Creating Graphics

Rollo's picture
Rollo
September 22, 2012 - 8:08am
Yo!

I like writing stories and scenarios and have numerous ideas floating about in my somewhat balding nugget. The trouble is, I need graphics to augment and clarify the stuff I write.

As far as problems go that is no small thing for a couple reasons:

1) I am no artists - in fact, I have difficulty drawing stick figures tyvm!
2) Since I am no artist I have absolutely ZERO exposure to and experience with drawing and/or picture manipulation programs.
3) When it comes to computers or technical stuff like that (deciphering software for example) it's pretty much all Greek to me - that's probably stating it mildly actually...it's more like Ferengi or something. :P

My current project basically requires me to have a dozen or so maps (deck plans) and that one thing is pretty much holding up my whole project. So I went online the other day and spent several hours researching drawing software. In the free category I found three programs that seemed to be raved about the most (Paint.net, GIMP 2 and Inkscape) and downloaded them. In the pay category I found one that looked promising: Dundjinni, though I haven't bought that one yet - but am thinking about it.

For terrain and world type maps I found AutoREALM (free) and Fractal Terrains 3 (pay). I've DLed AutoREALM and it seems pretty easy but can't be used for drawing starship deck plans. I haven't bought FT3 yet but am thinking about it.

Now I've spent a couple days pouring over them all and have made absolutely no progress. If you can draw anything resembling deck plans with these progs I have no idea how. Seems like I've just wasted a colossal amount of time.

Anyway, does anyone have any suggestions? Is there some program out there that an illiterate gibbering baboon such as myself could actually use to draw some quality deck plans for SF starships?
I don't have to outrun that nasty beast my friend...I just have to outrun you! Wink
Comments:

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
September 22, 2012 - 9:34am
I do my deck plans in inkscape.  They aren't fancy but they work.  You can see examples in the ships posted here: http://starfrontiers.info/wiki/index.php/Starship_Compendium .  I did the Dart and the Nightwind (as well as the Jump Tug from issue 11 of the SFMan) all using inkscape.

If that style works for you, and you can sketch out the decks free hand, I could turn them into deck plans for you without too much trouble.

Another free tool that people like is MapTools.  I don't know how well it would work for deck plans but I'm sure it could be done.  OnceFarOff or w00t could give you pointers on that one.

Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

FirstCitizen's picture
FirstCitizen
September 22, 2012 - 9:54am
Thanks for posting refs to new tools, I am checking out AutoREALM now, looks interesting for terrain maps!

I recently started playing around with Fire Alpaca.  It's a Paint.NET/GIMP style program with better line art tools (snap grids, smoothing, good tablet integration and such).

For building/deck plans I've messed around with MSFT Visio - it's a paid MS Office tool but has the nice feature that all the objects conform to US or Metric measures and they have tons of templates for office/home furniture, premade rooms, walls, doors, outdoor stuff, etc.

I've tried using OpenOffice Draw as well (Visio for free), but am not happy with the results as SVG objects and the default colors are a bit amateurish compared to the crispness of Visio.  Of course I may have to try InkScape to make some custom SVG objects to import into OO Draw.

Rollo's picture
Rollo
September 22, 2012 - 10:16am
@Terl Obar:
Yeah, those plans are fine with me. Now that I know it can be done I'll fiddle with Inkscape some more and see if I can figure it out. Thank you for the offer to re-work hand-drawn maps for me. I know you are busy though and I'm trying to get my submissions self-sufficient; at least, as self sufficient as possible anyway. So I have to learn how to do this so I don't have to pester the community for graphics.

I have tried MapTools before and couldn't get it to work right at all. Likely operator error I suppose.

@FirstCitizen:
I have created a map (of sorts) in Open Office like you mentioned. It was to maps what a stick figure is to a portrait though I think. It got the point across - but wasn't very good by any means. Don't get me wrong, I don't have any expectations of being able to create an awe-inspiring map like can be found on the Internet and whatnot. But it'd sure be nice to be able to produce something that's at least somewhat decent.

I'll go pound away at Inkscape and see what I can come up with...
I don't have to outrun that nasty beast my friend...I just have to outrun you! Wink

OnceFarOff's picture
OnceFarOff
September 22, 2012 - 10:52am
I use Map Tool and it's really pretty straightforward. The trick is to find images that you want to use, such as consoles, doors, furniture, etc. They're available for free download (non commercial use only) at sites like these:
http://www.musicalquests.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=4495
http://rpgmapshare.com/?q=gallery

Here's a couple maps I did:
http://www.starfrontiers.us/node/6794
http://www.starfrontiers.us/node/6759

All of these were one in map tool using images I downloaded from the two sites above, and basic shapes such as lines, circles, squares, etc. I'm not good with graphics at all, and I find maptool very easy to use and I think the results aren't too bad. I learned a lot watching these tutorials: https://www.youtube.com/user/sarran73/videos?view=0

I'm actually working on a couple of deck plans with it as well, but unfortunately don't have anything quite finished enough to share yet.

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
September 22, 2012 - 11:10am
Rollo wrote:
   Is there some program out there that an illiterate gibbering baboon such as myself could actually use to draw some quality deck plans for SF starships? 
You'll have to pick something and start playing with it. That's the only way and it depends on what type of map you want, that should dictate the tool. 
  • Dramune Run Re-mastered - Word 2010 drawing tools 
  • Fantasy style maps - Hand drawn, scanned and use Gimp to create effects, walls and number rooms (I have a script by Rob)
  • MapTools - requires graphics which are free (for non-commercial) but are mostly for fantasy
  • Google Drawing - lite set of tools for maps, I use this for most of my online games
  • Sketchup - can make 2d and 3d maps, fairly easy to use
  • Inkscape - played with it, I'm more used to Word
  • CC3 - by far the best tool for maps
They make sci-fi and ship widgets as well.

If you are creating something for SFman we can help you with the maps. If not I'm afraid I don't have time in the next few months with my "hobby time"

Rollo's picture
Rollo
September 22, 2012 - 11:41am
@OnceFarOff:

Yeah, those do look good. :D

The trick you mentioned was, until today (>.> ) a trick I wasn't aware of...and is one of the reasons I've had so much trouble. I've been trying to do everything from scratch...

So this thread has proven to be extremely helpful!

@wOOt:

Terl has gotten me on the Inkscape bandwagon atm so I'm going to completely focus on that and see if I can sort it out. I hadn't checked out Sketchup - because this is the first I have heard of it. But I will do so.

And yup, this thread is in reference to my submissions for SFMan but I don't want to keep pestering the community for graphics. I really need to learn how to do them myself so that's my goal. :)
I don't have to outrun that nasty beast my friend...I just have to outrun you! Wink

Rotten's picture
Rotten
September 22, 2012 - 11:43am
I have found Fractal Mapper easy to use.  I have not drawn deck plans, but it is my first mapping software and I was able to draw what I wanted with it.  There are what seems unlimited mapping icons available on the dundjinni forums and other places that can be used with Fractal Mapper.  I hear Dundjinni is great and easy to use as well, but at the time I purchased Fractal Mapper, Dundjinni wasn't available due to a family emergency of the creator.  They were gone for over a year.  You will have to factor that into your decision as you may experience long periods of no tech service with that product.

Fractal Mapper -  http://www.nbos.com/products/mapper/mapper.htm

Rotten's picture
Rotten
September 22, 2012 - 11:55am
Also, you could save yourself some time and money and look at the deck plans in this thread:

http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=35698

Maybe these will work for you.

Rollo's picture
Rollo
September 22, 2012 - 11:51am
Sweet! Thanks Rotten. :)  I'm checking them out now.
I don't have to outrun that nasty beast my friend...I just have to outrun you! Wink

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
September 22, 2012 - 12:34pm
+1 for deck plans!

jedion357's picture
jedion357
September 22, 2012 - 12:55pm
do you need some character sketches?
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Rollo's picture
Rollo
September 22, 2012 - 1:16pm
I really need maps and I'm trying to teach myself how to make them so I don't have to increase the workload of anyone else here for my projects. Maps are something that is theoretically do-able for me so I'm trying to make that happen.

Drawing anything else however, is way beyond my ability and hopeless for me to even attempt. Any submissions I send in will always have to have other art added by someone other than me (creatures, characters, etc). For example, in my next submission it would be nice to have some art showing a handful of SF races depicted in a dessicated, but ambulatory fashion. Similarly, a picture of a HS20 mining ship against the backdrop of an asteroid field with two destroyed ships nearby would also be nice. But there's no way I'll ever achieve that on my end. So if such pictures were to show up in my next submission, it would be something that would have to be added in by you guys at the other end of the pipeline.

I'm just trying do everything I can do on my end to lighten the load on your end Jedion, that's all. :)
I don't have to outrun that nasty beast my friend...I just have to outrun you! Wink

Karxan's picture
Karxan
September 23, 2012 - 6:38pm
Rollo, 'A' for any effort made.

Rollo's picture
Rollo
September 27, 2012 - 6:04am
Well Karxan here's my first stab at making a deck plan using Inkscape - with much herding by Terl. :) Still not the greatest, but a whole lot better than if I drew it by hand and scanned it in!



Sinca Maru Bridge Deck
I don't have to outrun that nasty beast my friend...I just have to outrun you! Wink

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
September 25, 2012 - 4:09pm
That's awesome! Lots of white-space on that deck, perfect for floor hockey.

Tom, good herding!
...now if we can get Tom V. onboard we'll have common maps. Wink


Are you guys able to share widgets (like chairs, doors, etc.) between each other? Would it be possible to create an online repository (much like MapTool does) of these widgets?

OnceFarOff's picture
OnceFarOff
September 25, 2012 - 4:16pm
w00t wrote:
Are you guys able to share widgets (like chairs, doors, etc.) between each other? Would it be possible to create an online repository (much like MapTool does) of these widgets?


I was just coming to post the same question. I just downloaded inkscape to try it out. I really like that deck plan. I would appreciate it if you inkscape types could zip up a folder with some of your objects (hatches, seats, beds, etc.) that you use.

Rollo's picture
Rollo
September 25, 2012 - 4:31pm
Terl Zipped up a batch that he had made and e-mailed them to me in order to nudge me along (Yup wOOt they can be shared) - and it was a *HUGE* help. :)  I have since made a couple 'widgets' myself (that red life pod for example), a double sink, stuff like that and would be happy to e-mail the ones I created/create to one of you admin-types so you can add them to a data base. :) I can't speak for Terl's widgets of course.

Also, earlier in this thread OnceFarOff linked a couple free 'widget' sites. I went there and spent a couple hours downloading free 'widgets'. I didn't use any of them in that bridge map I posted (because they are really good drawings and if I had to mix them with my own fabrications they wouldn't really match up that well). But if I eventually build up a big enough personal catalog of them I have no doubt that I could up the quality of my maps considerably.

Anyway, let me know where to e-mail what PNG files I have and I'll send them so we can start up a widget database. :)
I don't have to outrun that nasty beast my friend...I just have to outrun you! Wink

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
September 25, 2012 - 5:03pm
Yes, we can share them.  I'll see about setting something up or we can just upload them in the Chit Factory project here.  That was my original intention and I may have already done it for mine but I don't think so.
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

Rollo's picture
Rollo
September 25, 2012 - 5:24pm
So here's the second deck plan in the series for comparison. I'm still getting used to Inkscape - though am getting faster with the basics. This one was considerably larger so it took several hours for me to do; I'd guess around 15 or so. But like I mentioned earlier in the thread I'm a complete idiot when it comes to computer-realted tasks. It just isn't terribly intuitive to me so I'm sure that those of you that work well with this medium can shave some significant time off that estimate. :)


Sinca Maru Living Area
I don't have to outrun that nasty beast my friend...I just have to outrun you! Wink

OnceFarOff's picture
OnceFarOff
September 25, 2012 - 5:36pm
Rollo wrote:
Terl Zipped up a batch that he had made and e-mailed them to me in order to nudge me along (Yup wOOt they can be shared) - and it was a *HUGE* help. :)  I have since made a couple 'widgets' myself (that red life pod for example), a double sink, stuff like that and would be happy to e-mail the ones I created/create to one of you admin-types so you can add them to a data base. :) I can't speak for Terl's widgets of course.

Also, earlier in this thread OnceFarOff linked a couple free 'widget' sites. I went there and spent a couple hours downloading free 'widgets'. I didn't use any of them in that bridge map I posted (because they are really good drawings and if I had to mix them with my own fabrications they wouldn't really match up that well). But if I eventually build up a big enough personal catalog of them I have no doubt that I could up the quality of my maps considerably.

Anyway, let me know where to e-mail what PNG files I have and I'll send them so we can start up a widget database. :)


That's been my issue with deck plans too. I have some amazing consoles and other components for them, but still am missing a few key pieces and don't want to do half images and then half shape outlines. It looks better one way of the other. If you guys don't end up hosting them here, can you guys email me a zip with the files in it? Thanks.

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
September 25, 2012 - 6:10pm
No reason for you to wait while we get an archive organized.  I sent you mine.
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

FirstCitizen's picture
FirstCitizen
September 25, 2012 - 7:05pm
Yes!  An archive would be awesome (please to be emailing First Citizen if it's not posted :) ).  The above deck plans are great and come out better than Visio/Open Office.  Still not sure about building floorplans, visio might be the tool there.

I finally managed to get inkscape installed on an old XP machine, alas it does not run on my new i7 build.  Getting familiar with it tonight.

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
September 25, 2012 - 8:14pm
InkScape, the Frontier Standard!

So, with all this talent, let's put out some classifieds. 

Jok Deck Plans
Architect
Prenglar

Build 4 You
Enjoy relaxing mental hookup while we download your true inner desire. Who knows better than your subconscious mind. 
(Prof of Insurance required)

iggy's picture
iggy
September 26, 2012 - 10:39am
Wow.  Great work.  I need to get herded.
-iggy

OnceFarOff's picture
OnceFarOff
September 26, 2012 - 1:00pm
Anyone seen tutorials on Inkscape that are any good?

Rollo's picture
Rollo
September 26, 2012 - 7:06pm
@OFO:

I dug into them pretty extensively. The tutorials on the product's own website were pretty good. Most everything else I found was not - at least for me. I did find this site to be helpful ( http://inkscape.org/doc/basic/tutorial-basic.html ). But TerlObar's help was invaluable.
I don't have to outrun that nasty beast my friend...I just have to outrun you! Wink

Karxan's picture
Karxan
September 26, 2012 - 11:43pm
Rollo, That is AWESOME. I have to say I am impressed with how you have jumped in. Your first stab was right on target. Now I am going to have to get on the band-wagon. I may need some coaching to just get started.

Rollo's picture
Rollo
September 27, 2012 - 6:17am
@Karxan:

Thanks! :)  Though Terl deserves the lion's share of the credit here. The hardest step is the first one when dealing with unfamiliar technology I think. And in that regard, Terl's willingness to help a nEWb was what really did it.

As far as jumping in goes, it seemed unfair to send in a work partially done and therefore add greatly to the workload of the editors who would then have to scramble to fill in the gaps with graphics. Sadly I'll never be able to add any actual artwork - though I did look into hiring an artist for my submissions but the ones I investigated were gawd-awful expensive; prohibatively so! I figured I could do the map thing though and every little bit helps. :)
I don't have to outrun that nasty beast my friend...I just have to outrun you! Wink

jedion357's picture
jedion357
September 27, 2012 - 1:38pm
Here's a link to the Sathar Cutter cross section at the SF-UN yahoo group, image was done in CC3 software

http://f1.grp.yahoofs.com/v1/QLBkUAA7AA8-AeWoju3a96MJSzlqtjcEgLZxn9iZiTEqxiyJw-6SjK-kyMW2cIan9q4-Wq8zrtMJqBUnVpjBuaFpj68dgH3M/SF...

NOTE: a member started asking questions about the sathar cutter miniature because he had a blister pack that said that. it turns out that the cutter in that blister pack is the miniature that most of us had thought was the minelayer since it looked like the siloquette of the minelayer in the KHs rulebook.

this lead to a write up by Matt Crymble and I worked up some decks and a cross section based on his write up and the look of the miniature.

the PNG image is probably a WIP and will get redone so feel free to suggest modifications and refinements. most of the decks will be big open ovals with terrain being consoles and equipment.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

iggy's picture
iggy
September 27, 2012 - 3:20pm
The link didn't work.
-iggy