Getting More From Your Fill Styles

CC3+ comes with a bunch of fills, and with the official and un-official add-ons out there, you have a large amount of different fills available to you. But no matter how many fills you have, you always find yourself needing something you don’t have (or is that just me?).

In this article, we’ll take a look at some ways to get more out of your existing fills. We’ll look at using effects, layering fills, and manipulating fill scale, all in the name of producing more variety for our maps.

Note that all the techniques here uses the resources already in the map, which means you can still share your map file with others without them getting red X’es due to custom fills.

All images in this article are clickable to see larger versions. This is recommended to see the details properly.

Changing Colors

Both the ‘Adjust Hue/Saturation’ and ‘RGB Matrix Process’ effects are capable of changing the color of a fill style. You can utilize these effects to change the colors to achieve different goals. For example, you can use them to make subtly different shades of grass to break monotony, or you can use them to completely change the color of the grass, for example to make it look more brownish and dried up.

The image below shows how I’ve used the RGB Matrix Process effect to make an autumn version and a dried-up version of the standard Mike Schley style farmlands. A little color change goes a long way to provide a completely different visual look.


How does RPG Matrix Process work? The dialog may look complicated, but it is really simple (although figuring out the values to use can require some experimentation). As you may know, the most common way to represent colors on a computer is to describe a mix between Red, Blue and Green. And this is what the RGB Matrix process is all about, it lets you re-mix the colors. If you look at the first line, it reads R = [input field] * R + [Input Field] * B + Input Field * G + [Input Field]. The letters R, B and G refers to the Red, Blue and Green component of the colors. So, if the first line reads R = 0.75 * R + 0.5 * B + 0.6 * G + 0.1, it is read as the new Red component equals 0.75 times the current red component plus 0.5 times the current blue component plus 0.6 times the current green component + 0.1. So, as you can see, we are describing the new red component as the sum of fractions of the old components, and we can actually let the amount of blue lead to determining the amount of red in the new color. The other two lines lets you calculate the green and blue components respectively.

Another example, this time using Adjust Hue/Saturation to make a more subtle change, making the grass a bit brighter green.

Adjust Hue/Saturation is a less complicated effect, and it change all the colors in the fill along the color wheel. Hue/Saturation/Lightness (HSL) is another way to specify colors instead of using RGB. You don’t have the same amount of control as with RGB Matrix, but you can easily use this effect to make both subtle and drastic changes. (More about HSL)

Overlap Fills

Fills can be overlapped to create different effects, usually combined with the transparency effect.

Solid X and Solid White X

Almost all templates come with a set of fills called solid 10, solid 20, and so on. In the list of fills, these looks like different shades of gray, but they are actually all black with a different amount of built-in transparency. These can be used to draw on top of other fills to darken their appearance. The fills named solid white XX are the same, except they are white with transparency, allowing you to brighten whatever might be under them.

This technique is actually used by the sea contours in the Mike Schley Overland style, instead of providing multiple ocean colors, the sea contour tool just uses the solid 10 fill. Draw one layer, and it will darken the ocean a bit. Draw two layers on top of each other, and it will darken it more.

The example image below shows the floors of the forlorn cottage darkened and lightened by various applications of these fills.


Transparency and Blend Modes

You can use the transparency effect to merge two overlapping fills. The example image below shows combining concrete with the lawn fill to make a moss patch which still preserves the concrete texture, as well as a puddle of water. Both are made using transparency effects (In these examples, I used edge fade, inner because I needed soft edges, and this effect allows the setting of the both the inner and outer opacity)


Another useful effect here is blend mode (more about blend modes). While transparency just makes something partially see-through, blend mode is a more advanced effect, allowing you to control how the entities on the sheet should be merged with what is below. The screenshot below shows some examples of what you can do with blend mode, but feel free to experiment with the other settings.


Using Patches to Break Up Monotony

Most fills are ill suited for use in a very large area by themselves. For example, if you want a grassland battlemap, simply apply the grassland fill as the map background and call it done rarely gives a good result. You’ll easily spot the repetition in the fill, and it looks plain and boring, no matter how good the actual fill is. To break up this, you should use patches either of a different fill, or using the same fill but modifying the colors as we talked about earlier. The result will be a much better visual experience. This should be applied to any large area of the same fill. These patches should normally be drawn as smooth polygon with an edge fade to make them blend seamlessly with the fill below.

Changing the Scale

Another way to utilize your fills is to change their scale. For example, if you only have a single plank fill, and need planks in all your rooms, you can create multiple copies of the same fill in the map, and use different scale for each copy. In the example below, you can see that while the floor in all the room use the same fill, it is actually using three different scales. Boards are much larger in the bedroom, and much smaller in the two smallest rooms.

This was accomplished by creating 3 copies of the same fill and changing their scale. To create a new copy of an existing fill, simply click the fill style indicator in the top right corner, go to the Bitmap Files tab, and select the file you wish to duplicate from the dropdown. After selecting the fill, simply hit the ‘New’ button, and give the new fill a name. The new fill will be a duplicate of the fill you previously selected. Now, make sure your new fill is selected, and change the value for Scaled, but leave everything else alone. Now, you have two copies of the fill you can alternate between to create some variation, like in the map above. You can of course combine this with other techniques described above, such as darkening the floor by overlaying a Solid XX fill or similar.

Note that because the image files used for the fills have a finite resolution, the fill may start to look blurry or pixelated if you try to increase the scale too much. How much you can scale any given fill heavily depends on how you are using it in the map and how far you intend to be able to zoom in on your map.

Do note that when you create new copies of fills this way, drawing tools won’t automatically be created for your new fills. You will need to manually pick them from the fill dialog, and not just use a predefined drawing tool (although you can make one if you want). Also remember that if you change the scale of a fill after you have drawn something using it, the existing entity will also use the new scale, which is why we needed to create multiple copies in the first place, instead of just changing the scale as we needed it.




One Response to “Getting More From Your Fill Styles”

  1. As always very, very useful Remy Monsen!