Maps and Mapping


I’m finding myself with a touch more time than I used to have. Then I discovered my old world maps done on paper with colored pencils. Given my artistry, it’s truly horrible stuff!

I’m looking for a way to create (really re-create) decent colorful regional/world maps as well as city/village locals in a purely digital format. My computer skills are decent and I’m not afraid of a learning curve, though Photoshop is a bit steep - both in complexity and cost!

I live in the world of the Macintosh so a Windows or Linux solution does me no good. I have, and play with, Pixelmator Pro but I’m hoping for something more template-y and less labor intensive.

Am I dreaming of a world that doesn’t exist given my too-tight parameters?


I have two answers for you:

“World” or “Region” scale: hexographer.

  • It definitely has a retro look in its core, but there are tons of skins/palettes for those who don’t like the base look. You can RAPIDLY generate entire worlds in their solution. They have a native MacOS version. I love it.

Local/smaller maps: Dungeon Alchemist (on Steam).

  • I have it for both Mac and Windows. It’s still quite young, and suffers from a huge inconvenience: it can’t handle corners that aren’t 90 degree angles for rooms/buildings, but otherwise it produces positively gorgeous art. It claims to have a pseudo-AI that generates contents of rooms, and it works okay, just needs more options. This option is a bit pricey, but has had deals bringing it to $20. (I think it’s 50 right now?) Beaware, it is in early access, so who knows where they will take it, but so far the developers have been incredibly responsive.

For those who aren’t needing absolute beauty in cities/villages, I recommend ChaoticShiny - but, it doesn’t have a Mac solution.

Good luck and happy dungeoneering!


It might not be exactly what you’re looking for, but I’ll toss DungeonDraft at you as a recommendation. With lots of free downloadable templates, you can pretty much get any style you want.


GIMP is sufficient. (It is there for MAcOS, Not a big leap from Linux) CAD programs are truly useful but they have a serious learning curve.

I had exactly this problem as my 30+ year old not really high quality paper maps were disintegrating. I scanned the maps in at 300 dpi, a convenient 3 pivils to the mile. Much clean up later The Results are here.

I also do city maps at one pixie to five feet. Woodmanor here. At my dungeon maps and other objects are at 30 pivils to five feet. The palaces page since we are on Woodmanor.

I do not denigrate CAD, it is the better method if you have the time to mount the learning curve or already know it. But you do not need CAD to make cool maps.


I use Hexagorapher 2 on Mac. Of course, my players always want to play in Forgotten Realms, so I just steal maps off the intertoobs now days.

Have you considered Dungeondraft?
Or Wonderdraft?
Both seem pretty decent, but I’m only really just getting started with them.
Campaign Cartographer is also an option.
Hex Kit is a really nifty, simpler hex-based map program that reminds me of the very earliest days of Hexographer, in a good way.

I got a lot of the ProFantasy software for real cheap on Humble Bundle. They’re pretty good if you can handle CAD types of programs.

Most of the features you would use from the latest photoshop are readily available in other apps should all you care about are pixels, paths, channels, layers and file formats. I subscribe to the suite for really one program: indesign for page layout. I’m perfectly happen running photoshop 7 for by image needs because its not as much of a memory hog as 2022. The only downside is it wont save over a network or on my usb drive. I could say the same for illustrator but only in the CS versions.

I always used Gametable back in the day. But i tend to use Corel Painter when I am mapping from scratch. (Cheap if you catch it for sale on Humble Bundle about once every year.)

Just wanted to step in to say thank you everyone for your suggestions! Great stuff out there these days. Much better than the limited options the last time I looked, more than a decade ago now I guess.

Thanks for all your help.


An online mapping app you may wish to check out is I’ve used it to make the world map for a new home brew setting I created for my current campaign. It was insanely easy to use and even the free edition I used with its limited textures, and stamps resulted in a perfectly serviceable map. You can also make encounter and village maps, plus there are a variety of styles to choose from. Here’s my map as an example of what can be made with a couple of hours of casual usage while I was also learning how to use the program.


There’s one more free one I forgot to mention. It’s Azgaar’s Fantasy Map Generator.


I currently use CC3+, along with the various addons (Fractal Terrains, etc).
I typically prefer Revit for full-on building detail, but it’s an expensive way to go.
World Machine is a good starting point for terrain surfaces, especially combined with Blender, but both have an incredibly steep learning curve.

This is a CC3+ Reproduction

Blackmoor, Pre-Cata


One thing I did was to separate terrain elevation, hills and mountains, and vegetation types. Brushes for the former, color for the later. So you can get forested hills and so forth.

Are you using CC3+ with a VTT?

I picked up the ProFantasy humblebundle, but I’ve been trying to figure out if it’s going to be worth the work of learning.

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ProFantasy software is CAD-based Vector Graphics. It’s perfectly compatible with any SVG software, like GIMP. It’s CAD-based in that it utilizes Sheets, Layers, and Sheet Effects.

It’s really not difficult to learn, and once you learn it, you effectively will gain a base understanding of most cad softwares.

Everyting in that bundle, I already have lacking the SciFi addon. I think I spent $200 total for the entire set, piecemeal, for what they are offering. Most of my setup is floorplans and battlemaps.

Cavern E-W (Grid)


Look for CC3+ tutorials on YTUniversity.


I typically trace any game map into CC3+, apply sheet effects to certain Sheets, and then start playing with different settings.

The image files I generate are 5000 x 5000 cropped; about 40MB each.

I set up my maps for D20 Pro. Walls, floors, base shadows and effects. Once you finish the setup for your VTT, walking a token thru one of those sure brings back that slight dread of “…what’s around that corner…”

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Alright, you’ve talked me into it. I’ll dig into it. I’m most likely to use it for floorplans and battlemaps.

You gotta any links for specific tutorials you like? Looks like there’s a bunch on yt.

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GIMP. Old fashion bit map graphics. My maps are the result of scaning ancient paper and months of clean up. I’d post one of the raw .png images but the things ran 13-14 meg each.