Exiliation says "Hi"
Hello everyone, my name is Exiliation (don't know if people disclose their real names or not on here) and I have now come to terms as to how much I truly enjoy cartography. I'm not entirely sure what to write in here, but just figured I'd introduce myself and say hi. So... hi.
Hi Exliation! Some of do disclose our real names and others choose not to - it's up to you!
Glad to hear about your new found love of cartography. We have many authors who come here to draw a map for their novels and end up as cartographers instead!
Thanks for the welcome! I enjoy looking at maps, because the software that easily creates maps is too expensive, so are there a ton of different people that just submit maps on here?
Some of the best maps produced on the guild are made with the Gimp and Inkscape which are both free! Also many of the nicest maps are hand drawn and coloured (pencils, pens and paper). So don't let the materials stop you!
There are a ton of people who submit maps but we also share tutorials on how we make them and share ideas too.
I've used both of those programs, unfortunately I'm just really untalented with both of the programs to actually do anything decent, and even more so when it comes to actual hand-drawn tools!!!!
I will make sure to check out some of the tutorials though, see if I can get myself into starting making some maps.
Ahhh, alleged untalent. Welcome, Exiliation. Many of the denizens here disclaim talent. But one does not HAVE to have talent, to make pleasant, useful maps. P'raps the first tutorial you should look at might be Gidde's Hand-Drawn-Mapping-(for-the-Artistically-Challenged) one. Frankly, though she places herself in the inartistic tribe, methinks her results are VERY nice.
To overstate the distinction, one might imagine a spectrum of carto capability, with 'artist' on one end and 'technician' on t'other. Somewhere in the middle you might label 'craftsperson'. Don't get hung up on those labels, I'm just using them as artificial markers for conversation*. Sure, art is a nice ability, and perusing its results can be enjoyable. But so can be the results of a workmanlike assembling of parts to a construct instead of a gestalt. Proponents of fine art betimes decry "mere" craft, which seems a bit shrill. Yup, the one with no purpose but to please, inform, and/or change the viewer can be good, but so can be the useful article also well designed, of purposeful form, serviceable as designed. All to say, fer cryin' out loud, you don't need to be able to draw a straight line to make a map :-). All you need to make a pretty one is practice, and lots of it.
Them as say "I've tried, and I stink" may be bit like my 13-year-old looking at my 21-year-old's Drop-Dead Gorgeous fine art, and saying "can't do that". Well, her first horse was no Remington, either :-). I know where I stink (all over the map, one might say :-) ) is where I haven't tried a dozenteen times yet.
Some of the nice maps you see in CG albums make broad use of other folks' components - and it's fine to do so, where the elements have been freely provided! Maybe you don't get as much satisfaction as drawing your own, but the layout can be half the effect.
"Software that easily creates maps"... which graphics packages do you mean? I can't think of any push button => view map setups - there's always a learning curve, to some degree, and a workflow. Take Fractal Terrains. Yeah, it makes pretty, jaggy, random-ish worlds -- even can put in some reasonably plausible rivers. Really an FT world as generated is just a start, though. Things like Campaign Cartographer provide scads of elements and helps one do a creditable job of stitching them into a map, but one can do similar things with The GIMP, or a free starter copy of PhotoPlus, or even perish-the-thought, MS Paint! (The latter takes longer :-) )
Thing to start with is to ask yourself what you want. Would you like to cartograph as a gaming aid? As a framework for writing? For the sheer joy of world creation? To make big bucks and retire early? Hint - three of those are doable.
What kinds of styles do you like? Whose work really REALLY grabs your attention? Three AM and still tracing rivers and imagining trade among the polities? Been there, done that.
If you can say what you want to do, you can take a stab at something like. If it's a complicated workflow, according to a tut you see, then maybe tackle simpler steps in the same vein, with the same tools, as a start. If you cannot figure how one of these mapmentors did Really Cool Thing #A, ask.
And forgive the occasional verbal torrent, please :-). I'm aiming for helpful encouragement, not shrewish scolding. Dive in - the water's fine!
* Division of people: there's 10 kinds of people -- those who understand binary, and those who don't.