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Monday, November 11, 2019

Making Geomorphs with Inkscape (Part I)

I wanted to do something a bit different this week: a tutorial for those who would like to make Dyson-Logos-style, Dave's Mapper-compatible geomorphs. I will be demonstrating in Inkscape, since it's (a) free, and (b) the program I use.

You will probably want to practice first with Inkscape, in particular with the bezier line and curve tool, the node editor, and the alignment tool. I won't be doing a step-by-step walkthrough for any of the tools.

document size
grid set-up

First, you want to create a template for all your geomorphs. Starting by setting the document properties to a custom size: 3 inch by 3 inch. You can use whatever default units you wish (I use millimeters,) but the "standard" geomorphs are 3 inch by 3 inch with two connection points (entrances) on each side. You also use document properties (Shift+Ctrl+D) to set up a default grid, 10 squares by 10 squares. Set the spacing for both X and Y to 0.3 inches with a major grid line every 5 lines.

rename layer
 Rename the base layer to "background". You will have a total of five layers in your template, in this order starting from the top:

  • labels
  • grid overlay
  • details
  • rooms
  • background

Add the grid overlay layer first. This is for your printable grid lines, if you want them. I don't use printable grid lines for geomorphs, but do use them for other projects.

On the grid overlay layer, create two 3-inch long lines, set their stroke width to 1, set their stroke color to aqua. Rotate one 90 degrees, select both, and center them horizontally and vertically with respect to the page. Then, use a grid rendering tool (Extensions > Render > Grids > Grid...) Set line width to 0.2 and horizontal/vertical spacing to 28.8, with no horizontal or vertical offset. After creating the grid, select it and set the stroke color to aqua. Again, center it with respect to the page, then select the grid and the two thick lines and group them (Ctrl+G).

two major grid lines
create minor grid lines
Hide the layer and switch back to the background layer. Using the bezier line tool, draw a square with this pattern, repeat for each of the four sides:

  • line segment from one corner, two squares long
  • short one-square-long line segment
  • four-square-long line segment
  • short one-square-long line segment
  • final two-square-long line segment to next corner

The short segments will be where the geomorph connection points go. You won't seem them properly until you switch to the node editor tool.

background outline

Select a short segment with the node editor tool and add a node between the two endpoints. Repeat for each of the short segments.

add nodes to segments

Drag the center node one square inwards, for each of the short segments, to make this pattern.

triangle notches

Select each of the diagonal segments and add a node between the two endpoints. Again, repeat for each diagonal segment.

add nodes on diagonals

Drag each of these new nodes inwards so that it creates a square "tooth" for each geomorph connection point.

toothed background

Change the fill color to black and turn the stroke off to create this basic background shape. You may have to readjust the nodes after turning off the stroke to make it line up properly again: just grab each node and drag it a tiny bit and release. It should snap to the proper position. If not, you may need to adjust your Snap to Grid settings.

background fill

Make two layers above the background layer: rooms and details. You should also may a labels layer, either above details or above grid overlay. You may have to try both arrangements to see which you prefer: grid lines on top of your text labels, or below.

create new layers

Save this as your geomorph template. You can experiment with different fill colors for your background. It represents the solid stone portion of your map. If you want to try fill patterns instead of solid colors, I recommend making a duplicate of the background shape, centering it above the original background (but still on the same layer,) and then changing the fill color to a fill pattern. This keeps the final image from having transparent areas.

In Part II, I'll demonstrate my technique for using a template to make an actual geomorph.

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