Thursday, June 23, 2011

Playing with Hexographer

I spent a few hours playing around with the free version of Hexographer and produced the following rough map of the area explored in the Dwimmermount campaign.
I'm still learning my way around Hexographer, so I've undoubtedly made quite a number of beginner's errors, but I'm fairly pleased with my effort nonetheless. It's a very useful little program, especially for guys like me who can't draw worth a damn. I may have to shell out for the pro version, because this is the first mapping program I've ever felt comfortable using.

19 comments:

  1. I've been using the free version for my area maps too, although it runs slow on my poor outdated computer, and I find it a bit clunky as a result. But it's a good tool, and I plan on getting the Pro version once I've got a new computer to go with it.

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  2. Does it support other types of hexmap -- such as post-apocalyptic rad wastes or Traveller-type sector maps -- or is it just for the type of map above?

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  3. Hexographer supports both post-apocalyptic mapping, as well as Traveller-style hexes. There are quite a few different icon sets available for it, so it's remarkably flexible.

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  4. I've been using Hexographer and Dungeonographer for a few months now, and even though they have plenty of warts, they're by far the best mapping software I've used -- not because they produce brilliant gorgeous maps, but because it hasn't felt like I needed to spend a huge chunk of my life learning to use them. Making maps for my campaigns has improved the campaigns substantially, too, as both the players and I can get a better grasp on distance, terrain, and so on.

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  5. they're by far the best mapping software I've used -- not because they produce brilliant gorgeous maps, but because it hasn't felt like I needed to spend a huge chunk of my life learning to use them.

    That's exactly my feeling as well. I know there are "better" programs out there that produce prettier and/or more realistic maps, but I have neither the time nor the mental capacity to grasp them as easily as I've grasped Hexographer.

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  6. I bought Hexographer after trying to use a few different map programs for a while. It's fast to learn as you said, but it's also flexible, easy to get the scale right, easy to trace with and since it's Java, runs on any modern platform.

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  7. Wow, I just created an old school map in like 15 minutes. I love doing maps using Photoshop but it's extremely time consuming. I figure I can do the map in Hexographer and import into Photoshop or Illustrator for some tweaking. Great stuff.

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  8. Yeah I've played around with the free version too and found it pretty useful...

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  9. Anyone who is a fan of the old first/original edition era maps should check this program out. Even if you are a fine artist who can draw beautiful maps Hexographer is a fast and easy way to make rough drafts for regions.

    Whenever I get around to running a Kingmaker campaign I know I'll get a lot of use out of Hexographer.

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  10. I use a free plugin for gimp called hexgimp. Maps look similar to the one posted here. I'm not sure how user friendly it is to people. I see it as just ... select the hex tile, put it on the hex provided. But I suspect gimp would put some people off since its a full image editing program, like photoshop.

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  11. Thanks all for the kind words on Hexographer. If you've got a specific wart that you'd like me to address, please post a comment about it, post on the hexographer website forum, or email me. (Address is in the software's about dialog.)

    There is a large built-in icon set (some accomodate modern/post-apoc settings). But if you have requests for specific additions, let me know. And the pro version lets you add more.

    There are also icons for some unit types: ancient soldiers, knights, modern soldiers, tanks, jets, or even dinosaurs and dragons. Using them and the "feature decoration" functionality (right click a hex after placing a unit or city/castle/village/etc in it to add numbers/text to the "corners" of the hex) you can even use it for a hex-based wargame.

    Here's a funny true story about how easy it is to use: a couple months ago, my 5 year old was teaching my 3 year old how to use it.

    Also here's a mini-tutorial for creating a map in the 1st edition world of greyhawk poster map style: http://inkwellideas.com/2010/12/making-1st-edition-world-of-greyhawk-style-maps-in-hexographer/

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  12. I can't believe you think that *looks* ok. To me it is extremely ugly. I don't mean your rendition, I mean anything produced with that software. Hex grids should be overlaid on freely drawn sprawling features with spillage and fractional coverage. Hex maps are dreadful when an entire hex is always a complete unit of terrain.

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  13. "To me it is extremely ugly...Hex grids should be overlaid on freely drawn sprawling features with spillage and fractional coverage. Hex maps are dreadful when an entire hex is always a complete unit of terrain."--Kent

    That ugliness -- abstract simplification -- makes maps more easily useful in actual game play.

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  14. I use MS Word 2007 for all my Hex maps and love every minute I spend doing them (I might even map James's landscapes and send him one in the D&D style just to mess with him) but yes I do agree that there is an inherent ugliness to maps that use repeating symbols with a Vertical Orientation. Frankly If I ever work out how to do it with word I will use proper cartography symbolism from my manual on Cartography. That will be applied to areas, rather than hexes.

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  15. "I can't believe you think that *looks* ok."

    To each their own. I like it. But again, a 1st ed world of greyhawk hex map (where most terrain types don't match hex borders) is almost as easy in Hexographer using the instructions at web address I posted above.

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  16. Joe, I didn't realise the author was knocking around. Im not saying the software is not a nifty piece of work, generously put out there for others to play with and clearly popular with gamers. I am saying that I don't think the end product is an improvement on a map someone scribbling with pen on paper could produce using an acetate sheet with hexes on it if required.

    So I think its a nice piece of work you've done but I wouldn't trust a DM who used it at a gametable. 'To each their own', sure.

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  17. Kent:
    No offense taken or meant toward your view. Some people like that style for almost the reasons you dislike it. Some find it to be particularly useful especially when it the map covers a smaller area and the specific terrain of each hex is needed for game rules/tactics.

    And as I said, while Hexographer makes this style map by default and as a corollary makes the related functionality easiest... it isn't hard to switch to "map items" in the software to pull off maps where terrain icons aren't neatly confined to one and only one hex.

    But again, no offense taken or intended.

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  18. No strong opinion on how the map was made or what it looks like, but I was surprised and happy to see the cursed chateau on it.

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  19. I was surprised and happy to see the cursed chateau on it.

    Pretty much everything I've ever written for OD&D on this blog or elsewhere has a its origins in my Dwimmermount campaign, including The Cursed Chateau. I'm not a believer in creation for its own sake, preferring to hold off on detailing things until there is a genuine need.

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