Monday, July 30, 2012

If there's a place you got to get...

I can get you there, I bet.

Next up: let's drill down. I took my previous map, made a copy of the ACKS hex and coastline layers, and combined them. I then paint-filled each hex with their terrain type. I'm not bothering with icons at this point.

Here's what I end up with:

I ought to add a color key.

Having the coastline layer available helped a lot coloring the hexes. Looking at it, I forgot to add rivers viewable at this level, but, I'll be picking an area without them anyway.

I make a selection in Gimp around D4-E5, then crop the image and immediately save it to another filename. Those four rectangular areas will fill Page 3 of the ACKS blank hex map. Next, I import Page 3, and do the same I did for Page 4 - add an alpha channel, select the white, delete it, invert the selection, paint it all black, resize to 2199x?.

Now, if you're following what I did earlier, you're looking at a cropped map of around 476x367. We need to resize that to the scale of the ACKS Page 3. I copy Page 3, paste it as a new layer in my D4-E5 map, then I resize the canvas to the layers - so that the D4E5 image has the correct 2199x1699 size.

Next, the annoying steps - we've got to resize the D4E5 map layer, coastline layer, and whatever other layer you want to keep to the same sizes. I resized my to 1950x?, and that seemed close enough. The only important bit is the coastline, and we're going to be altering it anyway. I turned down the opacity on the resized layers so I could better see the Page 3 hexes.

So, that coastline. It's a pretty thick line, so let's shrink it. Select by color. Shrink the selection by a couple pixels. Now, I'm sure a GIMP expert knows a better way, but what I did was:

  • I deleted the selection, leaving me with a "outline" of a too-thick coastline. I unselected, then erased one side of the outline - I would occasionally switch back and forth between the 'inner' and 'outer' line, depending on which way I wanted the more detailed coastline to go.
  • Select by color, then paint-fill the line black. You may need to do it in sections if you broke up your coast switching between the inner and outer lines.
  • Select by color, do one last fill. Then, shrink your selection until the line thickness is where you want it. I only had to do it once. This also gets rid of any floaters you've got around the sides of your line.
  • Invert the selection, delete, select none. Check the line to make sure it's contiguous, it's also likely you'll have some thick spots to manually thin out.
Here's where I ended up:

Now, as we did last time, make a copy of the coastline and Page 3 hex layers, and combine those copies. There's your fillable hexes for this layer. Have at it. Don't forget to break up the larger hex boundaries a bit.

And that leaves me with:

Let's finish this off with Page 2 of ACK's hex map PDF. The one thing you'll want to note here is you will need to separate the grid from the hex numbers - take a copy of the layer, erase all the numbers. Use that layer to do your hex coloring, then overlay the original layer with the numbers on top - ought to take less time to do that than to fill in every 6,9,0,etc. on the map. I did it a bit differently - after I erased the numbers, I took another copy of the hexgrid layer, and merged a copy of the numberless hex grid painted white on top of it to "erase" the grid, leaving the numbers. That allowed me to come back with a seperate number grid I could easily recolor, since the white numbers look a bit better against the colored hexes and black grid.

And here we are, the region I'm starting the players, taken from unmanageable continental bitmap to workable 6 mile hexes. I'd much rather this be in a vector format, but, hey. I may come back and do everything at the original 400 DPI depending on how it prints, but, as long as I keep everything I put on the map from here on out in layers by category, switching around should be easy.

Plus, I can now whip out Page 1's like nobody's business, if I need a more exact view on a city location or a hex a PC will want to claim as her own - the smallest hexes on that map will be 1,320 ft.

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