Mapping Cities

edited May 2008 in Story Games
Ok, so I've recently upgraded laptops, and that means I can look at windows software again. I am looking to get some software to make decent looking gaming maps, both landscape and cities, especially for fantasy. To date, I've gotten by with straight graphics programs, but I'm willing to invest in some specialized software to this end, so I'm looking for recommendations. The only programs I'm aware of are Campaign Cartographer and Fractal Mapper, and I have absolutely no idea what their respective strengths are, nor am I aware of any good alternatives.

So, anyone have any experience, suggestiosn or th elike they could lay on me?

-Rob D.

Comments

  • edited May 2008
    Well, the obvious one is anyway.

    I'm not sure whether this is a good idea or a bad one, yet.

    Ah, I've replied in the wrong thread, haven't I? I'll go and put this comment in the other one.

    Graham
  • Heh, back to your question:

    The important thing is, "what are you looking for in a map?"

    Some people want map generators that do hexmaps. Others want map generators that do square-based mapping.

    Others want a random fractal-generating thing in order to sculpt landforms, show trees and towns and all like a catrographer's map, without any hexes/squares.

    There's probably strengths and weaknesses per product depending on what you are aiming for.

    So what do you want?

    (ex: For me, until recently, I'd say "I want to draw up maps like a character might have rolled up: A fantasy-ish cartography-style landmass map generator". Nowadays, that I'm playing 4e, I'd say "Ok, NOW I want something that lets me generate square maps for dungeons and stuff")

    -Andy
  • I love Campaign Cartographer, but it is very hard to use. Count on spending at least 10 solid hours screwing around with it before you draw the first map that doesn't make your eyes hurt. However, once you pass the first bump on the learning curve, you will find it can *do* a lot that the other programs do not. Rarely do I have a map in CC that I can't adapt in the way I need, even if those adaptations are hard, or involve scripting. I used Fractal Mapper for a while, but found myself getting stuck from its lack of features.

    So, it depends on how much power vs. effort you want.
  • Honestly, I love city maps that I find in gaming books, with tiny houses and everything. If I can do other stuff, that's cool too, but I'm really looking for cool looking more than hexed or graphed. So far that _looks_ like CC, and I;m willing to eat a learnign curve to get there.

    -Rob D.
  • Rob, you can make very good looking maps with non-specific software. I'm thinking about Inkscape, specifically.

    Also, there are some pretty vector stamps to use: just paste these, color the background, and you're good to go :)

    http://clipart.nicubunu.ro/?gallery=rpg_map
  • Yeah, that's my usual mode, and I've gotten ok at landscapes, but the cities never really quite gel for me.

    That said, those are some *awesome* clips, and I can't wait to play with them - Thanks!

    -Rob D.
  • Posted By: Jeffrey StraszheimI love Campaign Cartographer, but it is very hard to use. Count on spending at least 10 solid hours screwing around with it before you draw the first map that doesn't make your eyes hurt. However, once you pass the first bump on the learning curve, you will find it can *do* a lot that the other programs do not.
    Heya, do you (or anyone else) have sample maps you created?

    Thanks!
    -Andy
  • I've seen Campaign Cartographer being used and the things it creates are bloody gorgeous.

    Graham
  • What about that new Google 3-D mapper thing that John Harper was messing with? It looks pretty powerful and easy to use, plus there are hundreds of fantasy buildings that have been created for it.
  • edited May 2008
    Heya, do you (or anyone else) have sample maps you created?

    http://straszheim.50megs.com/

    These are from version 2 of the proggie, which lacked some of the newer visual effect. I'll try to put up some of my new stuff over the weekend.
  • I guess you could also use SketchUp from Google, which is used to build all the nice buildings for Google Earth. It has a very interesting sun light shadow thingie where you can see how the light shows up in the streets.

    Let me show you this part of an old map I worked on with SketchUp for a while.

    ra4.png


    PS: I work for Google, if this is inappropriate, please let me know and I'll retract the posting.
  • Oliof,

    That looks pretty cool. Is it a for-pay product, or can you just d/l it?

    Is it Windows only?
  • Hey Andy,

    Here is something I've done more recently:

    http://straszheim.50megs.com/world.PNG
  • I did this using a mixture of Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. You could probably do it just as well using inkscape and the GIMP.

    image
  • Brennen,

    That is pretty good. How long did it take? Were any parts tedious to do?
  • I 2nd that Campaign Cartographer is both "very pretty neat wonderful" and also, looking back now on when I used it, "ohmigod where did I find the time to do that, oh yeah I was single and had no social life at all".

    I'm going back to a part of the campaign world I mapped out in it for which I have some old print outs of the maps, sooo pretty. The thought of having to relearn it, oh noooo.

    Rob
  • Posted By: Jeffrey StraszheimBrennen,

    That is pretty good. How long did it take? Were any parts tedious to do?
    Thanks. It probably took around three hours. Nothing was particularly tedious as I copied and pasted and applied various filters. Then again, I have a background in graphic design and I'm pretty good in Adobe Illustrator.

    My advice is to find a map you like and try to copy its style in the graphics app of your choice. You'll learn tons that way. Take it slowly and have fun.

    I don't really care for Campaign Cartographer because I like my stuff to be as original as possible, so I guess it really depends on what you are using the map for and how important the aesthetics v. utility issue is to you.
  • Brennen, your city map was exactly what I was thinking about when I posted... I just did not remember where I'd seen it :)

    Rob, here is what I was thinking about :)

    Brennen's map is one of the best looking ones I've seen, and I'm under the impression that yeah, there's a great deal of craftmanship and time spent in it, but it's even more a matter of taste in choosing the colors.
    Btw... do you have some kind of "step by step" howto, and/or could you post the sources somewhere to the education of us unwashed masses?

    Hats off to you Brennen :)
  • I don't have a tutorial...not yet, anyway.

    For my colors I use a couple of tricks.

    First of all, I always use a transparent (experiment with the blending modes) layer of some sort of parchment that I get from Deviant Art or some such place. This "keys" the colors together, which is an old trick among painters. You can make any two colors work together if you glaze them both with a third color. If the parchment layer doesn't key them enough, add another layer with a solid color, again playing with the blending mode and transparency.

    Also, a neat trick is to find a map or painting you like and just steal the colors using the color picker. You can drag and drop an image directly from a browser directly into Illustrator, pick the colors, and make a new swatch.

    I'm in the middle of some illustrations at the moment, but I might have time to do a few tutorials next month if there is enough interest.
  • Brennen, do you mean using the "blending" layer on top of the others, or below?

    I'm a dabbler in inkscape, and I would really appreciate such a tutorial, personally. If you can spare the time, it will be a very useful resource.
  • edited May 2008
    Disclosure: I run ProFantasy, makers of CC3. Here are a few city maps made with CC3.

    With the Cartographer's Annual 2008:
    image

    With CD Pro:
    image

    This is a quick beta sample from the forthcoming CD3:
    image

    John Speed style, using the Cartographer's Annual 2007
    image

    With plain CC3 plus the Cartographer's Annual 2007:
    image

    With the Cartographer's Annual 2007
    image
  • I like very much the last four, especially the fake parchment one (I guess I'm a sucker for fake parchment :) ) and the very medieval looking "john speed" style one

    Keep em coming :)
  • The New Venice one is exactly what I'm looking for.
  • Rob,

    That map is built with CC3 using the City Designer package and one of the Cartographers Annual kits, which are additional purchases. You'll drop at least $100 to get the stuff. But the maps are very nice.
  • The Weary Feet Inn?

    Graham
  • edited May 2008
    Posted By: Jeffrey StraszheimRob,

    That map is built with CC3 using the City Designer package and one of the Cartographers Annual kits, which are additional purchases. You'll drop at least $100 to get the stuff. But the maps are very nice.
    Actually, it was done using CC3 plus the Annual, and it could happily have been done with just CC3. I wouldn't recommend this to a novice, though.

    --
    Simon
  • edited May 2008
    Posted By: Pelgrane
    Actually, it was done using CC3 plus the Annual, and it could happily have been done with just CC3. I wouldn't recommend this to a novice, though.
    True. I was quite impressed, for instance, on how they achieved the "overlapping street" effect in that package. Such a simple trick for such a major time saver.
  • Posted By: renatoramBrennen, do you mean using the "blending" layer on top of the others, or below?

    I'm a dabbler in inkscape, and I would really appreciate such a tutorial, personally. If you can spare the time, it will be a very useful resource.
    I don't know how it's done in Inkscape, but in Illustrator, I usually put the blending layer (and the texture layer) on top. I could do it by making the other objects transparent, but I find that it's much easier on the CPU to do it this way. I use lots of fill patterns and brushes, and create object styles which save me TONs of time.

    I'm going to download Inkscape now. I'd prefer to do some tutorials in Illustrator, but I realize not everyone can justify buying it. It will be an excuse to finally learn it.
  • I picked up Dundjinni (http://www.dundjinni.com/) at Gencon 05.

    It produces some nice looking maps, although I haven't done a whole lot with it myself. I know Green Ronin used it to produce some example combat maps in the Warhammer FRP 2E book.
  • @Eynowd: actually, if you just go to the dundjinni forum and download a ton of the free material, you can achieve pretty much the same results of dj with whatever graphics program (such as inkscape, gimp, krita, and so on)

    ...just saying :)
  • Probably not a bad idea. I did a lot of CorelDraw years ago (I was paid to do it full-time for six months at one point), so I still think like that. Dundjinni has some nice features, but it seems very oriented towards designing dungeons or small buildings.

    So downloading stuff and using it in a vector graphics package is a nice idea. I've just downloaded Inkscape (which I hadn't even heard about until today) onto both my Windows laptop and my Ubuntu machine. I haven't given it a good playing with yet, but VERY early experiments look promising. It seems to be very much Corel like, which I approve of :)
  • Heh... several professional graphic artists are using Inkscape as a substitute to illustrator, so... yeah, fine piece of software. :)
  • Posted By: Rob DonoghueThe New Venice one is exactly what I'm looking for.
    How set are you on the idea that they have to be your own maps? I ask because I have a bunch of old, public domain maps of old cities and towns in books - basically like that New Venice style; I'd be happy to scan a few for you and send them your way if they'd be of use.
  • Pretty set, but mostly because this is more about the fact that I love fiddling with this stuff than anything else. :)

    -Rob D.
  • Hey, Dave... just upload them on a photo/image website and post a link: they can always come handy!
  • Ok, I'll scan some soon. In the meantime, there's a flickr pool called "Old Maps" that should get you going. When I put mine up, I'll load them to that group as well.
  • edited May 2008
    Posted By: Dave YounceOk, I'll scan some soon. In the meantime, there's aflickr pool called "Old Maps"that should get you going. When I put mine up, I'll load them to that group as well.
    This is super cool.

    In a few weeks, I'll choose a few and try to copy their styles using inkscape.
  • edited May 2008
    Here's a good tutorial about drawing maps using vector-based drawing programs:

    http://wikitravel.org/en/Wikitravel:How_to_draw_a_map
  • Fractal Mapper is a piece of junk. Well, not exactly, but it's very primitive compared to Campaign Cartographer but generally easier to use. CC is essentially an enhanced CAD program.
  • I've been pretty hard at work on some pen-and-ink illustrations for about a month now. It has me thinking about doing some old-school mapping...maybe lettering and all...analog, baby.
  • The maps for both of these two free Harn downloads were made with adobe illustrator:
    http://www.lythia.com/2008/05/tashal-upper-eastside/
    http://www.lythia.com/2008/05/eastside-city-block/
    AI has a bit of a learning curve. But IMO, its worth it, YMMV.

    This article shows waht can be done with a color village/town map:
    http://www.lythia.com/2008/05/erone-abbey/
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