This time I thought it was time to make a tutorial on how you can make a convincing overland map. This will be more of an overview tutorial on how I think and plan when I make a map, so it won’t be very technical. This means that you can use this tutorial regardless what program you use when you map, even though I in the tutorial will use a map made in CC3 as a reference and example.

The first thing to take into account when you start an overland map is the landmass. How much of the map will be water and how much will be actual land? This is probably the most important step in your map because it will set the boundaries for what the end result will be. So already here I’m having a quite clear view of where I want to go with the map, shall the map be land based, island based or something in between.

Below you see my map “Sagorike”, that I’m using as an example in this tutorial, with only the landmass viewable. I’ve also written some things on the map that you can have in mind while drawing the coastline.

A good thing to do before starting on your landmass is to look at the real world (Google earth is great for this). If you want a lot of fjords, have a look at Norway, Island based, look at area outside Stockholm for example, and so on. It is always good to find inspiration in the real world. It will make your map look more believable, and believable maps tend to look good.

However when I make maps of worlds the most important thing for me is that they look good and in some part convincing. It doesn’t matter if the world doesn’t work geologically or physically, as long as it looks convincing. To make it look convincing you have to get the things right that the majority of people can spot, like rivers, they will NEVER split downwards, lakes, there is always only ONE outflow, or deserts, make sure that you place them in a way that it looks probable that no rain will get there, and so on. If those small details are correct it is more likely that the viewer will believe in the whole map, regardless if everything in it is possible according to our physical laws or not.

That is all for now, in the next post we will start by placing the mountains in the map.

(Originally posted on mappingworlds.wordpress.com)

Recently a particularly large number of very nice overland maps has appeared on the Profantasy forum – and they were all done in the April’s Annual style by Herwin Wielink. Apparently the style is especially well-suited for creating quick and beautiful maps. Here is a little gallery:

If you – like some members of the Profantasy crew – prefer your seas more blue and balmy, here is a neat little trick to adjust your ocean color: Add an RGB Matrix effect to the BACKGROUND sheet, using the values shown below.
RGB Matrix - Blue Sea

A Balmy Ocean
Blue Sea

I’ve started to play a simple and easy to understand roleplaying game with my two oldest children (this is also the reason that the names in the map are all in Swedish, they don’t read English). And of course no game can be really appreciated without a world map to look at.

So I decided to make one while trying out the April annual style from Profantasy, made by the artist Herwin Wielink.

It is always hard to start working with a new style, it takes a while just to get used to the style itself. What graphics are included, fields, desert, marshes, rivers, forests and so on. A good thing is to just create a couple of test maps to get used to the style, to get the feeling of it. In this case I did that, but not only on purpose. I’ve read on a lot of places that people complain that CC3 can be a bit unstable, that it sometimes crashes a lot.

Well I’ve never experienced that, apart from with one of my more ambitious projects where the actual file grew too large for CC3 to handle. But with this particular style I actually had two crashes where I had to restart the whole project from the start again. That has never happened before and it was probably just a coincidence that it happened now, but I guess that the end result ended up better because of this. You can say that I learned from the mistakes in the two earlier maps, so I didn’t need to repeat them in the final map. [Editor's notice: If you ever lose your map, look for autosave.fcw in your CC3 folder.]

The graphics in the style are absolutely gorgeous and mountains, forests and other symbols really melt into the background in a great way that kind of hides the fact that the map is made in CC3. The only other CC3 style I can think of that accomplishes this as good as this one is the 2011 March annual overland style by Jonathan Roberts.

I also like the colour palette a lot in the style. Sometimes I think that maps made in CC3 can be bit cartoonish when it comes to colour, this particular style though has a really nice dark feeling about it. I like that.

Overall the style was very easy to use, the selection of textures and symbols are vast so you can really get some great variation into the map. And variation is very good if you want to make a map that is unique and nice to look at.

As usual I’ve done the labeling in Photoshop, I just can’t get it to work satisfactory in CC3, but that is probably because of me and not the program. The font is the same though as the one included in the style.

(Originally posted on mappingworlds.wordpress.com)

Up to now we’ve mostly been working inside the city walls, where space is short and buildings necessarily packed

Historic map of Oxford in 1643 showing buildings near city gates

Historic map of Oxford in 1643

closely together.  We’re now going to turn to the area outside the walls.  In this installment, we’re going to turn back to some theory.

First we need to talk about why businesses decide to set up outside the walls of the city.  After all, they are forgoing the protection that walls bring, so there must be some good reasons for it.  It turns out the reasons are pretty simple:

  • Avoiding authority:  This is monetary, avoiding taxes, but also includes regulation, attention of the town watch, even to avoiding the prying eyes of neighbors.  The city’s authority ends with the city walls, and some people find their business flourishes where there is less oversight.
  • Accessing markets:  Gates into the city are notorious choke points for people entering the city.  The gates typically only open at certain times, guards ask questions, and just the physical size of the gate all conspire to leave large numbers of people waiting outside to get in.  And where there are large numbers of people waiting or stranded, there is money to be made selling goods and services to them.
  • Space:  In many cities, space is at a premium.  So businesses that require lots of space such as cattle markets, or that need space from neighbors, such as tanners, will often set up outside the city walls.
Historic map of Bristol in 1582

Historic map of Bristol in 1582

What this leads to is a mini city just outside the city walls, where crowds are most likely to form.  This is where taverns and inns, and potentially more reputable shops can be found as well.

As you move away from the gate, more space opens up and larger markets and establishments have more room.  Typically these spread out along the main roads leading away from the gate.  Over time, some side roads may form if the population of the city continues to grow.

You might guess that citizens of the city are unlikely to approve of markets being established outside their walls.  They will object to being undercut on price, object to the less savory businesses that occur outside the walls, and complain about customers journeying to their city experiencing the underside of the city before coming through the gates.

Over time, as the city outside the gates grows, the city will expand its limits to incorporate land outside the walls.  Then the pressure will grow to expand the walls to encompass the new land.  Once funds can be raised to build the wall, the city will expand and cannibalize the old walls.

Next time we will run through using CC3’s automatic building tool to populate the area outside the walls.

 

 

Over the last five years the RPC (Role Play Convention) has grown to be Germany largest roleplaying convention. Spiel in Essen is still much bigger, but where it is mostly a boardgaming affair the RPC is about evenly split between computer gaming, LARP and pen and paper rpgs. As this is much closer to our software’s audience, we decided it was time that we gave the RPC a try. I had visited the show for the past three years and knew roughly what to expect, but you never really know how a show turns out until you try it.

I was a bit upset, when after registering in January it took the organizers until April to get back to us with confirmation and details – and the Profantasy booth suddenly sat smack in the middle of the computer gaming area. But from there communication with and help from the organizers was excellent. They were very responsive to my questions and concerns and we got moved into the proper pen&paper area very quickly.

Cologne is close enough to my hometown (about 50 mins drive) that I didn’t need to get accommodation near the show. In contrast to Essen, exhibitor parking and set access to the halls is very convenient, and I was able to do the setup in a relaxed manner on Friday night, without driving through heavy traffic and worrying about closing times. All equipment we had ordered was on site, in good condition, and we were able to create a nice and professional looking booth.

The show had changed halls from last year and while this provided ample space, it had one drawback: Computer gaming was in the same hall as the other exhibitors, and those booths are VERY loud. Luckily we were far enough away so that it didn’t bother us too much, I heard many visitors complain about the noise on Saturday. It seemed like they toned it down a bit on Sunday. Apart from that the atmosphere was more relaxed than in Essen. Everybody was very friendly and one of the highlights of the show are the many costumed people (exhibitors and visitors).

Due to significantly less visitors (organizers claim 30,000 and 120,000 visitors respectively) and large aisles there were never any jams (as there are sometimes in Essen). But questions, sales and demos did keep me busy throughout both days, so that I was glad about the occasional breather when Gordon and Michael (my helpers on Saturday and Sunday respectively) took care of the booth. The only boring stretch was the last two hours on Saturday – the halls were basically dead after 6pm and the show went on to 8pm, unnecessarily in my opinion.

When I started doing shows for Profantasy i tt used to be that current customers used these occasions to buy the new things we had on offer or stock up with add-ons they hadn’t pruchased yet. These types of sales are basically gone – with few exceptions people buy these things online. The Internet and credit cards (or Paypal) have seen to that. Most sales nowadays are to new customers (which is a good thing) who have either never seen Campaign Cartographer before or who have heard about it and want to take a look at it before buying. Of our sales at the show 90% included a CC3 – meaning they were to new customers, or people getting back into it after CC2.

Responses were good from both old users and the ones who saw it for the first time. I had one guy just walk up and thank me enthusiastically for our software – he was using CC3, Fractal Terrains 3 and Cosmographer 3 for great effect in his Sci-Fi campaign he said. Another customer complained about how hard it had been to use CC2 when he tried it years back, but was happy to purchase CC3 after I showed him the improvements in the user interface.

I unexpectedly met Herwin Wielink (fantasy-maps.com) at the show (he drove over from Amsterdam) and we had a nice talk about mapping and fantasy cartography.

The “Wall of Maps” continues to be the biggest pull for customers walking by the booth – we got many awed comments – but the little dungeon diorama I had on the table also got quite a bit of attention. Many people inquired about how it was done, what materials I used, and so on. As most of the interested people were new to CC3, demoing was mostly limited to CC3, CD3 and DD3, with the occasional bit of Cosmographer and Fractal Terrains thrown in.

Taking the booth down was quick and painless on Saturday evening. Michael was there to help, and we were done and away in 30 minutes. Doing a 2-day show is also a lot less stressful than a 4-day one. The 1-hour drive to and fro is a bit annoying of course, but at least I get to be home each night. Of course I was tired after the show, but overall a lot less exhausted than after Spiel or GenCon. As it looks, I’d be happy to do the RPC next year again.

Photographs by Gordon Gurray

RPC Germany 2012 in Cologne

This weekend is Germany’s largest RPG convention in Cologne, the RPC Germany 2012 “Dark Waters”.

For the first time Profantasy will have a booth at that convention. Look for us in Hall 10, booth c-067. Come visit us and we’ll be happy to demo our software and answer any questions you might have.

Originally posted on mappingworlds.wordpress.com

In this post we will create the outskirts of the city, farmlands and the ruins. First of all you have to decide what parts of the city that will be farmland and what part will be ruins. In this map I wanted to create the feeling that the city is situated in the middle of an old ruined city. The two closest islands to the east and west of the city will consist of farmland. Those areas are close to the city and will be easy to protect as well. On the north part of the western island you can also see that a part of the old city wall has been taken into use again, to protect the city from whatever hides outside.

When I create farmland I always start by putting in all the roads and houses. Usually you will have a cluster of houses just outside the city gates, the further away you get from the gates the more space you will have between houses. I then select the city hedge drawing tools and start to mark out the area where the fields will be. I’m actually using the same technique here as I do when I’m making smaller towns. For a more thorough explanation on how I draw the fields see my Mapping a small town part 4 post over at my mappingworlds blog.

When I’m done with all the fields the map looks like the picture below, so still some ruins to place.

To complete the fields in the map I also export a map from CD3 where all the land is yellow. In this way I can combine them in Photoshop and paint in some yellow fields among the green ones. This will give you a more natural look than if the fields are just green. See my Mapping a small town part 6 post for more info on how to do this. The yellow version of the map looks like the picture below.


You can of course add in all the yellow fields in CD3, but I’ve found that to be a lot more time consuming then doing it by combining the two pictures above in a third party program. This program doesn’t need to be Photoshop, use the program that you feel comfortable with.

The next step would be to add in some ruins in the picture. Here I must say that CD3 didn’t really have any good styles to work with to get the look I wanted, so I had to make something up myself. Creating a completely new style wasn’t something I felt I had the time or knowledge to do, but I think a good ruined city style would be a great style add on in a future Annual. Sure you have some ruins in the program that you can use, but for me a ruined city mainly consists of the foundations of the houses and maybe some larger, more intact, buildings.

So I decided to draw in some random roads and houses using the CD3 B Ruins Grey buildings. They’re not perfect, but they are a good base symbol to continue working from.

When I’ve put in all the roads and larger buildings in the map I’d export it again from CD3. This means that I now have three different versions of the map, which I’m going to put together in Photoshop, the two different ones with yellow and green fields and this one with a green background and ruins in the outskirts of the city.


At this stage I had to work on the ruins a bit in Photoshop to make them look more like ruins. If you put the map with ruins in one layer and put it on top of a layer consisting of the map with green fields. You can start to erase bits and pieces from the top layer, when you do this the layer below will be visible instead of the top one. In this way I erased all the inner parts of the buildings, which left something that looked more like the foundation of a house. I also erased parts of the larger buildings to make them look more like ruins with broken roofs and missing walls.


In the picture above you can see a part of the map where you have the ruins as they look in CD3 on the left side, and how they turned out after some editing in Photoshop on the right side. In my opinion the right side looks more like ruins then the left side. Or at least more like the ruins I wanted in this particular map.

For the second part of  starship design, we’ll be focusing on filling out the living, eating and washing facilities on deck 2. This is the largest deck of the ship and once it’s finished, the rest of it should fall into place with relative ease. The “Big Three” locations all ships need for their crew and passengers are: a place to sleep, a place to eat, and a place to,… clean up, after oneself. To begin, we’ll start with the overall look of deck 2, then move into sleeping, eating and restroom areas.

All Aboard

The one thing I noticed right away about my rough sketch from part 1, was its similarity to a boned fish; while this was unintentional, it illustrates how fluid  designing a starship can be, and because of that,  I decided to change the shape a little.

Deck 2 is the largest and most physically active section of the ship; the focal points on this deck being, the primary ship’s access area and troop living spaces.

I began by selecting the Hull, Sleek Silver mirrored polygon after right clicking on the Draw Hull button, a custom Snap setting of 5 foot, 1 snap square grid was created. Instead of the original, half moon shape, I decided to create a hull that was somewhat triangular in shape,  suggesting forward movement.  The deck was drawn next, by selecting the Deck, Lattice  mirrored polygon. The Snap for it was changed to a custom 5 foot, 5 snap square grid  so there would be a one foot gap between the edge of the hull and the deck. The   Bulkhead, Default 0.5′ was selected for the exterior and interior bulkheads and it followed the same Snap setting as the deck. In the picture to the right, the Deck Sheet has been hidden, as I found it visually easier to place bulkheads and symbols at this scale.

The custom snap settings were created by right- clicking the Grid button in the lower right part CC3s drawing window and selecting New…, then selecting 2d Rectangular and applying the settings needed.

The first render of the carrier was ridiculously over scaled (it was nearly 700 feet/210 meters long), and the drop ship place holders were the size of a small building (they should be closer to a city bus). Once the ship was rescaled to a more manageable size (pictured above, about 300 feet/91 meters long), it was time to decide on a starting point. Since all crew/troop entry happens at the “nose” on deck 2, I decided to start there, and branch off to the troop living spaces; the main corridor needs to accommodate 150+ people coming and going with the ship docked and the width was set  to 10 feet/3 meters.

 You want me to sleep where?

The main corridor and living areas on deck 2  on the working render (above) show a large, dormitory style, bay for troops  to sleep in, and the design of the ship called for marginal crew comfort, since they’d be living on board for weeks or months. This meant a modification was needed. I decided to separate the room with a wall; from a narrative standpoint this also adds to passenger safety: If a portion of the hull is breached the loss of life will be lessened. With the basic room layout complete furniture placement was the next step.

The rooms  numbered 1-4  show the progression of furniture placement:

Room 1 (left). This room had 7 single bunks, each with a gear locker, and 2 small chairs along the wall with a large table for a common area. This was a messy, cramped effort with little efficiency and a poor design.

Room 2 (left). 8 single bunks were placed toe to toe and the large table and two chairs were removed, in their place, 2 desks (for writing home) were added and the lockers were set along one wall. Less cramped, but room to improve.

The first two rooms also had the door exiting to the main hall; during an emergency or troop deployments, the hall would fill  quickly and confusion would run rampant. The doors for rooms 3 and 4 were moved to the side hall that accesses the drop ship dock area.

Room 3 (right).  The single bunks were moved to the outer walls, the lockers split the room and one table and chair for writing home was removed. Getting closer, but still a lot of wasted space.

Room 4 (right). Moved the single bunks to one end  of the room and the lockers to the other. A couch for lounging and 8 small chairs for dressing were added.  Better yet, the chairs suggest a wall that separates the sleeping/dressing areas. I also placed Deck, Plastic Irreg  for a little visual distinction.

The final room design was broken up into three spaces (below).  The sleeping area is separated from the common and dressing area by a wall (inspired by the chairs from room 4) . The single bunks were replaced with double bunks, increasing the occupant count from 8 to 12,  and scaled down to 95% of their original size.  While this room layout is cramped, it is a military ship after all, I feel that it is much improved from the poorly designed first layout. Once I was satisfied with the room layout I simply used the Mirrored Copies command (accessed by right clicking the Copy button) to quickly duplicate the rooms (Mirrored Copies is a great solution if you have symmetrical ships or buildings with rooms that need to be duplicated across a central point).

Using the method described above: creating a room, placing symbols and rearranging them for best use of space I then created:

The dining hall, details include (clockwise from tables and chairs) seating for 129 people, steam tables for serving food, a dishwasher, sinks, stove tops and ovens, a walk-in refrigerator and an elevator to travel to the storage area on deck 4 and the crew mess on deck 1.

Shower and toilet facilities for officers and enlisted personnel. The enlisted shower facility details include (clockwise from upper left) 8 showers, sinks and toilets, lockers and benches (created by stretching the rectangular table) The smaller officer’s bathroom and lounge were combined to conserve space. Drawing bathrooms is about as much fun as cleaning them for me, there’s no way to make showers and toilets interesting!

 

 

With the “big three” completed for deck 2 (pictured below), Deck, Plastic Irreg was added for all sleeping/common areas, by right clicking the Deck Plan button, to create visual interest and  to assist viewers with identifying different areas easily. Next time, we’ll be completing the remainder of deck 2′s amenities, including enlisted lounges, armory and firing range, officer quarters and ships operating systems, creating deck1, reviewing how to mirror copies, and the creative mixing of Cosmographer 3s symbols.