Tag Archives: Tools

Proud Gamer Dad

It’s been a while since I last played with mapping on my iPad.

I had some time on my hands, so I pulled out my stylus and fired up Sketchbook Pro when up popped this:

KateDungeonMy daughter has been watching me create dungeons. At some point she fired up Sketchpad, figured it out, and this is the result.

I am so proud of my little Dungeon Master!

1 Comment

Posted by on June 24, 2014 in Dungeon Design, Maps


Tags: , , , , , ,

More Tablet Mapping

I finally got back to playing around with mapping on my iPad.

Sketchbook Pro continues to satisfy me, though I’ve added to my wish list of features.  I would like to be able to better organize the files into sub-folders, as opposed to in order of file creation.  Also, I have a fine point stylus on my Christmas list.

My first foray into tablet mapping was back in this post.

Following that up, I did this map as a “level two” to the iDungeon of Doom.  One nice advantage of digital mapping is that I can take the previous finished map and use it as a transparent layer for my new map.  That makes it easy to match up the paths between floors.

A few notes:

Area 4 is a waterwheel fed from the whirlpool’s cascade in Area 12 on the first level.

Area 16 is a three-level chamber.  Each entry is at a different height.  I’d probably need to include an inset map of the room to convey it properly.  I’m playing around with trying to do an isometric map for the room, but so far it’s beyond my meager stylus skills.

Area 13 is an elevator.  When it rises up it uncovers the secret door.

The circular areas 18-22 have pools in their centers that act as teleportation devices.


And here’s the first level of a tower complex:


Eventually I may stock these maps with something like the one page dungeon format and see how it goes.  But for now I’m just enjoying the sketching.


Posted by on November 20, 2013 in Dungeon Design, Maps


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Tablet Mapping

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!



Posted by on October 18, 2013 in Dungeon Design, Gaming, Maps


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Dungeon Alphabet

This is a “first impression” review of The Dungeon Alphabet, 3rd Printing.

After reading that The Dungeon Alphabet was going into its third printing and reading even more glowing reviews of the book, I finally decided to order my own copy via my Friendly Not-So-Local Game Store and picked it up today.  I have barely had time to read it, but skimming the text and looking at the artwork has already left a profound impression on me.

The Dungeon Alphabet is a collection of classic dungeon tropes coupled with random tables to inspire and energize dungeon designers.  The items described within are given a flair of the fantastic without being over-the-top.  I’ll go into more detail after I’ve had a chance to properly read through the book.  What I want to talk about now is the artwork.

This book is beautiful and is utterly jam-packed with some of the finest old style artwork I’ve seen by artists like Erol Otis, Russ Nicholson, and Jeff Easley.  The only way I could be more happy with this collection of artwork is if David Trampier came out of retirement to contribute.  There is a lot of art in in this book, nearly every page appears to have at least some illustration, and these pieces are evocative and inspiring in their own right.  Just from thumbing through the book I’ve caught myself stopping and thinking, “I can use this!”

I was skeptical about how good this book could be.  I consider myself a creative person and a book of lists seemed unnecessary, but the low price and glowing reviews convinced me to give it a shot.  Now I can say that I’m both glad I did and excited to dig into it.

Do yourself a favor, drop $20 and pick this book up.  It’s worth it for the artwork alone.

The Dungeon Alphabet is produced by Goodman Games. It’s author is Michael Curtis who writes the OSR blog, The Society of Torch, Pole, and Rope.

If you’ll excuse me, I have some reading to do.

The Dungeon Alphabet cover


Tags: , , , , , , ,