Worldbuilding #2 – Tools

Welcome to the second edition of the Worldbuilding series. I apologize for the delay of this article, as I have several other things to do and the last article was information and not so much building.

This article unfrotunately will be informational as well, but I promise you, the next article we will get our hands dirty. In fact, think of worldbuild as making pottery. Now we can take a lump of clay and start molding our shape, but at best, it will never be fantastic. So in order to have great pottery, we need a pottery wheel.

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That is what this article is about is the tools for worldbuilding. Now there are talented artists out there who can take a piece of paper and put it together and scan it in a computer. There are even some artists you can design a map by hand on a computer with no assistance. I am neither of those people. I question if I am an artist despite my map designs that I’ve accomplished.

Click to enlarge

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A note I will make from here, is that all my instructions are for PC only. Mac users who wish to follow along can do so and still get something out of it, but realize that I don’t own a Mac and not all programs can be used natively on a Mac and might require you to get additional tools in order to follow along, or get other programs to do what I instruct.

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So lets get underway and talk about the tools we’ll need to make such wonderful maps for your story. The most important tool is Photoshop. Photoshop is a one stop tool that will accomplish everything we need. The only problem is…it’s expensive…very expensive. Once upon a time, it cost close to $1000 for a single license, now you can get it for $50 as a monthly license.

If you’re like me, you don’t have that kind of money. If you are doing self-publishing, you want your money for cover art or professional editing and anything else is just frivolous. So you could consider pirating…but I STRONGLY recommend against that. Software manufactures, including Adobe, have ways of taking a picture and figuring out if your copy of their software is legitimate, and trust me, you don’t want to be prosecuted for pirating.

So your next best option is getting Paint.net. No that is not a website, that’s the name of the program. The website is getpain.net. Paint.net is what we call freeware, which means, it’s free (obviously). I wouldn’t say it is a complete replacement for Photoshop, but it is very comparable. More than that, anything you need to enhance your experience, you can download plugins: extra elements to add to the program to doing sophisticate works.

And there are a few things we need to get. First we need to get BoltBaitPack. This will give us more tools than we need, but a few very crucial ones. You will see a part where it asks for money, this is a donation only. You don’t have to give money, but if you can, great. The link is right below the first set of arrows (easy to miss). Next is MadJikPack. Again, a lot of tools, but a few crucial ones. The last tool we need will be Shape3D. This wonderful tool can essentially take a square and make it into a globe (sphere). I’ll let you figure out why that is so wonderful. You’ll note the website is not in english, don’t worry about that, and hit the blue ZIP folder under Mirror.

For the most part, your directory to put the *.dll files will be as follows:

C:Program FilesPaint.NETEffects

If you are like me and put your programs say your D: drive, then you will need to go there instead of C:. If you normally put things in C:, feel free to do so, I am a power user so I configure my computer a much different way than most.

If you haven’t used Paint.net (PDN) before, this is a good place to start. http://www.getpaint.net/doc/latest/MainWindow.html

Be sure to look at all the items to get yourself familiar with it. I will try to be exact in my instructions, but it will help if you get yourself familiar with how things work. Pay particular attention to the magic wand and layers.

Some other tools that we’ll need:

G.Projector – Allows us to to take any map and render into one of 100 global and regional map projections. It’s a cute little tool and good for Mac and PC. Thank you NASA.

AutoRealm – A program that can help us add more elements to our maps. It has a bit of a learning curve on it and it is design more for a fresh map than an already configured one. I include this if you want to play around with it, but I won’t be using this too much.

That does it for this article. Next article, we will start building our land masses, and as we get our pictures together, we will be exploring different elements in how they work and why they’re important, expanding from the first article. If you have any questions about what we’ve discussed so far, please ask and I will try to point you in the right direction.

Once again, start thinking about what you want in your world. If you’re like me, you don’t know what your final design will be until you see it, and this series of article takes that into consideration…still, get some ideas of what you want for your story.

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