Day & Night

So, here you are, having just prepared the main location for tonight’s adventure. But then it dawns on you, you have no idea when players will actually visit this location. They may even drop by multiple times.

Well, today we’ll be having a look into how to set up effects to it is easy to switch between day and night views of the same map. In the day scene, we will be using regular wall shadow effects to have the buildings and symbols cast shadows, while the night seen will use the point light system in CC3+ to have light sources in the scene that causes the symbols to cast shadows. We will be using this to show how symbols around a fire casts shadows away from the fire, and how we can have lights coming from the windows.


To start out this map, I’ve drawn a pretty simple City Designer 3 map. It shows a couple of houses around a small central gathering point with an outdoors fire. I’ve also used several symbols from Dungeon Designer 3. However, this can be accomplished with symbols from any set, you don’t really need CD3 or DD3. You can download my example map.
You can also enjoy this article as a video if you prefer.

Now, the main interesting point of this map is that I have 5 symbol sheets. Download and check out the example map for the exact settings I’ve used. I’ve kept most shadows on the shorter side. All of these sheets uses the Wall Shadow, Directional to set up the shadows.:

SYMBOLS FLAT: This is for symbols that are low to the ground and shouldn’t cast shadows at all. I’ve also placed the fireplace here, since a lit fire generates it’s own light, and certainly doesn’t cast any shadows, even if it isn’t flat. There are no effects at all on this sheet.

SYMBOLS LOW: This is for the shorter symbols, such as the flowers and the rocks on the ground. Symbols on this sheet should only cast very short shadows

SYMBOLS MEDIUM: Intended for regularly sized objects, here I have things like the bush and the sitting crates around the fire.

SYMBOLS TALL: Bigger things that cast longer shadows fit here, such as the tree.

SYMBOLS BUILDINGS: For the biggest things around, i.e. the buildings. While you can easily argue that a tree might be taller than the buildings, it is important to separate them for what I am going to be doing with the point light effect later. But there is nothing wrong with having a longer shadow on the SYMBOLS TALL sheet than the SYMBOLS BUILDING if you want.

Note that all my symbols are one one of those 5 sheets. I’m not utilizing any of the other sheets from the CD3 template, such as VEGETATION. This is because I want an easy setup when I am adding night mode. All of the sheets appear in the drawing in the same order as listed here, and there are no additional sheets in between. Of course, I still use other sheets for the background elements, like the road and grass background, but they are not part of the shadow setup.

Note that I reduced the size and the blur radius of the default shadows in CD3. These are intended for a larger city map, and was a bit overwhelming in my little street view here. But other than setting up the extra sheets, adding the Wall Shadows, Directional effect to them and tweaking the existing sheets, I didn’t do much changes to the standard CD3 template here. I just was a bit more conscious about which sheet I placed my symbols on, because shadows play a major role here.


Setting the map up for night mode requires on additional sheet. This is because I want to have lights coming from the windows of my houses, and for me to be able to do that, I actually need to draw the interior walls in the houses, with holes where the windows should be.

This should be simple enough. Note that the walls won’t ever be seen, so they don’t need to be pretty or perfect. What I did was just add a new sheet called WALLS, and at first, I added it AFTER the SYMBOLS BUILDING sheet in the list. This means it will appear on top of the buildings, and is only done temporarily so I can see them when I work with them. Note that this WALLS sheet shouldn’t have any effects at all applied to it. If you are re-using a WALLS sheet already in the template, make sure to disable any effects on it. While the walls won’t be seen, I like to have a little width to them (pixel-thin walls at an angle may let undesirable light through), so I used a width of 0.5 map units. I then drew the walls just inside the edges of the roofs using the Path tool, and then broke holes in the walls where the windows should be using the Break command. The result should look something like in my image.

Now, we can add the lights. Just to keep things orderly, I created a sheet for that – LIGHTS. Before adding lights, also set the current color to a nice yellow. If you set this first, the lights will use it as a standard, instead of having to set it for each light.

The CD3 menu doesn’t have the add lights command accessible, so you can either add lights by typing the ADDLIGHT command on the command line, or you can switch to the dungeon menu by clicking the DD3 button, and then find all the light commands in the Dungeon menu.

Now, just add one light on the central fire, this should be in a 360 degree radius. Remember that the light is quite weak at the edge of the circle when you define the radius, so don’t be afraid to make this a bit large. I made mine almost up to the houses. I used an intensity of 50 for most lights, but I varied it a bit for some of the windows.

Before we add the rest of the lights, let us set up the effects.

SYMBOLS LOW, SYMBOLS MEDIUM, SYMBOLS TALL: Disable (but don’t delete) the Wall Shadow, Directional effect, then add a Wall Shadow, Point Light Setup effect on the sheet. Set the shadow length option for the effect to the same value you had for the directional shadows on that sheet.

WALLS: First, add a Wall Shadow, Point light setup effect with a shadow length of 0 (infinite). Then, add a Wall Shadow, Point Light Finalize effect, use black as the shadow color.

SYMBOLS BUILDINGS: Disable the Wall Shadow, Directional effect

Right now, the map is probably looking quite dark. This is supposed to be night, not absolute darkness, so we are going to change the ambient darkness a bit. Right click the Sheets and Effects button and pick Global Sun. Now, in this dialog set the Shadow – blur to 0.5, and pick a transparency value between 10 and 25. The smaller this value, the darker the scene. Try to find a value that makes it suitably dark. Note that if you are showing this image to players, for example using a Virtual Table Top tool, remember that their screens may be darker than yours, and if you plan on showing it using a projector, you need it even lighter for it to be legible at all. What is suitably dark on your screen may be illegible for others.

Now, add the remaining lights. For the windows, add the center of the light well inside the house. It should shine out the window, but not start there. Note that this light should not be 360 degrees, so make sure you have the centerline of the light going out through the middle of the window. Then, set up the width so that the arc of light is a bit wider than the hole in the wall, this allows the wall to do the blocking. Again, the light fades toward the end, so consider that when you select how far the light beam should extend. Note that the closer the centerpoint is to the window, the wider the beam will become, placing it far back results in a narrower beam, in relation to the width of the window.

Final step is to hide the walls. We do that by going back in to the sheets dialog, and moving the WALLS sheet up one step, so it now rests between SYMBOLS TALL and SYMBOLS BUILDINGS in the list.

When you view the map now, you may notice one thing. Most of the map looks nice and dark and affected by the lights. But there is one thing that stands out, the building roofs. They are as bright as day. This is because we had to take the buildings out of the calculation for the point light effects; you may remember that the finalize effect is on the WALLS sheet, which now is before the SYMBOLS BUILDINGS sheet in the list. The reason we had to do this was to be able to create the light coming from the windows. If the building symbols also cast shadow, this wouldn’t have worked at all. So, we have a final trick up our sleeve here, which is to change the colors of the roofs to make them appear darker, and thus in shadow.

Add a RGB Matrix Process to the SYMBOLS BUILDINGS sheet, with the settings shown in the image to the right. Note that this effect should be moved up so it is the first effect in the list for this sheet. This is because we want to modifiy the colors before any other effects are applied, otherwise the modification would modify their results too.

And there we have it, a night scene.


Unfortunately, switching between the modes isn’t a single click, but if you followed my advice and kept the number of sheets short and orderly, it isn’t that many either.

To go from Day to Night, all you have to do is to deactivate all the Wall Shadow, Directional effects on the five SYMBOL sheets and the WALLS sheet,  and then enable the Wall Shadow, Point Light effects on the same sheet, as well as the RGB Matrix effect (Remember not all sheets have all the effects, enable/disable as appropriate, don’t add new effects)

To go back, just do the same in reverse, i.e. disabling all the point light shadow and RGB Matrix effects, and enabling all the Wall Shadow, Directional effects on the five SYMBOL sheets and WALL sheet.


If you have questions regarding the content of this article, please use the ProFantasy forums. It can take a long time before comments on the blog gets noticed, especially for older articles. The forums on the other hand, I frequent daily.


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