Cartography Lessons 3

I’ll admit it. I love maps. Give me a book of maps for Christmas, and I’m a happy clam for several days while I explore ancient and lost lands through the ink, paper, glue and covers of a good book of maps. This love of maps extends into creating them as well. I suppose that was why I fell into the role of GM for most of my games. I was the guy that loved to draw maps. I’d take the old blue-lined graph paper and draw dungeon-crawl after dungeon-crawl. When I discovered hex maps, I dove into creating overland maps as well.

Years passed before I discovered the joys of large artist pads for my world maps. The freedom of not using any lines for guides was quite refreshing. I would create world after world just for the sake of being able to draw maps. Hardly any of the worlds grew flesh on the bones of the maps, but I had the maps in case I needed them.

In the end, many of the maps (dungeon, world and otherwise) have fallen to the wayside and been lost to the ages. I still have quite a few of them, but they’re fairly tattered and torn. A sign of a good life for a map.

In the past decade (or so) I’ve discovered the joy of digital maps. Here, I’m mainly speaking of Campaign Cartographer, Fractal Terrains and Dundjinni. There are other products out there to fill the digital map niche, but these three products are all I need to get going with the creations from the macro down to the micro.

Some people can’t stand doing maps digitally because there is a fairly steep learning curve. A friend of mine suggested that I give some lessons on the blog about how to do digital maps using the products that I know and love. I’ve decided that’s a good idea, so I’m going to start a semi-regular series of blog posts with images, screen captures, maps and text explaining how to go about creating maps.

I’ll probably start with the basic world maps, but I’ll interject details on how to draw cities, castles, dungeons, ships and everything in between. Who knows? Maybe I’ll create another world while I’m at it and see where things lead with it.

3 thoughts on “Cartography Lessons

  1. Saragon Sep 30,2009 7:33 AM

    Ever been to Cartographers’ Guild? It’s a site full of fantastic maps (in both senses of the word ‘fantastic’). Great forums, too, with a lot of people willing to make suggestions and post step-by-step production tutorials.

    I believe a lot of the RPG industry’s professional map-makers are on the site, too.

  2. Hungry Sep 30,2009 10:01 AM

    I tried to join them quite a few months ago, and they were having technical issues. I never could get my account created, so I forgot about the site.

    I’ll have to give it another shot and see if the glitch is gone.

    Thanks for reminding me of the site!

  3. Rhianni Oct 5,2009 10:42 AM

    I’ve tried CC several times but always fail. They make great maps but I see its failing is return on investment… time wise.
    It takes way too long to make a map vs how much enjoyment will be used in the game. World map perhaps or a city where the party is going to be in forever.

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