We give our thoughts on Inkarnate, a digital map-building software!
Inkarnate is popular in the world of online content creators. It boasts a digital map-building software with a particular focus on fantasy. You can create massive world maps, or highly detailed maps of building interiors. With various styles, effects, and features, Inkarnate continues to grow and expand every year.
Note that every map in this article was built by us in Inkarnate so you can see first-hand what an average person (and not a paid map designer) can create.
What Are the Features?
When you begin to create a new map, you already get many options to choose from. A Fantasy World Map, a Parchment World Map, a Fantasy Regional Map, a Watercolor Battlemap, and a Watercolor City Map. Of course, no matter what you choose when you actually get into the editing stage, you can do whatever you want. But this helps streamline the process if you have a particular project in mind.
After that, you can choose the size of map you want based on how many tiles it has. This can be customized to your exact dimensions. Once you enter the creation mode, the choices feel endless! Here is just an overview of what you can add:
- A backdrop effect such as water, snow, tile, or lava.
- The ability to shape your terrain with a variety of brushes.
- “Stamps” that let you fill it in that are both 2D, 3D, or old-school map icons.
- Stamps include mountains, hills, rivers, ground cracks, furniture, gravestones, lights, buildings, boats, plants, monsters, people, ruins, crops, weapons, and much more!
- You can add Text and stylize it.
- You can draw paths on your map.
- You can add, remove, and alter grids.
- You can add special overlays and effects.
Is it User-Friendly?
There is definitely a learning curve with Inkarnate. It was more difficult in the past, but it’s become much more user-friendly across the years. That being said, some patience is involved as you figure out how to fill in your map. Once you learn it, though, it feels very easy and simple.
How Much Does it Cost?
The awesome thing is Inkarnate is free! Anyone can sit down and use it. You can also pay for Inkarnate Pro which is $25 a year. Pro gives you more robust options for map creation, but most importantly it allows you commercial use of the maps you create.
Why Do I Need Inkarnate?
Almost any fantasy-fan creator can get good use from Inkarnate. We use it for maps that we publish in our books. We also use it for our own TTRPG game. If you enjoy playing digitally and don’t want to build a hands-on map, or if you just want a map to reference, Inkarnate has just what you need.
Inkarnate is a fun, fantasy-centered map creator that is perfect for TTRPG roleplayers, authors, and anyone that needs to bring their fantasy world to life. Despite the learning curve, Inkarnate really is versatile and you can easily spend hours entertaining yourself with it. And you don’t often find that with free programs!