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Creating a Fantasy Dungeon Map with GIMP 2.8

Updated on April 5, 2017
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I've been drawing maps for D&D since first playing the game in '78. Playing online requires digital maps, so I taught myself using GIMP 2.8.


Quick I Need a Map.

The thing about playing D&D is that it is a sandbox game. You could spend many hard long hour creating an adventure only for the group to not even go that way and basically voiding all the work you've done. In a case like that you need to be able to create a quick adventure that is plausible enough to give the illusion you've spent a goodly amount of time on it.

Having a stock of images for dungeons furnishings is a good idea. There are lots of images available online in places like DevianArt or Dundjinni. With these you can populate a quickly made dungeon you make with GIMP 2.8.

Maze  the filter created
Maze the filter created | Source
After editing to create rooms
After editing to create rooms | Source

An Amazing Maze.

We start with three layers. Light ground cover, dark wall textures and a grid layer. To create the starting point to a quick dungeon we create another layer we use as a mask of sorts. Use a Filters-Render-Pattern-Maze... Set the maze size to what you want but in this case we'll use the pixel width and height of 50. I use 50 to match the size of grid we made as the third layer.

It creates a quick maze. Use the paintbrush tool and fill in some spots to make rooms out of the maze path. We'll use the result as a map to your dungeon.

Making Sense of the Dungeon

Well back in the 70's when D&D first spread out onto the market, the gaming styles were limited and there were few modules one could pick up to play. Some of them were just nonsensical jumbles of rooms and hallways populated by monsters and traps. One room didn't have to make sense on why it was there or anything. It was a fantasy game after all.

Nowadays modules are a bit more thought out (or should be) so creating a dungeon would include creating a series of rooms which have at least some semblance of rationality. Now having said that, what the rooms are being used for now may be something totally different but it should be recognizable as to what the original room was. A storage room could be a storage room but could also be a barracks for a rogue gang hideout,

The layers as created
The layers as created | Source
Wall layer  with drop shadow to make 3D.
Wall layer with drop shadow to make 3D. | Source

Sizing Up the Grid

  1. Move the Grid layer to line up with the hallways and rooms you created with the maze.
  2. It is easy to see the maze if you select the Grid layer and lower the opacity of it so you can see the maze layer below.
  3. Make the Maze layer active. Select by Color the hallways (white).
  4. Go back to the Grid layer. Invert the selection. Then cut the grid to match only the rooms and hallways.
  5. Make the floor texture layer active and cut that layer as well.
  6. Make the wall layer active. Invert the selection. Then cut the walls out. Use the Drop Shadows filter to add dimension to the layer.
  7. Now order the layers in the stack. 1. Floors 2.Walls and finally 3.Grid on top (You must make the background color of the grid transparent)

With objects  added
With objects added | Source

Adding Objects

The next step to creating this off the cuff dungeon map is to add objects, furniture, rubble, traps and monsters. You have a few options.

  1. Draw from your own library of drawings of objects, texture etc.
  2. Locate and use drawings from the internet. There are lots of free sites where you can download items to use. Deviart or Dundjinni to mention two. Just be aware of copyright laws.
  3. If you are playing on a online tabletop site, you may have access to a library of art you can drop onto your map.

Using the same scale for grid, tiles and objects will allow you to easy place items. I choose a grid of 50 x 50 pixels so it makes the math easier.

Now in this map the scale will be in squares of 5 feet per square.

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