Perspective Ruins – Part 1: Walls

Perspectives 3 is a great add-on. It can be really rewarding to see your building appear in all it’s 3-dimensional glory.

There are some interesting challenges when mapping in the isometric view offered by Perspectives 3 however, and that is based on the fact that while the drawing might look 3-dimensional, it is actually still a flat surface. What Perspective does is to use angles in such a way as to make things appear 3-dimensional when it is not. As long as we can use the premade tools, we don’t have to worry too much about this, but these tools have their limits. For example, they are great for creating a house with, but there aren’t any easy tool to draw a ruined, crumbling wall. And it is a this point we need to start drawing some elements ourselves, and that can get a bit tricky when working in the isometric perspective.

In this article, I’ll discuss how to draw various elements to make a convincing ruin. It is based on the keep I made in this thread.

This article is also available as a video.

For this article I am using the Perspectives Dungeon Bitmap A style. I’ll assume you know your way round basic Perspective 3 concepts, such as setting up wall/floor styles using Perspective Settings

All images are clickable for a higher resolution view.

Ruined Walls

Let us start by drawing a simple ruined wall. Drawing a simple wall using Wall is simple enough, but we end up with a nice whole wall, not the ruined one we want. Now, there are two ways to continue from here. One is to edit the perspective shape itself, which is absolutely doable and may be quite fine for this simple wall, but this generally leads to a lot of work on more complex shapes. So, we are going to take the easier approach and use an effect to punch a hole in the wall. Obviously, the effect doesn’t actually modify the wall entity, but remember that Perspectives is really all about tricking the eyes, so if we can make the wall look ruined, we don’t need to care that the actual entity is still a whole wall.

So, what we will be doing is to add a Color Key effect to the sheet the wall is on. The color key effect is used to make certain parts of a sheet transparent, so you can see through it to the sheet below. It does this by identifying a predefined color, and make that color transparent. This allows us to basically “erase” parts of our wall.

Start the procedure by adding the Color Key effect to the WALLS sheet. The default color should be a nice pink, which we will suit our purpose fine. The important thing here is that the color chosen here must be the exact same color we will be painting in the map later to define our transparent area.

Back in our main window, set the same pink color as our current color (Should be color #6 in the default palette), the fill style to Solid, and make sure WALLS is the active shape. Now, use Fractal Poly to draw a shape over our wall, given it a ruined shape. Remember that this shape defines the part we are going to take away from our wall. I find the default fractal depth to be a little small, so I increased this a couple of steps (five taps on the right arrow key after placing the first node should do it). Remember that your wall is in perspective, try to keep this in mind when drawing the shape. You’ll also want to work with Snap off.

A final hint here is to make the places where you cut across the side and the top of the wall to be as straight across as possible. It can be heavily fractalized, but the main direction should be perpendicular to the edge. If not, it gets much more tricky to make it look nice. The main break line should also form a proper slope. It can go up and down, but it shouldn’t double back on itself, that will also get very trick to handle properly.

Once you turn effects on, or if they are already on, simply issue a redraw, you should see part of your wall disappear.

Now, that was easy enough. Our wall now look much more like a ruin. But, there is an issue with it. If you look at the ruined part, there is no thickness here. We have to do something about that. This is the point where we need to start thinking about the angles and bearing of the wall, but everything can be measured inside CC3+, so there is no actual math here.

First, we need the bearing of the “width” of the wall. This is done by using the Info -> Bearing command on the line circled in the image. But before you can target the individual line, we need to unlock groups by clicking on the Locked indicator in the bottom right corner, making it read Unlocked. This means that groups are unlocked, so that we can work with individual elements in the group instead of the group as a whole (the wall is made up from several entities joined in a group). For my wall, the Bearing command gave me a result of 30 degrees. Keep this number in mind for later. Set the groups back to Locked.

Now, our job is basically to draw a new top on that wall that will follow the shape of our new ruined wall. The easiest way to do this is to use the pink polygon as a guide. You may want to disable the Color Key effect while working with this shape.

Start by adding a new sheet right below the WALLS sheet in the list. I named mine WALL TOP. Set this as the active sheet. Use the Copy to Sheet command to copy the pink polygon to this new sheet. To make it easier to work, it is best to now hide the WALLS sheet.

Use Change Properties on the pink polygon, and change the color to black and the fill to Hollow. Now, use Copy  on the shape. You can click any point you like for the copy origin, but instead of clicking to place it, type <30,2 followed by enter on the command line, then right click to end the command. The two numbers you are typing here are the bearing we learned earlier, and the thickness of the wall. Replace these numbers as required. The < at the start means that we are giving the copy location using polar coordinates, that is a bearing and a distance.  The effect here is that the copy will be moved exactly one wall width in the direction of the wall width.

When you turn back on the WALLS sheet, it will look like in the picture to the right. Looking at the lines near the wall, we can see that we now have the basic outlines of the top of the wall we need. There are still some work to be done here, as we need to trim and join the lines, but we are getting somewhere.

For the editing we are about to do, that “hole polygon” of ours may get in the way, since it occupies the exact same location as one of our new outlines. It may be invisible, but it is still there. The best way to handle this is to put in on a frozen layer, since this prevents us from editing it accidentally. Best way to do this quickly is to go into the layers dialog, and make a new layer HOLES. Don’t set this as the active layer, but tick the box for Frozen (third box). Close the dialog. Now, hide the WALL TOP sheet, use change properties on the hole polygon (you can still select it even if it is invisible, but if you prefer to see it, turn off effects temporarily) and change the layer on it to your new HOLES layer. Since this is frozen, editing operations won’t select it by accident. There are still times when it might get in the way, but now we can just hide the HOLES layer to get rid of it temporarily instead of hiding the WALLS sheet which also hides the wall itself. While in the layers dialog, also make sure the HEX/SQUARE grid layer is frozen.

The next step is simply to trim those two polygons. The goal is to use these to describe the new top of the wall, so you should easily be able to see which part of the lines are relevant and which are not. The line that appears closest to us is easy enough, but we need to think a bit on how to best connect the back line to the wall. To trim the lines, use the Trim, Cut and/or Break commands. Use modifiers like Endpoint and On to trim them precisely to the wall. Keep in mind that we have only hidden the wall where the ruin start, so there is no node here to use with endpoint, so On is often a better solution here. If you have problems with the modifiers, try hiding the Walls, Solid Colors layer. This leaves just the outline of the walls.

In this next image, you can see my trimmed lines. I’ve modified the original back line a bit to make it connect properly to the wall. Depending on how the lines go, doing some node editing may be the best, in other cases, just adding a few extra lines is good. The main idea here is that I am drawing a series of lines that all connect to each other, because I am going to turn this into a polygon. Note that you must never modify the front line, as this line need to follow our invisible polygon exactly. It should be cropped at the appropriate points obviously, but you can’t modify it. If you find that it doesn’t work, you’ll need to go back and start again with a new “hole” polygon.

When trimming the lines, use the modifiers to ensure that the end of one line matches up with the start of the next one, we don’t want any gaps here. It is ok to add additional lines to connect things, just make sure to follow this rule.

The outline of our new wall top should be pretty obvious by now. The only thing we need is to join the lines together. You’re going to have between 2 and 4 lines to join together at this point. It is a bit easier to select the lines if you hide the WALLS sheet for this step. Now, use Line to Path on your lines, make sure to get all of them in the same operation. In most cases, if you didn’t leave any gaps, the line will also form into a polygon at this point, which should be pretty noticeable. If they didn’t, follow up by using Path to Poly on the lines (some lines may already have merged, so you may have fewer lines than in the previous step, but again, make sure to include all of them in one operation). Then, use Change Properties on your new polygon, and change the fill style to the same fill as the top of the wall (Stone Grey Flat P3A in my example here). Finally, use Outline in Black on your new polygon to give it a nice black outline like the rest of the wall has.

Now, unhiding any hidden sheets and layers should give us a nice ruined wall. You can of course use a different texture fro the broken top if you prefer, and you can do things like putting small rocks and broken pieces on top of the wall to make it look even better. And as you can see in my image, placing things behind the wall also works nicely, as you can see from my image here. The image from my Areanae Keep map below shows a wall with a textured top.

In this article, we looked at a single wall. You can just as easily do this to a complete wall with corners, a Perspectives 3 house, as well as round towers. The main things you need to think about here is how your “hole” shape interacts with the corners, try to make it follow the shape of the corners, don’t just blindly draw a big blob and try to make it work out. Another issue is that when you punch a hole in a wall in a room or a house, there won’t be a back wall there (The back wall, if drawn at all, will be on the same sheet as the front wall, and thus, the hole will go through it too, so you may need to add another sheet behind the wall sheet, and manually put in a wall there.) It is also possible to use this technique to punch a hole in a wall. In this case, keep in mind that you should only use this technique to make a thickness to the bottom of the hole, the isometric view in perspectives ensures we don’t see the top inside of the hole.


In part 2 of this article series I will look at battlements.


If you have any questions regarding this article, I highly recommend that you ask them in the ProFantasy forums. I am way more likely to notice and answer them there than in the comment section below this article.


Download the example map.

Download the Areanea Keep map (Warning: This map requires all the following add-ons to display properly: Campaign Cartographer 3+, Dungeon Designer 3, Perspectives 3, Symbol Set 4: Dungeons of Schely, The Cartographer’s Annual vol 5 (2011), The Cartographer’s Annual vol 10 (2016), The Cartographer’s Annual vol 13 (2019), CSUAC 2.0, Bogie’s Mapping Objects, Dundjinni Archives)


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