I read through a lot of the tutorials, which gave me the chance to start a WIP thread with a basic map of Naos... though I did get distracted by other things on the site, so there hasn't been much progress on my WIP :P
I prefer hand-drawing/painting as well, but I ... well I don't have much in the way of gadgetry. I have a 7 year old laptop and a mouse, and that's it... so I can only get my pics up on the computer by snapping a photo of them with a webcam, and those turn out AWFUL. I also have joint issues, which make it easier to do things digitally, but the mouse makes it a pain, so ... idk.
I will probably do as much of the world as I can, and then, if I need more (or actually ever finish a manuscript) I will beg someone here to fix it - even if it costs my rent money, lol :D
Anyway, thanks for the welcome!
Edit: Thought I might show what a hand sketched map looks like (it's a five minute sketch, but I mean the camera quality :( )
Welcome to the Guild Jalyha! Not a bad little 5 minute doodle that; I'd say with a bit of practice you could become good at this map-making thing! Look forward to seeing you around the forums.
Thanks for the welcome, arsheesh! Honestly, I couldn't have done anything map-like without your tutorials :)
I'm pretty good at still lifes, landscapes and the like... not so good with portraits... but mapmaking is a whole different world. I just hope to be able to do well enough that a real cartographer could envision my world enough to map it :D
Anything better than that is icing :)
Soooooo... You're an artist: you know the thing with operating out of your right brain vs. left brain? You consciously or subconsciously do this >twist< and voila, you're drawing on the right side of your brain. Which is a cool book, btw. I wonder if you need a similar twist, where you tell yourself this is just something map-LIKE, that you're really just working on a landscape from a high angle :-).
The example is a fine start. We're pretty good at separating method of presentation from the work itself: the only complaints you'll hear about low-res cellphone camera "scans" is occasional wishes that we could make out details better. As far as digital work potentially stressing your joints, a list of maybe-helps will include tweaking your posture/ work surface/ ergonomics, or investigating one of those vertical mice (I have coworkers who swear by 'em), or if a pen bothers you less, looking into a digitizing tablet & pen. Two of my artist daughters get lovely results from low-end Wacom tablets, as do bunches of Guildspeople.
I was making serviceable, if not gorgeous, digital maps with windows 98 on a cheap desktop, using free software, over a decade ago. If you figure your goal is to bootstrap yourself into uber nice maps by getting just good enough to get across your desires for commissions, between pen/pencil/paper and your existing computer, and some practice, you'll do fine.
My problem is that the *sides* of my brain seem to be about perfectly balanced. :P Actually I don't know if that is possible. I'm better at artsy things than most people, and better at math and science-y stuff than most people - and not truly GOOD (or great) at either. :)
Originally Posted by jbgibson
And for some reason, I deal with both sides at the same time. If I want to draw a picture of a waterfall on a mountain, rushing down into the bay, I just... draw it. The most I have to think is "This looks like a waterfall" or "this doesn't look like a waterfall".
If I'm doing my taxes, I don't worry about how it looks... I'm solely in thinking mode.
But a MAP... gosh. It has to look pretty, things have to look like what they are, but meanwhile you have to think and plan... well... everything. Is this a proper distance from that. Would a river flow like this? Are there too many lakes? What do I do with all this blank space on the right? Are my trees too big for the mountains... of course they are, they would just be a big green blob from this distance, how do I show they are forests without sacrificing my artistic integrity? And on and on until my brain is a pool of melting jello on the mousepad, and I'm huddled sniveling in the corner, incapable of putting the parenthetical pen to paper. Annnnywayyy....
Maybe I can twist my brain into a pretzel and trick it somehow :P
I'm glad no one will rage over my bad photos. :) The working conditions are pretty well set.. I'm on a very fixed income, so I'm sort of stuck with what I have. I may try to find a new/better spot/position to work in, but it's good to know that it's possible to succeed in my goal without going too high-tech. :)
Thanks for the advice/encouragement!! It really does mean a lot.
How about if you do your design work very schematically, and only apply yourself to 'prettification' once you have overall arrangements set? In paper terms, rough in stuff in light pencil - mountain range like SO, harbor HERE, rivers like that... no, THAT... nooo, maybe like SO. Oh, yeah - maybe that means a market town HERE in between all that blank farmland. (Blanks are ok, btw - assuming if your scale is small, maybe you aren't showing every hut and crossroads village). Don't let yourself detail ANYthing at that stage, so you don't get wrapped around the axle with inking in stuff irrevocably that ten minutes later need moving. The construction work can be all scribbly/ sketchy, and can be loaded with notes-to-self. "How about these peaks are snowcapped?" "Final river all wiggly in the flatlands".
Then break out the pen, firmly tell yourself no revisions, and go to town etching fjords, shading peaks, and looping oxbow lakes into place. Only difference with a digital workflow is that you do A then B *once* on paper. Yeah, yeah, computer lets you back up and revise over and again. Well, if you're leaving dissolved brain goo on the mousepad, mayhap you'll *benefit* from doing things but once, forced. Hey, while you may have richly imagined the environs, a fictional map has the HUGE advantage of Not Really Mattering if features are accidentally different from the original intent. So what if your river accidentally goes through *this* gap in the mountains instead of *that* one? Doing a portrait, and getting left eye 6% bigger than the right, and you have shifted from the Mona Lisa to a carnival clown. Getting the left headland bigger than you intended, and the right one "too flat"... <shrug>. Its still a harbor with high places for fortifications, eh? Nobody but you knows the 'reality' of that harbor, and you are Master of All You Survey... it is so because you SAY so. DRAW so. WHATever :-). Perfectionism is a draftsman's friend, but a fantasy cartographer's adversary, in lotsa ways.
Maybe if your brain is balanced (another term for teetering? :-) ), you can shove its function into a bit "more right" or "more left" for the two phases. If you like music while drawing, stick with just instrumental while doing purely graphical stuff, so your verbal center is able to doze. And no cheating - instrumental versions of familiar songs leave your brain filling in the words. Does for me, anyway. Maybe for you singing along is distracting your verbal/analytical mind enough to let your graphical/creative mind get on with drawing <shrug>. YMMV. I scarfed a bunch of African music online specifically because I don't know the languages, so they don't distract me when creating. For the sketchdesignthinking, what puts you, personally, in a more analytical mind? I dunno - lighting, posture, something? If the association doesn't send you into unpleasant twitching, maybe duplicating the feel of a classroom during a chemistry exam? Caffeine? :-)
A fixed income is limiting, but notsomuchasyoumightthink. Some of the very best software for graphical work is free. The GIMP does the same stuff as Adobe Photoshop, in a raster vein. Inkscape does the same vector stuff as Adobe Illustrator. Both will work fine on older computers - caveat being that your filesize will be limited by your RAM, and some operations will be slowed by puny processors and low clock rates. But there are workarounds for those. A small or low-res monitor just means a lot of zooming and panning.
Y'know a panoramic landscape, from ground level, that is labeled, can technically be a map. Just sayin' you probably aren't maphopeless even right now. I *know* you won't be maphopeless after tinkering a while. "How d'ya get to Carnegie Hall...?"
You, are, a, genius. I'm going to try ALL of that.
Originally Posted by jbgibson
And you're right. I've been listening to my "drawing music" while mapping, and when I'm doing serious stuff I usually have absolute quiet! :o I wonder if that's part of the problem??
I'll do it in stages
How did you guess? :o Was it the "jello" reference? :/
Originally Posted by jbgibson
Yeah, I tried that for the "Lite Challenge" thingie, and I got stuck because my foreground stuff was obscuring other things that needed labeling, and there I was again... jello pool...
Originally Posted by jbgibson
I think I'll give your method a good go and see what I come up with! :) It's got to be better than sniveling-Jalyha-on-the-floor. :P
Anyway. I've got GIMP, and I downloaded Inkscape (but when I opened it I was so .... I was banging my head on the keyboard within 2 minutes). I was more worried about the thought that everyone was going to start saying things like "just buy a tablet!!" or something :P It helps a lot just knowing that it CAN be done with what I have - with, as you said, enough practice. :)
Thanks so much :)