Managing your Symbol Catalogs

Accompanying CC3+ and it’s addons are a host of different symbols, all arranged neatly into symbol catalogs. These catalogs are arranged by map type, map style, and symbol theme/content. For example, there is one symbol catalog containing structure symbols from the Mike Schley Overland style, while a completely different symbol catalog contains furniture symbols from the standard DD3 dungeon style. Generally, these catalogs are arranged in such a way that clicking the various symbol catalog buttons (the toolbar right above your mapping area) loads different symbol catalogs relevant to the current map type and style. And if you need a symbol catalog from a different style, you can always click the Load Symbol Catalog button and browse for a different symbol catalog manually.

But did you know that CC3+ allows you to easily manage these catalogs and their content? For example, you can create a new catalog containing all your favorite symbols, collecting symbols from different styles and even map types into one catalog. In this article, I’ll guide you trough making such a custom catalog; for this example, I’ll be making a catalog that collects all the statue symbols from the various dungeon styles I have available to me. I often use statues as dungeon/floorplan dressing, and it would be great to have all of these available in one place. This catalog will mix symbols from different styles, so not every symbol in this catalog will work in every map obviously, but you can often mix symbols from different styles with great success.

Now, there are many ways to start the process with custom symbol catalogs. I’ll recommend you start out with making your own catalog from scratch instead of modifying the official catalogs however, so this is what we will be doing here. Modifying the official catalogs is of course possible, but it is undesirable because official symbol catalogs may be updated by a patch, which will overwrite your custom changes, and if you end up messing up the existing catalogs, the only way to get them back is to reinstall CC3+.

Step 1: Starting a new symbol catalog

This step should be simple enough, as it is just like starting a new map. Just hit the new map button, pick the Symbol catalogs category, and pick the appropriate template style. Note that since we will just be collecting existing symbols here, the exact template type isn’t terrible important, even if you pick the dungeon catalog template but end up collecting overland symbols, it will work just fine. The exact type of template is a bit more important when you make new symbols from scratch. You can leave the rest of the pages in the new map wizard at their defaults.

You’ll notice that new map wizard asks you to save the file as a map even if we clearly picked a symbol catalog map type in the new map wizard. We’ll deal with saving it as a symbol catalog in a proper location later, just save this as a map in a temporary location for now.

Step 2: Adding symbols

What we now have is an empty symbol catalog, ready for us to import whatever symbols we want into it. The easiest way to do this in CC3+ is to open the catalog we wish to import from in the symbol catalog window. We’ll need to use the Load Symbol Catalog button for this, as the catalog buttons above the mapping area won’t operate properly when we work in a style-less map like this (There are ways to utilize those too, but it ends up being more work than simply browsing for the catalogs manually).

I’ll start by loading up the Statues, Temples and Idols catalog from DD3, this is found at @Symbols\Dungeons\DD3\DD3 Color\Statues, Temples and Idols.fsc (Remember that the @-character refers to the CC3+ data directory). CC3+ will suggest the location you last loaded a symbol catalog from, so the easiest is usually to just use the Up(Parent) button in the browse dialog a few times, and then dig into the right location without going all the way back to the root of the drive.

With the symbol catalog open in the symbol catalog window, simply click once on every symbol you want to include in your custom catalog. You don’t need to place them in the drawing, just clicking on them in the symbol catalog window will copy them to the catalog. You can hit the Symbols in Drawing button to check which symbols have been added to your custom catalog so far. Click it again to toggle back to view the loaded symbol catalog again.

Continue loading symbol catalogs using the Load Symbol Catalog button and click on symbols until you have collected all the symbols you want.

A Note about symbol names

A symbol catalog can only contain one symbol of each name, the name is used as the unique key to bind all the symbol instances (symbol references) in the map to the symbol definition, so if you want to symbols from different symbol catalogs that unfortunately might have the same name, you need to rename the first one before inserting the second into the catalog. See step 3 for more information about doing this, then return to step 2 to add the last symbols. Note that this applies equally to maps too, and not just symbol catalogs.

Step 3: Organizing the symbols

Once you have picked out all the symbols you want, you can do some organizing, like putting them into collections (collections in symbol catalogs are collapsed, requiring you to hit the small +-symbol to expand the collection and access all the symbols) or changing their name.

To do this, bring up the Symbol Manager from the Symbols menu.

The symbol manager will show all the symbols in the current file. Right now, we are operating on a symbol catalog, but it works the same way with maps. The important thing to realize is that the symbol catalog operates on the currently open file, and NOT the symbol catalog loaded into the symbol catalog window.

You’ll find buttons in the symbol catalog to Delete and Rename symbols. Since this operates on the loaded file, using this operations only affects the custom symbol catalog we are working on right now, you won’t touch the original symbols, so don’t worry about using these. If you need to insert two different symbols that happened to have the same name, insert one first, then rename it here in the symbol manager, and then go back and insert the other one. There are also buttons to move up and move down, which you can use to re-arrange the symbols in the catalog. Note that some of these operations work on a selection of multiple symbols, while others only work on a single symbol at a time.

Finally, there is also the Options button that allow you to set symbol options. Generally, you’ll probably want to leave them as they are, expect the top option set which deals with collections. Here, you can tell CC3+ that your symbol is part of a collection, and you can tell it how your naming scheme works. Basically, CC3+ assumes symbols are part of the same collection if all of
a) The ‘Symbol is one of a collection’ option is checked for the symbols
b) The symbols have the exact same name, except the name can vary by a number at the end (Tree 1, Tree 2, Tree 3, etc), a letter at the end (Bridge N, Bridge, E, Bridge W, etc), or text after the last comma in the symbol name, depending on the option set
c) These symbols are arranged to appear right after each other in the symbol manager

Step 4: Saving the catalog

When you have added all the symbols you need, renamed and organized them, you can save the symbol catalog. You can do this by just going to the File menu and select Save As. In the Save as type dropdown, select the Campaign Cartographer 3 FSC Symbol catalog, give it a proper name and save it in a proper location. I recommend saving it under @Symbols\User\MyCatalogs\Statues.fsc. Obviously, call the MyCatalogs folder whatever you want, but you do want to have a subfolder. The file name of the catalog should also be descriptive. If you want, you can also save it inside one of the other folders, like somewhere under @Symbols\Dungeon, just make sure not to overwrite an official catalog. This makes it easier to access along with the other dungeon catalogs, although the recommended location is under @Symbols\User to separate custom catalogs from official ones.

When accessing this catalog from a map later, just use the Load Symbol Catalog button. It is possible to be able to load it from the catalog buttons too, but that is a topic for another day.

If you need to edit the file later, you can always open it up just as you would load a map, just make sure to change the file type in the open dialog to CC3+ FSC symbol catalog or they won’t show up. Just remember you need to open it up in the edit window (like a map), having it open in the symbol catalog window won’t let you edit it.

A note about sharing

You may be tempted to share this custom catalog, both with additional computers you yourself own/use, and with other people, so there are a few things you need to be aware of

  • When it comes to raster symbols, the symbol catalog just reference these on disk, it doesn’t embed them. This means that if you put the symbol catalog on a computer which don’t have the same products installed, some symbols will be displayed just as red X’es.
  • Vector symbols on the other hand are embedded into the symbol catalog, so they will be available no matter if the corresponding product is installed or not
  • Since you are not permitted to redistribute ProFantasy symbols, you cannot give symbol catalogs containing official vector symbols (or modified versions of such symbols) to other people, but if the symbol catalog only contain raster symbols, you can distribute it as you please (obviously as long as you do not also distribute the actual art files)

You can download my sample catalog.

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