Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Cartographist

One might get the impression that I like maps. The name of my small press is The Fantasy Cartographic. The name of this blog is Carto Cacography. My online handle in many forums is ‘The Cartographist.’ The last is perhaps the greatest conceit of all and shall be the topic of this small post.

‘The Cartographist’ came about when I found my way to the Cartographer’s Guild which is, if you haven’t visited, the absolute best resource for gamers (and non-gamers alike) who are interested in the creation of maps of a fantasy or sci-fi nature. I cannot say enough good about that website. You need to go there. Now. Seriously.

The main draw is their forums. They recently surpassed 10,000 members and are growing steadily. With few exceptions, those members are people who are into crafting maps. (The exceptions are those people who are into looking at maps.) Most are amateurs, although I would dare anyone to call much of what is produced there amateurish. The maps are incredible—of cities, towns, game worlds, dungeons, buildings, space craft, galaxies, and a whole lot more. But that really doesn’t tell you why is the Guild is so good.

They are not only into crafting maps, they are into helping you craft your own. They are friendly, helpful, and courteous and will provide feedback if you are working on a map; they will offer helpful hints; they will make suggestions; they will even teach you how to use the various software out there to make maps. The Guild is an incredible resource for tutorials for Photoshop (PS), Gimp, and a whole host of other applications. The core group of moderators are all fantastic people and their enthusiasm and kindness have extended to the entire community. You cannot go wrong if you go there.

Of course, the conceit of a handle such as ‘The Cartographist’ assumes that I am good at making maps. Now, I love maps, I can doodle them all day long, I have drawn literally hundreds in my life. I believe that my maps are quite good—especially if one shares my sensibilities for what makes a good map. But I have to admit that there are many people in the world who can produce absolutely incredible maps (and a lot of those at the Cartographer’s Guild). Once I came to see the quality of the work done by many many people at the Guild, I felt that perhaps I should change my handle. It was almost as if I was trumpeting loudly something that deserved perhaps a loud kazoo. I contemplated changing it—for quite a while actually.

‘The Cartographist’ is still my handle.

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