Mapping Tiles with CC3+ – Part 3 – Printing/Exporting and Effects

In the prior installments of this series (Part 1Part 2), we looked at how to create mapping tiles using CC3+. Such tiles can be great for quick mapping, because you can just assemble them in whatever way you need to provide a huge amount of possibilities.

Now that you have your tiles, the big question is of course, how will you use them? I’ll consider 4 main methods. the first of them is simply doing as we did while developing them in part 2, just having the tiles placed off to one side in the map and make copies to slot into place, but I find that a bit inefficient. A far better option if you are going to use them in CC3+ is to define them as symbols, which I will look at in a later installment. Today, I’ll consider the last two options, namely exporting them as images that can be used in any application, including CC3+ itself, and printing them, giving you physical tiles to assemble on the fly at the gaming table. Bot these options have several things in common, so it makes sense to talk about them at the same time.


Before printing or exporting, we need to consider what effects we will be using on the tiles. There are especially two areas that need to be addressed:

  • Direction: Many effects, like shadows, have a direction. In a CC3+ map, this is fine, since all the shadows will normally go in the same direction automatically, and even if you rotate something, the shadows will be recalculated and still go in the correct direction. But when you export or print a tile, the shadow will be a permanent part of the image, that isn’t a limitation of CC3+, but rather how images and prints work. This means we will need to consider what effects to use and how to use them, because rotating the tiles are one of the common ways to provide flexibility in using them, and this can lead to very weird results if we use long shadows, as seen in the example to the right where all the shadows mysteriously seem to point toward the center of the room, and end up looking quite unnatural.
    This is a result of the room being made up from 4 different tiles, that all have been rotated in a different orientation. This is why effects need some planning. One way to work around this is to rotate all the shadows by 180 degrees before exporting/printing the tiles. This would have the effect of the shadows pointing towards the wall instead, and while they would still point in four different orientations, that could be explained by an overhead light in the center of the room. That workaround may break down if you make tiles that allow you to assemble larger rooms however. In my specific case here though, I assume that I am on a brightly lit space station, and that shadows are minimal. The effects in my example map from last time simply uses a very small drop shadow. These too will have different orientations when rotated, but they are small enough that it isn’t very visible, and can also be explained by multiple light sources in the room, which does makes sense.
    Another option is a bit of a black glow around the symbols which doesn’t have a direction at all, but gives a soft shadowy effect. Of course, these workarounds might not be quite as appropriate in a fantasy dungeon, so your setting do matter here. Another approach is to design the tiles differently. I designed my tiles with the corridors as the central feature, because this allows me to make tiles that let me easily build rooms of any size (provided I have a bit more different tiles than I currently have obviously), but a different approach is putting the rooms in the center instead. If each tile only contains one room, all the shadows in that room will be consistent, and differently oriented shadows in different rooms are easily explained with the light source being placed differently. This approach also makes it easier to have rooms with different colored lights.
    In the end, you need to pick the approach that works best for you and your tiles. You may also decide that you can live with some inconsistency in exchange for the extra flexibility. Or you may decide that your tiles shouldn’t be rotated at all, so you always design them with a fixed direction in mind. This will give the best end result, but gives the least flexibility and requires the most tiles to be designed, but remember you can take advantage of the fact that CC3+ does recalculate the shadows when you rotate the tile, so you could take the same tile and simply export it 4 times, once for each orientation.


  • Edge of Tile: Keep in mind that any export/print will only contain what is on the tile itself. If you have this large column on a tile that casts a shadow so long that it exists the tile and spill into the neighboring tile, well, that will work fine inside CC3+, but once you export or print that tile, that spillover shadow will not be included, and once you assemble your tiles, instead of a nice long shadow, it will be cut of at the edge of the tile. This means that all effects should be designed in such a manner that they do not exit the tile they belong to. If you need very long shadow, consider making a single big tile that is the size of 2 or 4 tiles put together. As long as the size is a multiple of the regular tiles, they should be able to be used seamlessly with the smaller tiles, and you can contain that large effect on one tile.


Exporting your tiles to image files allow you to use them with other software. They can even be imported back into CC3+ for use as symbols, but we’ll look at that and better options in a later article.

The most important thing to make sure of when exporting your tiles is to make them exactly the same size. You don’t want to end up with some tiles slightly differently sized than others. Fortunately, CC3+ does make this easy for us. The second thing to consider is the size of each tile (in pixels). The appropriate size do depend on how you are going to use them, but a common size for reasonably good quality printing is 300 pixels per inch, and typically, each grid square (typically 5′ in most maps) should be 1″ on printout, so this gives us a formula of about 60 pixels per in-map foot. My tiles are 50 by 50 feet, so that should result in 3000 x 3000 pixels. Do note that this is actually a somewhat large size, intended for good quality printing (Yes, some printers use 600dpi or even more, but 300 dpi is still enough for a good quality print), so playing around with a bunch of 3000×3000 tiles may actually be a bit much for many programs, so you may need to ask yourself if you really need that size, you’ll still get a decent result even if you halve the size to 1500×1500 or even less. Here I recommend experimenting a bit with the way you are using them and see what is good enough for you, but I recommend having reasonable expectations, do you really need to be able to zoom close enough into your battlemap to identify a tiny mouse? Probably not.

The easiest way to do a precision export in CC3+ is to take advantage of the fact that we designed these tiles on a snap grid. This means that we have a snap position in each corner of the tile. I recommend you remember to save the map before starting an export.

  1. Make sure that snap is turned on. The easiest way is to right click the snap button in the lower right of the CC3+ interface, and make sure both Snap and Cursor Snap is turned on. You can also verify that the right snap grid is selected, but unless you changed it, you should still be on the one used when designing the tile template.
  2. Zoom in close enough that you can easily identify the corners of the tile to export. You can easily have multiple tiles in view, but zoomed all the way out if you have a canvas with hundreds of tiles on it may make it difficult to target properly, even with the aid of snaps.
  3. Select Save As from the File menu.
  4. In the file type dropdown, pick “Rectangular Section JPEG” (or Rectangular section PNG if you prefer lossless, but JPEG is a much nice file size, and you are unlikely to notice a big difference).
  5. Hit the Options button, and set the following settings, and then click ok to close the options dialog
    • Pixel Size, both width and height: The value you calculated above, 3000 in my example
    • Crop Image to aspect ratio: Unchecked (Normally this should be checked, but when exporting these tiles, the most important bit is getting exactly the pixel size we ask for. When this option is checked, you allow CC3+ to modify the width or the height to fit to the selected tile. This is unlikely to cause any issues, but we turn it off just to be 100% sure.)
    • Restrict image to map border: Unchecked (Note, you normally want this checked when exporting normal maps, but for this purpose, we turn it off just to be sure)
    • Antialias, Launch Image Viewer, Progressive JPEG: Whatever you prefer, but I like to NOT have the image viewer pop up for every tile I export. Also note that if you export a rather large tile, like my 3000×3000 example, you want to be careful with that antialias, I recommend either turning it off, or keep it to low.
    • Resolution, Print Size: Ignore these, they are irrelevant for the current operation
  6. Browse to wherever you want to save the tile (I recommend sticking with the same folder as the map, otherwise you need to browse for every tile, it is easier to move them all in one go using the Windows file explorer in the end), and make sure to type a sensible file name into the box; It default to the map name, and we can’t export each tile to the same name, as they would overwrite each other.
  7. Hit Ok. Notice that since we picked rectangular section export, the export doesn’t start immediately, but if you look at the command line, we are asked to pick two corners to define the export area. Simply click once in the top left corner of the tile to export, and then in the bottom right corner. Since we have cursor snap on, you should see that the crosshairs snap nicely to the corner as long as you are closer to the corner than any other snap point in the map. This is what allows us to do that perfect precision every time.
  8. Once the corners are defined, the standard export process will start, just as with exporting any map. Wait until it is done before trying to export the next one.

If you want to export more than one tile, the options dialog do remember its last used setting, so you can skip step 1,2 and 5 for each subsequent tile.

And, that’s it. You now have a collection of tiles as image files, all 3000×3000 pixels. These can now be used wherever you want, for example in Virtual Tabletop software.


If you want a set of physical tiles to use at your gaming table, you need to print them. One way of doing that is to take the images we made above and print them from our favorite application, but let us look at precision printing in CC3+ instead. I recommend always saving your drawing before starting printing.

The important thing when printing is obviously printing them all at exactly the same size. This means that the first thing to decide on is what size that might be. If it is for a battle map, the normal size is to have a 5 foot square in the map be printed as 1 inch on paper. This is because 1″ is the typical size for role-playing miniatures. For larger ares, it may also be appropriate to print 10′ equals one inch. In my case, I have made tiles for a large space station, so I’ll probably need to go with the 10′ is 1″ approach, but just use the numbers you need, all you need to know is the ratio between in-map distances and print sizes. For example, if you work in metric, maybe you need 2m in the map to print as 30mm on paper.

Now, just follow these steps to print

  1. Determine how many tiles will fit on a single piece of paper. For example, I am printing on standard office A4 paper, which is 8.3 by 11.7 inches (210×297 mm). And my tiles are 50′ by 50′. I can easily tell that printing that as 5′ = 1″ won’t fit on the paper at all, so I opt for the 10′ = 1″ as I mentioned above. This means that each tile is 5 by 5 inches on the printout, so I should be able to fit 2 tiles on each sheet of paper.
  2. At this point, you may need to rearrange your tiles a bit to prepare the file for printing. I did mention above that I could fit 2 tiles on the paper, but this do require that they are not spaced too far apart, remember, printers also need margins. And you also may want to move the other tiles out  of the way so you don’t waste toner/ink on printing parts of the neighboring tiles that happen to stick into the printing area. Remember to keep snap on while moving tiles around to avoid anything getting out of alignment.
  3. Zoom into the area you wish to print. Ensure that the set of tiles are nicely centered in the zoomed in area, and that you are zoomed in as close as possible, but without loosing any part of the tiles. Perfect precision does not matter at this point.
  4. Pick Print from the File menu.
  5. In the print dialog, you want to set the following
    • View to print: Active window
    • Sheet: All visible sheets as one page
    • Scaling: Scale Factor. Then set the paper distance and drawing distance as discussed earlier. For example, if I want 10′ in my drawing to print as 1″ on paper, then simply set drawing distance to 10′ and paper distance to 1″. CC3+ do understand those feet/inches symbols. It will convert them, so the next time you open the dialog you will see it changed to the decimal representation, but it make sit easy to type in the distances you want. Note that the Drawing distance is actually drawing units, so if your map is in metric and uses meters instead of feet, and you want 2m to equal 1″ on paper, you can type that into the box just fine. The only thing that needs to be correct is the scaling of your map in the first place. If your map is not scaled correctly, then you need to fudge these values to compensate. This is one of the reason I always advocate making your map in the correct scale from the beginning, as it makes everything simpler later on. Read my article about scaling for more on that topic.
    • Tiling: I am manually printing the pages one by one here. If you position your tiles correctly on the canvas, you can use the tiling feature to print all your tiles in one go, but you’ll need to do some alignment work here to make sure it will align correctly for every page. Unless you have a LOT of tiles, I don’t recommend using tiling for this, tiling is more suited when you have a large map that needs to be printed out over many sheets of paper.
  6. Check that everything looks OK by hitting the Preview button. If it doesn’t, check that you zoomed in correctly in step 3 and that your map is using correct scaling. If it isn’t, you may need to fudge around with the scale factor as mentioned above. If you do need to resort to that, remember to record the values, so you can reuse them for later printing (Putting the value as a text entry in the map is a good place to store them)
  7. Print. You now have a sheet with one or more tiles, all you need is to cut them out from the paper, and they are ready to play with. I recommend using something thicker than just plain paper, figure out what the thickest your printer can handle, and use that. An alternative is to print it on adhesive paper, and just glue it to thicker cardboard after printing. Another tip here is to print to PDF instead of printing straight to paper. All modern versions of Windows comes with a PDF printer that you can use. This way, you can examine the output before wasting any paper, and if you are happy, then you can just print the pdf. Just make sure that your pdf printer is configured to use the same paper size as your real printer, avoiding any surprises when you learn that letter-sized paper won’t properly hold the contents of that A4-sized pdf.

When printing, you can also use the Print Wizard (From the file menu) instead of the standard print dialog. It takes you through this with a wizard interface and helps you make the choices.


This concludes part 3 of this series. I will be back with more in part 4, taking a look at how to use the advanced symbol options in CC3+ to make these tiles into highly flexible symbols.


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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