New Functionality: Draw Explorer

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MapTool added the Draw Explorer as a new feature in release This innovation gives GMs access to a tree view of drawings and templates on the current map. From this view, users see a list of elements created with the Drawing and Template Tools. Note: for the purposes of this article, both templates and drawings will simply be called drawings.

From the Draw Explorer, users may

  • change a drawing’s layer
  • group drawings together
  • move drawings to the front or back of Z-order
  • delete drawings.

All these functions make drawing in MapTool much easier while opening up exciting new capabilities.

Pre-1.4 Functionality

Readers familiar with MapTool’s Drawing and Template Tools can skip to the next section.

MapTool has two tools used for drawing: Drawing Tool and Template Tool. Users access both from the Tool Pallet (pictured above). Drawing Tool allows the creation of freehand drawings, lines, boxes, ellipses, and diamonds. GMs often use these tools to create maps. The map on the “RPTools is the Millennium Falcon of RPG Software” page was created with these drawing tools and stamp objects. Template Tool has pre-defined templates – largely from DnD – for use during game play. The templates available follow the same rules as drawings, with the same tool pallet but their use is for spell and area-of-effect templates.


Both tools use the drawing pallet (pictured above). Users select the border fill color and width, opacity, layer, and whether or not to snap the drawing to the MapTool grid. Both border and fill can be a solid color or a texture from the MapTool Resource Library. An erase (Cut) function removes or modifies a drawing.  MapTool renders new drawings over old. The technical term for this Z-ordering, where newer items have a higher Z order than older ones.

For additional information on drawing via the MapTool VTT, please consult the MapTool Wiki “Introduction to Drawing” page. (coming soon™)

New Functionality

Users access the Draw Explorer via the MapTool Window Menu. A checkbox by a Window indicates it is visible. As with all MapTool windows, you have the capability of arranging the Draw Explorer window within the MapTool frame as you wish, including docking it with other windows in a tabbed fashion.



The Draw Explorer is similar to the Map Explorer, separating items based on their layer – either Token, Hidden, Object, or Background. Selecting a drawing in Draw Explorer displays it below the tree view. The listing is in Z order. Cuts (erasers) also show in the Draw Explorer. We’ll have another article discuss the manipulation of Cuts soon™.


Users often draw items on the wrong layer. With the Draw Explorer, you can now change a drawing’s layer. Note that any change in layer will reset the Z-order of the drawing so it resides at the top of the tree view for its new layer.


You can also change a drawing’s Z-order, moving them so they are either draw over or behind other drawings. Be careful moving Cuts to a lower Z-order. Anything with a higher Z will ignore the cut. Sometimes you want this, other times it negates the effect of the cut completely.


Users can group drawings together so they are drawn as a unit. This will be important later as the devs add new features to Draw Explorer. This has the effect of giving your layers within the layer. There will be additional information on groupings in our next article.


Thus far the response to the Draw Explorer has been overwhelmingly positive. As always, there is a wishlist of add-ons from our community which includes:

  • drag objects around the tree view to change their Z-order and layer
  • move drawings around the map
  • copy drawings
  • edit drawings
  • export a drawing to its own image file to be reused as a droppable resource.

Feel free to visit the RPTools forum post discussing this feature to

  1. Thank the devs for this great, new functionality
  2. Provide feedback
  3. Post ideas for new capabilities to add to the Draw Explorer.

Other Links:


This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Bernd

    Great, thanks! Very good to hear that development didn’t stop with 1.4.
    I have one other thing on the wishlist far away from the draw explorer. I recently encountered roll20 and am fascinated by the lighting / vision blocking feature there. It’s very realistic approach to lighting because you live without fog-of-war. The players just see what the existing light sources are revealing – in realtime while players are moving their tokens!
    Wouldn’t that be the top thing in maptools? And I assume it’s not so hard to implement because it’s just existing currently in maptools, just that here only the npcs are hidden if a PC doesn’t see them, but the rest of the map stays visible. The change would just that the map also would be hidden. Think about it!

    Best wishes,

  2. RPTroll

    You generally want the part of the map that’s been explored to remain visible. That’s a decision made by the community. I believe you are correct that the map could be re-hidden based on lighting and individual token. I’ll ask the devs about it.

    That said, there are some amazing new light capabilities coming out soon that should really excite MapTool users. Stay tuned.

  3. spencer j dorman

    Would it be possible to add a functionality to drop an outer and/or inner shadow to a drawing? I believe currently you have to draw your own shadows using the opacity setting of the brush. This would save a LOT of time on bigger maps.

    Thanks for the consideration.


  4. RPTroll

    Functionality requests have a few channels. I can (and will) forward this to the developer.
    You can also go to and post a question.
    You can post the request to Github code repository
    You can join the community on Discord for chat-like experience

  5. RPTroll

    Functionality requests have a few channels. I can (and will) forward this to the developer.
    You can also go to and post a question.
    You can post the request to Github code repository
    You can join the community on Discord for chat-like experience

  6. RPTroll

    We’ll see those advances in MT 2.0. They are under active consideration.

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