The art of cartography may seem like a dead field, but it is actually still alive and well. It has almost entirely moved to a digital format. However, there are still professional and hobbyist cartographers all over the world.
Geek culture has had a big part in keeping the hobby part alive. The fantasy worlds of D&D campaigns, fiction novels, and sandbox video games often require complex map creation. Thankfully, whether you’re a professional or hobbyist, there are plenty of programs on the web to help you create the various maps you’ll need. Here are some of the best programs to use:
The best virtual cartography software
This is a cartography mobile app that is mostly for hobbyists. It is especially useful for people who are just beginning to use map creation software. Some use it for building their fantasy stories or game campaigns. We definitely recommend this to any novelist, game designer, or tabletop player who has never before used a cartography program.
Maptitude is a somewhat expensive but brilliant map creation tool that any cartographer or geographer would be happy to use. It has so many features and customizable options for your maps, that you may never end up using all of them.
No matter what you need to create a map for, Maptitude is one of the best choices you could ever imagine. The only thing anyone finds an issue with this program is the price, but it is well worth it for how useful the software is.
This app is like MapScribe but for professional cartographers. If you’re looking to work in the mapping industry but are lacking any software to help you with it, Map Stack is a great first choice.
It runs a lot like Photoshop, so you’ll adjust easily. It may not have as many features as some of the more expensive cartography tools, but it is by far the easiest professional program to use.
This program is more for hobbyist cartographers than professionals. More specifically, this cartography tool is probably the best one you’re ever going to find in terms of fantasy world creation.
Tabletop enthusiasts love this program, as it features a large variety of customizable tools. You can create both a physical and political map for your world. Your players can understand the nations they are going through, as well as the geographical landscape they’ll have to traverse.
Another fantasy map creator for hobbyists, Inkarnate is for mapping smaller regions. It is for making cities, towns, and the surrounding area.
A lot of mapping tools will help you create large scale maps, but very few focus on the smaller details like this one. This is very useful if you’re planning the layout of a town in a fantasy world or something similar.
ArcGIS has many programs to choose from that can provide a variety of mapping options for you.
ArcGIS also features a variety of mobile apps so you can work on your map creations from anywhere. It also makes field data easy to collect, as you can place it directly into the apps while you’re doing it. It is also by far the most professional mapping tool you’ll find for any smartphone.
“X” marks the spot
Hopefully, one of these tools can help you out with your world-building.
No matter your reason for using a cartography software, these are by far the best choices for professionals and hobbyists alike.