Drawing Your Map Layout: The First Pencil Stroke

Discussion in 'Mapping Questions & Discussion' started by StoneFrog, Jun 28, 2009.

  1. StoneFrog

    StoneFrog L6: Sharp Member

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    I'm curious as to how many of you start drawing the initial layouts for your maps since I've hit a snag with my super-top-secret project (the only thing you know about it is that it'll probably never be finished, like all my other maps). :sleep:

    Anyway, I was wondering what you guys do. Do you just "go with it" and start sketching out random paths? Do you start with a silhouette of your map's playable area and then fill it in? Do you imagine one "landmark" or other part of the map in your head and then draw off of and around that? Or are you one of those people who has everything they want already in their head, plain and simple.

    I usually (this is when conceptualizing environment) get a "still image" in my head of something in my map. A certain control point, a secret passage, even the spawn rooms. Then I start drawing off of that, imagining what would go well around this one image.
  2. Gaw

    Gaw L4: Comfortable Member

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    I formulate a general idea of the map, say if it was a shopping centre, I would think of features to do with it, like if I was going to put enterable shops in it etc.

    Then I would sketch it irl and then just build it really :p
  3. pitto

    pitto L3: Member

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    What I've been doing for my payload race layouts is sketching ideas when I get board at uni.

    What I try to get down is where the middle of the map is (focus point where the paths cross) and the main geometry around it.

    From the middle I will draw out the path of one to it's capture area, and while I am doing all this I am thinking about where people spawn etc.

    Although once I am in hammer changes will still happen when I come to actually making it, and this didn't really work for stage B for my alpha 1 of plr_solitude (some of you may have been there to play the epic ~25min round till it was finally won)
    Alpha 2 is coming soon btw (now with C, new B and currently reworking A layout)
  4. Acegikmo

    aa Acegikmo

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    My workflow is usually something like this:
    First I think of a general idea and a theme for the map. Then I grab a pencil and a paper and start drawing a layout. I usually start with where I had my main idea of the map, which is usually the centre of the map. When I'm finished with my layout I scan it and open it in photoshop. I then improve the image and replace everything with lines drawn digitally. Then I further analyze the layout to predict possible flaws in it. After I'm happy with the layout I usually color it to easier see what everything is for enyone viewing the layout.

    So, in simple steps:
    • Think it
    • Draw it
    • Scan it
    • Trace it
    • Change it
    • Color it
    • Save it

    The list goes on here:
    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amRtD-4aNyA"]YouTube - Daft Punk Technologic[/ame]
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  5. The Political Gamer

    aa The Political Gamer

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  6. Fraz

    aa Fraz Blu Hatte, Greyscale Backdrop.

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    When I sketch stuff, I just kinda do it as fast as possible, not taking too much care with scale. This is just to get a roungh outline of the main things. (Blocks for buildings, not showing any detail whatsoever) I then start thinking where high, mid, and lowground will be and split the map up that way (for outdoor areas) I then add symbols for stairs, cps and stuff. It will usually be really badly proportioned.

    I then go into hammer and map it as fast as possible, while trying to keep to some scale. I then work from these huge blocks, and I turn them into buildings. etc etc
  7. Rexy

    aa Rexy The Kwisatz Haderach

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    No matter what you do, it's gotta start in your head first. You've got to know what you want to achieve first before you do it--you have to be excited about it, that's the major motivation. That conceptualization has to then center around what you want, that's what helps me draw a layout for the map. It also helps scaling and distance/travel issues right off the bat.
  8. Fraz

    aa Fraz Blu Hatte, Greyscale Backdrop.

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    Also, I use music as an inspiration. I look at song titles and wiki them and see if anything comes up. If it does, I'm like w00t and get drawing.
  9. Shmitz

    aa Shmitz Old Hat

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    If I sketch anything, I tend to sketch out the big picture with as little detail as possible. Just "this area here, that area there" and their relations to one another. I rarely consider elevation changes, unless it's an overall terrain difference.

    After that, I start blocking in hammer, because pencil and paper just cannot capture the intricacies of a three dimensional environment.
  10. Radaka

    Radaka L7: Fancy Member

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    Usually I think of a fighting area or piece of a fighting area that would make an area interesting, then I put that down on paper, then I draw the surrounding areas, then I block.
  11. Ninjilla

    Ninjilla L7: Fancy Member

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    I either have a general layout or path I want to draw out, or a certain room, and build off of that. After I draw I block it out in Hammer. After stuff like that is done, I start drawing parts of my map on paper and detail there, and if I like it, do the same on Hammer.
  12. Psy

    aa Psy The Imp Queen

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    Quoted for truth.

    I'm in the same boat as yourself, Stonefrog. Layouts are a bit of an iffy topic for myself. Sometimes I find it very easy to create a layout but other times I'm completely barren of ideas or cool concepts. There is absolutely nothing worse than wanting to work on your map only to be held back by your lack of inspiration.

    I often spend the best part of a day simply flying around existing maps both in-game and in Hammer searching for ideas and sometimes I can suddenly be hit by an inspiring piece of architecture or how certain elements in an area create an interesting gamespace. Othertimes, I'm not and it's frustrating.

    For my newest project - Nightfall - I took several screenshots of my favourite maps and placed them all in a folder. I spent a couple of days simply looking through the folder every now and again thinking how I could take things of interest and make it work for a Payload Race. Eventually this led to an idea.

    I started off (in my mind) with a slope that had a track running along it and on either side of the slope would be buildings that players could use to cut across to reach other areas. It was a really basic concept and may seem somewhat unprofound to those reading this but for some reason it just clicked with me as I imagined how it would look in a Sawmill-style environment.

    Remembering back; I started out by imagining the building to the side of the slope and how it would connect with a middle area, how players would be able to access it whilst on the slope, if a second floor would be beneficial to the gameplay, if windows overlooking the middle area would be annoying to be sniped from. That's almost my exact train of thought and that was probably a good hour spent in Photoshop simply drawing on a grid using the pencil tool. From there on it sort of evolved naturally as the ideas soon started to come. It was like someone turned the tap on in the creative part of my mind.

    If I had to offer somebody advice I would say this; More times then not, ideas are best when they come naturally. :)
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  13. MaGicBush

    MaGicBush L2: Junior Member

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    I just started mapping for TF2 not long ago, but I have been drawing a overhead layout on a piece of paper. Then add in the CP's(objectives), then stuff to break up the open areas, then I get to Hammer and start mapping. I draw ideas out while bored at work :). Though I have yet to even come close to finishing a Alpha on a map, I am slowly making progress. Today I thought up a different idea, and am going to totally change the map I was working on(Headquarters in my sig) but keep that same name.
  14. TracerDX

    TracerDX L3: Member

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    I usually draw very generalized areas as colored blocks in paint, then spend a day blocking it out in hammer. From there, I make changes in hammer and make the map. I should really spend more time planning on paper, but meh, I'd rather be mapping. :rolleyes:
  15. Dr. Spud

    aa Dr. Spud Grossly Incandescent

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    First I set up what the basic idea of the layout is. ie how many areas will it have, where do I want people fighting, how big it is, etc.

    Then, I like to do the creative part first, and use it as a springboard to make a layout. I'll visualize some image of what a cool environment would be, then draw a sketch of it (and you don't need artistic skills to do that - my sketches are embarrassing). Once I've got my creative idea, I make overhead sketches of a layout. Depending on how complex the map is, I'll make layouts of individual areas and then connect them later, or do it all at once. I'd imagine for a map like hydro, for instance, they drew up 5 seperate areas then found ways to connect them.

    I tend to make lots of layout sketches and keep discarding ones I don't like. And don't be afraid to take a break and sleep on it - a lot of times I'll wake up and go, "what the @(#& was I thinking yesterday???"

    And, I've never done this, but apparently it makes it easier to use a whiteboard and keep erasing/drawing new ideas down.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2009
  16. Ezekel

    Ezekel L11: Posh Member

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    i do a bit of all of those.

    most my sketches are top down though, so there are some cases where i have ideas in my head that i can't sketch out on paper 1st (cos of multiple, detailed floors interlinked and stacked over each other)
  17. grazr

    aa grazr Old Man Mutant Ninja Turtle

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    It usually starts off with a theme, which will tell me what it would best be mode wise, and a couple rooms will come of that and pretty much join them up. Which is why some rooms can be lacking and others are nice for me.

    It's good to have a lot of stock material/photo's to draw area inspiration from. Knowing what i want from my map though means i rarely have to draw inspiration from any stock material, i can pretty much go with the flow, but i do occasionly open up a valve map to see how they have constructed a particular building.
  18. TotalMark

    TotalMark L6: Sharp Member

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    Villa started as a collection of random squares in Inkscape. It didn't really become a town until I entered it into Hammer.

    I set some basic rules, an area should have at least three paths to or from, no area could be above a certain size. Then the blocks became buildings, and it went from there.

    All I had to do was sketch it to the center point, the map was symmetrical, so to create the other side all I had to do was flip it.
  19. Ravidge

    aa Ravidge Grand Vizier

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    I never sketch maps, the one time I did It started out fine, but by the end of it nothing was like the original plan anymore.

    Usually I just built from inspiration directly in hammer, but I delete and rebuilt A LOT. The map then grows from that part into a full map, each part built to the best of my abilities and with the gameplay experience I have. When I can't find more errors by myself I submit to gameday.
    It's just like sketching on paper, but in 3d and I can test things on the fly (cordon).

    That is basically how I start a map.
    The major drawback of this method is optmizing and fps can take a major hit if you're not careful and remember to design with it in mind at all times. But it's easy to forget and make a terrible visline somewhere.
  20. Waif

    Waif L7: Fancy Member

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    I start off by simpley sketching a main focus point of my map, and avery lightly draw out a layout that suits the game style.

    Then I build up around that, whilst I find jotting down reminders like'Sniper LOS', 'chokepoints' and things very helpful, so I dont go overboard and make it too unbalanced.

    I then go over my sketches bolder and bolder building up, a habit learnt from studying art and graphics.