Finding your Symbols

If you own a lot of ProFantasy products, or have installed one or more of the large community symbol packs, you will have a lot of symbols. By default, CC3+ will give you easy access to the symbols belonging to the current map style through the symbol catalog buttons immediately above the map window, but sometimes you may wish to search for other symbols not made for the current style, which may fit anyway. But how to best find these symbols? Let us check out a few ways which may be of assistance to you here.

 

Every now and then, the request/question arrives as to why CC3+ doesn’t show you all symbols to pick from at all times. The simple answer here is the sheer amount of symbols and map styles. Trying to sort through a list of every single symbol each time you need a symbol would force you to spend more time looking at symbols than mapping, especially if you own several add-ons. And CC3+ comes with a very wide variety of map types and styles, and a lot of symbols don’t make sense in the current map, like a spaceship in a dungeon or an isometric symbol on an overhead map. Likewise, many styles are widely different, meaning that a dungeon symbol from one style may look rather jarring and out of place if used on another style. But of course, you also have the situations where symbols from another style might fit right in. So, even if only the symbols belonging to the current style is displayed by default, CC3+ do give you the ability to use any symbol from any style. Unfortunately, there isn’t a built in symbol search function, but there are several ways to approach this which we’ll see here.

Symbol Catalog Filters

Symbol catalog filters are CC3+’s way of searching for symbols. It doesn’t provide a symbol name search, but it allows you to search for symbol catalogs. And symbol catalogs are organized in a unified way across the program, which means you can use it to find the catalog where a symbol will be. For example, all overland hills and mountains will be in the “Mountains” catalog.

Using the filters are easy, just click the Symbol Catalog Settings button, and then click the Advanced button in the dialog to get the full filter options. Note that from the advanced box, you can also change symbol catalog settings, so unless you’re actually planning on doing that, if you get any prompts asking to save changes, just say no. You’ll also only going to be concerned about the two input fields in the Setting name Filters section, the section below it is for actually changing stuff which we won’t discuss in this article.

Now, searching here is easy. The top filter (catalog settings filter) is for the type of catalog you are looking for, and the bottom one (Master filter) is the current map style. You can set the content of this field to an asterisk (*) to search for everything. Then click either of the Find Now buttons to do the search. For example, the dialog as shown above currently searches for every symbol catalog in the CC3 Filled style (That’s the internal name of CC3 Standard Overland). Below is another example with the the catalog settings filter set to Mountain and the master filter set to everything, thus displaying every mountain catalog from all your installed products.

Here’s another example showing all the furniture in all styles

Once you have run your search and identified a catalog you wish to look closer at, select it in the preview list and hit OK, and it will be loaded into the symbol catalog in the main application window.

Using File Names

This trick only works for the modern raster symbols, because they are referencing actual image files on your drive as opposed to vector symbols which are fully embedded into the symbol catalog file. But most map styles use raster symbols these days anyway. This will allow you to search for individual symbols, taking advantage of the built in search features in Windows.

Start by clicking the Open Symbol Catalog button. This will bring up a standard windows file open dialog, probably currently located in the same folder as the last symbol catalog that was opened.

You’ll want to click the parent folder button (arrow to the left of the address bar) a couple of times, so you end up in the main Symbols folder, and if you wish to search just inside a single map type (recommended) then double click the appropriate folder to go back into it:

Now, you can type anything you want in the search box in the top right. For example, to search for swords, just enter the word sword and hit enter. It should only take a few seconds for Windows to build the file list. Right below the search box should be a couple of helpful buttons. One is the view button, which lets you set the view to show thumbnails, or the detail view to show more details about the file. There is also a button next to it that you can use to turn on the preview pane, to give a larger preview of the selected file.

However, as you probably are already aware of, CC3+ keeps 4 versions of every image in different resolutions for performance reasons. In CC3+ itself, you don’t normally notice this, but here, we search for files, and this becomes much more noticeable. So my recommendation is to not search for just sword, but to search for *sword*_hi.png. The result will be the same, but it will only display a single image from each set of 4 identical images. Of course, replace sword with whatever you want to search for, but make sure to keep the asterisks.

Using the Symbol

Once you have found the symbol you want to use, how do you use it?

The simple way is to just double click the file or select it and hit the Open button in the dialog. This works, and will load all the images from the same folder as the file was in into the symbol catalog (Note that the search results is not a folder, you won’t get all the results from the search, you will get all the files from the original folder the selected image actually lives). You can now use the image from the symbol catalog like any other symbol. This is a quick way, but I am not recommending it. The reasons for this is that you are not actually loading the symbols, you are loading the raw images the symbols are based on. A symbol is much more than just the image, it contains a large amount of settings, such as which sheet it should go on, or smart behavior such as aligning to walls and such. Loading the raw images bypasses all of this. So if you use this method, you need to take care yourself to put the symbol on the right sheet and layer, and you may also need to scale it manually. But just for a single quick symbol, that may be acceptable to you.

So, if that isn’t the best way, what is? Well, once you have found the symbol to use (and selected it in the dialog), use the button in below the search field to switch the dialog to detail mode instead. This means the thumbnails won’t be visible, but you’ll get extra information instead. Notice the column called Folder here (You may need to make the dialog wider by dragging the size handle in the bottom right of the dialog, and you may need to make the column wider by dragging the thin separator line in the heading after the word “Folder” to see everything).

If you look at the selected item, you can see it resides in a folder called Cartouches, which is located inside @Symbols\Dungeons\Annual Paer Lindstroem BW. That’s our catalog. Click the Back button in the dialog (Arrow pointing left, the far left button in the top toolbar) once to get back out of your search results and back to the folder where you started your search from (In my case, it was inside the dungeon folder), then navigate into the appropriate folder (Annual Paer Lindstroem BW) and here I should see that there is a symbol catalog called Cartouches. Double click it to load it. This loads the actual symbol catalog with the symbols instead of just the raw images, so you can use them with all the functionality you expect from CC3+ symbols. Note that in that file dialog, you’re probably noticing that there is both a folder called Cartouches and a symbol catalog called Cartouches.FSC (the .FSC file extension may be hidden on your system). The folder is where the raw images are kept. Usually, the name of the symbol catalog and folder are exactly the same, or very similar, and this is what we exploited when using the detail view to identify the symbol catalog to use. Now, there is no rule in CC3+ that they have to be the same, but they usually are, and if not, you should be able to identify it easily enough based on the naming.

Making Symbol Catalog Lookup sheets

If you like, you can create lookup sheets from your catalogs, which you can then print to PDF’s to have an electronic document you can scroll through to look for symbols, or you can print them and put them in a binder to thumb through them whenever you want. Doing this is quite simple, but it is a bit of work since you’ll need to do the operation once for each symbol catalog.

You’ll need to start by opening up the symbol catalog for editing. This is different from opening it up in the symbol catalog window, instead you’ll load it as if it was a map. You can do this by using the regular File -> Open action in CC3+, and then change the file type in the dialog to CC3+ FSC symbol catalog. Then navigate into the location where symbol catalogs are stored (The @Symbols folder for all official symbol catalogs), go into the appropriate subfolder, and open it up in the editor. Symbol catalogs doesn’t normally contain a drawing, so it may look like an empty green screen or orange screen, this is completely normal. However, you can now check which symbols are included in the symbol catalog by hitting the Symbols in Map button.

With the symbol catalog open, select Create Catalog Thumbnail File from the Symbols menu.

The dialog has a few fields, but it is simple enough. The height and width are the size of the symbols in the lookup sheet, and text height is the size of the text displaying the symbol name. Number of columns controls how many symbol thumbnails are on each row. You’ll probably want to keep Scale symbols independently checked, otherwise the symbols will be scaled correctly relative to each other, so that a knife symbol will be minuscule compared to a tree symbol. This doesn’t work to well for a lookup sheet, as you are trying to actually see the symbol, not judge the scale. The Output filename will be a standard CC3+ map file (.fcw file), hit the Pick button to browse for a location.

With all options set, just hit create, and the desired map file will be created. Now, you can just open this map file in CC3+ and do whatever you want with it, such as exporting it to an image, printing it (to paper or PDF) or processing it in any other way you want. Note that if the symbol catalog contained drawing tools in addition to symbols, these will just be blank.

Note that if you want to control what symbols are included in the output, you can bring up Symbol Manager while still in the catalog file before creating the thumbnail file. For example, you can remove all drawing tools and varicolor versions from the file. However, if you do this, either save a backup copy of the symbol catalog first, or make 100% sure you never save the symbol catalog at all. There is no reason to save the symbol catalog after making modifications before making the thumbnail file, but if you do make changes, CC3+ will prompt you when you close it if you wish to save changes, and if you save over an official catalog file, there is no going back unless you have a backup ready, otherwise it is a repair install or reinstall.

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