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Map Building Software

Discussion in 'Writing Resources' started by Daedorian, Jul 9, 2017.

  1. Daedorian

    Daedorian New Member

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    Hello!

    Completely new user to this and to forums in general, so my searching isn't that great - if a thread has already been written on this, I apologise!

    Saying that: does anybody have any recommendations for map building software for a laptop/PC? I have some hand drawn maps without too much detail, and I'm (absolutely incredibly) awful at drawing. A computer programme would be really helpful, especially something that let me "zoom in" and add more detail to one section of a map without having to re-draw something. No doubt I'd balls the scale up etc.

    I don't want too much detail, just something to input "trees/road/river/mountains" and "this town/building/castle here" etc. and allows me to dictate my own boundaries (I have seen free-to-use online tools that are good but only have set boundary features that just do not match what I have drawn).

    Don't mind paying if it isn't too much or can be torrented

    Thank you for your help! :D
     
    Rkcapps likes this.
  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    I haven't found one I like.
    I stick to pencil and paper most of the time as I find it faster and easier to change a map on paper if the story demands a rewrite. I can have a new map for every town, city, interesting place etc as well as regional and [occasionally] world sized ones. I don't try to make one map do everything. The image needed would be HUGE! And unless it is really a graphical database, I don't know of any software that would let you "Goggle-Earth" it by zooming in and out to add details.
    Once/If I go digital I can use Adobe Photoshop [which I am lucky enough to have due to my work] to make a neat version. There are lots of free brushes and effect available for Photoshop to let you get the look you want. I really like one of the Tolkien brush sets that can give you a nice "Unexpected journey" look.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
    Rkcapps likes this.
  3. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Maester

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    For free, there is Auto Realm (AutoREALM download | SourceForge.net) — it's not great but it can do a credible job and the price is right! I played around with it for a while but realized a professional general-use graphics program (I use Corel Draw) could do most of the same stuff better. I eventually deleted the program but kept the icons that came with it for use elsewhere.
     
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  4. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    I've used Gimp, a free Photoshop type of program, to draw mine. It's simply been the best I've found. You can find loads of map symbols for free, brushes, to use with Gimp or Photoshop. Deviant Art is the site to visit for finding those brushes; here's a category link that shows some of what's available: Browse Photoshop Brushes | Resources & Stock Images | DeviantArt I would only note that you should check to make sure that any of these brush sets you use are free to use for commercial uses; this is usually listed in the right column or in the description of the brush set. Other web searches will turn up links to free brush sets.

    There's a bit of a learning curve on Gimp, but it's not too steep if you invest the time. After I got Photoshop, I still find myself returning to Gimp to work on maps, seems simpler but then again maybe I've just already mastered the curve on Gimp.

    There's an online map-making site called Inkarnate. I've seen some great maps that have been made using that site, but you should be aware that a commercial license needs to be purchased in order to use those maps commercially (in a book, for instance.) It's a subscription model, fairly inexpensive last I checked, but apparently any map you create while subscribed is usable even after the subscription runs out, according to their Facebook page.

    You can check out the Cartographer's Guild for lots of other resources.
     
    ApaCisare and Steerpike like this.
  5. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    GIMP is quite good. I've used it in the past to make cool maps for RPGs. Campaign Cartographer 3, by ProFantasy, is very nice. It's not free, but the price isn't too bad.
     
  6. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Maester

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    Gimp is handy. I use it for various Photo Shop type purposes. But I do like having a vector-based drawing program (which I believe many of the dedicated map drawing apps are) for preliminary work. Instead of actually drawing a coastline or road or whatever, one can manipulate a line to what ever shape one wants, bend it here and there, until it is exactly right.
     
  7. Daedorian

    Daedorian New Member

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    I do like pencil and paper. I think my issue with it is, when I (attempt to) draw a separate map for a certain area, I end up with huge disproportions in scale and I become frustrated and either dislike the new map or - more frustatingly - dislike the original "zoomed out" map. I have Photoshop but have never really invested the time to really get to grips with it. I think that is my next step!

    Thanks for the reply!
     
  8. Daedorian

    Daedorian New Member

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    There's a couple of people recommended GIMP - I'm definitely going to check that out! Thanks for the brushes link as well. Hopefully I'll get something looking good soon!

    Being very new to this site - is there good feedback to be had in uploading maps/town plans etc?
     
  9. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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