So I’m running an online play-by-post game, and found I needed a starship combat map. The easy route would be to buy some PDF starship combat hex-maps, and that is a quick way to get going with some high quality maps. But I have the time and software to make my own, so I thought I’d do a quick write up on what that involves.
First thing you need if you are making your own hex grid map is the hex grid. I made one in Illustrator, and have attached the file here. Because this is for an online game, I didn’t worry about scale. If you are making a print map you will need to make sure each side of your hexes are an inch from the opposite side. This one is just quick and dirty though, so I didn’t sweat it.
Next up, you need a good background image. You may not know this, but all of NASA’s space photography is available for free use, so you can browse their extensive galleries and find a good star field to use as a background. This is for my Dawn of Flame game, so I chose this image of the Sun emitting a solstice flare. All credit to NASA for the beautiful image!
Now for the most complicated part – putting together the pieces. I want the map to have plenty of maneuvering room so I created a new image in Photoshop with a width of 3300 pixels by 2550 pixels. I then placed the image of the sun in the middle, making sure the background behind it matches the background of the image (mostly black in this case.) That done, I placed my hex grid vector file in the layer on top, placing and sizing it so that it fit well and the crop made the most sense. My grid is black, which didn’t show up well against the empty areas of my image, so I did a color overlay of white on the grid. That was good, but a bit strong, so I lowered the opacity to 50%.
Happy with the outcome, I saved the whole thing as a JPG file, then uploaded it to my google slide deck for the game. The end result is more than sufficient for my needs. You can download the full size map here.
Hope that simple walk through helps you with your own maps!
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Until next time Starfinders!
Artist and Writer