Friday, January 31, 2014

Step by step mapping

Someone, sorry I have forgotten whom it was, asked to show more of my process. Here you go! My Step by Step (apologies to NKOTB).

Step One, of course, starts with a blank page and an idea. I have a friend that has an unhealthy hatred of right angles in dungeons. I wanted to make a map for him so I decided this would be a cavern with no tunnels or passages of worked mason. This was going to be a rough map little boys and girls.

Step Two is where I take those rough lines and shapes and start to fill out the actual form of the cavern. Now, many times I DO NOT start with this pre-visualization step (one above), but when I do a commission I almost always DO, so I did that for this map just to show the full process. I actually messed up here, I was a little rushed as I wanted to finish the outline before I finished my breakfast. That bottom most left part was supposed to be a squared out room, as if some ancient diggers had stopped in the middle of roughing out a roughly square room...a personal jest at my friend. Alas I got busy and forgot. Maybe next time +Robert Miller .

Step Three I start hatching. I used to really, really hate this step. Seriously. You cannot imagine how much I hated this. I tried every digital trick I could find to draw those damn cotton-picking goddamn lines. Now however, I love them. There is something calming and zennish drawing them. I don't know why but when I am stressed to the max give me some paper, a pen and something to hatch and zeeeeeeeeeeeeeen.....

Step Four More hatching, rounding the corner here, about half way done. My preferred method is find a nook somewhere and start there, then branch out in both directions. I also frequently will take a break from one area, move to another and work on it, then bounce around more. ADD I tell ya.

Step Five For this map, I pretty much did right sides, inside circles, then left side. Probably because I was talking with my daughter while I drew this. Kept me focused I guess. Just a little more.

Step Six  All done with the hatching. You might be wondering about that 3 & 2 and random lines up at the top. I did not expect to finish this map in one sitting, then work called and said roads were bad, come a little later (occasionally someone in the leadership has a spark of intelligence, doesn't happen often). The "3" is the pen size I was using to draw the walls. The "2" was the pen used to hatch. Call it Matt's shorthand to make sure if he stops in the middle, he can come back and grab the correct pen. Silly, but hey, it works.

Also in this step you may noticed I have erased all pencil markings. Usually this is just a quick erasing, the real work is done at the end of step seven.

Step Seven Ink those walls! The thicker the walls, the less they leak. I take my 08 Micron and run around the end. I has a system that is pretty stupid, when you see me at a con sometime, ask me about it. Almost superstitious really.

But, hey, this works too.

Step Eight Flesh baby, flesh! Here I go back and all the little bits that make the map imo. Stairs, ridges, cliffs, rocks, pits, etc get added here at the end. You may notice that I added the ravine in the top right after this was 'done.' Yeah, I hated the empty space. Big empty rooms are crappy places to ambush your players.

I also run this through Matt's Magic Erasing Machine and get rid of all those pesky pencil marks that make maps look like poo. Dirty paper makes a dirty map is what mom used to say!

And that's about it. Next I scan it in and follow my usual method (see and the final result looks like this:
Fairly simple process that I think anyone could replicate. Hope you enjoyed this post!

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