How to Create a Map Pack

Here’s the steps I follow when I create a map pack – like the ones I’ve got up for sale on RPGNow.

JPGs

First I save out a set of jpgs for people to use if they want to print a poster or use in a VTT (Virtual Tabletop)

  1. Resize the map so that the dpi is 100dpi
  2. Scale the map such that one grid square = 100pixels
  3. Turn off any labels
  4. Save out the map as a jpg (make sure you add the meta-data to protect/give credit to yourself)
  5. Remove any grid lines and save out as another jpg (usually name_noGrid.jpg)
  6. Desaturate (I use a color layer set to black) and use curves to lighten as much as possible without losing detail and save out as greyscale (do not change the mode to greyscale, keep it as RGB – I know that sounds daft, but it’s important later)

Sliced Pages

Open posterazor (or download from here). In each screen (in order) do the following:

  1. Select your ungridded jpg as the input file (make a note of what it thinks the resolution is here – sometimes it gets it wrong. If it’s actually 100dpi, but posterazor thinks it’s 72dpi, you’ll need to scale later by 0.72)
  2. Select paper size to be Letter, I usually set the margins to be 0.125 on each side
  3. Set overlap – I tend to go with ½ an inch as it helps line up sheets
  4. If posterazor got the dpi right earlier, then you don’t need to do anything here. If it got it wrong, select Size in Percent to 72%
  5. Save the file

Then repeat the steps but pick A4 as the paper size (it’s good business to provide both A4 and Letter format packs). Then repeat both Letter and A4 using the greyscale version of the map.

You should now have 4 multipage pdfs.

Cover, How to use this Map Pack and Overview pages

I add a cover page (small view of the map, name, title of pack), a How To Use This Map Pack page (I’ve included mine with this as an example) and an overview image of the map – whole map on one page – to help people navigate the map pack. Create each of these as a separate Photoshop document.

Collating the Pack

I’m assuming access to Acrobat Pro here, but there are open source pdf collation tools out there that I’m sure can do a good job

  1. Open Acrobat Pro
  2. Select Combine Files into PDF
  3. Drag and drop the list of files into the dialog. In my case these files are:
    1. Cover.jpg 
    2. HowToUseThisMapPack.jpg 
    3. Overview.jpg 
    4. Letter_color.pdf 
    5. Letter_greyscale.pdf
  4. Re-order the files so they’re in the correct order (using Move Up, Move Down buttons)
  5. Click Combine Files (this should convert all the jpgs to pdf pages)
  6. Click the Bookmarks tab on the left and update the names of the bookmarks:

How to create a map pack

to:

How to create a map pack

Then save the file. Repeat for the other paper format so that you have two pdfs.

Add these pdfs to the directory, along with the jpgs of the uncut map, and potentially the cover.jpg. This is your Map Pack!

Optional Extras

You can also Save As Compressed Pdf… to trim down the size of the pdfs, and cut down the total map pack filesize a little.

2 thoughts on “How to Create a Map Pack”

  1. I’ve purchased every one of your map packs and I have never had any issues using them in VTT or when printed. I just wish more cartographers would release their work as high-resolution images for the VTT crowd! Posterazor is an amazing program for those that play IRL, by the way.

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