My view of mapping nicely is not something that visually looks fancy and like eye-candy, though sometimes it can be too, but rather gameplay-wise fitting. What does that mean exactly?
Here is an example. Very useful advice givenl by mark333.http://www.rpgmakervx.net/index.php?showtopic=28381
Addition to this, players can think of creative ways to make use of events on the map. Adding interaction and puzzles with their designs. Linking maps together and creating reason for players to explore maps, then rewarding them for doing so, can be a lot more fun then some eye-candy map that is too narrow and confusing to find the exit.
The RTP tiles are all perfectly fine and setup for that and yes it is difficult at first, but once you learn the basics every map starts becoming a lot easier. If you struggle with waterfalls and mountains, look at the sample maps, look at the screenshot threads around the communities, look at the tutorials around the communities. Then start to practice creating some waterfalls and mountains with the RTP and soon enough you'll find them easy.
So I have to disagree that it is difficult to map something nice. At least gameplay-wise and in the long-run. Both of which is what is really what is important.
Sure if you wish too and can make eye-candy maps with the gameplay principles in mind, then do so. I agree that could be more difficult and hopefully worth-while, but VX by default is not hard to map something nice with. You decide as the developer if you will make it simple or complex.
If you currently struggle making good maps due to the zoom and scales, try placing grids on your maps. That's currently what I am doing and it's helping a lot. Tools, Options, Grid, Valid. 17 by 13 is a good choice since that's the game screen size. It's not always going to give you an accurate grid depending on your size, but it gives you a good idea how you can actually shrink sizes of maps to be a lot smaller.