Because of the long weekend I’ve had plenty of time to plan out the upcoming D&D campaign I’m DMing. I started off with some of the preliminary quest details and figuring out what the general story of the campaign would be. Unfortunately, I got to the part that I dreaded about planning campaigns the most, creating maps.
It’s not that I hate making maps so much as it is that my artistic abilities suck, hard. I can’t draw for shit. Thankfully it’s the 21st century and there are plenty of computer programs to give me a way to not make my campaigns look like they were drawn by a 5yr old. However, I had yet to find a great one for making over world maps and maps of cities. That was until I discovered Inkarnate.
Inkarnate has two versions. The Inkarnate basic plan is free and has plenty of assets to choose from to create great looking maps. Inkarnate Pro gives you access to a ton of new assets, HD maps, and a commercial license for $5 per month or $25 per year. This post is entirely about the free version, but I have written another post about Inkarnate Pro.
The Inkarnate UI
The above picture shows the Inkarnate UI while you are working on a map. As you can see it is very simplistic. The different tools are on the side of the map and the options for the selected tool are found in the top bar. The center is the canvas. Unfortunately, there’s only one size for the maps at this time, but that hasn’t been a problem for me yet.
A Finished Inkarnate Map
Not bad for a world map, eh? All you have to do is use a sculpting tool to make your land on top of the blue background of the canvas. After that you can use a paintbrush to paint different terrains or use some of the placement tools to add landmarks, buildings, and symbols. This map took about 30 minutes. Plus, my players were impressed with my artwork for once!
You can also add up to 10 of your own objects and paints which allows you to create more customized maps.
Criticisms and Conclusions
One of the few complaints I have about Inkarnate is that there is no undo button. Your only option is to repaint the texture/sculpture or delete the object that was placed on the map.
I would also love to have an option to use the old icons as those were better for city building in my opinion. The new icons in Inkarnate look great in a world map, but make city maps extremely cluttered.
I highly recommend Inkarnate for creating great looking maps for your RPGs. It’s free and easy to use.
If you liked this post and want to check out more of my posts about my favorite D&D 5e tools feel free to check out this page I’ve made that contains them all!