CC3 from Profantasy software is the height of mapmaking. With time and skill you are able to create maps of the quality found in professional game products. The program uses a system of layers, each adding a new dimension of detail. The program is easy to learn, but much harder to master. If you expect to produce pro-quality maps right of the bat, you may be disappointed. It takes time and effort to learn the small details that take a map from good to great (details that I’m not sure I have fully learned yet).
While there is something of a learning curve to CC3, the people at Profantasy are extremely helpful and have a series of detailed videos posted on Youtube to help you learn. At forty-five dollars, the software is a bit of an investment, but if you want quality and have the time to pursue it, CC3 is for you.
Hexographer is an amazing site for several reasons. While it doesn’t offer the same flexibility as CC3, it is much easier to use while still producing high quality maps. You start by telling the program how big you want your map (in hexes), then you simply select a terrain style (forest, mountains, grasslands, etc) and click the empty hexes. This approach to mapping is very quick and easy to learn. You can speed things up even further by setting a terrain style as the default. For example, if your map is a large archipelago, you can set the default to water and then place land over top of the water.
There are two things I love about this software (above and beyond its ease of use). First, they offer a free demo of several of their programs on their site. These demos allow you to create complete maps and save them to your computer or print them out. Second, the maps are an exact match to the old hex maps popular in second edition. When I saw the example maps on the site for the first, I was pulled back to 1991, because the maps have the feel of the Mystara maps in the Rules Cyclopedia.
The Pro version is thirty dollars for a full license, or ten dollars for one year.
Both of these programs will greatly enhance your games and help you create stunning maps, check them out.