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The 4th Age

Sets the game into year 220 of the 4th Age, where you play as either Gondor, Rohan, Rhûn or Harad.

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How to create authentic looking mini-maps

Tutorial for Battle for Middle-earth BFME, Battle for Middle-earth II BFME 2, Battle for Middle-earth II: Rise of the Witch-king ROTWK

Avatar of m@tt


Category: Graphics
Level: Intermediate
Created: Thursday April 5, 2007 - 9:07
Updated: Sunday February 20, 2011 - 7:35
Views: 16681
Summary: The detailed way to create mini-maps


Staff says


Members say




9 votes

How to create authentic looking mini-maps
By m@tt (aka. mh_gollum)

Welcome to my first tutorial. You may have seen a tutorial on how to do this by Rohara over at, however that just uses photoshop effects and never really worked for me. This is how I do it...

What you need:
  • Worldbuilder
  • Photoshop CS2 or some imaging program that can edit the colours channels

  • Two options to start with:
  • Use the existing auto-generated mini-map
  • Use a overhead screenshot of the map (if bits cant be picked up by first option, such as in fortress maps). Press CTRL+F then zoom out and press the Print-Screen button (Prt Sc SysRq)

  • Open a new document in photoshop sized 512x512px. Copy in the image from one of the options chosen above.

    I have used a overhead screen shot of my map, Old Fords of Anduin:

    User image

    Create a new layer, select it, then select the pencil tool of width 4px and colour black. Draw round the most prominent features of the map, such as mountains and rivers.

    User image

    Next you need to emphasise the mountains and rivers. If you look at EA mini-maps, they do this. For the mountains, add sets of lines using a load of 3px anti-aliased lines.

    For the rivers, you have to make a arrow head shape using either a 2px pencil or 2px line without anti-aliasing, then copy loads of them all over the river. Try to clump them into groups of two and three like in this picture:

    User image

    Now create a layer below everything bar the original image. Go back to the one with the rivers on and use the magic wand tool to select all areas of water. Now go to the new layer and fill all the areas with black. Set the opacity of this layer to 20%.

    User image

    Next you should add in the rest of the lines, such as for paths and, if you want, wooden areas. Use a 2px pencil for this.

    User image

    Now create a new layer above the original image and below all the rest and fill with white. Press CTRL+SHIFT+E to merge everything.

    User image

    Now flip the image vertically and invert the colours by pressing CTRL+I.

    Then press CTRL+A followed by CTRL+X to cut everything. Go to resize image and resize to 128x128px. Now select the Channels tab and create a new channel and call it Alpha 1 (named by default). Paste (CTRL+V) into this new channel and resize the image to fit.

    User image

    Now go to the RGB layer and fill it with the colour #4c2c01 which is a brown colour. This means that the image is just this colour, except for the alpha layer.

    User image

    You'll notice that the image is slightly transparent round the edge. That can be sorted by going back to the Layers tab, creating a new one under the main one, and fill with the brown colour. Then press CTRL+SHIFT+E to merge.

    Now save as a Targa (.tga) file and call it yourmap_art.tga and you are done. Now test it out in game:

    User image


    Display order: Newest first | Page: 1, 2

    Ruthrelad - Tuesday April 20, 2021 - 9:18

    If the final result is brown that means the alpha layer was not saved correctly. I think you have to enable that option while saving your .tga file.

    m@tt (Team Chamber Member) - Saturday January 23, 2010 - 4:32

    Worldbuilder. Press CTRL+F to go to overhead mode.

    Jordan18124 - Saturday January 23, 2010 - 2:50

    an overhead screen shot from where? worlbuilder? or from in-game? or somewhere else?

    Illuvatar - Friday January 8, 2010 - 6:31

    I did everything correctly, but all I have is a brown layer above my Alpha 1 channel. And all that shows up in-game is a brown square. What am I doing wrong?
    (If it helps, I have Photoshop 7.0)

    Masterbadeend - Friday May 15, 2009 - 3:10

    Really good, except the resizing part, I only resize it before saving it :P

    Lauri (Team Chamber Member) - Thursday January 1, 2009 - 16:41

    pic looks like a penis..
    good tut though

    m@tt (Team Chamber Member) - Monday May 12, 2008 - 14:29

    To get a good overhead, just do what the article says: press CTRL+F, zoom out and press PrtSc.

    How do i open the RGB channel?
    Look at the second last pic

    Why should i press CTRL-A and CTRL-X wich deletes everything?
    It selects all and cuts (moves). You later press CTRL+V (paste) which pastes the cut image.

    I see only brown!
    Look at the edges. Transparent means slightly see through. You don't have to do this bit if you want though.

    - Under wich main one?
    The only layer you have

    I already have a brown layer!
    I know. It's fixing the transparency.

    Now i get the lines good, but the other things is still black...
    No idea what you're on about here

    galentv - Monday May 12, 2008 - 7:03

    How do i take the overhead screenshot good?


    I dont understand that with the channels...

    How do i open the RGB channel? Why should i press CTRL-A and CTRL-X wich deletes everything?


    No its only the last left for me...

    "You'll notice that the image is slightly transparent round the edge.
    - I see only brown!
    That can be sorted by going back to the Layers tab, creating a new one under the main one,
    - Under wich main one?
    and fill with the brown colour.
    - I already have a brown layer!
    Then press CTRL+SHIFT+E to merge."


    Now i get the lines good, but the other things is still black...

    lycan - Monday December 10, 2007 - 15:20

    u mask it :)

    m@tt (Team Chamber Member) - Monday November 26, 2007 - 9:20

    I've tried stuff on GIMP, and the main problem is pasting into the alpha layer. Apart from that, everything else should work the same, as this uses no effects.

    And I have no idea what Elvenfury is on about.


    Right, after talking with Elvenfury, I believe you can get the same effect by using a Layer Mask instead of an Alpha channel. This is useful for those of you with GIMP (where Alpha's are tricky to use IMO) and with Photoshop Elements.

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