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I would like to find software to help me create an regional hex map, preferably in color. I already have the region mapped out by hand, but I want to re-create it as a classic hex map with each hex having its own terrain type.

To be clear, I'm not interested in tools that generate hex maps randomly. I want something to help me create a hex map from scratch, based on the region I have already created. The tool should let me “paint” terrain into hexes, stamp city symbols into the hexes, and lay down roads and waterways.

Why I want a hex map instead of what I have now is for ease of tracking navigation, discoveries, and the like that come up in particular with a party that I'm essentially letting loose into the world.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can't you just overlay a hex grid on your existing map? \$\endgroup\$ – Adeptus Jul 29 '15 at 1:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I tried that, and no matter what configuration I used, the hexes ended up looking unnatural. I'd rather create a new map. \$\endgroup\$ – Chucklemaster Jul 29 '15 at 1:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ So, if I understand your question and the comment together, you're just asking if there's any software that can help you make a hexmap, period, and the pre-existing map isn't really important to what you need the software to do? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 29 '15 at 3:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie basically yes. \$\endgroup\$ – Chucklemaster Jul 29 '15 at 4:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ I gave this a significant edit to steer readers away from overlays and random generators (two kinds of answers this would otherwise get) and focus them on hex-based map creation tools. I've added some explanatory context (to help readers understand and keep answers focused) and made some assumptions about what you're asking for, based on reading between the lines of your question and your comments, but please do edit those out or change them if I've made any erroneous assumptions. How does it look? \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 29 '15 at 4:59
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Hexographer

Hexographer is a tool for creating hex maps by painting. It offers a number of icon sets and is capable of working in color.

You can try the free version to decide if it is right for you - for many, the free version is all that is necessary.

While it can do map creation (and even map fill-in), it is not just a generator. If your vision can be realized as a hex map, hexographer can probably do it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1, I use Hexographer for my campaigns and believe it's the best program available for creating regional hex maps. \$\endgroup\$ – David Reeve Jul 29 '15 at 11:08
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Tiled

I found it some time ago, it's a map creator (it can create orthogonal, isometric and hexagonal maps).

To use it you will have to download a hexagonal tile set, the software is really easy to use. There is also a tutorial to create hexagonal maps.

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Photoshop, Paint.NET, GIMP, Paint Tool SAI, or any program with both Layering and transparency options.

Once you have your map uploaded on your PC, open it up, and then create a new layer and open this image. Copy it after loading it in to preserve the transparency and then paste it onto your preexisting map. If you're using Photoshop and you need to make it bigger or to make the lines darker, use the magic want tool to select the black parts of the hex image, use

Select > Modify > Expand

And once you've done that expand it by 1-5 pixels and then paint over it using the brush tool. Turn Anti-aliasing off when doing this to retain the rough edge of the hex. If you want to make the hexes bigger, use CTRL+T to activate Free Transform and drag the edge to make the cells as big as you want.

From there you're good to go. Paste in additional grid blocks as necessary.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It's very helpful to create guides/grid and snap to them to center a tile to the hex. Some time ago I downloaded a template and some brushes (mentioned in this post) that suit my needs. I should add that enworld now asks for registration to download files. \$\endgroup\$ – Roflo Jul 29 '15 at 14:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ From the review queue, new-to-us user @Mithrandir (Welcome!) points out the link is broken. Perhaps you'd like to update it? \$\endgroup\$ – Joel Harmon Mar 7 '17 at 12:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ The link itself was just an image of a hex grid, the rest of the answer is just instructions on how to remove the non-transparent portions of the hex and resize them to your needs. \$\endgroup\$ – Sandwich Mar 12 '17 at 18:47
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Dungeon Painter

Free tool on browser. You can save your map on your computer, load it later and modify it, and you can export it in JPG, PNG and PDF.

You can have square and hex grid, modify its color and transparency.

There is also a lot of assets and you can even upload your own custom assets (though the procedure is a bit complex).

It might not be the best tool for regional map (it's more adapted for dungeon) but I find it easy to use after a few test and it's my main tool to create maps.

(If you play online, you can also use Roll20, especially if you want your player to have access to the map without you. Importing you own asset is really easy with Roll20 but I don't think you can export the map.)

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Grid Cartographer is a mapping tool that supports hexes.

Cons: Doesn't have a wide gamut of features. It's fairly limited.

Pros: Does what it does very well. It's a responsive and attractive tool. Dead simple to use.

It's a paid tool (US$20) but there also exists a free version is fairly generous with what it lets you do.

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