In order to speed up my map-making process, I decided to start using Inkarnate. I had kept an eye on it for years, before I signed up last week. After some basic practice maps, I decided to turn my old “Vale of Lost Warriors” map into an Inkarnate map. I have to say I am rather pleased with the results.

Comparison: Left – Map from 2012, created in Inkscape. Right: Map from 2022, created in Inkarnate.

I do think there are a few things to improve on the newer version of the map. For example, the “Old Road” is missing. And I am not convinced the use of isometric objects for the towns, camps, and ruins is the best choice. In some cases it works – the “frozen ruins” on the glacier, for example. But in others, it doesn’t.

Still, for my first “real” map created with Inkarnate, I am quite happy.

And it does cut down considerably on the time needed to create maps. That’s really the main attraction of Inkarnate. I do love making my own maps, but I tend to get bogged down and spend weeks, months, or sometimes even years on a map. All time I could work on world-building or writing.

Inkarnate First Impressions

It’s incredibly easy to make decent looking maps in Inkarnate. Of course, it doesn’t replace skill completely – you have to know what you are doing. Not only when it comes to the tool itself, but you also have to have a general understanding of geography et cetera to make naturalistic-looking maps.

The biggest weaknesses of Inkarnate I can see so far is that the icon set is a bit limited, especially when it comes to locations for regional and world maps. I’d like more settlement and fortress types, and “point of interest” markers. But then, there’s really never such a thing as “too many symbols”.

The other one is that line styles are fairly limited. For example, I’d like to make lines with an outline, or which consist of one solid and one dotted line, and so on. I’d also like to continue – append to – a line I drew at a later point. Maybe these things are possible and I haven’t found them, yet.

But frankly, even with the limitations, Inkarnate is great. It really speeds up mapping, especially prototyping, and it’s especially capable to creating battlemaps for virtual tabletop software. I will definitely continue using it, and I’ll absolutely share my creations down the line.