Terrain Layers

A game would need few tiles if it rotated tiles and used a few layers.

See the small tile sheet at the end (Update 12/17/10: See the 1-pixel mud/snow screenshots at the end).

Rotation (Edit: or Flips)

Rotation requires top view of terrain and some features (roads, rivers) "exiting" hexes at standardized points (such as 5 pixels from right hex-side edge, no matter which hex-side). Rotations to hex sides of the same length reduces 6 tiles to 2 and a resize after rotation would allow a single 60x50 hex for all directions. (Edit: Apparently, multiple flips are less of a burden than a rotation and would achieve the intent here).

Color Shifts
  • A single solid white hex (or single pixel) can replace an entire "winter" tile sheet if you layer the 67%-opaque white hex (or pixel) over normal dry tiles (whitening the dry sheet).
  • A single solid brown hex (or single pixel) can replace an entire "mud" tile sheet if you layer the 33%-opaque brown hex (or pixel) over normal dry tiles.
  • A semi-transparent yellow hex over regular dry field ("clear") and rough can create open desert and rough desert.
  • Color shifts of coast hexes and a solid sea hex to river color allow you to create rivers of any width (ground units inching across wide rivers would be assault boats of infantry, pontoon ferries of tanks, or a chain a bridging engineers to create a road across the river for faster movement of other units (although a unit needs enough MP to reach the other end in 1 turn).


Bottom layer = full ground hex
2nd layer = river
3rd layer = road
Top layer = coast

The important part of this BMP (my variation of McGuba's tiles) is that the second row is not needed on the tile sheet. Only the first row would be on the tile sheet. The second row shows what a game engine can create "on the fly" by layering a few tiles into a great variety of terrain. Place Tile #1 Coast over any full-ground terrain hex to create all of these coastal terrains in the game without a large tile sheet.

Second Row:
  • Field ("clear") coast
  • Hedgerow coast
  • Woods coast
  • Mountain coast
  • Desert coast
  • Hedgerow road
  • Woods road
  • Field crossroads (one road tile over the other road tile)
  • Field road to coast (coast covers part of road tile as well as part of full field tile)
  • Mountain coast road

Update 12/17/10

One Pixel Replaces Whole Tile Sheet

These screenshots use only one tile sheet, the original PG dry sheet, with a semi-opaque solid brown or white sheet over it to show how a game could use 1 brown pixel and 1 white pixel for mud and snow instead of separate tile sheets.

3 Screenshots for Dry, Mud, and Snow/Frozen:
  • Original dry
  • Original dry with 33%-opaque brown (#a52a2a) layer
  • Original dry with 67%-opaque white (#ffffff) layer (could try less opaque)

They might not win art awards but they work well considering it is 1 pixel instead of an entire sheet of tiles.

You could use a lighter green as the primary field ("clear") hex color that is easier to whiten at a lower opacity, making the other features sharper than shown here.

You could exclude ocean but I do not see a need.

Even if you still use separate mud/snow tile sheets, a semi-opaque brown/white layer over a tile sheet and then resetting the mask color back to original is also a quick way to make complete mud/snow tile sheets. The other quick method is to select the exact primary green in field ("clear") terrain (threshhold=1, no antialias or other fuzz) and replace it with brown/white. Either method makes both sheets in about a minute.