WW2IA ExampleThe World War 2 Interactive Atlas has always been the odd one out in our range. It mostly appeals to WW2 aficionados and history buffs, since it is a huge collection of historical maps on the largest conflict of the 20th century. Its maps are all linked together and referenced to a timeline of events. In that capacity as a reference work, it installs as a stand-alone product.

But the Atlas also contains tools, templates and symbols to use in Campaign Cartographer, to create similar maps or edit the existing WW2IA maps. This functionality has previously not been usable in CC3+, but a compatibility update makes it available now. If you own WW2IA, you can download it from your registration page.

With WW2IA the last of the add-ons has now been updated to work with CC3+.

Paper HouseHere it is: the full release of Dioramas 3. Pimp your game and create your own paper models with hundreds of new bitmaps and symbols to choose from.

Design your model in real-world scale and then print at whatever modeling scale you want to build. Pick a pre-defined model from our large range of samples and adjust it to your requirements, or build something new completely from scratch.

Dioramas 3 includes instructions for printing and assembling your paper model so you don’t need any prior experience in paper modelling and the included examples give you plenty of material to practice on.

Diorama Paper BridgeDioramas 3 is available as an upgrade from Dioramas Pro and features the following new material:

  • Two new bitmap drawings styles in addition to the updated vector style.
  • 275 new bitmap textures (compared to 22 in Dioramas Pro)
  • 700 bitmap symbols of doors, windows and other wall features
  • Loading/saving of diorama panel settings (no more setting them up for each new panel)
  • Sheet support for Dioramas tools

Get Dioramas 3 now from the ProFantasy online store. Or log into your registration page to grab the upgrade from Dioramas Pro.

If you want to try your hand at paper modeling with craft knife and glue before you jump fully into Dioramas 3, we have two examples buildings for you to download in pdf format.

Sage’s Tower
The reclusive sage dwells in this lonely tower somehwere on the outskirts of cilized lands. What will the adventurers find inside when they arrive to get his advice?
Sages' Tower

Village House, Church and Tower
A tiny village nestles into hills, sporting a few houses, a church and a lonely tower, guarding the townsfolk from marauding orcs and goblins.
Example Village

Bridge and HobgoblinsThe release of Dioramas 3 is imminent and we’re celebrating the occasion with a map and tutorial pack of a Bridge Diorama. The 9-page tutorial takes you through the design, construction and assembly of a multi-part bridge model. By printing and assembling as many parts as desired you can create a bridge of any required length.

The July issue of the Annual 2018 previews a few of the new bitmap textures included in Dioramas 3, and once that is released, you can replace or expand the included textures in the drawing with the full set. The model is included both as a FCW file and a set of three A4/US Letter pdf pages that you can print as often as you like and need.

Page 1 of the drawingYou can subscribe to the Annual 2018 here. Once you have subscribed, the July issue will immediately become available for download on your registration page.

Dioramas 3 ExampleWelcome to the June newsletter, dear cartographers! We take a look at the progress of Dioramas 3, and Remy helps us Understanding Styles in CC3+. Mike Schley writes about Mapping Narratives and Pär Lindström finishes his series with the third article on overland mapping. Finally, check out new Maps of the Month from the user community.

News

Resources

Articles

  • Pär Lindström finishes his tutorial about drawing overland maps in CC3+.
  • Mike Schley talks about Mapping Narratives, giving as an exclusive look into his thought processes when designing his beautiful maps.

Dio3 New Map WizardAs mentioned before on this blog, I am currently working on the full new version of our paper-miniature building add-on – Dioramas 3. I am pleased to report that we have a completed alpha version and release of the beta version is not far off. All the new assets are in place, and have been arranged in multiple drawing styles: two different bitmap styles and one vector style, recreating the old Pro-version style with some sheet effects added.

Next up is updating the Essentials Guide to take all the new stuff into account and producing a nice, big new example Diorama set. Checking on the Facebook community group people seem to be mostly looking for some common village buildings, so it’ll be a inn and tavern I’ll be creating – I’m looking at you, Tendril’s Oak Inn.

This will probably also mean breaking out my paper cutter, ruler and glue and getting my hands sticky to actually build the thing. It’s been a while since I’ve done that and I’m looking forward to it!

Here is the very first Dioramas building I ever designed and built, updated with the new bitmaps of Dioramas 3. It’s a rough recreation of the Sage’s Tower symbol from the “Fantasy Colors” set included in Symbol Set 1. The actual model I built has long gone the tragic way of all paper models: crumbled up and vanished into the recycling bin. But hey, now it can reincarnate as a new and prettier one.
Dio3 Sage's Tower

Here is another collection of maps that have caught our eyes during the past month. They are taken from the CC3+ Facebook community and the ProFantasy forum, and as usual are just a quasi-random selection from the multitude of maps that have been posted. Enjoy!

A Small Castle by Linda Böckstiegel is a perfect little adventure environment somehwere out on the border. Mapped with a combinatin of City Designer 3 and Dungeon Designer 3 it also uses a variety of community assets for the symbols and textures (from the Vintyri colelction).
Small Castle

Edward Mark Dakin created the timeless desert city of Fahraj using City Designer 3.
Fahraj

The Inn of the Welcome Wench, a map from the Temple of Elemental Evil adventure, was recreated by Hans Anders Bergström in this beautiful version.
Welcome Wench

David Roush showcases the Ancient Realms style from the Annual Vol 9 beautifully in this little regional map. Who doesn’t want to explore the Enchanted Forest?
Ancient Realms

The little lakeside village of Plissken (any snakes here?) is a first map created by forum user Amadeus. Great use of Mike Schley’s overland style to create a local map!
Village of Plissken

Picture 01This is the third part of my series about making an overland map in Campaign Cartographer, you can find the first two parts in earlier posts.

It is now the fun part of making maps start. Up until now we have just created the base for the map, now it is time to populate it and give it life. The first thing I do at this stage is to try to find spots in the map where there supposedly would have been cities or towns if this was the real world. Since it is a fantasy map we’re making we have to remember that the fastest way to travel before modern times is usually by water, so a lot of the cities will be situated along rivers or coasts. In the first picture you can see red circles where I want to place the first cities/towns in the map.

I’ve also marked out some red squares where the map is rather empty, those places we have to work on to make them more interesting, probably adding in something that will trigger the viewer’s imagination and make the map interesting to look at. An empty green field wont draw any attention to it, and with too many places like that in the map the end result wont trigger the imagination of the viewer.
When I’ve placed the first towns I start drawing roads between them. When the roads are in place it is easier to find new spots for more towns or villages. For example if you get a place where two roads cross each other that would be a perfect spot for a new settlement. Other good spots for settlements are next to rivers that the road will cross or next to a mountain, places where it will be natural for people to settle. Places where they can find work or trade.

Usually I divide the map into maybe three or four parts that I work on one at a time. In this way I can see the progress of the map, and it is also more fun when you can see parts of the end result early, makes it easier to keep up the work.

After you are done with the settlements it is time to take a look at those empty areas. Start by adding in some hills, or smaller mountains, add trees and other natural objects like cliffs, caves and farmland. The important thing here is to get more details in the map. At this stage I also add in things like maybe a wizard’s tower, a nomad’s camp or barbarian village. Places for adventures, places where your players would want to go.

Picture 02A good thing here is also to add new SHEET’s if needed. I for example added a SHEET for the fields because I wanted to adjust the effect on the fields texture that was different from the default one.

Whenever I make a map I always try to have a story in my head. Where is the border between the two kingdoms, are they friendly, if not maybe there should be some fortress at the border? Why is that city so far from all the others, maybe that is a free city where people go for trade, maybe they run a big slave market. Keep asking yourself all these questions when you make the map and fill in all the details and hopefully in the end you will have a great looking map with interesting details that your viewers will love to look at, and that will make them want to go places and having an adventure.

Next step would be to draw the borders between the kingdoms (I actually did this in Photoshop because I wanted a more hand drawn feeling to them) and adding text to cities, towns, kingdoms, rivers etc.

And remember keep up the mapping and good luck.

Isometric ViewWhat is a map and how can it tell a story? To explore the question, let’s begin by defining our terms. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, cartography is “the science or practice of drawing maps”. So what is it then that we’re creating in this process and how do we know if we’re achieving our goals? Furthermore, how can we tell that our efforts are making the most of the medium we’ve chosen to communicate with our audience? Returning to the Oxford English Dictionary for another clarification of terms might help here. A map, used as a noun, indicates “a diagrammatic representation of an area of land or sea showing physical features, cities, roads, etc.”. In addition, it can also refer to a representation of the position of objects in outer space, or more generally, the arrangement of any collection of information with regard to its distribution over an area or sequence in a progression. In a nutshell, a map is a selective re-presentation of facts as they relate to one another in space or time. When used as a verb, mapping speaks to the act of organizing or defining those relationships with the aim of creating a depiction that can be used for either internal reference or communication with others. With this in mind, the choices that we make in the process of building a map inform not only its technical function and visual flavor but also its ability to serve as a non-linear narrative ripe for expansion.

Forlorn CottageIn my mind, the difference between a simple diagram and a cartographic masterpiece lies in the manner in which the work engages its audience. Some of the best maps I can think of remind me of sandboxes filled with intriguing story seeds. Wherever you look there is enough detail to lose yourself in but there also exists ample room for the imagination to build and expand on what’s given. A great map presents itself as more than simple data. The rabbit holes within a truly engaging map are as varied as its viewers and as numerous as each moment an eye traces a path across its surface. With this in mind, how we choose what is important enough to include and what should be omitted defines the true character of our creation. It’s this judgment and practice that makes all the difference.

Now that we know the basic framework of the activity we’re engaged in, let’s look at some specifics concerning how to move forward. The scope of our interest here is presumably limited to the crafting of fantasy maps, particularly that sort defined by the needs of role-playing game masters looking to visualize sites for exploration, encounter settings, or storytelling. Since we aren’t necessarily worried about maintaining fidelity to a real-world location, then the focus of our overall aim shifts and we are allowed to build the world with more of a free hand. As a result, the initial design and layout steps serve a more essential function since the location is built from the ground up.

FloorplanWith this leeway, the inherent narrative nature of a map becomes that much more apparent. You’re telling the story, or setting the stage for a multitude of stories, by how you develop your picture. That being said, logical issues of physics, geomorphology, and tendencies of habitation are extremely important to consider since an environment that doesn’t make sense sets up roadblocks to storytelling that at their worst can become glaring holes in the plot. Even in the most fantastical world, if your river is running uphill then there better be a mighty good reason for it as well as an accompanying basin for all that water to drain into. Magic and otherworldly influences can drastically affect the underlying rules of the game but the response to those peculiarities needs to be logical. If your world is built on the back of an enormous turtle, then make sure to spend some time thinking about its implications and build the map accordingly. To expand on this, can nuances of your map speak to larger issues outside its boundaries? How can those unique details lead the reader or player to ask questions that spur them on to further adventures? The river that suddenly jumps its banks to cascade into the sky is a perfectly weird device that can set the stage for an excellent beginning to an adventure.

Outside RuinsAll maps present some form of constructed narrative such that in order for them to function as representations of something else, or worlds unto themselves, they are utterly reliant on decisions made by their creator. These choices are an outgrowth of the cartographer’s point of view and are a function of the creative process. In other words, if a patch of ground were simply duplicated to the last detail it would be a copy rather than a description and it’s in the description that we can find our voices as artists and authors. These determinations give identity to a map and define the purpose it serves. Something as simple as the manner in which a hierarchy of information is organized speaks volumes about the interests and drives of the artist. Allowing these choices to inform and reflect the character of your work makes for a richly compelling creation that feels much more alive than one whose features might seem overabundant, meager, or capricious.

Selecting what to reveal and what to omit is as vital to the process of drawing a map as it is to writing a story. Show your viewers what you’d like to tell them and let their imagination play with those details. What you choose to include will provide game masters and players alike the story landmarks they may respond to while the components you omit can potentially indicate a mystery or leave room for later editorial changes and expansion down the road. This organic living nature is a vitally important aspect of any captivating image whether it takes the form of a fog-of-war mechanic or the inclusion of a mysterious cave entrance in a traditional paper map. Leave something to be explored. This is particularly true of regional maps where the words ‘Terra Incognita’ serve like a beacon into the great unknown.

Print TileWhen designing the overall look and feel of your image, also consider how much is too much. The last thing a map should be is confusing, unless that’s a plot device you’re specifically aiming for. There is a balance that needs to be kept in mind in order to avoid the all too common cluttered look that occurs when a map becomes practically illegible due to the overabundance of information. If everything is included without respect to what really needs to be shown, the resulting visual noise can potentially drown out what’s actually important. Leave some room to breathe in the image and vary your object sizes, areas of contrast, visual density etc to avoid monotony. The fundamentals of design are just as important here as they would be in painting a landscape, since in a manner, that’s what we’re doing. Typically it’s a top-down landscape, but it’s still a landscape nonetheless. Luckily for us, we have the good fortune of being able to employ a wealth of tools that the traditional landscape painter might lack access to such as symbols, text, and multifaceted media.

Printed MapFinally, I can’t emphasize enough the fact that any map you create is only a starting point presenting your view of the world being shown. It’s a beginning so make sure to set the stage for the coming adventures embarked upon by your audience. Give it some life and don’t shy away from suggesting potential storylines that might be ripe for development. Visual narratives don’t need to be linear or even complete but they do require thought in their employment. Give the audience little nuggets of gold and they’ll dig into and expand on your creation by mining the depths of their own imagination. It’s not only your tale that’s being told here, especially where role-playing maps are concerned. It’s a partnership, a collaborative adventure embarked upon in the minds of each person huddled around your map.

Mike Schley
“As an illustrator and cartographer I’ve created a large number of pieces for publishers such as Wizards of the Coast, HarperCollins Publishing, and Inkle Studios. Of these, I’m most recognized for my development of environmental artwork and maps for the fantastical worlds of Dungeons & Dragons.”

In CC3+, you can make maps in many styles. Out of the box, CC3+ comes with at least 6 different overland styles, as well as a simple dungeon and city style. Depending on what style you choose, your map will look very different visually.

You’ve probably already learned that some styles are just better for some types of maps, and that is indeed one of the points with the different styles, to provide good options for many different kind of maps, but also to provide variety.

Of course, even if CC3+ comes with many styles, and many more are added if you own the various add-ons, symbol sets and annuals, part of the great flexibility of CC3+ is the ability to customize it to your needs, and one of the things you can do in that regard is to create new styles or customize existing ones to fit your needs. So, let us have a look at what a style really is, and what elements make up a style.

This article will provide a detailed overview of the process of creating your own style, but it does assume some familiarity with some of the processes

Elements of a style

Each style is made up from the following elements, all of which should be familiar to you already.

  • Bitmap Fills: Almost all styles need fills, and unless you are designing a vector style, these will be bitmap fills. Fills are a very prominent part of any style and are a major factor in setting the visual look of the style.
  • Symbols: While you can make a map without using symbols, most maps do use them. Symbols are usually designed to match the fills of the style.
  • Drawing Tools: These tools are set up to draw various shapes, such as landmasses and terrain, using the fill styles defined for the style.
  • Effects: All styles have their own unique set of effects, tailored to that style of map.
  • Template: The template is the glue that brings all these elements together. Bitmap fills are referenced from the template, macros load the correct symbol settings, the correct set of drawing tools is set as a property in the template, and effects are embedded in the template, ready to activate.

Note that almost all styles have all the elements above, but they can be shared among several styles. For example, both the bitmap styles in SS3 uses the same bitmap fills, but they have their own unique set of symbols. You can also make a style that collects multiple styles into one.

Let us dig into these elements and see how to make them

Continue reading »

CA138 The Old CityFor the June issue and the half-way point of the year we have a new set of symbols by Pär Lindström. Not a full drawing style, but a fantastic addition to existing city maps – a set of ruined buildings. Need to depict some of the ancient ruins your thriving trade city is built on? A village was just recently burned to the ground and your looting adventurers are sifting through the rubble? Those mossy stones on the hill beckon a party of treasure hunters? Don’t worry, the City Ruins symbol pack has you covered.

More than a hundred new symbols allow you to map those old town ruins, or that big rubble city quarter in detail and style. The accompanying mapping guide discusses how best set up the included symbols with sheets and effects.

You can subscribe to the Annual 2018 here. Once you have subscribed, the June issue will immediately become available for download on your registration page.

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