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How to Import Maps into Foundry VTT and Setting Up Your First Scene

Foundry VTT is a powerful and simple virtual table top system with a unique scene structure to display maps. Below are the steps to setup your first scene, import a map, and adjust the grid.

  1. Find and format any maps you would like to import.
  2. Under the scene tab, create a new scene.
  3. Add a map to the background image using the background entry in the scene settings menu.
  4. Adjust the grid and mask settings as needed.
  5. Share the scene with your players.

Video guide to importing maps.

Looking to skip the text and get right to the goods? We have uploaded a video guide of this walkthrough in case you are looking for more information!

Collecting and Formatting

Download and Format the Map Images

The first thing you will need to do is collect, download, or create the images that you plan on using inside of Foundry. While most images will work, there are a few things to consider when planning to use them as maps that will be streamed to your players.

Determine the PPI (pixels per inch) and file size. 

Two aspects of the image files that may be easy to overlook but can make a big difference when playing is the PPI and the overall file size. While the PPI will affect the final image file size, it also determines how big to make the grid. The best PPI value for using maps inside of Foundry from my experience between 150-200 PPI. When determining which maps and images to use, the higher the PPI the better the image will look. Larger images will take longer for your players to download them. The last big consideration when finding graphics is whether or not you will use maps with an already set grid.

There is not much difference when using maps that already have a grid versus those that do not because the way that Foundry grid system works. When using both styles of maps, you will want to use the Foundry internal gridding settings to create a grid size that the system will recognize. We will go over this step later in the guide, but the impact it has on image selection is in regards to the image grid size. If the maps you are using do not already have a grid, you don’t have to worry about this issue.

Creating a Scene

The default layout for Foundry VTT includes includes the right sidebar with tabs, buttons for map effects on the left, and the navigation pane along the top.

Using the scene setup tab

Once you have the program opened. access the scene tab from right side bar. The scene icon is the one that looks like a small unfolded map. Two buttons will be visible under your scene tab, Create Folder and Create Scene.

The scene tab along the right sidebar.

Choose create scene button and the ‘Create New Scene’ window will pop up. Choose a name that you as the GM will want to identify the scene by and click the ‘Create New Scene’ button which will open the ‘Configure Scene’ window.

The most important sections for setting up a simple scene and map are the Details and Dimensions and Grid Configuration.

Accessibility and Navigation Name

If you know you are going to use the scene in an upcoming game, or it is somewhere that your players visit frequently, leave the Navigation button selected. This will place a card in the top left navigation bar on the home screen to quickly switch back and forth between other scenes. It is also best to leave the selection to GM Only unless you want your players to be able to see the scene from the start of the session.

Selecting GM Only will not prevent you from sharing the scene later, but it will allow the players to see the title card immediately upon entering the foundry game system.

To prevent the name of your scene from giving away spoilers, you can set the Navigation Name to something more innocuous. Only the GM will see the scene title under the scene tab on the right hand sidebar, but everyone will be able to see the navigation name in the navigation section.

Scene Dimensions, Padding, and Background Color

Skipping down the menu just a bit, the scene dimensions values will set the dimensions of the scene table. The table consists of the area that will be visible and traversable by the player tokens, as well as the are which the grid will cover.

Padding Percentage adjust the amount of empty blank space around the table area of the scene. This is useful for maps or images that you want to show the entire image or maps that extend up to the very edge of the graphic.

Background Color sets the default color of the space behind the images that you load into the scene or the area that is exposed using the padding percentage.

The Navigation Pane at the top will show the title placed in the navigation name section. The Image browser window to upload new images.

Background and Foreground Image

Foreground image can be used if you would like to set an image that will appear on top of the background image and above the grid. This can be used as a visual for your players for specific scenes, but it may be easier to share images with them using the Journal.

The Background Image is where you will want to place your map or images that will fall underneath the grid.

Clicking on the file location button to the right of the File Path form field will open the Image Browser Window.

Near the bottom of the window, under the default User Data tab, is the Upload section of the menu. Click on the choose file button to open up a folder location on your computer and choose the map file that you wish to use in the scene.

The other option for importing the files would be to upload them into your default user data directory. If you are not sure where the directory is located or how to find it, then it is probably better to use the upload option for now.

Once the image has been selected, the title will appear in the selected entry window. Click the Select File button to complete the upload.

The configure scene menu.

Setting up the grid and masks

Grid Type, Grid Size, and Offset

Grid type is used to select the shape of grid that you will be using for your game. Most maps and game systems will use square, but there are other options as well.

If the map you plan on using already has a grid, or you know the grid size that the map was designed to, you can set it manually using the Grid Size entry. The value should be in pixels, and will set the individual squares of the grid overlay.

For example if you have a 1000×1000 pixel map designed to be a 10×10 grid, then you would set the size to 100 pixels.

The Offset Background fields will adjust the where the grid falls over the map. This is used for maps that are not designed to have the grid lay across the full image. If you need the grid to align with an island on an ocean map, but the island isn’t exactly center of the map, use the offset to adjust where the grid falls.

Grid Scale

The Grid Scale entry is used to set the in game spatial value of each grid space. If you are playing 5e this would be set to 5ft, but adjust according to your game system.

Most of the other systems in foundry including the combat, spell casting, and distance calculations will use the value set here. Changing this value will have no visual effect on the scene.

Grid Color, and Grid Opacity

Grid Color and Opacity will effect the lines of the grid itself. Change these to fit your game and playstyle. If you setup your scene and can’t see the grid lines clearly, you can return to this screen to adjust them as needed.

In order to return back to the Scene Configure menu, right click on the scene title card in the right side bar and choose the configure option.

Using the Grid Configuration Tool

Clicking on the ruler icon next to the Grid Type entry will open the Grid Configuration Tool. The tool window will replace the configure window, allowing you to better see the effects of the grid adjustments. Grid type, grid size, and grid offset are all the same as on the configure menu.

You can change the size of the image using the Background Image Scale to try and match the grid, butt this may have other effects and you may lose visibility or detail when using this method.

Available while using the grid tool, is the ability to adjust the grid size using your mouse wheel or arrow keys. As noted below the Grid Size entry hold your ALT key while scrolling or using the arrow keys to quickly adjust the size. This method allows you to better pinpoint the needed size quickly.

To access the Grid Configuration Tool click the ruler icon on the scene configure menu.
Once you are done with with the configuration, click the save changes button.

Once your done, click the save changes button and your scene is complete!

Sharing the Scene

You can always access the scenes you have setup from the scenes tab in the right sidebar. To share a scene with your players, right click on the name card in the navigation pane in the upper left hand corner of the screen. You can choose the activate option to move to the selected scene and reveal it to your players!

Congratulation on setting up your scene! The next step will be to build your player tokens.

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