[RPG] What’s the best software for mapmaking?


I would like to know if Paint.NET and Paint Shop Pro are the best tools for creating fantasy cartography. Does better software exist? If so, what is the software, and what specific features make it better for creating fantasy maps than Paint.NET and Paint Shop Pro?

Best Answer

I use Photoshop mainly, as do many professional cartographers. I often use Illustrator in combination with Photoshop. Things like initial outlines of coasts and things I find best in Illustrator, but then move to Photoshop for the real polishing of the look and feel.

Modern style floor-plan maps I've started to make in Flash, it's just turned out to be the fastest method for me.

Sometimes I'll use Autorealm to generate some fractal coastlines or rivers quickly as well.

I did persevere with Campaign Cartographer for many years, but found it hard to use and the maps always looked like every other CC map.

Here's the kind of look and feel I'm able to achieve quickly in Photoshop.

Luquin Sea Map

And here's a map I'm making in a style that I really couldn't imagine doing in anything other than Photoshop.

Port Jonna Map

Any of these styles should be possible in other programs like Paint.net or PaintShopPro. Part of what I try to maintain whilst using Photoshop is to make things as fluid as possible with regard to change, so I use a lot of non-destructive style techniques using adjustment layers and layer masks, I'm not sure if Paint.net or PSP have all those features.