View Poll Results: What mapping software do you use? (multi select enabled)

1292. You may not vote on this poll
  • Raster (bought) [e.g. Photoshop, PaintShopPro, Painter]

    698 54.02%
  • Raster (free) [e.g. GIMP]

    514 39.78%
  • Vector (bought) [e.g. Illustrator, Corel Draw, Xara]

    289 22.37%
  • Vector (free) [e.g. Inkscape]

    251 19.43%
  • Vector (Symbol driven) [e.g. CC, Dunjinni]

    320 24.77%
  • Online Generator [e.g. City Map Generator, Fractal World Generator]

    109 8.44%
  • Fractal Generator [e.g. Fractal Terrains]

    184 14.24%
  • 3d modelling [e.g. Bryce, Vue Infinite, Blender]

    163 12.62%
  • Scanned hand drawn maps

    431 33.36%
  • Drawing Tablet and pen [e.g. Wacom]

    359 27.79%
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Thread: New to Digital Cartography? Software General Information

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  1. #1

    Question New to Digital Cartography? Software General Information

    Please take a moment to complete the poll and to say a few words about the software that you use. This will be of help to people new to digital cartography.


    There are broadly four types of software which are used to create maps;

    a. Raster paint programmes (like photoshop, Gimp and PSP)
    b. Vector programmes (like inkscape, Campaign Cartographer and Xara)
    c. Automatic map generating programmes (like Fractal Terrains and some others which can be found online - see the software discussion section in this site).
    d. 3d modelling applications like Bryce.

    All of them have their strengths and weaknesses:

    Vector: Very easy to edit shapes and colours but difficult to make complex and in depth textures.

    Raster: the opposite of vector.

    Automatic map generators: Beautiful maps, but very little control over style and difficult to edit.

    3d modelling: very photorealistic, weaknesses: can be hard to edit, texture and it's hard to get a visual which is not photorealistic.

    There are also hybrid dedicated map making programmes like Dunjinni, for making smaller scale maps.


    I suggest that if you are just starting out using software to make maps that you have a look at the tutorials for GIMP and Inscape in the tutorial section. Don't forget that many of the photoshop tutorials can be applied to GIMP.

    If you have a scanner, then you can do what many here do (and IMHO produce some of the most beautiful maps) which is to scan in your handdrawn artwork and tart it up in GIMP or a similar package.

    Personally, I mostly use a vector application in occasional conjuntion with a raster paint program.

    If it's ease of use that you're after then be warned that CC3, although it has a lot of amazing symbols dedicated to mapping, does have quite a steep initial learning curve, but once you get past that, the results you can get from it can be stunning.

    The real trick is to keep dabbling until you find software that you are comfortable with and stick with that. Have a look at the headings in the tutorial sections (which generally say what software has been used) to get an idea of what software produces what sort of results.

    Hope this was helpful, but if you have any questions, please ask away!


  2. #2
    Community Leader NeonKnight's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Surrey, Canada, EH!



    As to the learning curve for CC3, I have heard it is steep, but I just don't see it. Not to sound facetious or anything, but I have a harder time trying to grasp the concepts of photoshop

    If you pick up CC3, my biggest word of advice is this. Follow the Tutorials that come with it, (or locate the tutorials for CC2, only difference between the two is the look of the map), and you should do fine.
    Daniel the Neon Knight: Campaign Cartographer User

    Never use a big word when a diminutive one will suffice!

    Any questions on CC3? Post them with CC3 in the Subject Line!
    MY 'FAMOUS' CC3 MAPS: Thunderspire; Pyramid of Shadows; King of the Trollhaunt Warrens; Demon Queen's Enclave

  3. #3


    Welcome, Airith!

    I'm a very big CC3 user (I've been using CC software for about 10 years now). If you have any questions about CC3 to help you in your purchase decision, please feel free to ask away.

    As for the learning curve, I think it has been greatly reduced over the years as new versions of the software have been released, but since it is a CAD-based program and not a drawing program like Photoshop, there are some differences in the way you work. But yes, doing the tutorial in the little booklet that comes with it is key to understanding the fundamentals.
    JUST ADD HEROES An ICONS Superpowered Roleplaying Game Blog by Joe "jaerdaph" Bardales

  4. #4
    Community Leader pyrandon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Michigan, USA


    Hello, Airith and welcome to paradise! I hope you find a lot of inspiration, discussion, and instruction at the Guild!

    My two cents on which program you should get is GIMP. Why? First, it's 100% free, and you said you cannot dish out the cash for even CC. Second, it's very flexible and--once you learn the basics (which can be gleaned from on-line tutorials) it's very, very powerful. You can make professional quality maps in GIMP!!! Thirdly, we have great users of GIMP here (*cough*RobA*cough*) who regularly post tutorials and are eager to help newbies learn.

    I hope that helps. Welcome once again!
    My gallery is here
    __________________________________________________ _______
    "Keep your mind in hell, but despair not." --Saint Silouan [1866-1938]

  5. #5
    Community Leader Torq's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Cape Town, South Africa


    I agree completely with Pyrandon. Gimp is to my mind the most software you can get for your buck anywhere (which is of course no bucks at all). If you struggling to break into GIMP a good way to build up you confidence and skills might be to generate one of the cities in the RPG city generator that you mentioned and then just mess around with it for a while using Gimp. For a bit of a laugh that may prove quite useful run every script-fu on it and then take it from there.

    I used the same generator and then toyed with it in gimp in my "Small Town" thread in the WIP section. Then just post something and the magicians on this site will come up with some incredible advice. That I promise.

    Oh yes, welcome, welcome, welcome.

    The internet! It\'ll never catch on.

    Software Used: Terranoise, Wilbur, Terragen, The Gimp, Inkscape, Mojoworld

  6. #6
    Community Leader RobA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Toronto, Canada


    I seem to have been beat out on all the good points, but I'll throw in my vote for and Inkscape/GIMP combination for making maps.

    And welcome aboard!

    -Rob A>

  7. #7
    Guild Journeyer Airith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007


    thanks everyone, great welcome xD lots of info I couldn't find on search engines

    Will probably do what Torq said, hopefully I can start doing that sometime this weekend.

    Also, is CAD any good? My design class has CAD as a major part of it, ofc it's next semester but still. I know it supposedly costs a lot, teacher talked about that once, but I do get to use it for design class xD

  8. #8


    I have CC3, and I can't seem to get part of a map to copy into a different map with a different scale.

  9. #9


    I like CC3, but have problems changing the background color. I get a pop up that say that "there is no layer with this name freeze background" but when I look at the sheets it is at the top of the list with an F in the box. Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Hauv Pem Sherin Sea.PNG 
Views:	36 
Size:	1.47 MB 
ID:	78845
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Hauv Pem Khusar bay outline.PNG 
Views:	20 
Size:	480.0 KB 
ID:	78844  

  10. #10
    Guild Journeyer Facebook Connected JoeyD473's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008


    If a layer is frozen it can't be edited. On check the frozen box then you can change the entity

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