Leveraging the new features of CC3+ Update 22

Update 22 for CC3+ was just released, and in addition to fixing a couple of issues, it also includes some improved commands, as well as a few brand new ones. Let us have a look at these and how you can use them.


A new command for tracing the outline of images (and other CC3+ entities) and turning them into CC3+ entities have been added. This new command, simply called Trace is an easier to use variant of the Contours command from Update 16, and it also support colors.

There are two new commands here, TRACED and TRACE. The former allows you to select entities for tracing, and then it will pop up a dialog where you can set various parameters, while the latter is the silent version which just executes the trace using the current parameters (either set by using the dialog version, otherwise it uses default ones). The options in the dialog are as follows:

  • Offset Distance: This is the distance from the edge of the image the trace will follow. A negative value means inside image, while a positive value means the trace will extend slightly beyond the image. A value of zero means to trace the edge of the image exactly. Note that presently there is a problem with a positive value for some images if you don’t get a trace at all, try setting this to zero.
  • Simplify Distance: A trace can quickly contain an overwhelming amount of nodes. Simplify (this is also available as a stand-alone command) removes nodes that are too close to each other, as specified by the simplify distance. If you set this to high, the trace will be rather coarse when compared to the source, but you’ll want to have at least a small amount of simplification. On larger-scale maps, you may wish to increase this to at least 1, and perhaps even as large as 10. You may wish to experiment to fins the value that works best for you. Note that simplifying the edge obviously means you loose detail, but too much detail also bogs down CC3+, so the trick is to end up with the right amount of detail.
  • Smoothing Distance: This is simply a smoothing applied to the distance field CC3+ generates internally for the image to avoid sharp edges. You’ll usually be fine using the default value.
  • Work Image Resolution: This is the resolution of the internal buffer CC3+ will use when tracing the image. The larger this is, the more detailed the trace, but CC3+ will also require more memory processing this. Of course, it can never be more detailed than the resolution of your source image. And remember what I wrote on detail level above, it isn’t necessarily desirable to go overboard with the detail level. The default value here should be more than sufficient for most cases.

To use the commands, simply type the command on the CC3+ command line followed by enter or space. CC3+ should then ask you to select entities to trace, and when you are done selecting, just execute a Do It as usual. Depending on which command you chose, you may now see the dialog, and after accepting the parameters, CC3+ will trace the entity. The polygon created by the command will use the current properties as set on the status bar.

Note that the image you are going to trace should have a transparent background. You can either do this in an image editor, or if the image has a solid colored background (one single color, no patterns or gradients) you can tell CC3+ to consider the color defined by the top left pixel transparent by clicking the Bitmap Options button in the Insert File dialog and set the appropriate settings.

Let us try out this command by creating a landmass from an image. I already have an image of my landmass on a white background.

I start by creating a new blank map in the Mike Schley overland style. First, I create a new sheet to hold the image, naming it BITMAP and sets this as the active sheet. From here, I use Draw –> Insert File to insert my image into the new map. Since this image had a white instead of a transparent background, I hit the Bitmap Options button in the Insert file dialog, and set the Transparent upper-left color option.

Now, I want my landmass on the LAND sheet, so set that as the active sheet. Then, type TRACED on the command line, hit enter, and when CC3+ asks you to select entities, select the inserted image and hit Do It. Do note that it can be a bit tricky to select the image since you need to select it by the edge of the image, which happen to be invisible, since we made the background transparent. Using the selection window/rectangle should allow you to select it just fine though (Remember that only part of the edge needs to be inside the selection rectangle, you don’t need to encompass the entire image). For the dialog, the default options should suffice, perhaps bump the simplification distance to 0.5.

Hide the BITMAP sheet, and you should see just the polygon created by trace. Remember that the visual look (like fill) depends on the current properties, so it might not be a hollow outline like mine.

Finally, right click Change Properties and select the Change Like Draw Tool option. The command prompt now asks for a drawing tool to use, right click inside the drawing window to bring up the drawing tools dialog. Pick the Land, Default one and then proceed to select our new landmass and any islands. Hit Do It, and you are done. You now have an traced landmass from an image in the same land style as any landmass you would be drawing yourself.


Palette Saving

You can now save and load the color palette to/from a file. While this was technically possible before, it was a bit cumbersome, because CC3+ used a specific named file, and all the maps that didn’t have an embedded palette would then always use this file unless you manually moved it out of the way.

Now you can use the simple PALSAVE and PALLOAD commands to load and save the palette, allowing you to build up a nice library of palette files if you so wish.

The commands are command-line only, and in addition to the commands, only take the file name of the palette, like:

PALSAVE @muted_colors.pal
PALLOAD @muted_colors.pal

Of course, the @ character in front of the file name refers to the cc3+ data directory as usual, I recommend you use it so you keep your palette files there (If you want to be organized, a subdirectory might be in order). Also, the standard extension for a palette file in CC3+ is .pal, so I recommend you stick to that, although you can technically do what you want here.


Fractalise Outlines

The fractalise command have been improved. Now, when you apply fractalise to an entity with an outline (such as a landmass), the outline is automatically fractalized too. No more deleting and re-applying the outline. In addition, the fractalise command now also respects the map border, so new nodes should never extend beyond it.

This behavior have also been extended to the Remove Nodes (REDN) and Simplify (SIMPLIFY) commands.


Toolbar Icons

Are the toolbar buttons too small for you? Now there are four sizes to choose between. Just click the Screen Tools button to set them. Note that the icons have been drawn at the highest resolutions, they aren’t merely enlarged versions of the smaller ones. The two top rows are the sizes that are in CC3+ today, second row is what you got if you enabled the large toolbar icons checkbox. Note that in the new dialog, the naming have changed, these are now called small and medium, while large is now what you see in the third row.

Keep in mind that on a standard Full HD display (1920×1080), there isn’t enough space on the screen for all the icons for the largest variant, this should only be used on higher resolution screens. If you wish to use this icon size on such a screen, you’ll need to rearrange your toolbars and remove icons you don’t need.
Also keep in mind that CC3+ obeys the windows scaling setting, so if scale is set higher than 100% (Windows often do this on high-resolution displays by standard), the resulting buttons will be that much larger.

And for those using one of the community art packs, these already support icons in all four resolutions, so there shouldn’t be any problems with those.



2 Responses to “Leveraging the new features of CC3+ Update 22”

  1. Wonderful! 😀

    Thank you for taking the time to write this all down for us, Remy, and a huge thank you to Profantasy for all our new toys xxx

  2. Great tools

    Will these instructions be added to the ultimate time of mapping?