We skipped a month in August, so I had to look through even more awesome maps to present you for September! As always the selection is very hard and I’m not generally choosing by “best” or “most artistic criteria”, but simply by what catches my eye. It may be a great first map, an idea I’ve never seen before or anything else really. Enjoy!

Danel Yeaman created this dockside building and shared in the Facebook community. I love the simple little ship docked there at the Old Fishery!
Docks
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Welcome to the September newsletter. Here in the northern hemisphere the summer is drawing to a close and we are preparing for the second big convention of the year (Spiel in Germany) and busy autumn season. Celtic Village

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Let’s take another look at the two products we are working on at the moment: The Token Treasury and the new symbol set by Mike Schley.

Token Treasury

BarghestFor the token treasury, Rich Longmore keeps sending over his finished monster portraits for approval, and it’s a rare piece that we have to ask him a few adjustments for. For example see the Barghest here. The original version (left) looks great – but it felt a little too natural for, a wolverine came to my mind instead of a supernatural monster. So I asked Rich to make the face a little more unnatural (bony face, fiery eyes) and he produced the second version (right) in no time at all.

We’ve also decided to make the tokens available in round AND square formats, so Rich had to go back and add a little bits and pieces to existing ones here and there, but that’s all finished now and we are chugging along nicely. I am converting the artwork into symbols as we go along, which should make producing the final products once all graphics are done fairly straightforward.

Cities of Schley

Cities of Schley PreviewI know you are all eagerly waiting for the new Symbol Set “Cities of Schley” by Mike. You’ll be happy to hear that Mike has finished all the ink outlines of the buildings and is now working on the coloring. You can see just a tiny section of his preview here. To get an idea how detailed his work is just let me tell you that the original of this graphic is 9000 pixel across!

Once I get the colored versions, I will start adding the roof shading to the symbols so they will work with the automated lighting just as the other CD3 symbols.

Scott created this wonderful little symbol catalog of celtic dwellings which fits perfectly in with the symbols of City Designer 3, so we decided to make it available as a mini-add on. The download is available from your registration page if you have City Designer 3 registered. Here is Scott’s introduction to the catalog:

Celtic VillageThe Celtic symbol set started quite by accident. I was building a set of texture fills in Genetica and decided to include a thatch. That was achieved by layering dried grass patterns in Genetica and then using GIMP to hand-drawn in individual strands before finishing it back in Genetica by softening and blurring the image and making it seamlessly tileable. Once finished, I wanted to test it out on a typical round Celtic house and was mostly pleased with the way it looked. That just happened to coincide with something I was reading about the Iron Age, so I delved deeper into the details of Celtic villages. The variety of building styles intrigued me. While the majority of the structures were round, they did raise the more traditional square buildings, as well, for barns and storehouses and eventually as houses.

Typical Celtic villages were set up around a large common structure where the village could meet. Security was in the form of either an earth and stone berm, or a stockade fence built from sharpened logs, sometimes with an elevated walkway used as a lookout and for defensive purposes. Buildings started with a stone base; log supports were added and covered in thick bound thatch, overlapping bottom to top to keep out rain. Trenches were often dug around buildings to move rainwater away from the structures.

The lack of chimneys is not an oversight. Celtic structures had no chimneys. Holes in the roofing caused updrafts which threatened to set fire to the thatch, so fires were built in the center of the structures and the smoke simply rose and seeped out through the thatching. The smoke was also a deterrent to mold and fungal growth in the damp thatch.

The final set of symbols is quite different from the originals, with ragged edging and steeper pitches to the roofs. Numerous color shades from greens to yellows to browns were tested on the thatch texture until I decided on the hue. The various symbols represent different types of Celtic structures, from small grain silos to houses and barns to large meetinghouses. Still others existed. The initial symbols were created in CC3+ and then modified in GIMP.

The map was made in CD3, Bitmap A style, with a few fills imported from the Overland catalog. It is just a quick example. I’m very excited that ProFantasy deemed my little collection of symbols worthy enough to offer to CC3+ users, and hope people enjoy and can use them. Besides thanks to the ProFantasy staff, a thanks needs to go out to mapping maestra, Sue Daniels, who was instrumental in helping me get the symbols to their final finished stage!

A map in itself conveys a lot of useful information. It shows you the lay of the land, the location of terrain features, the names of various locations, and so on. But you often have lots of additional information that doesn’t fit on the map itself, such as GM-only information about the traps in the dungeon, lore information about the different places, statistics, and so on. All of this is things you may wish to have at your fingertips when using the map. So, let us explore various ways you can easily provide extra information with a map.

Map Notes

CC3+ has a built-in system for storing notes along with your map. These are not visible in the map itself, but embedded in the map file, and can be brought up when needed.

To access the list of map notes, either click the Map Notes button on the toolbar, or select Drawing Properties from the File menu and then hit the Map Notes button in the dialog. This will bring up a dialog showing the list of all map notes for this map. From here, you can select any map note and click OK to show that map note, or you can hit edit to change it. You can also create new map notes from here. Continue reading »

Temple of the Spring DawmWe are very happy to present a new drawing style by Sue Daniel for the September Annual 2018. At heart it is a city style using City Designer 3 functionality for the roofs of the temples to generate automatic shading, and it is specifically designed to create Japanese-style temples in high detail. Later in the year we will expand on this to create a full-blown Asian city style.

In the meantime this style has all the material to create beautiful temple layouts with a variety of roof styles and many bitmap fills and vegetation symbols. After all, what would a Japanese temple be without a veritable host of blossoming cherry trees?

You can subscribe to the Annual 2018 here. If you are already subscribed, the August issue is now available for download on your registration page.

Chinese Summer PalaceIn the past month, I have begun to release many of the custom tiles I use. And others have begun to join me. You can find this growing collection in the Master Mapping Tile Library.

But this begs the question… why invest time in making custom tiles? And how do you make ‘em in the first place? First up, let’s answer why custom tiles are worth the effort.

Custom tiles let you add a unique WORLD flavour to your maps. Different cultures in your world will have different aesthetics. Their buildings will not only be designed differently, but will be made of different materials used in different ways with different artistic flair. Consider the Chinese Summer Palace, Westminster Abby, the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, and the Villa Romana La Olmeda. As soon as you glance at any of these images, you are immediately transported to their culture – you know something about the people that made them. What they valued, how they viewed the world.

Westminster AbbeyBy mapping unique cultural aesthetics, you reinforce the game world and its peoples in a deeply effective way. This is true for fantasy settings, but also doubly so for science fiction! Think back to the classic TV series Babylon 5, where each species had its own ‘look’ that went all the way to their clothing and starship designs. Star Trek does the same thing. The style of these different cultures’ structures and architecture is a signature of the species itself. It conveys a lot about them.

For cartographers, this means that we can use the aesthetics of architectures we map to convey the culture that built them. And one of the most effective ways to do this is to use custom tiles. Or more specifically, sets of themed custom tiles.

Temple of Queen HatshepsutIn High-Space, we have dozens of alien species, each of which has a rich culture. The humans are techno-junkies, that favour chrome and cyber-circuitry plus carpets and lit metal panels. In contrast, their closest pals, the Phoxin, are bison-sized bio-smiths that favour organic spaces, with moist loam, algae blooms, and walls of living plant matter. The Psionic Soamata, having evolved on dry crystal-sand planes, favour delicate carved sandstone facades. And the grumpy iron bugs… well, heavy metal and rust would best describe their look.
Therefore, when I set out to create a set of battle maps in the High-Space universe, I first look at who built the location where the action will take place, and then set about selecting themes of textures that will match that culture.

Villa Romana La OlmedaIf I can find open-source tiles that match, great. If not, it’s time to crank up specialised art software and get to work…
Which brings us to the second question… how to make seamless tiles that work well with CC3+? While photoshop can help you create seamless tiles, I do not recommend it. Creating a tile with Photoshop is akin to pulling out your own eyes with a chopstick. It may be a cool party trick, but it’s painful and often result in things that are just ugly. Instead, I strongly recommend investing in a dedicated tool.

My tool of choice for this is FilterForge. It is a programmatic art package which is really designed for 3D modellers and digital artists. It is programmatic because it allows you to create your own ‘filters’ by wiring up small chunks of graphical algorithms to create a highly customable visual effect – in our case, seamless tiles.

FilterForge has a drawback. It is expensive. I mean, really expensive. The edition I use has a list price of US$828 (though you can get it for about $600 with special offers that they run frequently).
The good news is, they have a cheaper, less functional version for about US$150. The bad news is, that solution does not support 16 or 32 color, high-precision, hi-definition output. For an average map, that’s not a big issue. But if you are planning print-ready professional maps… well… you *may* notice the difference. But for 98% of us, it won’t be an issue.

The other limitation with the cheap version of FIlterForge is that you cannot customise the filters. But given that there are literally thousands of ready-made, freely downloadable filters, the inability to customise may not be that big an issue for hobbyists.

In short, if want to churn out lots of tiles are that are variations on a theme – which is the perfect scenario for us mappers – then FilterForge Standard at US$149 will be good enough most of the time.
If you don’t want the expense of making your own tiles, you can always grab some from the growing Master Mapper free community collection, here.

The next question is, how to design the tiles so they not only look good, but also PLAY WELL on the table.

When you design your tiles for a use with minis, always consider this rule: how will the tile’s texture ‘line up’ with the traditional 5f step grid for most games? Start by planning your tiles as 1200×1200 pixel images. Why 1200×1200? First of all, it is a standard size used by ProFantasy for hi-res files. Secondly, 1200 is a very flexible number – it can be divided by 2, 3, 4 and 6. Which means is can scale well as a repeating texture for many different mapping situations.

I make the assumption that my 1200×1200 pixel tile will fill a 10x10f space on my maps (or 3mx3m for sci-fi metric maps). This means each tile I create is a grid of four 5f steps. When designing the tile, I try to take into account that it will be aligned to a 5f grid, and I make sure that design enhances that grid, or at the very least does not clash with it. Check out my video on how to use the latest edition of FilterFilter to make tiles here.

Once you’ve made the tiles, it’s time to bring them into CC3+. The first thing to do is collect all the tiles of a similar theme into a single folder. Then move that folder of tiles into the CC3+ bitmap tiles folder. This can be a little tricky to find, depending on your computer’s setup. You can see how do this in the following video. The reason you put the files into this special folder is it ensure that your maps can be loaded onto other computers without incurring massive amounts of rework. Trust me. This little extra step now will save you a lot of trouble in the future.

Now fire up CC3+ and create a new map or load a map where you’d like to use your new tiles. Click on TOOLS and select Import Bitmap Fill Styles.

On the screen that pops up, make sure you have the “relative to CC3 path” set and click the Browse button to locate the folder where your tiles are located. Select and open any one tile in that folder.
Next check ‘Scaled” and then set the width and height for your tile to 10f.

Click on OK and bob’s your uncle – you’ve now added those fills to your map that you can use just like all the other standard fills. The part 2 video, above, shows you the entire process.

So, to summarize:

  1. Create groups of themed custom tiles to highlight the cultural aesthetics in your world.
  2. Consider using a dedicated texture / tile making solution, such as FilterForge
  3. Download sets of tiles from the Master Mapping Community Library, here.
  4. When creating your own tiles, make then 1200×1200 pixels and plan for them to be placed on your maps at 10fx10f scale (or 3mx3m scale for metric maps).
  5. Always move your files in folders under the ProFantasy Bitmap Tiles folder.
  6. Using the Tools – Import Bitmap Fill Styles function to get your tiles loaded into your maps.

Best regards, Joe

All images are by unknown authors, licensed under CC BY-SA.

One of the more common questions from CC3+ users is about how to extract a region from a large-scale map and develop this region as a more detailed local map.

The basics for doing this is already explained in the User Manual that comes with CC3+, but for this article, I am going to go a bit more into detail and explain the various tools and processes involved in doing this.

The basic principles behind this operation is to create a new map of the desired size, then copy over the entities from the existing map, trim down these entities to fit the new map size, and finally add additional detail to the new local map. Let us explore the tools and procedure for doing this.

The main tools you’ll need for doing this is Clipboard Copy, Trace, Break and Split, as well as some minor Node Editing.

Let us get started. For this article, I’ll use the example map from the User Manual. You’ll find this map in @Tutorials\UserManual\Example.fcw (remember that the @-sign refers to your CC3+ data directory). My goal is to take the area marked with the red rectangle and develop that into a local map of that area. The marked area here is 30 by 20 miles.

Note that all images in this tutorial are clickable to see higher resolution versions to more easily see what the text describes.

If you are new to this, I also highly recommend loading up the same tutorial map I use and try to follow along with this tutorial, exporting the same area, rather than try directly on your own map. Following along on this map lets you more easily see that things happens the way I describe them, and lets you build familiarity with the tools before starting on your own map.

There is also a video accompanying this article, showing me perform the steps described herein. Note that this video is not intended as a stand-alone video tutorial, but rather as a visual aid to help you see how things are supposed to work. You do not need to watch the video to take full advantage of this article, it is completely optional.

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“For the vast majority of users, Dioramas 3 will not be the main reason that they buy CC3+ for. Yet, for those who cannot opt for the ridiculously expensive plastic or resin miniature terrain it is an absolute game-changer, welcoming them to real 3D landscapes. Just make sure that both your printer and your fingers are nimble enough.”

Prolific game reviewer Antonios S. has been busy checking out more ProFantasy and posting his reviews on RPG.net. Check out his impressions of:

Joshua Plunkett (Josh.P. on the Profantasy community forum) is an avid CC3+ user and map-maker, and one of the instigators and organizers of the Realmworks project that incorporates a host of maps from the ProFantasy community atlas project. We’ve asked him to present the project for the rpgmaps blog and here are his words:

Campaign Cartographer 3+ is fantastic for making maps for basically anything but it tends to really appeal to a certain group. That group is Dungeon Masters. Regardless of the system or the numbers of sides on the dice we roll one thing is common… we all need beautiful maps.

The ProFantasy Community Atlas Project was such a great idea and has turned into an amazing resource for DMs across the planet. Within our CC3+ community though we have a sub demographic of users. The sub-group use CC3+ and Realm Works together!

Realm Works is campaign management software, it lets you take information from everywhere and put it all together into a single digitally cross-referenced digital DM binder. Specifically, though it has some great functionality in regards to maps. You can load maps in and pin out specific locations. You can then link those pins to topics where you can describe the area as much as you like with full text write-ups and supporting pictures. You can link regional maps to town maps and town maps to building maps all the while including the text and pictures to describe each location. It provides the templates and structure necessary to manage a large world building project.

When we saw the ProFantasy Community Atlas Project we therefore became excited with the possibilities of combining the CC3+ community project into an extension Realm Works community project. We sought permission from a handful of the Cartographers involved and got to work transferring the excellent maps already made by the CC3+ community into Realm Works. We then opened the doors to the Realm Works community encouraging them to help with creating the textual content around each map.

It came to life really quickly with people from both communities coming together to create new content for the continent of Artemisia. Before we knew it, we had entire regions, cities, towns and dungeons starting to take shape. The realm is available for free to all Realm Works users who want to check It you. You can DOWNLOAD IT FROM HERE and import it into a new or existing realm.

The project is open to anyone who wants to contribute. Be that CC3+ users contributing maps to the ProFantasy Community Atlas Project or Realm Works users who want to help build out the details of the world as part of the Realm Works Community Campaign World Project. To get involved simply follow the links and read up on how you can get involved.

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