Designing Maps

How to make beautiful and compelling maps for your games

Technique: Moss

Wherein I teach you a technique for adding moss to battlemaps.

Dungeons are rarely warm and dry. Wet, damp places are usually covered in moss and lichen. Adding these details to your battlemaps will make them pop and shine.

This post describes a technique for “painting” moss onto an area. This technique can be used for many other effects, so keep it in your back pocket.

For the example, I have a subterranean stone bridge that has collapsed in places over an underground river. The challenge the players have is to get across the gap. Running and jumping may be a successful tactic, but with the addition of slippery moss, the challenge’s difficulty has increased.

You will lightly paint with increasing opacity into a layer with a moss texture already applied to it.

How to Add Moss to a Battlemap
The bridge is already designed and exists in a layer called “Bridge”.
  1. Begin by importing a good moss or lichen texture into your Pattern Overlay library (see Importing Your Own Patterns for how to do this).
  2. Create a new layer called Moss above the Bridge layer.
  3. Set the Fill Opacity on the Moss layer to 0%.
  4. Apply your moss texture as a Pattern Overlay on the Moss layer with a Hard Light blending mode. You won’t see anything there yet.
  5. Select all the pixels on the Bridge layer by holding <command> while clicking on the Bridge layer’s icon. This will prevent us from paining outside of the area.
  6. Select the Moss layer.
  7. Select the Brush tool. Hard Round, 15% opacity, and with a size that is large but not too large (20 to 40 pixels, depending on your map’s resolution).
  8. Moss grows from the outside inward so you want to start painting along the edges of the bridge and work inwards.
  9. Continually paint overtop existing areas to make the moss appear thicker in some places and thinner in others. This means you’ll be going over the edges several times but only towards the interior a few. Moss should begin to bloom along the edges.
  10. Feel free to erase sections (using the Eraser tool at low opacity) to achieve the inverse effect.
  11. Don’t overdo it.
  12. You over did it, didn’t you? Erase those areas and start again.

The use of Hard Light in the pattern overlay’s blending mode allows for the texture of the bridge to bleed through, even when the layer is applied at a high opacity. You may find better results with Overlay or even Multiply, depending on your underlying texture.

This technique is useful for anywhere that you want to blend one texture onto another. It’s good for any kind of vegetation (except trees, really) and is especially useful for adding patches of dirt or snow.

Moss - Seamless
Moss – Seamless
Step 1: The Bridge
Step 1: The Bridge
Step 2: Select Bridge Pixels
Step 2: Select Bridge Pixels
Step 3: Begin Painting Moss
Step 3: Begin Painting Moss
Step 4: Finished Bridge
Step 4: Finished Bridge

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