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Creating quick dungeon maps with layer styles by torstan Creating quick dungeon maps with layer styles by torstan
Using Layer Effects and Blend Modes to create quick dungeons

Last week I posted a short tutorial on using grids in Photoshop to create a quick dungeon map ([link]). The last panel of that tutorial showed a dungeon map with some layer effects added to give it a little pop. Today I'm going through the layer effects I used to show how it's done.

A note of caution on layer modes - they can easily be over used and if you turn them all the way up to 11 then they'll scream their presence to anyone looking at your map. Bang them in at full opacity, then dial them down to create a more integrated effect.

1. After last week's tutorial you should have a nice floorplan for your dungeon map. First find a nice neutral background with some slight textural variation to it. Paper and stone textures are good for this (try [link]). I've placed the floorplan on a new layer and changed it's colour to light blue ( #868ba6 for those that want to reproduce this in PS or Gimp). You can change the colour of a floorplan by locking the transparency of the layer (first of the four Lock options at the top of the Layers panel) and then fill with a colour (Edit->Fill, or option/Alt + delete to fill wth the foreground colour.

Finally I've set the blend mode of the layer to colour burn. Notice how the texture of the layer behind is clearly visible? The colour and tone difference separate the walls cleanly from the background, but the texture keeps the whole thing unified.

2. Here's the map with a couple of layer effects added. To access the layer effects panel double click the layer in the Layers window, or with the layer selected go to Layer->Layer Style->Blending Options... Here I've added a 2px stroke in black at 100% opacity to clearly delineate the walls (they are important after all).

I've also added a black outer glow with a blend mode of overlay and an opacity of 75%. Notice how the walls now separate from the floors and you get a sense of depth.

3. The shadows aren't quite deep enough, but rather than bump up the outer glow I add a drop shadow with no offset (offset drop shadows imply directional light, and I don't want that impression inside a dungeon - light sources should be in the rooms, not outside shining across the map). The drop shadow here is dark brown and has a blend mode of color burn with 75% opacity. That gives some great over saturated shadows and really dark nooks and crannies.

Finally I've added an inner glow. This highlights the edges of the wall, and contrasts with the dark shadows. I've used an inner glow in white with a blend mode of overlay, 40% opacity and a size of 50px (half a square).

I this case I've avoided using any Normal, multiply or screen blend modes (other than for the stroke). These modes mask the underlying texture, whereas the overlay and colour burn blend modes combine with it. I want the texture to unify the layout and provide some visual variation throughout the map.

Play around with the different options. Inner glow, outer glow, drop shadow and inner shadow give you lots of options for creating edge effects around an area. Once you've found something you like, click the New Style... button in the layer effects palette and give it a name. Now you can apply this layer style to any future selection by going to the Styles item on the left hand list and finding it again.

These skills don't just work for dungeon layouts, but also for text effects, logo design and much more. It's really worth the time to dig in and get to know the layer effects panel.

For Gimp users, there aren't any layer modes. However if you have a floorplan you have a selection. This selection then allows you to use filters such as drop shadow, which mean you can replicate all the effects here very easily by a combination of layers. You can also use Stroke Selection to create the stroke in step 2.

As ever, feel free to share this if it's useful and let me know if anything doesn't make sense. Previous tips can be found here: [link]
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Qoff Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2016
Are you still active Sir? I'm thinking that I'm doing something wrong here, could we exchange e-mails?
johnvillar Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2012
Gonna implement this style on my automapper... should look great on it :) Thanks a lot for this tut
torstan Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2012
You're welcome! I'd love to see the results.
WhoDrewThis Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2012  Professional General Artist
I really should spend more time traling through your tutorials. :D
torstan Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2012
Let me know what steps don't make sense. I'm guessing I'll have screwed up here and there.
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Submitted on
January 17, 2012
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