Mapmaking for Beginners Part.1

Welcome to ‘Map-making for Beginners’,
this tutorial is for everybody who just started map-making or for those who are thinking about getting into it. Experienced map-makers can probably learn a thing or two!

Brought to you by: Mereel and The Planetary Workshop.

  • How to start
  • Hotkeys
  • Overview
  • Borders
  • Pathing
  • Player Setup
  • Starting Locations
  • Mineral Placement
  • Foliage
  • Upload
  • General Tips
  • How to start
  • Units
  • Building Placement
  • Cliffs
  • General Tips
  • Rotational Symmetry (4Player)
  • Reflected Symmetry (4Player)
  • Rotational Symmetry (2Player)
  • Reflected Symmetry (2Player)

How to Start

Diving into a new world

At a first glance, the Editor might seem to be very complicated and it might be daunting to start working with it, but looks can be deceiving. Making UMS (Use Map Settings, ie. custom game modes) Maps and working with the Trigger and Data Editor is indeed very complicated but fortunately for Melee Maps none of those things are needed.
Coming from a Warcraft 3 backround might certainly help when you are getting started with melee mapping. Most of the options related to melee maps have not changed and often use the same pictures and names.
But nothing is wrong with starting completely fresh, everything has a good description and this little Tutorial might certainly help every ‘protossdecalseverywherekid’ to understand the basics.


Usefull Hotkeys for Melee Maps
  • V for In-game view. This also toggles the grid on and off
  • D for doodads
  • T for terrain
  • U for units
  • P for starting positions (or points)
  • H for pathing
  • (.) and (,) to cycle through different versions of a doodad
  • (+) and (-) to change the size of a doodad
  • (/) and (*) to rotate units and doodads in 90°
  • Hold Shift to disable doodad and unit pathing
  • blank key to deactivate selection


How to create an Overview Picture
  • Open up the ‘Create Overview’ in the Data Tab.
  • Select a High Resolution to get a Quality Picture. In this case 2600*2509 (Based on Edges)
  • Cameraview on 90° to get a Topdown shot.
  • Select ‘Custom Settings’ below, but don’t change anything besides Lighting: Editor.
  • Press ‘Generate Overview’ on the right side.
  • Press ‘OK’ to save the Overview Picture.
  • Keep in mind to have the Lighting Tab open in the Background to get the correct lighting, especially when you use Custom Lighting.


Correct Borders
  • Open up ‘Mapborders’ in the Map Tab
  • The Yellow Line shows the Cameraedge and the Blue Line shows the Mapedge
  • Make sure to have some more space at the left and right side of the Map to avoid black borders. Add even more extra space at the Top
  • A standard 1v1 Melee Map size is 136×136 Playable


How to use the Pathing Tool
  • Open up the Pathing Tool in the Layer Tab
  • Draw over the Area you don’t want to be pathable. (Red Area)
  • Pathing Blocker (Red Area) also blocks Building Pathing (Yellow Area). You don’t have to paint both over each other.

Player Setup

Dont forget it
  • Open up Playerproperties in the Map Tab
  • Set Player 2 to User on the right side.
  • Do the same for Player 3 and 4 when you make a 4 Player Map

Starting Locations

  • Open up Points in the Layer Tab
  • Hit the second Button from the left and place it correctly at your Mainbase
  • Switch to Editor view to see the Grid, that helps alot

Mineral Placement

Proper Mineral Placement
  • A Base normally contains 2 normal Gas Geysers and 8 Mineral Patches.
  • There should be a certain amount of space behind the mineral patches where the player can place turrets, cannons or spore crawlers for defense.
  • The proper space between minerals and gas geysers is exactly one hex.
  • Check your mineral placement through pressing v to see either Ingame view or Editor view (grid activated).
  • When you rotate Mineral Formations there is a high possibility that you have to rework them slightly afterwards.
  • You can easily avoid mistakes or problems by using Standard Mineral Lines
  • Make sure not to place the Mineral Line too close to cliff edges to avoid small abuseable areas (Red). Especially Medivacs + Marines can abuse those.


Make things nice
  • Use Foliage to finish your Map.
  • A nice technique is to use foliage all over the Map on a low density and only left the area free where the Expantions are. (as seen on the Picture)


watch and be happy
  • Open up ‘Mapupload’ in the Data Tab
  • Login and follow the Descriptions the Editor gives you. Checking Document
  • Dependence may take a while
  • Hit the markers on ‘Puplic’ and ‘Locked’, then press OK
  • Maximum Map upload slots per Account are 20. Maximum Mapsize is 21MB.
  • If you want to remove Maps, open up ‘Mapmanager’ in the Data Tab and follow the Descriptions.

General Tips

Little hints and bugs you should know
  • When you tab out of the editor and re-tab in all decor and decal doodads, all effects (LoSB, smoke, fire, etc.) and terran-tarmac doodads are disabled. You can re-activate them when u click Control+N then cancel the new map and they should appear again.
  • Only use 45° ramps on your map. The Editor does not allow 30° ramps like Starcraft Broodwar did. However it supports 90° ramps but it is recommended you don’t use it.
  • Always check the cliff transitions from natural to man-made cliffs, and use the cliff doodads (cliff fillers) to fix them.
  • When you fill areas with the ‘texture filling’ tool always check the cliffs afterwards. Most of the time it doesn’t work right. (mostly on nature cliffs)
  • Bear in mind that only 3 cliff levels are supported (in Warcraft 3 we had around 10)
  • Never use Campaign Dependence in a Melee Map (i know it has many shiny doodads but also many shiny bugs)
  • You can blend natural and man-made cliffs when you allow cliff merging in Tools > Brush.
  • Control – T, dont press it.
  • Naming your Mapfile is no the same as naming the Map in the Editor. Make sure to name it in the Tab ‘Maps’ – Mapinformation.
  • Only use the Default Lighing Setting that are available.

How to Start

Step by Step Tutorial

Of course every Mapmaker has a different approach to how to start making a Map. This short Intro only shows my point of view.
I usually start to search for some inspiration in the Broodwar – Maps TLPD on Teamliquid to get a starting point or maybe a general idea. That could be copying the shape of a main/natural and work from there or using even bigger parts of the map for inspiration.
Also drawing something on a piece of paper and try to recreate those ideas in the editor is a common starting point.
To get things going in the editor I first change the map borders to be the size that I want them to be. After that I place all the mineral-lines that I need at the right locations (as close as possible).
Then I lower the cliff-level around the map based on the yellow camera line to get the actually playable mapsize, reposition the mineral-lines and start working on one of the main-locations.
Keep in mind that you only have to make half of the map. Copy, paste, flip and/or rotate to create the other half.


Which Units effect Map design

Sentry (Forcefields)

Tanks (Siege mode attack range)

Planetary Fortress (Strong base defense)

Pylons (Warpin Range)

Blinkstalker (Blinking over cliffs)

Collosus (Walking over cliffs)

Reaper (Jumping over cliffs)

Building Placement

Proper Building Placement
  • Make sure common Walloffs work!
  • A good natural choke can be blocked by 3 3×3 Buildings and one free 1×1 hex to a unit
  • Different version would be 3 3×3 Buildings without the 1×1 extra hex
  • Another version with 2 3×3 Buildings, one 2×2 Building to leave a 1×1 hex for a Unit
  • Standard Natural Placement is reachable with 1 Creep Tumor


Stay natural
  • On each Tileset there are 2 Cliffdesigns you can choose from. Manmade and Natural/Organic.
  • If you choose Natural Cliffs make sure to stay ‘natural’. Dont use straight Lines.

General Tips

Little hints and bugs you should know
  • The natural mineral line should be safe from siege tank fire.
  • Main should have at least one entrance for reapers besides going through the natural.

Rotational Symmetry


  • TPW Aritifice

Reflected Symmetry


  • Metalopolis, Shattered Temple

Rotational Symmetry


  • TPW Odyssey, TPW Iron Curtain

Reflected Symmetry


  • Scrap Station

Thanks for reading and now have fun in the Editor!

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Kantuva also known as Uvantak is SMA main Manager and Administrator, he also is an accomplished SC2 Community Map Maker, having worked on SC2 Level Design since its release alongside several other Mods and RTS projects, he has built a wealth of knowledge about some of the smallest details on StarCraft, details which he uses to help other Map Makers become better Level Designers.