What Do They Do?
Michael G. Ryan
Gamble knows exactly how to get there from here. He even knows how to
get out of hell -- and hes got the map to prove it. In fact, he
made the map. That's what he does for a living.
came upon this position by chance," he admits. "My brother was
the fire inspector signing off inspections for the Wizards' University
Game Center restaurant, and he was in direct contact with [Game Center
cofounder] Steve Conard. When he told Steve that I was a talented artist,
Steve asked to meet me and see my work."
time, Todd went from delivering French bread to exercising his creativity
by making maps for Wizards. Though the cartography department at Wizards
was short staffed at the time, the company was not ready to hire someone
new yet, so he worked as a temp for nearly a year and generated freelance
maps whenever the work came his way.
Road From Hell
first mapping job was A Paladin
in Hell," he recalls. "I
remember I did this map in watercolors and that proved to be a difficult
medium to create maps with, especially if there were any changes to be
made. Fortunately, the maps passed the first round of approvals. I look
back at that, and I realize how much I've learned in the past four or
so years working for the company."
time Todd officially joined the Wizards team in 1997, he'd acquired a
great deal of know-how in mapmaking from fellow cartographer Rob Lazzaretti.
Once he was a member of the cartography department, Todd's first job was
to put tags (text) onto maps that had been done by another cartographer,
came to Wizards all dressed up; I think I even had a tie on. But I
quickly realized that this was no ordinary corporate environment,
because some people dressed up almost in costume while others strode
about barefoot." --Todd
Lazzaretti [cartography studio lead] did a great job of teaching me all
the technical stuff and software before throwing an entire project my
way," Todd points out. "When I was ready, I was assigned maps
and diagrams for the Diablo
II project. Then Rob gave me the challenge of creating the new
look for D&D's 3rd Edition maps."
maps requires more time and effort than the average DM might think. "Rob
usually has a kick-off meeting just so everyone understands what needs
to get done and how, generally, the maps should look," Todd explains.
"That's when I'll get rough sketches of the dimensions of, let's
say, a wizard's tower and all the levels of the tower, as well as text
for the adventure to give the cartographers a feel for the environment
and any necessary details."
begins with any maps that appear more challenging or difficult than others,
first scanning the sketches to use as reference in the background. "Then
I build over these sketches with various textures that I've created,"
of his work in creating maps is done in Adobe Photoshop; occasionally,
he'll use Adobe Illustrator. "I use a combination of tools and filters
in my own way to create some of the effects I get in Photoshop,"
he explains. "There are a lot of little tweaks and certain filters
over other filters, and so on. I do most of my work in RGB [color format]
because I have more filter choices."
supplement his income, Todd used to run a side business custom-building
model railroads and scenery. "Most of my clients were very well-to-do,"
he notes, "and this allowed me to work with really fine materials
and learn from this."
the work is complete, Todd converts them over to the CMYK color format
used by printers, and then adds text to the maps (cartographers call those
blocks of text "tags"). "I usually use a specific font
for different products, to be consistent. Sometimes I can be creative
with the fonts, but I never use more than three types on a single map
as a rule of thumb. I then sandwich the tags that are done in Illustrator
with my Photoshop files into Quark [a layout program], and then print
out a nice quality color print for the editors and writers to review and
make changes, if they have any."
that everything has gone well, his files are then ready to go to typesetting
to be placed into the layout for the printed product. And the workload
is, according to Todd, pretty well balanced. "I usually work on about
three projects at a time, but sometimes, with rush jobs, I can work on
many more," he says. "All of the cartographers are always busy
doing something cool."
of these more challenging and exciting projects are the "Map-a-Week"
entries for the D&D website. "We create very unique maps
where anyone can download them from the Web for free," he explains.
"I strictly work in the D&D worlds but can work with Forgotten
Realms if we get too busy."
of these "Map-a-Week" pieces rank as what Todd considers his
finer work, though he has a preference for his maps in Manual
of the Planes. "I
really had a lot of fun creating those maps and illos," he admits.
He also points out that the recognition he receives from Rob Lazzaretti
and the other people he works with on various projects keeps him going
who want to see more of Todd's work can find examples of it in just about
any D&D product, Chainmail
rulebooks and the online "Map-a-Week" entries. He also helps
create online 3-D cardstock foldup
buildings for miniatures gaming. Anyone can download them free from
the Chainmail website, print them out (complete with instructions),
and build them. "I did the artwork for the buildings, while Dennis
Kauth engineered the shapes of the buildings; Rob Lazzaretti spearheaded
and directed the projects," Todd says. "This portion of the
website has been used quite a bit, and we are hearing that it is very
feels that being part of a group of talented artists and designers at
Wizards has improved his design sense and technical skills. "I'd
like to thank Rob Lazzaretti,
Sam Wood, Dennis Kauth, Todd
Lockwood, Matt Wilson,
Mike McVey, and
Chas DeLong for sharing their thoughts and constructive criticism, which
in turn helped me to become the cartographer and artist that I am today."
Can Save Lives -- and Not Just Your Characters!
come as no surprise that this mapmaker who worked for his father's advertising
business in northern California (and from whom he learned more "than
I ever did in college") sees gold -- and mines -- in them thar hills.
In addition to his mapping skills, Todd has a passion for mining.
love subterranean channels and mining cart tracks and anything to do with
mining," he says. "I grew up near a huge old gold and copper
mine in the mountains of Ingot, California. I would ride my bicycle to
these mines with photocopies of all the shafts and tunnels. I was able
to get a set of plans of the operation from an engineering firm my dad
worked for at the time. These maps may have saved my life one time when
a tunnel filled with about six inches of water hid a vertical shaft from
sight, but I knew it was there from my map. I would always poke the water
and ground with a walking stick just in case. A person can fall hundreds
of feet into a dark vertical shaft."
players, take note: The next time someone suggests that poking the ground
ahead with a walking stick is a good idea, it probably is -- especially
if that someone happens to be the man who made the map of your dungeon
in the first place.
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