Designing Maps

How to make beautiful and compelling maps for your games

Technique: Puddles

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

From time to time you’ll want to show an area as being wet or damp (in ways other than using moss) and a great way is to add puddles.

This post describes a technique for painting in your puddles. It uses layer masks and filters. You can adapt this technique to use other filters with experimentation if you want – and I encourage you to do so.

For the example, I’ve got a subterranean stone bridge that crosses a pool of water. The water had been higher than the bridge and was drained through the bottom, leaving the bridge wet. A monster lurks in the water and will attack while the players are crossing. The wet stone will give them disadvantage in their combat.

The bridge is already designed and exists in a layer called “Bridge”. This is where I want the puddles to be.

The first thing to do is make the entire thing wet using the Plastic Wrap filter.

How to Make a Wet Version of an Area
  1. Duplicate your Bridge layer and call it “Puddles” (if your Bridge is actually a layer group, copy that and merge it down, but turn off any shadows as described in the next step).
  2. Turn off any drop shadows or outer glows on the Puddles layer. You don’t want them for this next bit.
  3. Rasterize the Puddles layer and its style (<right click> on the Puddles layer in the Layers panel and select “Rasterize Layer Style”)
  4. Go Filter -> Filter Gallery -> Artistic -> Plastic Wrap. This will open a filter dialog with several settings.
  5. Play around with the settings until you get a look you like. I used Highlight Strength of 20, Detail 5, Smoothness 15.
  6. Click “Okay”

Add some color to the water with a color overlay so that it isn’t crystal clear and pure.

How to Add Color to the Water
  1. On the Puddles layer, apply a color overlay (with Color mode) of a blue or green (I am using #203029).

Reduce all that water to puddles by erasing what is not puddles.

How to Erase What is not a Puddle
  1. Select the Eraser tool.
  2. Set the brush to Hard Round, a large size (depends on your resolution), and your opacity to 20%

You can also do this using a layer mask instead if you know how to do that but you’ll be painting where the puddles are rather than where they are not.

The Pit and Bridge
The Pit and Bridge
Filter Dialog Settings
Filter Dialog Settings
Plastic Wrap Applied
Plastic Wrap Applied
Color Overlay on Water
Color Overlay on Water

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