[D&D 4E] 3D Map Construction / Modeling

Servo2000Servo2000 Registered User
edited May 2009 in Critical Failures
I have no idea if I'm creating this thread correctly and I tried running a search but nothing came up so I do apologize thoroughly - if someone can point to a prior thread please do so!

Essentially I've more-or-less completed writing a campaign and I'm currently looking into painting maps for several of the encounters. However, I'm looking to do a little more than the flat little campaign tiles - at the moment, I'm thinking I'll probably use layers of foamcore to cut the cartography / heights by layering them and the some level of detailing / furniture / structures, etc...

However, I'm wondering if anyone knows of good reference or anyone else whose done this sort of thing? I'm just running into some problems, for instance do all edges have to be squared off when changing heights to allow for the figures to sit in their 1" by 1" squares? I was also thinking about buildings - I know in some campaigns characters have ended up on their roofs for instance but it seems that they can't be particularly slanted to keep them from sliding.

I'm wondering if the way that makes the most sense is to design them like the encounters in the Final Fantasy Tactics series of games - i.e. everything except for environment details squared off.


Anyway, just looking for some input / ideas / reference, anything that comes to mind.

Much appreciated!

Servo2000 on


  • tomas246tomas246 Registered User
    edited April 2009
    I like what you are thinking about here. I too have been thinking of creating more elaborate environmental maps. If you have listened to the D&D Wizards Pod Cast, where Penny Arcade, PvP and Writer Wil Wheaton are playing in Chris Perkin's D&D game (Series 2 Pod Cast), during the 3rd episode (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/4pod/20090304), you hear the players gasp as Perkins reveals an environment that is very much like the one you are talking about. Wheaton describes a little bit about what the board looks like, so maybe it can provide some insight. It is only audio though.

    From the sound of it, Perkins used dungeon tiles embedded into a foam core environment. Any environment you build, in my opinion, doesn't necessarily have to fit to specifications, as any environment is merely the concept of what is involved with the story. For that reason, I feel that if you are more interested in creating a visually enticing environment, that you don't have to square everything off - as long as you can describe things well enough to the players, I don't think it needs to be exact in all places of the map.

    If you don't mind putting small holes into the environment, you can try attaching small pins to the miniatures. Otherwise you might want to test out various types of clear plastic from Home Depot. Some plastics will stick together well enough without leaving the sticky mess found on tape and other adhesives.

    For places without the guiding grid marks, maybe have areas around that part of the environment to reference where the landing space for the miniatures might be.

    Let me know how it goes!

    tomas246 on
    Humans are still animals D:
  • Servo2000Servo2000 Registered User
    edited April 2009
    Thanks Tomas - appreciate the suggestions. I'll definitely have to give that podcast another listen!

    The solution I'm working with generally now is sort of a "balance" between squared off edges (for easy placement) and environment. First off in some places I'm 'cheating' movement by inserting 1/4" spaces between the two 1" x 1" landing spaces whenever there's a change in heigh where environment can change or shift without concern for player characters to add interest but in terms of play the game will act as if there's no space between the two places - other than height differences, of course.

    For some parts I'll also probably do it like the Dwarven Forge stuff where landing spaces are implied but not necessarily perfect 1" x 1" for example:

    The Dwarven Forge stuff stuff has been really helpful for reference - does anyone know of anyone else doing stuff along these lines? I'm looking for reference more than anything so the more the better since price isn't an object since I'm making it myself.

    Servo2000 on
  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    Consider sticky tack to keep minis on uneven tiles.

    Also, take 20 minutes or so to sit down and realistically work out how much you're going to be spending on all of this and how much time it will take you. If it isn't truly a labour of love.. you might be better off just buying dwarven forge stuff.

    Figgy on
    XBL : Figment3 · SteamID : Figment · Website : www.nathanswyers.com
  • Servo2000Servo2000 Registered User
    edited May 2009
    I'm afraid I don't have a good camera so it won't pick up any information but so far I've laid it out with a 1/4 thick sheets of foam-core with a particular sort of papery-texture that they have at a local art store - cutting it up I've laid it out as a topography with an extra 1/4" at edges where I wanted to cheat and add some extra detail. To add texture and make the topography changes appear less abrupt I've been working Liquitex Modeling paste. Some sites suggested using Hydrocal and then using sheets of plaster fabric to texture and coat but so far Modeling Paste has been much more malleable and easy to form and gives a much better and less "consistent" texture than plaster. I've found that it makes sculpting general stones and whatnot quite simple as you can cut general foam shapes and then coat in modeling paste.

    Are Dwarven Forge really the only guys doing this sort of thing?

    Servo2000 on
  • streeverstreever Registered User regular
    edited May 2009
    dwarven forge... and YOU :) No, I don't know actually, but this sounds really exciting. I think I could speak for everyone when I say take pictures anyway. I'm really curious to see what you have done!

    streever on
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