Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
 Hide
13 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » Do It Yourself

Subject: How to create a map for a board? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Scott Roberts
United States
Southlake
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
How would I go about creating a map to use as a game board? At this stage, I am really wondering what the best way to go about creating the graphics is (as opposed to actually making the physical board. I am thinking of a map with regions like this:


as opposed to a hex based map.

Thanks!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Mahaffey
United States
Columbia
South Carolina
flag msg tools
designer
GAME ARTIST
badge
GAME ARTIST
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You can of course do it by hand, but there are many computer tools available as well. Two of the most popular free one are:

GIMP (raster) http://www.gimp.org/features
and
INKSCAPE (vector) http://www.inkscape.org
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jack Neal
United States
Liverpool
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
I find Inkscape, once you figure it out, great to use because you can easily scale the map, add regions, etc. Very nifty program.

Sometimes I do touch-up with Gimp. For the Windows users amongst us, Paint.NET works very well, too.

Then there's good old fashion scanning as well. I'm thinking of trying that for my next design, actually.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Daniel
United States
Utah
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
There is also a newer set of tools out that is browser based. I find it to be comparable to the GIMP and Inkscape with the advantage of being portable.

Check out aviary.com

It is a bit more art focused, but might suit your needs.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bartman
United States
New Jersey
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Scott,

You definitely want to PM Mark M(above) The guy does really super work. I'll bet he'll probably be a one-stop source for you.

Good Luck,
Bart
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rick Vinyard
United States
Las Cruces
NM
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Raiderjakk wrote:
I find Inkscape, once you figure it out, great to use because you can easily scale the map, add regions, etc. Very nifty program.

Sometimes I do touch-up with Gimp. For the Windows users amongst us, Paint.NET works very well, too.

Then there's good old fashion scanning as well. I'm thinking of trying that for my next design, actually.


I know the Gimp is available for Windows, and I'm pretty sure Inkscape is as well.

They're both based on Gtk+ (the Gimp ToolKit: http://www.gtk.org), as are both Firefox and OpenOffice.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Roberts
United States
Southlake
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I have GIMP and have been using it a bit for other things. I am not sure about how I would go about making a map, though? Any suggestions? For example, can I get a premade background or would I need to start from scratch, where would I find symbols for the map (graphics for cities and the like), etc? I think doing things from scratch would be beyond me.

Thanks

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rick Vinyard
United States
Las Cruces
NM
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You might check openclipart.org for symbols that you could use or modify.

As for the map... use layers. One layer for the background, one for the region markups, others for symbols...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jack Neal
United States
Liverpool
New York
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmb
rvinyard wrote:
Raiderjakk wrote:
I find Inkscape, once you figure it out, great to use because you can easily scale the map, add regions, etc. Very nifty program.

Sometimes I do touch-up with Gimp. For the Windows users amongst us, Paint.NET works very well, too.

Then there's good old fashion scanning as well. I'm thinking of trying that for my next design, actually.


I know the Gimp is available for Windows, and I'm pretty sure Inkscape is as well.

They're both based on Gtk+ (the Gimp ToolKit: http://www.gtk.org), as are both Firefox and OpenOffice.


I find Gimp works for some things and Paint.NET works better for others, and I do use them both since I'm stuck in Windows at home and work.

Betwixt the two, I can usually do what I want.

But yes, get those Open Source apps!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Daniel
United States
Utah
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Okay, so I may be misunderstanding your question, but here's a shot at distilling the map-making process into a forum post. I am assuming that you are reasonably familiar with graphics software or that you are at least willing to learn.

First, if you are using real-world geography, you should be able to find pre-drawn boundaries. Search for shapefiles and you should be able to find something suitable. The tricky part is opening them. The easiest way to get them into a useable format that I know of is to upload the file to mapshaper.org and then downloading it as an .eps file. This is readable by most vector graphics programs. Unfortunately, after a quick check, Inkscape does not work with this file type. You can try finding a method for converting to something Inkscape can read or you can try messing around with OGR. OGR is an opensource command line program that handles geographic data. It is not fun, but would do the trick.

If you are dealing with a fictitious place, you can just draw your own boundaries. Now that I think about it, you could also just trace linework from a raster image if you are dealing with actual places. (Sheesh, you would think I would have thought about that earlier as I do that frequently on the job!).

Anyway, The basic goal is to create a base-map. By base-map, I mean the outlines of boundaries, water features, road networks, ie the things you would need for basic orientation. If you don't need to show these things, leave them out. Also, as was mentioned by somebody else, you will want to keep things separated in layers. Any good graphics program will do this for you.

Now, you can start to make things look pretty. Based on the image you posted, you are looking to make the map look 'older'. For me, this is easier to do in a raster-based program. I know you can find free textures online, but you can just as easily find a texture around your place (like a canvas covered book or something else that might appear old) and scan it and use that. You will be messing with transparency and masking.

The other thing that you will want to work with is color. I recommend taking a picture of a map with colors that you like and borrowing.

Labeling can make or break a map. If you want a basic guide to label placement, pm me and I can send you a writeup a colleague of mine wrote. I also recommend checking out typebrewer.org. It probably won't help too much in terms of the style you want, but it will help you learn the basic vocabulary of type.

Symbols...I recommend looking up the work of Jaques Bertin. He pioneered the concept of visual variables. Basically, we use different aspects of visual objects (size, shape, etc) to encode different types of data. This is fairly intuitive, but it can really screw up a map if you don't think it through.

So, bottom-line...I am working on a Master's degree in Cartography, so I feel like I know what a well-made map requires. If you have never made a map or any significant piece of graphic work, don't expect it to be easy. If you want feedback, feel free to post it here. I'd love to help you out (as I am sure others will be too).

Good luck!
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Pete Belli
United States
Florida
flag msg tools
designer
"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb


It might be important to remember that a game board is not a map... it is a surface on which games are played.

Too much detail may create a cluttered appearance which can result in the map being too "busy" in graphic terms.

Placing colorful units on a busy map can lead to visual confusion during play.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Rick Vinyard
United States
Las Cruces
NM
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
pete belli wrote:


It might be important to remember that a game board is not a map... it is a surface on which games are played.

Too much detail may create a cluttered appearance which can result in the map being too "busy" in graphic terms.

Placing colorful units on a busy map can lead to visual confusion during play.


Too true. However, you can still have an elaborate detailed background with non-game relevant items (pure decor) if you utilize contrast and saturation effectively.

I think saturation is way underutilized (case in point: the Tannhäuser board) and is a very powerful mechanism for drawing attention to areas of interest. Often alpha blending is used but saturation has been shown to be a more effective cue to draw attention to specific areas.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Roberts
United States
Southlake
Texas
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks, all!

And Dan - Thanks for the pointers and I will likely contact you as I get into the process. Thanks again.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.