Welcome to the Guild.
Luv your Nick
I'm looking for a mapping software to aid with a campaign I'm running via play-by-post-online. I am by no means an artist (Photoshop gives me headaches), so I need something easy to use. Preferably, I would like a software version of using Dungeon Tiles. For example, I'd like to be given a number of large pre-built images (one 6x3 square image that is an entire pre-made kitchen, a 1x2 doorway, a single image that is an entire hallway, etc) that all I have to do is drop and arrange them in the order I need.
I've looked around and the free software I've seen is similar to this, but is mostly editing individual squares ... where you draw the size of the room with wall tool, then edit the individual squares within with floor squares, then add objects on top, etc. That's easy ... but I want easier (i.e. literally like grabbing and dropping entire pre-made rooms).
I also need to be able to export whatever is made in jpg or similar format, and needs to be able to show a grid for use with minatures play.
I'm willing to pay, and almost purchased CC3, but do not want to invest money in a program only to feel like it's "over my head" and get frustrated by it. Too bad CC3 doesn't have a demo...
Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!
Welcome to the Guild.
Luv your Nick
CC3 is definitely a program designed for "power users." If you don't have the time and energy to devote to learning it, it's probably better to look for something else. I'd hate to spend money on a program that didn't meet my needs.
I'm not sure you'll be able to find a single program with enough prefab tiles to meet your needs, but you can harvest tiles from a variety of other sources and assemble them in any general-purpose editor like the Gimp. Check out the August entries in the Mapping Challenges forum here for a small assortment of tiles in a variety of styles.
Also, you might take a look at RobA's Dungeon Prettier script for Gimp, which was used to produce his tiles for the aforementioned Challenge. If you can draw a layout in simple black-and-white shapes, the script can automagically turn it into a decent-looking dungeon. It might take a little work setting up the styles (I haven't used it, so I don't know), but I'm sure Rob would be happy to help you with that. You'd still need to drop in furnishings and objects, though.
Another thing to consider is you can slice pieces out of existing maps and use those as your tiles. It will probably take a bit of work to resize pieces of different maps so they fit together, but you'll have the same problem if you use pre-built tiles from two or more different sources.
Bryan Ray, visual effects artist
The problem I think you will have is that you would want many pre made tiles which are quite specific and that would line up easily to make your floor plan. The problem that a developer would have in this case is that those tiles would appeal to a very slim section of the user base and most people would want to customize it a bit more than that.
The question I have is whether you would want to make up those tiles the slower way by adding a door and a cooker and a worktop and a chair etc to make up one tile and then the program could group all those together for you so that next time you could say, add kitchen.
If that is the case then I can provide with my app ViewingDale, see link in sig. It can group any number of bits together to make up a mapping icon that is complex - like a kitchen. You can go on to add a lounge, bathroom etc and make up another icon called house1 and it would have the kitchen in it which would have the cooker in it - all at the original resolutions of the component parts.
It can import images for icons and export them too to make a print from. It also has a grid with the usual "snap to grid" option to make placing stuff on the grid easy.
So what you want exists as a program but I don't think anyone would be able to get a full set of complete rooms all just the way you like them in 6x3 squares etc. You would have to make them up once.
If you wanted to use an app with complete tiles made up because you are not confident with mapping applications then I wont kid you in that my app is not too hard but also not entirely without some learning. I would say its easier to use than a paint package because its built to add icons, move, place and rotate them and also to group them together. On the other hand you cant paint with it - its comparing apples and oranges.
I honestly cant think of another app that can do what your asking unless you build a kitchen in a mapping app and then export that composite image and then re-import that image as a new icon in some other apps. The problem there is that you loose resolution of all the original bits in it and the ability to go back and move an original item about like the cooker for example.
Luckily for you there is a free demo of it on the sig link provided tho. If you need help with it then just mail me. There's some movies of it running here too. I can whoop up a movie of a kitchen and house thing if you want me to.
IF you are willing to spend the time to harvest the images for furniture and stuff, Fractal Mapper comes with some "ok" images that can be used and it's fairly user friendly. It does an ok job of overland mapping. I moved away from it to go to GIMP for overland maps because I wanted something a bit more artistic in some of my map stuff, but GIMP is a bit complex. Of course, there is nothing to say that you can't start with 1 program and then move on as your needs and skills change... Plus, Fractal Mapper does have a demo version available, so you can try before you buy, but I can't remember what limitations the program has for the demo version though.
If you are willing to invest the time, I would HIGHLY suggest GIMP and using the tutorials created here by RobA, and the community is more then willing to help provide constructive critisism to get you to a style that you like.
My Finished Maps
Works in Progress(or abandoned tests)
Explanation of Layer Masks in GIMP
How to create ISO Mountains in GIMP/PS using the Smudge tool
Unless otherwise stated by me in the post, all work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.