Designing a Dungeon with Doom
Full Downloads for Map #001 & Baddie stats available here
If you're interested in a 1-page dungeon of this map check my Patreon
As a DM I’ve made plenty of top-down, hexagonal, and freehand maps; but trying my hand at an isometric dungeon really proved to be a challenge that not only baffled me but also showed me what I was truly capable of as an artist.
I’m really proud of this map and what I was able to accomplish with hard work and hours of drawing. So, let’s save you the work and go step-by-step on how I drew my first dungeon.
Step 1: The Grid
To draw The Forgotten Altar I used a free app called Sketch on my Galaxy Note 8. It’s a really nifty tool to use with the stylus that comes with the phone.
Anyways about this grid,
The app allows you to overlay different grids to enhance the lines in your sketch. I was able to make my dungeon more symmetric by using an isometric grid that allowed me to sketch the dungeon in 3D while keeping true to shape and form.
The grid orientates little cubes in a 3D space. Perfect for movement in D&D
Alright, now that we have our grid in place let’s move on to
Step 2: Trace
I had a rough idea of what I wanted my dungeon to look like. I simply doodled around on the paper and followed the boxes to give a 3D effect to the dimensions of my walls and floors.
I added some doors. Started sketching the rocks to outline the entrance to the first staircase.
Here I added a few details. Torches, fire, a chest and a vase. Usually I recommend leaving this kind of detailing for the end but I wanted to give my dungeon a vibe to focus my future drawing on.
Ok kids, here comes the hard part:
Step 3: Shading and Detailing
**WARNING: TIME SUCK**
This was by far the most time consuming part of creating this dungeon. I went through every. Single. Tile. Dotting each square meticulously as my homework sat by idly. In hindsight, it was a labor of love and I’m really proud of the detail I put into this dungeon. And hey! Look! We got some nifty looking pillars too.
Step 4: The Polish
AKA The Razzmatazz
AKA The cherry on top
Wow would ya look at that. A little wall detail and gradient really goes a long way! Not to mention the stair detail and minor touch ups with the shading (another 6+ hours of work.. but who's counting)
But wait a second.. Aren’t we missing something?
Baddies! Of course!
Can’t have a good dungeon without a couple of bad folk lurking around it. That’s what I always say.
We’ll add a skeleton too, sure why not. For the dungeon aesthetic
Every dungeon has at least one bastard unlucky enough to not find his way out. That's what I always say.
I usually sketch the characters in boxes to get a feel for their dimensions. I draw and re-draw the dimensions until they look good (enough)
Now thaaat’s a dungeon! Just take away the grid, add some labeling, slap a trademark on that bad boy and send ‘er to the presses!
Truth be told, I felt like I could’ve done more to add onto this dungeon before publishing it, but honestly with art there is a diminishing marginal return to paying attention to every detail. Sometimes you just have to call it quits and finally say “I’m done, it’s time to move onto the next project.”
And I’m SO excited to find out what that next project is! If you have any inspiration you want to send me for an upcoming project let me know through my Instagram inbox @dungeons_of_doom or on Fakebook @DoomsDungeon. And again, this dungeon took a REALLY long time for me to progress to completion. Any purchase through my store or pledge on Patreon directly supports Dungeons of Doom and me to devote more time and resources towards building better, original content for the Dungeons and Dragons community. Thank you to all of my fans and followers that have given me this platform to share my knowledge as a DM with such a global audience. I could never repay you all for how much your support means to me. I hope you have had the chance to learn and grow as a DM as much as I have through this amazing community that we are all apart of.