Free Graph Paper

I have set up a page linking to various types of graph paper I have created for free download. All are in PDF and are suitable for printing on regular paper via printer. Currently, I have squares, triangles, isometric, and hexagons in a couple different sizes/orientations.

Link to this will remain at the menu on top of the blog under “maps”.


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Study in Drawing Pens and Paper

Pen and Paper Comparison Canson Paper

As a follow up of a prior post, this is a more comprehensive study of two sets of pigment based drawing pens and 4 different types of paper. The focus for this is in the hand drawing of RPG maps.

TL;DR: The Sakura pens on Canson paper is definitively the best when you compare side by side. however, if you are only using the thinner pens, the Prismacolor pens is very close in quality.


  • 0.5 mm mechanical pencil
  • 0.7 mm mechanical pencil
  • Routine “office quality” printer paper:
  • Low Quality Graph Paper: Office Depot Graph Paper
  • Routine Quality Graph Paper:
  • Better Quality Graph Paper:
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Apple MacBook Pro 2017
  • GridMaker iOS app for creating any type of graph paper you need for printing

Scanning Methods

  • Imported through Adobe Photoshop on a MacBook Pro running High Sierra
  • Kind: Black and White
  • Resolution: 600 dpi
  • Format: JPEG
  • Image Correction: None
  • Unsharp Mask: None
  • No modification to image except to add text for which paper (probably should have just written it). Then saved with embedding color profile as jpg with Quality of 10, Maximum, Baseline Optimized


Regarding current prices, the above materials are linked to product pages.

Click on images to view a larger version to see the detail.

Printer Paper

Pen and Paper Comparison Universal Paper

And then a scan of the back of this printer paper:

Pen and Paper Comparison Universal Paper Back

Office Depot Graph Paper

Pen and Paper Comparison Office Depot Paper

Scan of the reverse of this Office Depot paper:

Pen and Paper Comparison Office Depot Paper Back

Ampad Graph Paper

Pen and Paper Comparison Ampad

Scan of the reverse of this Ampad paper:

Pen and Paper Comparison Ampad Back

Canson Foundation Series Graph Paper

Pen and Paper Comparison Canson Paper

And for the scan of the back of the Canson paper, I want to mention that with the naked eye, you can barely see any bleeding on the 08 Prismacolor pen. The scanner shows a lot more than what you can actually see.

Pen and Paper Comparison Canson Paper Back


I had some ideas regarding using pencil and couldn’t get all the variations I needed, so didn’t complete that idea.

I should have included a separate row using a dye ink pen like the  to demonstrate the accentuate how much better these pigment based pens are.

Regarding the feel and utility of the pens. I like the Prismacolor pens best. This may be subjective, but the inner ink cartridge doesn’t jiggle like the Sakura pens do. Also, the caps on the Prismacolor pens snap to the back end better whereas the Sakura ones fall off sometimes. In a very small way the Prismacolor feel like they grip a little better. The Prismacolor pens come in a simple but nice little box whereas the sakura pens are in a package that isn’t any good for keeping them in. And, lastly, I like black… so the Prismacolor pens just look cooler.

There are many more different variations in thickness for the Sakura pens, if you need something specific. For example, the . (see this listing for the other versions too)

In regards to value, with the sets that I am using, the Sakura set costs $4.38 more than the Prismacolor pens, but does come with one more pen. So, for a cost per pen ($1.59 for Prismacolor vs. $2.06 for Sakura). If you want really cheap and don’t care about bleeding (didn’t show here, based on prior experience), get the 12 packs of the Sharpie Ultra Fine Point pens for $0.51 per pen and I’d guess that a dozen pens will last forever.

The Office Depot graph paper is noticeably lesser quality than either the Ampad or Canson paper (via Amazon) AND costs twice as much.

The cost/value/quality of ‘printer paper’ is going to vary widely and so is a little difficult to compare. The cost for the Ampad and Canson graph paper is very reasonable, but could be limiting if you are using quite a bit of it.

If you are scanning these, the Canson paper has thinner/fainter lines than the Ampad, which makes it much easier to remove with post-processing. The custom graph paper I am making using the GridMaker app is a smidge thinner than the Canson, but overall the quality of the Canson paper is much much better than printer paper.

I’ll have to do a separate post regarding using the GridMaker iOS app. There are many options to customize your paper. But in short, it is free to use for making basic graph paper with a small logo on the bottom. For $0.99, you can unlock the capability to make hexagons, which allows you to make isometric paper. And then, for $0.99 you can remove the logo (and make titles, etc.), which isn’t necessary, but is nice to remove. After making any paper you like, you can save as a PDF for future use however you want.

I notice less bleeding with the Sakura Pigma pens compared to the Prismacolor. This is evidenced by looking at the reverse scans of the paper that shows more ink on every paper used. This is most pronounced with the thicker pens. Bleeding is still evident with the thinner pens (005, 01), but still noticeable. I am unable to really show this here, but this is most pronounced on the reverse side of the Canson paper, where with the naked eye, you practically can’t see any bleeding through with the Sakura pens except on the corners of the hex (where lines cross) with the 08 pen.


You can’t really go wrong with the Prismacolor pens and there are some pros with them. However, if you are looking for the ‘better’ pen in regards to performance, it’s the Sakura. But, to break this down into 3 different use scenarios:

  1. If you are looking for the cheapest and easiest way to draw maps with pen and paper, go with the Prismacolor pens and a decent printer paper. This gives the added benefit of being able to print various types of graph paper. You really can’t go wrong with this combination.
  2. However, if you want a better quality, the Sakura pens are definitely better. Especially on a good paper, like the Canson.
  3. In the middle, is to spend a couple more dollars and use the Sakura pens and use the Canson (or the Ampad) paper when drawing on regular 1/4″ boxes, but then print up isometric or hexagonal when you want it (until I find a ‘high quality’ equivalent graph paper).

Hope this helps someone else. For me, it was a little fun to nerd out and learn something about pens and paper and to see what may work best for different purposes.

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This is a PSA of sorts. If you follow a lot of RPG Kickstarters, maybe you already know about this guy, Ken Whitman. For some reason, I didn’t know about him and his scams until just recently. And now the more I read about this guy, I am completely amazed. I’d seen a few of these, only posted a single $1 for the KODT KS (now I know why I never got that PDF…)

I guess I’m not surprised, some asshole out there was gonna be “that guy” and do something as easy as abuse the crowdfunding model. But like a lot of things, it’s the story that is the most interesting. This video kinda says it all and is hugely entertaining as well. Another source is this blog “Not Another Dime“. Lastly, Tenkar’s Tavern covers this guy a lot.

Maze Map

Maze Map

While I’m learning to draw maps; it’s probably obligatory to at least craft one maze. There is a lot going here in this one. There are two entrances/exits. An arcane circle. A small pool of water, certainly with something deadly beneath the water… Piles of rubble which may, or may not have anything to be found buried beneath. A couple secret doors, a puzzle, and an altar (or sarcophagus, or whatever else you want it to be).

Above is the DM version of the map.

Here is a “player” map if you were using online and revealing a fog of war.

Maze Map Player Version

And then a basic version without the secret door markings.

Maze Map Basic Version

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Study in Drawing Pens

Compare Sakura Pigma and Prismacolor Pens

For a much more comprehensive study (to include comparing different papers), please see my updated post.

This is a little study of two sets of pens I’ve purchased. I’ve used the so far. Comparing to the .

Click for the larger image. There is no processing; just a straight up scan.

I do believe I notice less bleeding with the Sakura Pigma pens. The Sakura Pigma set does cost $3.38 more (at this time on Amazon), but you do get one more size pen.

I like them both. The Prismacolor Premier set has a nice little box; nothing fancy, but is convenient. So, if you don’t need the 02 pen, want to save a couple bucks, and want a simple box, then the Prismacolor set is better. However, if you spend the little extra, I do think the Sakura Pigma pens are noticeably a little finer, but honestly a little difficult to see if not comparing side by side

One other note, I like the Prismacolor pens better in my hand. The Sakura Pigma pends rattle (I assume the ink cartridge inside) when you shake them.

So, like with a lot of things, some pros and cons for either one!

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If Trump Were Dungeon Master

Dungeon Master Donald Trump


Basim Temple

Map Basim Temple

Also called “The Temple of Pedestals”, Basim Temple is set into the end of a box canyon far from any civilization. Few sages remember to whom the temple was dedicated and rumors persist that a secret order of priests continue to maintain the temple.


Included in this temple are pedestals of various sizes. My personal idea is to create a puzzle involving these; note that there are 8 small ones in the entrance as well as 8 medium ones within the temple proper. Then, the one large one for …. Treasure? or DOOM!

In the northwest corner is an underground lake leading to…

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Prisons Below

Prisons Below

A good Dungeon Master should always have a spare prison they can can pull out for when the PC’s get into trouble (which never happens, right?)

  • The north section of this map includes ten 10’x10′ cells along with multiple areas for guards to hang out and keep watch.
  • The southern section is a large room for what else? Torture and interrogation of course!
  • Connecting both arms is a defensible choke point with a large circular staircase to freedom.

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Map: Tower of the Black Sun

Tower of the Black Sun Map

First version of a map for an adventure I’m working on. I don’t want to give away too much, so just a simple map this time. Key points include multiple small rooms behind secret doors, stairs to upper and lower levels, and an astronomically aligned summoning circle.



Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook for Pay What You Want

This may be a limited thing, but I see the Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook up on RPGnow/DTRPG for “Pay What You Want”. This is normally $34.99.

Written by Matt Finch and Published by Frog God Games, I’ve really been meaning to read through this. I may be a bit wrong, but from my research, regarding retro-clones, S&W is to be based on the 1974 OD&D. And, this seems to have a lot of support.

S&W comes in three versions, an essential “White Box” version, an updated “Core” version with expanded rules, and this “Complete” rulebook which I gather combines all the above.