Making pieces visually 'pop' on the map?

I’m working on my Starfall module, and it’s got a largish 36x36 hex map with a “space” dark background and each hex is small.

I’m having a problem that my small 24x24 pixel counters/pieces get lost on the map, hard to see. I’ve tried inverting their colors, putting a red or white border around them, but so far nothing brings the counters out.

The best luck I’ve had is making the map image fainter - “fade to white”, but then the map gets harder to read and loses that “space” feel.

Are there any tricks and techniques for making this work better and the counters more visible? On the real board the counters are 3d so aren’t that hard to see, but I’m not sure how to accomplish that with graphics.

Just went to some of the starship vassal modules and came up with these two; … t_Captains

I am sure there are more good examples but especially impressed about how Fleet Captains looks.

Good idea, I’ll survey some of the other games for more ideas.

I agree, Fleet Captains looks awesome. I don’t think I’m up to that level yet! Though I badly want to convert the square pieces to hexagons, not sure if that is kosher. :smiley:

I’ve added a 3d border to the pieces using Stargate’s example, and that’s not bad. Stargate is still doing it better, so I may try more subtly like that. Their flat black board sure helps, but I don’t want to give up Starfall’s pretty board graphics quite yet.

My player colored pieces (Orange, Yellow, Green, Light Blue!) look a little more obvious, happily, so it turns out I started with the hardest ‘neutral’ pieces with a similar color to the board.

I also realized I might be aiming for too small a map and ignoring zoom levels, so I doubled my sizes so the player can zoom in or out, and the problem isn’t nearly as bad at larger sizes. Also, that makes it easier to play with round or hexagonal counters, and I’m liking how that is looking, though a lot of polish still needed.

Any further feedback or experience guided wisdom? :smiley:

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