Google Maps is the Best Mapping Resource You Aren't Using

Posted by Labyrinthian in , ,


If you aren't using Google Maps to procure maps for your games then let me tell you a secret... Google Maps is the Best Mapping Resource You Aren't Using.  Regardless of the genre of game you are playing there are maps out there got you. 

Here is an example.


I got this map from Google Maps Terrain View, and though I made a few changes it remains basically the same.  Do you know where this is?  Most probably don't...


However, if you enjoy the works of H.P. Lovecraft you know the area, it's Essex County, part of an area known as Lovecraft Country.  I am working on this map for the Sons of Ipswich game I'm working on.

You don't need to be playing a Call of Cthulhu game, or really any game that takes place on earth, to take advantage of real world maps.  Had I labeled the above map with a series of fantasy names and said it was the Barony of Kravoria how many would have known it was actually a real world location?  If my group was from Essex Country obviously they would, but if that were the case I could just use a map from Germany, New Zealand or any location which your players are unfamiliar with.

The level of detail in terms of things like topography and climate is extremely high and is there for the taking.  Why not take advantage? 

A map of part of Southern New Zealand...

...or a Fantasy Realm?

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at Tuesday, March 22, 2011 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

4 comments

How do you get rid of the existing marks, like place names and roads?

March 22, 2011 at 2:59 PM

@John - Unfortunately those are "baked" in so there is no getting rid of them in Google Maps themselves. However, you still have some options.

First, there are large rural areas that have no roads or other markers to speak of. The above map of Southern New Zealand is such an area and there are many others.

Second, the newest version of Photoshop has an amazing ability to cut things out using something called Content Aware Fill. Using that will cut out labels and markers and fill in the areas based on what is around the area to be cut.

Third, you can go to http://www.maps-for-free.com/ and use their "relief" view which has no labels.

Hope this helps!

March 22, 2011 at 3:17 PM

That is pretty cool. What filters did you use to process the maps into the old look? I seriously like this look!

I grew up around there. If you included both Medfield and Byfield you would have the known center of the Universe (by certain occult circles that will go, ahem, unnamed...) I also recognized sections of the Ipswitch river which is great for canoeing and getting eaten alive by mosquitos.

Thanks for the great idea!

April 29, 2011 at 5:09 PM

@Peter - I'm glad you enjoyed the map and thanks for the kind words. I used a whole host of filters and brushes on the map, a lot of them come with Photoshop which I used to make the map. I am particularly a fan of Fresco, Sumi-e, Spatter, and Angled Strokes.

May 3, 2011 at 3:10 PM

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