Help support TMP

"Drawing Maps - novice seeks help" Topic

14 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Maps Message Board

Back to the Wargaming in General Message Board

1,146 hits since 27 Mar 2016
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

GreenLeader27 Mar 2016 5:09 p.m. PST

Any advice on the right software / tools for drawing decent quality military maps of colonial era battles / campaigns in Southern Africa?

A friend has recommended Corel Draw any thoughts on that? I don't even know where to start, alas is Corel Draw basically like the old 'Paint' program? Do I just use a normal mouse, or need some sort of fancy 'pen mouse'?

Anyway to import maps from the likes of Google Earth into these programs, to use as the start point? Though I don't think these have an option to display contour lines?

Basically: any and all suggestions / ideas would be helpful.

Oberlindes Sol LIC27 Mar 2016 5:14 p.m. PST

You should be able to find software specifically for making maps.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian27 Mar 2016 5:16 p.m. PST

Cartography is great subject.

How detailed a map do you want?
Paint and a regular mouse are fine, unless you are going for great detail. You can import a picture from Google Earth by using the Snipping Tool to screenshot what you want, saved the image and then bring into Paint to edit.

Start simple

Ben Lacy Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Mar 2016 5:23 p.m. PST


Take a look at this site. I used them for quite a while.

Personal logo sillypoint Supporting Member of TMP27 Mar 2016 5:49 p.m. PST

What period? What scale? What is it to be used for? I may be able to trade/swap some pdfs.
I'm doing second anglo-afghan wars. Using Science vs. Pluck, so its kinda role play and you may encounter the enemy and you may need a map of the general area and you have 15 minutes to send orders out -

The G Dog Fezian Inactive Member27 Mar 2016 7:35 p.m. PST

drawing decent quality military maps of colonial era battles / campaigns in Southern Africa

What's the purpose of the map? Illustration in a book? Guide to setting up a miniature wargame? Each have different requirements and display a different image.

Wargames maps need to be focused on setting up all the relevant terrain and starting locations for troops on the game table. They can be fairly simple black and white line drawings.

An illustration for a book or article needs to convey the elements discussed in the text and place it in the context of the surrounding space. Again, no need for color.

Maps available for a campaign would vary wildly depending on the area ranging from detailed engineer surveys through a sketch on the back of a letter with a few notes. Detailed Ordnance Systemic survey maps of South Africa were not compiled until the Second World War (though smaller bits surely existed for things such as railway engineering surveys and they like).

T Labienus Supporting Member of TMP28 Mar 2016 2:34 a.m. PST

Some tutorials on this site :


and some interresting maps on both site :


GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Mar 2016 3:00 a.m. PST

CorelDraw is a vector graphics application so images are drawn as lines and shapes and filled with appropriate colours and/or patterns as you wish. They can be easily moved and modified individually or in groups and the whole image can be re-scaled with no loss of accuracy or image quality.

Any vector application is suitable for map drawing and is generally much easier to use to produce quality maps. Bitmap graphic applications (like Paint) can do simple maps easily but start to struggle when you need to modify or correct them or when they need to be complicated. Most bitmap apps do have some vector capabilities but they are much more limited than true vector apps such as CorelDraw.

You can get a student/home version of CorelDraw considerably cheaper than the full version. I've used CD for many years, including on maps for publication, and would strongly recommend it.

Ottoathome Inactive Member28 Mar 2016 4:56 a.m. PST

GildasFacit hit the nail on the head. Corel Draw is the best if you are drawing maps. I use it all the time and it's the best money I ever spent.

However before you get into it and the considerable learning curve, ask yourself some hard questions. The first of which is 'do you need a map?" In most cases you don't. I draw far less maps than I used to simply because I realized there was no need for them.

Most maps used for campaigns aren't. You draw them and no on uses them and all your eye-candy and work to make it is lost. Now I run campaigns simply by players telling me their intentions and what they want to do in secret and then plotting out the battles from the interstection of these intentions.

freewargamesrules Inactive Member28 Mar 2016 5:21 a.m. PST

If you can't afford CorelDraw then another excellent Vector Drawing program that is free and open source is Inkscape. It's available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Stryderg28 Mar 2016 6:34 a.m. PST

You can check out AutoRealm. Designed more for RPG maps. But the price is nice (free).

GreenLeader28 Mar 2016 11:37 a.m. PST

Thanks to all for the advice and suggestions.

Re. Google Earth / Google Maps – is is possible to display contours on either of these? I use Google Maps a great deal, but have not been aware of being able to display contours.

I imagine snipping and pasting this into (eg) CorelDraw must be fairly straight forward, though I am not entirely sure how to do it! I will have to find a teenager to ask.

I downloaded Inkscape, and am slowly working my way through the tutorials – it all looks a lot more complex than I had hoped, I must admit…

steve186508 Apr 2016 5:43 p.m. PST

Where can I get maps laminated?
there used to be places ,but I can't find any in NYC area/

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP14 Apr 2016 12:12 p.m. PST

You can do it yourself using clear Contact Paper, found in the kitchen section of Wal-Mart, and other suppliers. It is available in either matte clear, or high gloss clear. Rolls are less than $10. USD

Measure how much you will need, then unroll it, cut it, and then peel and apply it to both sides, letting it extend beyond the edges of the map. Cut the edges as desired. It works well if you slightly overlap pieces along their edges. Try to remove air bubbles without resorting to using a pin… If you poke a hole in the covering, it will be susceptible to water damage at that spot, if it gets wet.

For more information on how to use Contact Paper, try searching the Internet. I used it to cover my AD&D hard cover books, back in 1980, and they still look nearly pristine, today, with over 30 years of handling, reading, and usage!

I've used this technique on road maps used for motorcycle touring, in the rain. My maps stayed dry beneath the plastic, and they are much more durable, and immune to being folded, and other rough handling. Cheers!

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.