Guide to Map-Making
By R E Johnston
Making maps of where you are going to be beating up on the charac- *cough* *cough* erm,
running an adventure can be lots of fun, but is often time consuming. Using an image editing
program - in this case Paintshop Pro - can save you lots of time. Here's a few ideas on how.
1: Image Size
It's usually a good idea to be able to fit the map onto one sheet of paper (but sometimes
this won't work, due to detail/size), and one sheet of paper can usually hold a width of
between 600-700 pixels (while maintaining image size). Since A4 paper is a little under one
and a half times as long as it is wide, it can hold about 900-1000 pixels along its length.
For this example we'll use a map that is 600 x 400 pixels.
2: Laying a Grid
Grids allow you to maintain a scale throughout the entire map and let you know how far a
character or monster can move on the map. Choose a grey colour for your gridlines, dark
enough to be seen but light enough to stand out from the walls etc that you will add.
Most picture applications have a flood fill tool which lets you lay a pattern across an
entire background. To do this, we must first make a smaller image to act as the pattern (20
x 20 pixels will do nicely). Set your brush tool so that it is drawing one pixel lines (size
one, usually) and put a grey line across the extreme bottom and right of the small image.
Now use your flood fill tool (set to pattern, and the pattern set to the smaller image) and
fill the larger image. Ta-da! You have a nice grid.
3: The First Level
Layers are a very handy tool when it comes to making maps. Whatever you put into one layer
has no effect on whatever is in any of the other layers! As far as I know, layers are only
available in Paintshop Pro 5+ (but I'm not sure) but anyway... To add a layer go to Layers >
New (or Add). You will not have to change any of the settings (usually).
On the new layer you can draw, say, the first level of your dungeon (or the city's layout,
etc). Below it, the grid is still visible. Don't worry about being too neat and tidy at this
stage... editing comes later.
Tip: use a brush two pixels wide for your walls (size 2).
4: The Second Level
Again, add a new layer. New, select the first level again, and set its transparency to 30%
(there is a slide bar in the layer viewer... you'll see it). Now reselect the layer you just
added, and draw the second level (this way you can match up important features on both
5: Tidying Up
Ok, now you have the general outline of the dungeon. Go back to the first level and tidy it
up, making a note of where doors, secret doors and traps will be (make sure you select it
then return its transparency to 100% visible. You can make the second level completely
invisible, so that it doesn't get in the way). Where rooms/corridors join (without doors),
remove the lines and make it look like they do. Again, what you do to one layer does not
affect the others.
6: Choosing Colours
If you have a colour printer, this is no real problem, just make sure everything is
different enough to be picked out (doors, traps, walls, the grid, staircases, etc). If you
don't have a printer, you are a bit limited.
Choose black for the walls, as these are rather 'fixed'. Put doors in brown (with a letter
on them signifying trapped, locked, secret, etc). Basically just pick colours that will
stand out in black and white. Below are some examples.
Choosing a text/text colour is pretty important, because it will have to be small enough to
fit and clear enough to be read. For text I use Arial Narrow (or an equivalent), with black
text and on about 10 pt. Make sure antialias, bold and italics are off. If you can't use
black text then try grey.
When you print your map, make all layers but the background (where the grid is) and the
layer you want to print (the first level of the dungeon) invisible, using the method
discussed earlier. Move through the map and print each layer over the grid.