New to FM8, Observations, Thoughts


I'm not too deep into the demo of the program yet. I noticed a couple of things and I've a few questions.


If I choose the gray which is the fourth colour from the bottom left of the palette for the background map colour I can no longer see the crosshairs when I choose a tool from the tool palette, such as the Freehand Landmass draw tool.

After I draw an object it doesn't remain selected. You need to reselect the object to redefine it's attributes. More importantly, one needs to choose the attributes of the object prior to drawing for the most friendly user experience. This caught me a few times when I drew objects, reselected them and set the line attribute to clear. Objects that are subsequently drawn take on the last attribute the user sets. Which if the next drawn object is a line, is then invisible and practically un-selectible because you cannot find and select it easily.

The line weights don't have defined sizes. I'm used to selecting a line weight such as 1 or 2 points as a line weight and then having it stay that way when I zoom in and out.


I'm most curious about the relationship between the map size, grid settings, and output resolution. I've realized that I can export the same 100 mile map at various sizes, the larger the number of pixels, the better it looks. There is more clarity at an export of 1000 pixels than at 100 pixels. Still the resolution of a BMP remains 96 dpi.

The map size and grid throws me off a bit. This might be due to the measurement system which is in miles but raster images typically have fixed dimensions in pixels. Usually in a drawing program I've got a particular canvas size in mind, typically my output is on paper of various sizes from Letter, to Tabloid, and so on. In a dungeon map my grid would ideally be .25 in = a scale of 10'. You can see immediately where the map and grid definition get me wondering. Is there a place where I can define scales such as 1 inch of the map = 100 miles.


  • Hi,

    I've discovered a couple of things that should make life easier.

    Ok, if you have a map, set your grid size to whatever you like, so if the map size is whatever, set the grid to 10 x 10 for 10 feet squares.

    When you insert a symbol, probably raster, from the palette it'll drop in at whatever size it is. Now I don't understand how that relates to the "map canvas". However, if you have snap turned on, you can drag the symbol to a corner of a square. You then resize it by reselecting the object and dragging the handle until it snaps to the square.

    The next time you place this same object FM8 will remember what size it is and it will fit the grid, but it is placed via its center point.

    This is a problem because it is not natural. I can't even get close to having it drop into the square.

    I then have to re-select each object and drag the object into position on the grid.

    Workable... but it means making a drawing to use as a template and sorting out all the graphic tiles you plan to use beforehand. It would be more natural if the object placed was inserted by its top left corner.

    However, I found another approach, which is to select the object from the palette and then click on the intersections of the grid and drag to the opposite corner, see the dashed selection below, which then places the object accurately into the grid. I have all the snapping features turned on.

    And good morning!

  • I'm most curious about the relationship between the map size, grid settings, and output resolution.

    There isnt really a relationship. FM is a vector graphics application, so its not working with pixels. (there's a few caveats to that, but in general its not). What matters is the sizes in units (feet, miles) used on the map. If you've only ever worked with pixel based graphics apps (photoshop, for example), the difference can take a bit to get used to.

    If you want to print a map at a fixed scale, such as 1 printed inch = 10 feet on the map, you can set that up in the printing window.
  • Hi Ed,

    Thanks for the reply! Actually, as usual I didn't explain myself very well. The right words didn't come out! Klaatu Veratta Necktie again!

    I was just tinkering with the demo and it occurred to me that you might have ideal dimensions in mind for a raster symbol. For example If a 100 foot square map is divided into 10 foot grid squares, at 100% in a 96 dpi display, what would be your ideal pixel dimensions for a raster symbol in order to make it snap without resizing?

    I much prefer vector artwork, you can check out my Inkscape artwork here: I have plans to re-draw my map symbols for FM8 after I make my purchase some time in the new year.

    All the best,

  • For the basic details regarding my remarks, see Page 129 of the NBOS material.

    We're on two ends of the mapping spectrum: You prefer vector symbols and we use almost exclusively raster symbols. So let me say at the start for other readers that these remarks apply only to vector symbols.

    If you want to redraw your old symbols in FM8, simply do it. Set the scale ahead of time and make your symbol. (Actually, this also is valid in FM8 for raster symbols, up to this point, but here's where ways part,) Let's say you want to make a 10x10ft raster symbol. Good. Set up a new map with dimensions of 10 x 10 feet. Draw your symbol. Save it in a vector symbol folder. You now have a new 10x10 foot vector symbols.

    For those who want to do this on a raster level, download the raster mapping tutorial at: (40 MB - PDF)

    and the support files at: (47 MB)
  • Hi Mark,

    Wow, thanks for your reply and the links, quite interesting. You've got some very nice work there and a great site! Just looking around your site I found the tip you put up regarding scale in which 1 foot = 10 pixels or 1 foot = 40 pixels. I'll be sure to dig into your tutorial and examples.

    I used to use Arr-Kelaan Hexmapper and Dungeon Crafter v1.4 quite a bit but I found it hard to accept that the maps lost clarity when I scaled them, or I couldn't make something as detailed as I liked, or I couldn't draw something the way I wanted. I still have a pile of Dungeon Crafter bmp files which are based on a 20 pixel square.

    I do like vector artwork because it scales without the loss of clarity, just a personal preference, and I'm a little more interested in symbols than photo realism. Your artwork is a birds eye view which is quite nice. :)

    All the best,

  • I just noted the following at Mark's excellent website:

    "The raster symbol catalogs that are delivered with FM8 are defined at a scale of 1 foot = 50 pixels."
  • do like vector artwork because it scales without the loss of clarity, just a personal preference, and I'm a little more interested in symbols than photo realism. :)

    I certainly have no problem with anyone preferring vector symbols. However, I would note that once one learns to use FM8 well, one can do raster maps that allow deep zooms without a loss of clarity. The sample below is a zoom into an area of 700 x 700 miles from a map with a size of 12,600 x 9800 miles. The map contains no vector symbols except for the red dot that shows where Mill Crossing is. The road and river lines also are non-raster spline curves, with the river lines fractalized.

    The following graphic shows a 500 x 500 foot zoom from a city map that has a size of 5760 x 4500 feet. This map has no vector objects. The example here shows some pixilization in the grass, but that is from the JPG conversion. It's not there in FM8.

  • Thanks Mark, that's a great post.

  • I tried my hand at drawing a map symbol in the Norden style. Not too bad for a start. I found the tools a little different than I'm used to but I think I'm on my way.

  • Again, in Firefox, right click on the image will bring up the context menu and you can view the entire screenshot.

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