Welcome back to our series on city mapping as worldbuilding/storytelling. Last time we talked about some of the basic building blocks of a city – roads, terrains and textures. We also thought about building our first major landmark – the one that is most important in the city. This led us to consider the nature of what’s most important in the city – a government structure, a religious shrine, a war memorial or an imposing wizard’s tower. Along the way, we also started building questions to ask ourselves about each micro decision – and hopefully got some good, creative answers out of that, starting to flesh out the story of our city.

Let’s continue our exploration of the process of simultaneously building a city and a story. This time, we’ll consider how to use symbol sets, house styles, colors and roads to define unique styles for each district. Note: this will focus largely on the initial steps for when you’re starting out a district and seeking out its nature and unique character (and thinking about other shared elements across districts). The nuts and bolts of doing the construction will come in a future article.

Exploring your Symbol Catalog

There are a few different building shapes to choose from in SS5.

There are a few different building shapes to choose from in SS5.

Let’s begin with symbols. By now you have probably chosen a symbol set to start off your map file with. Take a few minutes and look through each symbol catalog within your chosen style (don’t forget to expand collections of symbols with the + sign in the upper-left corner!).

Ask yourself a few questions about the building symbols you see: do you like the default color of buildings? Is there a varicolor option for each symbol? Do the buildings stylistically match the nature of my town or city? If you are building a Middle-Eastern themed city, but you don’t like the buildings under the Middle East catalog, you may want to explore other symbol sets/styles. Is there enough variety in the buildings, or will you be placing the same 3 symbols? Note: this might be exactly what you want for a town – low variation in building style can convey a simpleness or a humdrum kind of daily life; this could make the recent Ogre raids all the more terrifying!
There are a few different building shapes to choose from in SS5.

SS5 has a few other useful city structures included

SS5 has a few other useful city structures included

Now, look through the non-house structures: guard towers, walls, bridges, fountains, statues, etc. Does this symbol set have the kinds of things you think you’ll need? If you’re building a port city, you will probably need docks. If there is no symbol for docks, not to worry! There’s a great tutorial in the Tome of Ultimate Mapping on how to hand-draw docks pretty easily. But it’s good to know what you have and what you’ll need to find in other sets or draw yourself.

Repeat for symbols of vehicles, creatures, symbols, etc. until you’ve gone through all the symbol catalogs in your chosen symbol set. By now, you will have a sense of what you do and don’t have (you may also not yet know what you need, that’s okay too! You can also figure it out as you go, but its helpful to start with an initial understanding of what you can expect). If you’ve identified any gaps, ask yourself: how important is it to stay artistically consistent in this map? The CD3A Bitmap style is very different artistically from the CD3C Vector style. Are you okay mixing styles? (It’s okay if your answer is yes! It’s just important to know what constraints you’re working with.) Continue reading »

Recently – with Update 25 – we included a few new styles with basic Campaign Cartographer 3 Plus. As these were styles in the Cartographer’s Annual before, they all come with a mapping guide and example maps, and we want to highlight these to get you started using the styles as comfortably as possible. Let’s take a look at each of the in turn.

Jon Roberts Overland

CA51 The Bay of Ormal and SurroundingsThis overland style created by was created by fantasy cartographer Jonathan Roberts (famed for his Song of Ice and Fire atlas) specifically for Campaign Cartographer. Jonathan’s evocative style comes alive for CC3+ users with a full selection of overland symbols and background textures, organized in an easy-to-use drawing style.

The included mapping guide walks you through the whole process, from setting up the map in the new map wizard through outlining the continent, adding rivers, mountains and settlements, all the way to labeling the map with text. You can download this mapping guide here.

The included example map show the the Bay of Ormal and surrounding lands. Download it as a pdf file or in native CC3+ format.

CA54 Jon Roberts Dread DungeonJon Roberts Dungeons

Seeing the popularity of his overland style, it was only natural to follow up with a dungeon style and Jon was happy to oblige us. It includes a set of almost 150 symbols from rocks and stones of a cave floor to furniture to populate the rooms, as well 40 textures to depict walls, floors and terrain.

The mapping guide, which you can download here, teaches you to use the style by going through the process of creating a tavern and inn layout.

The style comes with two beautiful example maps, one showing the Dread Dungeon (pdf) and the other the Crossroads Inn (pdf) featured in the mapping guide. Download them in native CC3+ format here and here.

CA63 St AureliusJon Roberts Cities

Having an overland and a dungeon style, we of course needed to complete the classic trinity by adding a city style. Jon was able to produce that for us in 2012, and it remains one of the most beautiful city styles in Campaign Cartographer 3+. 37 textures and more than 70 symbols combine to make up a great resource for city mapping.

The mapping guide, which you can download here, takes you through the process of creating a city, and as such complements the City Designer 3 Essentials Guide very nicely. The St Aurelius example map is also available as a pdf and in CC3+’s format.

CA113 Owen's FarmNaomi Van Doren’s Floorplans

The fourth style included in Update 25 is another floorplan and dungeon style, created by map maker and graphic artist Naomi VanDoren. Her clear style lends itself excellently to illustrations and battle maps, and is featured in the 13th Age battle map products by Pelgrane Press. More than 200 symbols and 20 bitmap textures are included, and the mapping guide that teaches you how to use them is available here.

Two example maps are included: The Broken Shovel Tavern (png) and Owen’s farm (png), of course also available in CC3+ format here and here.

Welcome back to this article series on mapping as worldbuilding for large cities and towns. In the last article in this series, we covered developing the geographical setting for your city, identifying the main purpose or economy of the city, dividing it into districts, deciding between functional and residential districts, and we even talked a little bit about transportation. Recall that by way of example, I’ve been mostly using the city of New Cassia which I recently mapped as a means of illustration of the ideas here.

In this article, I’d like to cover some more about ways to go about laying out the canvas for your city by exploring textures, terrains and landmarks. We’ll apply this to district building next, and in a later article we’ll go into some more of the technical pieces on how to actually construct each district in CC3+ but for now we’ll stick with planning as it relates to storytelling and worldbuilding.

The most important piece to start with: in general, work on your city one district at a time. Doing so provides cohesiveness in what you’re working on, and also gives you a concrete deliverable that you can complete and then take a break. I like to do a nice quality export of each district I finish as a milestone marker to record my progress over time, as well as share with the CC3 community for any feedback.

We last left New Cassia with some districts and main roads.

Road Types, Sizes and Materials

In the previous article, we ended with defining the major thoroughfares of our city. Let’s cover that in a bit more detail. Not all roads in a city are the same size in most cities you could probably think of, so thoroughfares are the largest of these roads. Depending on the scale of your city, these may be 10′ or 20′ wide (using Imperial measurements, but applicable with the equivalent metric sizes as well). New Cassia is a large city, so its main thoroughfares will be 20′ wide; this will visually stand out as well as define the routes the city’s inhabitants will take for most navigation.

Stepping stones in a Pompeii street

Stepping stones in a Pompeii street

We also need to decide the material of these main roads: are they wide, paved cobblestone walkways? Are they well-entrenched dirt roads? Are they waterways with sidewalks, such as in Pompeii? Or are they other textures like mud, grass, sand or even more exotic materials like lava, water, or sludge? This decision point can have an easy to miss but significant effect on the story and history of your city.

Exotic lava roads in WotC’s City of Brass

Exotic lava roads in WotC’s City of Brass

Also, keep in mind, not all roads in a city need to be the same; you can mix stone, dirt and exotic roads along with varying sizes (I like to swap out stone roads for dirt in poorer residential areas). You can also think about which areas will have no roads at all. Roads are all about access; poor quality or no roads will usually lead to less access to an area. Maybe this is to keep outsiders out (or undesirables in), or maybe the government can’t be bothered to pave an older, decrepit neighborhood.

Keeping a Microdecision Log for Inspiration

Think about the implications of each microdecision. If your main roads are sludge, that suggests a sewer-dwelling city, or perhaps the Underdark. Do people use boats or rafts to traverse them, or do they walk on foot? Each of these questions can lead to interesting story developments, like defining the daily experience of a resident (or visitor, which may differ) or leading to questions about why it is that way, or how commonplace non-walking modes of transportation are.

Each time you make one of these microdecisions, you can write down a question or two about it. For each mapping session, you’ll build up a short or medium list of questions. You can then ponder these in between mapping sessions. You don’t need to answer all or even most of them, but each answer will flesh out your world. You can come back to sticky questions that keep coming up, or discard them and move on.

So hopefully now we’ve at least decided on our main roads, and maybe even begun to ruminate on other road styles throughout the city. Great job! Now we can turn our attention to individual sections of the city.

Constructing our First Landmark

As a warm up exercise to district building, let’s do our first exercise in landmark construction. I recommend thinking about what the most defining building is going to be in your whole city. You figure out what “defining” means to you – it could be culturally, religiously, politically or economically. In some cases this might be a seat of government – a keep, a castle, a mayoral palace, a parliamentary house or any other such building. Sometimes a city may be oriented around this place; other times it might be at the city edge, and still others may have accidentally evolved the location of this building. These are all okay, but are microdecisions worth writing down and maybe asking yourself questions about.

Mages Academy

Sapphire Citadel, home of the Mages’ Academy, is one of the most notable landmarks in New Cassia.

Once you’ve identified this building and a suitable location, build it! Whether it is a symbol (we’ll talk more about symbols later) or some more custom construction, orienting around it will get you a feel for what characteristics you want to demonstrate. Don’t be shy about experimenting – place something, delete it, try again, change size and color…try things out until it seems right to you. And even if you need to settle for good enough, you can always come back to it and redo it easily.

Now you’ve built or placed one building. Think about what supporting buildings may surround it, and place those. A keep may have additional administrative offices around it. A military training facility may have barracks nearby. A mages’ academy may have a library nearby. Or, maybe you’ll decide this building is solitary: a grand wizard’s tower at the peak of a tall hill, with nothing else daring to surround it!

Sapphire Citadel

The Sapphire Citadel, with some supporting academic buildings and the Great Library of Ytron. Notice how the mix of grassy terrain gives more depth to the district. Also note the dirt path mixed with stone roads.

Terrain Surrounding the Landmark

Think about what terrain you expect to surround the main building. A castle may be built atop paved stone; a monument to a town’s founder may be in the heart of a central park, surrounded by grass and dirt roads; a demon’s spire may be surrounded by a lava most. Now place that.

As you’re placing the terrain and supporting buildings, ask yourself a question or two (not too many, we don’t want to rathole on this) about why they are there or what their nature is. If something (or even better, someone) interesting pops up, write that down somewhere.

Now, one finishing touch: label it! Just plop some text down on or near it with either a name (if you’ve got one; if not, you can punt on that till later) or a short description to remind you of what it is and why it’s there. Note: you do not have to do this on your main TEXT sheet; you can create another one such as TEXT ANNOTATIONS that you can use just for your own notes and labels about notable buildings. This sheet can be hidden during your final export if you don’t want to show them (we’ll talk about labeling towards the end of the series). But recalling the purpose and name of each place can help us build up stories in our city.

Congratulations! You’ve just constructed your first (and most important) landmark! We’ll be going through this process a bunch, but hopefully you’ve learned a few things from doing this:

  1. It’s okay to experiment, sometimes extensively. We’ll develop ways to keep this from ballooning too much all over the city.
  2. The process of building a landmark does not have to be scary, and can be as simple as a few local decisions.
  3. A landmark can help define the area around itself, such as the terrain and the nearby roads. We’ll need this as we build up our districts.
  4. Noting down random thoughts about why a building is where it is can lead to interesting story hooks.
  5. Textures, terrains and materials can define a lot of character, history and culture about an area.

Next time, I hope to cover planning each district, and discuss how to make each district unique stylistically and feature-wise (including landmarks!).

Ari Gilder is a software engineer, and has been interested in maps for a long time. He spent seven years working on Google Maps, working on features like local business search, Google Maps and Navigation on mobile, and studying the way users understand maps. He even proposed to his wife using maps. He often spends hours staring at maps in fantasy novels, and in 2013 starting putting together some of his own dungeon and battle maps for a D&D campaign. After a hiatus of several years, he recently dived back into cartography with CC3+, tackling more overland and city maps in preparation for a new D&D campaign. He is a father of two, and has recently introduced his older daughter to cartography, both hand-drawn and with CC3+ where she insists that black and purple varicolor trees must surround everything.

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 »

The February issue of the Cartographer’s Annual 2020 is now available and brings you an amazing local area style by Sue Daniel, who painstakingly recreated the style of early modern cartographer Joseph de Ferraris.

Ferraris was one of the first map-makers to map whole regions in exquisite detail and high accuracy and his maps of today’s Belgium are works of art. With Sue’s Ferraris style you can recreate this wonderful type of map in CC3+ for real-world or imaginary locations. The detailed 12-page mapping guide that is included with the Annual issue takes you through all the steps of assembling the dozens of fill styles and hundreds of symbols into your own little piece of cartographic art.

If you have already subscribed to the Annual 2020, you can download the February issue from your registration page. If not, you can subscribe here.

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.

CA151 CrownportThe July Annual is now ready for download and installation from the registration page, if you have subscribed to it.

This month Pär Lindström gives us a new style – “Renaissance City” – based on a renaissance-era city map of Paris. Creating the example map for the style was very easy and straightforward and we think you’ll find it equally satisfying to use. Thanks Pär, for another great style!

If you haven’t done so already, you can subscribe to the Annual 2019 here. If you are already subscribed, the July issue is available for download on your registration page now.

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.

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