Not too bad. Have some rep for posting your first map
Here is a large regional map I did before stumbling upon this site. I would like to "amp-up" my maps a bit, but I probably need a newer/better cpu.
Suggestions for improvements appreciated.
Not too bad. Have some rep for posting your first map
It's a nice map, pogre - if you have more such by all means show us! I am partial to the look maybe because I have done some similarly.
To improve it, keeping the overall look ...
The nice high-contrast coastlines compete with the labels. If you must run labels on a map like this across the coastline, consider deleting the coast line itself underneath, leaving just ocean and land colors abutting. In any case, take a look at the nice info on label placement in <mind is blanking on the thread name>... On the one hand there's a set of rules of thumb that make for really good placement of names. On the other hand, it's a fantasy landscape, so if a city gets shoved twenty miles upstream so there's more room for a label, so what? :-)
Here's how it looks to break a hard coastline:
Your continental shelf is awfully regular. I assume that's the meaning of the lighter blue - shallow water? You could get more plausible just by varying how far out the shallows stretch.
Try using a blue the same hue as your ocean water, for your rivers. Yes - darken or lighten to suit clarity, but using two starkly different blues is jarring.
Some little islands get full-darkness coasts, and others the same size get lightened or thinned coastlines. I understand your reasoning - if an island is just six pixels wide, you don't want it to be just a black dot. Try it though - the consistency might outweigh the visual darkening of something that has little land color.
A title would help, unless it's to be used as part of a document where captioning or titling outside the borders takes care of that. A border of some sort too could add to a finished look. This is a stark style - a simple couple of pixels of black at the outright edge could do, or a similar weight line in a bit from the edge, with or without continuing map elements past said borderline.
You suspect you need more horsepower to do more complexity - not necessarily. What're the specs of your system?
More maps, please :-).
Thank you for the suggestions. Very helpful stuff. As I said my maps are pretty primitive up to this point. What you see is basically a scanned line drawing dressed up with color in paint. I just downloaded gimp tonight on my more powerful laptop and a friend gave me a wacom tablet. I am WAAAAY over my head, but that's OK.
Here's another one of my maps. It certainly suffers from poor labels as you mentioned up thread. I'm embarassed to tell you how much time I have in this map!
Ha - don't be embarrassed about time spent. I look at these maps the carto-ninjas put up with "I spent an hour on this" and I think "this I could also do ... in 65 hours, maybe." At least, don't bemoan so long as you had fun doing it. If it is ever umpteen hours of agony, to get a certain effect, THEN you have sufficient motivation to get your head around some of the better tools.
Really, if a computer will run WinXP without being too laggy, it'll probably run the Gimp or Inkscape (or numerous other reasonably priced tools - those are just leaders in capability) -- the issue is usually how big your map file is. If you start to balk at 1000x1000 pixels, back off to 700x700 or something. There's other tricks to let one work on large-ish files without encountering the blue screen of death - things like working on X number of layers over in a separate file - say while working out your labels - then flatten that to one layer and reimport to your main file. Too, beefing a computer up to run the Gimp adequately might mean no more than getting another stick of memory - a slow CPU speed will be a fixed limit, but memory is usually a do-able upgrade, without breaking the bank.
If you have been cleaning maps up in Paint, you are going to LOVE the Gimp. Working with layers will be the single most revolutionary leap in your abilities. Take the second map above - one of the main things that would improve its legibility would be just to blank out the symbols under your labels. Say, even leaving the color, but masking the hills, trees, etc. Doing that would be a royal pain on a one-layer Paint image, but if you have labels on one layer, and background on another, it gets easier.
You drew that forest by hand on paper? You are a more patient man than I. In your lurking here have you run across reference to The Tree Thing? That would be a grand timesaver.
Re: your intro - -yeah, I'm old too. The whippersnappers on here (which would be generalizing too much - there are a few others working on their second half-century, and plenty of 30- and 40-somethings) sometimes don' know how good they got it. <assumes exaggerated crotchety voice> Computers? Wha ah rem'ber when they only gave us ones, and we had t' bend them inta zeros by oursel's. By hand. Lemmie show you the Middle Earth map I built out of ascii art on a dot matrix printer in '84.... got it around here somewheres... <pulls out crumbling greenbar printout> See? Now thet's usin' primitive tools. An' color monitors? Had them from the beginning - I think green and black are both colors, right?
<snaps back to present reality> Anyway - welcome, and well met. If you're picking up the Gimp as your next tool, try a few of the tutorials herein, and you'll be amazed what kind of mappishly wonderful stuff you can produce.
Your post/response was very encouraging to me - I appreciate it!