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

I’m sure you all would like to know what is currently in development and when the next add-ons for CC3+ will arrive. Well, I can report that Cities of Schley is very close to completion now and that the next Token Treasury is chugging along nicely.

Cities Of SchleyCities of Schley

Mike has finished almost all the symbols for the set, and is now working on the bitmap textures that we need to go along with them, so the City Designer house tool can create matching buildings.

Sue Daniels has been helping us with creating the roof maps and as you can on the right, they look great. She’s also suggested a great way to give you more variety in the roof shapes without compromising the shadow’s on the city map (as mirroring a symbol within CC3+ would do).

TT2Token Treasury 2

Seeing that there is still a vast army of fiends and critters lurking in the shadows to pounce on hapless heroes, we’ve decided to drag a few more into the light of the virtual tabletop.

Rich Longmore is creating another set of monster tokens and I’m always delighted when a new one charges through the doorway (or slithers through a crack in the wall).

We do have a few slots for new monster available in the list, so if you have something special that you would like to see as a token, let us know in the comments below!

Let’s take another look at the two products we are working on at the moment: The Token Treasury and the new symbol set by Mike Schley.

Token Treasury

BarghestFor the token treasury, Rich Longmore keeps sending over his finished monster portraits for approval, and it’s a rare piece that we have to ask him a few adjustments for. For example see the Barghest here. The original version (left) looks great – but it felt a little too natural for, a wolverine came to my mind instead of a supernatural monster. So I asked Rich to make the face a little more unnatural (bony face, fiery eyes) and he produced the second version (right) in no time at all.

We’ve also decided to make the tokens available in round AND square formats, so Rich had to go back and add a little bits and pieces to existing ones here and there, but that’s all finished now and we are chugging along nicely. I am converting the artwork into symbols as we go along, which should make producing the final products once all graphics are done fairly straightforward.

Cities of Schley

Cities of Schley PreviewI know you are all eagerly waiting for the new Symbol Set “Cities of Schley” by Mike. You’ll be happy to hear that Mike has finished all the ink outlines of the buildings and is now working on the coloring. You can see just a tiny section of his preview here. To get an idea how detailed his work is just let me tell you that the original of this graphic is 9000 pixel across!

Once I get the colored versions, I will start adding the roof shading to the symbols so they will work with the automated lighting just as the other CD3 symbols.

Scott created this wonderful little symbol catalog of celtic dwellings which fits perfectly in with the symbols of City Designer 3, so we decided to make it available as a mini-add on. The download is available from your registration page if you have City Designer 3 registered. Here is Scott’s introduction to the catalog:

Celtic VillageThe Celtic symbol set started quite by accident. I was building a set of texture fills in Genetica and decided to include a thatch. That was achieved by layering dried grass patterns in Genetica and then using GIMP to hand-drawn in individual strands before finishing it back in Genetica by softening and blurring the image and making it seamlessly tileable. Once finished, I wanted to test it out on a typical round Celtic house and was mostly pleased with the way it looked. That just happened to coincide with something I was reading about the Iron Age, so I delved deeper into the details of Celtic villages. The variety of building styles intrigued me. While the majority of the structures were round, they did raise the more traditional square buildings, as well, for barns and storehouses and eventually as houses.

Typical Celtic villages were set up around a large common structure where the village could meet. Security was in the form of either an earth and stone berm, or a stockade fence built from sharpened logs, sometimes with an elevated walkway used as a lookout and for defensive purposes. Buildings started with a stone base; log supports were added and covered in thick bound thatch, overlapping bottom to top to keep out rain. Trenches were often dug around buildings to move rainwater away from the structures.

The lack of chimneys is not an oversight. Celtic structures had no chimneys. Holes in the roofing caused updrafts which threatened to set fire to the thatch, so fires were built in the center of the structures and the smoke simply rose and seeped out through the thatching. The smoke was also a deterrent to mold and fungal growth in the damp thatch.

The final set of symbols is quite different from the originals, with ragged edging and steeper pitches to the roofs. Numerous color shades from greens to yellows to browns were tested on the thatch texture until I decided on the hue. The various symbols represent different types of Celtic structures, from small grain silos to houses and barns to large meetinghouses. Still others existed. The initial symbols were created in CC3+ and then modified in GIMP.

The map was made in CD3, Bitmap A style, with a few fills imported from the Overland catalog. It is just a quick example. I’m very excited that ProFantasy deemed my little collection of symbols worthy enough to offer to CC3+ users, and hope people enjoy and can use them. Besides thanks to the ProFantasy staff, a thanks needs to go out to mapping maestra, Sue Daniels, who was instrumental in helping me get the symbols to their final finished stage!

Jon C. Munson II

Background

The mapping style of Mike Schley is, simply put, beautiful. It is no wonder that Wizards of the Coast sought him out for many of the maps used in their products. His use of line, shading, and slightly muted color do a fantastic job of creating the illusion of a truly hand drawn map with dimensional objects. And, well, for the most part that is exactly what they are – hand drawn, albeit done using programs like Adobe Photoshop and/or others. If you haven’t seen his maps, you really owe it to yourself to take a look at them.

I had always liked Schley’s maps, and wanted to produce a few maps for a module I had in mind for the Dungeons & Dragons group that I run. Knowing how many hours it would take to hand-draw the maps, I looked for a way to cut down some of the time required. Enter ProFantasy’s Campaign Cartographer 3+ (“CC3+”). The program uses a number of Schley’s symbol packs (for example Symbol Set 4 – Dungeons of Schley), and that was perfect for me. Well, almost – I needed further symbols to suit my module. Now I had to figure out how to both create symbols and emulate Schley’s style to produce the symbols I needed. And, I also had to figure out how to get those into CC3+. It turns out it isn’t a hard job, but, it is a bit tricky, and most of the effort is in creating the symbols themselves. Schley’s style seems to be fairly involved, and that complexity is what makes them so appealing.

Personally, I have no idea how Mike Schley goes about making his symbols or drawing his maps. I have, however, studied his symbols and maps to try and figure out how he makes his creations. Despite many hours, I’m still uncertain of his exact process, but I think I have at least a little idea. I discerned enough to be able to put together symbols that are “close enough” to Schley’s style to be good compliments (at least I think so). Frankly, my goal in trying to figure out his methods wasn’t to be a forger, but, rather, to emulate – I had no desire to be “Mike Schley,” though he is an excellent talent to learn from!

Equipment Needed

Though it is entirely possible to use a mouse to create symbols, I strongly suggest obtaining a graphics tablet. I use a Wacom myself, and highly recommend their tablets. I know of others who use Asian variants with success (depends upon which ones though), so you might be able to get a less-expensive tablet to start.

You’ll also need both raster & vector editing software. While I have Adobe CC, there are other alternatives out there such as Gimp and Inkscape. I have briefly used those in the past, however, as I use Photoshop and Illustrator, I’ll be discussing things from the point of those tools. Most of that discussion should translate to another tool, and you may have to improvise with those other tools.

One thing I cannot get into in this article are the components that make up each symbol – you’ll have to experiment and decide what elements make up your objects. A bit of mechanical drawing is quite helpful, and understanding perspective will come in very handy too. Everything is made up of either, or any number of, rectangles, circles, lines, arcs, etc. Do experiment, and use the Internet to find samples, etc.

Image Sizing

CC3+ symbols have four sizes – Very High, High, Low and Very Low. You want to create symbols at the Very High resolution, and CC3+ will take care of the other sizes when you import them. See the CC3+ documentation for details. In fact, reading through the CC3+ documentation, and consulting the forum, concerning creating symbols is definitely in your interest as well.

Analysis

Let’s take a look at a simple chair:

There are several things to note about its construction. First, note that the linework of the object forms the description of the object, and the value variations within the object gives a 3D impression. Many of Schley’s symbols don’t include the value, thus producing the “ink” symbols. Second, note the border around the object, and sometimes an inner border around other objects (like a book on a table), is a little thicker than the detail linework. Third, note that the detail linework, when there is value applied, is usually surrounded by a slightly darker value of the “main” value of the object.
Fourth, note that the object itself has variations in value (mimicking “wood” in this case), as well as descriptive value to indicate 3D depth. Finally, note the color – intentionally set to mimic watercolor, the colors are a bit desaturated (wood also has a desaturated tone by virtue). This does not, however, detract from the richness of the symbols, but rather forms a complimentary feel to the heavier linework. The effect is, in essence, a watercolor wash, and is an important element in Schley’s style.

The linework here is really something to be admired – quite a lot of variation in thickness and style. This gives the hand-drawn look to the symbols and is important in order to be able to produce symbols that would compliment Schley’s style.

Now that we have an idea of how Schley creates his symbols in terms of components, we can proceed with creating our own.

Making Our Own

Creating symbols that emulate Schley is actually not a trivial task. There is quite a lot involved, depending upon the complexity of the object, and does require a little artistic flair – not that one must be an artist to create symbols of course. With a bit of effort, you can get pretty close! The real trick is rendering a 3D feel – perspective is something that really “sells” these symbols. The beauty of working on the computer is you can simply delete or undo as much as you like and try again. You may also find that sketching on a piece of paper to be useful practice too. I did just that with a few symbols I made as I found that easier.

The first thing to do is to on the object to be drawn. I will start with an object I created for my symbol set – a cabinet. This symbol doesn’t involve perspective, so is much easier to create.

After a few experiments with creating these symbols (remember, I’m not attempting to “be” Schley), I decided that I would start with vector outlines for my symbols, and that was more easily accomplished in Illustrator (or a vector program of your choice). Illustrator also has a method by which variation in line can be achieved (through a little deformation) that does a good-enough job of giving us a hand-drawn result.

Now, as with any object, we have to draw out the components. If you look at the cabinet carefully, you can see that it can be broken down into a few rectangles, some circles, and some lines. Draw out the components of the cabinet, don’t worry about making it “look like” the symbol I’ve created – just concentrate on the basic shapes. For the sake of learning, you could just create a simple rectangle for now. Be mindful of the width of the stroke – you don’t want anything too wide, nor anything too narrow. The size of your object will dictate the width of the border strokes. Use Schley’s symbol as a guide for border line thickness ratio.

Once you have the shape(s) defined, the next step is to change the line shape from obviously vector to something a little more hand-drawn in appearance. For that, we’ll use the Effect->Distort & Transform->Roughen. In the next dialog, you’ll first want to check the Preview box so you can see what effect changing the command’s parameters has on your object. The Size slider dictates the amount of “wobble” in the line – go ahead, play with it, can’t hurt anything right now. I use a value between 2 and 4 pixels. The Detail slider dictates the frequency that the Size slider occurs. Again, experimentation is key here. The last option, Points, needs to be set to Smooth. You might, on occasion, use the Corner option, but in this case we want Smooth.

As you can see from the preview, your object looks a lot more hand-drawn. If you like your changes, click OK, and move on to the next step.

Once you’ve gotten your basic outlines created and your object defined, export that out as a PSD and open the file in Photoshop. You should then have a “Layer 1” group that is your vector artwork (now rasterized). If your line work is not grouped, create a new group from those layers (you can name it anything you like of course).
In the case of the cabinet, I wanted to make it appear to be made from wood – you could choose other materials, like various kinds of stone, or clay, etc. Creating the subtle impression of wood grain could be a daunting task – there’d be lots of hand-painting to do. However, there is an easier route – using a color fill and a texture to produce the illusion. So, I first used a Color Fill, choosing a wood-like value. Be careful here, wood is not highly saturated, so stay on the desaturated side of the color picker – less saturation is more. Set the blend mode to Multiply, and set the layer as a Clipping Mask on top of the linework layer. This color will help re-value the texture and give a little more room for experimentation. Then I used a free wood texture set to Multiply (there are loads of these on the Internet). You might notice this will make your image a little darker, etc. Using both Levels and Hue/Saturation, I adjusted things to taste. You do not have to use a Color Fill as I did, you could just as easily re-color the texture using adjustments. How you follow what I’ve done is completely up to you.

After that, I added a new layer on which to create the interior linework. Using the standard round brush, keeping my brush size smaller than my border with (about 1/2 or so, adjust to your needs), I drew in the planks and interior borders of the cabinet. This is where studying Schley’s artwork comes in handy. Notice how he created his lines – where it is long, short, dots, etc. Pay attention to how he demarcates curves, grades, slopes, etc. You want to approach that same style to be in keeping with his overall look. Take your time, and feel free to clear the layer and start over. When you want straight strokes, use the Shift key. Otherwise, feel free to “freehand” the line – we are creating hand-drawn symbols after all.

Once you have your linework completed, add an Outer Glow effect set to Multiply, and choose a color that is close to the wood color you are using. Experiment with how strong you want that by changing the Opacity slider. Use Schley’s symbols as a guide, and, of course, these are your symbols, so make them as you wish.

Your interior linework layer should almost always be your top layer – you don’t want to hide those lines beneath other opaque layers, so most of your work from here will go below that layer in the stack. The reason for this will become apparent as you work, however, what will happen is the painting you do will subtly change the linework appearance in ways that are not desirable. Opaque layers and Screen layers will overwrite/lighten your linework. The linework provides a guide for the shading and highlights, that’s why the layer needs to be near topmost in the stack and the other layers lay below.
If you feel you need more shading in places, create another layer, set its Blend Mode to Multiply, and using a more desaturated color, fill in your shading. You should use the Soft Round brush for this to get a feathering effect.

After that, the next step is to add selective highlights. You want to add subtle “high spots” to various portions of the symbol. Create a new layer and set its Blend Mode to Screen. Using the Soft Round brush again, create those highlights. If you are using a tablet, you may wish to set the brush size to pressure to help create variable line widths.

Now, as the vector linework comes in as a group of vector outputs, you want to make a Copy Merged copy of the vector linework to place on top of the interior linework you completed. This way all of your linework will be topmost – ensuring any painting below does not unduly affect it. If the layer is filled with white, just set the Blend Mode to Multiply (Multiply ignores white).

The last thing I added, and you won’t do this to all symbols, is a little bit of drop shadow. Sometimes this is helpful, but can interfere with CC3+ shading algorithm, so be careful how much you apply. A little drop shadow can help “bed” the symbol in your drawings, so they appear to be a part of the map instead of just a “sticker” upon it.

Once done, you’ll save out your symbol as a PNG file (otherwise you won’t get transparency). The next step from there is to import your symbol into CC3+, and that’s beyond the scope of this article – consult the CC3+ documentation for that, and/or search the forum for assistance.

What I’m Doing With My Maps

The module I’ve created was born from a Wizards of the Coast campaign upon which I started my group. There was a nice hook within for a personal offshoot, so I ran with it and created a 4-map, 80+ page dungeon that my players are still trawling (and thoroughly enjoying). The “Munson’s Mines” symbol set was born from this module.

While I don’t have Fantasy Grounds, or a fancy in-table monitor to display my maps to the players, they do receive a copy of the level once they’ve completed it (and explored enough that I don’t mind if a few areas are “uncovered” as a result). I do rather prefer they do things the old-fashioned way and map their way by hand – provides more immersion factor I think. After they’ve explored everything, I don’t mind handing them a “player copy.” They get to see just where they got confused with directions, and how accurately they rendered the location. They have really enjoyed the module, and really like the maps. I should probably print them larger, as much of the details I’ve put in get lost on an 8.5×11 (A4) sheet.

CC3+ is a fantastic CAD program for mapping our fantasy worlds as it is feature- and, most importantly, symbol-rich, and I hope this article inspires you to create your own symbols to add to it.

SS4 Forlorn CottageAnother year is coming to a close, and we have a slew of Christmas present in store: A free extension Symbol Set 4, an update for CC3+, the Cartographer’s Annual 2018 is available for subscription and Remy finishes a one-year run of the “Command of the week”.

News

Resources

Articles

SchleyscapesEarlier this year Mike Schley kickstarted the first episode of his Schleyscapes series. Aimed at producing an ongoing series of quality gaming maps, in combination with bitmap artwork that could be used in any graphics editor.

As you may know Mike is also the artist behind our own Symbol Set 4 – Dungeons of Schley, and the Schleyscapes art naturally matches the art in that symbol set perfectly. Of course we wanted to make that additional material available for our users of the Dungeons of Schley, and Mike was happy to oblige!

And here it is, the Forlorn Cottage extension to “Symbol Set 4 – Dungeons of Schley”. And the best part? It is completely free for the owners of SS4 – no additional purchase required. You can download it from your registration page as an extra install if you already have SS4 installed, or just use the full setup when you purchase SS4 fresh from the web store. All the new artwork is included.

The SS4 Forlorn Cottage Extension contains:

  • 420 new symbols in the SS4 Dungeons of Schley color style
  • 14 new bitmap textures for the same style
  • 1 “Forlorn Cottage” example map
  • 2 SS4 Forlorn Cottage template wizards (imperial & metric)
  • Updated SS4 templates incorporating the new bitmap styles
  • Updated SS4 symbol catalogs incorporating the new symbols

You can either start a SS4 Dungeons of Schley map and just use the additional symbols, or use the SS4 Forlorn Cottage template to limit yourself to the new symbols.

SS3A Example - Road SceneThe next compatibility update is here: Symbol Set 3 – Modern is now available for CC3+. Symbol Set 3 provides a variety of styles modern maps: 3 different floorplan styles (two bitmap-based, 1 vector) and two overland styles, one for Ordnance Survey-style topographic maps, the other for modern political maps.

Click the example on the right to see a large-scale version of the bitmap-based floorplan style created by Jonathan Roberts for Symbol Set 3, and click the left image below for an example of the modern political style, based on the work of Brian Stoll. The right image shows an example of the Vector Ordnance Survey style.

If you already own Symbol Set 3, you can simply download the setup for CC3+ from your registration page. If you do not own SS3 yet, you can get a copy here.

The installation of Symbol Set 3 for CC3+ requires the latest update (CC3+ Update 3). Make sure to download and install it from your registration page before SS3.



River CanyonWe are happy to announce the next compatibility update: Symbol Set 2 – Fantasy Floorplans is now available for CC3+. SS2 provides four new drawing styles for dungeon and floorplan maps, made up from over 2,500 new symbols, bitmap fills and drawing tools.

Click on the example map on the right created by Ralf Schemmann. It uses one of the new bitmap floorplan styles included in SS2 in conjunction with a few symbols from Dungeon Designer 3 to create a large-scale battle map of a river canyon. The style, created by graphic artist and designer Peter Gifford, uses highly-detailed almost photo-realistic bitmap artwork for high quality maps. Download a large-scale pdf version here.

Check out the two more pdf examples of maps drawn with the styles included in SS2:

TempleSmuggler’s Shack (using Peter Gifford’s style exclusively)
Temple of the Fire Demon (using the second bitmap style from SS2, created by Michael Tumey).

If you already own SS2, you can simply download the setup for CC3+ from your registration page. If you do not own SS2 yet, you can get a copy here.


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