I enjoy making dungeon maps.
I’ve enjoyed that since the time when I’d only heard about Dungeons & Dragons but hadn’t yet played. One of the things that I love about the Old School Renaissance for gaming is the wealth of maps that fans are creating and sharing.
(And if you also like old school maps, make sure you’re reading Dyson’s Dodecahedron!)
I’ve been experimenting with using GIMP for my digital mapping needs and I enjoy it, but haven’t had enough time to really dig into it yet. I love using a good old pad of graph paper, but I’m not fond of the results I’ve had scanning files in.
However I do have an iPad and I love playing around with it. For the moment that’s going to be my playground for digital mapping.
I did some research on the web and hit up a few Google+ communities and Sketchbook Pro looked like a good tool. The application and a cheap stylus cost me just under $10 and for the price it does the job nicely.
Sketchbook Pro has most of the standard drawing tools you’d expect, including plenty of pen styles with adjustable thickness and hardness, color and fill tools, and a built-in square grid template that’s perfect for dungeon mapping. It also offers plenty of layers to work with, a must for digital dungeon design. Numbering rooms is a snap too. It didn’t take me very long to get the hang of it and knock out a basic layout.
Sketchbook Pro does the job nicely, but it does have limitations. While it does have a line tool it doesn’t have a “snap to grid” feature, which accounts for some of my less-than-straight lines. Drawing with the stylus takes practice and trying to get my lines just where I want them can take a few tries, the undo feature is my friend, but this could be alleviated with a finer quality stylus.
Sketchbook Pro does have a transformation tool for layers, but surprisingly it doesn’t have a selection tool. So you can copy entire layers but not lasso and copy sections within a layer. Also, while there are plenty of stamps built into the pen selection, there is no way to create your own stamps. So any frequently used icons will have to be drawn each time.
However for a $10 total investment I’m more than satisfied with the results. A basic dungeon can be created quickly and while a more complex design takes longer than good old graph paper, it’s still something you can accomplish. Combined with the portability of an iPad and stylus over a desktop and this is a tool that’s going to be staying in my DM’s arsenal.
Here’s a level from a more ambitious dungeon design. I could easily add color or a background texture, but I prefer the simpler old school scheme both from an aesthetic and practical concern. Colors and backgrounds tend to be distracting. For a more printer friendly version a white color fill on the grey areas does the trick with a few clicks.
The iDungeon of iDoom!