Campaign Cartographer is not designed to be a tile-based mapper, rather it is designed to be fully free-form where you can shape things as you want. But sometimes,  having a set of pre-made tiles available can allow us to throw together a map quickly, or to serve as inspiration.

Most CC3+ styles doesn’t come with such tiles, but creating our own tiles for use in later maps isn’t difficult, although it is a bit time-consuming if we want lots of nice tiles available for our use, but it can also be a nice relaxing activity, and each individual tile can be finished relatively quickly once you have your basic framework ready.

Tiles can be used for multiple purposes, like battle maps, dungeons, space stations and cities. And of course, a tile in CC3+ isn’t fixed and locked once made, you can make a dungeon using tiles, and then still add or remove individual items after placing the tiles.

Tiles can also be printed and used for assembling a quick location on the table for miniature play.

In this article series, I’ll take you through the creation and use of such tiles, and we’ll look at some of the more advanced options available in CC3+ to make the best tiles.  Continue reading »

When you start a new map in CC3+, you’ll find that there is normally 20 or so sheets in a map. One of the main reasons of these is to ensure the correct drawing order, that symbols goes atop the floor and not below it and the floor goes atop the background terrain, and so on. Most tools will select the appropriate sheet automatically to ensure things goes where they are supposed without the user having to micro manage everything.

Obviously, these sheets are named so their purpose is understandable by people so you can know what their purpose is, but there is also some interesting tricks when it comes to sheet naming that can be used with the tools. This is something to keep in mind when you create your own sheets, as following the appropriate way of naming can help greatly.

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There are many things that sets CC3+ apart from other graphics and mapping programs. One of these differences is the size of the mapping area. In most programs, when you start a new file, you specify a size, and you get a canvas exactly that size. If you try putting something halfway outside the edge, like a symbol or equivalent, the spillover is simply lost. In CC3+ however, this is completely different.

CC3+ doesn’t operate with a fixed sized canvas, for most practical considerations it is infinite. There’s nothing preventing you from placing a symbol entirely outside the map area if you so wish, simply because your map only occupies a small spot on that almost infinite canvas. But if the drawing area is of infinite space, how do we determine the actual size of the map? And why do our drawing tools seem to only draw within the map area?

To understand this, we need to look at the map border. When we talk about map borders in CC3+, there are actually two different things we may be talking about. We might be talking about that nice decorative frame around your map. This is known as the decorative map border, and it is just that, decorative. Some map styles have a very elaborate decorative map border, while others have a much more spartan one, sometimes even just a simple line. It doesn’t have any functionality, it is just there to give your map a visual frame. Then we have the technical map border. This is what actually defines your map’s size on the canvas, and all tools that have a restrict to map border option, like drawing tools and bitmap exports work with this one. Usually, it will overlap in location with the decorative map border, but it is the technical map border that provides the functionality.

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Do you have a favorite command in Campaign Cartographer that you use often? One that you wished hat a convenient keyboard shortcut to launch easily?

CC3+ may not have an easy-to use shortcut editor built in, but it still allow you to define shortcut keys for any command you want. All that is required is that the command is defined in the CC3+ menu, but even if it isn’t already defined there, it is easy enough to add it yourself. So if you’re like me and use the List command a lot, why not make it easy to access by adding Ctrl+L as a shortcut key for it?

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Train StationA few months ago, I started the Rails & Trains mini-series of articles. In the two prior installments (part 1part 2), we looked at how to make the tracks themselves, now it is time to round it out by looking at rail cars.

We’ll have a look at how to draw the insides of a rail car based on a real blueprint, giving us a nice scene for a handout or battle. I am going to base my drawing on a blueprint from the early 19-hundreds. I mainly picked these because it is difficult to find older blueprints online with proper dimensions, and because the trains of that time still had the same basic layouts as earlier trains, making it easy to adapt them to earlier times. Of course, my procedure here works fine with any blueprint, so if you’re mapping for a modern train, just grab the appropriate blueprint and possibly a different drawing style better suited for modern maps, such as SS3.

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CC3+ maps are more than just pretty illustrations of the area your players happen to adventure in. If you like to keep track of time passing in your game (or your novella) you need to know how long it will take your players to travel from Snowport to Knight’s landing. And to do that, you’ll naturally need to know the distance, and the terrain traveled through. The latter is easy enough to read visually from the map, and sure, you can provide an estimate for the former using the scale bar. However, this gets more and more inaccurate the more winding the road is though, maybe they are even traveling along an extremly winding river.

Instead of trying to estimate complex distances like that, CC3+ has built-in tools that lets you easily measure distances, both in straight lines, but also along a meandering path. Using these tools you can get the exact answer in seconds when the players ask about the distance/travel time, and get the same answer every time.

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In my previous two installments of this series, I’ve looked at the basics of macros and how to use variables. Today, I’ll be rounding off this introductory series by having a look at program flow. The macros we have looked at so far have just been a row of instructions, which are executed one by one, but it is also possible to make branching logic and loops. For example, you can do different things based on what the user chooses, or you can run the same block of code multiple times. For example, if you’ve had a look at my Large Exports annual, it contains the code required for exporting a small section of the map, and then it just loops over the same code enough times to export the entire map as smaller chunks.

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Last month, I talked about the basics of macros, how a macro is basically just a series of commands executed in sequence. And for the majority of macros used in CC3+, it actually stops there. For example, one of the more common uses of macros are as part of drawing tools, where you draw a polygon with the tool, and then a macro built into the tool takes over and does it’s magic to the polygon, such as filling with with symbols (like trees for a forest), or automatically align the fill or other similar operations.

But of course, that the majority of macros used are rather simple doesn’t mean we doesn’t have more advanced functionality that is highly useful. For this month’s part, we’ll be talking about variables.

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If you are a novice CC3+ user, you may think that macros sounds way to complicated to even touch. But, the fact is that from the moment you start making a map, you have already been exposed to several macros. You might not have noticed, but CC3+ uses macros for quite a lot of things. Every time you start a new map or load an existing one, a macro is run to set up the environment appropriately for that type of map. A lot of the buttons on the toolbars and elements in the menus call macros, and many of the drawing tools have embedded macros that are being run when you draw something with them.

So, why don’t we take a brief look at the basics of macros?

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One of the things that are easily overlooked when mapping local scale overland maps for gaming is the sheer numbers of settlements that traditionally dot the countryside. In medieval times, the distances between them could be surprisingly short compared to our modern standards, simply because we are used to larger settlements (and faster transportation) these days.

Now, dotting a landscape with settlements is pretty easy with CC3+, as we have great tools for doing this. To ensure randomness, we can have symbols randomly picked for each placement, we can use Symbols Along to place them along a road, and we can use Symbols in Area to fill a large plain with settlements. Great, job done.

Well, if you try to do this with a standard overland map, you’ll quickly notice that this doesn’t seem to work as desired for this purpose. You’ll notice that the groups in the settlement symbol catalog are set up with groups containing just a single symbol, including varicolor versions of that symbol. Now, that is not going to help us spread settlement symbols of various sizes easily as we wanted.

What we are seeing here is really the fact that you can’t organize everything for every imaginable purpose. It is similar to sorting your contact list on your phone. Should it be sorted by last names or first names? Last names are probably more formally correct, and it ensures that all the people from the same family appear next to each other, but you’re probably more used to refer to people by their first name, making them easier find for you when sorted that way. Neither way is wrong, but you can only have one of them at a time. Symbol catalogs are similar. When making them, the creator need to figure one sensible way to offer them, and then leave it to the users to rearrange things when needed. And that is what I will be showing today. I am using Mike Schley Overland for the example here, but this can of course be done with any map type and any style.

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