I am trying to design the graphics used in a tiled map. For example, by using a tiled map editor, you can load the tileset you designed to make maps.

What kind of tools do you recommend for making them? Are there any techniques I can use in order to design really nice graphics for maps?

I am kind of new to this area, really appreciate your advise and experience sharing.

  • Not sure what it is that you want to make? Is it the objects in the maps you want to make? Sort of modules like buildings, bridges; or is it the topography itself?
    – benteh
    Feb 25 '14 at 15:54
  • Similar question on another site: What pixel graphics program supports creating seamless tiles?
    – JohnB
    Feb 25 '14 at 21:20
  • It would be useful to know what scale you are working on. Are we talking 50 tiles, or will you need to generate hundreds or thousands? Will it be "local" map, or would Google Maps-functionality/structure be helpful?
    – benteh
    Feb 26 '14 at 15:18

Illustrator has a feature called Artboards that are kind of like tiles. You could jut them up against each other in a mockup of your tile layout, and then do your illustration and layout within those "tiles" to get a really good feel for what you're doing and see it in a very good rendition of how it's going to come out once on the device in the tiles.

[EDIT: Addition] One other great feature of Artboards for this is the ability to quickly duplicate and move them around, so you could really check how things line up with one another on all sorts of different tiles, really easily. As far as I know, though, there's no "instancing" of Artboards so that you can edit one and have it propagate changes to other instances of that artboard. Although Illustrator does have Symbols, which you could use to get instance editing.

Photoshop has Slices, which could also be used for this process, in much the same way, but the way it handles really big files (in terms of dimensions and layers) is going to get a little unwieldy if you start working on a big map.

And Illustrator has a good command of both bitmaps and vector graphics, so it's the preferable choice, I'd suggest. But you will need to learn the ways of antiquated software interfaces. Fun Fun FUN!

  • Nice answer. You could also use Smart Objects in Photoshop, right?
    – Yisela
    Feb 25 '14 at 19:40
  • Yeah, I was gonna add that. But then I imagined the pain of working with Photoshop at the kind of file sizes that someone's likely to be heading towards with the need to do tile mapping. At which point I didn't want to explain that possibility, at all. Especially considering how editing smart objects chews up RAM and HDD space like nothing else you can do creatively. You have to be incredibly disciplined in terms of opening and closing smart objects and purging the cache to keep Photoshop moving responsively when working this way. Not something someone new to design should be struggling with.
    – Confused
    Feb 25 '14 at 20:37

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