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Thread: Building a World Map using Layers in GIMP

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    Default Building a World Map using Layers in GIMP

    Newbie asking a question about GIMP:

    Should I place terrain features on their own Layer, or can I draw on the Ground Layer without severely limiting myself in the future? I am working with a 3,000 x 3,000 world map. By itself it functions fine, and I can add another Layer when I am working without problem. However, when I get up to 3 Layers, and more, my PC slows down considerably. So, to Layer or not to Layer? If I can work on one Layer for the terrain, rivers, and lakes without screwing the pooch I would prefer to do it that way. Does anyone have any insight into this situation? Have any regrets regarding a similar situation?

    I don't want to find out that I have to do work all over again because I didn't Layer the project properly. Any help with my dilemma would be greatly appreciated.

    EDIT: I wasn't sure in which Forum to place this Thread so I ran home to mama.

  2. #2
    Guild Expert Gracious Donor Hai-Etlik's Avatar
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    It's generally best to keep things separate but it depends on how you are doing things. Try working through your entire process on a small map to see what layers you'll need.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hai-Etlik View Post
    It's generally best to keep things separate but it depends on how you are doing things. Try working through your entire process on a small map to see what layers you'll need.
    Thanks, will do.

    Also, thanks for your Rhumb Line donwload. I am using it for my map, but I altered it to give it a worn wooden look. I hope you don't mind.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Porklet View Post
    Thanks, will do.

    Also, thanks for your Rhumb Line donwload. I am using it for my map, but I altered it to give it a worn wooden look. I hope you don't mind.
    That's why I made it. Just remember it is intentionally overcrowded. You should delete most of the roses, and any extraneous lines. The map I first created it for just has two roses, and no circumcircle: http://www.cartographersguild.com/al...chmentid=29592

    Also, a small scale map like a whole world which has straight rhumb lines, has to be in Normal Mercator projection. If you want to get such things technically accurate, I'd suggest you look it up. The key point is that it distorts areas, so as you get further from the equator, things get bigger. If you've ever seen a map where Greenland was the size of Africa, that's a Mercator map. It also spreads out the higher latitudes so the poles themselves are infinitely far away. If you meant "world" as something much smaller than a globe, or your world is flat, or you don't care about technical details and just want a pretty picture, ignore this paragraph.

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    I have an older computer with limited memory so I've faced this problem many times.

    One thing I do is make the layers only as large as they need to be. For example a mountain range or a lake only need to be a fraction of the total image size. This saves memory and improves speed.

    With more complicated maps or drawings, I often partition the drawing into sections, build each section in a separate file and then copy the resulting image into the main file (Edit > Copy Visible, then Edit > Paste as > New Layer). This can be somewhat of a pain, but it allows me to make changes later in the section's original where I still have all the layers and it doesn't burden the main file with those layers.

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    Guild Expert Gracious Donor Hai-Etlik's Avatar
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    You might try vector graphics. Whether it's faster or not depends on a lot of factors but it's worth a shot. I can lag out even my fairly capable machine when I start playing with ten thousand individually placed trees, or highly complex filter effects, but I don't have to worry about resolution until I do a final, high quality rasterization. A fully vector toolchain might be out but even moving your earlier steps over might help. It depends a lot on the details of what you are doing though. Grab a copy of Inkscape and see if it looks like something that might help.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hai-Etlik View Post
    You might try vector graphics. Whether it's faster or not depends on a lot of factors but it's worth a shot. I can lag out even my fairly capable machine when I start playing with ten thousand individually placed trees, or highly complex filter effects, but I don't have to worry about resolution until I do a final, high quality rasterization. A fully vector toolchain might be out but even moving your earlier steps over might help. It depends a lot on the details of what you are doing though. Grab a copy of Inkscape and see if it looks like something that might help.
    Is Inkscape it similar to TurboCAD and that ilk? I have used that for basic floor plans and blueprints.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by bkh1914 View Post
    I have an older computer with limited memory so I've faced this problem many times.

    One thing I do is make the layers only as large as they need to be. For example a mountain range or a lake only need to be a fraction of the total image size. This saves memory and improves speed.

    With more complicated maps or drawings, I often partition the drawing into sections, build each section in a separate file and then copy the resulting image into the main file (Edit > Copy Visible, then Edit > Paste as > New Layer). This can be somewhat of a pain, but it allows me to make changes later in the section's original where I still have all the layers and it doesn't burden the main file with those layers.
    I hear ya. I've already started doing that with the ocean layer. I only move it back into the project when I need to check if my rivers are coming out right, or if I can see the darkened coastline of a small island next to the water gradient. It is a pain, but it's far worse to be waiting for my computer to catch up.

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    Guild Expert Gracious Donor Hai-Etlik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Porklet View Post
    Is Inkscape it similar to TurboCAD and that ilk? I have used that for basic floor plans and blueprints.
    There's a broadly similar basic concept. You are working with shapes as objects rather than a surface with colours applied to it. However Inkscape is a graphics editor, not a CAD tool; it is simply a graphics editor that works with shapes, rather than pixel surfaces. There are a lot of things CAD can do that it can't, and lots of things it can do that CAD can't.

    Just as CAD tools are specialised for working with engineering data, there are similarly specialised tools for geographic data which are broadly called Geographic Information Systems or GIS. If you want, there are free GIS tools to play with but I'd suggest you consider it an advanced topic for later at best, and massive overkill to the point of being ridiculous at worst. I use them, but I'm already familiar with them.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hai-Etlik View Post
    That's why I made it. Just remember it is intentionally overcrowded. You should delete most of the roses, and any extraneous lines. The map I first created it for just has two roses, and no circumcircle: http://www.cartographersguild.com/al...chmentid=29592

    Also, a small scale map like a whole world which has straight Rhumb lines, has to be in Normal Mercator projection. If you want to get such things technically accurate, I'd suggest you look it up. The key point is that it distorts areas, so as you get further from the equator, things get bigger. If you've ever seen a map where Greenland was the size of Africa, that's a Mercator map. It also spreads out the higher latitudes so the poles themselves are infinitely far away. If you meant "world" as something much smaller than a globe, or your world is flat, or you don't care about technical details and just want a pretty picture, ignore this paragraph.
    I am not certain how Rhumb Lines function. I haven't had the opportunity to look it up, yet. My world map is roughly 3,000 miles x 3,000 miles (same as the pixel count). Although, that might change once I start filling the land mass with junk. Most of the terrain features are representative, and the scale and details will be laid out in regional maps (assuming I don't die of old age first). It stretches from just below the equator to just above the arctic circle. I don't believe my map is too large for the lines you posted. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    I did read that the center rose was placed at the port of call or major port or home city or what-have-you. However, the largest city on my map lies near the center, and I thought I might say that the Rhumb Lines were used for aerial travel as well. I am not certain how feasible that is, and I don't know what purpose the other compasses/roses would serve. As it stands now the Rhumb Lines basically encircle the mainland and pass between smaller outer islands, for the most part. I was thinking the system could have been invented by an explorer who first circumnavigated the continent, or something. I am quite fond of the way it looks, and I don't want to change it. I want it to make some sort of sense, however.

    I have decided to keep your image as the background instead of water. The lower lines set depth, and I wanted to go with a brown motif for all of the terrain features, rivers, lakes, etc., except for flora. If I didn't I would still be collecting map elements this time next year. By keeping all of the regional elements the same basic brown motif I can get the world map situated faster and then concentrate on regional maps and their individual palettes. And since it's not a realistic portrayal of the land I can get away with using your Rhumb Lines as my backdrop instead of actual water.

    Click image for larger version. 

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