Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Playing with Sketchup and the Caves of Chaos

Google’s Sketchup is a free 3D modeling application that runs on Windows and OS X. I’ve looked at some models in it before, but never really played with it much until this morning when I started goofing around with the map of the Caves of Chaos in it. I don’t know the first thing about using this software but can already see its potential. In most cases I’d prefer to quickly sketch something by hand for my players if my descriptions aren’t good enough, but I can see building a model beforehand with Sketchup in certain cases. The screen grabs below show a very quick and dirty draft being generated from the inside cover of B2. In this case, a visual aid isn’t really necessary for the location (which I’m not using in our game anyhow, players) but they do illustrate how you could easily build your own 3D models from topographical maps using it.Tracing lines of relief.Elevating lines of relief.Connecting lines of relief - drawing contours.Another view.Exploding the bottom map onto the created contours.

Obviously a little strange and an unrealistic view but at least you can get a sense of relative elevations. In further revisions I'd probably use more lines of relief, make certain sections much steeper, and use my own painted-in landscape (removing the dungeon view among other things).

18 comments:

scottsz said...

Absolutely awesome.

Even if you don't model the chambers and halls... just to see what the actual valley and trees looks like would be incredible.

Christian said...

Wow. That is really cool. Box canyon of death!

bliss_infinte said...

Yes, very cool. It gives a much better picture of the caves.

Bigby's Left Hand said...

Ditto what the other three guys said.

Carter Soles said...

Yes, very cool, thanks for the pics!

Risus Monkey said...

Keen! Sketchup rocks.

Akrasia said...

Cool and the Gang!

Loquacious said...

Does it offer any sort of schematics for the relief images (ie: dimensions to use for making said terrain)? Cause that'd be cool.

ze bulette said...

Thanks for the comments, I'm glad to see it was of interest..

@Loquacious: I'm not sure if I 100% understand the question. There are measurement tools and various templates available so that you can scale graphics as required (inches, feet, meters, etc.)

Nick said...

I'm not THAT familiar with Sketchup, but couldn't you then build the caves as well in order to show the entire complex in complete 3D?

ze bulette said...

@Nick: Absolutely. As I said, I'm a complete newb to Sketchup - for a decent example of what your question suggests, check out this Sketchup model of a fictional pyramid complex. Be sure to use the orbit view to tilt the camera and examine the subfloors of the tombs/pyramid after loading the model.

migellito said...

Awesome! I like how this example illustrates something many players and DMs have traditionally had a tough time with too, that being the fact that the Caves of Chaos aren't steep at all, and you can walk up to them.

Grey said...

It's a good topography breakdown for sure. You'd have to do a lot of slicing and dicing to lay it out in that fashion though since if I recall correctly almost all of those caves were at different levels. If they modeled the entrances out like most caves actually are... I don't think your adventures would find half of them to boot.

Arkhein said...

Okay now that is completely awesome. I can just see all of those 1st level character's bodies piled up at the bottom of the ravine now. :)

- Ark

Fujisawa Rob said...

Can I download your Sketchup file?

ze bulette said...

@Fujisawa Rob - I just looked but can't find anything I might have kept from that day of experimentation. It wouldn't be too hard to recreate though - you should give it a try! Thanks for stopping by and glad it was of interest. :)

Fujisawa Rob said...

Actually, I've been playing with Sketchup. I did a freehand trace of the contours, then did the 'sandbox from contours. It works pretty well. I added another contour at the bottom like you did to act as the start of the slope up to the 25' line. I did some playing with the caves themselves. I think it would be easier to trace out the caves first on the 2d map, then move them up to the appropriate elevations. Sketchup is a bit annoying at times.

theroleplayingrambler said...

This is awesome. Great Job!

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