The Town of AbbasiBringing Your City to Life – Part 1
By Ari Gilder

Recently, I completed a large-scale city map over the course of about three months. It is only my second map with City Designer 3, so I am by no means an expert, but between the two maps I’ve recently spent a lot of hours with the tools, learning some of the ins and outs of the how as well as the why.

Both of the cities (well, one city and one town) I’ve built have been quite large for their size. I’d specifically like to consider these kinds of settlements, as opposed to a quaint fishing village or a small farming hamlet. Because these are smaller settlements, by definition less time will go into them. Also, when I was doing my research on how to start mapping a large city or town, I found very few resources on how to tackle such an ambitious project. Continue reading »

CA157 MiddlesboroughThe January issue for the new Cartographer’s Annual (Vol 14) is now available for download. We are taking a look at the wonderful medieval fantasy city generator by Watabou and how to import its results into CC3+. The Watabou Cities style allows you create beautiful city maps with an easy-to-learn conversion process all on its own, and you can then use City Designer’s tools and resources to build upon the result for even more elaborate maps.

If you have already subscribed to the Annual 2020, you can download the January issue from your registration page. If not, for a few more days you can still take advantage of the early subscriber discount. Just follow the Subscribe Now button on the Annual website.

Curious what’s around the next street corner? Let us show you.

From the sprawling imagination of award-winning cartographer Mike Schley comes a whole new style of cities for Campaign Cartographer 3 Plus, featuring leaning shanties, decrepit ruins, gleaming palaces and soaring towers.

Unashamedly old school in outlook, but with the quality and beauty you’d expect from a master mapmaker, The Cities of Schley features more than six hundred high-resolution symbols and textures and all the tools, effects and templates you need to create breath-taking cities of your own. A simple setting allows you to transform a full-colour map into a black & white illustration, or a sepia-colored parchment. There are houses, workshops city walls, tombs and crypts, boats and wagons, shrubs and trees – everything you need to design great cities.

Check out the SS5 product pages for more information.

Weepingford Eample Map

Briarpond Example Map Detail
Briarpond

Step into the streets, if you dare, of the Cities of Schley!

It’s an extremely busy desk that the Cartographer is dealing with at this time: Not only is the next Annual issue waiting to be published and GenCon getting very close, there is also the latest Symbol Set to finish up. Everybody is eager to get SS5 Cities of Schley into their hands and I’m happy to report that the first beta version has been sent out to the testers. The chance to pre-order Mike Schley’s new symbol set and get your hands on the early access copy will arrive very soon after GenCon. In the meantime, here are two example maps created with the color version of the Cities of Schley style:

The Town of Weepingford
SS5 Weepingford

The Village of Briarpond
SS5 Briarpond

This is part 2 of the “Making New House Symbols in CC3+” tutorial by Sue Daniel. Read part 1 here.

Download the full tutorial in pdf format here.

Drawing the map file

Show all the sheets, set the snap grid to 10’ grid 2 snap, and copy the whole house to one side, leaving about 30 feet between the original and its duplicate. Zoom in on the duplicate, edit the label to show that it is the map file, hide all the sheets except the two ***Separation shadow sheets and delete the shadows from the map file drawing. Show all the sheets again and delete the chimney pots.

Using the change properties button move the entire map file drawing to the MAP FILE OBJECTS layer, and make the MAP FILE OBJECTS layer the active layer. Right click the hourglass button on the left and choose Move to Sheet, and move all the parts of the house as follows:

IMAGE ROOF – level 1 -> MAP ROOF – level 1
IMAGE RIDGE – level 1 -> MAP RIDGE – level 1
IMAGE ROOF – level 2 -> MAP ROOF – level 2
IMAGE RIDGE – level 2 -> MAP RIDGE – level 2
IMAGE ROOF – level 2 -> MAP ROOF – level 2
IMAGE RIDGE – level 2 -> MAP RIDGE – level 2
CHIMNEY -> MAP CHIMNEY BLANK

You should now have something that looks like this, with a white line defining each section of roof.

Using the change properties tool, change the fill of all the roof ridges and the chimney stacks to solid white.

Back when we aligned the fills and amended the automatic shading for the image file drawing, that amendment only worked for the textures. As soon as you change the properties of these aligned fill polygons to a solid colour the shaded polygons will show again and affect the blue and red values of the map file drawing, so we need to undo the alignment on all the parts of the roof that are aligned.

To do this make each of the 3 ***MAP ROOF sheets active in turn, and explode all the roof parts that are aligned on the active sheet (not the ridges or chimneys) so that the texture falls back to its default state. It is important to be on the right sheet for each roof part or the explosion may have unexpected results.

Open the colour palette and look at the top row of map file colours – the one with four colours in it.

The first map shade (178) is correctly set up for a north facing roof of standard pitch. Select it, and change the properties of the north facing rooftops to solid colour and shade 178. The second map shade (179) is set up for an east facing roof. Change the properties of all the east facing roof parts to this shade. This is how mine looks at this half way stage.

The third and fourth map shades are for the south and west facing roof parts respectively. So when you have finished changing the properties you should have a map file drawing that looks something like this.

And that’s all there is to it. The map file drawing is now complete.

Rendering the files

Create a new folder in the C:\ProgramData\Profantasy\CC3Plus\Symbols\User folder to be the home of your new house symbol. Mine is simply called “My Houses”.

Ensure that you have the 10’ grid 10 snap grid active and set to Snap, then use Save As… from the File menu, and pick Rectangular section PNG as the file type. Click the Options button in the Save As dialog and set the Width and Height dimensions to the dimensions you calculated for the render area rectangle, and which you should be able to read off the map. The filename you want is above the drawing.

Turn OFF the Antialias option.

Click ok and ok again, and when prompted for the first corner of the rectangle by the command line click on the bottom left corner of the rectangle around the map drawing, and then on the top right corner when prompted again for the second corner.

When this is done pan back across the map and do exactly the same thing for the image file drawing.

Making the background of both files transparent

Open the GIMP and go to File/Open and navigate to the My Houses folder where you saved your rendered images from CC3.

Open the image file.

Click the magic wand tool in the toolbox on the left hand side and make sure the Tool Options in the panel below the toolbox are set up so that the Mode is set to add to the selection, none of the boxes are checked, the Threshold is set to 130, and the Select by is set to Composite.

Then zoom in really close to anywhere on the left hand edge of the image by pressing CTRL and scrolling the middle mouse button, and click on the white area away from the house.

You should be able to see a black line down the edge of the image if you have zoomed in close enough. You need to click this with the wand, and also the white line right down the extreme edge until all the area that is not part of the house is selected in an area of ‘crawling ants’.

Go to the little thumbnail of the file on the right hand panel and right click it.

Select Add Alpha Channel from the drop down list, hover the mouse over the image in the main window again and press DELETE on your keyboard. This should entirely clear the background from the image file and leave a chequered pattern in view.

Don’t worry about the fact that the area is still selected. Go to the File menu, find where it says “Overwrite House 01.PNG” and click it.

Close the open file without saving it. You have already overwritten it with the new transparent version of the image file.

Select the wand tool and lower the Threshold setting to 50, then repeat this entire process for the map file, remembering to click the wand tool in all the islands of white in the middle of the map image. Make sure that all the white parts are gone.

Importing the new symbol

Go back to CC3+ and click the little button on the left under the Options button on the catalogue browser. There may already be symbols in there, but just ignore these. I have purged my own map of unused symbols just to make things a bit easier to see.

Open the Symbol Manager (menu item).

Click the Import PNGs button.

In the second dialog Browse to the My Houses folder in the Source folder box and double click on either of the files in the folder. The Highest Resolution should be set to 40 pixels per drawing unit, which is the default resolution for a city map. Check the Create other resolutions option and set the Symbol origin to the bottom right corner. Then click OK and wait for CC3+ to do its thing.

You will receive a short message letting you know that 1 new symbol was imported. Now check the view in the catalogue browser and scroll down to see if you can find your house waiting to be pasted.

And there it is.

Your new symbol has no specific settings, so you will have to manually choose the SYMBOLS sheet before pasting it to get the shadow around it.

You can carry on drawing and adding new house symbols in the same file until you have all that you want.

To make proper use of your new symbols you will need to make a catalogue of them. How to do this, and how to add the full functionality of a regular CD3 house symbol is covered in the Tome of Ultimate Mapping, and in part by a range of tutorials available from the sticky resources thread at the top of the Profantasy forum.

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial, and that you get at least one new house symbol out of it. If you have any problems creating your new house symbols please drop by the Profantasy Forum and let us know. Have fun 🙂

About the author: Sue Daniel is active as a cartographer and artist both on the ProFantasy community forum and the Cartographer’s Guild. There, she has won 1 Lite Challenge and 3 Main Challenges, and just recently one of the annual Atlas Awards for most creative map in 2017. She has produced many beautiful art assets for CC3+ (such as the “Sue’s Parchments” Annual issue) and mapping in general that are free to use for anyone.

Software required:
Campaign Cartographer 3 Plus (CC3+) with the City Designer 3 (CD3) add-on
A bitmap editor (The GIMP v 2.10 is used in this tutorial, but any editor will suffice)

You can download a zip folder of the three files that comprise the template for this tutorial called
“House Builder (basic)” used in this tutorial from here.

Download part 1 of “Making New Houses in CC3+” in pdf-format.

How CD3 house symbols work

Whenever we paste a house symbol into a map what we are actually pasting is a very flat image that probably looks a lot like this one.

CD3 symbols do not have roof shading. There are no ‘dark sides’ or ‘light sides’ in these flat-packed roof images, yet they appear on the map fully shaded the instant the symbol is pasted in the CC3 environment. So how is this happening?

CC3+ obtains information about the pitch and facing direction for each part of the roof by reading the colour coded message in a second file stored in the same location as the image, but which is never shown in the CC3+ environment. This second file has the same name as the image file, but with a “_map” suffix.

We need to make both types of file for our new house symbol, so to distinguish between them I will call them the image file and the map file respectively.

And here (below) is the symbol House 01 arranged in CC3 to show how the shading changes with the rotation of the building – all calculated by CC3 using the information contained in the map file, and adjusted to take account of the global sun setting and the rotation of the symbol.

Continue reading »

CorvallenThe Town of Corvallen has gone through a number of iterations in its role as a model for the “Isometric Town” style of the February Annual issue.

In addition to seeing the final version in the now-available Annual, you can now read up on Sue Daniel’s method of constructing the map, as well as all the small adjustments she did to make the map the work of art it is.

Check out the article “The Making of Corvallen” in pdf format.

CA146 CorvallenIn February’s Annual we are looking at city mapping once more, but with a twist: The Annual issue contains an isometric style that Sue Daniel has created by building house models in SketchUp and exporting them as CC3+ symbols.

Created as full 3D models the symbols are based on real-world Tudor-style houses and fit together seamlessly at various angles, allowing you to create streets lined by adjoining houses. resulting in a beautiful and evocative, three-dimensional view of the settlement.

If you haven’t done so already, you can subscribe to the Annual 2019 here. If you are already subscribed, the February issue will be available for download on your registration page on the first of February.

We’re continuing Jay Johnson’s City Mapping article with the third and final part.

Adding Details

City with trees and paths in courtyardsLittle details add a great deal to a map. Look at these two images. The first is with trees and pathways in the courtyards. The second is without them. How much difference do these details make in your opinion? In my opinion, they make a big difference.

Shadows

Another detail you can work on is your shadows. I adjusted the shadow settings on my buildings so they intrude more into the streets. The places where the streets are covered in shadow creates a sense of danger and mystery, don’t you think.

The City’s History

City without trees and paths in courtyardsThink about your city’s history and include details that suggest a city that has evolved. Your city should have a nucleus (the original settlement) from which it expanded. Consider how this expansion took place and the different phases through which it occurred. Think about how your city has grown. If there were old walls, roads that ran beside them most likely now mark where they once were. Maybe sections of these walls still stand or roads pass beneath old gates that are located far from what is now the city’s perimeter. What other changes may have occurred as your city grew?

Some More Advanced Techniques

Let’s take a minute to talk about some more advanced techniques I have used. Some that require using other programs in conjunction with CC3+ and its add-ons. Continue reading »

We continue Jay Johnson’t city mapping article with part 2. Go here for part 1.

CM2-1Building Construction Techniques

I think we are at the point where I should talk about some of my building construction methods. Here are some techniques for making complex structures utilizing the HBT.

Splicing

The first building we will construct is what I will call the Building with Enclosed Courtyard. The technique I used for this can be used to construct all kinds of variations and is also what I used to construct the city walls around Melekhir. We will refer to this technique as splicing.

First choose the building style you want in the HBT. Ensure the House shape is set to option nine which is the trapezoid shape and the Roof type to option one which is gable.

Continue reading »

Previous Entries