A reader written tutorial on making your own Dungeon Tiles.

Posted on June 5, 2009 by

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I received an email from one of my readers suggesting an idea for a tutorial.  Rather than have me blog about the topic without really knowing much about it, I suggested he write it and I just host it.  So, here now is reader Alex, with a pretty kick ass tutorial about making your own Dungeon Tiles.  Hear that Google?  Making your own Dungeon Tiles.   Yeah… that comes up a lot.

Here is Alex:

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Hello everyone.

The newbiedm made a tutorial, which I’m sure all of you have seen, awhile ago for creating “durable and permanent” character/monster tokens. It gave a lot of us a very cheap alternative to D&D minis for great looking, functional, character/monster indicators.

He helped us out more with his 1″-scale battlemap tutorial. It gave us our own, fully-customizable battlemaps at the proper scale. They can be as versatile as we need them to be. They’re a good replacement for dungeon tiles if you make enough of them, and you can control exactly how good they look depending on the printing quality you choose.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could combine the idea of having “durable and permanent”, and the idea of making your own battlemaps? NewbieDM has graciously allowed me to make a guest tutorial to take you all through that very process!

I’d rate the difficulty of this project at slightly above the custom token creation. To get the pieces to come out right, you need to have a bit more patience and motivation, but the result is worth it.

I’ll follow the format of the previous newbiedm.com tutorials:

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A 1″-scale battlemap. Follow the tutorial if you don’t already have one.
  • Graffix Medium-Weight Chipboard. Comes in small, medium, and large sizes. I use the 8.5″ x 11″ pack of 25, which costs $8.00 or so after shipping.
  • Rubber Cement (spray adhesive, contact cement, heavy-duty glue, whatever you have had the most success with while permanently pasting paper to cardboard)
  • Cardstock. For printing on. Printer paper, glossy paper, copy paper, etc can be used, cardstock will be a bit more durable.
  • Exacto-knife
  • Ruler

chipboard1

The Graffix chipboard is the star of the show here. I did my homework for a little while and this is the stuff to use. It’s just about as close as I’ve been able to find to the actual material used by WotC in their dungeon tiles. The thickness and stiffness is just about identical. The differences are negligible, and the price is more than right (it’s basically 4 sets for the price of 1 plus a bit for glue/ink/paper replacement as needed).

First thing to do is cut out your battlemap and get it pasted onto the chipboard. I make x marks on the chipboard where the corners will be so that I know where to glue.

dnd002

Once you’re done making the marks, your chipboard will look something like this.

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Now you’ll want to take your glue of choice and apply it to both your chipboard and the back of your battlemap. I use rubber cement because it’s what I’ve been using for my character tokens, and thus what I had on hand. The newbiedm suggested spray adhesive, which would probably work just as well. Wax paper makes this process easier. Follow the directions on your glue for best stick.

dnd004

Stick your battlemap to your chipboard using the marks you made as guidelines. Flatten the edges down well and wait for it to dry a bit.

dnd005

Take the ruler and exacto-knife and cut along the edges. Make sure you’re cutting over something you don’t mind slicing up. I use a doubled-up piece of cardboard, as you can see there beside my hand.

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Once you get that piece all cut out, you should be done! Below is a picture of the mat that I photographed the creation of beside a couple custom ones I had already done, and a couple of WotC dungeon tiles.

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Basically the same process can be used to put a map on the opposite side of the board, except instead of exacto-knifing the board when you’ve glued the map on, you’ll flip the board over and exacto-knife the excess paper hanging over the edges of the chipboard.

The major difference is that the WotC ones are glossier. If you’ve got a nice printer, you can print out pretty decent looking scenery. If you’ve got a normal printer, well, you’ll be a little limited, but, as you can see, the tiles still come out very nicely even with a standard quality printer. I used the “normal” setting. I could see a draft setting still looking decent while saving some ink, and a best setting making some very impressive looking tiles.

Also, here’s how the edges compare:

dnd008

As you can see, they’re very close, and when you lay them beside eachother and start playing, you really don’t notice the difference much at all. Also, if all else fails and you just keep noticing that 1/32nd of an inch…just remember that you paid 1/4 the amount for a nice looking set of DTs, and you get to customize them!

Thanks for reading, I hope it helps, and thank you to the newbiedm for hosting the blog-post!

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And there you have it, my first reader-contributed post.  I hope it’s not my last.  If you’ve got a topic you’d like to contribute to, or a tutorial you’d enjoy writing, drop me a line at newbiedm@newbiedm.com and let’s get it published!   I want to thanks Alex for taking the time to contribute to the blog with his fine tutorial.  I’m going to order a pack of that chipboard myself.

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Random plot hook of the day:   The PC’s arrive at a small city, and the town guard that lets them in makes it a point to mention the nice magical weapon one of them carries.  Later that night, a cat burglar breaks into their room at an inn, and makes off with that particular item.  Over night,  a VIP in town is murdered using the weapon, a lo and behold, the PC’s are wanted for questioning.  It seems the bloody blade was left behind after the killing.  Now what?

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