6 Tools to Help You Build Your Own RPG Map

Are you a Dungeon Master looking to take your gaming sessions to the next level?

Maybe you’ve dreamed up an entire world for your next RPG campaign, but need a way to help your party members visualize the realms you’ve created. Fear not! We’ve got you covered with some great resources for beginner RPG map makers.



Photoshop does it all, and that includes making maps for your fantasy worlds.  Imgur user Kaboom242 wrote up this comprehensive guide if you want to give Photoshop map drawing a go. The steps are easy to follow, and they even provide paper and grid layers for you to use. Those beginning blobs start to transform into continents, rolling hillsides, or even lakes in just a few steps. You might need to take a couple of tries at it, but as we know, every great adventure starts out with a curved line. You know what I mean.


Photoshop comes at a hefty price, but fortunately there are alternatives. GIMP is a free, but powerful image editing tool. You can use it to create maps just as lovely as those you’d draw up in Photoshop. Obsidian Portal just happens to have  a whole slew of RPG map tutorials just for GIMP. You know what’s better than a great looking map that you can bring to the table? One that you can make for free.


Are you still a little intimidated starting from scratch in a full-on image editor? Totally understandable. Deepnight.net had that exact scenario in mind when designing their lightweight RPG map creator.  ANAmap’s features are simple, and it provides all of the assets you might need to create a fully realized map. Once you get more practice, you can save the map and start adding tweaks with Photoshop. Baby steps!


If you’re stuck mapping out a dungeon,  Pyromancers.com’s Dungeon Painter could be the answer you were looking for. Another flash-based tool, this dungeon builder presents you with a grid, terrain textures, and other necessities to fill out your labyrinthine creations. You can print your maps from the site directly, or save it as a .jpg or .png file so you can add further edits in Photoshop or GIMP. If you need extra inspiration, Pyromancers also has a map archive for all of you lazy map makers.


If you’re a regular redditor, it couldn’t hurt to  add this subreddit to your list of favorites. As the name suggests, it’s more broadly dedicated to world building in general, but you’ll find lots of folks asking for help with maps of all shapes and sizes. Worldbuilding also curates a running list of resources for aspiring fantasy cartographers, along with weekly challenges.


The Cartographer’s Guild is the ultimate resource for RPG cartographers of all skill levels. You’ll find a wealth of tutorials and resources for beginners. And that doesn’t begin to touch on the buzzing community in the forums where members are keen to provide advice, feedback, and inspiration. Once you get a little more experience under your belt, be sure to join in on one of their weekly cartography contests!

What helps you create a great looking map? Give us your tips and tricks below. You never know if the DM you help may be your own.

Featured Image Credit: Grimur via ProFantasy Software Ltd.

This article was originally published on Geek & Sundry.

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