View Full Version : Maps on a Mac

01-28-2011, 07:13 AM
Hi All

Im new here, so hello first of all.

As the title suggests, I have a map and i would like to make some maps for a fantasy RPG. I would like to do a range overland/regional maps as well as things like building layouts and dungeons etc. I don't want something too simple as i would like to spend a bit of time making some nice looking maps but i am a beginner at this. Is there any software that's supported on a mac that i could us?

Thanks all


01-28-2011, 08:29 AM
Hi and welcome aboard ;)
Needless to say that Photoshop is the best software you can use to achieve what you want. You won't find anything that can compete, whatever people could say. It's the best. Period.
On the other hand, it's not free but Gimp is, and available on Mac osx (http://www.gimp.org/macintosh/ )
It's not as good as PS but it is free which is quite nice to say.

Depending of the outcome style you want to get, Gimp can be enough but even if there some plug-ins that can add more flavor to the program (which can add the layer styles you have in Ps, canon) you won't get the same versatility. Give it a try, a least ;)
I've never used any other program so I can't advise you more ;)

01-28-2011, 12:07 PM
Photoshop is probably the most widely used software to do what you want. There are some who prefer Gimp even though it is basically an Opensource free to use photoshop clone. (Not exactly fair to say I guess because it does have some things PS does not and vice versa but whatever). Both of these are raster based graphics programs which is slightly different than Vector based software. Gamerprinter here, for example, uses Xara extreme for all his work and that is a vector based product. What's the difference you my ask? Well, imo, which is amature: Vector is always scalable which can be a great thing and it has clean lines. Raster on the other hand is more like pushing paint around on a canvas. It looks to me a little more artistic. The real technical differences you can look up on a wiki or something but in the end it depends on what your style is and how you want your stuff to look. We have a thread here (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?1033-New-to-Digital-Cartography-Software-General-Information) about software.

It also matters on what you can do yourself as most artists will say it's not the tools that make the finished product. While you can use the filters and add ons of a lot of the softwares to create some really nice looking effects there is something to be said for being able to just do it all by hand. From what I have read and seen most artists use a handful of brushes at best and just go to town. That said, there is a reason Photoshop is the most widely used product.

01-28-2011, 01:19 PM
Thanks to the both of you for your reply's, very helpful indeed. Ill have a look at them both and see how i get on. I am not actualy very sure where/how i will start in terms of making a map but ill head over to the tutorial section i feel.

Thanks again


01-28-2011, 01:30 PM
Well, check out that link I added on the software used by various folks and see what you think will fit you. Then go check out some of the work done with those particular packages you are interested in and see what you prefer.

01-28-2011, 03:27 PM
Hiya and welcome! The best advice that I can give is to try gimp, if it's in the budget try Photoshop, but save yourself a lot of grief and do *not* buy photoshop elements thinking you're getting Ps lite ... it may be great for a lot of things but I've had terrible experiences with it for mapping.

01-29-2011, 07:08 PM
Well thanks again everyone for your advice and help, i went with the GIMP option, for now at least. I have spent all of today playing around with it and following RobA's tutorial and i have managed to produce this...


Lots of improvements to be made obviously, especially since i could not get the rivers to work. But I am pleased with it for my first attempt, especially since I have no experience of making images.

Thanks again


01-29-2011, 09:46 PM
That's pretty reasonable results. The question I have for you is how much have you learned about the software following the tutorial. As long as you learn every time you make a map and are enjoying it then all the power to you.

01-30-2011, 12:01 AM
Hey, that looks pretty darned good, one of the best maps I've seen made from that tutorial! Have some rep for your first map!

However, I do have a small piece of advice / request: Instead of using imageshack, hit the Go Advanced button, and below the main edit window hit Manage Attachments. That lets you upload the map directly to the guild site and gives us (A) a nice little thumbnail preview and (B) not having to navigate off the site to image hosting sites that are usually ridden with popups. If you have trouble, post it up and we'll help you out.

01-30-2011, 04:00 AM
Thanks for the kind comments :)

I think I have sorted the attachment/image out, did realize it was a forum feature :(

Although I think I have picked up a lot doing that map, I would not say I totally understand it all. I have a rudimentary knowledge of how the layers interact and I think i need to experiment, read up and try other tutorials to expand on that understanding. One of the key things for me was just navigating around an imaging program, but like I say, now its time to start really learning and experimenting.

01-30-2011, 10:18 AM
Yep, much better, thanks!

01-30-2011, 02:51 PM
Nice job, no, great job, on those mountains. Usually when I see people follow that tutorial, the mountains look, well, bad, because they don't blend well with the surrounding terrain. Not so here. Repped!

01-30-2011, 08:47 PM
I agree. You nailed the mountain technique, which seems to be the part that gives most people trouble.

Now that you've learned some basics, I recommend taking a look around for any tutorials on layer masks. I don't remember who wrote them, but I know there are at least a couple floating around here somewhere.

01-31-2011, 12:43 PM
Thanks for the encouragement guys. Ill look for those layer mask tutorials, im currently dl'ing tutorials all over the place, so much material, think i might have a new hobby! :)