• On The Map - Interviews with Cartographers 13

    Continuing our series of interviews with cartographers, this month we're talking to Michael Tumey, known to many as Gamerprinter. He is known for his prolific output and attention to detail, as well as his many encounter level maps.
    We asked him 7 questions, as we will in each interview.

    1) Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background...
    Iím a 53 year old graphic designer from Ottawa, Illinois. I use to run a graphic design/digital print shop for over 21 years, having recently closed shop one year ago, due to family health issues, now Iím the caregiver for both my parents. I am currently a cartographic illustrator for many tabletop RPG publishers including Legendary Games, Rite Publishing, Purple Duck Games, Stormbunny Studio, and Kobold Press, though Iíve done work for Paizo Publishing (the creators of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game), as well as Brady Games publishers of video game strategy guides, including Call of Duty which Iíve created multi-player maps. Because I also created with ongoing publications for my personal homebrew, the Kaidan setting of Japanese Horror (PFRPG) as an imprint under Rite Publishing, I am also the Project Manager for Kaidan, at Rite Publishing, also doing some illustration, game design, product development and page layout. Because of my extensive work with Legendary Games, having created 34 maps for them since June of last year, and because theyíve learned that I do page layout for Kaidan at Rite Publishing, I will soon be doing page layout for Legendary Games products to help them avoid bottlenecks in production.

    I also publish map products that I create for myself (when not doing commission work) and publishing myself under my own publishing company, Game Printshop. Currently I have about 35 products, including my 25 Quick & Dirty Map Tutorials Guide. Recently Iíve been approached by various freelance author/game designers many of whom also worked on my Kaidan setting, to publish various Pathfinder RPG adventure modules, all featuring maps I create or have created in the past. So my path to being a full-time publisher, in addition to being a freelance cartographer is coming into fruition this year. Incidentally, just yesterday, I was contacted by Robert Hult of Hegemony Press who is an author publisher and filmmaker and is offering me extensive commission work for star ship deck plans for his books and films. Iíd love to see any of my maps or deck plans used in films. So that may be a new outlet for my work.

    2) How did you get into mapping?
    Iíve been an artist my entire life, and had a love for maps since I was a child. I served as the navigator on driving vacations with my family pointing out interesting destinations and keeping us from getting lost. Since I was 15 years old, Iíve been playing Dungeons & Dragons, and other roleplaying games, because of my artistic talent, Iíve always been the party mapper for our games. Iíve also developed many personal game settings, where creating maps was an essential part of the design work.

    3) Do you create maps professionally, or for fun? If you've sold your work, how did you get started? Any fun/horror stories to share about commissioned work?
    Yes, I create maps professionally. When I first joined the Cartographersí Guild in 2007, I was trying to promote my RPG map printing service under the title Gamer Printshop, as well as have opportunities for creating maps for fun, especially through the monthly map challenges. After winning my first challenge, I was contacted by Dog House Rules to create maps for D&D third party adventure product. Since that time, Iíve created well over 200 maps for dozens of publishers, and as mentioned in first answer above, Iíve been doing that for 9 years, building a solid reputation from publishers large and small. Of course, also as mentioned I not only perform map commission work, I also create and publish my own map products in support of games for fantasy, Old West, science fiction and many more.

    Iíve only had one commission go wrong, where the publisher put off paying me for almost 6 months. I generally work by contract, and have been careful in dealing only with reputable publishers to avoid such headaches. Although some publishers like Paizo Publishing, where I created the original hand-drawn map of the City of Kasai for The Empty Throne module of the Jade Regent Adventure Path, also didnít pay for about 6 months Ė I was fully aware of that fact at the start to the commission, so I was patient about it and didnít consider that commission problematic. I also wrote parts of the City of Kasai Gazetteer and was credited as a contributing author to that module.

    4) What kind of computer setup/equipment/software do you have? Any advice or tips for learners?
    I am PC based, and while I have tools like drawing tablets, for the most part I draw digital maps with a mouse using Xara Designer Pro x11, a vector drawing application for all my work. Being very much like Adobe Illustrator, while not as robust, has more beveling options than Illustrator, which is a tool I use extensively in my work. While I wrote and published a map tutorials guide with tips for using my mapping techniques with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, GIMP, Inkscape, and Xara, in truth, I rely on Xara only for not only mapping, but I did the cover design and page layout for my tutorials guide using Xara as well. All the products I sell and all the products I do page layout for, I use Xara to accomplish it all without the need for other software to create any of my products.

    Of course, I also do hand-drawn work, but as anyone can tell in looking at that work, I also place beveled shapes using water color schema such that my hand-drawn work, is more of a hybrid including vector created content beneath the hand-drawn line work.

    5) What are your favourite kind of maps or favourite map makers from history?
    I cannot say, I have a favorite kind of map Ė all maps are my favorite kind of map. I am always experimenting in different styles and techniques, I try to do every kind of map in one project or another. Iíve done maps that emulate 17th century style historical maps, cartoon style maps, photo-realistic and purely digitally designed maps and more. My favorite map makers are all members of the Cartographersí Guild now, and am not really inspired by many map makers of history.

    6) What do you consider your best piece of work? How about your favourite, if different?
    I seem to get the most attention from a purely hand-drawn map I did for Paizo Publishing, the already mentioned map of the City of Kasai. That map took me 16 hours to complete and includes over 8500 hand-drawn buildings. The multi-player maps I did for the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Strategy Guide (13 maps in total) was my best paid commission so far. However, because I am always improving in my style and technique, Iíd probably say my favorite map is whatever is the last one I did, and that is always changing.

    7) Where can we find you on the web?
    I used to have a website, until I got into issue with a host, and now a days, I primarily just use Google Plus and Facebook personal accounts to share all my work, as well as maintaining map threads on my roleplaying game forums (like the Paizo Message Board and ENWorld), and various online software and illustration communities. I also maintain a publisher account and page on

    DrivethruRPG.com where you can see all the map and other products I offer, including free stuff at: http://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/p...p&test_epoch=0

    Michael K. Tumey (Gamerprinter)