View Full Version : mapping on a budget??

02-11-2011, 02:25 AM
so i cant really spend money on the really big cartography programs at the moment but im really interested. is there a program i can use that is free and not too junky, or possibly some good demos/trials . if map making for free is the unthinkable or something i apologize, but im new at this and if there is such a thing

02-11-2011, 02:34 AM
The GIMP partisans will be with you shortly.

02-11-2011, 04:09 AM
Welcome to the Guild!

GIMP (http://gimp.org) is entirely free and open-source program. It is sort of like Photoshop but not as good. There is also inkscape (http://inkscape.org) which is a vector editing program. It is useful for making things like symbols, the coastal outline, and labeling. But to do effects like parchment texture or grunge, you need another editing program like GIMP or Photoshop. Just for comparison GIMP is to Photoshop as Inkscape is to Adobe Illustrator.

Another free mapping program is Wilbur (http://www.ridgenet.net/~jslayton/software.html), which edits terrain data (height fields).

Two useful posts are List of Mapping Software (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?1407-List-of-Mapping-Software) and the Quickstart Guide to Fantasy Mapping (http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?4276-Quickstart-Guide-to-Fantasy-Mapping.). Free mapping is entirely possible, just search around the guild to find some examples of what GIMP can do. There are many GIMP, Inkscape, and Wilbur tutorials in the tutorial section (http://www.cartographersguild.com/forumdisplay.php?48-Tutorials-How-To).

02-11-2011, 04:31 AM
The GIMP partisans will be with you shortly.

*lol* ... and good answer Gali :)

02-11-2011, 09:20 AM
The GIMP partisans will be with you shortly.

I personally am part of the maverick handful of subversive Paint.NET people. Also free, developed in their spare time by some guys who originally wanted something better than MS Paint. It's fairly simple "straight out of the box" but has a huge batch of user-generated plugins that, once installed, make PDN a respectable rival of any other free program out there.

'Course, you'll have to spend some time trying to decipher most of the tutorials on this forum so that they make sense while using PDN... but mostly it's just a matter of "they call it this, PDN calls it that".
Cheers, and welcome!


02-11-2011, 11:48 AM
I would disagree with Gallifreyan about GIMP "not being as good". It does have some limitations but it is a very powerful program for free. It also has a large support base.

02-11-2011, 12:37 PM
ok, thanks alot for the advice. just 1 more question, i saw a demo or trial thing for campaign cartograhper (the one that everyone uses) is that worth downloading or is it one of those programs that takes longer than 2 weeks to get the hang of?

02-11-2011, 12:40 PM
sounds good, thanks alot for the advice. deffinetly gonna look into those

02-11-2011, 12:42 PM
CC (in all its versions) is an excellent program. It's got a bit of a steep learning curve but well worth it. NeonKnight is our resident CC expert :)

02-11-2011, 01:33 PM
The trial for Fractal Terrains is definitely worth playing with. Campaign Cartographer does not have a demo, but they do offer a 14-day money back guarantee if it doesn't float your boat. The Profantasy folks are very helpful and responsive, so I'd say you can trust that guarantee. It does have quite a steep learning curve, though, so if you don't have quite a few hours to spend during that two weeks you might not get anywhere with it. Fractal Mapper by NBOS has a demo version without an expiration date, although it doesn't allow you to save your maps, and it doesn't have the full symbol set included. I am given to understand that it's a bit more user friendly than CC3, but I can't speak to that personally since I've never used it. On the other hand, Campaign Cartographer is a little better supported, with multiple symbol packs and expansions, and a subscription service called the Cartographer's Annual that offers additional styles and mapping guides.

Personally, though, I think that if you have just a little bit of money to spend, you should spend it on a Wacom tablet for use in Gimp. You can sometimes find them for cheap on Craigslist, or you can save for a bit and buy a new one. The Bamboo Fun is the model I recommend for a novice. You can usually find them for around $150 if you shop around and are patient. You could also go with the Bamboo Pen or Pen & Touch; just stay away from the touch only models. Also, I can't in good conscience recommend any brand other than Wacom at the moment.

02-11-2011, 10:24 PM
What kind of computer do you have available - older, newer, much memory or little, so forth? What operating system? And are you in the US? We know the Craigslist suggestion for finding a tablet won't do a Brazilian or German much good :-).

And you can't get much cheaper than a pencil and a piece of paper ...

02-16-2011, 08:02 PM
I use GIMP, have never used Photoshop but according to the experts there are some things that PS does better and also things that Gimp can do. I don't think you will be sorry trying it. If you have no artistic talent then you may have to download some of the brushes here and there in order to turn it into a stamper but pretty much anything you can draw you can put in there.

I use Inkscape for the labels though because I'm not really knocked out with how Gimp puts words on a curve.