Introduction: DIY Professional-quality D&D Maps
Let's face it: Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) can be an insanely expensive hobby. After you've invested in all the books,dice, miniatures,maps, tiles, and whatever else you might need, you can easily spend anywhere from 20-200+ dollars. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to lessen the dent in your wallet. One of the biggest money sinks are maps and tiles.You're basically paying anywhere from 10-20 bucks for sheets of perforated cardboard and paper. Fortunately, making your own is a relatively easy process if you know what you're doing. If you're willing to invest an hour or two of work,you can make maps or tiles that rival the quality of the Wizards of the Coast variaty at a fraction of the price.
Step 1: Get Materials
You'll need a computer, of course. Since you're reading this, I'll just assume you have one already.
If you already have Photoshop or a similar image editing package, discount this step entirely. However, if you don't,then you'll need to download a package off the internet. MS paint is NOT good enough for what we want. I suggets getting paint.NET. It's one of the best packages on the market,and it's totally free. You can download it at http://www.getpaint.net/
A printer is a very important part of the process. If you don't own one, there is almost always usable computers and printers at your local library. You'll of course also need some printer paper as well.
If you own or have acess to a laminator machine, then you'll be able to make your maps last significantly longer. If you don't, though, it's not a big problem.
Step 2: Get Paint.NET Ready
Once you have the software downloaded and installed, start it up and click File>New. A pop-up box will appear and ask you to input some settings. When you've set them,press OK to load up a blank white document.
Step 3: Draw Out a Grid
Using the 'draw rectangle' tool, make several one-inch squares. It helps to turn on the ruler tool to do this. Make sure to account for a margin on the page-otherwise, your grid may come out too large or too small when you print it out.If you have trouble making the squares, holding shift while dragging the mouse ensures perfect squares. Alternatively, you can simply use this premade sheet.
Step 4: Get Textures.
This step is entirely optional,but boy does it make maps look cool. I reccommend putting some sort of texture on your grid's spaces to make it look more professional. There are two ways to add textures. The first method is to draw your own. The second is to rip textures off the internet. There are hundreds of sites full of images that you can use. I personally use http://www.cgtextures.com/. All their materials are availible for free public and commercial use. Simply paste some images into the document and scale them down to the appropriate size. When you're satisfied with what you have,move on.
Step 5: Finishing Up
After you've finished making the images, print them out onto paper.Make sure that you've double-checked the margin size-otherwise the squares will be either too large or too small. If you want the map/ tileset to last, it is highly suggested that you laminate them. If you make a tileset, laminate the tiles first before you cut them with a pair of scissors. For maps, just laminate and be done. However, if you just need to use them once for a quick skirmish or a short level, then by all means skip laminating.