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I want to draw a battle map for the cover of my book.

By battle map I mean an image like this:

Sample battle map

What tools can I use in order to draw such map easily?

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  • $\begingroup$ This is open ended because many different tools can be used easily. How will you decide which answer to accept? $\endgroup$ – JDSweetBeat Mar 27 '15 at 14:22
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    $\begingroup$ Here are some good recommendations: softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/395/… $\endgroup$ – James Mar 27 '15 at 15:47
  • $\begingroup$ Pencil, ink, and paper? $\endgroup$ – KSmarts Mar 27 '15 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ @DustinJackson I'm looking for a tool with prepackaged assets (arrows, landscape symbols etc.), which I can re-use legally in my map. I don't need anything fancy, it's enough that the reader looks at the image and thinks - ah, this is a battle! $\endgroup$ – DP_ Mar 27 '15 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ @DustinJackson Also, the tool I'm looking for should work for people, who cannot draw. I cannot draw. And if I do, I usually draw straight lines in 90 and 45 degrees angle. So pencil, ink and paper won't work for me. :) $\endgroup$ – DP_ Mar 27 '15 at 19:35
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If you don't have (or are too cheap to spend) the dinero for the optimal solution, which is the Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Illustrator) suite of editors, you could generally use Inkscape, as it is free, and being vector-based (so editable), it produces images that scale better and are more controllable than those directly from GIMP. This is made in Inkscape in about 5 minutes, eyeballing your sample map:

5minutes

However, others swear by GIMP, so your mileage might vary. Probably you could use them in combination.

You can get fancy stuff out of (free) Inkscape (+GIMP): enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 Holy Smokes! That top one only took you 5 minutes 'eye-balling'? $\endgroup$ – Aaru Mar 28 '15 at 2:45
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    $\begingroup$ I drew maps by hand as a kid by looking at an atlas, so I'm decent at eye-balling, but this Inkscape stuff does not really take any dexterity: you can edit stuff after you draw it. Plus you can use layers if you want. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Mar 28 '15 at 2:53
  • $\begingroup$ Are you a member of the Cartographer's Guild? $\endgroup$ – Vincent Mar 28 '15 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ Lurker. Are you? $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Mar 28 '15 at 15:15
  • $\begingroup$ Inkscape is truly amazing for quickly producing this kind of diagrams $\endgroup$ – John Walthour Jun 17 '15 at 20:33
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The most easiest way would be GIMP or Photoshop. GIMP is free.

Here is a 5 minute work example, with a computer mouse not a drawing tablet.

enter image description here

The arrows are ugly as hell, but you can use plugins like this one:

http://www.maketecheasier.com/draw-arrows-in-gimp/

Another solution is Inkscape (https://inkscape.org)

Here is an example what you can do with it (not by me obiously). image link

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    $\begingroup$ Could you back that up, perhaps by showing a battle map of yours or link to someone else's published version, made using The GIMP? Even better if you explain how long it took! Unfortunately I think it is likely that expertise with a drawing tool makes things "easy" using it, compared to different tools. I might use The GIMP for this task too . . . but only because I have spent many hours in it. $\endgroup$ – Neil Slater Mar 27 '15 at 8:08
  • $\begingroup$ I never used it for that, I just know you can. To make the brown and green smudges you can just use the standard paint brush tool. The black lines you can draw with the pencil tool. I don't know for sure but I am pretty certain the programs have standard forms for arrow to make, and even if not you can easily make those in paint and import them. If you have 0 experience with painting programs I'd reckon it takes you an hour or two to make something like this. Just use a tutorial here and there. $\endgroup$ – Robin Mar 27 '15 at 8:29
  • $\begingroup$ I think you are looking for a drag and drop solution but I don't think if this exists, and if it does chances are you'll have to pay for it. But if you do find a free one, tell me here :p $\endgroup$ – Robin Mar 27 '15 at 8:30
  • $\begingroup$ This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post. $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode Mar 27 '15 at 8:42
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    $\begingroup$ The questions was a tool, I gave a tool. But I shall clarify it nonetheless. $\endgroup$ – Robin Mar 27 '15 at 8:47
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I would recommend a vector program like Inkscape or illustrator since you can select and move the different elements at all time. Or you can use a raster program like Gimp, Paint or Photoshop but each time you modify a shape, you risk losing some pixels.

  • You start by making the symbols you will use often. Like the rectangle below the names and the arrows. The program should have shapes somewhere to make rectangles, triangles or arrows. The shortcut is U in Photoshop. Make a copy of the symbols and duplicate them (duplicate the layer or use the duplicate tool: S) each time you add one on the map.
  • For the colored shapes (landmass and forests): use the pen:B and draw the exterior of the zone. To save time, you can bucket fill the interior of the zone with the bucket: G or you can color it manually.
  • Roads.: Use the pen with black or ideally a dark brown with a small radius. Do the same thing for the rivers but in blue and with a larger pen.
  • The building: made with rectangles that are empty or used white in the interior. Stack some rectangles and when the building is ok, rotate it as you wish.
  • Labels, use a font that is easy to read like that one. Arial or Helvetica will do the job. You can rotate it but do so before pixelating the text.

I think that's all. Have I missed something ?

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You can use a professional map creation tool like ProFantasy. You would have to buy it. You can see that the final quality is good and may be worth the purchase.

There are a lot of symbol sets as add-ons you can find here.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding Rod! What are the main advantages of that tool? Is it free or does it cost money and if so, how much would one probably have to pay to use this tool? If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – Sec SE - clear Monica's name Aug 10 '17 at 14:15
  • $\begingroup$ Edited for clarity. $\endgroup$ – Rod Aug 10 '17 at 14:22
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You can give a try to http://mashupforge.com is a web tool to make and share maps. It is very versatile and easy to use but it isn't exactly what you are searching for (although it can be used for that).

If you want to use your own icons or background layers, you can upload your images. To make this I recommend to use a vector based drawing tool like Inkscape to draw your stuff.

For example in 3 minutes I was able to create this but you can make maps like this Skyrim map.

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When I came across this question, I thought of Inkscape too.

Battlegames magazine (as it used to be known) issue 13 had an article on using it for just this type of thing, which is now available online as a PDF.

It's a tutorial based article for people new to Inkscape and digital map making. I have worked through this article myself for simple maps.

http://kriegsspiel.homestead.com/files/Accessories/BG13-computer_cartography.pdf

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I really like paint.net It's free. And it's like paint (super easy to use) but with layers and transparency. Actually it's kind of a cross between photoshop and paint.

>> paint.net

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In addition to Tanasa's excellent recommendations, you can also use AutoREALM if you're on Windows (or through WinE for Linux). This is their SourceForge site.

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