A “heatmap” is a visual indicator of where things are located. It’s useful to see clusters, patterns, and disbursement in how things happen to fall. In cartography, this concept can quickly tell you where things are, how many of them there are, and their density.

Though there’s no dedicated “heatmap” tool in Campaign Cartographer 3+, the software nevertheless makes generating heatmaps in your overland map superbly straightforward. If you set things up right as you draw your map, making a heatmap of key points of interest, geological phenomena, settlements, or other features takes literally seconds!

All POIIn this walkthrough, we will be using my homebrew realm of Aquilae. I’ve been working on it for three years, and will be publishing several books and atlases featuring the mapping work I’ve done for it. It’s got overkill levels of complexity, so it’s a good example of the extremes that you might go to.

It’s worth stressing that the concept of heatmaps doesn’t require anything, really, in terms of complexity or map size or scale–only that you have some points of interest that you want to have color “blossoms” around.

Setting Things Up

As the saying goes, measure once, and cut twice: this applies to nearly everything you do in CC3+, but particularly with heatmaps. If you already have a map, it may take some time to tweak things before you can generate a heatmap off of it.

Simply put, you need to make sure things are on Sheets and Layers that support your heatmapping needs. Some of this discussion is very basic for those who are already deeply familiar with sheets, layers, and creating your own, but for those who might only have ever used the default settings, let’s walk through it.

Step 1: Create Sheets for Heatmaps

You need at least one separate Sheet defined for each different color you want in your heatmaps. Any points of interest that you are comfortable having the same color “blossom” on your heatmaps may all share the same single Sheet.

For my map, I have *dozens* of different types of points of interest. But they all fit into just a handful of different colors: cyan blue for religious structures, pink for military, and so on. As a result, I have the following Sheets defined. The ones circled in red are the ones we care about in this walkthrough:

You don’t have to do this level of complexity; you only need to have at least one Sheet defined for each color you want to heatmap.

As a first step, simply create these Sheets. Leave “Active Sheet Effects” *off* for now.

Step 2: Create Layers for Heatmaps

You need at least one separate Layer for each different heatmap you want to create. Typically, this means you will end up with more heatmap Layers than heatmap Sheets.

Here are some of the Layers I’ve created to support heatmapping my overland map:

As I’ve said, my overland map example has a *lot* of detail. So I actually have 61 of these Layers defined. You can have a handful, or even one, really; whatever suits your needs. Just so long as you have one for each type of heatmap you want to create, that will work.

For now, just create these Layers.

Step 3: Assign Symbols to Sheets and Layers

If you’re just starting a new map now, you can do this as you create your map. If you are working with an existing map that you want to heatmap, you’ve got some work to do, unfortunately.

For each symbol that you want to appear on a heatmap with a color blossom, you need to make sure it is on the correct Sheet and Layer. If you’re doing this as you go, simply make sure that you have the right Sheet and Layer selected as you are placing new Symbols.

For existing maps, you have to find the Symbols you want to heatmap, and tweak their settings. Use the *Change Properties* tool, and pick the Symbols you want to heatmap. Then, in the “Change properties” dialog box, assign the Symbols to the Layer and Sheet that are appropriate. Remember that the Sheet will determine the color of the heatmap, and the Layer will determine which heatmap image you can show the Symbol in.

Here’s an example of a settlement Symbol that I want to appear as a point of interest called a “Seclusium”.

This step may take some time, if you have an existing map with a lot of Symbols.

Step 4: Heatmap Sheet Formatting

Once you have your Sheets and Layers defined, and have Symbols assigned to them, you’re ready to generate your heatmap images!

Go into your *Drawing Sheets and Effects* settings. Find one of the Sheets you have created as a heatmap sheet. Under the “Activate Sheet Effects” section on the right, click “Add…” and create a new “Outer Glow” effect for the sheet.

Next, select the newly-created effect, and click “Edit…”. Pick a bold color that will really pop up on the map. Select Range and Blur settings that make sense for the scale of your map. My map is absolutely enormous in size, so the settings in the screenshot below are likely *much* too big for most maps!

Play with these settings until you get an effect that you like. The color and other settings that I’ve used might not be what you’re looking for! At a zoomed-in scale, here’s what the effects look like for our Seclusium (note that as it’s a military point of interest, it uses a pink effect, not cyan as in the above example).

Repeat this process for each of your other heatmap Sheets. You can also use Copy and Paste to save yourself some time, and simply change the color for other Sheets.

Step 5: Generate the Heatmaps!

Time to heatmap!

First, you need to hide all of the heatmap Layers that you *don’t* want to have appear in your heatmap. Usually, this will mean hiding everything except a single Layer.

In the example below, I’ve hidden every Layer except Seclusiums.

That should be it! Now, you can export your heatmap to an image file as you normally would.

Repeat Step 5 for each other heatmap you wish to generate. I have one for each major type of point of interest in my map… over 70 total!

Jason “J. Evans” Payne is an indie RPG and fiction author and cartographer with more than three decades of experience as a DM, game designer, and author. He’s been using Campaign Cartographer and its related tools since 2015, and vastly prefers that to his day job. A father of three, he’s also been an adjunct college professor, an IT geek, and a miniatures wargamer. Check out his one-man RPG company at infiniumGameStudio.com.

CA181 Terraneo PeninsulaA Happy New Year to all you cartographers out there. We are excited to start into the new year with the 16th year of the Cartographer’s Annual, and a crossover issue on both Campaign Cartographer 3+ and Fractal Terrains 3+.

The style “Fractal Worlds” is an adaptation of the Jerion map that Sue Daniel developed in her One-Day Worldbuilder Annual issue. It makes use of the improved export features in FT3+ to produce an export that you can build on in CC3+. Or you can start fresh in CC3+ and create maps that mimic the look by hand, instead of relying on the automated world creation of FT3+.

The January issue is now available for all subscribers from their registration page. If you haven’t subscribed to the Annual 2021 yet, you can do so here.

Please note that the 2022 is still available at the discounted early-subscriber rate until January 10th.


Download InstructionsFor this year’s final month of free content by Mike Schley, we climb up the steep slopes of the mountains high up into the clouds. Mike has created new volcanoes, waterfalls, wooded mesas (tepui), strange rock formations, and the clouds themselves for the Mountain Symbols pack that adds 20 new symbols to the Mike Schley overland style of CC3+.

To download the free content go to your registration page and on the Downloads tab, click the download button for Campaign Cartographer 3 Plus. Mike’s new symbols are the last link in the list (see image on the right). All the content up to and including December 2021 is included in the one download.

You can always check the available monthly content on our dedicated page

The Parched Lands

Download InstructionsWith this month’s free content by Mike Schley, we travel inland from the the shores of the ocean into the blasted vastness of the great deserts. You will find dunes, cacti, half-buried statues and of course giant worms in the Desert Symbols pack that adds 20 new symbols to the Mike Schley overland style of CC3+.

To download the free content go to your registration page and on the Downloads tab, click the download button for Campaign Cartographer 3 Plus. Mike’s new symbols are the last link in the list (see image on the right). All the content up to and including November 2021 is included in the one download.

You can always check the available monthly content on our dedicated page.

CA179_WesternLandsThe November issue of the Cartographer’s Annual 2021 includes the “Pete Fenlon Revisited” style pack, where we extensively re-worked the 2008 map style based on the iconic maps of ICE’s maps for the Middle-earth roleplaying game.

With the permission of Pete Fenlon, the author and artist of those maps, we produced a vector style pack in the second year of the Cartographer’s Annual. Since then CC3+ has been released and many new features and tools were added to Campaign Cartographer. To make use of these, we re-worked the templates and drawing tools and also took the opportunity to add more bitmap fills and symbols to the style.

More than 50 drawing tools and over 150 symbols now allow you to create overland maps in Pete Fenlon’s wonderful style much more quickly and easily. The 6-page mapping guide has also been re-written to account for all the new stuff.

The November issue is now available for all subscribers from their registration page. If you haven’t subscribed to the Annual 2021 yet, you can do so here.

With this month’s free content by Mike Schley, we venture out into the vastness of the ocean. Ships, islands, sea monsters and other ocean features make up the Coastal Symbols pack that builds upon the symbols of the Mike Schley overland style of CC3+.

Download InstructionsTo download the free content go to your registration page and on the Downloads tab, click the download button for Campaign Cartographer 3 Plus. Mike’s new symbols are the last link in the list (see image on the right). All the content up to and including October 2021 is included in the one download.

You can always check the available monthly content on our dedicated page.

Orcish Settlements

Download InstructionsAs promised we are continuing with our free monthly content for Campaign Cartographer 3+. This month Mike Schley added the ancient foes of June’s elves to his overland style: the Orcs. From sprawling orcish cities, via towns and castles, down to villages, camps and even a necropolis, you can now populate your map with their settlements.

To download the free content, go to your registration page and on the Downloads tab, click the download button for Campaign Cartographer 3 Plus. Mike’s new symbols are the last link in the list (see image on the right). Both June and July content is included in the one download.

You can always check the available monthly content on our dedicated page.

Gosh, I really love this annual. This style is my own personal preference for player handouts. I love parchment – everything about it just screams medieval fantasy and makes me happy. Also, l LOVE the bitmap fill for the ocean/sea. I mean LOVE it. I’ve used it in countless maps in my personal homebrew campaign and for commissioned works. It gives me that pop of color I need without breaking the ink bank, and that old world fantasy look my players love in my handouts.
2017 ProFantasy Parchment Maps Annual
(Download the FCW file; Check out the Annual issue)

Once again, as most of my overland maps, I just start…..first land, then mountains/rivers, forests, structures, flavor and text. No need for my usual color manipulation, as everything about this parchment is perfect. So easy and so simply pretty. That ocean….the text and it’s effects….the parchment…..oh yes, this is one of my favorites, for sure.

About the author: Lorelei was my very first D&D character I created more years back than i’d like to remember. When I decided to venture into creating maps for my and others rpgs, I thought I owed it to her to name myself Lorelei Cartography, since it was her that led me to the wonderful world of tabletop gaming in the first place. Since then I have been honored to have worked with companies such as WizKids, Pelgrane Press, and ProFantasy.

For this Annual, since I noticed a few of my fellow cartographers have put out maps in the more commonly known Mercator Globe template in recent days, so I decided to do a standard map, such as Ralf does in the Mapping Guide. In fact, I followed along and made no special adjustments to this map. It’s a great style, especially if you add some frame embellishments like I’ve seen some mappers do on the forums by adding some of their own textures and fills.

(Download the FCW file)

About the author: Lorelei was my very first D&D character I created more years back than i’d like to remember. When I decided to venture into creating maps for my and others rpgs, I thought I owed it to her to name myself Lorelei Cartography, since it was her that led me to the wonderful world of tabletop gaming in the first place. Since then I have been honored to have worked with companies such as WizKids, Pelgrane Press, and ProFantasy.

CA173 The Four KingdomsThe May issue of the Annual 2021 is now available. Dive into more sinister styles of overland mapping with Sue Daniel’s new Darklands drawing style.

More than 150 new symbols, beautiful bitmap textures and a 5-page mapping guide let you design your own darker fantasy maps. Sue’s detailed and beautiful sheet effects make sure everything comes together as one good-looking package.

The May issue is now available for all subscribers from their registration page. If you haven’t subscribed to the Annual 2021 yet, you can do so here.

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