As a fantasy author, one of my dearest loves is world-building and drawing maps. And as a reader of fantasy fiction, I rely on well-rendered maps to navigate my way through the novels of others. Maps are like a perk of fantasy fiction that readers of real-life fiction don't get to savor.
So, yes, when I published the Falcons Saga, I included maps. At least in the print editions. These were carefully rendered -- in pen -- and painstakingly cleaned up with GIMP. At least, with the few skills I had acquired for GIMP.
So imagine my excitement when I came across Wonderdraft -- a program designed just for map rendering.
A couple of days ago, an old acquaintance from the LegendFire days posted a link to this amazingness. I followed the link down the rabbit hole and expected to see a price tag comparable to Photoshop. I also feared a lengthy learning curve and weeks of frustration just to get land to pop from ocean. *cue the heavenly choir* Only $30 and two days later, I am in map-rendering heaven.
The manual is short (needing a proofreader such as myself, but hey, nothing is perfect), the interface clean, the process well-designed and user-friendly. I experienced almost zero stress learning how it works. On a stress scale of 1 to 10, maybe a 1.5, for just a couple of seconds. Next, I'll be checking out all the community-built assets which ought to allow me to add all kinds of borders, symbols, and textures. And as a font fanatic, I will certainly be looking into importing waaaaay more fonts. But the basic package provides plenty to get started.
All those old black-and-white renderings of Aralorr? Revamped into glorious full color. Check it out!