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View Full Version : Experience, Skills and Talent.



aquarits
03-14-2013, 10:32 PM
I know that the title of the thread looks like a Storyteller sheet, but is not :P

In my last map i got some experiences that just made me curious to know some about this. Like everything, experience counts more then everything.
Someone with talent for mapping can have nice ideas and imagine a cool work, but if he don't have some skill, probably will not have success doing the job. Believe that works the same in inverse telling. Skills are important to know wut and how to do, but if have no talent, probably the map will be sux.

But Experience, guess count much more thn everything. A experienced person, probably will take more time to do a maps if he don't have skills in certain software and tools, if he have no talent probly will burn the mind for more time till get a nice idea or something that he like. But guess, probably he cant do a AMAZING map, but never will do a sux map. Plus some skill and a bit of talent all maps will be nice.

i started with some maps few months ago, and sometimes i pass for moments that i can call "a blind moment". Lack of experience, i just cant see wut is wrong, and takes a lots of time and energy for me and for the folks trying to help and show me wut is wrong :((
In my journey, i guess i can count the experience time counting how many maps you did, since i believe that my last map is better thn the older. where come my question:

how many maps on average someone needs to move out from this "blind moment" for certain points like:


- Shapes
- Labels
- Colors
- Final work ( the last presentation)
- Rivers
- Icons (buildings, mountains, trees)
- Projections

I dont want to say that i am anxious to do amazing maps, it is just a curiosity about how many experience someone can get in certain time.8)

Jaxilon
03-15-2013, 03:25 AM
Well, that's a tough question I think. Depends on a person's aptitude I suspect. (Both for the artistic side and the technical if we are talking digitally). How many skills carry over from other areas as well.

For example a draftsman will probably make really awesome town and building maps just because his drafting skills will be handy.

I imagine you mean for someone going from scratch to amazing however. And to that I can offer a couple thoughts that should be taken as worth a grain of salt. :)

First of all I might just say there are some folks who may never get the knack because they don't have the patience and drive to build up the skills. Possibly they are not great at designing or visualizing, I don't know. It is also art and that tends to be really subjective. What one group of folks thinks is fantastic another will detest. That's just the nature of the beast.

I believe Ascension, who is famous on these boards but sadly absent the last few months, said it took him a couple years before he was satisfied with what he produced. I don't really know what skills he had prior to coming here though, so I'm not sure what his "two years" means.

Speaking for myself, it's taken me a couple years as well to produce what I am doing now. I had artistic abilities but had never really tried to developed them. I had zero experience doing anything artistic on the PC and had never used any kind of digital art package. I learned on GIMP and only about 4 months ago switched over to Photoshop. That is a tool I'm still getting used to. Like you, I still feel like I'm getting better each time. For me, it's a combination of mastering the tools I am working with (oh yeah, I also got a Intous tablet roughly 4 maps ago), learning how to construct a map (Mountains, rivers, climates), and so on. I'm still working on labeling skills. Also, I would say that nothing is old hat to me yet, in other words there is still some portion of experiment in everything I create because much of the time I'm not sure how I'm going to depict everything.

I'm still learning and thank goodness, because if I weren't I'd probably get bored real fast and move onto something else. I think the first map I was pretty happy with was around the 1 year mark. Also, it's worth mentioning that I only get to do this some evenings and when I have free time not taken up with other family responsibilities. If I had more time to spend at this it might have only taken months instead of years.

That's my two cents anyway.

aquarits
03-15-2013, 08:13 AM
What you said is exactly about the experience time doing maps. Ofc sometimes you will do something wrong, and someone will help you to fix it. Next time i am sure that you will live the same situation, but this time you know what to do. If need learn more about software of improve some artistic feature, you will stop (not quit) for a time till u get ready to keep going.
I dont want considerer the time, coz like you said a lots of other things call for your time (considering, in my case, map as hobby). But you will not do the wrong.


First of all I might just say there are some folks who may never get the knack because they don't have the patience and drive to build up the skills. Possibly they are not great at designing or visualizing, I don't know. It is also art and that tends to be really subjective. What one group of folks thinks is fantastic another will detest. That's just the nature of the beast.f I weren't I'd probably get bored real fast and move onto something else.

That is the point, when someone have to much skills and the gift for some art. Coz of lack of experience, they not see the work growing. "Oh damn, i can do fantastics images" and when you see the map you the river feeding the lake in middle of the desert o.o
I remember JB and Hai criticizing my rivers. In other words saying "your rivers sux" it was wut make me start look for more information. Thanks for ths guys, i learned enough about Topography and use 2 new softwares. I had to FAIL 3 times in my background textures to start a search and learn how to do it. so after 3 maps i believe that i can handle rivers and started with textures :D

Dat is why you cant measure the experience by time, that is why i believe that u can measure it by the number of maps done.

Beoner
03-15-2013, 10:28 AM
I agree, you can't measure experience by time, but I don't think the number of maps can do the job, I mean, you can make thousands of maps, but if you keep doing the wrong thing over and over (doesn't matter if its artictic or cartography mistakes) you won't grow your abilities, while someone with four maps, who studies, and goes for information, will make better maps with less maps. It also counts your learning speed and your interest for the subject, some people may like to draw maps and create worlds, but i doesn't mean they like geography and if they find the How to get your rivers in the right place (http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/3822-how-get-your-rivers-right-place.html) tutorial boring, they may never know how to place their rivers ;)

But considering someone with the interest to learn and make correct maps, I think the number of maps will make you grow more the artistic "side" than the cartography, because the first one needs more training, while the last one needs more knowledge. That is how I see it.

Jax made me remember of something I read a while back: Life is growth. If we stop growing, technically and spiritually, we are as good as dead. Morihei Ueshiba.

Counlin
03-15-2013, 02:18 PM
What I think is that the total maps you do help to measure your experience like you said, but they don't mean everything. For example, you took 3 maps to get your rivers fine, others may take 6 maps, others may take one or two maps. Those who have the knowledge from school may be able to get the rivers fine in their first try. Experience can come from different sources of knowledge, you can learn from everything, all that matters is your learning skill. But time means experience in this case, because more time working on maps, more time of experience gain, the better you will get, you don't have to finish the maps, it can be just a practice (and Oh my!, I have done so much practice...) you can practice only mountain making, only river placing, and yet never get a map done.

To sum up things, I think that experience comes with unceasing practice, only big training can turn you into something really good.

aquarits
03-15-2013, 06:30 PM
Oh yeas, Beoner said the most important thing. Practice, but practice doing the right thing. Ofc if you dont want to fix your mistakes you will never learn wut to do right.
When i said number of maps is practicing the right way... days ago i saw a really beuty map. I just got amazed for this... took some days till the first comment, ofc i subscribed in the post to see the comments when BOMB. Ppl saying about the rivers, positioning of towns, was when i noticed that dont need be cool, need to be right! If not the friendly community here, i guess the guy with the map was just to quit, but no, he fixed everthing showing a nice map.

Counlin if u say that took 3 maps for my rivers, other gets 6 and other 2, for sure we can say that at 4 maps ( doing and researching) is a cool number to measure that feature. If i want to do it with less maps, probly i have to focus in certain point. Like be a expert in mountains or shape.

Like i said before, it is just a heathy chat 8) btw you have a funny signature :D

waldronate
03-15-2013, 08:09 PM
As Beoner points out, the metric for years of experience is a tricky one. I know folks with 20 years of experience at certain tasks, and I know other folks who have the same year of experience 20 times. They both have burned the same amount of calendar time, but one is much more proficient than the other.

My experience tells me that talent in visual arts can't be taught or bought. I've tried to learn it and buy it. Didn't work in either case. I have some minor skills from long repetition, but I don't seem to have the spark that makes things interesting to look at.

Cunning Cartographer
03-15-2013, 08:31 PM
The problem with "total number of maps" isn't really helpful because no map is the same. Unless you redraw over and over the same map only then can you really see a marked improvement. If there is something in particular that makes your maps "bad" (style, technique, positioning, etc.) that isn't to say it will always appear in every map you do. Similarly drawing a top down battle map in comparison to drawing a region, city or world map... they all require different techniques and levels of knowledge (you don't have to know how rivers run when drawing a battle map).

I've used Photoshop for 15years, I've never really been a digital artist, but always used to make little nifty things for myself or graphics for the guilds I was in/ran in various MMOs, or digitally manipulating pictures of friends, but never anything serious or any large project. However, in this time I learned to use the tools of my trade (though only to a basic level because some tools I never needed for the things I was doing), learned how to use layer filters and learned a few tips and tricks to try and get things to look how I wanted them.

About 4 years ago I started doing a VTT tabletop game and I was making the battlemaps weekly, here I was pretty much taking images from RPGmapshare and Dundjinni and making my own maps from them, editing images I found to make my own objects, etc. and for three years this is how I made my maps, using the techniques I had learned, applying lighting sources to make a map atmospheric, etc.

Last year I started running a D&D campaign and simultaneously started working as a freelance illustrator with a regular monthly paid job, but decided I would try to get into some map design work as well on the side. That's when I found this place, that's when I stumbled upon the works of Mike Schley and people like Torstan and Djekspek who did hand drawn illustrated maps and I pretty much hit the reset button on how I wanted to design my maps in the future, completely shifting away from the Dundjinni style maps and focusing on hand drawn maps. One of the major things that made this possible was that when I found this site, and got my new job, I also got an Intuos4 XL (A3 sized Wacom tablet) and up to this point I'd never used a tablet in my life and had always used my mouse to drawn. This was a major step because I could now draw handdrawn maps straight to digital with a major added bonus: pen pressure. It is ridiculous how much better all my illustrations look with this single accessible feature and how much it has changed my map drawing.

If you check my Finished Maps (http://www.cartographersguild.com/members/yospeck-albums-finished++maps.html) gallery you'll see three maps. The first shows where I was at making digital "maps" (the night camp was an isometric map I was trying, which looks more like something from a Dragon Age type RPG) but demonstrates my "level" with photoshop proficiency pulling together all sorts of elements other people had made and editing them. The second "town gate" is my first ever hand drawn battle map, the third is the first time I ever hand drew an isometric map. Now, trying not to come across as arrogant, but I'm extremely happy with how both came out and think they are easily of a professional quality... but these were my first hand drawn maps. So in response to your original question, how many maps did I draw to achieve that level? None. Does that mean that someone just picking up a pen for the first time and drawing their first map will be able to do it the same quality? Of course not. However, I'd learned so so much prior to this point doing other things and picking up tips and ideas and methods on how other people do their maps.

So unfortunately there's no real way to monitor "okay I need to do X number more maps and I'll be better". Keep drawing, keep posting, keep taking the constructive criticism and work on it. Be careful of the advice you take because people distribute it freely, but there are some over others whose advice is always well worth taking (take the advice of the Chef who cooks the gourmet food, not the food critic who doesn't know how to actually cook himself). Maybe try smaller projects so you can churn out more stuff instead of world map after world map; working on a continent where you still get to experiment on forests and mountains and coasts is more useful than drawing a world map and just repeating the same mistakes throughout the entire piece. Finally, maybe try mixing things up, do a city map, and a region map and a battlemap and check out the work of people you admire and even trying to mimic their style will improve yours until you find a style of your own.

Midgardsormr
03-15-2013, 10:34 PM
There is a bit of a theme here that I'd like to highlight, and that's variety. Yospeck mentions a job as a freelance illustrator. That probably did a lot more for the mapmaking than merely making maps. The principles of design apply to any kind of visual art, and something you learn while taking photographs, for instance, may improve your cartography. Since I started working as a visual effects compositor, I have found that I have been able to offer much better critique here, even though I haven't made an actual map in quite a while. And when I do eventually get around to making a new map, you can bet that it will be substantially better than my last, even though I haven't touched cartography in quite a while.

aquarits
03-16-2013, 12:09 AM
coz all maps never are the same is the reason where u earn experience, after each map you learn, research or reserve a time for learning. It isnt about the time. If someone have time, u just map more times then other. Is like a doctor where u measure his experience in hours worked and surgery done.
Well, i asked about one type of map, ofc that it apply to every type. Ofc you don't need to know about rives to draw a battlemap, but for sure u have to know other features.

Some ppl says: I spend 20 years in my map... But how many maps you worked till u finish this one?

Look you Yospeck :D you answered your own question saying how many maps you did:



If you check my Finished Maps (http://www.cartographersguild.com/members/yospeck-albums-finished++maps.html) gallery you'll see three maps. The first shows where I was at making digital "maps" (the night camp was an isometric map I was trying, which looks more like something from a Dragon Age type RPG) but demonstrates my "level" with photoshop proficiency pulling together all sorts of elements other people had made and editing them. The second "town gate" is my first ever hand drawn battle map, the third is the first time I ever hand drew an isometric map. Now, trying not to come across as arrogant, but I'm extremely happy with how both came out and think they are easily of a professional quality... but these were my first hand drawn maps. So in response to your original question, how many maps did I draw to achieve that level? None.

How many maps you did till get this result?


About 4 years ago I started doing a VTT tabletop game and I was making the battlemaps weekly, here I was pretty much taking images from RPGmapshare and Dundjinni and making my own maps from them, editing images I found to make my own objects, etc. and for three years this is how I made my maps, using the techniques I had learned, applying lighting sources to make a map atmospheric, etc.

Weekly maps, in a year are are 48 maps, you not did the first hand draw map by miracle, was the experience that you got in all passed years doing map that gave to you this result :)
So maybe i am wrong about counting the maps done, but i fell that i only understand the lesson when i finish one.


My experience tells me that talent in visual arts can't be taught or bought. I've tried to learn it and buy it. Didn't work in either case. I have some minor skills from long repetition, but I don't seem to have the spark that makes things interesting to look at.

That is all said, only for repetition that u get the experience. I am new doing maps, a lots of things to learn :D but i am spending like 4 hours day trying to do something. Sometimes i just dont do nothing, just search , surf in the web, read o lots of post here in the forum and try do some experiences. But how i will check everthing that i trained? Believe doing a map. And after some critiques, will be able to do improvements and finish you suppose class :D:D


btw Yospeck, nice maps in your album - Adrastea Prison <3

Cunning Cartographer
03-16-2013, 12:35 AM
Weekly maps, in a year are are 48 maps, you not did the first hand draw map by miracle, was the experience that you got in all passed years doing map that gave to you this result :)
So maybe i am wrong about counting the maps done, but i fell that i only understand the lesson when i finish one.

It all depends on what is causing your "blind moment". If it's a creative process and not being able to come up with ideas on what makes a map interesting, then sure those 48 maps helped out, but I already knew how to use Photoshop before then. I actually had a check on my DA site and this is the first map I ever made, this was the first map used in our Star Wars tabletop Campaign (though much larger scale):

52904

So whilst you can say "You made 48 maps", they're not the type of hand drawn maps I have in my linked CG gallery, so style/technique wise they've contributed equally to my current maps as every other piece of non-map artwork I've made in those 4 years. However, I didn't always make high quality maps each week and some of my later maps were really quick and easy and very basic because I might have had only a little time to make them or designed them last minute.

I think all in all I'm not really sure what you are referring to when you talk about your "blind moment", if it's when you look at a map and something just doesn't look right, or you can't get the effect that you want, then making non-map artwork will contribute to that, putting in hours of drawing anything will help you learn the tools you need. If it's a creative process and you're not sure what makes a good World/Region/Battle map then there's plenty of guides and articles to highlight what makes a realistic world/interesting battlemap.

It does feel like you're looking past what everyone is saying when they say "there is no <x> number of maps" because you really want to be able to quantify how many maps you might need to make before you're at a point you're happy with. Sorry, that's just not how it works. If it helps though, they say if you put in 10,000 hours of anything then you can become a master of it :) So if you put in 4 hours a day then in 7 years you'll be a photoshop/map making master.

Larb
03-16-2013, 01:12 AM
Imagination vs Skill are two way different things. You can pick up the skill no matter who you are. You can learn how to draw X style maps really well. You can learn to draw wonderful pencil sketches of the person sitting infront of you. It is a visual-mechanical skill that you can learn (anyone cam - just ask Professor Betty Edwards). Imagination is not something that can be taught though. You gotta look inside yourself, or outside to find that.

waldronate
03-16-2013, 02:01 AM
That is all said, only for repetition that u get the experience. I am new doing maps, a lots of things to learn :D but i am spending like 4 hours day trying to do something. Sometimes i just dont do nothing, just search , surf in the web, read o lots of post here in the forum and try do some experiences. But how i will check everthing that i trained? Believe doing a map. And after some critiques, will be able to do improvements and finish you suppose class :D:D


As a wise one once said "experience is what you get just after you need it." That is, you learn by doing and by recognizing your mistakes. In my opinion, the best way to become more proficient in a skill is to seek feedback on your process as well as your finished product from those whose work you admire.

In the context of this site, that means starting a WIP and running it through to completion, asking questions from anyone who views the thread. Most folks won't say anything, some will say harsh things, and some will say overly nice things; only a tiny bit of the feedback (if any at all) will be useful. The hardest part of this activity is to take the things said without getting your ego involved. Most folks aren't setting out to attack you personally, they are commenting on what they see. Take the comments at face value, incorporate only the parts that you find useful, and (of critical importance) don't stop working until you consider that map complete and it's posted to the completed maps section. If you get blocked on a map and need to start a different WIP, go for it, but never stop asking for feedback.

aquarits
03-16-2013, 08:30 AM
That is, you learn by doing and by recognizing your mistakes.

waldronate said everything that i wanted to say about the "Blindness". What i mean is exactly it, coz lack of experience, cant identify few mistakes, ofc i cant, cos i never experienced this mistake before. For this i just CANT see (or identify) since is a new thing for me.
If Yospeck got a great map in his first experience, we cant make it a global interpretation, most of cases, ppl start with a sux map and start grow work by work. I have few maps in Finished Maps section, they are finished for me, yeah yeah, after few comments i noticed new things too, where i have to work, what make me disagree about show to the world, coz the job is finished, only thing that u can get from this learn wut you did wrong and make right in next, or fix it in a parallel work.

Pls, dont understand me bad. What i noticed here is the comparative with new mappers and old pros, what make the things completely different. Old mappers have a criticism eye with a lots of experience to compare things with other things, beginners just draw few lines and put a backgroung to think the map amazing, are the parameters of the eye.
Right, cant measure the experience by number of maps :) but i believe in my case that to do a lots to practice, since never worked with it before and still new using some tool and softwares.

Really good this conversation, like in a bar drinking a beer and sharing the experiences.

Midgardsormr
03-16-2013, 01:58 PM
A couple of other observations, if I may, and now that I don't feel like I'm stealing time at work:

You'll have noticed the challenges that the Guild runs on a monthly basis. If you haven't already done so, start entering them. They're wonderful for increasing your skill for several reasons: They're timed, so when the month is done, your map is finished, which serves to push some of us out of fiddling with things for ages. They're themed, so you'll wind up making a map you never would have come up with when given complete freedom. Finally, they're guaranteed to be looked at, and probably critiqued. At the very least, many voters will leave some brief comments about why they chose the map(s) they voted for. There are two challenges every month: one that's open to everyone, and the Lite Challenge, which is only open to those who have never won the main challenge or had a Featured Map or won, I think, three of the Lite Challenges. If you want to advance quickly, enter both.

Now, the second thing I had to say… I've forgotten what it was. I'll probably be back in a couple of minutes.

Edit: I remembered! I have found that the absolute best way of learning something is to try to teach it to someone else. I'm not sure how best to apply that to your situation here, but if you come up with a technique that someone admires, or you learn something that is of use to your mapping endeavours, make a tutorial about it. Spend some time looking at other people's work, and try to pass on the same wisdom to new mappers that you've already received. By thinking about these things and putting them in your own words, you'll take possession of that knowledge. The first few times, you'll say, "Max showed me this," or "Torstan posted a great tutorial about that," but after a while, the techniques will no longer be Max's or Torstan's; you will have appropriated them into your own repertoire, and probably put your own spin on using them.

aquarits
03-17-2013, 03:52 PM
i try analyse all chalenges, and just not subscribe. I try do somethings following the themes exactly about you said. New chalenges and new knowledge, i like the competition cos inspires you to research for new information. you right about it.
In the end i pass more time reading WIPs then drawing something, just cos is intersting to see how the other ppl maps start to grow. I test some of the ways that ppl do and some o just try to put in action doing a map. Tutos i have alots here, most part are printed to a fast check and easy annotation. i dunno if i am doing a lots of time not respecting the time for more feed back about my work, wut not mean that i cannot ask :)

Like i said before, i was just curios about it, not rushing to get a lots of maps or to learn. I am respecting the time of learning.