Creating a New Map Style, Part 1 – Basic Considerations

Worlds of WonderWhile Campaign Cartographer offers a wide range of different drawing styles to use, sometimes you just want that special look that anybody else uses, and few things are more rewarding than creating your own unique mapping style. We have covered some of the process of doing this in the first Annual Volume, but quite a few features have been added to CC3+ since then and the Annual issue couldn’t cover all possible options in high detail.

So I thought that a publicly-available article series might be a good way to document the process step-by-step and in higher detail than an Annual issue can. It should also give everyone the opportunity to pitch in with questions along the way. So, let’s get started…

1. What map type to use?

The first decision to make is what type of map style we want to create. A city style? One for floorplans? I know what I’m going to do for this article, my favorite type of maps: an overland maps style.

001 Folder LocationLet’s take a look at what styles are already available in CC3+. To do this you need to open the CC3+ program data folder in Windows Explorer: C:\ProgramData\ProFantasy\CC3Plus. If you installed CC3+ in a custom location, you will need open that folder. If you don’t see the ProgramData folder at all, it may be “hidden” in Windows 10. Make sure to activate the option “Show hidden files/folders” in Windows Explorer and it should appear.

Now navigate to the Templates subfolder, then Overland Maps, then Wizard. Here you see all the different overland wizard templates listed. Each template consists of three files: The CC3+ template (FCT extension), a preview bitmap (the PNG file) and a short text info file (TXT). For most of the file you will see two sets of 3 files, one for metric units and one for imperial ones. As the template forms the basis for a map style, we will need to create a new set.

2. Creating a New Wizard Template

002 WoW FilesI find it easiest to start a new style based on an existing one. It might only be vaguely similar, but copying an existing style makes it easier to not forget necessary bits and pieces and gives you a set of styles to start from. That means we need to decide what style we want to create at this point. I am thinking January’s World’s of Wonder style would look good in black-and-white, so I decide to create such a style for this article. I locate the three files (for imperial units) in Explorer as shown on the right.

003 WoW BW FilesSelect the three files and use the clipboard to copy them (ctrl-c, then ctrl-v). Windows will rename these copies by appending “- copy” to the filename. Rename all three to the name of your new style (e.g. Annual Worlds of Wonder BW.*). Make sure the file names are all exactly the same, except for the file extension. We won’t worry about the metric version of the template yet – we can create that much later when most of the work is done.

3. A New Drawing Tool folder

004 WoW DrawtoolsAfter the template, the next important part of a style is the set of drawing tools to go with it. Again, we can create a new one by copying an existing set. Navigate to the ProgramData\ProFantasy\CC3Plus folder again and then go to System\Drawtools\. You will see a folder for each drawing style. Again, create a copy of the folder “Annual Worlds of Wonder” and rename it to “Annual Worlds of Wonder BW”. We don’t need to worry about the files in the folder at this point.

4. Setting the Template to the new Drawing Tools

Now it’s time to open CC3+ for the first time. Navigate back to the Templates/Overland Maps/Wizard and double-click the template file Annual Worlds of Wonder BW.FCT to open it in CC3+. Naturally it still looks exactly like the Worlds of Wonder style, as it’s just a plain copy of it. Select File > Drawing Properties from menu to open the Drawing Presets dialog. In the Drawing Style section select the new “Annual Worlds of Wonder BW” from the list. Basically this tells CC3+ which folder to choose the drawing tools from when you click the drawing tools buttons on the left-hand toolbar. If we now make changes in this template on the its drawing tools, they won’t affect the original Worlds of Wonder style but be restricted to the new Worlds of Wonder BW style instead.

If you have your own ideas for creating a style you can already start tinkering with the template and the drawing tool. We will continue in the next article with changing the bitmap fills that the style uses. If you have any questions concerning this article and creating your own drawing style, feel free to do so in the comments below, or – for easier discussion and more help from other users – go to the forum thread I have created for this series of articles.

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