View Full Version : Too much software, not enough direction

02-02-2010, 12:13 AM
Hi all,

I've wrapped up a few RPG projects, and now I'm looking to get back into mapping my campaign area in a new and expanded way. To make a long story short, my World of Trid setting needs a facelift.

For potentially commercial reasons, I'm game to remap Trid from the top down. Of course, time is a premium, so I want to maximise my available time by choosing the right cartography tool. I have CC3 (and many add-ons), Fractal Mapper, Hexographer (because, I admit, I love the hex map), PS, GIMP, and Dunjinni. I'm partial to CC3, but my ability doesn't always match my vision. I really like what I've seen some of you folk to in PS, but I'll need to climb the learning curve. Hexographer is easy to use and quite "old-schooly," but I'm not sure it's the look I want for Trid.

I'm looking to create a somewhat unique style--CC3 maps don't always have a lot of variety, it may take a lot of time to create my own style in PS or GIMP, Fractal Mapper is good but lacks precision, and Hexographer, while immediately accessible, won't produce immediately distinctive results.

Is there any advice from the experts in the community? I realise this is highly subjective, but I'd be grateful to hear from the group.



02-02-2010, 08:04 AM
First of all, good luck with the projects!

I would consider starting work with the program you are most comfortable with. You'll probably make the fastest strides.

I generally find that mapping(art really) comes to a head over a desired affect and that makes you change\choose programs. If your choice isn't clear it is probably because you haven't begun your map yet.

Failing that, just looking at your list, I'd suggest you start with Fractal Terrains and then use photoshop\gimp to get more precise. That's generally my process. Even compared to everything else I find FT is the best for starting a broad\large map project for gaming. You can slice and dice and everything fits together. You've seen it.

All that being said there are now a number of tutorials kicking around on this site. You could also start there.


02-02-2010, 12:07 PM
Regarding that standard look created in many CC3 maps, that is using only the default settings. I'm not going to look for the reference here, but Gandwarf's last regional map completely created in CC3 (except for maybe some slight tweaks in GIMP/Inkscape) does not look like a CC3 map at all, rather very artistic, almost "painterly" in style. Thus CC3 using the right techniques can make a very artistic looking final map.

OK, I said I was not going to point to it, but here is Gandwarf's map that I'm speaking of...

I'm not saying don't try using PS or GIMP, just saying the CC3 can be made to look very organic and artistic - if you know how.

I'd post some questions directly at Gandwarf for more advice regarding this - since you're already somewhat comfortable using CC3.

I have both CC3 and Fractal Mapper as well, though I never use them to create maps - I'm more comfortable using more general graphics applications like Xara Xtreme (Illustrator/CorelDraw-like) for all my maps. Use what you're comfortable with, just expand from the default to get the look you're searching for.

My 2 cents...


02-02-2010, 04:33 PM
Thanks for the feedback.

There's a common sense element to using software that I'm already familiar with, which leaves CC3 and Fractal Mapper.

Given that I have more experience with CC3, and that it's capable of many different looks (especially with the Annuals), I think I'll work a bit harder at cracking that nut. There are some truly spectacular CCx maps out there - Gandwarf's example is one of them.

Thanks for steering me in a direction...now to hit the books and tutes. Cheers!


02-02-2010, 06:34 PM
As an aside, though I don't use CC3, I have made 289 map objects for the SS3 Modern Map Symbol Set, commissioned by Profantasy - I have no idea if its ever been released, I got no notification, but if you ever get that set, just know that you're using my work!


02-02-2010, 06:49 PM
In a heartbeat, Gamerprinter. I've been waiting for that add-on myself.

In a related vein, the CC3 Annuals have a Colossal Butt-load of drawing tools for different map styles. Many are good right out of the box, though I've been working on one that mimics the old Harn map style. That said, I picked up a few fill patterns along the old Letraset style that I'd like to incorporate, mostly because they just look good. ;)

One thing I will say about the Harn maps, though, is that their colour choices are brilliant. So I'm working on a style that depicts ground cover/vegetation as a colour and elevation as a texture...we'll see how it goes.

And yes, due to the importance of this project, I'll be posting WIP for feedback as I go.

Thanks again!


02-02-2010, 11:43 PM
Heya! Anything about CC3 always gets my attention. I use this program exclusively, and I never use the Default Symbol Set (it's tooo.........default ;))

Here is an example of a 4e adventure I wrote for my players: http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?3680-My-4e-Adventure-for-my-Players&p=100364
Note all maps were done in CC3.

The Main campaign area for it can be found here: http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?1421-New-Campaign-World

And finally my Old Campaign world (Originally Mapped with CC2 and then reworked in CC3 with the Sarah Wroot style. http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?821-World-of-Auren

So,as you can see, CC3 does a lot more than the simple default style people assume.

02-03-2010, 12:04 AM
The Harn Maps, after N. Robyn Crossby, are some of my favourite maps in gaming. Just superb.

What I've seen of the process is heavily Illustrator and Photoshop intensive. The programs deal with layers very well and export to PDFs in ways that they are pleasing and useful.


02-07-2010, 11:11 AM
Still browsing through some of the CC3 Annual styles - many to choose from. I'm also 'zooming out' to the larger view, as the original campaign area was fairly small. So I'm working on some sketches as well. One of my goals is to produce something that's easy to maintain and replicate - IOW, a style I can use to create maps without too much time.

In the next few weeks, I'll post some material. I'm also thinking of using Hexographer as my Rapid/Agile tool, basically to prototype the landmasses, terrain, and features. I'll use those maps as the basis for what I produce in CC3, but in the meantime, they'll be useful for play.