A while back....about a month or so...but I didn't really publicise it.
Raster (bought) [e.g. Photoshop, PaintShopPro, Painter]
Raster (free) [e.g. GIMP]
Vector (bought) [e.g. Illustrator, Corel Draw, Xara]
Vector (free) [e.g. Inkscape]
Vector (Symbol driven) [e.g. CC, Dunjinni]
Online Generator [e.g. City Map Generator, Fractal World Generator]
Fractal Generator [e.g. Fractal Terrains]
3d modelling [e.g. Bryce, Vue Infinite, Blender]
Scanned hand drawn maps
Drawing Tablet and pen [e.g. Wacom]
When was the poll added? I hadn't noticed it before.
A while back....about a month or so...but I didn't really publicise it.
New to this site and just noticed this post...
I make regular use of the following:
Fractal Mapper 8
Fractal World Explorer 1.7
I've used several other things, mostly online random dungeon generators and the such though. I used Campaign Cartographer 2 for a while as well.
:Edit: copied from another thread as it was good general advice. - Ravs
Mapping software solutions, there are a bunch, it really depends on the way you like to work, how much time you have to learn, what your budget allows and your goals.
Many members here are Profantasy Campaign Cartographer users CC2, CC3, Dungeon Designer, City Designer and more. These are CAD programs and completely different than standard graphics applications.
There's also Dundjinni which more of a combat scale battlemap maker, not good at regional/world mapping. As well as NBOS Fractal Mapper.
There proggies cost around $40 each.
GIMP is the open source version of Photoshop, Inkscape is the open source version of Illustrator - which basically means that most any vector drawing app and/or raster image editor works great for creating digital maps.
Some prefer CAD, some prefer vector or raster apps - it really depends on you, there is not a single package that is best for all mappers.
Explore this site, look deep, there are many samples, tutorials and discussions about all these apps. Read them, try out the free ones, or splurge on one of the low cost paid-for apps and start mapping.
That's my advice!
Dundjinni is a fine map-making application, but in some ways limiting to how I like to map. I am aware of pro mappers at Gamemasters Syndicate that use Dundjinni as their primary application, combining a ton of map objects as well as use of 3D to create special content for great looking maps.
Often I need use of feathered edged objects containing image fills and various degrees of transparency, which is lacking in using Dundjinni. It was using Dundjinni that actually chased me back to my more familiar Xara Xtreme as a hybrid raster/vector app that could duplicate any feature of Dundjinni and a hundred more options.
I went to Xara, only because I was already familiar with it and hadn't considered it as a map application when I first went alookin'.
But I still use Dundjinni, CC3, Fractal Mapper on occasion - I rely on hand-drawn work and Xara for most everything else.
I reckon that GamerPrinter has it about right. Each type of app runs on a methodology. Photoshop can do everything but its geared up for drawing individual pixels. The vector apps are good at some things where a CAD like look is what is required. Vector apps have advantages particularly with scaling but have issues with full color photo images but you might find that they can do some limited ability with photos. Icon based programs can be quite easy to use and quick to get something up but they will not handle either pixel based operations like flood fills or do vectored operations but again you will find that these apps partially cover for some of those limitations. Then multiply all that again for 3D.
My recommendation is to become good with one of each of them and know what is best of each. There is no point in trying to force one app to do a job that another is geared up for. And don't forget a good pen & scanner or digital camera in that tool set too. I can draw curvy thin lines with a pen faster than any bit of software if you have enough of them then use a pen and I can take a photo of a tree faster than I can draw it.
I tend to draw the outline with a pen, scan it in, use a raster app like PSP, Gimp or Photoshop to touch up, fill and get basics in then import into my icon based app and add extras like tables, chests, people, buildings or whatever. Some people would take it back into a raster process to add effects and shadows, which although it looks great and turns a map into a piece of art, its just not my bag and no criticism from me for anybody who does.
Most apps can change between formats though I would say that its a lot harder to go from raster to vector than it is to from vector to raster. I think this is the reason why raster apps tend to dominate.
I came across an interesting blog on digital painting and art and read this post. A couple points that stuck in my head and seemed relevant here:
and...discussions and arguments for and against each of these softwares run pages and pages and seem to have no end. With newer and better versions coming from both the commercial and open source, the argument just continues. Participating in these discussions, and also trying out different softwares, I have come to realize that these are just different tools, and an artist need not be too concerned about what they use as long as they can express their ideas and thoughts.
The article is worth a read...I have come to realize that all these different graphics software are just tools. A sculptor needs a set of chisels and hammer. It actaully does not matter which blacksmith fabricated them, as long as the sculptor can chip off the stone in the precise placec and precise amount. In the end - the sculpture is done by the sculptor - not the chisels and hammer. He or she just used them to create the sculpture.
My tutorials: Using GIMP to Create an Artistic Regional Map ~ All My Tutorials
My GIMP Scripts: Rotating Brush ~ Gradient from Image ~ Mosaic Tile Helper ~ Random Density Map ~ Subterranean Map Prettier ~ Tapered Stroke Path ~ Random Rotate Floating Layer ~ Batch Image to Pattern ~ Better Seamless Tiles ~ Tile Shuffle ~ Scale Pattern ~ Grid of Guides ~ Fractalize path ~ Label Points
My Maps: Finished Maps ~ Challenge Entries ~ My Portfolio: www.cartocopia.com
Well, since the work you are doing is either maps or relatively small projects for the church it all comes down to what you want to deliver. If you are doing a church newsletter and want to create artwork for it either will work, though I find Photoshop more flexible as illustrator's primary strength isn't needed for the job.
However, I only use Photoshop currently because I have it left over from my time as a Graphic Designer. If I had to pay for it, I probably wouldn't. I find that the upgrades between CS, CS2 and CS3 are pretty incremental and don't affect my day to work. Since I am opposed to a cracked version, I'll probably switch to GiMP when I am forced to leave Photoshop CS (version 7).
I was a late adopter to illustrator as I was originally trained in Freehand. Since I am not creating art that needs to scale freely any longer I don't find myself opening illustrator often. Windows says I last used the program on October 21, 2007.
This is all based on how you will be using the programs. If you are only using to crank out fast maps for your tabletop gaming then you'll be fine with whatever you currently use. At least that's my situation. But with the work for your church you may consider keeping the old version of photoshop and using the money for a new copy of illustrator.
Another thing to consider is that if you get into video presentations, final cut pro can use photoshop and illustrator files natively. So if that's an idea for the future, be prepared for it if you decide to ditch adobe in favor of GiMP and Inkscape.
Sorry to chime in late, just a few thoughts.
I use Illustrator almost exclusively for my maps, by which I mean something like 99.8% of the time. I can tell you a couple of things though about it:
1) Considerable learning curve. I dinked around with this program a long time, building up my skills. There are still a lot of things don't do, and other things that folks who use it more than I do scratch their heads over. I like what I can do with it, but it doesn't come quickly.
2) Some things you will not do. There are some things that this program does not do. Period. There are a lot of cool effects in PS and other programs that I look at on other people's maps and say "Cool. Not something I'm going to do though." What it does well, it does well, but some stuff just isn't there. Or maybe I have not found it yet. Very possible.
3) Develop a style suited to the tool. Or not. I have developed a style that is (I hope) very well suited to this program, which actually makes working with PS harder for me because I get frustrated and just do what it isI was try9ing to do in Illustrator. This might be a bad thing, maybe I ought to branch out. Frankly, I don't know and I don't have the time at the moment to start from scratch. If I do get the time, I probably will, but if that is a factor for you as well, I'd skip it (re-read Number 1 above). On the other hand, I like the output, and so do some people here (again, I hope).
Illustrator is great (big learning curve)
Ideal for postcards flyers brochures and posters although only a page at a time.
and it is absolutely necessary for logo design speaking as someone WHO work in the printing industry I absolutely hate it when someone sends in a bitmap logo they made in photoshop ugh!!!!
it is also an essential tool for editing and repairing problem PDF files
I consider it the Swiss army knife of graphics program and a necessity for serious graphics professionals.
in regards to photoshop cs cs2 cs3 I think the upgrades are little more than an attempt to squeeze more money out of us(OK there are some cool new features but still what ever happened to cs1.2.31)
of course Photoshops value is obvious so i will leave it at that.
the free tools will most often get the job done but if you need to send files to a printer you may just frustrate them
for booklets, manuals, and modules In-design or quark is the way to go