Mapping Tiles with CC3+ – Part 1 – Planning

Campaign Cartographer is not designed to be a tile-based mapper, rather it is designed to be fully free-form where you can shape things as you want. But sometimes,  having a set of pre-made tiles available can allow us to throw together a map quickly, or to serve as inspiration.

Most CC3+ styles doesn’t come with such tiles, but creating our own tiles for use in later maps isn’t difficult, although it is a bit time-consuming if we want lots of nice tiles available for our use, but it can also be a nice relaxing activity, and each individual tile can be finished relatively quickly once you have your basic framework ready.

Tiles can be used for multiple purposes, like battle maps, dungeons, space stations and cities. And of course, a tile in CC3+ isn’t fixed and locked once made, you can make a dungeon using tiles, and then still add or remove individual items after placing the tiles.

Tiles can also be printed and used for assembling a quick location on the table for miniature play.

In this article series, I’ll take you through the creation and use of such tiles, and we’ll look at some of the more advanced options available in CC3+ to make the best tiles.  Many tile-based mappers use standard image files for their tiles. You can absolutely end up with gorgeous creations if the tiles are nice, but this approach have one major limitation, the contents of a tile is locked. Is there a car parked along the roadside in that tile? Well, then you’d better be happy with that car there, because there are no way to move it. Want to change the length or the angle of the shadows? No, can’t do that. Want to rotate the tile? Again, no, because that would make things like shadows in the rotated tile wrong.

Now, CC3+ can absolutely work with these kind of standard image tiles, and we will look at how to make those during this series, but CC3+ gives us additional options. For example, I can make a tile that is really a symbol made up from multiple elements that gets placed on various sheets once I drop down the tile. This allow us to build our space station quickly with a series of tiles, but we can still erase individual items (like that car from earlier), change the effects, and even place new items, like a car that is halfway hidden under the roof of the gas station on the tile. And since these tiles use the effects in the map we place them in, it means we can also change effects, and not be depending on effects baked into the tile, so we can even rotate them without getting into problems with shadows and the like.

What do we want?

The first part of making any kind of tiles is to plan what we actually want.

Obviously, we need to think of the type of map, and the style. Are we making city blocks for easily creating large cities, or are we making tiles for creating a battlemap set on an alien space station? Which style do we wish to use? Almost any style can be used for making tiles, but to provide some variation, I prefer a nice style with a good selection of both fills and symbols. And of course, one can combine styles when making tiles, there is no need to stick to a single style.

Once you know what style(s) to use, it is time to start thing about the basic tile. How large should it be? Do we want large tiles where each tile may contain multiple rooms and a complete dungeon can be made with just a few tiles, or do we want small tiles so that even a single room can be made up from multiple tiles, allowing for a much more fine-grained control? Both options have their advantage. First one allows for very fast dungeons, second one allow for a lot of control. Of course, the answer isn’t necessarily a or b, but anywhere in the range between those alternatives.

Along with the size, there is another concern to address. How should the tiles connect? There’s no law that every tile should be able to connect to every other tile, but to be able to easily plop down a bunch of tiles to create your map, there needs to be some structure in place, for example, were on the tile should roads/corridors/doors exit? Should the tile allow one corridor connection in the middle of each side, or should there be multiple possible connection points?

Once we have some idea of what we want, it is a good time to fire up CC3+ and make a a basic tile. I recommend starting with a template large enough to fit multiple tiles so we have a bit of a workspace to test out ideas. You’ll probably also want to make a map with a blank background instead of the standard fill.

Here’s a tile for a space station that I whipped up quickly. My concept here is to have the corridors in the center of the tile, with rooms on the other side of the walls. The rooms can then be made bigger with tiles that are only floor. I’ve put in a few symbols just to get a feel for it, but this is more a proof of concept than a finished tile. But I think it can work as a starting point. My basic plan here was tiles for a space station or large spaceship, so having filled in areas don’t make sense. It may work in a dungeon, but on a space station, if you see a wall, it is either a room at there other side, or the vacuum of space, not 50′ of solid material.

When placing symbols, I also made sure to not extend any symbols outside the edge of the tile. We sometimes do that at the edge of a map, having just half a tree sticking in for example, but doing that on tiles doesn’t work, as any tile you wish to connect would need to have the other half of that symbol. Tile-crossing symbols are best placed manually after making your tiled map.

This map style also came with black glow on the edge floors. It looked nice, but it also appeared on the outer edge of the floors, and that is not going to work when we have multiple tiles meeting.

I’ll go more into detail about our edges in a later installment though, for now, let us get the planning out of the way.

The Template

With our prototype tile out of the way, we can now analyze it and create a template for what we need. So let me summarize the important points as I see them:

  • The tile is 50′ by 50′
  • It has a 10′ wide corridor that exits the tile at the exact center of each edge.
  • The tile also shows the edges of rooms.

Let us start with that corridor then. A space station is a very structured place, so I can probably live with all corridors being 10′ wide. Maybe at a later stage I can add a set of tiles with a 20′ main thoroughfare in one direction or something, but that can be handled later. Having the corridors exit in the middle of the tile means the tile can actually be rotated to any cardinal direction and still connect, which is good. With rotational symmetry, we can get away with fewer tiles. We probably don’t want to have a 4-way crossing every 50′, so we are going to need some straight corridor tiles, but that will work fine, not every tile have to use all 4 exits. I can also map the edge of the station on a tile by simply making the bottom half below the corridor open space instead of rooms, and either not have a corridor arm go down there, or maybe treat it like an entry point, and place an airlock symbol. All in all, I think this layout is going to work for me.

What then remains is to define the template for our tiles. In this case, I am not talking about an actual CC3+ template, but rather just a set of lines that we can use as a guideline when drawing further rooms. For this step, it is important to work with precise locations. The easiest way is to simply set up and enable a snap grid. Just right click the grid button in the lower right of CC3+, and activate the 5′ grid, 2 snap grid, and turn on the grid, snap and cursor snap options, as in the leftmost image. If you don’t have the 5′ grid, 2 snap, you can make it by creating a new 2D rectangular grid from that dialog, by setting the options as in the dialog to the right. These settings will help you place your nodes in precise locations, so you can be certain that you get that corridor exactly in the middle of the tile. Note that when you have cursor snap on, the cursor will jump between snap point whenever you are using a drawing command, instead of the normal smooth motion of a mouse pointer. If you are not used to it, it may feel a bit weird at first, but it really helps with that precision. Do note that the setting I picked, (5′ grid, 2 snap) means that the visual guide dots will apepar every 5′, but there will be one additional snap point between them. So when you move your cursor (with a drawing command active), you can see you can place nodes either on the dot, or exactly midway between them. Feel free to pick other values that may work better for you.

Next step is to make a layer for our template lines. Click the layer indicator in the status bar, and create a new layer named TILE TEMPLATE. Make sure it is the active layer by placing a checkmark in the first of the 3 boxes, leave the other two empty for now. Also create a new sheet, let’s call that TILE TEMPLATE too, and make it the active sheet.

Then, all you need to do is to draw some lines, using either the Line, Box or Path tools from the righthand toolbar. The idea here is to use these work lines to draw important guides in your template. As you can see from my template, I’ve drawn a blue outline, and red lines for the potential corridor locations. These lines doesn’t mean I will always have corridors all those places, but if I am going to have corridors, this is where they would go. Since we only have one exit on each side, this is a rather simple template. If I had been planning with multiple optional exits, I might not have drawn the entire corridors like I’ve done in the left image, but rather just marked the potential exit spots like I’ve done in the right example. Remember, it is where the corridors exit that is the important thing, tiles will line up as long as these match, it doesn’t matter what weird curves the corridor does within the boundary of a single tile.

No matter what style you go for, once you are happy with your template lines, open the layer dialog back up, change the active layer to something else, BACKGROUND being a good choice, and then finally click in that third box in front of TILE TEMPLATE, causing an F to appear. This means the layer is now frozen. This is a great feature for use with template lines, because it means we can no longer select them for editing operations (Go ahead, try to delete them with the erase tool), but we can still target them with modifiers, like endpoint, if needed. This is very helpful when we are going to draw on top of them.


We’ll end part 1 here, with our plans planned. For the next part, we’ll start drawing our tiles, and have a look at important considerations we need to handle. You can download my work in progress file here, but you will need Cosmographer and the HiSpace Deckplans annuals to see my example tile. The template lines will work no matter what addons you have though, and they are the important outcome from this part. And remember, these principles apply no matter what style or type of map you make. You may need to thing different with sizes and exit, but nothing of what I did here today are linked to sci-fi maps, I used used them as an example.


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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