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No matter what kind of fictional map creator you are, we’ll show you the best map-making software available online to bring your world to life.
Being able to turn your dreams into reality requires skill and fortitude.
With these impressive software options whole worlds, countries, regions, cities, villages, and assets can be generated with ease.
There are map-making programs that can clone and customize worlds well as artistic tools that can automatically bring textures and details to an area. You don’t even need any drawing or painting ability.
From beginners creating fictional online maps for free to advanced GIS (geographic information system) software using territorial information, the best map maker software is at your fingertips.
Who uses fantasy map-making software?
- Cartography hobbyists
- RPG and Dungeons and Dragons game masters
- Battle strategists
- Fiction authors
Read further, if you want to find out what is the best map-making software solution for you.
Best Fantasy Map Making Software
Best Overall Map Making Software: Inkarnate
Inkarnate is an intuitive online GIS platform that allows users to create an endless range of world maps.
It is available online for free with a considerable number of features. Serious map-makers would be advised to upgrade to the paid option which costs around $5 a month or $25 a year.
The paid version gives access to a diverse toolset of art assets updated monthly. This includes HD stamps, textures, and customization features that allow you to upload your art or export your maps.
Inkarnate boasts a variety of over 13,400 map assets that include elven forests, dwarven strongholds, and human capitals amongst other fantastical beasts. It is one of the most comprehensive role-playing software aids available online.
With its collaborative tools and insightful, easy-to-learn user interface, Inkarnate helps you to generate maps quickly and professionally.
Inkarnate is suitable for both map maker enthusiasts with no artistic skills and advanced game masters.
Their active online community is a great resource for improving your ideas, gaining advice on challenging concepts, and receiving feedback.
- Easy to use interface
- Extensive library of maps
- Customize or clone maps
- High-quality art
- A large variety of assets
- Paid for Pro version is infinitely superior.
- Free plan only exports maps at 2k resolution
This is a good all-around map generating program that is only available as a once-off payment of around $30 with no free option.
Unlike the giant of map-making, Inkarnate, Wanderdraft offers a limited amount of assets. This does impede your creative abilities.
However, you can get around this problem by downloading additional art packs to suit your needs.
With your imagination as a guide, Wanderdraft allows you to create maps with color and visual personalization.
You’re also able to upload and customize your images and stickers, though the layering functionality can become a bit complicated.
Luckily, Wanderdraft has an avid online community that are always ready to aid you in figuring out solutions to any problems.
Wanderdraft enables you to paint, colorize, draw, and generate landmasses from anywhere between 512 and 8192 pixels and is custom-built to do large continental and world maps.
This excellent mapping program works on 64-bit Windows 10, Linux, and Mac OSX.
Any fantasy enthusiast will find this an enjoyable and intuitive map-making software option. Online tutorials and prompt feedback on forums make it a user-friendly experience for creating your world.
- Easy to use
- Vigorous undo/redo feature
- Simple UI
- Shading and black and white settings
- Custom asset support
- No vector map
- Only fantasy theming
Best Value Fantasy Map Making Software: Flowscape
Though it’s technically not specifically a map-making application, Flowscape is a modeling program that allows you to create 3D animated scenes.
It is a genius piece of software that will provide you with hours of enjoyment honing your skills in rendering 3D landscapes.
Flowscape was built around the philosophy that there are no mistakes when designing, just happy accidents.
There are built-in selections of assets that you just have to click and paint to achieve out-of-this-world results.
At under $15, it’s also affordable.
Featuring a unique set of tools, Flowscape will have you creating magical worlds in no time.
Flowscape has an intuitive interface with loads of free updates and extras to aid the map designer.
Its painting toolbar is like none other, allowing the user to determine an object’s alignment, growth speed, and even flow of the brush.
There are even ambient sound functions to further enrich your world.
Other than the pre-loaded formats, Flowscape allows you to import .obj assets from other modeling programs. You can layer and adjust them as needed.
There are also a plethora of user-created templates available to download online for free.
It’s easy to get lost in the worlds of Flowscape, and as you spend more time testing out its numerous features and tools, the more intricate the possibilities become.
Flowscape works best for beginner and professional creatives who enjoy making digital art.
- Instant visual gratification
- Resizable assets
- Offline availability
- Imaginative option for writers
- Ability to embed sound and video
- Need a good graphics card
- Built-in help function problematic
Alternative: Dungeon Fog
Dungeon Fog began on Kickstarter as a mapping tool project that grew to enormous success and popularity.
Dungeon Fog runs on your browser, making it accessible on various devices without the hassle of downloading multiple versions.
It’s also fast. This allows you to create high-concept visually stunning maps in minutes that can integrate seamlessly into your game world or battle plans.
One of the most appealing aspects of Dungeon Fog is that it is not only focused on fantasy worlds.
You can map out geographies and environments from various genres, including Victorian, Lovecraftian, or modern.
It has a simple interface that allows you to point and click to build structures.
If you upgrade to a premium subscription your access to features increases.
Though not as immersive as Flowscape’s architecture, Dungeon Fog still offers its creator elaborate and labyrinthine stylings.
You can reduce the size of the grid to hone in on details. Utilizing the lighting design options will make creepy caves appear lifelike and moody.
Another great feature for creatives and storytellers is being able to layer multiple levels to see how your architecture fits together.
With new features added almost weekly, the monthly subscription fee of under $8 is good value for money. On the free subscription option, you can still build up to 3 maps.
Dungeon Fog is a sophisticated and stylish mapping software for those who want to design fast and draw up battle plans even faster.
- Simple interface
- Numbers and text descriptions can be added to rooms
- Export your maps easily
- Only able to design 3 maps on the free option
Best Budget Fantasy Map Making Software: Campaign Cartographer 3
Campaign Cartographer has been around for ages and is still one of the best budget options in your world-building arsenal.
The software allows you to create detailed maps in minutes to run your RPG campaigns, battle strategies, or real-life applications.
Though the look and feel of Campaign Cartographer are a bit outdated compared to the 3D technology of more recent software, it’s still the workhorse of the map-making world.
It’s reliable and gets the job done.
There’s a large selection of styles in your toolbox as well as the option of being able to create and draw details.
Another great feature is that Campaign Cartographer supports many role-playing worlds, not just fantasy. So if you’re a science fiction nerd you can access numerous themes to pad your desired destination.
Campaign Cartographer allows you to create small components like furniture and floor plans right up to designing countries, continents, or entire planets.
Because of its longevity in the marketplace, Campaign Cartographer has built up a large fanbase of map-making enthusiasts. Its online community and support are one of its biggest benefits.
The professional tutorials and friendly community add value to the once-off fee of around $20 for this map-building system.
That’s why it’s our budget-friendly choice for the best mapping software.
Everyone can use Campaign Cartographer, from beginners to experienced CAD users. Its simple interface will make you feel like a professional cartographer within minutes.
- Beautiful lush maps
- Extensive online tutorials
- Supportive online community
- Numerous templates to pick from
- Good value for money
- Be wary of illegitimate online vendors selling fake product keys
- Initially takes a bit of time to learn software
Alternative: Azgaar’s Fantasy Map Generator
Who doesn’t love a free online tool geared towards storytelling? Azgaar’s Fantasy Map Generator is your passport into a world of creativity.
Though you can’t really build your own map with it, it does generate large world maps where you can then add your own towns, villages, religions, and cultures.
It’s a great visual storytelling assistant that can help you organize your thoughts.
Azgaar’s includes details like rivers, streams, mountains, nature, and tribal or house emblems.
With its many typographical elements, you can add and adjust features like elevation, latitude, precipitation, and sea levels. This will turn your fictional world into one that’s fleshed out with all the tiny details fantasy nerds obsess over.
Azgaar also includes the most specific of details to bolster your narratives, like population, religions, and armies.
Overall this is an outstanding program that simulates real-world statistical data to bring fantasy to life.
Azgaar’s Fantasy Map Maker offers a comprehensive free service to visualize your fictional world.
- A few clicks create detailed maps
- Great for TTRPGs like D&D
- Unable to customize the available maps
- Can crash your computer
How to choose the best map-making software for you
Do you have the right computer setup?
The first thing to ensure ease of use for your map-making adventure is to have a good computer setup with a powerful graphics card.
To run GIS smoothly, make sure your device has at least an Intel i7 processor, a minimum of 16GB Ram, and a large drive.
It’s best to go with a top-tier processor and solid-state drive for map building.
Bigger hard drives will not get your computer to run faster, but installing additional drives will remarkably enhance elements of your overall performance.
Map-making software, especially 3D options, requires a separate GPU to speed up rendering. We would suggest only using GIS software on desktops, as most laptops aren’t powerful enough and will overheat.
How much experience should you have in designing?
Most map-making software takes a few hours of practice to get used to.
If you’re an absolute beginner and want to produce maps that look professional, it’s advisable to look for programs that generate maps that you can personalize.
If you are more seasoned with programs like CAD and Photoshop, you’ll revel in the more detailed map-making alternatives.
It all depends on how much you are willing to invest using the tools and art to build your project.
What do you need your map to do?
Fictional cartographers create maps for a number of reasons. Your end goals will determine what type of software is best for you.
A strategic combat map specific to a particular RPG will not necessarily need tools that focus on ambient lighting or sound.
Be careful when choosing your mapping software software so you are not paying for unnecessary extras.
Don’t let overly priced optional extras dissuade you from simpler choices.
They might not seem as sophisticated, but a succinct two-dimensional map is just as effective as a rolling 3D landscape.
Fantasy map makers online community
One of the benefits of joining the online map-making world is the exuberant online community.
For every map-making program out there, there’s a host of Dischord, Reddit, and cartography forums of map creators eager to share their knowledge and creations with you.
From reviewing the best free map-making software to dissecting details of updates and tools, you will never be without support.
YouTube channels devoted to tutorials, quick fixes, and cheat sheets all aid the creator in producing works of map art.
Draw on the knowledge of the online map-making community and your maps will be better for it.
Subsequently, do your research of the reviews, comments, and product breakdowns before committing money to any map-making software.
What are the basics of designing a fantasy map?
Whatever your style, the process is a deeply creative endeavor. This produces a satisfying product to be printed out, linked to, or embedded.
Most beginner map-making programs provide you with basic templates that you can then customize.
However, if you prefer to start from scratch and produce something unique, it’s always good to begin with a clear idea of what you hope to achieve.
This involves meticulous planning to ensure you don’t get confused as you progress into more elaborate details.
A basic strategy to getting started would be to:
- Plan your fantasy world
Decide on what the landscape (mountainous, rivers, etc.,) and landmarks (castle, tavern, houses, etc.,) are.
- Sketch out your environment
This can be done with paper and pen or on a program like Draw or Photoshop
- Plan important elements
Make sure your topographical details such as landmarks are defined.
- Locate yourself geographically
Do this by including a compass and scale marker
Though there is a wealth of diverse applications available and being developed online, one stands out as the best fantasy map maker software.
Inkarnate is the cream of the crop in the world of cartography software.
And this is not just due to its reasonable pricing, flexible packages, or the ability to create maps with up to 100 assets for free.
It’s because of Inkarnate’s commitment to innovation, constant updates, and great customer support that make it a trusted and popular cartography program.
A clean interface makes its layout easy to grasp for beginners or a quick task for those that need to generate a comprehensive map in a few minutes.
From creating whole countries, continents, and worlds, to detailing specific topography below and above ground, Inkarnate delivers.
If you want to embark on a map-making journey with simple, clean designs and customizable formats, or build layered dreamscapes to enhance the reality of your writing, Inkarnate is the best choice.
inkarnate.com's top 5 competitors in December 2022 are: azgaar.github.io, worldanvil.com, dungeonfog.com, rollforfantasy.com, and more.Is Inkarnate the best map maker? ›
Since 2013, Inkarnate has been the go-to map maker for writers, worldbuilders, and game masters of all kinds. Its user interface will be familiar to anyone who has used image editors like Paint or Photoshop, and it's simple to learn for those who haven't.What is the best fantasy website? ›
ESPN also offers both free leagues and pay leagues. They also offer free analysis and their own player rankings, making them the number one recommended fantasy website. There are many fantasy fans that play on Yahoo year in and year out. They have an easy to sign up process and offer easy access to public leagues.What is the easiest mapping software to use? ›
- Maptive — Best Mapping Software for Businesses. ...
- Mapline — Best for Simple Visualization. ...
- EasyMapMaker — Best for Basic Mapping. ...
- ESRI ArcGIS Online — Best for Spatial Analysis. ...
- BatchGEO — Best for No Frills Bulk Mapping. ...
- Espatial — Runner Up Business Mapping Solution.
maps.google.com is ranked number 1 as the most popular website in the Maps category in January 2023.Where can I create my own fantasy map? ›
- Inkarnate. This website allows you to draw your own continents and customize them as you see fit. ...
- Donjon. Donjon is a free website with several generators on its main page. ...
- Watabou Medieval Fantasy City Generator. ...
- WorldSpinner. ...
- Wonderdraft. ...
- Campaign Cartographer. ...
Inkarnate is a fantastic tool with tons of assets and a clean UI, but most of the content is locked behind its Pro membership and there's no offline option. Wonderdraft helps you paint or generate maps and works offline, but it can be a little hard to use at first, and there's no free version or trial.What is the best mapping service? ›
- Google Maps. The granddaddy of GPS navigation options for almost any type of transportation. ...
- Waze. This app stands apart due to its crowd-sourced traffic information. ...
- MapQuest. ...
- Maps.Me. ...
- Scout GPS. ...
- InRoute Route Planner. ...
- Apple Maps. ...
- MapFactor Navigator.
We have compiled a list of solutions that reviewers voted as the best overall alternatives and competitors to Google Earth Pro, including Esri ArcGIS, QGIS, Maptitude, and AutoCAD Map 3D.What company makes the best maps? ›
- Rand McNally 2022 Road Atlas with Protective Vinyl Cover.
- National Geographic Road Atlas 2022: Adventure Edition (choose between this or the Rand McNally atlas)
- DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer for your state.
- A custom MyTopo map of the area around your house.
AuthaGraph. The AuthaGraphy projection was created by Japanese architect Hajime Narukawa in 1999. It is considered the most accurate projection in the mapping world for its way of showing relative areas of landmasses and oceans with very little distortion of shapes.Is paid Inkarnate worth it? ›
The free version gives plenty of options to create a map, while and the pro version also deserves the price tag due to a plethora of art assets available to the Pro users. And when you can add your assets to Inkarnate, this means you can create any map that you would need in your game.What is the biggest fantasy platform? ›
fantasypros.com's top 5 competitors in December 2022 are: rotoballer.com, fftoday.com, numberfire.com, fantasysp.com, and more. According to Similarweb data of monthly visits, fantasypros.com's top competitor in January 2023 is rotoballer.com with 850.4K visits.Is RotoWire better than FantasyPros? ›
RotoWire does mock drafts, but they aren't as customizable as FantasyPros' tool. If you're looking for pre-draft, in-season, and DFS tools, FantasyPros is just better. RotoWire has a few metrics that FantasyPros does not. For instance, Red Zone Targets and Defense vs.
Designed specifically by and for writers and RPG players, Cartographer is the perfect tool for creating custom maps of alien worlds, fantasy realms, and imaginary landscapes. Simply pick what kind of landscape you're looking for and Cartographer takes care of the rest!What software do mappers use? ›
In order to do mapping you need a photo editing software, there are many different software's to use but the one most often used by mappers is Paint.net due to being free and extremely simple alternatives include GIMP and Adobe Photoshop.Is ArcGIS a free software? ›
Can I use ArcGIS Online for free? Yes, if it is for noncommercial use. With a free public account, you can create, store, and manage maps, scenes, and apps, and share them. You also get access to content shared by Esri and GIS users around the world.What are the 5 types of mapping? ›
According to the ICSM (Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping), there are five different types of maps: General Reference, Topographical, Thematic, Navigation Charts and Cadastral Maps and Plans.Is there a free mapping software? ›
Google My Maps
It's an easy to learn tool that allows you to upload and update information from Google Sheets as well as share maps with additional users.
Microsoft Power Map for Excel is a three-dimensional (3-D) data visualization tool that lets you look at information in new ways. A power map lets you discover insights you might not see in traditional two-dimensional (2-D) tables and charts.What is the most used map app? ›
In 2022, Google Maps was the most downloaded map and navigation app in the United States, despite being a standard pre-installed app on Android smartphones. Waze followed, with 9.12 million downloads in the examined period.What is a web mapping platform? ›
Web mapping provides the ability to access geospatial mapping on the internet through a web browser interface. Web mapping is sometimes referenced as web GIS (Geographic Information System).What's better than Google map? ›
CityMapper. Unlike Google Maps, the scope of CityMapper is quite narrow, but it skillfully does its job better than any other app. This map service successfully helps the people who frequent the public transport to travel to the popular cities in the world.How do I create a custom map online? ›
Start by heading to maps.google.com. Click on the menu icon on the top left hand side of the screen and select “Your Places.” (The menu icon is just to the left of the search bar on the top left hand side of your screen.) Select the maps tab. Navigate to the very bottom of that window and select “Create a Map.”Is world Anvil map maker free? ›
Interactive maps are just one of the many free features of World Anvil, the award-winning worldbuilding platform, campaign manager and novel writing software!Where is the world's best map collection? ›
The world's largest collection of maps is held by the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. It includes around 5.2 million maps. The Osher Map Library located on the University of Southern Maine's Portland Campus has a large collection of maps, atlases, and globes.What is the best map API? ›
Google Maps API
Google Maps is the most popular SDK for embedding a map into an application. It's known for its huge database of places and decent routing. It has all the features of Google Maps for mobile app development: geocoding, routing, pictures, street view, and places information.
You shall own all rights to any User Content created using the Website or Platform, but you shall not have the right to sell, publish, license or other- wise commercially exploit such User Content unless you purchase a Commercial License to the Inkarnate Pro version of the Platform.
Google Maps is possibly one of the most recognised GPS navigation available. With Google Maps you can search for directions to anywhere in the world and, along with driving, this app has support for public transportation, walking and cycling.
General Reference (sometimes called planimetric maps) Topographic Maps. Thematic. Navigation Charts.Is City Mapper better than Google Maps? ›
Google maps might cover many more cities and display a lot more information. Still, if you simply want an app that will get you to your destination easier, Citymapper is the best choice. Citymapper is the best software to use when you're looking for directions.Is there a Web version of Google Earth? ›
With Google Earth for Chrome, fly anywhere in seconds and explore hundreds of 3D cities right in your browser. Roll the dice to discover someplace new, take a guided tour with Voyager, and create your own maps and stories.Is ArcGIS Earth free? ›
Is ArcGIS Earth free? Yes. The Android, iOS, and Windows versions are all free to download and use.Is Google Earth Pro still free? ›
About Google Earth Pro
Google Earth Pro is a free desktop tool with advanced GIS and mapping features. It can be downloaded on PC, Mac, and Linux devices. With this tool, users can create maps, import and export GIS data, and access historical images.
Mercator. Perhaps the most influential of map makers, the Flemish geographer, Gerard Mercator (1512- 1594) is famous for developing a map projection in which mathematical calculations translated the 3D world onto a 2D surface.What is the most detailed map ever? ›
"The AuthaGraph World Map Projection" is a map created by Hajime Narukawa and as the architect said, it is the most accurate map of the world in 2D. First he divided the world into 96 sections, then each of them printed on inflatable tetrahedron. Each was opened and tetrahedra transferred onto a flat map.Who has the most updated map? ›
1. Google Maps. Google Maps is the ULTIMATE tool for satellite maps. It's grown over the years.Is there a 100% accurate map? ›
Are any maps 100% accurate? The short answer: absolutely not. Thanks to the varying distances between latitude lines away from the equator, the map pretty severely distorts surrounding landmasses.Is Inkarnate no longer free? ›
You can use Inkarnate Free for as long as you want, no credit card required. If you want more than what the Free version offers, you can choose to upgrade a Pro plan. We currently have an Annual (25$ per year) and a Monthly (5$ per month) Pro plans.
Finally, Inkarnate is affordable. Not only can you use it for free and still be able to use most of the features, but if you decide you want access to the “Pro” features, it only costs $25 per year. That's right, per YEAR not per month.Does Inkarnate own my maps? ›
It appears that we can't save our maps locally, and that we literally don't own the maps we create - Inkarnate does. Even with a commercial license, we just get the rights to reproduce a map and they retain the copyright, This doesn't seem right, so I think I must have misunderstood the agreement.How do you make a good fantasy map? ›
- Understand how your map tells a story. ...
- Always keep the viewer in mind. ...
- Study real geography. ...
- Pick your palette. ...
- Look at the work of real-world cartographers. ...
- Break out of the rectangle! ...
- Consider embellishments — but don't overload your map with them. ...
- Try different types of maps.
Easy Map Drawing Software
SmartDraw is the easiest way to draw a custom map for sales. Simply start with one of the many included map templates and customize it to show sales territories and regions. Add markers and charts to get presentation-quality results every time.
Google Maps takes the top spot for GPS apps. And with good reason. Google Maps covers more of the world than anyone else. Hundreds of millions of places are on the map in 220+ countries.
- Use real life as inspiration. That doesn't mean taking people from existing ethnic groups and putting costumes on them—but observe how other cultures live, how they interact with their environments and each other. ...
- Define the setting. ...
- Create inhabitants. ...
- Make magic.
Decide What Size Document You're Using
But, most of the time the map itself needs to fit on something closer to a standard 8.5 x 11 inches if the map is going to go into a book.
Although your fantasy world map does not have to look realistic, it should look like a place that could exist in its fictional world. Create a world with continents, countries and islands. This will give it character and allow you to build a history behind the world.