For over a year I’ve been looking at YouTube videos demonstrating Wonderdraft, a multi-platform map making application popular with authors and dungeon masters. I’ve been fascinated with making my own maps since I saw a tutorial on Youtube a few years ago but, while I can do a decent job in Affinity Designer, Wonderdraft puts anything I can make on my own to shame. Its maps are beautiful.
Last week my year of drooling came to an end, and I spent the $29.99 to pick up a copy of my own. I am in awe. The included themes and assets are, out of the box, stunning. And, while I’ve not had a chance to delve into it yet, there is an active community creating even more themes and symbols for the app. Each tool in Wonderdraft is well designed, and most of the land and water tools have a “roughness” slider which helps to create a natural-looking shapes. Of all the tools, however, the raise and lower land-mass options are the most impressive. The ability to tweak a landmass with ease is mind-blowing. I can approximate what Wonderdraft does in Affinity Designer, particularly on my iPad when I’m using my Pencil, but in Affinity Designer it’s a painstaking process. Wonderdraft makes it both easy and beautiful.
The application runs on a cross-platform toolkit so it doesn’t feel like a native Mac app–though it does manage to tie into the finder for both open and save dialogs, which is nice. The non-native look, however, isn’t a knock. Wonderdraft runs well on my MacBook Pro and once I dive into the program I couldn’t care less about the toolkit. The experience of creating maps in Wonderdraft is so immersive the platform tends to disappear. The cross-platform nature of the app is, however, probably responsible for the two quirks I encountered running the application on my Macbook.
First, the pane which displays “symbols,” the icons which are displayed on the map for different features doesn’t scroll using my normal swipe gesture. Instead, I have to drag the scroll bar on the side to move though the different sets. This is not a huge deal.
The second quirk was a bit more daunting, as it blocks me from using a basic function of the app. Wonderdraft refers to the icons placed on a map to reference different features, “symbols.” And each symbol, particularly mountains and forests, contains some variations on the selected icon. This keeps mountain ranges and forest from looking uniform, which our brains don’t like. When using a wheel mouse Wonderdraft will cycle between the variations as the wheel is spun, which is helpful when a particular shape is needed to fit in an area. On my Macbook, however, the system swiping gestures are used to pan and zoom though the map. This is very useful, and the ability to use the Mac native pinch-zoom feature is a huge bonus, but the inability to activate the variation functionality vexed me any time I wanted to look for a particular variation. I was, however, able to devise a solution. Using a Mac utility called “BetterTouchTool” I created a trigger which mimicked the mouse wheel being spun 1. Once I created the trigger I could cycle through the variations just fine.
Wonderdraft is a fantastic application, and I am excited to see what I’m able to create with it. To see it in action, check out my demonstration video below.
- Control & a Five Finger Swipe. In case you were wondering. I could probably use this to scroll through the symbols pane as well, I’ll have to try that. Yes, I could probably just get a wheel mouse, but I like my MacBook trackpad. ↩