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Thurlor
November 22nd, 2005, 08:23 PM
I was just looking at some of the maps present and realize mine probably won't be good enough (I can't draw for crap - my mountains look like triangles). Anyway I was just wondering if anyone could recommend a good cartography program.

Radthorne
November 22nd, 2005, 10:39 PM
I never found anything I was happy with. The closest I came was Autorealm, but even that didn't give me the kind of control I needed. I eventually ended up using the symbols from that program, but basically doing all the rest of it myself in Photoshop and Illustrator.

This is the map as printed in my books (it's a two page spread):

http://www.sff.net/people/radthorne/Pictures/Tonogato.jpg

Originally it was going to be color, but the publishers changed their minds and made it black and white (if I had known that, I would have prepared it differently... ah, well).

Using the pre-made symbols saved a lot of bother and made it look much better, allowing me to concentrate on the layout and positioning of places.

Radthorne
November 22nd, 2005, 11:12 PM
Also, ProFantasy has some really nice software. The problem is (at least when I tested it about a year and half ago) there was no way to get print-ready output from the program. It looks fine on-screen, and the hardcopy print outs would suffice for gaming use; but none of the file output options provided a file with a high enough resolution that you could print it in a book. I emailed the company to ask about it, but never got a response. If they took care of that issue, then I could recommend giving them a try.

James Barclay
November 23rd, 2005, 04:18 AM
I would recommend ProFantasy's Campaign Cartographer 2 Pro, despite Radthorne's issue with output (and he's absolutely right, by the way). The program is designed very much with the gamer in mind and so you have to take that into account.

However, I used it in designing my latest world and found it helped enormously. I can't draw for toffee and the ability to draw accurate (well, fairly accurate) features and landscapes was a great boon. Also, there are handy tools like distance measuring which are direct aids to the writing process.

If you're looking for it to output hi-definition artwork, then you have an issue. If you want it to help you draw your map to use in drafting and then maybe get an artist to render it for you, then it's a vey good program.

NOM

Expendable
November 26th, 2005, 01:19 PM
There's a fantasy mapping program called Dundjinni (http://www.dundjinni.com/) that's only $40. But I hear it can't do large maps. Fractal Mapper 7 (http://www.nbos.com/products/mapper/mapper.htm), another $40 program, can.

There's some freeware programs too, some of them using tiles like Lior's Map Creator (http://www.liors.net/software/map_creator/) and DungeonCrafter (http://www.dungeoncrafter.com/) or HexMapper (http://home.paonline.com/zaikoski/ak/TOOLS.HTM) - with a good paint program, you can even make your own tiles to use with them.

And there's always a good free CAD program for some stuff - here (http://www.freecad.com/)'s a page with links to many.

Radthorne
November 26th, 2005, 08:47 PM
Fractal Mapper 7 (http://www.nbos.com/products/mapper/mapper.htm), another $40 program, can.
Fractal Mapper looks very impressive. It discusses saving files in a couple of different standard graphics formats, and that it will print "at whatever DPI your printer is set to, resulting in much sharper lines and text." Hopefully that combination of statements means that you can save the files at high resolution as well, so that you can export the resulting image to programs such as Photoshop for final compositing.

I have downloaded the trial version of it and will give it a go, and post here my impressions.

Many thanks for the tip, Expendable!

Expendable
November 27th, 2005, 12:23 AM
You're welcome.

Really if you make yourself a library of symbols you can use any paint program to make a map. Even MS Paint. Pasting transparently so the background shows through helps.

Radthorne
November 27th, 2005, 01:07 AM
You're welcome.

Really if you make yourself a library of symbols you can use any paint program to make a map. Even MS Paint. Pasting transparently so the background shows through helps.
This is true. But what something like Fractal Mapper adds to the mix is a lot of easy little tools to take the pain out of doing it all yourself. For example, I see that it has a tool for measuring distances between various points you select on the map. That can be very handy for when you're building a world and trying to decide how far Town A needs to be from Evil Lair B. You can measure this on a print out, but it's harder to do on a screen, and with this type of tool built into a product you can place a symbol, do a measurement, and decide that 1,742 miles is perhaps a tad far for the horses to cover in a day...

I have tried importing into Fractal Mapper the AutoRealm symbols I used on my map (which I had actually already modified and cleaned up in Photoshop for that project), but the results didn't look so hot. However, that was just a quick test and I want to experiment some more. Certainly if you buy a package you don't want to be locked into only their symbol set; you want to have the flexibility to create things unique to your world or just to have your own design look. I think the package will be able to do it; I just need to play around with it a bit more.

I did confirm, by using one of their built-in sample maps, that I could get a fairly acceptable printout, much cleaner that I was getting with the ProFantasy software. More experimentation to come here too.

Expendable
November 27th, 2005, 01:28 AM
Tools help alot ^_^

I'm glad you like it.

-Ex.

Thurlor
December 5th, 2005, 12:04 AM
Well, I've tried the various different programs mentioned here, and Fractal Mapper seems to be the one for me. However, I'm currently looking for a prog that will enable me to create maps with multiple sea levels, and none seem to be able to do that.

It looks like I'll just need to hand draw them and then scan them followed by a touch up. Ah well, who said life was supposed to be easy?