Makin’ a Hex Grid.

Draw a line.
Copy and Paste the line and Rotate the new line 120 degrees.
Copy and Paste the Rotated line and Rotate that new line 120 degrees.
Bring those lines together.
Copy and Paste that contraption a few times. This would also be the time to put in some numbers if you’re going to need a numbered grid.
Copy and Paste that, stack it, then edit it to create this pattern.
Go crazy.

There are many ways to create a Hex Grid, the easiest is to snag one. You could copy paste hexes made in Illustrator and have a fun time trying to arrange them to form a grid. There’s another Illustrator way to measure the length of various parts of the hex and use two or three Transform Effects to create a grid–haven’t tried that–but, for the regular “I don’t really know what I’m doing with my life” kind of a guy like myself, these 7 steps is way to go.

If you need to number all these damn hexes, gods have mercy upon you. Align the number during Step 5. After the grid is created you will have to edit the text and re-number everything, but if you did it right, the alignment should be correct throughout that beast… that’s something at least.

The Wacom USB Port

I picked up the Wacom Intuos 5 a long time ago when my ancient Graphire 4 died. All my gear is old, my computer is a late 2009 iMac and I should have replaced it 6 years ago with a new model etch a sketch. I have an abacus that is newer. While the poor state of my computer is an article for another time, I’d like to talk about what to do if you’ve broke your Wacom in the same exact way I broke mine. It’s an extremely common problem.

The chances are good that you have or will break the USB port if you use one of these things.

Now, some people have had success in resoldering the USB port, but there’s a chance that trying that will brick the tablet. Since I only know how to solder copper pipes together, I was not going to try it myself. Also, no electronic repair guy would touch mine.

Here’s the best solution: buy a new one. If that’s not in the cards, and it wasn’t for me, this is what you can do and it still invovles buying a few items.

Wacom Wireless Accessory Kit

Wireless kit. If your Wacom USB port is broken and will not talk to your computer you will need this.

Now. The wireless kit comes with a battery, and the battery normally charges via the USB cable, through the port that is BROKEN! So…

Onite Universal Battery Charger

Battery Charger. You will need something like this for the battery. The universal chargers have little adjustable prongs on the side and a spring loaded slider to grip the battery in place. It’ll charge any kind of cell phone style battery, I’ve charged camera batteries when the damn proprietary charging cord has been lost to gods knows where.

One headache of the variety that probably only happens to me was that the first charger I bought never showed up in the mail. POOF. VANISHED. Was never found. Amazon, the battery charger company and USPS were unable to do anything. The second charger I bought–different company–was defective, but I was eventually sent a replacement and a refund as a bribe to remove my negative comments.

Now I did look for these kinds of chargers locally. I couldn’t find them anywhere. Your luck might be different, but I had to go online.

Probably a fire hazard.

On a full charge the battery lasts as long I can stand to sit in one place and work on my maps… which is a long time. With any battery is a good idea to only charge it when it gets low… there’s something called “battery memory” that kills the life span if reutinely charged before they’re completely dead. Or so my dad says. Who knows. I charge mine over night every so often and pray for the best.

I suppose I’ll write article on my other computer problems. I might explain why my keyboard is in a shadowboard made of foam that you would normally only see in roll around toolboxes. Short answer: cats are assholes.

His Royal Fluffiness, Joey XVIII

When the Notes Change…

Hello! I am Bryan G. McWhirter, and since this is one of my first blog posts, I’ll introduce myself a little. I am a freelance cartographic illustrator and my maps have been published by New Comet Games, Dire Corgi Games, Adventure A Week, BAEN, and TOR. My work can be seen in D.J. Butler’s Witchy Winter, Dragon Awards finalist 2018, and Ben Burns’ Devil’s Swamp, Three Castles RPG Design Award Winner 2019. My maps are also featured in Kevin J. Anderson’s new release Spine of the Dragon.

Last month I received the notes and rough sketches for the Citadel of Terror maps. I had a city shared by Gnomes and Halflings, a city in ruins, and a tower. The cities were fairly straight forward, however the tower offered a challenge. The roughs for the tower had square levels, four corners. The cover art depicted a round tower, no corners. I was asked to make the necessary changes so that the cartography matched the art, but stayed as faithful to the notes as possible. Mental gymnastics were in order.

The Roughs

The first thing I had to do was figure out how the rooms were going to be transmogrified. I couldn’t just make the outside a cirlce and keep the rooms as they are, there would be problems with either scale or cropping. I had to figure out how to rearange the layout. So I created a template.

The Template

This guide allowed me to recreate the rooms in an orderly manner and would make matching up the stairs a lot easier. Not all the levels were complex, but the guide allowed for the simple levels to match the style of the floors that demanded a more complex layout. The key to making this work was figuring out the stairs.

The New Roughs

From the template, and a lot of staring at the original notes, I was able to figure out how to make the stairs work. It wasn’t a simple wrap around spiral staircase… I wish it was, but it wasn’t. By the notes, the room to the right of the top left corner had to be the stairs leading second floor. The notes for Tower First Floor had “To Basement” squeezed in a similarly positioned room. The next step was to wrap the rooms around the edges and to figure out what that one symbol I marked at “?” was supposed to be… it was a bathtub.

Phase 2 Sketches

Once I got all the Floors looking like this, I sent the page in Ben Burns at New Comet Games to make sure I was on the right track. After a “Looks good and that thing is a bathtub…” I started adding in the color and detail.

Final

After all that, I think it came out looking pretty good. If you missed the kickstarter, you can pre-order Citadel of Terror over at New Comet Games.

From Roughs to Final

If you are in need of maps for tabletop roleplaying games, novels, and so forth, I am open for commisions. Please send me an email at bryan@cartography.games.

Heck of a Week!

Kevin J. Anderson’s Spine of the Dragon came out last Tuesday! The first thing I did was use my monthly Audible credit to download the audiobook. Fleet Cooper, the narrator, is outstanding. The second thing I did was drive to the closest Barnes & Nobel to check out the book! The maps came out great.

Thursday I went to NTRPGCon to take a look at the New Comet Games books I had worked on in the past year, Devil’s Swamp, Operation Deep Free & Thunderclap, and Operation Arctic Blast. Everything came out excellent. I stayed to help with the booth when Ben Burns was running a game.

Friday I played an updated version of 1986 Aliens board game and survived being grabbed 8 different times on Apone and Wierzbowski in the reactor room. At one point I had mentioned that for a licensed game from the 80s, this is a pretty good game. They were quick to point out what the original game components looked like. The minis and 3d printed terrain that we were playing with added a huge amount of production value. The key is to lead with flamethrowers and trail with smart-guns, block spawn points with flames and stay close. I was awarded a M-40 Grenade for my series of lucky dice rolls.

“You always were an asshole, Gorman”

Saturday morning I was at Alyssa Faden’s City and Towns Mapping Seminar. She pointed out a lot of good stuff about adding details that tell a story to maps and explained why a city with a thousand little squares gets boring really fast. Check her out on Twitch. Look for the Tegel Manor Torture Room video its a riot!

Saturday night I received the news that Devil’s Swamp won the Three Castles RPG Design Award! Everyone did a great job on it from the writing, art, layout, editing, it truly is a great product and I’m glad it is getting the recognition that it deserves. Congratulations to Ben Burns, Brian Courtemanche, Christopher Smith Adair, Jonathan Bagelman, Evgeni Maloshenkov, Lucas Puryear, Elizabeth Bakowski, Alexander Burns, and Jenna Bastian. And I didnt do such a bad job on those maps either. Bidgewater is one of my favorites.

Sunday I meant to drive up to SoonerCon, but the weather was not good. A huge storm system came down from Oklahoma City to Dallas and probably spawned a tornado. There was no way that I was going to drive through that so I stayed home. We lost power for about a day and a half.