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Thread: Thread/Tutorial/Tips for a specific map style?

  1. #21
    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by torstan View Post
    So I work at 100% of my final size. I know others work larger.

    The difference is - print resolution is (normally for me) 300dpi. However computer screens are around 100dpi. So I work at computer resolution - 100dpi - which means the details look 3x larger when I'm working on them than they will when they are printed out. I've set up a shortcut so that I can always quickly switch to print resolution in photoshop to check what it looks like (View->Print Size). You can set up a keyboard shortcut for it using Edit->Keyboard Shortcuts
    Which is why I prefer vector apps. I don't have to think in terms of hardware limitations. When I create a map in a vector program - i think in real world scale terms, not in pixels. Pixels are irrelevant - it is only a concern at final use output requirements (whether for VTT or print). So I create my map at whatever perceived scale I want, then when its completed I export to a bitmap format, and only at that time do I determine whether something needs to fill a standard screen, whether the viewable area is one portion of the greater map (for VT app to describe a larger area), or whether I need to print to 24" x 36" or 8.5" x 11".

    It is only at output does the actual pixel output matter at all - at least regarding vector apps.

    One great advantage, is I can create a map once. If I need to print it I export at hi res, at appropriate scale. If after the fact, somebody asks me to create a VT, version I just create the properly scaled one from my vector file. I can even do it the other way around first in VT scale, then at print scale later.

    If I am working with an image editor only, I have to make the scale at least to the largest dimension I plan for final output, giving me room to reduce without loss in quality. If I only create a screen resolution version, trying to go from that to print scale is very problematic, and probably means I have to create the map again from scratch to accomplish this. For this reason, alone, I don't create maps in image editors.
    Last edited by Gamerprinter; 09-07-2011 at 12:19 PM.
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  2. #22
      torstan is offline
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    But that's a little deceiving. What I' talking about isn't truly a raster vs vector question. I'm not rescaling here at all. I'm talking about the amount of detail per inch - and that's an issue for vector as well. If I create a vector map and I export it so that when printed it would be 1 inch across that's probably going to be unreadable. If I export it at 11 inches across it might look great, and if I export it to print 32 inches across it's going to look very sparse and you're going to see some of my shorthands that might look great smaller, but look a little rough when viewed close up. I'm not sure that really changes between vector and raster. You still need to have some idea of the level of detail you're going to want in an area within the final product.
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  3. #23
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    I don't think its deceiving.

    When I create any map, I'm only concerned with what's in the map and what details I want to show. What its going to look like in print or on a monitor is not even in my trail of thinking. I don't even consider that until the map is finished. Since I'm not going to print larger than 36" x 48", I don't need to worry what a square inch of detail is going to look at billboard size - as I don't rescale anything that big. The scale difference between 36" x 48" vs. screen resolution is in my mind an achievable result in whatever map I am making at the time - when I don't consider final scale at all. I only have to roughly get an idea on resolution.

    Very often I am creating a map, and I only find out later that the publisher intends to include a large scale print, as I usually assume that the map will only be featured at full letter size. However, when I design my map, I don't do it with the intention that this will be for letter scale. I either export as 100 ppi, 300 ppi, or whatever.

    All my maps I work at 18" x 24" scale or larger without a concern for pixels at all. Its only when I do the final export that pixels are even entered into the equation.
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  4. #24
      torstan is offline
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    Ah ha. It's the working size of 18" by 24" that I was after. There's an implicit assumption of scale in any design. Shrinking 18" by 24" down to letter sized just about works, but smaller than that and I'd expect it to start looking very cramped after export.
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  5. #25
      RobA is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gamerprinter View Post
    I don't think its deceiving.

    When I create any map, I'm only concerned with what's in the map and what details I want to show.
    Though this falls apart for labeling, iconography and so on. I can not accept that you label a map the same whether it is for 24x36 print or letter size print - one designed is horrid at the other.

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  6. #26
      Redrobes is offline
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    I can see both sides of the arguments here and both have some valid points. I think GP has a range of scales of which between them his argument holds but outside of this range it does not. Between a certain level of scaling then with vector you don't have to consider the pixels because the raster engine part of the app doing the vector work will handle it all for you. With a raster app you can scale it but there can be some issues with raster scaling so you have to care more generally. On the other hand, artistically there are limits (especially at the scale smaller end) where its just not artistically viable to have so much going on with a map scaled too small.

    Since with my app it has infinite zoom then I truly do have to map at all scales from a map where there is detail which would all be compressed inside 1/10th of a pixel at some scales right up to labels such that one letter is larger than the whole screen full of the map when viewed at the other end of the zoom scale. I think that's a good chunk of the reason why some of my maps don't looks as artistically pleasing as many on here. All my labels are of vastly different sizes. In many cases, I favor the utility of having the zoom over the art.

    So merely by being in vector does not absolve you from that dilemma since its an artistic choice.

    The reason why one ought to work with raster images at a scale at least double to the final is detailed in my tut with the posts about aliasing. However since we know that Torstan generally uses his own artwork throughout the map then its unlikely that he would encounter any aliasing issues. When pasting in tokens, photos and especially line art and 'double especially' hatching or half-toned work then your gonna be in big trouble if you don't work at higher res than the final. If the half-toning was all in vector lines and dots then its a matter of how advanced or competent the rasterizer of the vector app is when dealing with it. If its good then you don't have to care about the pixels, if its not good then you might still have to. The thing is that if you dont work at double res or more with halftones or hatching and then you get to the end there is nothing you can do to fix the problems of the aliasing in hatched areas.

    I don't have anything of value to say about the art side of things but from a technical stand point people should work with raster images at a res more than the final. Anything like double or more is probably adequate. With vector you don't have to care.

    Were making a map at MeDEM and its 40,000 pixels square and we have just run into a problem with photoshop not keeping pixel level detail when using some transformations because we were not working at double res. Obviously double 40K is too much so we have to just lump it but the issues still arise no matter how big the map is.

    If I am working with an image editor only, I have to make the scale at least to the largest dimension I plan for final output, giving me room to reduce without loss in quality.
    Generally not true. There is always a loss in quality when scaling down, raster or vector because even with vector it has to be rasterized for the printer. If you started with a poster sized raster image and scaled it down using a good algorithm to page size it would have no difference in quality to a vector drawing scaled to the same size. The exception to this is if your 'printing' it with an X-Y pen plotter instead of an inkjet/laser printer etc.

    If I only create a screen resolution version, trying to go from that to print scale is very problematic
    Agreed, generally true for raster images (but see below), less so or not at all for vector.

    and probably means I have to create the map again from scratch to accomplish this. For this reason, alone, I don't create maps in image editors.
    Maybe - If you created the map to look good at page size in a vector app and then scaled up to poster sized then it might not look good either. From a technical standpoint the vector lines would be clean but I think the point Torstan and Rob is saying is that you would just have a clean but bigger print of it rather than it artistically being laid out to look good at that scale. There are applications now that will upscale bitmapped images with vector style transformations which would make lines sharp again and fix all the issues that you are referring to so as to make less of a difference between raster and vector. Such as this one.

    Scaling lines and shapes is definitely better with vector but vector doesn't do photos or painterly style brush strokes like watercolors and traditional art. If your map is lines and shapes of solid or gradient colors (math constructs) then sure vector app is the tool of choice. If your using a tablet and making extensive use of blends, sprays and other more traditional styles then the choice is not at all clear.

    The upscale range of a raster photo definitely has limits. The upscale of a vector set of lines does not. The down scale of both raster and vector is very similar. Vector does lines, raster does lines and photos. Therefore so long as you have enough res to cope with the largest scale you need then there is an advantage to using raster. But if your scale range is large and you don't have photos then vector is better. They each have their merits and you should know when to use each.

    Xara is a dual vector and raster app and combines both and is very capable app. But when you import raster elements into it then it has those limits as discussed above. When you don't import bitmaps into then it has the other limits as discussed above. The idea that one is always superior to another is absurd. If that were the case there would only be one type of paint app and the other type would have been consigned to the history books.
    Last edited by Redrobes; 09-08-2011 at 08:38 PM.

  7. #27
      Jaxilon is offline
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    Hehe, wow...I feel like I inadvertently kicked open a can of worms. Fascinating discussion and makes sense that we all have reasons for what we use. Me, I use Gimp because I didn't have anything when I started out and the price was right. I also tend to see raster based images as more artsy and vector as more precise. I often use Inkscape for labels because they come out nice and crisp. Most of the art I see from vector based apps tend to look a bit on the cartoon side due to the lines and all being so crisp. I'm sure there are exceptions to everything but this is how it seems to me who doesn't know a whole lot about all that. Of course, I have had to work on tightening up my work so it was more clear...maybe I should be using a Vector program, lol.

    I do think the abilities GP mentioned are pretty sweet but not enough for me to want to change what program I use.

    I think RR did a nice job of breaking down pros and cons. In the end art is made from whatever tool you want to use whether it is a plastic knife or an industrial air gun.

    I will however, have to make some images at twice their final size and see how that works out for me. Now if I can just figure out how to do that I will be set
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      Redrobes is offline
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    I think that's it. You need to pick the tool for the job. Its about knowing which tools give what results and with what limitations. Only by understanding all the limitations can you avoid the pitfalls associated with each. Mappers here tend to have a style. Each style suits a kind of app and people will favor the app which meets their style needs the best. And when a map has a mix of style elements then use a mix to tools for the parts. Lettering being one example where a lot of people like to use a vector app even when the base image is something done with a raster app.

    Working with an original raster image 3x res is not required some of the time. Its about knowing when it will be required tho. Its about knowing what kinds of patterns will cause you grief if you scale it. If my tut I linked to does not explain it enough then I can do some more examples. In terms of zooming up a raster 3x on screen with a magnifier type tool and working same res but with bigger screen pixels well that's different. I cant comment about that and its up to you. With vector, as GP said, you don't have to worry about it at that stage. But you will have to worry about the overall image when you have finished the map and scale the final for screen view or print. Y'know, it would make for a good post to see how well vector apps actually do rasterize hatching and halftone at a scale where it might be a problem.

  9. #29
      jfrazierjr is offline
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    I have not played with it, but on Linux there is an older Version of Xara available in .deb format for free.... I have no idea what features are missing compared to the latest version or the Pro version, but will give it a try sometime.
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  10. #30
      Preypacer is offline
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    Hey all...

    Well the discussion's taken quite a turn since my last post! lol

    There's a lot of individual points to try and respond to well... individually.. So I'll just respond by saying Thanks! to everyone who's provided words of encouragement, advice and suggestions...

    I will make it a point to block my "Ctrl-A -> Del Key" reflex when something I'm doing isn't coming out the way I want it, and instead post it as an image here for some feedback.

    On terms of the discussion of software... I'm currently using PS... albeit an older version (CS2); it's the last version I was able to buy. It's out-dated, but it works fine. I'm really, really trying to learn GIMP... but it's just such a strange program and, I guess, I'm so used to the shortcut keys and locations of different tools and such in PS that it's difficult to make that change. GIMP's layers system really messes with me, for another example.

    I am however intending to use Inkscape for labeling and anything that needs to be sharp and crisp. Thanks to Inkscape being a sort of Illustrator/Photoshop hybrid, I should be able to work with the vector elements and make them look like they 'fit'.

    Anyhoo.. Thanks again!

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