The Obligatory Noob Hello
Hello! So, why am I here? I'm a rank amateur mapmaker, although I've sketched the occasional map and/or blueprint going as far back into childhood as I can remember (pirate treasure maps, space stations, spaceships), mostly by hand despite not having art skills developed much beyond the stick figure level. I also used to do tabletop gaming and needed the occasional sketch for that. A few years ago, while plotting my first novel, I realized I needed some maps and blueprints to help me visualize the world I was designing, so I experimented briefly with AutoREALM for the land design and MS Paint for a town map and a house blueprint. That was...educational, but I think I'd rather slam my fingers in a door repeatedly than try to do any serious mapmaking in Paint again. I have GIMP and have played around with it a little bit, but aside from using some of the Script-Fu filters for turning pictures into "oil paintings" and the like, I really have no clue what I'm doing in it. I enjoyed poking about with AutoREALM but had to learn most of what I figured out about it via trial and error, and since it didn't appear to have an erase feature (or at least I never found it), that limited what I could do with it. It has an undo feature, but sometimes I wanted to make changes to my map several minutes after adding a whole bunch of other things to it, and I couldn't find a way to go back and change that one bit without having to undo everything else I'd done afterwards. The lack of an "erase" feature in AutoREALM was what led me to do the other map and blueprint with (*shudder*) Paint.
I have just downloaded the free 14-day demo of Fractal Terrains and am playing with that, and have been giving CC3 a few wistful looks, but if I can figure out how to do similar sorts of maps for free or lower cost, I'd like to explore other options first before plonking down money to download a program I can't demo beforehand. I have no CAD experience, but the tutorial videos on the Profantasy site look fairly straightforward to me, and as I've never had or learned how to use Photoshop and can barely figure out what the heck I'm doing in GIMP, I don't really have any drawing / photomanip software habits to unlearn in order to switch my thinking over to CC3's approach. From what I can tell from the videos, it's a bit more like AutoREALM, though hopefully a bit easier to correct mistakes in well after the fact? Or is that just a hopeful fantasy on my part?
I currently have another fantasy novel coalescing on the back burner of my brain, so the ability to worldbuild in some visual way has taken on new urgency for me, and I'm hoping to find better tools for the job this time around.
Oh, and something scalable would be nice. I'd love to be able to avoid the "elastic roads" problem...you know, "How far is it from City A to Town B? Eyeballing it, that looks like that might be a three day ride. Oh wait, didn't they travel the other direction in just two days a few chapters ago? Or was it seven?" Yeah. A software that will let me measure from point to point and work out mileage would be a definite plus.
I didn't know anything about GIMP when I started here either and in fact I had never done anything digitally. There are some great tutorials for creating maps in GIMP you can find here. Just look for anything by RobA in the tutorial section. There are other great tutorials as well but his comes to mind first.
If you need any help just put up a WIP in the appropriate area and you will get some great advice and help. And don't worry if your first map isn't very good. You should see the first thing I did, LOL.
“When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden
* My Finished Maps
* My Challenge Maps
* My deviantArt