A mapart is a physical structure built facing upwards in order to be viewed on a map. These maps can then be held or placed in item frames as art. Mapart may be made flat or staircased (3D) to provide a richer color palette.
Although methods may differ in some cases, generally, the procedure to create a mapart is as follows:
- Select a location. Because the area a given map will cover is predermined by the seed, the locations where mapart may be built are limited. Flat locations are prefered, such as deserts or oceans, however, in extreme cases, a platform may be built in the sky to provide a flat surface.
- Mark the corners. Because mapart needs to be precise, it is usually helpful to mark the edges of the map in the world. This helps to prevent slight errors in schematic placement
- Generate the schematic. Historically, mapart has been built without the use of schematics, but as early as 2015, map artists were using tools such as MCEdit to generate schematics. Recently, more specialized tools have become available, such as RedstoneHelper's mapart tool, and more recently, rebane2001's MapartCraft website.
- Gather Materials. If using a schematic, a list of the required materials should be included. Mapart covers quite a large area at 128 x 128 blocks, which equates to an area of over 16,000 blocks.
- Build. Building the mapart is probably the most time consuming step. Map Artists are constantly fighting a battle against 2b2t's anticheat, developing numerous workarounds to speed up this part of the process, the latest of which is the use of Baritone to automatically build portions of the map.
Map artists and their maps have a long history on 2b2t. A major player in the documentation of this history is the Map Artists of 2b2t and their Discord server, which is run in collaboration with 2b2t Signed Books and Collectibles Network. The first maps documented here were archived around 2016, however they are speculated to be much older. The first maps were mostly flat, 1x1 maps with few colors and easy to obtain materials, such as carpet. Carpet became the de-facto standard material for easy or beginner level maps, as Duplication Glitches that work exclusively on carpets, rails, and other similar items have remained unpatched since their discovery. These duplication glitches allowed for the average player to create mapart, and thus, allowed for an explosion in archived mapart.
With this explosion in popularity came attention. In late 2016, The 4th Reich discovered a way to reset all maps, destroying any map items that had already been created. This was possible because there can only be 32,767 maps in existence for a given world file. By creating thousands of new maps, they were able to roll-over the map count, and reset all map items. This can only be undone by creating 32,767 more maps, which rolls back the map count and allows new maps to be created again. This exploit is patched in 1.13, but since 2b2t is slated to remain on 1.12 for the near future, these resets continue to be a problem and have occurred more and more frequently over time.
The wider 2b2t community is somewhat divided on the issue of mapart. With the advent of Baritone, many players argue that mapart no longer requires any effort, and thus, shouldn't be considered art. The mapartists argue that the art comes from the design process, not necessarily the actual building of the structure. Overall, most individual players are neutral on this issue, with a few outliers on each side.
Several specific maps are noteworthy because of their innovative nature, size, or the circumstances surrounding their creation. Pictures of these maps can be found in the Map Artists of 2b2t discord server.
Etika Memorial Map
NONAGON's Alphabet Maps
Avid mapper and 2b2t player Nonagon creating a series of maps depicting the alphabet in block font, A-Z, one letter to a map. He later created maps for the numbers 0-9 as well. This is the largest known map series by a large margin, with a total of 37 maps (26 letters, 10 numbers, and one blank white map to act as a space). These maps were all griefed in 2019.
- The "S", "M", "I", and "B" maps were rebuilt by Breithan in early 2021.
- If all of these maps were built in a square, they would cover a 9 x 9 map area, or about 1.33 million square blocks.