My plan this weekend is to try and sort this shit out, because my whole house is suffering.
Before this funk hit, I ran an event for which I made many props. This is the kind of thing that I wish I could do more often, but as we run on a weekly basis, I don't usually have time. But as it was the first event of the year, I had the prep time (and as the plot required several maps, it needed to be done or the players would be stumped).
In a period of downtime at work (of which there is quite a bit recently; we're waiting for a major load of work to come in, and there are delays) I drew rough versions of the maps on scrap paper.
I then took them home, scanned them, enlarged them and futzed about with them in Photoshop (I have a really old Wacom, and this makes map drawing SO much easier). I added text (we use weird font sets to represent other languages) and got them ready to print.
I abused the A3 printer at work to print them out, then shredded the edges, covered them in tea (Keemun, if anyone cares) and baked them for a few minutes to dry them out and age them.
I also did this to a blank sheet of paper, as the one map I hadn't done on the computer was the terrain layout, which had to be hand drawn.
There was a bit of ink bleed, weirdly it bled slightly pink. I then had to smear ink all over a couple of places where my handwritten notes hadn't been hidden when I printed them.
(the players didn't bother translating anything I'd written on there, and consequently didn't get to read snarky cave Elf comments about stupid man made cave systems)
I also made a lock plate for them to have to translate / lock pick. The writing was a warning (they didn't even try to translate it, and consequently got an electric shock) and they managed to get the keys off the NPC hiring them, so they didn't have to pick the lock.
Initially I did the design in Photoshop, flipped it and printed it, then make a clay relief. Making the tiny dots was hard, as they couldn't be too big or they'd merge together, and too small meant the plaster wouldn't go into them. I then poured plaster in and let it set for a couple of days.
Once it was ready to release, I pulled the still damp clay off it, and thankfully the dots had come out ok. It was legible and most importantly, the right way round. I then painted it with a mixture of black and gold acrylic paint.
The final thing I made was an emergency magic item prop. The player had given us a vague request of what he wanted, and the only way we could work out how to do it was a tag and ribbon. So, I pyrographed a stave and some notes on one side, and a treble clef on the other (the character is a bard, and it was to go on a musical instrument), then burned through a small hole. Bent a bit of jewellery wire to make a catch and melted holes in the ribbon to attach it all. Pretty cool looking for half an hour of work.
Sadly there was a miscommunication and the players thought that they had destroyed it, so they didn't pick it up. We can recycle it at some point later down the line.
And there we go. The players really liked having the actual maps to work through, and the adventure went pretty well.