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Thread: Best program to redraw an existing map?

  1. #1
      Madmaxneo is offline
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    Default Best program to redraw an existing map?

    I am sort of new to cartography, but I have used Dundjinni and CC2 in the past. I am also familiar with Illustrator. I need to know what (in everyone's opinion) is a good program for "vectoring" an already existing map. Vectoring may not be the correct term but it fits. I am working in Maptools (online gaming table) and I need to re-create some of the maps I am using because of horrible pixelization. So I need to re-create the maps I have. This is what I have tried so far and my reasons for it not working for me:
    Gimp: Good program, real steep learning curve, really ahrd to figure out compared to illustrator. I can't get the layers to work properly. Not nearly enough textures.
    Maptool: Not good for vectoring. Can do some things really good, except draw freehand and basic shapes that I can manipulate later in my project. Will not let me arrange any of the vectors I do to put other things on top or so I can compare to the parent map.
    Illustrator CS6: My favorite and easiest for me to manipulate. One big problem, almost no textures for what I need it for. And I can't seem to find any free textures online.
    Inkscape: I've barely worked with this one and my experience leads me to believe this will not work for what I need.

    Please note that I have about 6 gigs of stuff I can place on the map from textures to overlays to buildings to ink pens to woolly mammoths to beetles, etc... Unfortunately I can't import the textures into Illustrator and have them work correctly, most of the time they show up as a solid color slightly similar to the base color of the original texture. the textures I have are all in .png format.

    I hope someone can help.

    Bruce

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    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    I both use and recommend Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 9, if you prefer working with a vector drawing application, and one powerful enough, using the right techniques to create a variety of mapping styles. Though I have several styles, my photo-realistic style looks like it might have been created in Photoshop. Not that other software might also offer a solution, I do professional map commissions, and rely on Xara for most of my mapping needs. Xara isn't free, but is available with a 30 day free trial. I'd recommend using the tutorials on the Xara site to get you underway, but I have many tutorials on my G+ community.

    Here's my affiliate link to Xara Photo & Graphic Designer (link to a link, sorry).

    Here's a link to my G+ community.

    And welcome to the Cartographers' Guild!

    GP
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  3. #3
      Madmaxneo is offline
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    Thank you.
    My project: I am currently trying to redraw a Map of Belynar from a game called HARP. The map is good for what it was originally intended but I am redrawing it so I can use it in maptools for close in scale of tabletop gaming online using Maptools.
    I will have to look at Xara for a temporary quick fix. I am more interested in the free programs but none seem to fit my needs or they have such a steep learning curve that there is no way I can figure this out in time. I have 4 programs that I am working with right now: Inkscape, Gimp, Maptools, and Illustrator CS6. None of them have the textures I need, except for Maptools but it doesn't do vectoring. I have all the textures I need but they are in .png format and whenever I try to convert them into a type illustrator uses, they come out clear. Inkscape seems it might be what I need but there are no where near enough textures in Inkscape to even partially cover my needs, and I have no idea how to import textures into this program. There is an easy way to create basic textures in Illustrator but I need something more dynamic. Gimp, though it is a great program, it is not good for vectoring as it is meant for bitmap editing.

    Can Xara use .png textures?

    Bruce

    EDIT: Your link to a link doesn't work.
    Last edited by Madmaxneo; 02-10-2014 at 11:20 PM.

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    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    Yes, importing and creating files to export to PNG, no problem.

    I've created several maps for an Iron Crown Enterprises adventure for a HARP game, though I don't play it myself. I used Xara to create those maps. Plus I won the Iron Crown Enterprises first Map Contest back in 2008, I think it was.

    Here's a direct link to the software - Xara Photo & Graphic Designer 9

    Here's a link to a recent map I posted in the Finished Maps Forum of a castle town created in Xara.
    Last edited by Gamerprinter; 02-11-2014 at 12:38 AM.
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  5. #5
      Madmaxneo is offline
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    Great Map! One last question about Xara, can it be used to vector other maps (in particular the Belynar one from HARP)? I am real good (compared to teh otehr programs) when comes to vectoring in Illustrator and I hope that Xara is as easy to operate.
    If so I will look into it and possibly see if I can scrounge up the money to purchase it when my trial is up.

    Bruce

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    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    I've used Illustrator, and find Xara easier. It isn't as robust as Illustrator, but many of the version of tools in Xara are often more powerful and easier to use. I find Xara very easy to use software, especially if you're already familiar with vector applications. Like I said, download the free trial and check out the video tutorials on the Xara.com website. I do hand-drawn maps scanned and finished in Xara as well.
    Gamer Printshop - We print RPG Maps for Game Masters!
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    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    Incidentally, I created the Map of Cyradon for Iron Crown Enterprises as a commission, in addition to a couple other maps of different locales - a ruined structure, a section of woodlands with roots across the path. (I used Xara to create those maps.)
    Gamer Printshop - We print RPG Maps for Game Masters!
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  8. #8
      Madmaxneo is offline
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    Xara is an awesome program! I have already figured out how to do the basic things I need in it, like vectoring and adding my textures. And it is very easy to use. I think the vector points are easier to manipulate in Xara than they are in Illustrator. All the important tools and editing functions I need are right there. It has just about everything I want so far. I hope it has a mesh tool. I don't use it that often but it would help with this program. The basis for Belynar is a long dead volcano, the city is built around and through it. A mesh tool would be great for developing the volcano background. If there isn't a mesh tool, is there a tutorial that might help me redraw the volcano?

    Bruce

    PS What maps did you draw for ICE when you won that contest?

  9. #9
    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    ICE's map contest was to create a temple map. I created the Temple of Sargoseum - kind of Greek styled Poseidon-ish temple site.

    Unfortunately, there is no mesh tool in Xara, though I wish there was. I've created volcanoes using Xara however, though I don't have a ready tutorial for doing so. I create a roughly circular shape with a more circular hole cut in the center, give an ashy texture fill, then apply flat bevel. Sometimes I add a secondary detailed ridge at the cone's lip of the volcano. It takes a little trial and error to get right.

    Also check the talkgraphics.com forums, which is the Xara forums. I have a thread there called: Fantasy Maps created using Xara Xtreme (Xtreme was the previous version of the current software - its a 4 year long thread.)
    Last edited by Gamerprinter; 02-11-2014 at 03:04 AM.
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  10. #10
    Guild Artisan Jacktannery's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madmaxneo View Post
    I am more interested in the free programs but none seem to fit my needs or they have such a steep learning curve that there is no way I can figure this out in time.

    None of them have the textures I need, except for Maptools but it doesn't do vectoring. I have all the textures I need but they are in .png format and

    Gimp, though it is a great program, it is not good for vectoring as it is meant for bitmap editing.
    Sounds like Gameprinter has already provided you with excellent advise, but since you specified free programmes I will mentions a few things.

    1) Are you sure you need a vector programme? If you are just making combat maps for roll20/VTT use then you really don not need a vector-based programme at all. I use vector-based programme for work where millimetre accuracy is key, but raster-based programmes for VTT maps where lighting and atmosphere is more important to me.

    2) GIMP & textures: you really don't need to import your textures into GIMP as textures. Just keep them as .PNGs. Presumably you are talking about a Seamless Texture? I never use these but this is how to in GIMP:
    -a) drop the .png seamless texture into an open gimp document by drag and drop (or 'import' if you prefer)
    -b) scale the texture bigger or smaller based on your needs. It should look like a small square in the middle of the larger image.
    -c) take note of the dimensions of your image (not the texture layer!) in pixels. If you can't remember, go to IMAGE>IMAGE PROPERTIES and take note.
    -d) while on the texture layer, go to FILTERS>MAP>TILE and bring up the tile dialogue box. Enter your image dimensions and unclick 'new image', then press enter.
    RESULT: your seamless texture now fills the entire image. You can delete the bits you don't want but you should really look up jpfrazier's layer mask tutorial and use that instead.

    Although this might seem complicate in time you will see it is very simple and much more powerful than maptools.

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