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Thread: What software should I get?

  1. #1
      King Thor is offline
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    Question What software should I get?

    Hi All,

    I'm a noob. Just found this site and I am pretty excited! I'm running a 1st edition AD&D campaign I've put together over 20 years here in Toronto. We started two years ago. I have regular maps of everything but would love to be able to make digital maps for ease of use and so that I can conveniently store everything (I am very afraid of losing the originals!).

    What program would you recommend to me? I am decently software friendly but don't have all that much time to devote (pretty time consuming job and an 11 month old son). I am looking to make maps that look great and are functional as opposed to the most stunning maps ever (although stunning + functional would be a bonus ). I would also like to be able to have the maps print a player copy and a DM copy as this would make my life alot easier (depending on how much work this is).

    I also recently discovered the program Hexographer and wanted to get thoughts on that. Basically any feedback you have for someone like me would be great. I have minimal graphics experience and I would prefer to get the most bang for my buck in terms of time.

    Thanks in advance to those who take the time to reply!


    KT

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      Gandwarf is offline
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    I would go for Campaign Cartographer 3 and some addons (like Dungeon Designer and City Designer). You can slap together a decent looking map in 10 minutes. Even a city.
    The catch of course is that CC3 is very dependant on symbols and CC3 maps often have a generic look (which I never found to be a problem). You need to master the software to create more unique looking maps. Even then you will never achieve the freedom of graphics software like Gimp or Photoshop of course. But mastering those programs isn't easy either and you will certainly not be able to create a map right away.

    That's my 2 cents, opinions on this forum may differ
    Check out my City Designer 3 tutorials. See my fantasy (city) maps in this thread.

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      Gandwarf is offline
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    By the way, to give you an idea what you can do with CC3 and its addons, see this link:
    More cities (City Designer 3)
    Check out my City Designer 3 tutorials. See my fantasy (city) maps in this thread.

    Gandwarf has fallen into shadow...

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      Redrobes is offline
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    My opinion is to scan through the finished maps and look at the ones you like - not necessarily the best most fabulous detailed ones but the ones you like and that given a good wind you could do. Keep checking which app makes these maps and think about using that.

    If your going for cities then I think that something which does city mapping like CC3 might be better than a generic solution. If going for battle map or regional then I think others are more appropriate. If going for a world map then if the map has a fixed shape then you would probably need a raster app like GIMP if you don't care so much and want a more random one then you could use an app which makes random worlds like Fractal Terrains or go for something which makes noisy patterns and color it up.

    Go with the vector route like inkscape if you want clean looking atlas style.

    If doing dungeons then I think the stamp based approach is easier where you pick up set shapes from a library or collection and stamp them down. You can put down corridors, doors, pillars etc. Thats easier than the other methods but has some limitations in some cases.

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      Coyotemax is offline
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    I've played with Hexographer, it's very easy to learn, free if i recall (always a bonus!), comes with lots of extra tile types, plus you can create your own if you like.

    it creates very serviceable maps, too.

    Another thing you could do, if you're any good at sketching out the maps by hand, is to do them that way and scan them, then you'll not lose them Plus scanned hand-drawn maps can make a great basis for digital work too.

    My finished maps
    "...sometimes the most efficient way to make something look drawn by hand is to simply draw it by hand..."

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      Ascension is offline
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    If time is the most important key then I'd second Gandwarf on Campaign Cartographer and the add-ons...quick, serviceable, and relatively easy. Mastering anything takes time and sometimes the simplest of things take forever in "arty" software.
    If the radiance of a thousand suns was to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the Mighty One...I am become Death, the Shatterer of worlds.
    -J. Robert Oppenheimer (father of the atom bomb) alluding to The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 11, Verse 32)


    My Maps ~ My Brushes ~ My Tutorials ~ My Challenge Maps

  7. #7
      SowelBlack is offline
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    Thanks all for mentioning Hexographer. I am still actively developling it, so if you have specific suggestions let me know.

    As people here have said, it is designed to be easy to use and quick to create basic hex style maps. But it will be getting more features while hopefully staying easy to use.

    You could use it for making the background of a map then bring it into GIMP/Photoshop whatever to make it more artsy. And of course, if you want a map in a different style then Hexographer isn't the right tool at the moment.

    There's a free version and a pro/paid version, but the pro version really just has a few nice-to-have features, not things most people think are essential.

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      Mark Oliva is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by King Thor View Post
    What program would you recommend to me? I am decently software friendly but don't have all that much time to devote (pretty time consuming job and an 11 month old son). I am looking to make maps that look great and are functional as opposed to the most stunning maps ever (although stunning + functional would be a bonus ). I would also like to be able to have the maps print a player copy and a DM copy as this would make my life alot easier (depending on how much work this is).KT
    I'll disagree with the others to a certain extent. I used to use Campaign Cartographer 3, and it certainly will make excellent maps of the kind you seek, but it also has a learning curve as high as Mount Everest. It may take you a long time before you've learned enough to get the results you want.

    Our project group switched from CC3 to Fractal Mapper 8 because CC3 was completely incompatible with our products. As a side benefit, we also found that we can produce the same maps we were making with CC3 in about 25% of the time. So before buying anything, I'd urge you to give FM8 a free trial.

    All of this, however, assumes that you want a cartographic program. It may be that a graphics program suits your needs better. In that case, I'd go with the GIMP. It's freeware, so you can try it for nothing.

    However, you can do the same thing with FM8. You can download the trial version free at http://www.nbos.com. It is the same as the retail version except that it can't save files and it has a smaller symbol set.

    Then go to http://www.nbos.com/nox/index.php?action=1001&id=125 and download the free 160-page PDF manual & tutorial.

    If you take these steps, you'll be able to fully check out both the GIMP and FM8 without investing a cent.
    Mark Oliva
    The Vintyri (TM) Project

  9. #9
      King Thor is offline
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    Thanks for the replies guys. I guess what I am mainly looking for is a program that will allow me to create functional maps (more in the style of the old school hex maps) that will allow me to make maps that are functional (pretty is of course a big bonus). The other thing is that I want to be able to have my DM copy and then easily print out a player map based on what they have explored so far (so greying out areas they haven't seen so far, but allowing some areas they had heard about to be shown such as large rivers/mountain ranges/etc).

    I'll try and attach a player version of my map. They only know certain areas. To be able to have this stored digitally and then printed out in colour would be amazing. I would also like to know what other GM's do in terms of map care. Do you print them out in colour and then laminate them? What's the best place to get this done (I'm in Canada, so something like Kinko's)?

    Thanks again!

    KT

  10. #10
      King Thor is offline
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    Map attached, I apologise for the poor quality....



    This is the players map, my original map is on hex paper. The scale is guesstimate on the player map but with my map everything is exact.

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