David’s been refining his printing process since our last gallery post and has sent me a new batch of gorgeous images.

He’s got it down to something like a science, and was kind enough to share his method. Follow along below to learn how!

I’ll detail my process, as I’ve become very particular. I was somewhat embarrassed earlier because I didn’t feel like I did a good job but I’m very proud of these ones.

1. Edit the maps after importing from the pdfs, adding a black border and a masked off light grid to help in some places (which isn’t quite so subtle in the General Store and Schooner maps I printed). Export without any layers or color profile to Adobe PDF, and in those settings I give it a CMYK color profile. This is the best way I’ve figured out to get the most accurate colors.

2. Print onto a matte card stock. Optionally: Laminate, although I’ve found this to have more drawbacks than benefits. Benefits: Can write/draw on with map markers, and is slightly more durable. Drawbacks: Marker on the edge bleeds inward, significantly harder to cut, bends the page (even when mounted), each map costs more than twice as much to assemble, and glossy look conflicts with a D&D aesthetic. 2/10 would not laminate again.

3. Mount onto chipboard with spray adhesive, smooth out with bone folder, and leave under pressure (piled up Pathfinder books) for a few hours. I find the chipboard to be pretty cheap, sturdy, and half the depth of box cardboard, which is very useful for flat-pack maps.

4. Cut out with xacto knife (carefully, clearly). Cut about a millimeter off each corner, and run the bone folder along the edges at 45 degrees on the top and bottom. This makes them less likely to tear and removes all sharp edges so they feel better to handle.

5. Take a black markers over the edges, and label.



Grid texture I use (set to multiply, at 50% opacity, masked with a textured brush):

Chipboard I bought:

My favorite super black low-odor marker:

If you like David’s stuff, you can follow him on Twitter (@SonidZero) or check out his blog.

About the author

Ross McConnell

DM, aspiring artist, and founder of 2-Minute Tabletop! I love drawing, writing, and worldbuilding, and this is the website where all of it comes together.

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  1. Thanks for figuring out what works best and sharing your process David.. They look great… Definitely going to try this out.

  2. Why did you use the 12″x12″ chip board and not the 8.5″x11″ since the maps are sized to print on standard letter size?

  3. I wanted to replicate this for my group as these maps look amazing however I am totally confused on the step 1 process. Are you using photoshop to edit the pdf or another program? Are you exporting the edited pdf to change the color settings or is that through your printer?

    1. This is an optional step David uses to add his custom grid and tweak the colors. I’m not sure beyond that, sorry. If you use my PDF files you should get similar results, as they’re designed for this sort of thing.

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Published: December 8, 2015

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