A while back, I did a post on GIMP for fantasy mapmaking. Since then, I’ve experimented with another program, Wonderdraft. Like its kin, Inkarnate, Wonderdraft has some useful tools for building that beautiful, jaw-dropping map just past the cover title of a novel.
Wonderdraft is software purchased online that can produce maps with a wide variety of styles and settings. Unlike GIMP, Wonderdraft is more specialized for map making, and Inkarnate more so. From what I gathered:
- For clever artists and techno-geeks: GIMP
- For mapmakers, writers, casuals: Wonderdraft
- For hardcore DnD GMs, players, game designers: Inkarnate
But overall, it’s up to whatever suits one’s interests and goals. I’ve seen writers produce excellent maps with Inkarnate, and GMs work wonders with Wonderdraft.
What Makes It Unique?
Wonderdraft stands out with its versatility and community-driven addons. Moreover, the software requires a single payment of $30, while Inkarnate is $25 a year, and GIMP is free. For its price, Wonderdraft brings a truckload of options for mapmakers, with easy-to-learn tools that anyone can understand. The software is also offline, installed on a computer, whereas Inkarnate requires a wifi connection last I checked. GIMP also has a learn curve if someone wants to use it for mapmaking.
To summarize, Wonderdraft is:
- Simple and easy to use
- A one-time $30 payment to own for life
- Community support, addons, and more
- Offline access
To begin, open the program. Select new highlighted in the image below. A menu appears with settings for the new map! Go with the defaults. If a computer is powerful, it should run the higher resolutions without an issue, otherwise it will lag.
A user can play with the styles and templates, for each has a different feel and can be changed later.
For this tutorial, I’ll go with the default settings, the theme being Terra. I’m greeted by a menu of options as seen below. First I selected the landmass wizard to the left. A menu popped up on the right.
The landmass wizard is a tool that auto-generates a randomized piece of land every time it’s used.
This is the landmass I got from the wizard. To adjust the preferences for the landmass generated, play with the menu options on the right. Next, I’ll color the land to give it depth using the landmass color brush. I used the jungle palette for this, but it can be anything that suits the color scheme of the map.
Custom colors are also possible using the brush tool. Select brush size, opacity, and velocity as desired.
Next, I added in some water for realism. Using the lower landmass tool I gouged pieces of the landmass. The result is a series of lakes. The raise landmass tool does the opposite: it creates land from water.
The mountain brush is self-explanatory. With this tool, there are a plethora of mountain symbols to pick from. I went with transparent mountains, which match the color of the landmass.
The symbol tool is where the fun starts. Everything from buildings, directional arrows, towns, and cities are here. Using the symbol scale, I set the relative size of each object. Custom and transparent colors are also an option.
I added in some yellow landmass in the upper left.
The label tool is where I put my captions for each symbol or land region. Various fonts, font sizes, and colors are available. I can set the text curvature, auto-generate names, and add in bright font outlines to bring out certain captions.
I selected the frame tool below to add in a border for my map. It isn’t required, but it looks fancy, no?
The box tool within the labels tool creates legends and cut-outs for important information in the map. Below, I used it to credit the author.
Played with the theme tab along the menu at the top. Switching from terra to pastel produced the following result below. While the map looks better, the directional arrows faded into the background. I left it in to serve as an example; be sure to take this into account whenever switching the theme or color scheme of the map.
And with that, the map is—relatively speaking—finished!
Wonderdraft is a fantastic tool that is easy to use, as seen in the tutorial above. There are yet more tools included in the software, in addition to community contributions and addons that expand on Wonderdraft’s capabilities. For only a single $30 payment, Wonderdraft is gift to creative writers, artists, and gamers.
I’ve created a couple maps for my upcoming novel, Blade of Dragons, plus some custom fantasy maps that popped into my head. Each one was a blast to make.
With that, I hope you’ll give Wonderdraft a try. Have any other questions about Wonderdraft? I may be able to answer, so leave them in the comments below. Enjoy!
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Aspectä rey’lief, fair reader, and thanks again for reading!
—Ed R. White
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