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Thread: GIMP vs Painter vs Photoshop

  1. #1

    Default GIMP vs Painter vs Photoshop

    Hi all! First post on this websites! Seem to be a lot of resources!

    I finally have the time to open the box of my Wacom Bamboo and I will hopefully have some time to thinker with it. This mean that I am now the owner of corel painter and photoshop element 6.0.

    I am curious as to which software I should use to dabble and invest the most time into for doing maps and other piece of works for my SW RPG campaign. As far as I know, my options are those three software:

    • Gimp
    • Photoshop element 6.0
    • Corel Painter

    From I have seen at the moment:

    GIMP: Good and powerful software. The plug-in community could potentially solve it shotcoming. Lack the the ease of use of photoshop and some good tool such as circle and rectangle.
    Photoshop element 6.0 : Powerful and convivial tool. Has some issue with the fact that the element version isn't as powerful as the full version. The plug-in have potential but you need to pay for.
    Corel Painter: Great things to reproduce a painting, lack flexibility and lack a lot of the most basic options, including layers.

    So any thought for a newb?

  2. #2
    Community Leader mearrin69's Avatar
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    Sep 2009
    Portland, OR


    Welcome. I'm going to suggest using Photoshop to start and maybe bring in Gimp if there's something it can't do. There's no reason you can't use all three together, to their own strengths. BTW, Painter does have layers...they 're just not as versatile as those in the other apps. I've never used Painter for maps but I bet somebody like Djekspeck, an awesome cartographer here that often does maps by hand, could turn out great stuff with it. It all depends upon what styles and techniques work best for you. Try some tutorials and get a feel for the apps.

  3. #3
    Guild Master Facebook Connected jtougas's Avatar
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    Sep 2010
    Wales Massachusetts
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    First off, Welcome!! as for your question it really depends on what you want to do with your maps GIMP is a very good program that makes up for it's few failings by being free there are a lot of options with it and it is very easy to use. Good luck and enjoy your stay
    I am the breath of Dragons...The Song of Mountains...The Stories of Rivers....The Heart of Cities.... I am A Cartographer....

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    Kingdom Of Shendenflar Campaign Setting (WIP)

    Everything I post is free for use and redistribution under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 licence, except where noted otherwise in the thread.

  4. #4


    First, thank you for your answer. And I didn't even knew about the layer.

    Right now, I'm constantly switching between GIMP and Photoshop. But I have the feeling that I do it for feature availaible in both software. Any suggestion for tutorial? (I guess there might be a lot on this site)

    I'm bad at drawing, but make up this shortcoming by being average at math. This allow me to use angle and x,y,z coordinate to compensate. I don't know if one of this software has better rulers and x.y.z positioning than the other?

    And I'm curious as to the best starting resolution/size for doing a work. I am alway at a loss as to what to input for this blank sheet.

  5. #5


    Welcome to the Guild.

    I would say start with 300dpi. As far as size goes, take a look at how big it will be in inches by playing around with the scale settings. (I'm a Gimper so I'm not sure how you do that in PS). The reason for 300dpi is that it's a great resolution to print in and that is probably the toughest side when it comes to resolutions. You can always scale down to 50ppi if you want but if you start out low and try to scale up ugly things can happen. How many pixels in hight and width you choose to go with will probably have something to do with the power of your machine. You'll find out quick enough.

    A note on why I use Gimp:
    Free! fits nicely into my budget. I would probably use Photoshop if I had it, but I don't have the coin for that. Gimp seems to be about as good anyway. If you run into an issue there is a good community to lean on and you never know when someone like RobA will pop out another really cool script or addon. About the only thing I'm not too keen on with Gimp is it's way of doing text on a path. I find it easier to just export into Inkscape (also free) and use that to create a layer of text that I then bring back into Gimp.
    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

    * Rivengard * My Finished Maps * My Challenge Maps * My deviantArt

  6. #6


    I have photoshop elements, from what I saw, sometimes I miss the true photoshop.

    And I'm curious, what kind of plug-in do you use for GIMP? And how do to you circumvent the lack of circle and rectangle tool?

    And I had already download and install Inkscape. I fear a little to scatter myself through too much software, this is why I didn't list it.
    Last edited by eyenuv; 12-15-2010 at 11:16 PM.

  7. #7
    Community Leader RobA's Avatar
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    Apr 2007
    Toronto, Canada


    Quote Originally Posted by eyenuv View Post
    And I'm curious, what kind of plug-in do you use for GIMP? And how do to you circumvent the lack of circle and rectangle tool?
    To draw circles or rectangles use the selection tools (circular/rectangular) and either stroke the selection (to get an outlined shape) or fill the selection (to get a filled shape). Your results will be even better if turn the selection into a path then stroke that, but that is more advanced.

    -Rob A>

  8. #8


    I'd like to clarify the resolution question real quick.

    The appropriate size depends on the end use of your map. DPI is solely a printing issue; if you're never going to print, you can safely ignore it. If you are going to print eventually, you need to know what size and the approximate viewing distance. 300 dpi is a bit of overkill for most poster sized prints because it's relatively unlikely that anybody's going to be looking at it closely enough for that density of ink to matter. As a general rule of thumb, if somebody's going to be looking at the print at less than arm's distance, I use 300 dpi. For 24" x 36" or bigger, I don't usually go over 180. A battlemat would be about 200. Multiply the size of your print in inches by the dpi, and you'll get the size you need in pixels: 24 x 36 at 150 = 3600 x 5400 pixels. 8 x 10 at 300 = 2400 x 3000 pixels.

    If the map is only going to be viewed on the screen, dpi doesn't matter*; only the actual pixel dimensions do. If you want the entire map viewable on a 1024 x 768 screen, it needs to be around 1000 x 720 pixels (leaving room for "chrome"—file bars, scroll bars, and the like). That's pretty small for a map, though. Everybody has a preferred way of working. I don't like to go down below 4000 pixels wide, myself. And I don't often design for print; if I did, I'd probably start even higher, as suggested by the numbers above.

    * Some people like to reappropriate dpi to help make battlemaps for virtual table tops (VTTs) such as MapTool. For standard D&D maps, 1" = 5 feet. If you substitute your dpi for the 1", you'll get a number of pixels = 5 feet. That is, 200 dpi means each square on the grid is 200 pixels wide. That's pretty well the maximum people like to use in a VTT. A lot of users go clear down to 50 pixels per square to improve transfer time.
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist

  9. #9

  10. #10


    LOL, as you can see there are a number of things to determine what resolution you want to work in. Sometimes I just like to make sure I'm covered and that's why I use 300ppi. If I can eat anything with a spoon I don't really need to carry anything else with me into the woods right? Remember you can always go down but you can't go back up. Say you made an awesome battlemap and folks just loved it. Someone comes along and wants to print out a high quality mat of if and wants it in 300ppi for the ultimate print. Well, if you made it with less you are hosed. Of course, if you are use a vector based software I don't think any of this matters, you can scale up and down like a mamby jamby.

    The only disadvantage with going at a higher ppi is that it's going to eat up more drive space and memory. If you don't have an awesome rig you will feel it. I can't tell you how many times I've clicked to select something, missed it by a few pixels and had to wait for 15 seconds or so while the stupid thing found everything I inadvertently selected. Grrrr.

    Note: I say all this because these are the things I have picked up being here. If I am in error don't worry about my being offended, just show me where I'm mistaken that way I learn something new.
    “When it’s over and you look in the mirror, did you do the best that you were capable of? If so, the score does not matter. But if you find that you did your best you were capable of, you will find it to your liking.” -John Wooden

    * Rivengard * My Finished Maps * My Challenge Maps * My deviantArt

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