View Full Version : Very confused- Very angry! :( About to give up completely.

05-19-2007, 07:02 AM
I am trying desperately to create a map for a story/world I am creating. Basically it is !VERY SIMPLE!: I need to create a large mountain range which separates this one particular area from the rest of the planet. The area has to have enough rivers, lakes, and forests for there to be separate rival Duchies. Each Duchy would be maybe 100x100 miles, and there'd be maybe 5 such Duchies. The total area would be maybe 1,500 x 1,000 miles.

I was making the map in MSPaint, but came into too many problems. I have been trying to use Paint.Net and GIMP now, but I keep running into the same problem.


When I select "Create New Layer" nothing happens. I have no indication that the layer was actually created, and if it was, no way to know which layer I am working with. To top things off, GIMP has a crappy color system; you have to create all your own colors. MSPaint at least had a preset pallete. And Paint.Net has the same thing, but I'm not so sure it's layers system even WORKS at all.

It's so simple to do, yet, I keep running into so many problems. :( I've bene at this for two weeks with almost nothing to show for it except this:


Which I think totally SUCKS. After looking at even a "novice" map, my own map is put to shame. And after I spent three days on it! And it's not even what I need, it's total crap for my project.

I like how I do my forests. I even like how I did my mountains, although they SUCK.

Do you guys have any suggestions? I'm about to give up and delete everything, even my story notes, just because I can't get the damned map just right!

See I don't even want to do anything COMPLICATED. No fancy shading effects or shadows and all that. Just a very clean, but nice map, maybe even just ONE layer but with transparent text. But I can't even figure that out.


05-19-2007, 07:27 AM
actually your map is prettey good for having used Gimp for such a short time.

you can pull up a "layers" window and see all the layers. clicking on the layer will allow you to work on that layer. clicking on the eyes, turns off and on a layer.

to see this window, click: Dialogs>Layers.

here is a screen shot of a sig i'm making. notice all the layers.

http://img501.imageshack.us/img501/3930/gimpscreenll8.png (http://imageshack.us)

05-19-2007, 07:53 AM
Oooooooooohhhhhhhhhh okay.

Well. I got that one figured out. lol

Now I just have to figure out what "opacity" is and which layers to put as transparent and all that technical jargon. :\

05-19-2007, 10:01 AM
Your absolute best bet would be to probably go run through some very basic GIMP tutorials to learn the simpler side of image manipulation. Drawing or arranging digitally is easy once you learn the basics of the software you're using.

You're of course welcomed to go through our mapping tutorials here, but you may want to go through some 'get familiar with gimp' tutorials on the web.

I don't know where the best place to go for those are, but I bet some of our gimp users could point you in the right direction..And you'd be surprised how much help it could be to put aside the map venture for even so much as 2 days just to work on some random gimp tutorials...you'll come out of those 2 days MUCH more familiar with the tools.

However, my biggest advice to you as a mapper is more of a realization...you've broken what I consider rule number 1 when it comes to cartography; you've let it get to you and frustrate you. We can fix that, I'm glad you came here before giving up on your project...That tells me that google is doing its job ;) Lets get that map of yours lookin good!

05-19-2007, 12:35 PM
Maybe in our Tutorials/How-To we should make a sticky thread that has links to only basic tutorials. That way we can build a nice resource for new users that come in and want to get up to speed with the various software. What do you think?

05-19-2007, 02:27 PM
Maybe in our Tutorials/How-To we should make a sticky thread that has links to only basic tutorials. That way we can build a nice resource for new users that come in and want to get up to speed with the various software. What do you think?

I think it's a great idea. Even better, I'd like to see someone make a verrrry simple map tutorial for each application (or at least, the most popular apps) that at once teaches 1) basics of GIMP (for example) and 2) how to make a very simple map in a popular style.

PS: I agree with the others that your map does not at all "suck", sacred.stone; in fact, it has a LOT of great qualities. I don't even think you need to scrap it at all; that's completely modifiable with very little work.

And "opacity" just means how "solid" the layer is; as you turn down opacity, you can see through it more. This allows for some neat blends, mixtures, & textures. (EX: on my Pollexia map, every layer is at most 80% opacity, because I wanted the texture of the parchment to bleed through.)

05-19-2007, 02:47 PM
So 0% opacity will be even more transparent than glass, while 100% would be a solid object?

I really don't know what to do with my map. The valley area next to the coast seem very akward to me, and the mountain range is so small and pathetic for my purposes.

It's kinda sad. I made my planet only 14,000 miles in circumference to make it easier to map (less area!) but I'm still confused. Oh well. I guess I'll try and look over some tutorials. If anyone has some suggestions for my map I'd appreciate it.

05-19-2007, 02:58 PM
I've learned very quickly that its hard to imagine an ecosystem when you limit the size of your world. A better idea is to limit the size of your story area, thus limiting the area of the world you need to map. If you're a completist like me though you'll still end up mapping it all, but you can at least focus on a general area thats specific to your story.

Some things to keep in mind is the scale of the map in regards to the scale of your symbology. Large scale maps doesn't necessarily mean that you need MORE small symbols...you can scale your symbols up just as well, but that can sometimes make the area being mapped feel kinda small. So its a delicate balance you have to maintain.

Also, in regards to your existing map. I don't think the layout is as much a problem as is the flow of your map elements. While your style of drawing mountains is promising, it doesn't blend well into the surrounding landscape. You've started some blending, but the solid black line around things like yoru forests and your mountains really keeps those elements very rigid and self-contained. if you're going to outline your map elements you might consider a finer thinner line? or perhaps not black?

I agree about the simple basic tutorial link thread. I haven't dealt with basic tutorials though in a logn time so I'm not sure where to send people...I'll look around, but you community leaders can feel free to sticky threads as necessary.

05-19-2007, 03:22 PM
Well, I like the black outline for the forests. I think it makes them more defined.

I found this tutorial, and it seems to be good... I dunno, I'd probably get confused half way through it:



I was also even thinking of not making it a PLANET at all, but a very large (the total surface area of one half of Earth) orbiting artificial environment. :)

EDIT2: Yea I was right. I got confused 3 steps into it. I have no idea how to "burn" the mountains. I selected an option under the paintbrush that says "Burn" but it does nothing except turn the test-field I colored black.

05-19-2007, 04:41 PM
Okay here's what I've done so far with my new map creation:

I found a topographic map of mars. Coincidentally, the low areas were blue, the high mountainous areas were red, and the middle areas were greens and yellow. Perfect! That shows me, literally, what the land would look like with oceans and seas.

So I cut this one area that I like out, and pasted it in GIMP as the base layer. I put a layer over top of it and outlined the coastlines, rivers, and lakes.

Next I want to figure out something for the mountains. This isn't a mountain range like, say, the Rockies, a long thin band like we see on most maps. This is more like the Himalayas in China; one big blobby wart with a few blobby warts around it. So, I'll have to break my skull open and reach in with my fingers and poke around in my brain for some ideas.

So, now that I've outlined the coasts, all I have to do is outline the mountains and I can delete the base image of mars. Should I make mountains, coasts, and then the terrain features (forests, hlls, etc) each in their own layer? If so, what should be the opacity of each of these layers?

And could someone help me make mountains? I'll post what I have so far.

Thanks! I feel very good now.

EDIT: It's 10 MB and I can't figure out how to post it. lol

05-19-2007, 05:26 PM
I would recommend that you take a look in the WIP and Final forums to see what others have done with mountains. There are so many possibilities and techniques that it might be easier to find one that you like and then we can help you actually put it together.

I would recommend that each element in the map be a separate layer. This will make it easier to apply effects, move things around and make changes to the various elements going forward.

05-19-2007, 06:20 PM
I like the maps here:


However to fit with the style of my map, they would have to be less "plastic" looking.

These mountain are also cool:


I like the whole lack of perspective... the mountains are just viewed from above, like my forests. I don't like a lot of the perspective mountains that use shading and light angles... it messed up my eyes when I look at a map.

05-19-2007, 10:10 PM
one thing to remember when doing anything in the Gimp. save as an xcf file early on. then save often. Gimp will do an unrecoverable freeze at times so saving is important.

xcf files save your layers so you can work on them later. if you save in another file formate you will lose the layers.

don't save in jpg unless you're sure you'll not modify the image later. you should save as png. so have an xcf copy and a png of the final.

the reason is that jpg is "lossy" meaning that everytime you save in jpg some quality is lost. sometimes its not perceivable but after a few saves you will notice. now if you just open a jpg and then close with no modifications there is no loss. it's only when you save.

btw, does anyone like the sig?

I've been doing them for a couple weeks. there are some good tutorials at gimpdome and gimptalk. i've learned a lot about the Gimp by doing sigs.

lastly, the colors in the gimp are just as good as any other program. you could open a map ot graphic with colors you like and simply pick he color using the "pick color from image" tool. it looks like a little eve dropper.

05-19-2007, 10:29 PM
Yes you sig looks good that you're working on.

So what level of opacity should I choose for each layer? Or is it not that big of a deal since I'm not doing any shading? Just maybe low opacity for the text?

05-19-2007, 10:55 PM
the opacity is what ever you think looks good. play with it.

some of the things on your map could be done with home made brushes. any image can be a brush. mainly i'm thinking about the lines used in the forest and mountains. once you draw the area you could "stamp" down those lines with brushes that you would create. there are several tuts on how to make brushes on the sites i listed.

05-19-2007, 11:07 PM
Could you list me those sites again, please?

05-20-2007, 12:09 AM
So what level of opacity should I choose for each layer? Or is it not that big of a deal since I'm not doing any shading? Just maybe low opacity for the text?

Unless what is beneath the layer should be seen or suggested, forget it. I see the maps you're emulating do not appear to use much opacity adjustment, so perhaps you would not do it at all.

In all honesty, I slide around opacity a lot to see if there's an effect I like from it. But that's me--very trial & error, give & take, play & replay. You may wish to use a different effect instead, such as a "blur" filter instead.

Make sure to post us an update on that map. If the file is too big you can post it elsewhere & link to it here (there are plenty of free image sharing sites out there), or you could save it as a lower-resolution jpg file to get it under the 5 MB limit. Either way, I'm eager to see how it's coming along!

05-20-2007, 12:42 AM
Well so far here it is. I outlined the coasts, lakes, and did the rivers.

You can see those big red areas are going to be mountaineous.

I think the two separate blobs are gonna be individual, random peaks.


05-20-2007, 03:46 AM
Okay so I went back to the layer titled "coasts", and colored in the ocean. I created a new layer called "mountains", and in that layer I outlined in black the areas that will have mountainous graphics (ranging from hills, to big volcanic looking peaks to craggly mess). I sunk the actual topographic map of mars down to the bottom so I could work without it interfering.

My "base" layer is going to be the land (colored greenish), the coasts, rivers, and lakes, and the ocean, all colored. I will then have a layer on top of that, called mountains, and after that another layer for adding features onto the land, such as hilly areas, forests, etc. After that there will be another layer "cities and structures" which will have the icons for cities and the text for each city / area etc.

All in all I thinkt he map will be very basic, but that is okay. Later on when I feel more skillfull and have read more tutorials, I can go back and dissect my layers and make it better.

So... I'll keep you guys updated. I would still like if someone could help me wth the mountains.