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LoksVassago
07-04-2011, 08:26 PM
I signed up here a while ago when it became clear that I would be needing to draw at the very least a rudimentary map for an upcoming tabletop RPG I'm going to be running... but that is more or less as much progress as I've made. Allow me to explain some particulars -

Firstly, I had to figure out what software to use. I have pretty much no money to my person available to blow on fancy adobe products (though a ways down the line I am considering getting that nifty student discount they offer), therefore I was left with a free choice of raster or vector editor. I tried GIMP for a while, but ultimately I decided the scalability of a vector based image would be best (I don't ever intend to convert the image to a raster format so size isn't much of a concern). Well, that, and the guy whose idea I'm patterning my own after drew his map using a vector image editor so I figured if it worked for him it should work for me. Since I'm limited to a budget of roughly zero dollars I decided on Inkscape. I figured hey, I can put a grid down, maybe draw in where some forests and mountains are, and call it a day. How hard could it possibly be?

This is, give or take, where it all fell apart, as the genre-savvy among you probably figured. I need to map an area of roughly 100 miles on a side (assuming a square area) and, while previously I had given some thought to scale, I am, unfortunately, a visual graphics idiot and have become hopelessly lost. What kind of scale can/should I use? Why do the rulers in inkscape still measure by pixels if the image technically doesn't have a resolution? If it doesn't have a real width or height how can I assign a scale? Can somebody please just point me in the right direction and give me a shove?

Thank you all so much for any help you can give :(

RobA
07-05-2011, 12:53 AM
Hi -your post was stuck in moderation so I approved it.

-Rob A>

Hai-Etlik
07-05-2011, 01:36 AM
The "pixels" are the abstract units used internally by Inkscape and the SVG graphics format. Formally, they are "user units" but the SVG standard makes "pixel" an option and that's what Inkscape calls them. By default in Inkscape, they map to real units at 90 to the inch.

As for scale, I'm not entirely sure what you are asking. Scale is the ratio of the distance in the map, to the real distance in the world being mapped. So if you wanted to have 100 miles map into say 7.5 inches to fit on a US Letter sized sheet of paper with a 0.5 inch margin, it would be 7.5 in : 100 miles = 1:844,800. Rounding up gives a nice even 1:1,000,000, and a 7.5 in map covers an extent of 118.371212 miles.

If you haven't already, I'd strongly recommend you run through the included tutorials under the help menu.

LoksVassago
07-05-2011, 10:53 PM
Thanks for the Moderation fix and reply!


The "pixels" are the abstract units used internally by Inkscape and the SVG graphics format. Formally, they are "user units" but the SVG standard makes "pixel" an option and that's what Inkscape calls them. By default in Inkscape, they map to real units at 90 to the inch.

Thanks, that part was rather confusing. I had it about half figured out from the manual but a confirmation of pixels simply being an arbitrary unit in vector graphics programs set me solidly in the right place regarding that.


[...]So if you wanted to have 100 miles map into say 7.5 inches to fit on a US Letter sized sheet of paper with a 0.5 inch margin, it would be 7.5 in : 100 miles = 1:844,800. Rounding up gives a nice even 1:1,000,000, and a 7.5 in map covers an extent of 118.371212 miles.

Something like this is what I was asking, but a bit more along the lines of aesthetics. Is there a "proper" size for this kind of thing? For instance, how many inches could I go out to if I never wanted to print it? Would it really matter or does the program eventually fall apart? Stuff like that.


If you haven't already, I'd strongly recommend you run through the included tutorials under the help menu.

Yep, been running through those for a couple days whenever I get the free time, though they seem to apply more to contemporary drawing than they do necessarily to fantasy cartography, hence why I (tried to :p) ask about vector/inkscape specific tutorials or things of that nature. So far all I've found under this website's tutorial section for inkscape is something to do with contouring rivers, which will extremely nice, is a tad niche having really only to do with rivers.

Given another few dozen hours I absorbed a lot more material than I thought I could and this "panic post" is a bit out of context now, admittedly. Still, anything to do with general vector graphics cartography of a relatively local atlas page type drawing (as I said, only about a 100 mile radius rather than something like a "world map") would be amazing.

Hai-Etlik
07-06-2011, 02:39 AM
Something like this is what I was asking, but a bit more along the lines of aesthetics. Is there a "proper" size for this kind of thing? For instance, how many inches could I go out to if I never wanted to print it? Would it really matter or does the program eventually fall apart? Stuff like that.

There probably is a limit on how big you can make your canvas, so trying to make it with a scale of 1:1 isn't a good idea. That said, I'd suggest you try to make it however big you want it to appear on your screen. If you want it to fit your screen exactly, make the page the same size as your screen. If you want it bigger or smaller, make it bigger or smaller.



Yep, been running through those for a couple days whenever I get the free time, though they seem to apply more to contemporary drawing than they do necessarily to fantasy cartography, hence why I (tried to :p) ask about vector/inkscape specific tutorials or things of that nature. So far all I've found under this website's tutorial section for inkscape is something to do with contouring rivers, which will extremely nice, is a tad niche having really only to do with rivers.

Ah yes, that one might be mine actually, though I think there is another one floating around. The built in tutorials are important because they teach you the basics that are necessary to use Inkscape to do anything, including fantasy cartography.

Once you have that, just try drawing and playing with it.

Some particular tools that are useful for cartography are:

Paths
Groups
Layers
Clones
Path Effects
Spray
Tweak
Fractalize
Restack

The last two are under the "Extensions" menu.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can play with Filter Effects and even the XML Editor, but I'd leave that until you've got a good grasp on things.


Given another few dozen hours I absorbed a lot more material than I thought I could and this "panic post" is a bit out of context now, admittedly. Still, anything to do with general vector graphics cartography of a relatively local atlas page type drawing (as I said, only about a 100 mile radius rather than something like a "world map") would be amazing.

That's good, a comparatively large scale* map means you don't have to worry as much about distortion and projections. Particularly for a fantasy map, you can just treat it as flat and be done with it. When you want to cover larger areas like continents, or the whole world, things get tricky, unless your world IS flat which greatly simplifies everything.


* "Large Scale" means "less zoomed out" in cartography speak as the ratio 1:10,000 is a larger number than 1:100,000. Many people find this unintuitive, but you get used to it.