Greetings, gentlemen.

Few months ago I posted here my first map and received some nice feedbacks. Time has passed, and now I need your help in creating a new continental map. My main issue is connected with a lack of experience in working with patterns in general and in GIMP particularly, I decided that this community is just the place I need to solve those problems.

Here is my map that is currently in progress:
Click image for larger version. 

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What I am looking for to know is the way of creating mountains/forests/grass layers with patterns over them and the way how to create soft edges and semi-transparent locations. The only way to do it I came up with is to use the rubber, but it isn't perfect.

Also I would be happy to hear some feedbacks and critiques you consider important.