Converting a FT3 world into CC3+ (By Quenten Walker) – Part 1


The method below is to accurately display your FT3 map at any projection as a CC3+ map, with all the climate zones, altitudes and major rivers in their correct places no matter what the projection, and also to allow fine tuning the map in a way designed to add extra detail without changing the original FT3 map to any great degree.

The method requires as much detail in creating the FT3 map as possible – see articles on designing FT3 maps. Especially, this requires attention to altitude, climate zones, islands and rivers.

Prior to export

The most popular projections are:
• Equirectangular – increasingly inaccurate as you travel away from the equator
• Hammer – distorted increasingly as you travel to the east and west borders
• Sinusoidal – accurate and not so distorted, but discontinuous. Can be used to make an actual globe, especially the 18-way Stereographic Gores.
• Orthographic – allows you to centre on the landmass in question and see it most accurately of all in a continuous fashion. Used also to make maps centred on the North or South poles.
• AE Hemispheres – presents the map as 2 hemispheres (E and W). For best results, make your original draft map in FT3 as an AE Hemisphere projection, and then refine it at the equirectangular projection. This enables you to make sure there is not too much land overlapping each hemisphere – see below for preferred (left) and not preferred arrangements (right).

It doesn’t matter what scheme you use for your altitude colouring in FT3, since you will be customizing it in the export step below.

However, climate colouring does matter. I suggest adopting a simple colour coding using solid colours. Following is my own schema:
To make your own schema, first click on Map>Lighting and Color>Climate, then clicking on each climate type in turn, use Edit to change the colour. When you have finished, Save and name a specific file, eg My Climate. When you come to reuse this, use Load and Apply in this box (make sure you browse to FT3 terrain folder) to get it up again for future maps

For the purposes of this article, I will use the following map, with 5 different projections illustrated.

Preparing Export parameters

This step is the decisive one on how well your map will be exported. Make sure you choose whether you are going to use Imperial or metric measurement. Change the measurement units of your FT3 map to your choice by clicking on Map>List>secondary>feet or metres. I am using metres.

Click on File>Save Campaign Cartographer File. A menu will appear with various types of options. We are going to create a new one for altitude, and our other parameters.

Choose Create. A new menu will follow. These are the parameters I have chosen for my example.

Click next. This brings up the altitude screen. First add your altitude contours, an example of which is on the left.

I will choose the options shown using Add Multiple. (-10000 to 10000, 1000m interval).

As I do not want all of the 1000m steps for the ocean, I will delete some (eh -9000, -8000, -7000, -6000). I also want to have a few of the lower contours pictured, -500, -300, -100, 100, 300, 500, 1500, 2500. (You may not, of course). I proceed as follows.

I add these extra contours, by again clicking on Add Multiple, but making the Lowest, say -1000, and the highest 300, the interval 100, and deleting those I do not need, including duplicates of 1 contour, eg -1000 and 0. I will repeat the same for 500 intervals between 500 and 2500.

Please note I am working in metres, so 300 m = ~1000’, ie minimum height for a mountain, and -300 is the continental shelf. I add the others to get a better idea of the steepness of the altitudes, so as to help identify my mountain ranges. For imperial units, 100 metres is about 330 feet. (328.084’) Again, delete duplicates.

My final selection is as follows:

Now we choose the colours for each contour. Use a sensible gradation of colours. For each contour in turn, click on the contour in question, then Edit Selected.

Choose the following parameters:

Filled and Fill colour – click on the colour square and choose the colour you want.

Do this for each contour. This is time-consuming, but worth it in the long run.

Eventually, you will end up with your desired contour colour scheme.

Now click Next, and choose the maximum resolution (Fine), Multipoly Each Contour, and Altitude Relative to Water Level. Choosing Multipoly is important as we will see later.

Click Next, then choose the following: Contour Bar, Scale Bar, Rectangular Grid, Border (fit tightly to border), Layer Switch Buttons and Map Title – whatever you wish.

I generally don’t choose Compass, as I will add a nice one later.

I tend to ignore Sheet setup, as I will tinker with this once I have sent the map to CC3+.

Click Next and add your grids. I tend to choose one grid of 30° and another of 5°, to better enable me to judge climate zones. It will look like this.

Click Finish, and a menu will prompt you for a name for your setting. Do this, click OK.

At last you are ready to export it. Click on your setting in the Export list, and then Export, with the name you want. Hurrah!

NOTE: Sometimes, at the end of the process, it will tell you that it cannot create the file. It might even be time saving if you do a quick dummy create and see if you get this error or not, so you can use either Create or Edit.
In this case, copy an existing file in Exports folder of the FT3 folder, move it out of the Exports folder, and rename it to your desired name, and move it back into the Exports folder. Start the process again (groan), using Edit instead. The program will remember the last changes, so it should work (it did for me)

Fine Tuning the CC3+ file

Open your CC3+ file, and zoom out to full Extent. You should see a bar with buttons to the right – click on climate, and it will show the climate key as indicated earlier. Click on Altitude, and it will show your altitude key, with your desired colours and heights.

Let’s fix that white bit on the map (ocean over 10000m). Select Sheet BACKGROUND, Layer BACKGROUND, Colour 48 (darkest blue there is, in my example), and Fill Style Solid.
Use the Square tool to draw a rectangle surrounding the world map, and click Do It. I have Hidden and Frozen the Hex/Square Grid Layer.

Sometimes the Climate Button shows all the land biomes covered by the sea. The fix is simple. Delete the sea colours (Oceanic trench, Ocean and Shallow Ocean) in the Climate view (click the C button underneath the key). Add a layer called OCEAN. Go back to Altitude view (click the button labelled A underneath the key), and hide all sheets except CONTOURS SEA. Select all the entities on this sheet and reassign them to Ocean Layer. If you go to the Climate view, you will see the land climate zones on top of a more detailed ocean topography.

At this stage, I delete the Sheets COASTLINE and LAND (they get in the way, and can be added later when the coast is finalized).


Now add a sheet for each contour as shown below. Not pictured on the figure below is a sheet which also should be added – called CONTOURS ABOVE – below CONTOURS (LAND) 10000. There are several advantages to this process.

Separate Edge Fade, Inner effects can be applied to each contour, especially Sea contours, to create a pleasing image, in addition to any other effects desired, or bitmap overlays etc.
It makes it easier to modify and add contours if desired.

It makes giving the right colour to contours that appear as depression in the land (vice versa in sea). We discuss this later on.

Save each of these new layers as a very small circle centred on 0,0 in the Template layer, so they won’t go away when I close the map, before I have put other entities on the specific sheet. To start, let’s get the CONTOURS (LAND) Sheet organized.

Hide all sheets except CONTOURS (LAND) and BACKGROUND.

Using Change Properties button, reassign the outside land contour to CONTOURS (LAND) 0 Sheet. Hiding the CONTOUR (LAND) sheet and unhiding the CONTOURS (LAND) sheet will reveal the following.

Note that because all contours are multipoly entities, they are easy to pick, and you can check this at the command line to make sure only one entity is selected. Rename each contour with the appropriate sheet corresponding to the contour level, eg CONTOURS (LAND) 100. Repeat the process till all contours are done. I suggest you hide each renamed sheet as you go, since it makes it easier to select the next one.
Now you can delete CONTOURS (LAND) sheet (check nothing is on it first, by Hiding all sheets except that one).

Now do the sea contours. It is best to hide all but the CONTOURS (SEA) sheet. Do hide BACKGROUND this time.

Similar to the land contours, reassign them to appropriate sheets (eg CONTOURS (SEA) -7500), starting at -10000 and doing each in ascending order to -250. Hide each reassigned sheet as you go.

The next step is to show all sea and land contours ONLY, and Explode them all.

We now tinker with each contour so the effects of EDGE FADE (INNER) will work properly.

Hide all but the CONTOUR (LAND) 100 sheet, and for the Land contours, keep the background on as well.

Make the large area Hollow fill using the Change Properties button. You will see the following, with a few little inner contours – these represent Depressions if INSIDE the main contour, ie, need to be given the colour of the contour below, in this case 108 (using my colour scheme), while contours OUTSIDE the main contours are Elevations, and keep the same colour as the main contour.

Here are zoomed pics. At this stage, you may want to delete the very small ones, as I have done here. Then Change properties of the remaining solid Depressions (inner polygons) to Colour 108, ie the colour of the contour below and reassign them to the CONTOURS ABOVE sheet.

Change Properties to make the hollow polygons Solid again. Unhide the CONTOURS (LAND) 0 sheet, and you should see the third pic above.

Do the same process for all the remaining contours.

Hide all sheets except for CONTOURS (LAND [the one you are working on] and BACKGROUND.

Change Properties of the main areas to Hollow fill.

Delete any very small polygons (Depressions and Elevations).

Change properties of all Depressions to the COLOUR of the previous contour, and reassign it to CONTOURS ABOVE.

Turn on all Contours (LAND) ones you have done to present and see how they look.

Repeat till all land and sea contours done, and you will get this. Your main CONTOURS (LAND) sheet should now contain nothing (hide all sheets except that one to check) and can be safely deleted.

I have also turned on Effects, with all contours given EDGR FADE (INNER) with values of 0.2 and Percent of Drawing Extents Width.


Now for some alterations to the coastline.

Hide all sheets except CONTOURS (LAND) 0, and make a new sheet called COASTLINE (I know you deleted the old one, but that was for convenience and the fact we need to make a new one.)

Trace all the entities with black outline using the Outline in Black button to the right.

Use Change Properties button, press P (which selects the outline in black) and change sheet to COASTLINE, and Layer to COAST/SEA. Now hide CONTOURS (LAND) 0, leaving only COASTLINE visible. Make sure your coastline is not a Multipoly – if so, just Explode it.

Here is where I alter the coastline. A common problem is that FT3 exports coasts with many, many nodes. This is a problem if you have big landmasses, which can make tracing difficult and even crash the program. Following is my way around this.

Use SIMPLIFY on the command line. The simplification distance the command asks for controls the quality of the resulting entities, the lower this number, the more the entity will look like the original entity, but the less nodes will be removed too. The appropriate values here depend on the map size. This is only needed for the bigger masses.

I even cut the really big coasts into 2-4 parts, so editing them doesn’t cause them to crash the system.

Now I edit them – perhaps a few better delineated harbours are needed, perhaps some small islands, perhaps deleting some wacko land projections. Make sure to take note of these changes (ie WRITE IT DOWN), so you can also do this on all other projections. Use Layer COAST/SEA, Sheet COASTLINE, colour black and Fill style Hollow. When this is done, we need to remake CONTOUR (LAND) 0 again, to match the coastline. Here is an example of adding a harbour and 2 small islands. BTW, I have split the coastline of the continent into 2.

If any of your coastlines are cut into pieces, re-join them. (use Combine paths (right Explode button) and then make the path a poly (right click Explode) once you have made only 1 path.)

Now Show CONTOURS (LAND) 0, and you will see how the new coastline and the contour no longer match. Hide COASTLINE sheet, and delete all entities on the CONTOURS (LAND) sheet.

Reshow COASTLINE sheet, copy it and rename the copy as CONTOURS (LAND) 0 sheet and RELIEF/CONTOURS Layer, Solid Fill and Colour 108. Now COASTLINE and CONTOURS(LAND) 0 will match.
You can of course make changes to the other contours, but because I have been very finicky in the process of drawing the FT3 map, I don’t bother.

Well done, you have finished the Altitude section.


Now to fine tune the rivers. Remember to go from high altitude to low altitude, though FT3 should have already done this for you. Try not to change the river courses too much (if you do, make a note of this for future projections.)

Select RIVERS Sheet, and WATER/RIVERS Layer, Change fill to Solid, colour to the colour you want for the rivers (I chose 51) and Freeze the RELIEF/CONTOURS and COAST/SEA Layers. Show all the CONTOURS (LAND) sheets along with COASTLINE sheet and Hide everything else. I will illustrate this on the zoomed section.

Use the Fractal path tool, and roughly trace the rivers as shown, sometimes with a source higher up in the mountains. Remember to select the fix to ON button to fix it on the coast.

Delete the old rivers. (Actually, I use Delete first, then do the new river, as the delete conveniently leaves a white line to show where the deleted entity was). I then use Straight to Smooth (right click Explode button) on all the rivers to obtain a less clunky feel.

Compare the two zoomed areas.

Note that the CONTOURS (LAND)100 is overlapping our new harbour. Fix this by hiding all sheets except COASTLINE and the offending CONTOUR (LAND) sheets, and move the nodes of the contour so as not to be in the water.

I also change some of the contour depressions into lakes, especially if a river runs near or through them. First I add a LAKES sheet below the RIVERS sheet, so the lakes always appear on top of the rivers. See the example below.

This completes all the physical features that were converted from your brilliant FT3 map.

The article will continue next week.

Quenten Walker is a retired oncologist , and worldbuilder from the age of 11, just after discovering the Narnia books. He has used ProFantasy since the CC Pro days, and just loves making maps to tell stories about (rather than stories which require a map). He lives on an idyllic island in the middle of the Bass Strait, Australia, and regards the ProFantasy community as a second family. He can be contacted via Facebook (Quenten Walker).

2 Responses to “Converting a FT3 world into CC3+ (By Quenten Walker) – Part 1”

  1. Great article! One question: how do you get the particular color scheme pictured in the article? In other words, is there a way to enter a specific hex code for a color? Or are we limited to clicking the individual colors between 0 and 255?

    For example, I cannot for the life of me figure out how to select your Tundra or Alpine color (527912). 🙂

  2. @Brian: If you hold down the ‘Shift’ key while clicking the Edit button in that dialog, you get the regular color picker instead of the CC-compatible one. From here you can enter the exact color numbers. Just note that the colors shown in the list is in hex, while the Windows color dialog expect a regular decimal number, so you need to do some quick converting.