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 May issue will immediately become available for download on your registration page.

The LandmassThis is the second part of my series about making an overland map in Campaign Cartographer, you can find the first part here.

Next step is to start drawing the land. At the moment we only have a water background and a SHEET with the sketch map. Select default landmass by clicking on the icon in the top left corner of the program. Fill in the land as it is in the sketch map, once you are done you will see the land texture as its SHEET is on top of the sketch. Now is also the time to fill in all the islands if you have any. Also remember that the sketch map is a sketch, if you feel like you want to change anything just do that, I for example added in some more small islands that I thought made the map look better.

When you are done you wont see the sketch map so you have to hide the SHEET with the land texture. To do this click on the SHEET and EFFECTS icon and mark the Land SHEET with an H in its right box, as in the picture. You will now be able to see the sketch map again.

When I start adding symbols to a map I always start in the upper left corner and work my way down while going from left to right. In this way I will always get the symbols in the right order, which will make it much quicker to finish the map. In this first step I’m only adding all the big strokes that means mountains, forests and rivers, just so that I’ll get a grip of the map. I also try to not make the terrain too square because that will make the map look stiff and boring. You want to have a map that feels organic, it will make it look much more alive. This is especially true when it comes to the rivers. Straight rivers don’t look god, try to make them curved so you will get a sense of that they are flowing. Also remember that rivers always branch out upwards. That means that you will have many starting points but only one end point. The only exception to this is if you have a river delta at the end where the river will meet the ocean.

Details addedAt this point the map looks rather empty so it is time to add in some more details. A good thing to do is also to hide the sketch maps SHEET so you can see all textures for your map. When I say details I mainly mean to add in some extra trees where the forest ends, adding some hills at the mountains edge and creating some deltas at the rivers. Don’t do too much at this stage since we will add in more details in the next step when it is time to actually start shaping our kingdoms. In my map I also added a volcano and some mountains on the right side map, mainly to get a better balance in the map. At this stage the main goal is to have a good base map that you can continue working on in the next step, that is when we will turn the map into a finished product.

Current Map

City of SanctuaryWelcome to the May newsletter, dear cartographers! We have news on the Source Maps series this month, another update for CC3+, two detailed articles on scale and scaling of maps by Remy Monsen and Glynn Seal, the second part of Pr Lindström’s series on overland maps and Maps of the Month from the user community.

News

  • The Source Maps series of products (Castles! Temples, Tombs & Catacombs! and Cities!) are now compatible with CC3+.
  • Update 17a is available on the registration page to bring your version of CC3+ up to 3.84.
  • The May issue of the Cartographer’s Annual 2018 is available.

Resources

Articles

Here is another collection of maps that have caught our eyes since the last “Maps of the Month” post. 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!

Western Rhaema by Andrew Hunter is a wonderful example of a “first map in CC3+. Andrew used the Mike Schley Inks symbols for a beautiful black and white style for his “Songreaver’s Tale” books.
Western Rhaema

With the Mymercia Maximus Colony Joshua Plunkett creates an unlikely merget of his hobbies of map-making and ant-collection. The map itself is also a merging of two styles: Vertical dungeons with Mike Schley’s Ink and Par Lindstrom’s B&W Dungeon.
Mymercia Maximus Colony

Vindell’s Tower by Luke Ó Scolaidhe is a great example of that is possible with Perspectives 3.
Vindell's Tower

The Isles of Vecta (or Wict) by Pete F depicts a far-future, post-apocalyptic version of England’s Isle of Wight.
The Isles of Vecta

The City of Sanctuary by Sue Daniel is a work in progress for the Community Atlas Project, but it already shows off wonderfully how to use sheet effects to depict height differences in a city map.
City of Sanctuary

The Source Maps series of products are for the most part collections of pre-drawn maps and adventure material that can be used stand-alone material. But they also contained templates, tools and symbols for use in CC3 to make maps in the same style yourself. Up until now these where not available for CC3+.

We are very happy to announce that we’ve now created compatibility updates for all three Source Maps products to install with CC3+. If you own one or more of these products, you only need to log into your registration account to download the respective “Setups for CC3+” from the product list.

Just be sure to install the latest update to CC3+ (Update 17) before these compatible Source Maps setups, as they require it for some new resources.

SM CastlesSource Maps: Castles!

Whether your characters need a stronghold, your villain needs an impregnable bastion, or your miniatures need a fort to besiege, Source Maps: Castles! is what you need to fire your imagination.

SM:Castles offers twenty-five archetypal castle layouts with surroundings and 3D views. Based on floorplans of the historical castles with conjectural detail, the plans paint a complete picture of these fortifications in their heyday. SM:C also offers you drawings, oodles of historical detail and fantasy adventure material to use in your favourite RPG.

SM: Temples...Source Maps: Temples, and Catacombs

Whether your priest needs a home, your vampire needs a crypt, or you just find sacred sites fascinating, Source Maps: Temples, Tombs and Catacombs is what you need to fire your imagination.

From the majestic Great Pyramid to the prehistoric megaliths of Stonehenge, SM:TTC gives you twenty five of the finest sacred sites you’ll find anywhere. With detailed floor plans, 3D views and surroundings, plus incredible historical and adventure material, this is an unparalleled resource for game masters and historians.

SM: CitiesSource Maps: Cities

Whether you want to sneak through dank alleyways, offload loot in a bustling market, or simply take in the grandeur and intrigue of the big city that you crave, Source Maps: Cities will kindle your imagination.

From the splendor of ancient Babylon to the squalor of medieval York, SM:Cities gives you the magic of eight fully-mapped cities and more than 70 urban floorplans, from immense temple complexes to Viking halls and longboats.

These updates leave only one product in our list that’s not compatible with CC3+ yet: The World War 2 Interactive Atlas. But rest assured, that situation won’t last long!

What is the scale of this map?

Sense of Scale 1

It is difficult to tell. There are no scale markers, scale bar, or grid overlay. The only things we see to gauge the scale is the graphical representation of the trees and the river. The river could be 3 miles wide or it could be 100 feet wide. We do not know. The trees narrow this down a little as we could assume a tree is 100 feet tall and take it from there. Still a guess, but we are getting more of a sense of scale.

If we assumed the river was 1 mile across, the trees would also be roughly a mile high, and the map confuses us because the trees are shown at a more exaggerated scale.

When a map needs almost no scale indications other than the graphical representations, it works best. The interpretation of the maps relationship between features becomes easier, and after all, that is the job of a map.

There is nothing wrong with having features out of scale compared to each other and then having scale bars and reference dimensions, but it tends to make the map feel odd if the features aren’t at least, to some degree, realistically scaled. If you have fun creating maps, that is the main point.

Here is a photo I took whilst coming in to land at an airport in England. Look at the trees. They look like broccoli.

This image is a great reference for how trees, fields, buildings, and roadways might look on your map of a similar scale.
For those interested, this is the location on Google Maps: https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@52.3593088,-1.8766505,2134a,35y,90h,38.86t/data=!3m1!1e3

I can also highly recommend looking at the following resources to see how features look from above the ground:
• Google Maps – https://www.google.co.uk/maps/ (switch on terrain view). It also has a ‘tilt’ 3D feature that allows you to see features in oblique aerial view.
• Bing Maps – https://www.bing.com/maps (switch on aerial view). Also note that Bing Maps has a great ‘bird’s eye view’ feature that can help with oblique aerial views.
• Google Earth – https://www.google.co.uk/intl/en_uk/earth/. This really is a great tool in the mappers arsenal.

Measuring Tools

The above resources also allow you to measure distances and can be invaluable when you want to know how large half a mile, 5 miles or 40 miles looks from the air. Specifically, Google Earth has tools that allow you to place and measure the areas of circles, polygons. This is incredibly useful in garnering a sense of scale.

Scaling Trees

Let us take a quick look at trees. We all know what a clump of trees looks like, but they look different depending on how far away you are from them. If the map is a battlemap or a regional map, then representing trees (or other features) at the correct relative scale is important to aid a sense of scale for the map.

Let’s take a look at some differing sketches of trees that we could use to represent on a map.

Some links to ‘Top Down’ views of trees in order of proximity to the ground:
1. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@52.7441187,-2.0406674,164m/data=!3m1!1e3
2. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@52.7439175,-2.0401621,389m/data=!3m1!1e3
3. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@52.7435139,-2.0385929,1151m/data=!3m1!1e3

Some links to ‘Oblique Aerial’ views of trees in order of proximity to the ground:
1. https://binged.it/2GbdNRA
2. https://binged.it/2Gat5WQ
3. See photo from aircraft above.

A more advanced technique for top down forests, but much quicker and easier for large areas of trees is to use digital tools. In this example, I am using ArtRage 5, but the tools are available in programs such as Photoshop and Gimp. I am selecting a particle type brush in a green colour. The brush is set to have a little colour and luminance value variance.
A Sense of Scale 4
I can then add some ‘drop shadow’ effect to the layer upon which this was brushed.
A Sense of Scale 5
This gives it a sense of depth.

When upon a background, it completes the illusion of a forest from a much higher vantage point and becomes more suitable for regional maps.
A Sense of Scale 6

Scaling Mountains

We can apply the same kind of ideas to mountains. Here are some links to mountains at various distances from ground level:

Some links to ‘Top Down’ views of mountains in order of proximity to the ground:
1. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@47.1627293,12.1812876,12246m/data=!3m1!1e3
2. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@47.0934801,12.2144138,49403m/data=!3m1!1e3
3. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@46.8237988,11.0920616,234301m/data=!3m1!1e3

Some links to ‘Oblique Aerial’ views of mountains in order of proximity to the ground:
1. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@47.0566826,12.1812876,15142a,35y,37.4t/data=!3m1!1e3
2. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@46.4817889,12.1445335,85076a,35y,34.55t/data=!3m1!1e3
3. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@45.470392,11.5212508,246225a,35y,30.96t/data=!3m1!1e3

Think of mountains as a series of ridges and then valleys either side. Water flows down into the valleys and lakes and rivers are often found here, as well as glaciers into colder and higher areas.
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@46.561726,10.7213714,12602a,35y,37.57t/data=!3m1!1e3

So, let’s take a quick sketch look at how we could represent mountains from varying distances from the ground. In the examples below, isolated mountains can be represented as shown on the left, and ranges of mountains shown as those on the right. The centre top is a more illustrative version of a mountain range.
A Sense of Scale 7
A little bit of shading adds to the illusion.
A Sense of Scale 8

We have another digital technique for top down mountains, which is again much quicker and easier for mountain ranges. In this example I am using ArtRage 5, but again, the tools are available in programs such as Photoshop and Gimp.

I am using a brush which some opacity, so I can build up layers and has some pressure sensitivity.
A Sense of Scale 9
Then the magic bit. We use layer effects to add an ‘emboss, inside’ effect. Me make the contours sharp and as deep and as tall as possible using the ‘Radius’ and ‘Depth’ effects.
A Sense of Scale 10
We can also adjust the ‘Radius’ down to turn the whole thing just as easily into a plateau.

A little bit of background and we are looking more realistic.
A Sense of Scale 12
We can add the forested areas like we discussed earlier to this same mountain range and finish off with some texturing to the trees and mountains.
A Sense of Scale 13
The sense of scale for the above is much more evident.

We can use similar techniques to create a lone mountain too, by stacking mountain layers on top of each other.
A Sense of Scale 14
And with woodland added to help with the scaling.
A Sense of Scale 15

It is even possible to take images created like the above and use as textures in 3d software. SketchUp is a fabulous bit of free software and can be used to lay images (textures) onto the faces of models (https://www.sketchup.com/products/sketchup-free). You would use the SandBox Tools: https://help.sketchup.com/en/article/3000130
A Sense of Scale 16
When rendered, these can be very attractive gaming handouts.
A Sense of Scale 17
A Sense of Scale 18

Conclusion

So, in closing, given the above comments and the vast array of tools available, the key bit of advice is to look at nature using the available resources at your disposal. From that, you can graphically represent features that fit the scale of the map you are working on. This in turn should make it more intuitively interpreted.

Thanks for reading, Glynn

Glynn is the owner of MonkeyBlood Design & Publishing. Specialising in cartography, artwork, graphic design, and layout for the table-top gaming industry, Glynn is also a published author and has run two successful Kickstarter campaigns for game setting materials.

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