My Map Problem

Yes, my map problem, not to be confused with math problems. If it was that I wouldn’t be calm. Honestly, most writers wouldn’t consider my map problem a problem at all when they forego maps in the first place.

Tremjara 2020A - Labled

Tremjara. ©2020 CA Hawthorne

Though no cartographer, I’m proud of my primary maps. They border on art in that they’re bright and colorful attention grabbers. I labored over the new versions from 2015 through 2018.

Problem is, their value lies in what I just mentioned. They don’t, though, reproduce well in black and white. You know, how they’d appear on most readers or in books. All those colors become muddy, making them difficult to read.

In other words, I also need simpler maps I can label.

The Tremjara is a continent map so it kinda sorta gets a pass. There was once a less busy version of it, but it’s no longer accurate. My bigger, more immediate problem is Pannulus. That map began life as it appears now.

Pannulus 2020D

Pannulus. ©2020 CA Hawthorne

Whoops. Yeah. Huge oversight on my part.

I’ve known for a long while this problem would happen and practiced avoidance because of the other problem. My software problem. I’d used Photoshop Elements (2008 version) forever. It was simple. Then, Apple upgraded their operating system. In an instant I had multiple problems.

One was having to upgrade to a new app and endure a learning curve. A huge, 14-year learning curve for me.

Two was the requirement the new app be capable of reading my .psd files so I’d still have access to the layers. The logical solution, replacing Photoshop Elements, was its own problem.

Yes, PE had become more sophisticated, but it’d also transformed into an expensive subscription service. I make a few maps, covers, and other little projects. I’m not a photographer. I wasn’t going to pay several times more per year than I’d paid for the original software.

In the end, I went with Affinity Photo since it was a single (extremely reasonable) purchase. How reasonable? About what I paid for PE in 2008 when I purchased my first Mac. It’s also designed similar to PE and can read my old files.

Protecting the Pneuma Key mood board. All pictures courtesy of Pixabay. Board: ©2022 CA Hawthorne

Protecting the Pneuma Key mood board. ©2022 CA Hawthorne

All that remains is the learning curve.

The learning curve is only an issue because it requires additional time away from the targeted edit on Protecting the Pneuma Key (other editing  also remains). In truth, I LOVE using the program. I LOVE working with photos.

In recent weeks I’ve dabbled just a little, as in enough to create two mood boards, one for Pneuma Key and the other for Case of the Deadly Stroll. Creating the mood boards whet my appetite. Affinity Photo is amazing.

In truth, part of the reason for this post is to give myself a swift map kick. Just planning to write this has helped. I’ve already subscribed to three channels on YouTube and saved quite a few Affinity videos. The next step is watching and doing because that’s how I learn best.

Case of the Deadly Stroll mood board. ©2022 CA_Hawthorne

Case of the Deadly Stroll mood board. ©2022 CA_Hawthorne

I finally developed my learning style when I returned to school for my bachelor’s degree and had the freedom to approach it as I liked. I’ve honed my approach since writing fiction. Simply put, I must DO. That’s how I absorb information. It’s why I struggled when young. Back then, if they’d allowed me to learn via writing the results would’ve been different.

Instead, I struggled because I was different.

So, lots of arts stuff going on (I’m also going to establish an Artbreeder account). First and foremost, though, is Affinity for B&W maps and creating covers beyond the simple ones I created for NaNoWriMo.

So, yes it’s a problem, but one I’ll love solving because I love design.


About Christina Anne Hawthorne

Alive and well in the Rocky Mountains. I'm a fantasy writer who also dabbles in poetry, short stories, and map making. My Ontyre tales are an alternative fantasy experience, the stories rich in mystery, adventure, and romance. Alternative fantasy? Not quite steampunk. Not quite gothic. In truth, the real magic is in those who discover what's within.
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2 Responses to My Map Problem

  1. It’s annoying how Adobe have exploited their mostly monopoly position in photo editing and typesetting. A few years back I bought Affinity Publisher as the alternative to renting InDesign, which is what Adobe’s current business model basically forces on customers. It had potential but wasn’t up to par as a production tool, had a very steep learning curve, and it couldn’t read .indd files. I gather Affinity Photo is a much better match for Photoshop, though – haven’t tried it. I think GIMP also reads .psd format and properly renders the layers, but of course that’s yet another learning curve. The worry is that all the hours put into assembling maps, organising photos and so forth can be lost with a single decision of a software company’s board to extract more money from loyal customers. Sigh…

    • Absolutely. It was about greed, pure and simple. Why charge the customer once when you can charge them over and over again for the same product. I’d have paid as much for PE in less than six months as I paid for Affinity—forever. I figured it out that for my old PE purchase it cost me less than $5.00/YEAR over those 14 years.

      Much of the learning curve is because I traded in a biplane for jet, but that’s okay. I’m having fun. I’m also, thanks to all the videos, becoming more savvy. Over time, those .psd files will have .png versions so the layers remain, but they can be read by any program.

      I’m already seeing how my time invested will save me time. Thanks to the videos, I’m learning tricks that will make my life easier. It’s also rewarding to discover that much of what I learned with PE is applicable to Affinity, shortening that learning curve just a bit.

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