Looking For Map Making Tool for the Artistic Impaired/Inept

Aeradom

First Post
I suck at drawing. More than that, it pisses me off because I have a fair idea of what I want and just can't get it to look right with my OCD tendencies. And then sometimes I have no clue what to do to fill in. See for my new campaign coming up, I'd like to go ahead and have a map drawn out; I know roughly what it looks like (a major and minor city, coastal province, with forests and perhaps mountains) but I don't know what else. And I don't particularly want to completely wing it.

So I'm just wondering, what's the best tool for creating such things?
 
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Hand of Evil

Adventurer
The problem with map making is that each person is different and as we say in IT, you get out what you put in. CC3 is a great program and while the learning curve has gone down, there is still a learning curve. Fractal Mapper by NBOS is an option, it is a do-it-all map maker.

There are others out there. One from Kickstarter is Other World Mapper, which was to be out Dec 2015 but is still being developed at this time. A site to visit is the Cartographer's Guild, they may have more up-to-date info and other options to look at.

Check out demos of programs first and find the best for you.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I suck at drawing. More than that, it pisses me off because I have a fair idea of what I want and just can't get it to look right with my OCD tendencies. And then sometimes I have no clue what to do to fill in. See for my new campaign coming up, I'd like to go ahead and have a map drawn out; I know roughly what it looks like (a major and minor city, coastal province, with forests and perhaps mountains) but I don't know what else. And I don't particularly want to completely wing it.

So I'm just wondering, what's the best tool for creating such things?

It depends on how much time you're willing to invest, the final look you're going for, and what software you're already familiar with.

I'll speak to 3 programs I'm familiar with: Hexographer, Campaign Cartographer 3, and GIMP/Photoshop (I use both).

Hexographer
It's super easy to use. However, you're limited to the look you'll get - something like this:

[SBLOCK=hexographer]
map_trid_reg.png
[/SBLOCK]

Campaign Cartographer 3
There's a learning curve, but with tons of built in resources you'll spend less time learning it than you would a true graphics editing software. If you're experienced with CAD based software, then CC3 will be easier to learn for you since it's CAD-based. However, you'll need to drop some money on their Annuals to find the right resources for the style you want. The resulting look might be something like this:

[SBLOCK=cc3]
gallery03.jpg
[/SBLOCK]

GIMP/Photoshop
There's a steep learning curve, and it just gets deeper and deeper the more you use it. At the bare minimum you'll want to learn layers/layer groups, the magic wand tool, glow/grow to create white around text, and alpha channels. Bare minimum. More likely you'll spend significant time on the Cartographer's Guild website finding tutorials to do more advanced stuff. The results, however, can be gorgeous:

[SBLOCK=gimp]
1273308403925.jpg
[/SBLOCK]
 


innerdude

Legend
For an absolute beginner who doesn't want to go "full bore" into the mapmaking hobby, NBOS Fractal Mapper is the best choice, hands down.

It's not as powerful as CC3, but dramatically easier to use, and it's user interface / design is built around the more common "paintshop" style interface rather than the highly obtuse CAD.

If it's the kind of thing where you want to draw a few lines to shape a continent, do a quick right-click to give it a land-ish looking fill, draw a few trees and place some city markers down, Fractal Mapper is your baby.

If you want to try and "pretty up" some of the maps afterwards, export your work to a .png file and import it into GIMP (which costs nothing) and do some advanced tricks. The baseline output of Fractal Mapper looks "just okay" most of the time; you'll never get it to look like the stuff you see on Cartographer's guild or in a Paizo Adventure path with just Fractal Mapper, but to me the baseline output is acceptable for "basic" GM use, and that's probably all you're looking for.

The price is actually pretty decent too last I checked, $35 I think.
 

Jan van Leyden

Adventurer
What kind of result do you want to achieve? If it's for your eyes only you can get along with several free/affordable tools without much of a learning curve.
[MENTION=20323]Quickleaf[/MENTION] already mentioned , so let me add AutoREALM (free) for regional maps and Pymapper (free) for tile-based dungeons. AutoREALM and Pymapper won't produce production-level beatuy, but decent maps as tool for your game.

A lot of designs which you could incorporate into Pymapper can be found on the Dundjinni Forum. While the Software itself is pretty much (un)dead, the user contributions are worthwhile.
 

I have several android apps I use, depends on what I'm looking for. If I want to create my own I go with an app called Pocket game master, it cost me $2.99 but it's well worth the price. For quick dungeon maps that are pre-generated, I use an app called ProDnD. It has upgrades for additional map generators.
 

Cherno

Explorer
I recommend a real image editing application like GIMP or Photoshop. They are far more flexible and the time and effort to learn them (although good results can be easily achieved with minimum amount of learning) will not be wasted in any case because you will find yourself using it for all kinds of stuff, from fancy character sheets to dungeon maps to cardboard counters and even things not related to the hobby like the original purpose, which is photo editing! :)
 

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