Whenever you start a new map in CC3+, it is always based on an existing template. But did you know you can easily create your own custom templates, ensuring that it already comes configured with your custom sheets and effects setup, your own fills, and more?

A template in CC3+ is really just a map. When you create a new map, what happens is that CC3+ makes a copy of the template for you as the starting point of your new map. So editing a template is just as simple as editing a map, the only trick with templates is knowing where to find them and where to put them.

Customizing templates is also the first step to creating your own custom style, which have been covered in other articles.

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I often use boxes to put information like a map key or the map title in as I like to separate these things from the map itself. Creating such a box is easy enough, I usually just use the Box command to draw an appropriate box with a nice fill on a dedicated sheet, slap a quick effect on it like edge fade and/or transparency and I am done. If you did the first map tutorial in the CC3+ user manual, this was one of the final steps when we completed the map in the text chapter.

But, what if I want to make it a little neater, like for example adding rounded corners to it? CC3+ doesn’t have a ready to go rounded corner tool out of the box, but we can easily assemble one ourselves with a few simple steps. And of course, once you have made the shape, you can throw whatever fills and effects on it that you want.

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Ever wanted to add your own buttons to the CC3+ toolbars? Perhaps you have a command you use frequently, or just want quick access to a symbol catalog?

CC3+ doesn’t have a built-in editor to do this, but all it takes is a few simple changes in a text file to make it happen.

In this blog post, I am going to go through the basics for adding a new button to your toolbar. To keep it simple, I’ll just focus on buttons, although there are other things you can do in the menu as well, such as adding pop-up menus when you right click a button, but I’ll just cover the basics for now.

If you like, you can also watch the basics of this article as a video, and then come back to check out additional details in the article later.

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One of the nice upgrades CC3+ brought with it back when it was released was the ability to include drawing tools in your symbol catalogs. Now, this is hopefully not news to you, as this is used quite a bit in the official symbol catalogs used in most styles. But this fact does make the symbol catalog window a bit smarter, since drawing tools can do quite a bit of things, like I discussed in my article about Advanced Drawing Tools earlier this year.

This means that the tools we add to our symbol catalog doesn’t have to be limited to drawing shapes that fit the theme of the symbols in the catalog, but also tools that can do powerful things like running macros to almost everything we want.

The feature of putting drawing tools into the symbol catalog is simple enough, it is the possibilities that this opens that make it exiting.

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Most of you have heard about macros. If you are an existing CC3+ user you’ve used them, knowingly or not, and you might even have written your own. For some people, the word macro may sound a little scary because it is associated with programming, but they’re really not that complicated.

Macros are used in a lot of places in the program. For example, when you start a new map or load an existing map, CC3+ uses a macro (stored in the OnNewMacro/OnOpenMacro map notes) to show you the appropriate toolbars and load the filters needed for the style of the map. A lot of the drawing tools uses macros to accomplish the more complex stuff, for example the forest drawing tools use a macro to call the commands to fill the area with trees, or the fields drawing tools in several styles use a macro to align the fields to the first edge of the polygon (These macros are stored with the drawing tools).

Lastly, CC3+ also has a macro file that contains named macros. These are often called from the toolbar buttons and menu elements in the program, so editing this file may change how the program behave.

And then we have script files….

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There are several ways to organize your maps, both inside and outside of CC3+. We’ve previously talked about linking your maps together to make a navigable atlas, and how to index your maps to make them easy to search to find the map you want. Today, I’ll talk about the bookmark feature in CC3+. Using bookmarks, you can create lists of maps, for examples maps belonging together, or maps with a common theme. For example, in the community atlas, I have bookmarks for the different types of maps, for example one bookmark set that contains all the overland maps, one the contains all the dungeon maps, and so on.

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If you own a lot of ProFantasy products, or have installed one or more of the large community symbol packs, you will have a lot of symbols. By default, CC3+ will give you easy access to the symbols belonging to the current map style through the symbol catalog buttons immediately above the map window, but sometimes you may wish to search for other symbols not made for the current style, which may fit anyway. But how to best find these symbols? Let us check out a few ways which may be of assistance to you here.

 

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A few weeks ago, I hosted a live stream taking a closer look at the drawing tools. Making this the perfect time to talk a bit more about the more advanced aspects of the drawing tools and how to utilize them properly and explaining a few things in more detail than appropriate for a stream.

Examples of advanced use of drawing tools is to draw aligned fills, drawing a path and have symbols placed along it or drawing a polygon and having it filled with randomly placed symbols. Basically, a lot of the things you can do using multiple steps with regular CC3+ commands can be automated and streamlined by making a drawing tool for it.

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People who have browsed the Community Atlas website have probably noticed that you can search maps, not just by name, but also by text in the map. So, how to I manage to do that, the maps on the website is just images, right? Granted, there are tools available that tries to understand text in images, but these are not good with noisy backgrounds like a map is. However, the community atlas website is of course backed by the actual community atlas product, the .fcw files themselves, and this is where the text comes from.

This is all done by using an excellent command in CC3+, the create index command. This command was originally made for searching through multiple drawings quickly without the search function having to read each map file every time, but the index it generates is a nice plain text file which can also be used by other tools, such as a web search. If you own products such as the Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas or World War II Interactive Atlas, these come with an index file out of the box allowing you to quickly search the maps therein, but of course, you can also easily make your own index file for your own set of maps.

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Our Dynamic Dungeon project is moving along, and for this installment of the series, I am going to address several interesting concepts and techniques.

  • Creating custom entities so we can store our settings with the map.
  • Creating dialogs to change settings. Here I also show how we can use owner-drawn lists to draw comboboxes with previews of the fill from the map. We’ll also create macro versions of the settings commands.
  • Accessing the drawing InfoBlock to find fills.
  • Making sure our tool stop at the map border, the same way that CC3+’s drawing tools does.

I am including the interesting bits of code right here in the article, but I have made minor changes all over the code from the previous articles to accommodate some of the new features from this article, so don’t forget to download the complete project from the link at the end of this article.

To be able to follow this article series, you should have read my earlier articles in the series.

As with the previous installments, here is a short video showing our results so far.

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