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Thread: Greetings and Looking for First Step Advice

  1. #1

    Help Greetings and Looking for First Step Advice

    Greetings all!

    I've stumbled across your site, looking for some basic tutorials on how I can take my scruffy hand-drawn map and computerize it in some way for my local RPG group. What I'm looking for is to build something simple in the style of this:

    While I'm very computer-savvy, I've never done any mapping via software, so I'd be looking for any hand-holding tutorials that are out there.

    Thanks all!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Western Marches Map.pdf  

  2. #2
    Community Leader RobA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Toronto, Canada


    Hia Archade!

    Were you planning on hand drawing, or using software? If software, have you made any investments (money or time) yet, or are you still looking for suggestions?

    -Rob A>

  3. #3


    Funny you should ask that ... the hand-drawn map is about the best I can do, so I'm looking to software.

    I have the funds to buy the software I need, but I'm looking for something with a shallow learning curve, if possible. I own Adobe Illustrator, but don't know where to start.

    Any advice would be appreciated ...

  4. #4


    Isn't the first step to admit you have a problem?

  5. #5


    Hi Archade

    If you want to continue in the vein of Illustrator (ie a vector programme) then there are some cheaper versions on the market which (IMO) are much more intuitive to use (e.g. Xara or Drawplus). If you'd prefer to go Raster then Gimp is free but Photoshop is probably the most feature laden package.

    Check out the software link in my sig for more info and welcome to the guild.


  6. #6
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Steel General's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Ft. Wayne, IN


    Welcome Aboard!

    ...and for including a map in your first post, have some 'rep' *bonk*
    My Finished Maps | My Challenge Maps | Ghoraja Juun, my largely stagnated campaign setting.

    Unless otherwise stated by me in the post, all work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

  7. #7


    All the advice you've received so far is good... but I wouldn't follow it.

    The best advice I can give you is cruise around this board and look for your favourite maps. Look to your left on the screen and you may find information about what software the mapper is using. Under my name for example it says....

    Software: Saving for CS4!, Corel Painter X, Fractal Terrains, Wilbur, Anything and Everything Else!
    Check the software used for your favourite maps. Ask about any techniques or tutorials. Buy the software you can afford - then make similar (or improved\different) maps .

    Failing that, economics is sort of hard to argue with.
    The Gimp

    These are all interesting graphics packages that are free. If they work for you, you've just saved yourself $$$. Don't be afraid to try something in a new program and show us what you've done. You'll either find someone who has been down that road who can help or you'll be exploring new frontiers. Either way, I think you'll find lots of friendly banter and support.

    Honestly, if I was going to spend money for mapping, I'd buy a tablet and use free\super-cheap software rather than spend more on software and use a mouse. Think of all the things you've drawn with a pencil or pen. Now compare them to everything you've drawn with a bar of soap. Working with a tablet is a talent you'll keep. You'll probably mix, match and change software over time.

    Of course opinions differ and it is striking what people do with _any_ setup if it captures their ambition and imagination.

    Definitely check the tutorial and resource section on this site. I think its become one of the best resources for fantasy mapping on the net!

    Welcome aboard.

    Last edited by Sigurd; 04-21-2009 at 10:30 AM.

    Dollhouse Syndrome = The temptation to turn a map into a picture, obscuring the goal of the image with the appeal of cute, or simply available, parts. Maps have clarity through simplification.

    --- Sigurd

  8. #8

  9. #9


    Well, I followed the advice and looked at the tutorials. While I was looking for more of a pen-drawing map, I liked RobA's tutorial on GIMP and regional maps, so I downloaded GIMP and started walking through the tutorial.

    I made my canvas 1600x1000(ish) and stretched my PNG to fit it. I then proceeded to attempt to outline my map as closely as possible.

    I made a first mistake by not drawing my outline in a new layer, so when I realized it, I duplicated the layer but now I have a lot of fiddly fill-in monkey work to do.

    I hope the lack of rivers won't be an issue later, but I think my rivers should probably be narrower for the most part.

    I cleaned up my coastline where I thought I could make it look more realistic, and added a couple more islands for realism.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Marches02Outline01.pdf  

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