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17 July 2007 @ 06:46 pm
Maps to Imaginary Lands  

One of my hobbies obsessions is cartography.   Especially, imaginary cartography.  It might have started with the map included with The Hobbit  that I read first in third grade.   But I sort of doubt it.  I've always been fascinated with maps.  I'm also a rather good geography buff, spending hours with many a globe or atlas.   

I'm certain that fantasy literature's tendency to include maps within books only added fuel to that fire many years ago.

Possibly out of some misguided, youthful, belief that to write fantasy stories requires one to follow in the footsteps of Tolkien, when I started writing, I started drawing maps.   Not long after that, I discovered this marvelous game.  Dungeons & Dragons.  It seemed the culmination of all these ideals at the time. Fantasy, and maps!  And I could spend all the time I wanted crafting maps that (unlike my writing at those junior high years) would actually be used by people.   So besides writing, I spent a lot of time playing D&D and drawing maps.

Some time around college I got tired of D&D and role playing in general, instead I followed other outlets.  I still drew maps, at that point mostly for fictional worlds.  I'm sure somewhere I've got a large stack of maps for novel ideas that never went anywhere.  Possibly even more than writing scraps that never went anywhere.   Also during that time I seem to have discovered (if not consciously) that I could *gasp* write stories without a requisite map to go along with it.

After college, somewhere in the 90's I got back into D&D with my old gaming group.  It was a lot of fun, and though not quite like the days of my youth (in this case I mean that in a literal fashion) there was a lot of the same obsessions with maps and all that.   I got back into making maps for D&D and other games, and eventually ended up buying a computer program to help: Campaign Cartographer by Profantasy Software.  For a few years, I was heavily into mapping, creating all kinds of stuff for myself, for the public at large.  (For all intents and purposes, I released a number of those maps into the "Creative Commons" before that term actually was defined.  Some day, I just might do so in a more literal fashion.)  I even helped beta test a few of their products, and worked on maps for the Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas.  Profantasy Software is probably one of the best software companies I ever had dealings with.  Some of the best support around, and always a great product.  And add to that a great user-base community that genuinely supports each other to help make the best maps each person can.   I've been on lists one hundreth the size of that email list with more than a hundred times the flamewars.  Astounding.

Fast forward to the present.  Well, I still play D&D, though far less frequently than as a child.  I still draw maps, because, beyond enjoying a good game of rolling d20's, I simply enjoy crafting the maps themselves.  I'm now a marginal part of that community at best.  Still on the email list, though I hardly get the chance to read and respond.  I'm not as up-to-date with the software as I used to be.   When Profantasy came out with the latest version of their software: Campaign Cartographer 3, I kind of missed the boat.  Okay, so I was a touch busy having a son and all that.   I finally got around to getting myself a bit more up-to-date.   

Am I glad I did.  I'm floored with the new version.  This is hands down a marvelous upgrade, and what's more, it's worth every penny.  This really does warrant that full version number upgrade that they used to delineate it.  I'm still in the phase of relearning the software, to remember where things are, and determining how best to make use of the new tools, etc.  While the D&D Campaign I was running has broken up, and I don't have endless need to be creating new maps, I still find it a relaxing hobby that I hope to have time for the occasional creation again.

All of that was a very long-winded introduction to a map I created, and just wanted to show off.  This thumbnail should enable you to get to the larger version.   If you want to get to the much larger version, I think you double click on that version again.   But be warned the much larger version is about 1.7 MB.   And is set for screen size off most monitor sized scales.   That's to allow me to see the finer details.

*The map above was created with both CC3, and the Annual, an add on to enable a user to have even more style sets with which to make their map.  This style set is based upon the historical style of maps by Mercator and his contemporaries during that early part of the "Age of Exploration."

Current Mood: nerdynerdy
Hard Chowderedhorch on July 17th, 2007 07:14 pm (UTC)
This looks really cool. I wonder if CC3 is what they use for things like Ticket to Ride...
Edward Greavestemporus on July 17th, 2007 07:33 pm (UTC)
Hmm...well to me Ticket to Ride is a Beattles song, so I don't know if CC3 was used in the creation of what you're thinking or not. If it's a game, it's possible. I know some Roleplaying supplements make use of it for their products.
dqg_nealdqg_neal on July 17th, 2007 07:43 pm (UTC)
not a bad job. I didn't know that cc3 is that much of an improvement of cc2. It looks like you map is rather well thought out, unlike most of the folks that use campaign cartographer and try to submit work to be used in gaming products.
Edward Greavestemporus on July 17th, 2007 07:51 pm (UTC)
I think that if you look at the overall gamut of stuff, you'll find people of all skill levels. There are people whose work makes me feel like I'm a total yutz when it comes to these maps.

If my work seems better than others you may have seen submitted, I can only credit it with basing my ideas on real world stuff. Whenever possible, I start from, and imitate real maps. Just as with fiction, I find the real world is the best place from which to take inspiration.

simonjrogerssimonjrogers on July 17th, 2007 09:51 pm (UTC)
Nice map! Did you find the template and tools straightforward to use?
Edward Greavestemporus on July 17th, 2007 10:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks Simon. There were a few things that were a little bit kludgey at first. But, you know actually reading through the directions is generally advisable. Probably the only "disappointment" was when I created the custom sized map, it forced me to a certain aspect ratio. There was no option not to be in that aspect ratio. So the map ended up ~ 2800 x 2200, when the prior version was 2800 x 1800 (I think.) It just meant that I had to improvise a little bit of coastline.

The notable problem I had early on was understanding the tracing. It's easy once you get it, but before I did, I had a sort of hit or miss success rate. This is specifically where actually reading the directions was useful.
ex_l_clause on July 18th, 2007 03:33 am (UTC)
Tracing as in drawing lines over a scanned hand-drawn image? If that's indeed the case, then CC3 might get into my to-buy list because I'll need that kind of feature more than anything else. I'm still better at drawing by hand than in the computer, and that means I need a good graphic software with the ability to handle layers and over-tracing and all that kidn of stuff needed to transform a hand-drawn map into a good computer-rendered one.
Edward Greavestemporus on July 18th, 2007 09:41 am (UTC)
In this particular instance, I'm referring to a command that allows you to follow a line that all ready exists as a CC3 "object". That said, what I typically do, is scan in a starter image, and then use one of several methods to trace over the existing lines.

I have always been a big supporter of Profantasy's software. There can be a little bit of a learning curve when you start off, however, once you get past that, I find it easy to use. And their support, and user-base can't be beat.
uthorocuthoroc on July 18th, 2007 07:43 am (UTC)
Ed, excellent to see you working on CC maps again, I've still got some of your old maps as examples around here. :)

As for the custom sizes, with the template wizards it's always a choice of doing a simple map border and having it fully scaleable or doing an elaborate one and restricting custom sizes. I opted for the latter with the mercator style (obviously). If I had allowed rescaling at different ratios, the map border would have looked bad when going for other ratios.

You can give it a try by opening the template and changing the content of the map note "Resize" to SCALEXY or STRETCH. With "Stretch" you might have some success if you put in some extra work to polish the resulting map border.
blue_23blue_23 on July 17th, 2007 09:59 pm (UTC)
Fan-freakin-tastic! I love this map. Of course, I've loved your maps for quite some time, especially the ones you've made for me. ;)

The styles of the forests and coastlands and the like are what do it for me - they give it such distinctive flavor, like a hand illuminated map. Like the difference between a watch and a timepiece.

The one thing I'm not sure I love it's the colored borders for the political divisions. Very effective, but a different feel.

Fantastic job!

Edward Greavestemporus on July 17th, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
I think its more a question of the color choices for the colored borders. Hand colored borders was actually quite common. However, my specific choices might leave a bit to be desired.
(Anonymous) on July 29th, 2008 03:39 pm (UTC)
discount floor mat
Keep up this great resource.
Edward Greavestemporus on July 29th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC)
Re: discount floor mat
No intention of removing it at the moment. Would love to know what you find great about it though.

Edited at 2008-07-29 03:44 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous) on February 2nd, 2009 12:32 am (UTC)
Nifty map....
Nice use of CC3. The map has a 1600's/1700's feel to it. If you like Tolkien and would like to do that style of map, pick up the Cartographer's Annual from Jan 08 at http://sub.profantasy.com/2008/january08.html. It has a Pete Fenlon style pack (Mr. Fenlon did all the maps for Iron Crown Enterprises Middle Earth Role Playing). Also check out cartographersguild.com, you'll find 100's of maps, a friendly community, and numerous tutorials on using CC3, Photoshop, Gimp, Inkscape, and more.