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How to make your ugly map not ugly - a handy guide: 10/19/2011 11:34:30

Matma Rex 
Level 3

How to make your ugly map not ugly - a handy guide


So you made a map. You've draw it by hand, or you've use some crazy tool to vectorize an image, you named and connected the territories and it's all working well.

Unfortunately, the borders don't exactly line up, do they? Consider this screenshot of Middle East map (which I inherited from someone else to fix up some glaring errors some time ago):

Middle East

This is playable, and people were and are playing this map, but it's no aesthetically pleasing.

Now consider my Ireland Small map.


Isn't this better? This is not the perfect map by the guidelines (borders in a bonus don't overlap), but it's much closer. At first it looked like the Middle East one, and here's how I have unbroken it.

The fun part is, you'll hardly have to re-draw anything. The not-fun part is, you'll have to re-set all the territory names, centerpoints, connections and so on.

First Things First

We have an SVG like this:
(images are big, I won't be inlining them, but linking from now on)

You'll need to strip up the map. Remove every object that's not a territory from the SVG (you can copy them to a different file to re-add later) - including bonus links, any drawings, text, lines providing info about connections. Everything must go.

If you have any large lakes on seas (like Middle East has) which you want to preserve, you need to "draw" them (just leaving empty space won't work) - you can use Inkscape's "Fill bounded areas" tool for this (4th from the end on toolbar for me). Here's how ME's SVG looks after this step:

(Note: this tool works with different precision on different zoom level! Zoom in a bit to get good effects.)
(Note 2: Depending on the image, you may have to draw a big rectangle with no fill around it's entirety to use this tool.)

The Magic

Now is the fun part. Set colors of everything to white, and borders of everything (and the background) to black! We now have a perfect black&white map with black borders, and now we'll do some magic to make the borders superthin.

Export the image as PNG (File -> Export), this will produce an image just like the ones I'm linking in this guide. We'll now need a tool called Autotrace - it's available online here: (if you're a hardcore nerd, you can find and install it on your computer). Feed the PNG image you've generated to it, set "Color Count" to 2, check the "Trace font centerline" option and uncheck "Preserve width". Since we have a perfect b&w image, also set "Despeckle level" to 0. Click "Upload File" and be patient now, as it's going to take a while.

(I don't recommend messing with other options, but you may try it if you're feeling adventurous!).

A new page will load, with your image visible and a little "Retrieve the svg output which you generated..." link at the very bottom - click it and save the SVG.

If you see the SVG has a lot of little dots, and lines are very fragmented, repeat this step again, but before export set the border width of everything to a bigger value. (I had to do it with mine - width of 2 pixels did the trick.)

Here is my result (converted to PNG): - doesn't it look neat?

(Fun fact: this image also has white, invisible lines, which mark centerlines of territories. Don't bother with them.)

Back to Inkscape

The file we downloaded is in SVGZ format, which is the same as SVG, but compressed - to avoid any troubles, open it with Inkscape and resave as regular SVG.

Now, remember the "Fill bounded areas" tool we used earlier? Our little friend will come in handy again. Set "Close gaps" to "Small" and just click every single empty space between the lines in the image. If a single click appears to fill more than one territory, split them by hand or undo and try again with larger "Close gaps" value. Don't forget which is land and which is sea!

Here's how it looks in the editor (I just did a few territs): You can see a couple of quirks here - for example the sea filling one of territories. These will have to be fixed by hand.

Finishing up

So you have filled all the territories. We're not yet ready, though - the lines are still there. Simplest way to get rid of them is to select all of your new territories and copy then to a new SVG file. Now you can add all the objects you've killed earlier back, and it's time to set ids of territories to "Territory_#", as usually.

That's it. Now upload the SVG to the map maker and everything should be roundy :) Now you have to name the territories, add connections, set up bonuses etc.

(There's a reason I didn't yet fix the ME map in this way. This reason is lack of time - readding territory names and stuff can be time-consuming. Therefore this method is best for new maps.)

I hope the wall of text above doesn't scare you. Good luck and may your maps be pretty :D

How to make your ugly map not ugly - a handy guide: 10/19/2011 13:04:29

Level 55

I know a much simpler solution. Select all territories in the Inkscape and use the path -> provision function. The result is similar like this.

How to make your ugly map not ugly - a handy guide: 10/19/2011 14:05:53

Matma Rex 
Level 3

I can't find that tool anywhere. Is this the same as Path -> Outset? This doesn't align the borders of one territory with the other, and even though it'll look fine in Inkscape, when uploaded to Warlight the shape of territories will change with each click.

How to make your ugly map not ugly - a handy guide: 10/19/2011 15:54:03

Level 55

Yes, its not a perfect solution just simple. The borders not change in warlight just every territory has a little overlap with each other and always the selected one is on the top. Unfortunately the inkscape not have a border align function :(

How to make your ugly map not ugly - a handy guide: 10/20/2011 02:45:11

Level 57

WarLight Creator

Nice guide! Would you be willing to put this onto the wiki? It would help preserve it for the future so it doesn't get buried in the forums. We can link to it from the Inkscape Tips page.

How to make your ugly map not ugly - a handy guide: 10/27/2011 14:14:40

Matma Rex 
Level 3

Feel free to copy it there.

How to make your ugly map not ugly - a handy guide: 12/22/2011 01:00:56

-=OWL=- Bin Firnass
Level 18

cheers for the info, i´ll ty and see if i can apply it next time im making a map..

How to make your ugly map not ugly - a handy guide: 4/8/2013 14:19:13

Level 50
This is like the only good thread I seen in the map forums. :)
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