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dlaporte7271
04-25-2012, 05:55 PM
Hi All,

So, I've seen the intro section which points rookies like me toward GIMP but I've already got a copy of CC3 and I've tried messing around with Hexographer's free version. So far I've made one map with Hexographer, and though it suits my practical needs it does not satisfy my artistic sense....So...

I'd love to hear some perspectives on what software you use and why you use it over another option. Remembering that I am a total beginner (though I think a fast learner) What advice would you present to me, or someone like me, when deciding. Also, I'm just looking for your personal prefs and why a given option appeals to you, not why I shouldn't choose this or that option. I don't want to provoke any arguments :)

I'm up against sticking with CC3 (which I found was not as easy and intuitive as I had hoped), going with GIMP or choosing another option that I might not be aware of. Also, any advice on computer system requirements would be appreciated as I am currently using an older pentium 4 and I can imagine being limited by my processor if there are some real powerful applications out there. There is an upgrade in my future, but right now the priority is in feeding my children over CPU's. Thanks in advance!

dlaporte aka Dave

arsheesh
04-25-2012, 06:44 PM
Hi there Dlaporte, I'm a GIMP man myself (though I also use Inkscape and Wilbur as well). I think overall it will allow you much more versatility than CC3 or Hexographer. With GIMP you can create a variety of different styles of maps, whereas with the other programs you are limited to the symbols/icons installed in the program. Now, in the plus category for CC3 and Hexographer, once you get past the initial learning curve of the former, I'm told they are very easy to work with and map creation is fairly quick and easy (though I can't comment on the veracity of this report). With GIMP there will also be a learning curve, and many maps styles (though not all) will remain somewhat time-consuming even after one is familiar with the software. However, you have allot more artistic freedom and power with this software, and that is ultimately why I went with it. Inkscape is another good free program to have around as you can use it to do line work and text placement much easier than in GIMP.

Now, if you want to make a long term investment, Photoshop would probably be the way to go. However, I'd mess around with GIMP first to see what you think of this kind of raster program before making any such investment. My 2c.

Cheers,
-Arsheesh

Korash
04-25-2012, 07:33 PM
I too am a "gimper", but not very active on it of late...

Gimp is the open source version equivalent to Photoshop. While Photoshop is the industry standard, Gimp is as capable in most things, and even better in a few others, but lacking in still others. Some of the pros here use both, believe it or not..."using the right tool for the job at hand". One BIG advantage to any non-industry user that Gimp has is that it is FREE. It should also be stated that here at the Guild there are plenty of tutorials for both of these programs, and most of them can be translated easily from one to the other.

While I agree with arsheesh on a few of his points about CC3, the end result of your map need not be as provided by one program alone. CC3 is capable of doing many different styles, sometimes depending on add-ons, but it will require some effort in learning about the programs abilities. You can also use different programs at different stages of the map and end up with something awesome.

I would agree with the suggestion of giving Gimp a try, but if you also have access to CC3, try learning that too.

I hope you enjoy your stay here at the Guild :)

Fox Lee
04-25-2012, 08:34 PM
If intuitive is your problem, I wouldn't say that GIMP is the answer... I love the program, but like most open-source tools, it's more about functionality, and getting better access to tweakable qualities of the program, than it is about being easy to grasp.

That said, I wouldn't say it's less intuitive than PS, unless you already know PS. That's a very big "unless" - I didn't have any problem picking up GIMP because I never liked Photoshop very much, but my partner was a PS user for years before migrating, and he still (after about five years) comes up against things that frustrate him because they're handled differently, named something else, et cetera. Mind you, he also doesn't use the program even a fraction of how often I do, so I believe it's largely because he never got baseline comfortable with it in the first place.

Bottom line, GIMP can still do almost everything PS can, but it's often in different ways or under different names. If you're not already accustomed to PS, I would totally recommend it unless you design primarily for print (since GIMP still can't do CMYK colour - sadface). Otherwise, it will serve you well.

Like arsheesh, I would advise you to grab Inkscape as well, since vectors can be really helpful for some aspects of mapping, and both PS and GIMP are awful for vector work (understandably, since they're not designed for it).

In summary, why do I use GIMP?

I have no money.
I wasn't working when I chose which program to run with. That meant I didn't need industry standard (fortunately, with regard to the first reason :p).
I tried PS when I was a student, and I never liked it anyway :p
I like supporting open-source software for philosophical reasons
It's able to work with some pretty obscure file formats (like Kisekae Set system cels, which nobody has ever heard of) that are useful to me.
It has perfect colour-palette management, which is super-important when I work on sprites or KiSS cels. Back when I chose my program (like 1998) PS had really awful palette management, since it was angled at photo-manipulation rather than pixel graphics. It might be better now though, I haven't checked lately.

dlaporte7271
04-25-2012, 09:09 PM
Thanks for the replies! Fox Lee...I wouldn't say that intuitive is a 'problem.' I just had the wrong expectaitons with CC3. I think I realize now that In order to make some real quality maps (such as my limited abilities might allow) will take lots of work and patience. I thought, perhaps, that CC3 might allow for some ...bing..bang...boom you've got a great looking map...kind of work...I was expecting a quick turnaround on map creation...but that would just have resulted in sloppy maps...I ended up using hexographer because it allowed me to produce a practical map for my campaign and I was able to throw it together in a reasonably quick timeframe. I'm just not satisfied with it 'artistically' and I'd love to make something that I'm proud to look at. Looking at some of the work here on the guild is definitely inspiring. I am not familiar with photo shop at all...never used GIMP either...In fact...I've only ever drawn maps by hand up til now. But a month ago I had never heard of CSS and now I'm putting together a site over on the Obsidian Portal...so...I'm pretty sure I can learn...


Korash...do I have to refer to my self as a "gimper" if I go with GIMP...how about a gimpy...or just a gimp....am I gimping while I'm at work? ...ok sorry...getting carried away...thanks again!

Jaxilon
04-25-2012, 09:29 PM
Ok, I will give my perspective.

First some background: When I was a teenager I had to decide if I wanted to be an Artist or go into a Technical career. I chose the technical career because I just didn't want to be a "starving artist". I still did some art from time to time throughout my life but never really went wild with it. I was busy writing software for "Corporate America".

I recently decided I wanted to go back to my artistic side because I missed it and was sick of the whole bust your hump for a paycheck. Weird how we feel about things over time, eh? The only reason I tell you this is that I had never done a single thing artistically in the digital realm until I joined the Cartographer's Guild. I still consider myself more artist than software user when it comes to this. Some folks here say they can't draw to save their lives but they still put out awesome work. It seems to me that CC is more of a stamp tool but I don't know anything at all about it. I think if you plan to paint your own stuff you would want something like PS or Gimp instead of CC but that's just my impression.

I wasn't making money from my art and I wasn't going to blow several hundred dollars on PS so I downloaded GIMP. Torstan (one of our members here) does amazing work and he had written several tutorials for Gimp and I figured if he as one of the best around here was using that it must be pretty good. He mainly uses PS now I believe but it seemed to me that he used Gimp for a while before moving over to PS. (maybe he can answer but perhaps he switched because of client needs more than anything else?). At any rate, Gimp is free so what's to complain about?

I would say it was very frustrating not being able to create what I could draw with a pencil and it took me probably about a year in my off time working with Gimp until I got to a point where I was pretty satisfied with my results. I think that might have been sped up if I had a tablet instead of a mouse but seeing as I still don't have one of those I don't know. I still have moments where I'm irritated with not being able to get what I see in my mind's eye. Drawing with a mouse blows chunks!

Perhaps one day I will pay the coin for PS but before I come close to doing that I will buy a tablet. I'm working on getting a Cintiq so that's a couple grand and that means PS is a ways off.

Intuitive? I don't think so.

My work flow in the simplest of forms is:
1. Rough sketch on paper
2. scan in at 300dpi
3. Gimp clean up and touch up
4. Gimp coloring/painting/etc

So I guess it depends on what you want to be able to do. If you want to paint things from scratch then I don't think CC is going to be what you want but that may be just my admittedly UN-knowledgeable thoughts about the program. If you are like me then you just have to suck it up and learn Gimp or PS depending on your cash flow and that's a easy one to answer for yourself.

arsheesh
04-26-2012, 12:20 AM
I would say it was very frustrating not being able to create what I could draw with a pencil and it took me probably about a year in my off time working with Gimp until I got to a point where I was pretty satisfied with my results. I think that might have been sped up if I had a tablet instead of a mouse but seeing as I still don't have one of those I don't know. I still have moments where I'm irritated with not being able to get what I see in my mind's eye. Drawing with a mouse blows chunks!

Yeah I'm learning that right now. Still, while working with a mouse certainly is more time consuming than freehand, it has actually been somewhat easier than I expected (granted, I haven't sketched anything more demanding than mountains and forests with a mouse). For a long time I avoided the hand-drawn map style altogether since I don't have a tablet. Now I wish I had begun earlier. So to anyone out there who thinks that they can't do a hand-drawn style map without a tablet (or without scanning in one), I'd say at least give it a try; you might be surprised.

Cheers,
-Arsheesh

Cheers,
-Arsheesh

Fox Lee
04-26-2012, 04:27 AM
Thanks for the replies! Fox Lee...I wouldn't say that intuitive is a 'problem.' I just had the wrong expectaitons with CC3. I think I realize now that In order to make some real quality maps (such as my limited abilities might allow) will take lots of work and patience.
Ah, well then, I would expect GIMP will suit you nicely :) It definitely rewards the sort of person who has a well-developed self-teaching mechanism ;p


Korash...do I have to refer to my self as a "gimper" if I go with GIMP...how about a gimpy...or just a gimp....am I gimping while I'm at work? ...ok sorry...getting carried away...thanks again!
I've always liked "GIMP pimp" myself :p Hey, what could possibly go wrong?

dlaporte7271
04-26-2012, 12:32 PM
I expect that I will be giving GIMP a try as part of the decision making process. One thing I will say...even though the hex map I made in Hexographer isn't as artistically appealing, I still own my original Greyhawk...poster sized hex maps of Oerth and I love those things....lot's of hour sending PC galloping across the Flaeness. Anyway...I'm thinking that I will still make use of hex maps for the campaign...but I'd like to have ....uh..."gimp pimped" out versions of the maps for style, flavor and artistic value.

BTW...what exactly does a "GIMP pimp" wear?

xoxos
04-26-2012, 01:42 PM
a lot of graphics apps interfaces are developed from photoshop, so you may find it very familiar/intuitive without having used it.

i'm currently using an 'elements' edition, which lacks the pen tool (and layer folders..) if i could afford it, i'd buy a used copy of ps6 or 7.. they have the 'liquify' filter and lack a lot of the crap in the newer edition (new dev team, product is more unstable in my experience.. often can't open files).

i use a wacom tablet, which makes an excellent, ergonomic pointing device. not a replacement for pencil.

dlaporte7271
04-26-2012, 03:33 PM
Well...I guess that leads to the related question....what kind of hardware do I require. Thanks to Wiki...I now know what a Wacom tablet is...I've seen people throwing around the term 'tablet' but I'm guessing they aren't talking about ipads...(or are they). Anybody out there drawing maps on their tablet pc?

Dave

Gidde
04-26-2012, 05:54 PM
I've tried, and it sucked, although to be fair I didn't give it a huge shot. It was a tablet PC that I was asked to test out at work, and naturally I was curious about drawing with it.

I much prefer my lil' Bamboo.

arsheesh
04-26-2012, 06:32 PM
GIMP comes with a standard "Render Grid" option, but somewhere or other I found a "Render Hex Grid" plugin which I've been meaning to make use of ever since I read Justin Alexander's blog post on Playing with Hexcrawls (http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/15164/roleplaying-games/game-structures-part-7-playing-with-hexcrawls). So this might be a way to have your cake and eat it too Dave. OK, did a quick Google search and here's the link to the Hex Grid Plugin (http://registry.gimp.org/node/15852).

Cheers,
-Arsheesh

dlaporte7271
04-26-2012, 09:53 PM
Ok...downloaded GIMP...tried some VERY basic stuff using one of the tutorials...lots to learn....but...looks like it will be fun....though...I wonder If my project might be a little ambitious to start with.

Korash
04-26-2012, 10:26 PM
ever hear of the expression "Go big...or go home"..? ;)

Have fun :D

Jaxilon
04-26-2012, 11:30 PM
Well, the best thing I can say is start pounding out maps for yourself and expect them to not be quite what you want. You are going to learn a ton on each one you create for a while.

If you need some help disciplining yourself to do something get in on the challenges we have here every month. If nothing else you will get lots of feedback that way. You could also create a WIP in the appropriate area for your own maps and get feedback there was well.

Have fun, we look forward to seeing what you do.

Drelen
05-07-2012, 06:57 AM
Just want to give you all a quick thank you. I came here with pretty much the exact same questions and situation as dlaporte7271. I will now begin digging through all the gimp tutorials you all have kindly created.

-Drelen

jfrazierjr
05-07-2012, 08:42 AM
Ok...downloaded GIMP...tried some VERY basic stuff using one of the tutorials...lots to learn....but...looks like it will be fun....though...I wonder If my project might be a little ambitious to start with.

A bit late to the party here...but if you have not gotten to it yet, the first thing you should MASTER(IMHO) is layer masks. This will greatly assist you in doing non destructive editing... For that matter, I would suggest before you start doing anything to an existing image(say a tillable fill pattern for example), your first question is "How can I do this in a non destructive way".

dlaporte7271
05-07-2012, 12:29 PM
Hey jfrazierjr....since I'm such a rookie...I don't know what you mean by 'non destructive' editing. I'm guessing you mean that using layer masks is a 'constructive' way to add or even remove/cover elements of your project...as opposed to using an eraser or other means of deleting elements...but...

@Drelen...I can say that the tutorials have been helpful in getting my feet on the path. Good luck to you and welcome!

-dlaporte (aka Dave)

Korash
05-07-2012, 06:40 PM
Actually, what jf means is that you can use layers to create effect that you can apply to the original drawing or even layer without actually affecting the original. He has a link in his sig that explains a sh*te load of stuff about Layers.

Well worth the read :)

jfrazierjr
05-07-2012, 07:10 PM
Right.. what Korash said.

dlaporte7271
05-08-2012, 03:05 PM
Thanks to you both. Looks like I've got some reading to do:)

jfrazierjr
05-08-2012, 03:14 PM
You might also want to do a search for "Some Creek thing" if you do well with video(no voice.. instructions are in text in the posts) but it goes over making a quick little battle map and uses layer masks quite a bit.