Understanding Styles

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

Template

The first thing you need when creating a new style is a new template. To do this, just start a new map in an existing style. Pick whatever style is most appropriate for this. If you plan to elements like fills from an existing style, make a new map from that style, otherwise just pick something. I recommend making your new map in size 1000 x 800. Just keep it as a map for now, we’ll save it as a template in the end.

If required, add/remove and reorganize sheets and layers before you proceed.

Bitmap Fills

You’ve already seen the Bitmap Files tab of the Fill Style Properties dialog. This dialog shows all the bitmap fills referenced from the current template. Note that each fill in the list reference an external raster image, so if you are missing the image on disk (perhaps you don’t own the product that provided that file), you will see the dreaded red X’es.

From this dialog you can add extra fills on a one-by-one basis. Of course, if you have many fills, you don’t want to add them one by one. You can instead go to Tools -> Import bitmap fill styles to import a folder full of images. This is the most common option when you define a new style, just prepare a folder with the fills you want, and use this to import them. Just remember to allow CC3+ to create the other resolutions unless the files are already in the four different resolution CC3+ uses (VH, HI, LO, VL).

When importing fills, remember that the path to the images will be embedded in the map file, so make sure that the files are in their final location, don’t import from a temporary folder. Also, you do want to use paths relative to your CC3+ directory, as this makes your style more easily portable, even if it is just between your own computers, so you should always use a subdirectory somewhere inside the Bitmaps directory in your CC3+ data directory. It is also wise to think ahead and use a directory structure with one directory for each style and don’t mix fills from different styles in one directory.

Note that when you prepare your folder with images for your style, keep in mind that you will need fills that fit together; photorealistic fills don’t work too well along with cartoony ones. Also remember that you need many different fills to make a proper map style, for example an overland map will need fills for land and sea and different kinds of terrain, but if you make a style for making arctic maps, you probably don’t need a jungle fill. If you don’t have a complete set on your own for your style, you’ll probably want to mix it with an existing CC3+ style. To do this, simply use the Import Bitmap Files dialog again and import that folder too, DON’T copy the image files over to your new folder.

Once you have imported your files, I recommend going through each fill in the Fill Style dialog and delete those you don’t need, for example styles that came with the template, but that you don’t need for your new style. While working through the list, you’ll also want to set up the Scale options for the fills you just imported.

Symbols

To keep this a little focused, I won’t go into details about how to make symbol catalogs here, that is a large topic, and is also documented in the manual. But, to ready your symbols for your new style, make sure you have made symbol catalogs for your symbols, and just as for the fills above, remember to put the symbols in their final location before making the catalogs, and use a location inside the Symbols directory inside your CC3+ data directory to store the art files, don’t put things in your documents directory or other places on your computer (but keep a copy there for backup purposes).

Now, when making a style, we want those little symbol catalog buttons to work properly. In CC3+, this is handled through filters. So, what we will do is to set up a master filter for your style. The master filter serves to identify all symbol catalog settings belonging to your style. You can pick any word for this, but make sure to pick something unique, otherwise you may see unwanted symbol catalogs showing up when you click the buttons.

To make your master filter, right click the symbol style toggle button and choose the master filter settings option. In this dialog, set the first filter to your chosen keyword, set the numbers of filters to use to 1 (These are the filters symbol style toggle will toggle through, so you can set up more filters here if you wish to utilize this functionality, but that makes everything a bit more complex). Finally, hit the save button and save this setting under a new name. Note that the word you set in the Filter 1 slot is the actual filter, while the name you give it when you save is the name we need to use to load in this filter later.

Once you have a master filter, you can start setting up symbol catalog settings. A symbol catalog setting is basically a named setting that loads a specified symbol catalog. Each style will have one such setting for each symbol catalog that would be available in the style, and different styles can have their own symbol catalog settings referencing the same symbol catalog.

These symbol catalog settings are all named starting with the master filter we just defined, then followed by the type of catalog and then optionally followed by more text, which is only important if you have more than one catalog of the same type. You may have noted that sometimes when you click one of the symbol catalog buttons a new symbol catalog is loaded into the symbol catalog window immediately, while at other times you are presented with a list of catalogs to choose from. The latter happens if there are more than one catalog of a given type.

For overland maps, the types available are Border, Coast, Mountains, Natural, Structures and Vegetation. Whenever you hit one of the symbol catalog buttons, it will look for a symbol catalog setting that matches the current master filter, as well as one of those keywords. So, to make the catalog available when you click the button, include that keyword in the setting name, for example, using the filter name MyNewStyle from the screenshot, a catalog setting loading vegetation catalog would be named “MyNewStyle Vegetation”.

To make these symbol catalog settings, hit the Symbol Catalog Settings button. Since no settings exists for our new master filter, it will bring up a blank list. Just hit Advanced, and then start creating new settings. Remember to name them as described above, don’t forget to start with the master filter then the catalog type. For each setting you create, also remember to choose a symbol catalog file to associate the setting with.

If you did this correctly, you’ll now find that the symbol catalog toolbar buttons work as intended and load your catalogs. Remember, you can have more than one catalog of each type by just appending some text at the end, like in my screenshot.

Remember you can create symbol catalog settings for both new symbol catalogs you have made, as well as for existing symbol catalogs. This can then be used to create a style with access to the symbol catalogs from multiple existing styles.

Drawing Tools

Your style need drawing tools. I won’t go into detail about how to edit the drawing tools here, I assume you know how to do that.

When you make a new style, you’ll probably want to start with the set of drawing tools from an existing style, but since you don’t want your changes to affect that style, you should start by making a copy of these tools. Inside your CC3+ data directory, you’ll find a subdirectory called System, and inside this another directory called Drawtools. Inside this directory, you’ll find a bunch of directories, each one representing a different map style, and containing a bunch of .dto files. These .dto files are the actual drawing tools. What you need to do is to just create a new directory inside Drawtools, give it a representative name, and copy over all the .dto files from one of the existing styles; pick one with a set of tools that are appropriate for your new style. If you are basing your new style of an existing style, you should obviously copy the drawing tools from that style, otherwise, pick the tools you think fit best as a base. Also remember you can copy tools from multiple styles if you want that.

Back in CC3+, you can now click the All drawing tools button, and select the new drawtools folder you made from the style dropdown. Note that many tools may be missing their fill at this point. This is because these tools refer to fills not currently in our map. Go through the tools, edit them, and change the fills used by the tools to the bitmap fills you have in your map, and do any other changes you need to make these tools fit your new style. Once this is done, you should have a set of tools using your new fills.

Effects

Setting up the effects is just like making the effects for a map. However, when making effects for a template, you should consider all the maps that will be made from the template, so you should try to set up effects that will be usable for any map made with this style and avoid very specialized effects. Additionally, since you may wish to make maps of varying sizes from this template, make sure to set up all effects using percent of drawing extents width instead of map units, since the effects then will scale with the size of the map (Applies to overland maps, dungeon and city maps should use map units always)

Remember to remove any effects you don’t want that came with the template. At this point, you can also save the effects to a new effects preset, but this isn’t strictly necessary since the effects will be stored in the template in any case.

Finishing up the Template

We can now do the final edits to design the template as we want to, such as editing the map border and replace the background.

Then, we need to do a couple of things to make our new template use the style elements we made.

First, to make it use the correct drawing tools, open up the Drawing presets dialog, and change the drawtools style in this dialog. Remember that the tools will use whatever name you used for the folder when setting up the tools.

Then, we need to get the map to load the correct master filter. This is done from the macros embedded in the map. To find this, hit the Map Notes button. You most probably already have two macros in here already, OnNewMacro and OnOpenMacro. The first macro is run when a new map is generated from the template, the second one each time the map is opened. Edit both these macros, and look for the line starting with SYMICONFLOAD, this is the line loading the master filter. Just change the setting to load to match whatever you saved the master filter under (and not the filter itself). If you don’t have this line, just add it.

Now, with all this in place, all we need to do is to save it as a template. Just do a File -> Save As, change the file type to a Campaign Cartographer 3 FCT Template, and save it in the appropriate subdirectory inside the Templates directory in your CC3+ data directory.

Wizard Templates

You can also easily turn the template into a wizard template. This is a good idea, since it allows you easily create maps in different sizes from the new map wizard, instead of being stuck at the size you made the template in. To make it a wizard template, simply save the map as a template inside one of the Wizard folders (such as inside @Templates\Overland Maps\Wizard). In addition to the template file, there should be two more files with the same file name as the template. One small .png file that is shown in the preview window, and a text file with a description of the style.

In addition to the macros, the template also can contain a map note titled RESIZE, with a text of either STRETCH, SCALE, SCALEXY or FIXED. This option controls how the map can be scaled in the new map wizard.

4 Responses to “Understanding Styles”

  1. While I haven’t created a whole style (yet) I have worked with templates before, and one of the things that bugs me about using Wizard templates is how you have to save at least one blank map before you start drawing. Is it possible to use the OnNewMacro note to do wizard-like things to a regular template like rescaling the map and adding things like titles, copyrights, cartouches and hotspots before the drawing starts? Perhaps by running a script?

  2. While you can do most of these things from a macro, the OnNewMacro is only actually called when you make a new map using the new map wizard unfortunately.
    You should be able to manually call such a macro though.
    Of course, the new map wizard is written in code, and not everything it do is easily replicated using macros.

  3. Can you give detail, with hypothetical example of what to do with RESIZE, and what its effects would be. I am somewhat confused by this. Thanks for a great article though.

  4. Too bad, it would have been nice if the OnNewMacro note could have been run on loading a non-wizard template. That way an initializing script could be run just once. Once a style is created, how could I package it in an archive to install on another user’s system? (That is, what sub-directories should be unpacked where in the CC3Plus data directory?) Would custom macro/menu files be considered to be a valid part of a style? If so, where should I put them?

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