DnD maps: The best D&D map makers

Here are the best Wizard of the Coast DnD maps and D&D map-maker tools - from the top map-making free options to the best paid platforms

DnD maps - the best D&D map makers - author photo showing D&D players around a tabletop game or battle map

DnD maps are one of many tasks on a Dungeon Master’s plate. Dungeons and Dragons 5E is a complicated game, and though the system’s mechanical depth and variety of abilities and enemies is a selling point for many, it can put a lot of work on the person running the game. Good D&D map makers are therefore timesaving tools that cut out loads of stress.

Luckily, in the digital age, many have stepped forward to answer the call for a better way to make DnD maps on the go. We’ve assembled a list of ten programs, five free and five paid, to give you a starting point for what to use to put together your maps for next week’s game. Once you’re equipped with your favourite map maker, be sure to check out our guides to other TTRPG tools – we can help you find everything from the best DnD character creator to the perfect DnD character sheets. We’ll even point players to the right DnD classes and DnD races for them.

 

A few technical notes about the list before we dive in. We concentrated on programs that create a square grid battlemap, not isometric or hex maps. We also weighted unique features highly, and tried to pick a variety of D&D map makers for a variety of tables with different needs. With that out of the way, let’s get right into it:

DnD maps and best DnD map makers - author photo showing D&D players around a tabletop game or battle map

These are the best free DnD map makers:

DnD maps and best DnD map makers: Author screenshot showing a DnD map from the Mipui map maker

Mipui’s Mapmaker

Ease of Use 4/5
Flexibility 3/5
Exportability 3/5
Quality of Maps 2/5

Open-source software Mipui’s Mapmaker is, by design, simplistic. It boasts little bloat, and focuses on an iconographic style of map design that is reminiscent of analogue grid paper maps and old-school dungeon maps. Within this scope, it has a lot of options – there are tons of stamps and tools to manipulate them to suit your needs. If you’re looking for fancy, the program won’t deliver, but its maps are functional and clean.

The real draw of Mipui, however, is its unique ability to bring multiple editors to the same map simultaneously. Maps are saved on the cloud, never expire, and editing or viewing links can be sent to players and collaborators. Users can even create their own forks of maps if they want to!

DnD maps and best DnD map makers: Author screenshot showing a DnD map from the Pymapper map maker

Pymapper

Ease of Use 1/5
Flexibility 3/5
Exportability 2/5
Quality of Maps 3/5

Do you admire the look of legacy maps from D&D 3.5E and beyond? Do you not really want to fiddle with dropping in every single shrub, table, and chair on your map? Pymapper might be your mapper of choice. It’s tile-based, which means that you’ll be stitching together preset tiles from a great variety of dungeons and other locales. This is at once a boon and a bane, as you can quickly construct rooms from piecemeal but give up some fine control in the process.

A word of warning: Pymapper is not a very intuitive program by modern standards. What it does have going for it, however, is that it’s free, open-source, and there are a great variety of free tilesets available along with anything custom you want to drop in from your own collection.

DnD maps and best DnD map makers: Author screenshot showing a DnD map from the Inkarnate free map maker

Inkarnate (free version)

Ease of Use 5/5
Flexibility 2/5
Exportability 2/5
Quality of Maps 4/5

Inkarnate, a freemium mapmaker, is incredibly easy to pick up and map with. While some mapmakers struggle with an intuitive user interface, Inkarnate cleverly takes its cues from modern illustration software to shorten the learning curve required to use it effectively. And, as an in-browser program, it’s as simple as ‘open it and go’.

There are some downsides to the free version: there aren’t a lot of assets to work with, the tools are somewhat restricted, and the map size and exports are limited. However, if you need a basic fantasy map that looks good and you need it now, Inkarnate’s free version will provide in spades.

DnD maps and best DnD map makers: Author screenshot showing a DnD map from the Deepnights RPG map editor

Deepnight’s RPG Map Editor

Ease of Use 4/5
Flexibility 3/5
Exportability 3/5
Quality of Maps 4/5

Boasting a simple set of tools, DeepNight’s RPG Map Editor gets a lot of mileage out of its interface. It’s got an in-app tutorial, the typical terrain and room-making tools, and also a much-appreciated simple lighting tool. It’s not terribly hard to make a good-looking map once you sit down and spend some time with it. You can download it or run it from the browser, and download is pay-what-you-want, and either version works just fine and exports without issue.

The program’s assets have a very sprite-based RPG feel, and the whole program is built around that look. No other mapper really makes anything that looks like it, and if you want that classic RPG aesthetic, this is the program for you.

DnD maps and best DnD map makers: Author screenshot showing a DnD map from the Dungeonscrawl map maker

Dungeonscrawl

Ease of Use 5/5
Flexibility 3/5
Exportability 4/5
Quality of Maps 3/5

Dungeonscrawl is perhaps the best free D&D map maker, in terms of being incredibly easy to throw something together that looks presentable. It’s very hard to make something that looks bad in this program, and, though it’s not as powerful as something like Inkarnate, it is built from the ground up with everything a DM would need in mind: quick turnaround to make a map; an asset catalogue with use licenses baked in; import of maps from the random dungeon generator Donjon for tweaking; and easy and flexible export options.

Everything is laid out well, it’s simple with no unnecessary bells and whistles, and it’s very easy to do everything you need to do.

DnD maps and best DnD map makers: Wizards of the Coast artwork from Candlekeep mysteries showing two D&D characters studying a book in a library

And now, part two – the best paid D&D map makers. If you’re hitting the limits of free software and have some money to burn, fear not – we’ve also taken a look at a wide variety of paid mappers. Whether it’s a one-time cost or a subscription, we’ve got a grab-bag of the best options available.

These are the best paid DnD map makers:

DnD maps and best DnD map makers: Author screenshot showing a DnD map from the Calamus map maker

The Calamus

Ease of Use 5/5
Flexibility 3/5
Exportability 1/5
Quality of Maps 3/5

The Calamus earns its spot on the list for being the only mapper to be easy to use on, and indeed built for, mobile devices.

Priced at $2.99 per month, $30 a year, and $0.99 a month for players to access, it’s a combination mapper and Virtual Tabletop, and, while it lacks a huge asset library, everything it has adheres to a charming, app-wide parchment and paper fantasy aesthetic.

It’s easy to make good-looking maps, and the controls are simple and intuitive. The fact that it has no real export functions does hold it back as a mapper, but, if your group is heavily mobile-dependent, there is nothing else better suited.

The prices noted above are accurate at press time, but The Calamus team did inform Wargamer it would soon be moving to a freemium business model.

DnD maps and best DnD map makers: Author screenshot showing a DnD map from the Dungeon Painter Studio map maker

Dungeon Painter Studio

Ease of Use 4/5
Flexibility 5/5
Exportability 3/5
Quality of Maps 3/5

Dungeon Painter Studio is, at press time, in early access on Steam, and is looking extremely promising. Priced at $14.99, there’s a good interface with all the requisite tools, an in-app reference for hotkeys, and an export engine that has presets to export optimally to a number of different Virtual Tabletops. It’ll likely take some sitting down and experimenting for you to get something that looks good, but all of the pieces are there.

The big selling point here is the asset library – not what comes with the app itself, but the Steam Workshop page. The price point is almost paltry for the number of free mods you can download to add to the library, and of course, you can always upload your own, too.

DnD maps and best DnD map makers: author screenshot showing a DnD map of a building from the Inkarnate Pro map maker

Inkarnate Pro

Ease of Use 5/5
Flexibility 5/5
Exportability 3/5
Quality of Maps 5/5

Inkarnate is good enough to be on the list twice. That should tell you something. Upgrading to Inkarnate’s pro version (for $5 per month or $25 a year) nets you a much wider variety of assets to make use of; the path tool; and a few other goodies, like the ability to export maps at higher resolutions.

As for downsides: the subscription model just isn’t for everyone, and obviously you lose the premium access to features if you decide not to renew your subscription.

DnD maps and best DnD map makers: author screenshot showing a DnD map of a stream from the Arkenforge map maker

Arkenforge

Ease of Use 3/5
Flexibility 5/5
Exportability 5/5
Quality of Maps 4/5

Arkenforge is a powerful program, with all the assets you could want, a slick and variable lighting system, a good-looking UI, and lots of optional add-ons. Maps made by a skilled user look amazing. At $35 each for the Fantasy and Sci-Fi Essential Bundles, it’s a hefty price tag  and probably out of the range of a lot of people, but you get what you pay for.

Arkenforge also boasts the ability to seamlessly export into Foundry and other virtual tabletops with wall and lighting data intact.

DnD maps and best DnD map makers: author screenshot showing a DnD map of a small cabin and surroundings from the Dungeondraft map maker

Dungeondraft

Ease of Use 4/5
Flexibility 5/5
Exportability 4/5
Quality of Maps 4/5

Dungeondraft is the Super Mario of mapmakers; it isn’t really bad at anything, and it’s good at a lot of things. At $19.99, it’s affordable and easy to pick up and use, makes pretty maps, has a lot of assets to work with, and has a robust light source tool. It exports to all the common virtual tabletops, has onion skinning for different levels of a map, and has an excellent and extremely finely controlled object scattering tool. Oh, and it also exports to the popular virtual tabletops directly, too. You know. As a treat.

This list is ultimately about what’s best for DMs working on a game schedule, and Dungeondraft has the crucial ability to make good maps easily and quickly on a cheap, one-time purchase. It’s all around a solid, good program that is absolutely the best bang for your buck available.

And there you have it – ten excellent options for all your mapping needs. Pick what’s right for you and your group, go forth and let your creativity loose on your players, and don’t forget the secret door full of monsters!