Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Building Campaign Maps with Google and Gimp

My campaign has been in hiatus for a few months now while I've been playing Alesmiter; so my batteries are recharged and I'm ready to start planning the next round of adventures.  One of the decisions I've made is to move the campaign location from North Africa to Eprius Nova, the area which we now call Albania.  It gives me adventuring areas closer to an urban center.  Time to make a new map.

I'm using a new technique to make the maps, snapshots of Google maps areas, cleaned up and stitched together using GIMP.  I'm not a GIMP expert by any means, but I've been able to figure out how to do things with it fairly easily.  I'm running a campaign set in a fantasy Roman Republic, just after the fall of Carthage and about 90 years before Gaius Julius Caesar invades Gaul.  So Google Maps can be used to build my campaign world.  Of course, any large scale (small area) fantasy setting could be mapped over piece of the real world terrain using these techniques.

Getting the image - I opened Google Maps to Albania at the 5 mile scale and took a snapshot on my tablet.
I saved the image off onto my laptop and opened it in GIMP.

I used Google Maps - Terrain mode because it gives me an effect I like better than the plain Satellite view or the Earth view.  It does have a limitation in that I can't turn labels off in this view.  So I'll have to deal with them later.  The first thing I'll do is crop the control bars on the top and bottom of the image. 

The cross hairs on the pointer (not shown) identify a point on the image, by hovering over the top of the lower control bar, the pointer location circled in the bottom corner of the screen shows that it's at pixel 752.  Similarly I used the pointer to find the bottom of the top control bar, at pixel 58.  752 -58 gives us an image height of 694.

 Using Image -> Canvas Size from the menu I reach this dialog

Click on the chain icon (1) to decouple the image Width and Height, as we don't need to trim the ends.  Set the desired image height (2).  Set your offset from the top of the image (3) - not sure why the value '58' didn't get captured here.  Select to resize All Layers (4), click Center (5) and then Resize (6).  And you have successfully trimmed your image.

In my next post I'll cover techniques for getting rid of those pesky labels, modern roads and borders from the image.

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