Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Map Building for Fun and Profit

  Last weekend I decided to spend some time with the excellent GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) program for doing some image manipulation and design work.  Specifically, I needed to create a good map overview for the next game we are planning.  The map is to be used as the background for the levels screen.   The user is progressing from location to location, where each location is a new level.  Now I could have just hand-drawn a map like those in the Tolkien books, but I wanted a more realistic look.  Hey, its the details that can make something interesting.  
  I have known about GIMP for a long time, as it is free alternative to such programs like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.   I have used it whenever MS Paint or Art Text could not get the job done.  I don't use it often due to my inexperience with the tool.  Once I strayed off the simple path and started playing with the various options in GIMP, I would get frustrated and shut it down.  It was a matter of getting familiar enough with the tool to make it useful more often.  I used this map project to build up those skills a little more.   I also ran through some of the tutorials at the Cartographer's Guild, which really helped me a lot to understand how GIMP can be used to create nice maps.  

Original Map Drawing

GIMP Designed Map
  I am not 100% happy with the results, but now understand the layers used to create the look a lot better.  The map is also needs additional features like rivers, roads, and cities.  I imagine that a Blender 3D rendered image could make a great backdrop for the mountains and some of the more detailed geography.  Then I could use GIMP to enhance the look, at more shades and colors.  Maybe I will try this out next weekend.  

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