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  • How to make a playing map in 20 minutes (plus printing time)

    When preparing for Cancon 2013 I made a number of photo maps to use with Pacific Theatre scenarios. These maps generated a quite a bit of interest on the part of players and bystanders alike.

    Here then are the steps I use to create these maps:

    Step 1: Access and select the part of the world you want to map. I thought about using WW2 aerial photographs, but the black and white images are not as striking as the colour maps (although they would be atmospheric for night scenarios). In this case the image is of Horn Island, the site of a WW2 Allied airfield in the Arafura Sea between Australia and New Guinea. It was an important staging post and was raided by the Japanese in 1942. The good thing about Horn Island is that it has changed very little since the 1940's. I choose the ground scale to get the feel you are about 25,000 feet up, but if you want a lower altitude then just zoom in until you are happy. Get rid of any labels by deselecting 'Labels' in the Google maps menu on the right hand side of the map. Once you are good to go hit 'Ctrl' + 'Print Screen' to take a screen shot.

    Open a Microsoft Powerpoint document (or other similar 'slide show' type program), then paste the screen shot onto a slide. Crop the image to the size you want for your map.

    Size the image to fit an A4 (or Letter) page.

    Providing you don't go overboard you can stretch the image a little to fit the page.

    You then select the image and 'Save as picture' to your desktop, folder or zip drive, etc, in this case I have named it 'Horn Island Map'.

    Here you have the finished image ready to go to the printer. In Australia I had 1400mm x 1000mm AO poster-sized maps printed on heavy paper at Officeworks for $30-40 each. In dropped the zip drive off and came back two hours later and picked up my new maps. The heavy paper is a great surface for playing the cards. I considered going vinyl but here in Australia for the same size I was looking at $220 a map! You can laminate the maps for an extra $28 which would increase their durability, but as I was going to be taking lots of photographs and the laminate gives a lot of reflection I left them as they were. In any event we played for three full days on the maps at Cancon and they stood up well, just keep the drinks away!

    Here are some other maps I have yet to print:

    New Guinea coast at Buna

    Tobruk harbour, North Africa

    Sollum, North Africa

    Gasmata, New Britain

    With Google maps if you are looking for a particular area but there is are too many '21st Century footprints' you can look around and find a similar piece of topography. I did this for the city of Darwin, which in 1943 was a small town of 2500 people but is now a tropical metropolis of 130,000 people. To represent Darwin in the 1940's I selected the coastal Queensland mining town of Weipa which is a similar size now (2800 people) and has similar topography, an airfield, docks, and harbour.

    Good luck with your map-making!


    This article was originally published in forum thread: How to make a playing map in 20 minutes (plus printing time) started by Carl_Brisgamer View original post