Friday, December 28, 2012

Map: Lastholt Ice Caves (Entrance)

This post from mapmaster Dyson Logos, which linked to this page by also mapmaster Kevin Campbell has inspired me to step up my game when it comes to hand-drawn maps. Lately, I have been using my trusty quad-ruled notebook to sketch out maps for my D&D game. I find it to be quicker and easier than mapping with a drawing program like Gimp and much easier to translate into a battle mat drawing. However, so far, my sketched maps have been... well... sketchy. After admiring many of Dyson's Dangerous Delves maps and looking over Campbell's pages of elegant simplicity, I feel like hashing out my own hand-drawn style. My goal is to balance visual aesthetics, informational clarity and ease of production.

Here's a scan of my first real go. I reproduced a map I had already roughed out in a slightly more polished fashion and without my secretly scribbled notes. It's a simple pencil sketch on quad-rule notebook paper, though the process of scanning it and adjusting the curves made the rule lines vanish... I'll need to work on that bit.

This cave mouth is where my players ended their last session over a month ago.

Lastholt Ice Caves


  1. Hooray for maps! Hand drawn is just what the DM ordered sometimes. Inspiring? Yep. Add to favorites? Count on it!

  2. Geoff -

    You made my day. To think that my 30 year old drawings would 'Insire' is so great. Back then, we had three core members. One was an architect student at Cal Poly Pamona. I could draw somewhat, but he really raised the bar and inspired me.

    Your map is way above the curve.

    - Kevin Campbell

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  4. Very very cool! Love the river and cave entrance!

  5. Thanks for the kudos all! I definitely want to do more of this stuff. The two biggest challenges I find myself facing are:

    1. Coming up with an alternate shading system to Dyson's cross-hatch style, which seems to be mimicked so often. I'm not completely satisfied with the parallel lines I used in this map.

    2. avoiding analysis paralysis when it comes to dungeon and city layouts. I find myself worrying about why certain structures or rooms are in certain places rather than just letting myself draw.

  6. I did two drawings after reading your blog, to see if I still could. You inspired me and I had both of the above symptoms.

    Cure for No.2 - Draw your brains out.

    Cure for No.1 - Try different media. Dyson is a pen guy and I am pencil. I love the clean, precise lines of penmanship that Dyson has. If you are going to go that way, get some good pens with different weights. You don't need a hatch. Good line weights will tell the story. Try grey No. 3 & 6 markers for a quick and easy "hatch."

    Pencil - That is another thing.

    - Kevin

  7. Geoff -

    My email is

    - Kevin Campbell

    This message will self destruct at some point in the future.


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