Gridding your dungeon Floor

Grids are a necessity when you are making your battle maps and it is easy to add a grid in CC3+ through the Draw Menu (Hex or Square Overlay). And this is quite OK for many maps, but with just a little bit more work, one can make it much prettier. For example, a common desire is to only have the grid visible over the floors in the rooms, where the characters can actually walk. And maybe you have a tiled floor and want the grid aligned to that? In this article, I am going to discuss some of the things you can do with your grid.

 

All my examples are based on this example map. Download it if you wish to follow along. It’s done in the Jon Roberts Dungeons style, which every CC3+ user should have. The map is quite simple, and it is intentionally drawn to be very grid-friendly, something which is quite common for a battle map. An actual map would probably have been a bit more detailed than this example map, but it works fine for showcasing some techniques.

The Basic Grid

Let’s start with the most basic option just to have a baseline. Using the Hew or Square overlay from the Draw menu and specifying a grid size of 5, no labels.

This should net you a drawing with a basic grid, ready for play without any fuzz. To make the grid a bit prettier, one can add a transparency and/or a glow effect to it, like I’ve done in the example here. Remember that you can also change the color of the grid to fit better with your map. If you have trouble selecting the grid when you want to change properties on it, it is probably because it is on a frozen layer. Open up the layers dialog, find the HEX/SQUARE GRID layer, and click on the F in the third checkbox to remove it. Keeping the grid frozen when not working on it is a good practice though, as this prevents you from accidentally including it in the selection when working with other entities in tour map.

Now, while this grid should suffice, it still covers the whole map. And it is also on top of our symbols and walls. I like to hide the grid behind those, unless the map is so crowded that would obscure the entire grid. But there is no reason every inch of every grid line should be visible, the grid is just a guide.

Hiding the Grid

I only want the grid to actually show up over my rooms, removing it from the spaces characters can’t walk anyway. And I’ll do that by simply hiding the parts outside the walls. To do that, the easiest way is to create a copy of the background on a separate sheet, and then make a dungeon-shaped hole in it. This require a few steps, so let us look at them. Note that this should be done near the end when your dungeon layout have been finalized, it’s much more work to add/edit rooms and corridors after doing this. (Basically, you should just delete the mask we create and redo the steps here from the beginning). Keep in mind that I am working with both sheets and layers in the instructions below, make sure to not mix them up.

  1. First, create a new sheet. You’ll want this sheet to be later in the sheet order than the WALLS sheet, so let us just call this new sheet MASK and place it below WALLS in the list. Some templates already comes with such a MASK sheet for us to use.
  2. Next, we wish to copy our background entity to this sheet. The simplest way of doing this is to right click Copy and select Copy to Sheet. When CC3+ asks you to pick entities, right click to bring up the selection popup, and pick layer. The command prompt will ask for the layer, so right click again, and the layers dialog will show. Pick BACKGROUND (click on the line marking it, you don’t need to check the checkbox, that’s for making it the active layer, not selecting it) and hit OK. The command prompt should now tell you that 1 entity have been selected, and you can Do It. This should cause the Sheets dialog to show. Make sure MASK is the selected sheet (as with the layers box, you select it by clicking on the line, marking it, not by checking the checkbox) and click OK.
    Note that this procedure only works properly if you haven’t placed any other entities on the BACKGROUND layer. If you have, you could either opt for a different way of selecting the background entity for copying, or simply do a bit of cleanup after copying by erasing the extra entities you copied. At this point, the MASK sheet should contain nothing but a copy of the background polygon itself.
  3. At this point, your map should appear pretty blank, which is expected since you just copied the background over everything else. We now need to punch a hole in it to see our dungeon.
  4. Copy the entities from the BACKGROUND (FLOOR 1) layer to the MASK sheet the same way you did in step 2 for the background. Note that the floors will normally be more than a single entity, but again, do a check to make sure you don’t have anything else accidentally placed on that layer.
  5. With both the background and floors copied to the MASK sheet, temporarily hide all the other sheets, as this makes it easier to work. Start by using Extract Properties on the copy of the background entity. This will set the current properties to match those of the entity. Next, use MultiPoly on the background copy and the floor copies. This will combine them into a single polygon the size of the background with a hole shaped like the floor. Now you can show all the other sheets again to see the result
  6. Finally, change the sheet order so GRID appears above SYMBOLS in the list.

That’s it. Your grid is now hidden so it only shows up on the map. You may also notice that our mask partially hide the walls. I like this, because it also hides the effects on the outside of the walls, making the dungeon look like it was cut into the background, and not placed on top of it. But if you don’t like it, simply move the MASK sheet one spot higher in the list so it appears before the WALLS and not after, the grid will still be hidden, but you get the “old” visual look.

Also note that I told you to move the grid up above SYMBOLS. If you look at my image (click to enlarge), you can now see that the grid lines are hidden below the symbols (look at the bed or trapdoor for example). I think this looks better visually, but again, if you don’t like it, simply move the GRID sheet further down in the list.

Using a fill instead

Now, what if I wanted to have something a little prettier than basic lines? There are several floor fills available that are some kind of tiles. Instead of using a grid, maybe the grid formed by the tiles will suffice instead? Or maybe we still want a grid, but also want the floor tiles to line up with the grid, as it can be a bit confusing otherwise. In both cases, the procedure is the same, so let us have a look at doing this. I’ll leave the grid we already put in as a reference, but as already mentioned, we could mange with just the tiles and not the grid. If you keep the grid visible, do make sure the HEX/SQUARE GRID layer is frozen so we don’t end up manipulating the grid accidentally.

Now, use Change Properties to change the fill of the floor to flagstones_brown CA54. The flagstones look quite nice, but since they don’t line up with the grid here, it looks quite messy. We could hide the grid to make it look visually better, but the flagstones still doesn’t represent 5′ squares and while they happen to exactly fit the size of the top room, the same can’t be said about the corridor or lower room.

This is where manipulating the scale of the fill comes into play. We’re going to change the scale of the fill to make it match. Looking at the tiles versus the grid, we can see the tiles are a bit larger. We could try to eyeball the size difference and do some guesswork, or we can try to do some math.

We can find the difference in size by using the Distance command from the Info menu. Using this to measure the width of a tile gives us 6 (Note that you won’t be able to measure this with 100% precision, so use some judgment when reading the measured number). We already know the grid is 5. 6 divided by 5 is 1.2, so that tells us that the size of the tiles are currently 1.2 times the size of the grid. Since we want them to be the same size, this means dividing the current scale of the tiles by 1.2.

Now, to change the scale of the fill, click the fill style indicator in the top right, then go to the bitmap files tab of the dialog that opens. Select the correct fill (flagstones_brown CA54) and then look at the scale values at the bottom of the dialog. If you are using my file, they will be 30. We already found that they needed to be reduced by a factor of 1.2, so divide 30 by 1.2, which yields 25. Change both width and height to 25 and click ok, and voila, the tiles will match the grid exactly. (I actually cheated a bit here. In this style, this fill is scaled as 25 by default, so the tiles would normally fit the grid out of the box. But I wanted to show how to handle this here, because not all tiles in all styles will have this property, floor tiles are primarily designed by the artist to look nice, not work as a grid)

Or do they? A closer look at the corridor reveals that things are not 100% correct. The size is right, but the tiles in the corridor is a bit off. This happens because each individual entity has it’s own origin point for the fill rather than a map-wide one. This offers more flexibility in general, but can look weird when you want the floors to seamlessly merge like here. But, it is rather easy to fix. Remember how we used a multipoly above to have our floors appears as holes in our mask? Well, we can use multipoly to merge our floors into a single entity. This single entity will just have one fill throughout, so it will be seamless. To avoid touching other entities, you may want to hide all sheets but the FLOORS sheet. Then, start out by using Extract Properties on one of the floor pieces, the use MultiPoly on all three to merge them into one entity. Finally, just show all the sheets again, and we are done. You can also hide the original GRID sheet at that point. Perfection. (Remember to click the thumbnails to see the images in full size, just by looking at the thumbnails you won’t see the difference between our “regular” grid and the floor tiles)

Alternate way of creating a floor grid

You may have noted that the Room and Corridor dialogs from DD3 allows you to select two fills for the floor. One way of adding a floor-only grid is to set that second fill to a grid-type fill. Most templates doesn’t come with a 5′ grid, but one of the symbol fills are called Square Grid 10′, and does exactly what it sounds like. And if you want a 5′ grid this way, easily create one. Again, click the fill style indicator in the top right, but in this case, go to the symbol fills tab. Hit New to make a new fill and name it Square Grid, 5′. Then in the symbol name dropdown, select square fill and set the spacing to 5 and scale to 0.5 (half the values the 10′ grid uses). You can now select this new fill in the Room and Corridor dialogs.

Keep in mind that this grid will be added as a separate entity, so the dungeon floors will now be made up of two entities instead of one, worth keeping in mind when working with them. If you don’t like the dashed lines, or want to make other modifications, a symbol fill is based on a symbol, and can be edited from the Symbol Manager. Just remember to check the ‘Show Fill Style Symbols’ checkbox to make Symbol Manager show them.

Remember the Set Points button

When you add a grid using the Hex/Square Overlay from the Draw menu, remember there is a Set Points button there. This is handy if you want a grid that doesn’t fill the whole map. It will still be a rectangle, but it can be placed on just part of the map instead of the whole.

Grids are just Lines

I won’t tutorialize this, but keep in mind that a grids is just a set of lines grouped together. You can edit each individual line, lengthening it, shortening it or manipulate it in other ways. The grid is grouped by default, but you can temporarily disable groups by depressing the locked button in the lower right corner (making it read unlocked) (Also remember to unfreeze the HEX/SQUARE GRID layer). You can then manipulate the lines and cut out all kinds of shapes or whatever from them, and then just lock the groups when done and you have a grid covering exactly what part of the screen you need to, in any odd shape. You can even rotate it (But keep in mind that the snap grid won’t be rotated with it)

 

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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