just with ten minutes of messing around!
While I’m not running any battlemat-focused games right now, I was thinking of using Dungeondraft to make some set pieces to spark people’s imagination. After all, a general inn or a house image, or depiction of a wilderness scene can help spark as many roleplaying ideas as a solid description could. On top of that, the visual storytelling as well can serve to be evocative for players as well.
Installing the two made me fix some things I’d been sleeping on for a while too regarding my laptop; for a while now, my Bumblebee service was bugging out (pun intended), which means that my discrete videocard (an NVIDIA card) wasn’t being used and my laptop ran purely on the Intel integrated videocard. That meant that both Wonderdraft and Dungeondraft would not run well at all, so that gave me an impetus to finally fix that as well. Now, I have some flexibility on where I can start mapping!
Over the past weeks, with the repeated delays in starting up my Burning Wheel campaign due to personal situations of various people, I’ve been looking around more and more to prepping tools for tabletop RPG sessions. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by just how much has been developed in recent years, and the sheer quality of what’s been put out there. There are three products in particular that I’m looking forward to getting, once we have some spare disposable cash earmarked for hobby expenses.
The first is Wonderdraft, which is a mapmaking software package that is less complex and expensive than something like Campaign Cartographer 3+ but more full-featured than something like Inkarnate. I enjoy an evocative worldmap that helps focus players’ imaginations at the table. Or, alternatively, validates it retroactively by starting with an empty map that gets filled in as the players’ progress in a game. While I’ve been enjoying slowly learning to draw, for one my skills are nowhere near the point where I can confidently create handmade maps nor would it be possible at a pace that is practical even if I did have the ability to do so. This software looks like a great solution to more quickly create regional maps. I’ve seen some interesting examples of people using it to make maps of entire regions, such as this video:
And I’ve also seen somebody use the software to create a detailed village:
Relatively recently, the creator of Wonderdraft, Megasploot, has released a companion piece of software to Wonderdraft called Dungeondraft. Apparently, the software itself is reminiscent of Wonderdraft in operation but is focused on creation battlemaps or more localized, zoomed-in maps. For me, there were always two major blocks to running a Pathfinder style game, which were balancing encounters and providing the detailed maps needed for miniature battling. This software seems to make basic map creation almost trivial, and with practice could even allow for the creation of beautifully intricate maps. The creator’s trailer provides a lovely overview of some maps:
Lastly, as far as a Virtual Tabletop System goes, I discovered Foundry VTT recently. Roll20 has long-since been the staple of my online tabletop RPG experience, but it’s always felt very dated and clunky in its controls. Foundry is a much-needed update to this type of experience. However, what I appreciate more than anything is that it’s a self-hosted, one-time payment solution to tabletop hosting. On top of that, it’s modular, so it’s easily expandable; apparently, people have created many modules for the system, so there’s a lovely open market of expansions out there. To be honest, I’m just astounded by how many options there are:
I’m quite excited to get some of these pieces of software, but I’ll have to do this in steps for sure. Foundry VTT runs at $50; Wonderdraft at $30; and Dungeondraft at $20. So, all in all, it’s a $100 pricetag (or €87 for us). While that seems like a pretty reasonable price for everything included in each piece of software, I’m not willing to spend €87 on a hobby right now. So, I’ll have to see if we can pick up some extra money through our company that justifies such a luxury expenditure, so that I can start playing around with it. I figure it may make the most sense to purchase Foundry first, followed by Wonderdraft, and finally Dungeondraft. The latter two are great additions to a VTT experience, but you’d want to have a good VTT experience to begin with. While I could import Wonderdraft and Dungeondraft images into Roll20, of course, it does seem like putting the cart in front of the horse.