12 August 2007

Cartography For The Directionally Challenged

I love maps.

I took mapping in college and decided I would someday name a dog or horse - but not a kid- "Universal Transverse Mercator Grid". (I'm kinda rethinking that notion. 'Here, Transverse!' or "Here, Mercator!' just doesn't sound quite right....) My goal in the military was to go to Defense Mapping School. Well, I ended up at Ft. Belvoir (before they moved engineering out to Ft. Leonard Wood) but couldn't quite get the engineering tentacles out of me long enough to wrangle a transfer.

Terrain analysis, geodetic survey, photolithography, imagery and geospatial information, what's not to like? I guess I always was a geek at heart. Yes, I have maps of Middle Earth, the Neutral Zone, and the ancient Mediterranean. In my office I have maps of the county, maps of the state, maps of coal mine and methane well locations, BLM maps and ariel survey maps that appeal to both my geek and artistic sides. The only thing I don't have is a map of the surface of Mars. Yet. I will admit to being defeated by a map of Venice, Italy. I never did find my way around there using a map. Something to do with the canals I think. I hate modern maps, they have no personality, no individuality, and no warnings on the edges "Here There Be Monsters" (Highway Patrol)".

I have to confess to owning Pro Fantasy's Campaign Cartographer. (CC) Talk about a steep learning curve. Yikes. I've had it for over a year and I'm still trying to figure out how to manipulate sheets and layers. I have several maps for my fantasy worlds drawn out on paper, I had notions of transfering them over to CC3. We'll see. I have a drafting table, really big sheets of paper and watercolors, so I may just admit to myself I'm not as geeky as I think I am, and draw them out by hand.

But I hate being defeated by something as simple as a highly complex computer program with intricate commands and self drawing fractals. So I'm playing, because I'm not ready to admit defeat and read the stinkin' help file, I'm from the no guts, no glory school of mapping.

So far the score is maps- 4, glory- 0. Here's a map I made in Campaign Cartographer 3. Very basic, but it helps me visualize the area for a short story I'm contemplating. (click for enlargement)


16 comments:

Anonymous said...

From the banks of the Susquehanna...the bums and winos proclaim.... "That Connie,she's smarter than she looks!"

Constance said...

Nice peanut gallery you got yourself there. *g* Just remember, Bro, what goes around, comes around.

Then usually falls over.

Carla said...

I like maps, too, but I've never got beyond printed Ordnance Survey maps for places that exist and hand-drawn paper sketches for ones that don't. That software program looks amazing, but way out of my league!

Constance said...

It's way out of my league too, but that never stopped me from mucking about. *g* I do better handdrawn ones in Painter than this program right now.

Folding maps, now that's another story...

Anonymous said...

I have NEVER,been able to refold a map to it's original status after unfolding.....but....I don't look smart.

Constance said...

It's an evil plot. Looking smart or BEING smart has nothing to do with it. Get yourself a map gnome. Or learn where you're going without direction...

Still working on that one. :P

Scott Oden said...

Oooooo . . . shiny!

I like maps. I like drawing maps. Sadly, though, I have all the artistic skill of . . . well, of a drunk orcgnome. I've managed to make a few maps in PaintShop, but I usually just make a rough sketch and hand it over to a friend who has artistic ability to spare (see the download map on my website).

More modern maps need blank spaces at the edge. "This is --" Gasp! "--South Alabama! Many have gone there, but none have returned!"

Anonymous said...

The heck with maps!
Three letters....GPS!

Constance said...

There are maps of Southern Alabama?? Oh, yeah, the section on the US map that says "Abandon Hope, Ye That Enter Here"...

Constance said...

GPS? Glorious Puddin' Spiderman? Grosse Pointe South? Giveus Pointers See? Great Pigeon Spot?

My brother, the UberGeek...

Anonymous said...

Coming from you,that's a compliment!

Anonymous said...

And BTW...isn't it about time for a Max and Merlin "PR" spot???

Gabriele C. said...

I'm lazy - and hopeless when it comes to drawing anything more complex than a line mannikin or what they're called in English - so I stick to alternate worlds taking place in Europe with the country names a bit differently. :)

Constance said...

Bro, I knew the Harley was just a redneck disguise. The BMW shows the true you. GEEK

Constance said...

Gabriele, I confess to having many Roman fort and Roman empire books with maps and layouts. I warp one of my fantasy worlds around them. :)

We call them 'stick figures' over here.

Constance said...

I need new Max and Merlin pics for a proper PR campaign. I don't have enough pictures of them. *grabs camera and heads outside*