Fantastic Maps
April 7, 2012 5:19 AM   Subscribe

Jonathan Roberts does Fantastic Maps. Whether you're looking for tutorials for tabletop RPG mapmaking, or just want to check out the designs of a professional fantasy cartographer, the only place to go is Fantastic Maps. And if you're a GRR Martin fan, you'll soon be more familiar with Roberts' name, since he has been picked to do the cartography for the October 2012 atlas of the lands of A Song of Ice and Fire.
posted by barnacles (10 comments total) 71 users marked this as a favorite
This guy needs to map out House of Leaves...
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:20 AM on April 7, 2012

Agreed. Saw him linked through Westeros last week and got lost for a good hour soaking up the map-making info. (Would have been more, but I was at work.)
posted by greenland at 6:16 AM on April 7, 2012

Some software for this purpose:
  • HexMapper is free software for world maps. It gives you megameter hexes that you can draw the outlines of the world onto, which are full of kilometer hexes that you can draw cities on, which are full of... all the way down to single-meter hexes that might describe combat maps that you can then print out and play on, if you want to go that far.
  • GameTable, also free, is meant for multiplayer networked simulation of a combat map for an RPG. It has a rich toolset for either drawing directly on the map or filling it with images from elsewhere. Though not particularly intended for making printable maps, it does have an image export feature.
  • PyMapper, free, offers an interface similar to GameTable, but intended more specifically for printed maps.
  • AutoRealm, free, is similar, but has been developed for longer--the first release was in 2001. However, it's Windows-only.
  • Campaign Cartographer 3, a commercial product, generates world maps like HexMapper, but in full 3D, with layers of minerals and so forth.
  • Dwarf Fortress is technically its own game, and just happens to have a heavily customizable world generator. It can export various kinds of map, as well as the history of the world. This feature is in the Legends mode. If you want to get maps of a particular area detailed enough for a tabletop RPG, you'll need to start a game and then export the local area.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:35 AM on April 7, 2012 [7 favorites]

LogicalDash: "Some software for this purpose:

LogicalDash, very nice. Clearly we should have teamed up for this FPP!
posted by barnacles at 6:42 AM on April 7, 2012

I love me a good map, and this full of graphic design goodness in general
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:14 AM on April 7, 2012

Jonathan Roberts blog is awesome. I really appreciate how he so clearly breaks down the big stuff into bite size pieces and then clearly explains both graphically and technically how to achieve them.
posted by meinvt at 8:49 AM on April 7, 2012

Thanks for the kind words!

I'd also suggest that if you're interested in mapping you should check out the Cartographers' Guild, and the large Tutorials section that covers everything you could ever want to know about mapping.
posted by jonroberts at 9:25 AM on April 7, 2012 [6 favorites]

I use Hexographer and a set of templates I got from the Welsh Piper to make maps for my homebrew D&D setting. 1, 2, 3
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 10:40 AM on April 7, 2012

Can't tell you how glad I am to see this post. This week I bought a Wacom Bamboo graphics tablet and have been noodling around in Pixelmator on my Mac to make maps for Adventurer Conqueror King. I'll be watching these tomorrow in the hopes of upping my game.
posted by shanevsevil at 2:28 AM on April 8, 2012

I also think IFMapper would be a good tool for encounter design, rather than dungeon or overworld design. It's intended for text adventures, and so it uses a logical rather than physical model of the game world--one room after another. This is perhaps more appropriate for the sort of encounter where, if you get attacked or perhaps even seen, you fail.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:01 AM on April 8, 2012

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