Map Making – Shadow Paths

Today, I am going to take a deep dive into shadow paths, because I have been able to achieve some cool tricks with them that I have not seen documented anywhere.

I use the shadow paths that came with my subscription to Forgotten Adventures DungeonDraft Integration assets. As I said in my earlier post, I have a very light touch with shadows, as I generally want just enough to indicate a sense of depth, but not enough that my light placement might not make sense.

Shadowing Stairways

To start, here is how I shadow stairways. Consider this image:

Of interest are the two oblique shadows cast by each level of stairway.

Ordinarily, shadows look something like A when you select the “shrink” or “grow” option when creating the path.

To get it to appear like it does in B, take a look at this version, with all the points visible:

I have a bunch of points opposite where I want my shadow to taper. This image shows the points spaced apart, so you can see them. But in reality, I have all four points on top of the point at the end of the path. Each point that you add will sharpen the opposing point even more. You could also space them apart to make a more gradual taper.

This trick also works quite well with most paths that can taper, such as cliffs and ridges.

Shadowing Corners

Forgotten Adventures provides a large number of shadow options in the Object menu, including a full circle, three quarters of a circle, a half circle and a quarter circle. I prefer to use paths just to avoid having a lot of objects on top of each other. However, it is difficult to fold paths around corners without this feathering effect:

I have taken advantage of this feathering for certain visual effects, but most of the time, it is not ideal.

I tried deleting one point at each corner, and the feathering looked worse. However, I next moved each point on top of the closest corner point, and behold!

So to be clear, each corner has two points, one on top of the other. (I also switched out the 60% shadow for a 40%, so you could better see the gradual transition of the shadow.)

Shadow Paths Around Objects

Although I enjoy placing the shadow objects around my map and I make abundant use of them, sometimes I would rather have a path, especially if I have a piece of furniture. Here are some examples:

This shadow uses the technique described above. I might also cap off the shadow ends with a matching half-shadow from the Object menu.

This is a simple shadow, with one point per shadow, with the screenshot taken from the Select view in DungeonDraft.

Now, go have some fun with shadows!