More Modern Drawing

I posted recently about using Pixelmator for my D&D map. Friend-of-the-Snarking-Post Tony made a comment about how he had recently acquired Pixelmator and so he was kind of following along with my work.

How timely. I recently bought Pixelmator myself, as part of a Mac application bundle deal.

I’ve never really done any computer-based drawing, except for some very basic doodling in MS Paint and similar tools. In particular, I’ve never used Photoshop, or any other “layer based” drawing tool.

So I decided to play with your drawing (well, an approximation thereof) as an experiment in Pixelmator. With respect to the cities and their text, it seems to me that in order to reposition them (or replace the text), you have to cut and paste, which creates a new layer, then move the city’s layer to get the city re-positioned, and finally merge the new layer back into the main “Cities” layer. Does that sound right, or is there some better way to do that?

At first, I thought I should be able to “select” a block around the city and just move it around, as I would do with an object in Visio or a similar tool. But I guess that’s one of the fundamental differences between vector-based and bitmap-based drawing tools. At least I think that’s the right terminology.

Anyway, thanks for reminding me to start playing with Pixelmator.

Well, if people are going to play along I can throw the files up! Here's a few more bits of work I've done over the last week or so, plus some discussion of what's underway. First off, to Tony's question: No you can select a block and move it about. I didn't move the cities on this version of the map but I did move a few of the text labels to make room for some roads. One thing I know from watching the "pros" is that real artists will use keyboard shortcuts - they pretty much work with a pen in one hand on the tablet and the other hand on the keyboard doing tool selection and sometimes even scrolling the screen. So, to move part of a layer in Pixelmator:

  1. Make sure you're working on the layer you want to be working on.

  2. Use the Rectangular Marque Tool (hit 'M') and draw a box around what you want to move

  3. Use the Move Tool (hit 'V') and you can drag the selected box around in the layer.

You're done! (You can also use the move tool and hold down Option to get the "Duplicate" tool and make a copy of a selection within the same layer. I used that technique to make the city dots for the two Dwarven mines without creating new layers for them.)

As a random note, I notice that if you flatten text you lose your font information. I'm using 14 point regular Hoefler Text for the labels on this map.

World Map 1-18-09.png

(click image for embiggenation)


  • I created a "Lego Tree" brush and used it to paint on the Tarsenwald Forest

  • I added a backfill for the Tarsenwald in a separate layer so I have the shape available later if I need it.

  • I added the Dwarven mines of Barin's Respite and Thunderaxe Hall to the Cities layer

  • I labeled the Cairnflow River (not sure why I missed this before.)

  • I extended the Cairngorm Peaks to the south and also added in a western spur. (I needed to explain why a forest is one side and a desert on the other.)

  • I added the Tarsis Desert, home of the slavers who destroyed Klavin - this event features in two characters backgrounds.

  • I added a layer with roads. I draw on the road layer at full opacity, but the layer itself is set at 50% opacity so it blends against other items such as the Cairngorm Peaks. It's below the City layer so I don't have to worry about the edges versus the city dots.

I need to label the sea (the Crescent Sea) and we could use some more detail east of the Peaks but overall it's taking shape. The next thing I'd like to do is break up the solid color fills with some texture, but I'm pretty happy with what I have so far.

There are twelve layers now - two more for Tarsenwald, two for the Tarsis Desert, and one for the roads.

Layers 1-18-09.jpg

Here's all of the source files and the Pixelmator file itself.