Author Topic: Wonderdraft: a great mapping software  (Read 70 times)

Spritelady

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Wonderdraft: a great mapping software
« on: October 12, 2021, 09:17:47 PM »
I recently began a new Dungeons and Dragons campaign with a group of friends and was looking for a way to make maps of the world, the continents, the towns and everything else in the world. I'd always had trouble with mapping software because they always seemed to fall into one of two camps: either they made you generate every single thing yourself or they randomly generated the entire map with limited capacity for alteration/personalisation. As someone who usually has some pretty specific requirements or ideas for maps I'm making (e.g. I want there to be a church in a certain place or a particular shape of landmass etc) but also don't have the patience/time/imagination to create elements like a realistically shaped coastline that doesn't look overly artificial, this was significantly annoying for me.

Then I discovered Wonderdraft. It costs around £30 (the cost is set in dollars, so the cost in GBP varies), there are no subscriber fees, and it is a brilliant combination of both generated and personalised features for maps. It's best used to make world or area maps, rather than specific buildings or rooms but I have seen it used for all of the above.

There are various features that make this a pretty great mapping software.

Generating landmasses
You can randomly generate landmasses (with some control over the sea level, roughness of the coastline and a few other elements), which creates a map that immediately looks less artificial than those drawn by a person (in my experience). Once you've generated those landmasses, you can then alter them to your liking. You can raise land in particular areas, select how rough you want the coastline to look, erase sections if you don't like how they look and otherwise completely personalise the layout. I tend to use the randomly generated landmasses as a starting point for making my maps. Here are some examples of randomly generated landmass maps, with alterations in the starting parameters:



Generating geographical features
The built in tools allow you to generate lakes and rivers, with various modifiable parameters, as well as draw water freehand and erase it.



You can quickly generate mountain ranges and forests that look realistic but appear in places that you choose. This is because Wonderdraft has a number of different symbols in particular styles for particular objects (such as trees or mountains). When you click and drag to generate multiple copies of the same symbol (eg to create a range of mountains across an area), it randomly cycles through the symbols of the same style, to vary the shapes as you drag the mouse. This makes the finished item look much more interesting than having the same symbol repeated across an area, but also means you can precisely choose where it is you want the mountain range to appear. Here are a few different mountain ranges I generated in different styles:



You can also change how frequently the symbol is dropped as you click and drag (so you can create a sparse mountain range or one that's very dense).

Once you have generated the symbols for a feature, every symbol you've created is personalisable. You can move them, change their size etc. You can also then use the 'paint landmass' tool to colour the symbols. Most of the symbols that come as standard with Wonderdraft are colourable and its not too difficult (even for me, a computing amateur) to alter any symbols that you import from external sources so that they also pick up the colour of the land they're dropped onto (more on importing external symbols below!).



Importing symbols
Wonderdraft comes with a number of symbols for trees, mountains, buildings, city markers etc. But you can also add in symbol packs that you download from other sources. I particularly like using either 2 minute tabletop (https://2minutetabletop.com/gallery/) or Cartography Assets (https://cartographyassets.com/asset-category/symbols/), both of which have a variety of symbol packs (both free and paid). Once you've downloaded them, you can copy them into the files that Wonderdraft loads when it opens, granting you access to all the symbols you downloaded. You can also then open the symbols as text files and edit them, allowing you to make them pick up the colour of the land underneath among other changes.

Useful features
There are several really useful features of this tool that you can use when making maps.

You can select an area of a map and then turn that into a map in its own right, copying across all the symbols, paths and other features from the original. This is great when you want to make a more detailed map of a particular part of a larger map (like a map of a particular continent from an overworld view).

You can place coloured overlays to mark out territories, areas of influence, or anything else you can think of.



You can specify a scale for the map, including units, and not only does that let you include a reference marker for distance but there is also a tool that will then allow you to measure any distance across the map in those units. I've found this very handy as I don't like using hexes or similar on larger maps, as I think it ruins the aesthetic of them, but do often want to know how long it will take my DnD party to reach a town or cross a forest.

Maps I made
I've used Wonderdraft to make a world map for my campaign. Feel free to let me know what you think of them!



I've also used it to make maps of specific areas within those maps. This is the map of the continent containing two major civilisations: Amphictyonis and Bryniau.


Jubal

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Re: Wonderdraft: a great mapping software
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2021, 03:08:33 PM »
This is neat :) I particularly like the potential uses of subsection-level mapping, being able to do different "zoom levels" without accidentally radically changing the land shape from the top level is quite a tricky one for me.

Am I right in thinking you can use one feature to draw another in this? (E.g. there's an easy way to decide that a river will be a country border and not shade over it)?
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