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JediCartographer Q&A/Tech Support
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Author:  Jedicartographer [ Tue Feb 24, 2009 2:26 pm ]
Post subject:  JediCartographer Q&A/Tech Support

Instead of doing a Tutorial like my predecessors have done before, I figured I would do a Q&A thread about the map making process, and kind of do a “tech support” thread where people that use Paint Shop or similar programs can get help in making there own maps.

I will give you a brief rundown of the map process:

Design: This is where I get graph paper and draw out what I’m going to do.

Layout: I usually take the drawn map, scan it to my computer, and than trace over the lines using a vector tool. A vector tool basically is a line drawing tool.

Initial Design: this is where come up with the initial “feel” of the map, and come up with the art and effects for the floor. After Layout, and initial Design, I have an empty map. I also add my doors at this phase

Map Fill: in this phase, I make all my map object and fill them into the empty map.

Post production. I add lighting, terrain marking, Text, and prepare the map for printing.


The program I am currently using Is Paint Shop Pro X2 photo edition, but older editions of paint shop can be found and work almost as well, My version is about 70 Dollars and you can get it anywhere like best buy, or Target. Older version can be as cheap as 25 Dollars or 30 Dollars.

That’s about all I have, And I will check back if you all have questions!

Author:  kronovan [ Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: JediCartographer Q&A/Tech Support

Hey JC, coincidentally I'm working on a map for another game that I'm stuggling with. A lot of my struggles are due to my being new to paint app's; I have more of a background in autocad and GIS. Currently I'm struggling along with GIMP, but I should be on Photoshop by the end of the week.

I'm curious how many layers you use per map; I.e. do you use a layer for you rectangular grid, layer for your buildings (wall, doors, windows etc), a layer for ground objects, additional layers for objects at different elevations, etc? You mention you draw vector lines intitially, so I'm curious if you use paths when you work with them? Paths seem to be the hardest thing me to come to terms with because of the ease of object grouping on demand I'm used to in all vector apps; not to mention they're as flakey as anything in GIMP. :(

I'm also curious about what types of tools you find the most useful; i.e. standard brush, airbrush, pen tool, fill tool? I've been doing a lot of experimenting, but I feel like I'm wasting time not having any clue what tool I should be focusing on. They all seem capable of similar brush strokes, texture and gradient effects; is there one particular tool you use the most?

Author:  Jedicartographer [ Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: JediCartographer Q&A/Tech Support

Good Questions!

1. Typically a map for me can be lots and lots of layers that I merge gradually along the way, typically it ends up about 5 Layers: The ground, the objects, the walls and Doors, the terrain marking, and the Text. Usually the grid I merge with the ground/floor layer.

2. most the time as I mentioned I trace my drawings with vectors, and yes most the times those tracings end up my actual walls on my maps. If vectors mess with you a bit,a nd I've had problems in the past with them, Instead of using the vector tool, try using the selection tool to make long narrow rectangles and just flood fill the selections with black. after you do that make the black walls a RASTER layer. All the walls on my coruscant maps were made like that.

3. Tools I use: I used to use the Airbrush alot, especially for foliage. My felucia map is full of Airbrushed layers, So I think it can be quite useful. one thing I've learned with Airbrushing, is LESS IS MORE!! just play with the settings and come up with settings you like, AND SAVE THE SETTINGS!!!

Another tool I ise alot of is the Preset Shape Vector tool in Paintshop, I'd say 90 percent of my objects are made this way lately. It gives the objects that black border that gives it an illustrated look, and really helps bring the maps to life, and gives them an authentic look. I make my objects at 150 DPI sometimes 100 DPI, and I set the lines to about 3 Pixels wide, sometimes 2 pixels, it all depends on what looks the best.

Another tool thats vital to map making is Drop Shadow. Obviously it gives depth and perception to a map, but I also use it as an illumination tool. You can change the color of the shadow to like yellow or red, and then spread the blur out a bit and you have the illusuion of glowing.

The tool I use the most is certainly the Selections tool and the FLood Fill. I could write a whole book on different ways to use the selection tool and the flood fill. I reall use it the most for making floors. the CPREKSTA tutorial on the-holocron.com gives real good ways to use the flood fill tool with Gradients.

I am not too familiar with GIMP, i tried it out of curiosity and could'nt get into it. So photoshop is certainly a great way to go. IF you onnly using it for Maps, I would consider Paintshop Pro.

I can give you step by step instructions on specific task if you need, just let me know.

Author:  kronovan [ Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: JediCartographer Q&A/Tech Support

Awesome answers JC, I think you just saved me hours of wasted effort. :) I have your map pack #1 so I'll cross reference some of the things you explained and mentioned. With as little as I've learned so far, I did figure out that a lot of the Felucia map was airbrushed. That maps a work of art and my daughters favorite; she keeps asking me for some elves to play with on it. :wink:

Author:  Jedicartographer [ Wed Feb 25, 2009 7:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: JediCartographer Q&A/Tech Support

Thanks, I'm glad you like it. It's probably one of my least favorites, so I'm glad others get good use out of it. I have played a few good games on it though!

Author:  kronovan [ Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: JediCartographer Q&A/Tech Support

Jedicartographer wrote:
The tool I use the most is certainly the Selections tool and the FLood Fill. I could write a whole book on different ways to use the selection tool and the flood fill. I reall use it the most for making floors. the CPREKSTA tutorial on the-holocron.com gives real good ways to use the flood fill tool with Gradients.


JC, just a quick question on what you stated above in your last post. Would what you're referring to be the rectangular maquee selection tool in Photoshop? If it is, I'm curious how you use the flood fill tool with it. The selection tools in Photoshop makes some sense, but the equivalent tools in GIMP are about as convoluted as anything I've ever seen; only topped IMO by the truly craptastic path tool.

Author:  Jedicartographer [ Tue Mar 03, 2009 10:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: JediCartographer Q&A/Tech Support

I'm not sure what you mean by Marquee, but if you are talking about how theres a moving perforated line when you use the selection tool, then just move the flood fill Icon inside the selcted area and slick the mouse. That should fill just the area you selected with whatever color, pattern, or gradient you choose.

Author:  Jedicartographer [ Tue Mar 03, 2009 10:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: JediCartographer Q&A/Tech Support

yeah you gotta ditch GIMP, go and spend 30 dollars on an older version of Paintshop Pro. you wont' regret it.

Author:  kronovan [ Tue Mar 03, 2009 11:28 am ]
Post subject:  Re: JediCartographer Q&A/Tech Support

Jedicartographer wrote:
yeah you gotta ditch GIMP, go and spend 30 dollars on an older version of Paintshop Pro. you wont' regret it.


I'm already well into the ditching process. My sister -professional animator- gave me a photoshop license, but unfortunately it was for v.5.0 which is so old it doesn't even support importing vector file formats...doh. :( And none of her seriously huge library of plugins provided that, so needless to say it's a no go. She has a v.7 license that's being used until the end of this week by one of her employees, so hopefully I'll have at least 7 by the weeks end. I'd love to just buy Paint Shop as I've mucked with it a few times in the past, but unfortunately it isn't cheap in my neck of the woods; $130 minimum. I'm also running on a fairly wimpy laptop 1.5 Ghz w/768 MB RAM and only a wimpy Intel graphics chip w/64 MB, so I'm not confident a new version of Paint Shop or Photo Shop would even run on it. I do have a Wacom table w/mouse courtesy of my sister though. :wink:

Thanks for the tip on using the selection rectangle with fills. Do you by chance know if PhotoShop 7 provides the selection tools you mentioned and does it handle vector file imports?

[Edit] I thought I better add that by vector file formats I'm refering to a Windows Meta File (WMF), Computer Graphics Metafile (CGM) or Post Script (PS) file. I know PhotoShop likes EPS's, but I've had such a bad experience with that format in the past. Being able to import autocad DXF's or DWG's would also be a plus, but that's probably just wishful thinking on my behalf.

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