Effects and Stacked Entities – A Look at the Edge Fade, Inner Effect

In most overland styles, such as the CC3 Mike Schley Overland you’ll find that when you draw a terrain, such as the hills, the edge of your polygon will fade into the land behind it, allowing for a smooth transition between the two. This is of course done by the Edge Fade, Inner effect, and will only be visible as long as effects are enabled.

So, well and fine, but now we want the central part of our hilly area to be mountainous, so we just use the drawing tool and draw us some mountain terrain on top of the hill terrain. But then we notice something, the mountain fill is not fading into the terrain fill beneath it. Now, why would that be? It is on the same sheet as the hill fill (the LAND FEATURES sheet in case of CC3 Mike Schley Overland), and that clearly fades, so what is up here?

The answer to that is simple, effects are per-sheet, not per-entity, so what the Edge Fade, Inner effect is fading the combined outline of all the entities on the sheet, not the outline of each individual entity. In my example case here, the mountain terrain is fully inside the hills terrain, so the outline is here described by the hills terrain alone. If the mountain terrain had been sticking out somewhere, we would have seen that that part of the mountain terrain would have had edge fading applied to it, as would be the case if we delete the hills altogether and just keep our mountains.

So, let us look at how to handle this.
The fix is quite simple. As we already covered, the reason this happens is that the effect only handles the outline of the sheet, so fixing it is as easy as adding one or more extra sheets and copy the Edge Fade, Inner effect to them all. Copying an effect with all it’s setting is easy by using the Copy/Paste buttons on the right hand side of the dialog. Just select the effects to copy (Remember, selecting them means clicking on the name to highlight the entire line [hold down ctrl to select more than one], the checkbox is to activate/deactivate the effect, not selecting it) and you can then paste them in to another sheet. You can even paste them into another CC3+ instance if you wish to copy effects between maps.

As you can see in my image above (click for larger size) I’ve added two more sheets for the hills and the mountains, and then moved the entities to the new sheet (There are many ways to move entities between sheets, but I usually just use Change Properties ). The fading effect now looks correct.

And, that’s really all there is to it. You can do the same whenever you need to, you can easily have 100 sheets or more in CC3+ without that being an issue.

 

This procedure probably rises some questions, so let us look at some of them.

Can I make my terrains go to the right sheet automatically so I don’t have to move them after drawing them?

Yes. Almost all the tools in CC3+ that are designed to put something on a specific sheet (Symbols, drawing tools, etc) actually just look at the beginning of the name of the sheet, which is why I named my sheets LAND FEATURES HILLS and LAND FEATURES MOUNTAINS. See how they both start with LAND FEATURES, the name of the sheet these things normally go to automatically? The trick here is that if the currently active sheet starts with the correct name, for example if my currently active sheet is LAND FEATURES HILLS, then the tools will use this sheet. If the current sheet does NOT start with LAND FEATURES, it will default to the standard LAND FEATURES sheet instead. Of course, it does mean you must keep a bit more of an eye on the currently active sheet yourself, otherwise the grasslands you just drew may also end up on LAND FEATURES HILLS, since it did qualify by starting with the correct name.

If you edit a drawing tool or symbol, you’ll see that the sheet name in the dialog usually end with an asterisk (*). This is what activates this matching feature, if the asterisk is left out, it will always use the sheet that carries the exact name show. More about this can be found in this article.

Why isn’t these sheets in the Template already?

There are two reasons for this. First of all, it makes the template very messy and unintuitive with all those sheets. It also forces everyone to look closer at their sheet selection all the time, instead of just relying on everything working automatically, which it does for most of the users most of the time, so in the end, it is better to set this up when you need it, it makes a much better user experience overall.
Secondly, the sheet order is not a fixed thing for every map, so you would still need to go in and adjust things. For example, should deserts appear on top of grassland, or grassland on top of desert? That depends on the map you are making. If you are making a desert region with some smaller oasis regions, grassland would be on top, but if your region is mostly grassland with a few deserts it would be the other way around. By having everything go to the same sheet by default, we can take advantage of the natural ordering, i.e. what the user drew last is the thing coming out on top. If everything have their own sheets, inexperienced users would be very confused why their grasslands never turn up (because the sheet order forces it below the desert) which is not a very good user experience.

Why does it work this way? Why not fading per entity instead?

This is a software design choice based on many factors, including things like performance and possibilities for the users. Right now for example, it is quite possible to place two polygons with different fill next to each other and have them “join” at the seam perfectly, while still fading their edge towards the rest of the map (where my black line is currently in the example images). If entities faded individually, this wouldn’t be possible, there would be a gap where they meet because of the fading. In the end, it generally makes for a more flexible and powerful solution for the end user having it this way, since it is easy enough to make one sheet per entity in the cases where you would need that type of fading.

 

Note that in this article, I elected to look at the Edge Fade, Inner effect. But most effects work on a per-sheet like this, but it is really only noticeable on effects that works on the edges of things, like edge fading, shadows and glows. For example for shadows, you may wish to do something similar if you want different lengths of the shadows, or you have something in the middle of another entity that need to cast it’s own (longer) shadow, like an obelisk standing on on a raised plateau.

 

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.

 

 

One Response to “Effects and Stacked Entities – A Look at the Edge Fade, Inner Effect”

  1. Thanks Remy. It always helps to be able to link to articles like this 🙂

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