I have lurked on this site for a while now, and have dabbled in map-making for longer, but I am becoming totally disheartened by my lack of artistic talent and computer-related competence. I bought CC3 a few months ago with a view to making the process much easier for me, but even then, my results have been lacklustre compared to the amazing examples I see here and on the profantasy site. I tried and tried with RobA's tute for Gimp, but got exasperated by my inability to follow it. I can't even seem to manage to upload any of my attempts as I'm a technophobic luddite idiot. I am in total awe of you all who can make these beautiful maps and would appreciate any encouragement, as I'm ready to give up.
My first dozen or so computer maps were pretty bad but the main thing was that I was determined to continue and make some good satellite style maps. My attempts took a few years of off-and-on experiments but I eventually got it to a place that I was happy with and that's when I "went public" with it. I've spent about as much time being public as I did being alone in my chair experimenting and I'll say that the time being public has made me so much better than sitting in my chair alone and experimenting. In my case I had a clear goal that I wanted to achieve - "I want to make a map that looks like this and I won't stop until I get it". But I'm obsessive like that and in the end I never achieved the goal but went in a different direction after getting close to what I wanted.
The thing with all software apps, CC3 or Photoshop, is that it's really easy to make crappy maps and as they say "nothing worthwhile is ever attained lightly". The learning curve of the various software can be intimidating but once you get past it it becomes second nature. Think of it like a street fight and don't let the software win. Despair is a natural side effect when one compares oneself to others so don't do it...compare your first map to your tenth map and you'll find that you're doing quite well. :)
Well, the first thing to do then would be to get you to the point where you can successfully upload an image. Step one, when replying to a message, click the "Go Advanced" button in the lower right corner. You'll get a new interface with a lot more buttons.
In the top row of buttons, you'll see third from the right a paperclip icon. Click that icon once and you'll get the Manage Attachments window. In the upper right, you'll see a blue question mark, and below that a button that says "Add Files." Click that one. Yet another window opens.
By default, this window is set to upload files from your computer (you can also set it to transfer an image from another website, but I won't go into that at this time). So in the center bottom of this window is a button that says "Select Files." Click it to get a standard file browser. Browse to your file and choose it. The window will update to show the name of the file you chose, and it adds two buttons to the bottom. One of the new buttons is "Upload Files."
Click that one. Your file will upload and be placed in the Manage Attachments window. Click "Done" in the lower-right corner, and the image will be attached to your message. When you then hit "Submit Reply," the forum software will automatically create a thumbnail, and the file will be displayed at the bottom of your message.
Once you've got that down, upload what you've been working on, and the good posters here will be happy to help you out with it! Trust me: You'll learn so much more that way than you ever could trying to learn the software on your own.
edit: by the way, I just attached a random image I had available to me while I was writing the walkthrough. Pay it no mind.
I was once in the same boat. My maps totally sucked. Now, they still suck... but at least not totally.
I've attached proof! The first image is my first attempt at a regional map. The second is one of my last ones I did for the CWBP. Strangely enough, the first one took longer to do...
Keep at it. You WILL get better, it's almost guaranteed. You've got to upload your works-in-progress though, and listen to the c&c.
Also don't stress over not being able to follow the tutorial. I had the same problem when I was new to Gimp (I felt like I really sucked for not being able to follow it). It was my first venture into digital art so it's little wonder I had a lot to learn. After banging around in Gimp for the last several months I think I could follow a tutorial. I really should go do some of them because I'm sure I'd pick up a few tricks I could add to my collection. Just don't give up. One of the things that helped me when I was bumming about not being able to create what I wanted via software was that I would do a hand sketch, scan that in, and then manipulate it within Gimp (coloring, texturing, etc). If you can't draw that might not work for you but there are still a lot of nice random ways to get terrain.
For now look at every map you do with the goal of learning how one or two things really work. Try to understand them. Eventually you will be able to use all the things you learn to create exactly what you envision. (Or at least pretty close).
Don't give up!
Oh and if you want to see my first image compared to my last (The map is my last completed one and the smeary dragon was my first image):
Yah man, don't worry, It takes a while. In the words of one astute artist, "Talent is the ability to work your ass off."
Since we're comparing first and last maps, I'll show some of my early attempts at cartography. Its amazing how far a few V shaped mountains and some text will go.
I'll echo everyone else. Don't sweat it. My first tries were pretty sorry too. You've got a mini-tut above for how to post images...so start a WiP thread and post your attempt. Maybe we can help you make it better.
Also, if you're just not getting the software, don't fret too much. Get out your pen and paper and have a go with the good old fashioned way. I wasn't having a bit of luck with Photoshop on my city map, Haibianr, so I got out the drawing supplies and just did it, scanned it, and colored it. It ended up being a Cartographer's Choice. Believe me, if I'd stayed digital with it no one would have given it a second look! :)
Here Goes !
Thank you all for your support. Here's my latest try at RobA's tute for an artistic regional map. It's the best I've managed so far. God, I'm nervous about posting it, but welcome any c & c
That looks pretty darn good for a first attempt! Well done, and props for 'putting yourself out there.'
Well thats not bad at all. I was expecting a lot worse... something like my first maps.