Layers Introduction

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Layers are an integral part of utilizing Dungeon Scrawl to its fullest potential. This article aims to provide the most important information so you can get started as quickly as possible.

Why use layers?

Layers are not required to create amazing maps on Dungeon Scrawl. The pre-made layers and styles can make some very impressive maps! However, layers can help take your map ideas to the next level. Some instances where you would want to add more layers:

  • Adding multiple colors or styles to your map
  • Adding depth to your map with pits, terraces, or bridges
  • Creating multiple overlapping floors
  • Adding additional linework or details
  • Creating smooth transitions between areas

In these ways, and many others, layers can really make your map stand out and truly meet the vision you have set for it.

Best practices

Before getting started it is important to call out some best practices you can employ while learning layers. When working with layers and multiple assets, it is very important to make sure you stay as organized as possible. We recommend doing the following as you work on larger and more complex maps.

  • Label each layer clearly - for example "Cave upper layer" instead of just "Cave"
  • Utilize folders often to group related layers
  • Be mindful of your image and object usage as they can pile up quickly
  • Use the "eye" icon on the right side to hide and show layers and assets to find them quickly and remind yourself where it is

Limitations

Maps are not saved as you make them, if you refresh the page or close the browser your work will be lost. Be sure to utilize the save feature found under the "File" menu in the very top left.

You cannot currently interact with, move, or delete multiple layers in the Layers management section at once. This makes it increasingly important to regularly organize your layer section.

Creating Layers

Creating layers is very quick and easy within Dungeon Scrawl. Once you have loaded into the application, you will see a variety of pre-made layers in the left side menu (shown below).

ds layers.png

These pre-made layers are a great starting point for creating maps quickly and can offer a wide variety of styles and options to customize the look and feel of your map as you create it.

You will also notice that there are two options when you hove over a pre-made layer style: "Add new layer" and "Apply to current layer"

ds layer choice.png

Using the "Add new layer" will create a new layer on top of the existing one where you can create and edit a map on top of any existing maps. This is very useful if you want to use multiple styles at once within your map design.

The "Apply to current layer" will overwrite any currently applied settings on that layer with the settings from the pre-made version. You can use this to quickly swap your maps between various styles to see which you like best or simply to reset your map to the base style if you happened to have made changes.

Managing Layers

The Layer management section can be found in the bottom right corner of the interface. Managing your layers is very important if you want to create complex and unique maps within Dungeon Scrawl without losing your place. 

ds layer management.png

Actions you can take in the Layers menu:

  • Rename any items within the Layers menu by double clicking the name
  • Move and reorder layers by dragging and dropping
  • Create folders and layers by clicking the + icon
    • You can add layers to a folder by dragging it over top the folder
    • You can furl and unfurl folders by hovering over them and clicking the up or down arrow on the left side
    • You can nest folders within other folders by dragging them into an existing folder similar to how you would a layer
  • Hide individual layers by hovering over the layer name and clicking the "eye" icon on the right side
  • Duplicate the layer by right clicking and selecting the option from the pop up menu
  • Delete the layer by right clicking and selecting the option from the pop up menu
  • Send to back or front by right clicking and selecting the option from the pop up menu
    • This is bound by folder structure and effectively replicates dragging and dropping layers for their order.

The Advanced options within the + icon menu are not covered in this article.

In the layer menu as well you will notice there is an "Images" layer which acts as a folder for objects on your map. This could be doors, stairs, or text as well as any image assets you have uploaded to Dungeon Scrawl.

Majority of the time you will want to keep the Images layer at the top to make sure your assets are not covered by the map itself. But you may want to move assets around within the folder in order to have them appear on top of each other in certain orders.

Layer Settings

Similar to may other tools within Dungeon Scrawl there are a variety of settings and changes that you can make within each layer to tweak the style to meet your needs. These settings will change depending on the initial style you had selected as well as what type of item you have selected in the Layers management menu.

ds layer settings.png

Dungeon Layers

Starting with the most common layer, we have the Dungeon Layer. You will find many settings here that can change a lot aspects about your map.

Overall Opacity

You can hide the layer as a whole as well as change the overall opacity of the layer. Great if you want to make semi-transparent features such as the water of a pond where you want your players to see under the surface.

ds dungeon opacity.gif

Walls

You will notice on most styles the walls are found around the edges. You can change the color, width, roughness, or hide them all together here.

ds dungeon walls.gif

Floor

The floor is the open area of the dungeon layer though you don't always need to treat it as a floor in your maps. Another way to interpret this is the fill of your dungeon layer, it can be any color you want!

ds dungeon floor.gif

Grid

This portion overlaps the floor to create typical battle map grids you may be used to. You can select different variants, or hide it all together. The width option actually changes the thickness of the lines, not the size of the squares.

ds dungeon grid.gif

Shadow

You will notice that many pre-made styles have a sense of depth to them due to the shadow option. You can select the width of the shadow as well as the color which can be really helpful for representing different times of day or just showing that the walls are higher.

ds dungeon shadows.gif

Style Specific Edges (Hatching, Lower/Upper Shading)

As mentioned in the shadow section, some pre-made styles have specific edge settings such as being able to alter the look of the hatch patterns or other options. These will differ slightly but the same logic generally applies between the different styles.

You can set the size width as well as the pattern line thickness via the "stroke" sub section.

ds dungeon edge styles.gif

Shading

Lastly on the Dungeon Layer options is the Shading settings. If you noticed in the previous section, there is some slight coloring around the edge of the map. This can add another level of stylization to your map. It can be helpful to subtly set the color pallet or tone of the map without adding more visual clutter.

In the below example, the hatching has been hidden to show the effects more visibly.

ds dungeon shading.gif

Advanced

This setting is not covered in detail here. However, it allows you to "unpack" all of the settings from a given dungeon layer if you were using a pre-made style and allow you more granular control.

We recommend only intermediate to advanced users make use of this option. That said, it can be an interesting way to explore the inner workings for beginners!

ds dungeon advanced.png

Object, Image, and Folder Layers

Objects such as Doors, Stairs, and Text as well as images you upload or use from the pre-existing set all are treated as their own layers within the Layers management section. If you utilize the object tool and click an object or image on the map you will notice the Layers Setting section change depending on the asset selected.

All object and image layers will have opacity sliders as well as the ability to hide the asset by clicking the "eye" icon.

You must click the object on the map in order to see these additional settings. You cannot select the asset name from the Layers management section.

Doors

When a door is selected you will be able to change the color of the door as well as some other aspects of its outline and thickness. You will also find "Blend mode" here as well, more on this below.

Stairs

When stairs are selected you can modify the style of the lines as well as add a backdrop color if you like. You will also find "Blend mode" here as well, more on this below.

Text

When text is selected you can change the font style, size, and color as well as change what words are represented in the text object.

Images

Images will only offer opacity and the option to hide. You will also find "Blend mode" here as well, more on this below.

Folders

Folders only offer opacity sliders and the ability to hide. However, this setting will affect all assets and layers housed within the parent folder.

Blend mode

The blend mode option can be found across various layers below outlines what they do.

  • Normal - This will just render the object or image as is.
  • Add - Creates a "brightening" effect. White being the brightest and black having no change.
  • Multiply - This multiplies the base color of the asset's pixels by the color behind it. This can be useful to make the whites of an image appear transparent or to darken already dark areas.
  • Screen - Screen creates a translucent effect that results in a lighter color both for the asset itself and for anything behind it.

For more in-depth information on Blend Modes we recommend taking a look at the documentation provided by Adobe Photoshop as the same principals apply within Dungeon Scrawl.

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