CA3 GunmanAs many symbols as Character Artist 3 contains or how many we may add in the future, the incredible variety of role-playing games, settings and campaigns means there will always be need and room for more.

The obvious – but not always simple – solution to needed symbols is to create them yourselves, either by drawing them from scratch or adapting existing artwork to your own requirements. Because the Character Artist 3 catalogs and symbols have a pretty specific setup, we are offering this guide to their creation. It takes you through the steps of adjusting existing png artwork for use in CA3 and importing it as a symbol.

Download CA3 Symbol Creation Guide mini-installer (contains pdf and support files)
Download CA3 Symbol Creation Guide pdf

It’s time for the monthly parade of user maps posted to the ProFantasy forum – again we have some lovely work to show off, thanks to the community!

As described elsewhere, TolrendorDM finished off his 2013 Annual Challenge with this map of the “Barrens of Gorak” in the 1930′s travel guide style.
Barrens Of Gorak

Continue reading »

We love getting customer feedback but nothing is as satisfying as when happy CC3 users send us the maps that have been important to their gaming. Like Nick P. does with these words:

“Hi! I love CC3 so much! I spent a long time making the attached map. It’s no masterpiece, but I’m proud! I had to do the text in Photoshop to make it bendy, but just wanted to drop a line to let you know I love your product – it has helped bring my latest campaign to life.”
Northern Aeon

He can certainly be proud. I love the whimsical detail of the map and the great care all the symbols have been placed with.

And I was happy to to provide a little tech support too: Curved text can be done in CC3 with the “Text along a curve” command (found in the Draw menu or by right-clicking the text button).

Thanks for map and the kind words, Nick!

The February issue of the Cartographer’s Annual 2014 has been available since Saturday (log in to your registration page if you are a subscriber). It contains pre-assembled paper figures to use in your games. Created with the new Charcater Artist 3 add-on, a selection of generic heroes is opposed by a wealth of stock monsters. Character Artist 3 is not necessary to enjoy this issue, but it also contains the CA3 source files so you can quickly create more variations if you do.

You can subscribe to the Cartographer’s Annual 2014 here.
The Undead

By TolrendorDM

In January last year I had the somewhat crazy idea of setting myself a target, which I named The Cartographer’s Annual Challenge. With each month’s issue of the 2013 subscription-based CC3 add-on I would produce a map, with the only real constraint being that the content had to relevant in some way to my home-brew D&D® world/campaign, which I call Tolrendor. Twelve months on, I am very pleased to have achieved this: you can see the results here.

The motivation for starting this Challenge was simple. I have been a subscriber to the Cartographer’s Annual since its inception in 2007, and although I realise that for readers of this blog I’m mostly preaching to the converted, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’ve had CC3 for many years, but the reality is that it was only after the beginning of the Annuals, with their informative mapping guides and well-constructed style packs, that I really started to achieve map-making that I was proud of.

July 2010 AnnualBut here’s the thing! The actual number of Annual issues that I truly used was extremely low. Oh, I had my favourites, including the original hex mapping style from July 2010 (shown on the right), the Jon Roberts trio of styles, and the recent Pär Lindström regional style, but normally I simply enjoyed viewing the example images and reading the mapping guides. The Annual Challenge was deliberately designed to break that trend.

Tolrendor2At times this content constraint turned into quite a challenge! The very first January issue was a style pack called ‘Investigation Props’, designed for modern/Cthulhu detective style games. How was I to use that for a fantasy setting? I had to rack my brain quite hard, but eventually came up with the idea of producing a handout as a pre-session recap. This proved quite timely, as my PCs were in the middle of a town-based adventure, and needed to remember the relationships between the important NPCs.

Tolrendor3My favourite map of the whole Challenge also originated from an issue where I struggled for inspiration. The August issue was designed to depict science-fiction star systems. Beautiful example maps, but not fantasy. Then I remembered the old AD&D Spelljammer setting, one of my favourite alternate settings. After a quick rummage, I also unearthed a notebook of ancient (well 30 years old…) notes documenting the Tolrendor ‘Crystal Sphere’. So I used the basic style with its orbit drawing tools and planet symbols, but with a parchment background and some Spelljammer ships (added in Photoshop) to give a ‘fantasy space’ feel.

Tolrendor4There was a definite motivation behind the decision that each map had to be related to my D&D setting. I don’t get nearly enough mapping time as it is, so if I was going to spend the time on the Challenge, it made sense to create maps that would be used in my campaign.
Tolrendor5This has been great fun, resulting in maps like this overland one, detailing an area of my world that had always been sketchy before (utilising the beautiful ‘DeRust’ symbols from the September issue), or this dungeon map for a new D&D® Next campaign (although it might be 13th Age now, but that’s another story…) using the black and white style from the October issue.

Tolrendor6There was only one map, using the June issue, that broke these self-imposed rules, and that was simply because the style just cried out for it. My son has been drawing his own world, and when I showed him the example maps for this issue, he definitely wanted a ‘Scaryland’ version. This seemed a reasonable request, so I went with it. Besides, maybe one fine day explorers will find this ‘lost continent’ on the other side of Tolrendor.

The one thing I didn’t always (often didn’t…) achieve was my target of finishing each map within the same month that the issue was released. I managed quite well for the first four or five months, but the rest were done in ‘catch-up’ bursts throughout the rest of the year. It’s something I’ll have to try a bit harder on in 2014…

Yes, that’s right, I’ve decided to repeat the Cartographer’s Annual Challenge in 2014. I’ve really enjoyed setting myself targets for mapping and having to find some inspiration for each issue last year. My CC3 skills have improved out of sight, and my campaign has benefited greatly, so why not? My January effort is now finished, so I’m on the way.

So if you’re a Cartographer’s Annual subscriber, why don’t you join me in the Challenge … let’s all get mapping and sharing!

Article by Andrew Collett (TolrendorDM on the ProFantasy community forum)

Mike Schley Style DetailDear Cartographers, welcome to the January newsletter!

News

Resources

Map-Making Articles

Jaw Peninsula East Close

Create a map of an island, less than three miles wide. The prize? The best will win an unlimited patron license to all our cartography software forever.Example Treasure Map

  1. It doesn’t have to feature treasure, and it can be in any style, past, modern or future.
  2. You don’t have to create it with CC3 but it must be originally created for this competition and not posted elsewhere.
  3. You grant us permission to post the map, though you retain all other rights
  4. Only one entry per person
  5. If there are more than three entries, and the winner is not an amateur, then there will be an additional prize (a voucher worth $100) to the best amateur.
  6. To submit, post your entry on this forum thread, or email us a file, no more than 2MB.
  7. Competition closes on 1st March 2014.

Good luck, cartographers!

We are very fortunate to have taken on Joe Slayton as a programmer for CC3+ work. From his free terrain general Wilbur, he created Fractal Terrains, now on its third version. You can get a better idea of his take on life and programming in this interview. He is a C and C++ expert and one of few people in the world who can work with the FastCAD code base and mass of additional code we’ve built up over the years.  He’s already wowed our existing developers Mike Riddle and Peter Olsson with his innovative approach – doubling the speed of CC3+ effects just for a start. He’s also honed code which is tangled with age to make it more consistent and easy to read.

Using Joe’s Fractal Terrains 3 is more like exploring an apparently infinite set of worlds than creating them from scratch, and the process of discovery makes the imaginary worlds it creates makes them more real. Just for example, here is something I knocked out while playing with FT3 and exporting into CC3. It took about fifteen minutes. I used Ralf’s Jhendor colour scheme with Roughness, Percent Sea and Large Size sliders a little over to the right, and I spotted this rather appealing island. I added rivers at custom resolution, then a bevel and blur on the coast in CC3.

FT3 Complex Island

Ralf has also used FT3 to create a campaign world, Jhendor. Here is a sample output from FT3.

Dyra's Globe

So, if you are interested in world building, exploring variations on the real universe, or just starting from a billiard ball you can try the demo here.

CC3+ incorporates a new complete symbol set from expert cartographer Mike Schley. We’ve worked with a number of professional cartographers to create Campaign Cartographer styles, and the process is now pretty slick. We are either adapting an existing style (as with our recent World War 2 annual issue) or creating one from scratch. This is the process:

1. We take a cartographer’s existing map, or the cartographer develops a new map style, always by creating a small map sample. Here is an early one Mike Schley produced for the new CC3+ overland style.

CC3+_SampleMap_New

 

2. Once we’ve approved this, the cartographer adds more symbols and tools to the example map, and then does more as stand alone files. For a full ad–on or symbol set, this is a very big job. Usually the cartographer works in Photoshop, with layers on, so we can easily extract elements to create CC symbols and drawing tools.

3. Once the map-maker has finished, Ralf duplicates the style in CC, developing the set of drawing tools and adding effects to match the original.

MikeSchleyPreview

mountain range

4. Ralf creates the full set of symbol catalogs in all resolutions, with varicolour areas.

new large icons interface

The very first example map we did with Campaign Cartographer was of my campaign setting, the Jaw Peninsula, and we intend to continue this tradition with CC3+. You can see the history of the map here and Ralf has rendered the eastern section of the map in his new style. Click the image for the full high-resolution map.

Jaw Peninsula East Close

And here is a close up

sec

And just to give you an idea of how detailed the symbols are – little works of art – here is a close up. Click for extreme close up.

Jaw Peninsula East Detail

ProFantasy PosterSo, “Spiel”, you ask, how is it, the biggest games fair in the world? It’s big: more than 150,000 visitors, 828 exhibitors from 39 countries (numbers from 2013), 4 days of gaming madness. You’ll also notice that I’m not using “convention” to describe Spiel, since it differs from events like GenCon or Dragonmeet, in that playing games itself is not the primary focus. Sure, a lot of gaming does happen, but the main activity is presenting, selling and buying games.

The BoothI’ve been working the ProFantasy booth at Spiel since 2000, first helping out, and then from 2002, running it. Its four days from Thursday to Sunday alway go by in a whizz and whir of activity. ProFantasy usually has a booth in the “Role-playing and Import Games” hall, which in recent years also holds a lot of LARP supplies and miniature games. Boardgaming is a much more mainstream activity in Germany than in other countries, and accordingly many visitors to Spiel are families and “casual” gamers.

Explaining CC3Role-playing is much smaller segment of that hobby, and our hall attracts only part of the great Spiel crowd. You notice that in the differences between the weekdays and the weekend. On Thursday on Friday, the hall is much quieter and we have time for detailed chats with individual customers, but on the weekend the aisles are sometimes thronged with people just glancing at the booths and pushing through. The other halls are often dominated by the large publisher’s enormous exhibits where they present the newest releases. But there are also a lot of retailer booths and smaller publishers tucked away between the large booths and in the corners.

The ThrongIf you want to visit Spiel and have a good chance to play some nice boardgames, come early. The seating for demo games is limited and it can be hard to find an open spot for the more popular games. Coming on Thursday or Friday also helps, as the halls are less busy. On the other hand if you come to buy games the Sunday is the best for you can sometimes find a good deal as the merchants are eager to get rid of their stock. But beware, the most sought after releases tend to sell out quickly on the earlier days.

[Photography by Gordon Gurray]


Oh, and one thing is very different from conventions in the US like GenCon. We have beer booths in the hall!
Beer at Spiel

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