Styling the map

There are quite a lot of possibilities to manually style a generated map. I’m not going to describe them all and not going to make a tutorial, there will be a lot of changes in the future and current UI is in a draft version. Here just a quick presentation on how map can be styled using build-in instruments only.

Let’s start with a random map. The only pre-selected option is a “High Island” template as I want a map with clearly visible relief. Graph size is set to minimal value. There is some problems with performance on bigger graph. As of now my recommendation is to set graph size to 1 for all maps that you plan operate a lot. Bigger sizes are good for a converted map, but editing them using an outdated PC like mine can be a hell.

Clicking on a “New map” I’ve got a map shape I like:

Heightmap in initial style

As you can see almost whole map area in covered by ocean (heightmap editor shows landmass occupies 20% only), so a map color scheme depends mainly on ocean color. Let’s make it gloomy and select a pretty dark color #494f62.

A default heightmap style is good for its contrast, but looks too technical due to the cells visibility. To get rid of cellular look we can apply a blur filter with pretty big deviation value:

Heightmap blurred

Heightmap colors are too bright, we need to change a heightmap scheme to a monochromatic and reduce the brightness decreasing the layer opacity value to 0.5.

Heightmap monochrome blurred

Now we can use a heightmap as a background layer for political and other maps. Let’s start from political borders. I’m not going to cover countries customization in this post and displayed countries are almost auto-generated with just some minor edits in borders and names.

To make an accent on borders, we can assign a drop-shadow filter to it:

Heightmap background and political borders.png

Looks too empty, but it’s just an intermediate phase. Let’s add countries layer itself. To remain heightmap visible, countries layer should be semi-transparent. Opacity 0.33 will be enough to clearly see countries and still be able to see a heightmap on a background:

Political map no labels

The heightmap background looks like mottling and I mostly sure people will not recognize is as a heightmap. But this mottling creates an interesting pattern. To make it more interesting and less empty we can turn on relief icons. They are super primitive as remained unchanged from the very first generator version, but still usable. Let’s also turn on routes and burgs icons, even they are almost invisible on this scale.:

Political map no labels with roads and icons.png

A map is boring and useless without labels. To fit a general style I have changed a font and applied a drop-shadow to labels. I have also added a label for a whole map. There is not built-in function for such labels, so I’ve just inserted a random label, changed its size and add “Realms” to work as a world name:

Political map

Two maps below show the same map but with a grid structure displayed (left) and square grid overlay (right) added. Both can be useful for a homebrew D&D campaigns:

 

Cultures layer does not work good with countries layer, so I recommend to create a separate map to show world’s cultures. To get rid of unrealistic solid borders between cultures we can apply a blur filter:

Cultures.png

I’ve also prepared a trade routes map. This is a map with accent on routes and burgs. It is not so interesting, but can be useful for a world-building and D&D:

Trade routes map

The last map I want to show is a map with heightmap background and political borders with a global grayscale filter applied:

Political grayscale

All the displayed map look much better in a high resolution, so for those who are interested in I have created an external gallery here.

 

11 thoughts on “Styling the map

  1. I loved the tips, thank you very much! This tips give me ideas to create some maps and “scenarios” for my campaigns and of my friends!!!

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  2. Hi, I don’t have anything much to say besides thank you for making this. It’s an awesome tool that I’m using to develop a homebrew DnD campaign and I look forward to your continued development.

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  3. Hi there!
    First off: I love your generator! I’ve had a lot of fun with it so far! Quick question: Is there a way to change the culture of a country? The name generation is great, being able to select the culture which it bases the names on would make it even better!

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  4. Hello,
    I writing this to tell you that how amzing i think about this tool,and thank you create this tool.
    I am a DND DM from china,and my English not very well,please forgive me.Whne the first time I konw this,I love it, it’s very amazing to find how easy to creat a map just a moment.
    Although this tool is so good,i wonder if you can add some function ,such as:give a name for rivers and roads,a app that we can use it in our phone,last but not lest,Chinesization this tool ! And then i can recommend to more and more chinese guy to use this tool.
    looking forword you early reply.
    your sincerely,
    zzw

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    1. Hello zzw,

      Thanks for the feedback!

      It’s not easy to translate the tool, I’m doing a lot of new changes and it will be hard to maintain different languages.

      As for names: you can add names for rivers and road on your own, either via Labels or Markers or Legend Editor.

      Regards,
      Azgaar

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      1. Hello Azgaar,

        So glad to hear that have a way to slove my problem, in china its no easy to use wiki to find help.(and our local search system BaiDu just like ballshit.)

        It you want translate this tools, and run into some diffculty in future, i will gald to help you(or find a smart guy…), and this is my mailbox:1307863064@qq.com

        Last, thank you again for create this amazing tools !

        Yours sincerely,
        zzw

        Like

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