Creating Fantasy Maps With Gimp: Labelling

Updated on April 26, 2020
Frost Birch profile image

I've been drawing maps for D&D since first playing the game in '78. Playing online requires digital maps, so I taught myself using GIMP.


After you've drawn your map, it's time to label it. Labelling the countries or the oceans is fine if you draw a straight path for the text, but what about rivers? It would look better if the lettering followed the contours of the river or road, or if the label of the mountain range flowed in a wide arc down the map.

There are other things to consider when labelling your fantasy map. Here are a few:

  • the font
  • the style
  • the colour

These are all part of the labelling experience. It is easy once you know a few tricks of the trade.


How to Choose the Right Font

Choosing the right font is difficult.

  1. It has to be easy to read at different focus levels of your map. It may look great when you are zoomed-in to a close-up view, but if you look at the whole document, the font may have blurred all together, making it unreadable.
  2. It has to match the style of the map you are creating. A sci-fi start map would not look good with gothic script labelling.
  3. Choose the right colour for your labels. The text has to be visible to be of any use. If you run into a problem with clashing colours, there are some tricks or workarounds to fix it.


How to Label Your Map

Text to Path techniques.

  1. Draw a path with the Path Tool along where you want the text to lie.
  2. Open a Text box. It doesn't have to be near where your path is. Write in the text.
  3. In the Tool Options choose your font, colour, size and change it from Fixed to Dynamic.
  4. Right-click on the created text layer and choose Text along Path.
  5. On the Paths tab, right-click on the path created for the text. Click Path to Selection.
  6. Back on the Layers tab, select the main Text layer of your map. Choose the Paintbrush Tool and fill in the selection with the colour of the text you choose.
  7. Select - None.
  8. Delete the temporary text layer now. It is not needed.
  9. Rinse and repeat with each label.


Search the Internet, and you'll find loads of fonts you can use for your fantasy maps. Some are quite expensive, but many are free. They are easy to use, just download and move the font files into the font directory of your system.

I downloaded an elvish font and a dwarvish one for secret messages hidden in the map that shows up under certain circumstances, puzzles within puzzles created with fonts. It is also an excellent way to make a border for your fantasy map. You can put random runes around the perimeter of the document, just for the ambiance, and to make it look like something that came out of J.R.R Tolkien's world.

Another place you can use labelling for on your fantasy map is the Legend, where you incorporate the symbols you use in your map.

You could also add a text box and explain the history of the area the map depicts.

I hope this demonstration was easy enough for you to follow and helped you to make the text label follow the contours of the map you have drawn.

This article did not show you how to draw maps: for that, you need to follow so of my other offerings. Here's a partial list:

  1. Creating a Fantasy Map: A Step-By-Step Tutorial
  2. Creating Mountains for Fantasy Maps in GIMP 2.8

Created with GIMP 2.10.12
Created with GIMP 2.10.12 | Source

For this article, all the instructions listed are the same in GIMP 2.10.12 as those from GIMP 2.8.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)