Floor and Wall Inscriptions

Ever wanted to have something appear as a being inscribed into the wall or floor instead of appearing on top of it? With a little bit of manipulation and a few effects, we can turn any vector symbol or basic shape into such an inscription.

We can then use this technique to decorate floors in a dungeon, or used with both walls and floors in a perspective drawing, netting us some nice way of adding decorations without overusing symbols.
Let’s start out by working with the floors in a regular dungeon, then we can move on to Perspectives later in the article for the additional steps required there. The basic effect we will be utilizing for all of this is the bevel effect.

For everything that need their own effects, we will need a dedicated sheet for it. So for this article, I will be creating a sheet called INSCRIPTIONS, and arrange this so it comes just after the surface we want to put the inscription on in the drawing order, such as a the floors.

I’ll also be using the pre-existing transparent fill styles a lot. These do normally exist in most templates already, and they are called Solid 10, Solid 20 and so on for the dark versions, and Solid White 10, Solid White 20 and so on for the lighter version. If you are using a map that do not have these fill styles present already, you can import them by selecting Import Bitmap Fill styles from the Tools menu. Set the Source Folder to @Bitmaps\Transparencies, and make sure the relative to CC3 path is the selected option. It is also very important that Create other resolutions is unchecked.

Basic Shapes

For my first example here, I’ve just used the basic polygon and circle tools to draw some shapes on the floor, using the solid 10 bitmap fill. When you first draw the shapes using this fill it will be almost invisible, but that is fine, we only want a very subtle change to indicate depth, and we will be using a bevel to make the edge more pronounced. One of the important things to remember when drawing shapes with this fill is that it cannot overlap. Since it is partially transparent, the effects will end up stacking where they overlap. The options here is to either make sure that instead of overlaps you have one continuous complex shape (using a multipoly or by combining paths, whatever is most appropriate.), or use a different fill. If the floor is a more of a solid color, as opposed to the checkerboard in my example, you can often just use the same fill as the floor itself, but for a highly patterned floor, making the fill of the shape line properly up can be difficult, which is why I opted for the Solid XX fills in the first place.

In my example here, I used a simple bevel effect (Length 0.2 units, strength 30%, Invert colors checked, fade 95%, effect units is map units) to achieve the visual look. I also threw in a small blur to soften it a bit, and a texturize effect to further reinforce the look that this was chiseled into the tiles. The important thing here is to make sure the bevel is set with inverted colors, if not, it looks like the shape is a relief instead which makes it look a bit weird. Note that I’ve bumped up the width of the bevel to make it stand a bit more out on the images here in the blog, you may actually want to try with a smaller value. Also note that my effects are set up to make it look right from a reasonable zoom distance, the illusion fails a bit if you try to zoom too close, so you need to tailor the effects a bit to the expected view distance.

Using Symbols

Well, basic shapes are fine, but we can get a much more interesting result if we use a symbol for this. Of course, what we want when inscribing a symbol into the floor is the outline of the symbol and not the symbol itself, so it usually takes a little bit of work to prepare the symbol. For this reason, it is best to use vector symbols, since these can be edited and manipulated inside CC3+ itself.

There are a lot of vector symbols provided with CC3+ and it’s add-ons, but I am going to open up the weapon catalog from SS2 here now, since it contains some nice weapons to use as the basis for my shape. You can find this catalog at @Symbols\Dungeons\SS2\Fantasy\Weapons.FSC.

I am picking two swords from this catalog and arranging them in a crossed sword pattern. Now, at this point I might want to remove some of the details, it usually looks a bit bad if we add tiny details to the inscriptions. Now, remember it is the outline I am after here, so I am not worried about the details on the blades and hilts themselves. Actually, for these swords, I am pretty happy with the detail level, but if you look at the mace from the same symbol catalog, it has a small rope loop coming of at the end, probably meant to secure it to your hand. This is something I probably wouldn’t want in the final image. To edit such a placed symbol, you can simply use Explode on it. This will reduce it to it’s individual component pieces, which you can delete and manipulate individually.

Once the symbols have been prepared, it is time to make the outline. One easy way to do this is by using the TRACED command. This command uses the current settings, so make sure the sheet is set to INSCRIPTION, line width is set to 0 and the current fill is set to Solid 10 bitmap.

You won’t find the command on any menu or toolbar, but just type in TRACED on the command line, followed by enter. CC3+ will ask you to select entities as usual, so just select the symbol(s) (or all the pieces if you exploded them) and hit Do It as usual. You will be presented with the Trace Bitmap dialog. Set offset, simplify and smoothing to 0 and hit ok. This will generate a new polygon matching the outline of our two sword symbols. At this point, it can be very difficult to see since the swords are still there, but if you delete the swords, you should see it just fine. Just make sure to only erase the swords, and not the new polygon you just made. You may need to turn to more advanced selection procedures to separate them, if you are unsure about these, refer to the editing chapter in the user manual to learn more about selecting by different properties and using the list command to identify entities.

If your effects are set as previously, you should see the result immediately, if not, make sure that the new polygon is on the correct sheet and that effects are set and turned on.

Text

You can also do this with text. If you right click the explode button, you find the explode text option. This is similar to explode, but results in text being converted to basic CC3+ entities. Once the text is basic entities, you can easier manipulate it and work with it in the same way as with the exploded symbol above. Keep in mind that text suited for this should have somewhat bold lines, lines need some width to make this look good. The image below shows some dwarven ruins on a mossy wall.

Putting it in Perspective

So, for the last part of this, let us put this into a perspectives map.

The shape itself should be created in the exact same way as above. Use the same top-down symbols as we did in the dungeon example above, don’t go looking for symbols in perspective view. The important thing here is to plan where your INSCRIPTIONS sheet goes in the sheet order, since thinking in perspectives can be a bit more tricky, especially if you want it to be partially covered by another wall you will also need to use multiple wall sheets.

I am starting with a basic Perspectives map, and I have copied over the swords shape and the effects, as you can see in this image. Currently, the inscription is there, but it is not in perspective view. We’ll handle that in a moment. But let us start by placing the INSCRIPTIONS sheet correctly in our sheet order (for my simple demo here I placed it right after WALLS in the list, but if you have lots of other entities, you may need two individual INSCRIPTIONS sheets, one after WALLS and one after FLOOR), and make sure to make your INSCRIPTIONS sheet the active one.

Fortunately, bringing thing into perspective view is simple enough, for that we have the 3D Projection command. Just click the button to bring up the Isometric Projection dialog. This dialog allows you to pick from four different projections. The diagrams in the dialog should show what each does, but basically, to project the swords to the top-left wall, use the Right projection, the top-right wall will need the left projection (the projections are named based on how it projects, which is why it right/left is opposite to the wall directions). To project it on the floor, use either one of the Top projections, depending on the final orientation. You’ll also want to enable the option to leave it as original entity here, unless your engraving is using a fill with a texture that needs to be aligned to the wall, if so, then the shaded polygon option is the best one. Once you hit ok in the dialog you are asked to select entities as usual, so select the swords, then it asks for Iso view origin, this is basically the point you “pick up” the swords from, so just click in the middle of the crossing point, then just place the isometric version on the wall. You may need to turn off snaps to get it placed right. Note that the bottom two swords on the floor is just a regular 180 degree rotation of the two projected ones at the top.

Now, at this point there are two reasons why the symbol may look crooked on the wall. The first is the symbol itself. When the symbol was placed on a dungeon floor seen from top-down perspective, it didn’t matter much if the hilt ends and the sword tips ended at the same height. But once you bring it into perspective, these things are much more noticeable. You can see this a bit in my symbol, because the sword hilt is a bit lower than the scimitar hilt. If I had taken a bit more care when making the design in the first place, this would have looked a bit better. The second issue is the angle of your walls. The Isometric Projection command we used is only designed to project it along the main isometric angles. However, Perspectives 3 allows you to draw the walls at any angle, which is normally fine. But if you want to use the command to project a flat image like we did here, the wall we project it on should be correctly aligned along the perspectives grid, like in my example image here.

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.

2 Responses to “Floor and Wall Inscriptions”

  1. Veeery nice, Remy.

    Thank you very much 🙂

  2. Excellent stuff, Remy. Thanks! 😀

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