Mapping software

So one of the areas I feel least skilled at in game prep is creating maps, and I doubt I’m alone in that. Does anyone have recommendations for good mapping software? Web-based would be best, but I’m not necessarily opposed to installing something. I’m also not an expert artist, so ease of use is also important. Thanks, folks!

What kind of maps are you trying to create? I just need reference sketches, so I create mine in Autodesk Sketchbook. However, that may not be what you want.

Sorry, I should have given more detail.

What I’m looking for is something to create battle boards easily. Both indoor and outdoor. I know that there are tons of options out there, but I haven’t really played with any. Part of me likes the ease of something tile-based, but I worry that I’d find it limiting.

Yeah, I don’t think my idea is what you want. The only mapping software I’ve used is Campaign Cartographer. It’s expensive and has a huge learning curve. I never managed to make something that didn’t look terrible in it. I wouldn’t recommend it.

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Good to know. Thanks!

Roll20 has a lot of resources to do it if you use that for your games already. You didn’t specify whether these were online games, or in person (need to print the maps).

With Roll20, you can search for tiles and grab ones off the web for free, or purchase from a selection of awesome tile sets.

There is this (though I have not used it personally):

How crazy are you wanting to go with these maps in detail would be another question? Are you just wanting something simple? What is your budget? How familiar are you with using computer programs (what sort of skill level for program to use)? Lots of questions to answer to give you a good recommendation.

I just use photoshop or Roll20 for most of my stuff. Lots of resources on teh web with simple google searching to reveal tiles, tokens, buildings that you can easily use with Gimp or other free photo editing softwares.

I’m fairly new to roll20, but that’s where I’ll be doing almost all my gaming for the foreseeable future (parent of small children, so it’s easier if I play online). So far I’ve tried using the drawing tools on it, but I haven’t explored all of the options.

I’ll check out the link you sent. I know that the are many options that are easily found. In fact, the are so many options that it’s a little overwhelming. Thus this post :smile:

I’m not overly concerned with high levels of detail. The ability to use textures for fills instead of solid colors is good to add appeal, but I’m not going to be drawing every pebble.

I don’t really want to spend that much money on software, given that there are so many free options available (and my relatively low level of artistic ability). Complicated software doesn’t scare me, but I also don’t think I’ll really use anything complicated to it’s full extent.

The idea of importing existing, free images in a photo editor makes sense. You’ve given me things to think about. Thanks!

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If you are looking for a small regional overland type map, Inkarnate is a great and intuitive web based map editor.


After spending a little time playing around with this, I definitely will be able to get use out of that. It isn’t really ideal for dungeon mapping, but I can do a lot of outdoor stuff with it. Thanks!

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Inkarnate looks interesting. I may have to check it out for my next campaign.

As far as dungeons go, there’s Dungeonographer. I haven’t really used it, but it does have a free version.

I checked out Inkarnate. I was hoping for something more along the lines of Fractal Terrains, but it seems more like a web-based image editor with a focus on mapping textures and symbols. I have a copy of FT that was included in the Campaign Cartographer bundle I bought years ago, but I never used it, so I can’t say how it well it works or if it’s worth the money.