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Pilias
04-03-2009, 02:24 PM
So I'm completely new to all of this stuff. I've been hand drawing maps since early childhood and when one of my treasures was recently destroyed through the actions of the wife I decided it was probably time to learn how to do maps on a laptop instead.

Beyond just doing maps for fun I am currently dabbling in writing a novel and I run a D&D group for a good long time now out of a homebrew world which requires me to make new maps as they travel to new areas.


So my first question for people is what would be recommended for someone to start making maps (price is not an issue) who has no previous experience using software to draw maps.

Also I'm curious if there is an easy way I can make a map and add an overlay to it that when printed would be large enough for D&D miniatures so I can design encounter maps on the computer and just print them off.

Kingbreaker
04-03-2009, 03:04 PM
So I'm completely new to all of this stuff. I've been hand drawing maps since early childhood and when one of my treasures was recently destroyed through the actions of the wife I decided it was probably time to learn how to do maps on a laptop instead.

Beyond just doing maps for fun I am currently dabbling in writing a novel and I run a D&D group for a good long time now out of a homebrew world which requires me to make new maps as they travel to new areas.


So my first question for people is what would be recommended for someone to start making maps (price is not an issue) who has no previous experience using software to draw maps.

Also I'm curious if there is an easy way I can make a map and add an overlay to it that when printed would be large enough for D&D miniatures so I can design encounter maps on the computer and just print them off.

I'd look at the style of map that you find inspiring and figure out what software the author/cartographer used.

The big split in the software world is between Vector and Raster type programs.

Vector programs draw everything by storing the equations for the lines you draw mathematically in memory. This is cool because you can get the same clarity at any level of resolution (crudely, "zoom')

Raster programs take each pixel of the image and assign it a color value. They are great for drawing images with detailed textures, or photographs.

There are excellent, free software packages in both flavors. In the raster world, the leaders of the pack are Adobe Photoshop ($$$) and GIMP (Free). In the vector world, there are Adobe Illustrator ($$$) and Inscape (free). It's possible to produce great maps in any of these programs, and each has its strengths and weaknesses. There are also many other programs that people can use. In the end, you will probably end up with at least one good vector program, at least one raster program, and several specialized "utility" programs for certain things.

I mostly use Adobe Fireworks. . . it is mostly a vector program but does an excellent job at applying raster effects to what's drawn. But this is a pretty uncommon choice. Xara Extreme is cheaper and is possibly more powerful for the same type of program.

Then there are programs like Campaign Cartographer - dedicated for the fantasy enthusiast cartographer. I am not an expert in it and will suggest looking at tutorials (for all programs, really. . . )



YES, it is very possible to draw usable dungeon-encounter maps on a computer! Not being a gamer, though, I wouldn;t know where to begin for that.


WELCOME!

NeonKnight
04-03-2009, 03:43 PM
welcome to the Guild.

I will echo what Kingbreaker said. look at the style you like and then look to what software was used to make it.

A program like CC3 is addiitonally useful because it utulises Symbols that can simply be placed with the click of a button.

Pilias
04-03-2009, 04:25 PM
OK I've looked a bit at the software threads and am leaning towards CC3 ATM.

I am curious though, what are the advantages and disadvantages of the various programs?

As it stands I will probably want to do Vector based drawing primarily because I will probably need to scale things.

How would I tell what programs were used for maps? Is there a map repository or something from other users of the forum?

NeonKnight
04-03-2009, 04:34 PM
Most people have stated in the WIP threads or elsewhere int he mainbody of the work what Software they used. Myself, I use CC3 and nothing but.

torstan
04-03-2009, 04:40 PM
There is a page of thumbnails for all the finished maps here:
http://www.viewing.ltd.uk/Temp/CG/ChallengeTN/FinishedMaps.htm

The thimbnails link to the images. The name that accompanies the images (name_1 name_2 etc) link to the thread with the image in the finished maps forum.

The person who created the map will likely have the software listed under their name, or listed somewhere in the thread. If you can't find it - send them a private message through their profile page (you'll need 5 posts before you can do that).

Gandwarf
04-03-2009, 04:41 PM
So my first question for people is what would be recommended for someone to start making maps (price is not an issue) who has no previous experience using software to draw maps.


Welcome.
I once started mapping with the same question, as I have no design skills. I purchased CC3 and was very happy with it.

CC3 is pretty difficult to master, but the same can be said of the other software, like Photoshop or The Gimp. The biggest advantage of CC3 to me is that you can make a very decent looking map right from the start as it comes with a lot of styles, effects and symbols you can just throw together. Now take Photoshop for example, if you have no skills with that software you will struggle at first to get a decent result.

However, once you master software like Photoshop you will get a lot more flexibility and will be able to create very unique looking maps. You could also use software like that to create other kinds of images (not related to mapping). While CC3 is mainly a mapping program.

Steel General
04-03-2009, 05:06 PM
Welcome Aboard!

Ascension
04-03-2009, 05:18 PM
Welcome. I'll add in a couple of things; go through the tutorials subforum to see what grabs ya and you could always continue hand-drawing maps as well. In the tutorials area look for a tut by delgondahntelius on the tools he uses. If you want to use a tablet for drawing by hand directly into the pc then Photoshop or Gimp or some other raster software is the way to go. By sheer volume CC3, PS, and GIMP are the most supported here in the tuts area. This is not to say that we favor or plug any one thing over another and it also doesn't mean that you can't use something else. SketchUp and Blender are gaining popularity for ISO and 3d styled maps and the tuts written for raster programs pretty much transfer to any other program like Paint Shop Pro, paint.net, etc.

Kingbreaker
04-03-2009, 06:01 PM
Re: CC 3 -

Advantage: Good-looking maps from the beginning if you follow the tutorials

Disadvantage: SOme feel that CC3 can be more limiting than other programs because it "shunts" users toward certain styles. This is certainly not an absolute limitation - CC3 can be used very creatively.

Disadvantage: I personally feel that the interface of CC3 is non-intuitive and frustrating. Possibly more significant in the long run, you may eventually want to broaden out into other realms of digital imaging (I started off in heraldry) - the concepts and techniques you use in other graphics programs will be potentially a LOT more useful than CC3 later on.

But this is all, entirely, from my perspective and opinion only - and in no way a knock on CC3 for anyone else - it entirely depends on your needs and preferences.

Pilias
04-03-2009, 07:45 PM
Thanks for all the advise guys, anyone else who wants to chime in feel free, I think I will probably start with CC3 as it seems the closest to what I need for right now and I will look at branching out to other programs down the road after I have some skills.

Pilias
04-13-2009, 11:49 AM
Quick question:

how would I add in a compass and other features like that after I've already started a map in CC3?