Tutorial: How to do a quick campaign map. Part II: Hexfields

Part II of my tutorial on how to do a quick campaign map, will explain how to add hexfields.

In part 1 of the this tutorial we did the background for our actual map with gimp. In this second part we will focus on adding the real map. I decided to use a hexagonal structure, not just because of its beauty, but also because it is a well established system for campaign maps and works great.

Last time we produced our background file with gimp, the format was 800x600 and gimp usually saves it as a xcf file. The result should like something like this

Where I marked the different layers in this project with a red 'circle'. Now it is time to save our project in a file format that Inkscape can handle. To this end, save the file as a png-file (File -> Save As).

Two dialogues will follow, just proceed. The only thing that you could change is the compression level on the second dialogue. (The higher the compression the smaller the file is, but also the lesser the quality is. For this tutorial I used a compression of 4 or so, for the original map from my block it was 0 or 1. Normally file size does not matter in this days but for the internet smaller files are more convenient, anyway we can change the final file size later.)
The next step will be to import our mapbackground in Inkscape and to start building our actual map.

Importing the map
Start inkscape, and create a new file in the same size as our background was, here 800x600 px. Inkscape usually comes with a template called 'desktop 800x600' which is perfect for us. You will notice that Inkscape is much more intuitive to use than gimp.

Now at this point I should say a word of caution. Every time we import something into Inkscape, it will make use of the original file and thus relies on it, so it is the best way to store the background png-file in the same folder as your inskcape file. In the end after you have exported the finished map file, this file can be put anywhere and is independent of everything else.

Now import the background file (map.png) (File->Import : map.png), the imported file will be placed somewhere. First of all we activate the layer panel by hitting Shift+Ctrl+L or Layers->Layers. And maybe rename the layer by double clicking on its current name. This layer panel will be of great importance for the rest of our tutorial, so always keep an eye on it.

Its time to align the imported file, you can do this by dragging it with the mouse which is way to complicated and inaccurate, instead you can just select it and change its 'x'- and 'y'-coordinate to 0 (zero). (The image file is a two dimensional plane with a Cartesian coordinate system assigned to it, where the origin is placed in the upper left corner, the positive x-axis points to the right and the negative y-axis points down). Take a look at the picture above how to do it.

Adding the hexfields
Now add a new layer by clicking on the '+'-icon in the layer panel. And name that new layer e.g. hexfields. 

In this new layer we now add our first hexfield, for this choose the 'create stars and polygons' tool from the toolbox at the left. In the (change-)panel above, choose the 'regular polygons' and change the number of corners to '6'. 
Now drag a hexagon somewhere, try it maybe several times until you are pleased with the result. Holding the CTRL-key to snap the angle,  makes it much easier for you to align it correctly.

Now we have a single hexagon in some colour. We will change colour and the thickness of the border by first activating the 'Fill and Stroke'-panel (Shift+CTRL+F, Object -> Fill and Stroke).
Now you can change the colour of the filling by choosing a colour in the 'wheel'-tab. I chose some white and reduced the alphavalue a little bit. Click on the 'Stroke style'-tab and change the width to a value you like.

Basically we are done now, all we have to do is to build up our complete hexmap from this one hexfield. To this end, turn on the 'snapping' by clicking the %-key or View->Snap. Select the hexfield and duplicate it with CRTL+D or Edit->Duplicate. 
Now the duplicate lies directly above the original hexfield, select it and drag it with the mouse to a place you want it to be. Make sure that the borders match, like in the picture below, this need a little bit of practice and patience. 

In principle we need to do this now until our map is finished but we can save us some time by constructing first a block of 2, 3 or 4 hexfields and duplicate this block. So duplicate some more hexfields and arrange them like the one before until you think it is enough. Now select all this fields and duplicate them, and do the same with this block now, and so on. For this tutorial I just used the first two hexfields, duplicated them and aligned them under the first two, took the resulting four fields, duplicated them, aligned them and so on. Until it looked something like this

At this point I recognised that the fields are not transparent enough, so select all fields, choose the 'fill and stroke'-panel and change the alphavalue or even the colour a little bit. I changed the opacity, the alphavalue of the strokecolour and finally adjusted the size of the complete hexmap by selecting all of the hexfields and simply drag them to the right size.

That's it. Our hexmap is finished. 

Now if you would like to mark several hexfields according to there owner during the campaign, you could do this by change the colour of individual fields. For this just select the field you would like to change, go to the 'fill and stroke'-panel and change the colour of the field similarly to how we did it for the other fields before. Of course you don't have to change each field individually, you can just select all the fields you want to change and change the colour in the 'fill and stroke'-panel, inscape will then apply this change to all the selected fields. 

As a last step we could add numbers to our hexfields. This is a very easy but tedious task:
Add a new layer and call it e.g. 'hex field numbers'. (You can lock the underlying layers by clicking on the small locks in the layer panel) In this new layer add a text object with the 'create and edit text objects'-tool from the toolbox and type in a number, like '1'. Select it and edit it by clicking on the 'T'-icon or Text->'Text and Font' (Shift+CTRL+T). In the dialogue change the size and font as you please and hit 'apply'.

You can move this number to the desired place on the map and repeat this procedure for all your fields. Thats it! 

To export the file in a file format that is more useful for the internet, use the export tool, FILE->EXPORT BITMAP, select DRAWING and choose a resolution, e.g. 60 or 90 dpi. Now enter a filename like 'map.png' and click export! The higher the resolution the better the quality and the bigger the file will be.

This was part II of my tutorial on how to create a campaign map. Save the file as a SVG file. 

In the next week in part III , I will show how to add a legend and icons to our map.

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