Did you know that CC3+ (including all addons) contains over 1000 commands in total? And that new ones gets added with just about every update?

Today, we’ll have a quick look at two of the somewhat more recent commands; Select nearby symbols and Delete nearby symbols. Both these commands are intended to help you manipulate symbols that are near another entity. This can for example help you clean up symbols that are too near a river, or help you select all the houses along your main street, for example so you can change their varicolor.

 

Below is an example of a forest with a river running through it. On the left image, the trees are obstructing the river, while on the left one, Delete nearby symbols have been run to automatically delete the trees near the river.


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In CC3+, drawing tools are great timesavers. The basic functionality of a drawing tool is that it works as a preset that contains all the various settings required, such as line style, fill style, line width, color, sheet and layer so that when you draw using a drawing tool you don’t have to go around setting all of these manually like we did in the good old days. Drawing tools also have some built-in nice features like being able to draw two separate entities at once, being able to stay within the map border, and the option to easily edit an existing shape.

However, there is another very important feature that exists for drawing tools, and that is to attach macros to them. A drawing tool can contain an embedded macro which follow the tool and isn’t dependent on your main CC3+ macro file and can contain macros that work in tandem with what you draw using the tool, or even functionality that isn’t connected to drawing at all. Today, we’ll look at how to create these tools and have a brief look at how they can make things easier for us.

Drawing with Macros

If you have been making overland maps, you’ll probably familiar with the forest drawing tools. If you pay attention when you use them, you’ll note that they ask you to draw a smooth shape, and then fills this shape with trees after you are done drawing it. This is a macro drawing tool at work. What happens is that the tool itself is only set up to draw that forest background, but it also contain a macro that gets called when you are done drawing that calls the Fill With Symbols command to fill the area you just drew with trees. Let us make a similar macro that uses the Symbols in Area command instead. I won’t go into detail about Symbols in Area here, since this is about making a macro tool that uses the command, rather than explain the command itself, but if you need a refresher for the command, you can look at this article.

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Back in update 15, CC3+ introduced a set of exclusion commands. These commands are variations of the various symbol fill commands where you can specify an exclusion zone, a part of the entity to fill that should not be filled. For example, this can be used to have the forest fill avoid the river running through the forest.

Let us start with this simple map (100×80) showing a river running through the forest. The forest area has already been outlined using the Forest Background drawing tool. Note that the forest area is drawn using a single polygon, it is not split into individual polygons at each side of the river. For this simple example, that wouldn’t have been to much more work, but for a larger area with multiple roads, rivers, lakes and other obstructions, this is a far simpler method. Continue reading »

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 »

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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When you make a map, you may desire to have different kinds of views for it. For example, if you make a floorplan, you may wish to be able to see the roof of the house too, or if you make a dungeon map, you don’t want to show your players the version that also includes all the traps.

For this article, we’ll see how we can easily make features in our maps togglable. As an example, I will take a small building from CD3 and make a floorplan from it, and then add a togglable roof and trap.

I start by picking the building symbol I want to use as a base. After that, I start a new dungeon map, and simply use the dungeon room/wall/floor tools to draw the floorplan on top of the building I just inserted to make it match the building shape (I could also have used the automatic floorplan generator from CD3 to make this based on the outline).

Once I am happy with the floorplan, I simply make a new sheet to hold the building symbol, naming it ROOF. Then I move the building symbol to this new sheet, and finally hide the sheet since I don’t want to see the roof as I am working on the floorplan.

Next, I draw the floorplan. For my trap, I place a pit trap just behind the door, and then cover it up with a carpet.

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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

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When working with maps, scale is one of the more important concepts to get right. For example, it is quite important if the distance between two cities on your map is 10 or 100 miles, and it can be quite important for what can be found in the dungeon depending on if the doors are 3 feet wide or 30 feet wide. No matter what you map, you’ll want to know what scale it is in. To accomplish this in the best possible manner, an understanding of how scale works in CC3+ is important, because as long as you do it right, you’ll have a much easier time using all the various tools and features of CC3+. For example, if you just draw that corridor an arbitrary width, and just state that “this is 5 foot wide”, that may work fine initially, but when you later try to add a 5’ foot grid you start to get in trouble because you need to figure out what size to tell CC3+ to draw your grid in. If you instead had been using scale properly all along, and the corridor was actually considered 5’ wide by CC3+, specifying the grid size would be as simple as just telling CC3+ to use 5’. This is just one of many examples why you should care about scale, and care about it from the very beginning of your map, not as an afterthought. CC3+ has lots of tools that helps you do your mapping, and there is no doubt that a lot of these works best when used at the correct scale.

In this article, we’ll have an in-depth look at the many instances where you encounter scale in CC3+ and explain how to work properly with these values, and hopefully demystify scale a bit. I expect a certain degree of familiarity with CC3+ for readers of this article, so I won’t be explaining where to find every button or menu element.

Map Scale

One of the first things that meet you when you create a new map is a prompt that requests the dimensions of the map (If you chose to base your map on a pre-defined template instead, you would see these values in the file names of most template you can choose from). Before providing the appropriate values, it is very important to understand what these values are. And this brings us to one of the most important aspects about scale in CC3+. In CC3+, your map is expressed in real-world units. CC3+ isn’t concerned about the size of your exported image or the size of your printout, CC3+ is interested in the actual real-world size of the area the map represents. So, if you plan to map an island that is approximately 700 by 300 miles in size, well, then you make a map that is 700 by 300 in size (or a bit more to make room for some ocean around it). Same if you make a battle map for miniatures, if the area covered by the battle map is 300 by 200 foot, then you enter 300 x 200, NOT the 8 by 11 inches the paper printout measures.

At this point you DO NOT care about print or pixel sizes, that is something you care about later when you are ready to print or export your map, not when you make it. Those of you familiar with working in image editing software may thing at this point, but wait, doesn’t the size I select now impact what quality I can make the map in?’. This is true for an image editor, because if you make an image 1000 by 800 pixels, it won’t be high enough quality to fill a sheet of paper when printed. But this is NOT true in CC3+. The size you pick here isn’t a pixel size and isn’t a limiting factor for final export/print quality, it is simply the size of the map. So, to re-state what I wrote above, in CC3+ your map is expressed in real-word units, so make to fill in the values according to the real-world size of the area you plan to map. Also note that the size of the map you specify here is not related to memory/CPU use when working with the map. There is no performance difference with working with a 10 by 10 map compared to a 10000 by 10000 map, the only things that effects performance is the amount of details you put into your map (and you can easily put as much detail into that 10 by 10 map as the 10000 by 10000 map if you so choose).

Ok, so we established the map dimension are in real world units? But what units are they in? miles? Km? yards? Feet? Inches? The short answer here is that it depends on the map type. For overland maps it is miles (or km for metric maps), while for city and dungeon maps, it is feet (or meters for metric maps). There are maps that uses different units of course, such as star maps which uses units such as parsecs, light years, and astronomical units. I won’t concern myself more about this for this article, because these also follows the same rule as above, the map size should be expressed in the real world size of the area to map, and the exact unit type follows from the type of map you are going to make. Just remember that fact, and use the values the template expects, such as miles (or km) for an overland map, and not feet. And don’t use print or image sizes, like inches or pixels. If you are unsure about what the correct unit is for the kind of map you picked, you can always check it by going back to the previous page in the wizard, the unit type is listed right below the preview image.

Now, the above is the simple explanation, and the one you should keep in your head for everyday use, but it will help you to understand a bit of how CC3+ treats units. CC3+ doesn’t really care about miles or meters or inches or whatever. In reality, all maps are specified in something called map units, which is the working unit of CC3+. That 400 by 300 foot dungeon, for CC3+, it is a 400 by 300 map unit map. That 400 by 300 mile overland map? Still a 400 by 300 map unit map. This system in CC3+ is what allows us to create any type of map we want, because we can simply define a map unit to mean whatever we need it to (The definition must be consistent within any one individual map of course). You’ll se term map unit being used many places, such as in effects dialogs, and the important thing to remember here is that one map unit means whatever unit your map is in. So when you set a shadow to be 10 map units long in a dungeon map, that means that the shadow will be 10 feet long, while doing the same in an overland map would result in a 10-mile shadow. Continue reading »

Update 16 to CC3+ just released (get it from your registration page), and with it comes a long list of added commands and fixes. Let us have a look at those new commands, and discuss how to use them in your mapping efforts.

I’ve divided this post into two different sections. The first part describes the new features that are useful in your mapping, while the second describe the more technical commands. I recommend you give both sections a view, but many users will probably want to just glance over the technical section and see what is relevant for them.

Do note that all the new commands in this update is presently only available as command line commands, which you must type manually on the CC3+ command line, they are not available in the menus or toolbars yet. Don’t let this discourage you however, as using a command from the command line is just a case of typing in the command on your keyboard and hitting enter (as long as you are not currently in the middle of another command). The rest is just doing as the command line tells you, which you should be familiar with from many other commands already.

The Fun Stuff

Contours from raster images

So, let us start with one of the more exiting additions to CC3+. Previously, if you wanted to import a map you had drawn in another program into CC3+, you would have to import it as a background image, and then manually trace over it with the drawing tools to recreate the map in CC3+, as there was no way for CC3+ to generate proper drawing entities from your image, such as landmasses.

However, with the new CONTOURSM command, this has changed. To start out with expectations for this command, what this command does is to find edges in your image, where edges are defined as transparent vs non-transparent pixels. This makes it a nice command to automatically convert an image of a landmass into a CC3+ polygon, but it is not a general solution for converting any kind of image and get all the details converted to CC3+. So, what this command mainly does is that it saves you from manually tracing the outline of your landmass. For anyone who have done this with a complicated landmass, they should quickly realize how big of a time saver this is.

So, to explain the use of this command, here is a brief mini-tutorial on its use. I will take an image of an island and turn that into a proper CC3+ editable drawing entity.

Note that even if this tutorial uses a landmass as an example, the use of this command is not limited to landmasses.

    1. Before we begin in CC3+, we need an image of our landmass. I’ve used the below image for this. However, as I mentioned above, CC3+ detects the edges based on transparent vs non-transparent pixels, so I can’t just insert this image. I need to edit it in an image editor first, and make the seas transparent and the landmass a solid color. Since this is a CC3+ tutorial and not a tutorial on image editing, I won’t go into the details here, but generally you should be able to just load the image into your favorite image editor, and then use the magic wand or similar selection tools with a reasonable tolerance to select sea areas and make them transparent. The second image below shows my landmass after this process.

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The next version of Campaign Cartographer, CC3+, is in late beta. We were hoping for a release this year, but that’s looking less likely. You can read about the new version here. new large icons interface

We’ve got two show-stopping bugs to deal with before we release the CC3+ beta to a wider audience.

Who is this audience?

We released Character Artist 3 this time last year, and until 1st January 2014 offered free CC3+ upgrade protection to purchasers. Character Artist 3 users will be able to download the beta version and give us feedback as soon as our two big bugs are dealt with. It’s impossible for us to tell when that will be, but I hope it’s in the next couple of weeks. If you are in this category, we’ll send you an email, and update your registration page with the new version. When the new version is finished, you’ll get a new update.

When this wider beta test is completed, we’ll release the upgrade, but we absolutely don’t want to release it until we are sure it’s solid on all operating systems.

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