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.

 

 

Originally posted on mappingworlds.wordpress.com

We now have the basic layout of the city. Next step is to put in more roads and try to decide where to place the majority of buildings. Sometimes when you create a large city the process of placing all the houses can be overwhelming. To make this easier I try to divide the city into smaller areas. I then place the houses one area at the time. In this way you divide the work into smaller goals that you can reach quite quick. It will make the whole process much easier. In the picture below you can see how I’ve divided the city of lost souls into seven areas to fill it with houses. Make every area interesting by adding a major house, villa or temple in it. It will add some details to your city and will make the end product more fun to look at.

At this stage I also try to locate where the major squares will be, naturally they will be situated where the large roads meet up. I also like to add some smaller squares in front of the gates, usually this is where people have to wait to get in and out of the city. You also have to decide what density your city will have. Nearly all cities have some sort of park or green area, older cities could actually have quite a lot of farmland inside the walls. In this case how ever the farmlands are outside the city walls.

When I start to place the houses I zoom in and out to quite a lot to check the progress of the area I’m doing to make sure that the network of roads and houses looks natural. A good thing to think about is if the area you’re making is planned or if it has grown over time. To understand the difference in how a planned city looks compared to one that has grown over time you can look at some modern cities in USA (for example New York) and compare it to some older ones in Europe (for example Venice). The planned ones tend to have straight roads in squares and the grown ones usually have roads and city blocks in all kind of versions. At first you can’t really see any logic in the city construction, but after a while you will start to see that roads lead between squares and larger empty areas usually consist of an important building and its surroundings.

When I start to map an area I always start with the roads. First I add in some larger main roads, I then switch to a smaller road to make intersections between the larger roads. In the picture below you can see a nearly finished inner part of the city. I’m working on the last area and have put in the roads and squares. The squares I try to place in areas that feel natural. Also try to have some space between squares, a square is a place to meet and trade, so they will be evenly spread out in the city.

When I add houses to a city or town I always start by using the Random street tool. The ability to quickly add all houses on a street is one of City Designer 3′s best advantages. When you’ve added a lot of streets it isn’t always possible to use the Random street tool everywhere, in those cases I add the houses one by one. Sometimes you also have to go back after adding houses with the Random street tool and delete houses that don’t fit in for one reason or another.

When I use the Ramdom street tool I try to make the houses come as close to each other as possible. To do that you have to change the settings a bit. Right click on the Random street tool icon and in the street option window you click the Street settings button. The settings I used for the map you can see in the picture below.

The most important setting is the Distance between houses that I always set to 1, both as Min and Max value. In this way you will get the houses as close as possible togehther. The other values depend on the scale of the map that you’re doing. You have to try some different settings here and see what works out.

When you’ve added houses to all your areas in the town you are done with the central parts of your city. Don’t forget to zoom out once in a while and check that the streets look good. I often have to go back and add some more roads to make the city more crowded. In the next post we will start on the outskirts of the city, farmlands and ruins.

 

 

 

Okay, so far we have the landscape where the city will be situated. When creating the City of the Lost I combined graphics from three different styles in City designer 3. First of all the actual landscape, which is what we have at the moment, is made in City style A. Later on when I add in houses I mainly use the graphics from City style B. The reason for this is that those houses looks more painted then the one in style A. which look more 3d generated. Which one to prefer is up to you, but in the maps I do the style B graphics are better suited. In this map I’m also using some graphics from the Profantasy March annual, Jon Roberts city style. In that style I’m especially fond of the city walls and towers. However the walls in this style are a bit harder to place due to being built from a static graphic file. So you have to watch the corners because they tend to create some gaps there. A good way to hide this is to place a tower on the “bad” spot.

When I start a new town I usually always start by building the town wall and deciding where the gates will be. In this way you will get a clear view and idea on where the majority of houses will be placed, so you can plan ahead and get a good balance in the map. In this particular map we also have three different docks, one larger and two smaller ones. In older cities the docks were often situated outside the city walls. In this way you could both tax the goods efficiently when they were entering the actual city and you also didn’t need to compromise the security of the town. So I’m placing the two docks on the central island outside the walls. The small third dock, however, is situated in an area where you have no walls. This dock is probably used for more local trading, not taking in ships from abroad. The idea with the docks is also that they are remnants from an earlier city that has been reused. So naturally it is around the docks that the “new” city is built.

Now, when we have the walls and gates of the city I put in the main roads. The logic here is that all main roads in a city usually will take you from gate A to gate B. Somewhere in between you will have some main areas like a square or a city hall etc. In this way you will also create some natural boundaries for different districts in your city. It will make it easier for you to plan the next step, adding more roads and start adding houses.

Originally posted on mappingworlds.wordpress.com

In my last post I presented the City of Lost Souls. The idea of the city has been in my mind for a long time as a city that originally was created by outcasts from the ordinary society. Outcasts that in the end have created a powerful city, a city made untouchable because of its location in the middle of a maze like river delta.

In this post and the next couple of post I’ll try to describe the process I’ve developed when I create cities. I don’t say that this is the best way to do it but it is one way to do it. To exemplify the process I’m using I will use the map of the City of Lost Souls.

When I decide to make a map it is always easier to start if you can get some inspiration from the real world. One of the best tools you can use is Google earth. You can learn tons of information just by moving around the globe looking at old cities, land formations and following rivers through the landscape. In this particular case I looked a lot at river deltas and cities situated at the end of rivers.

You will never find anything that will look exactly like the part you want to create, but the idea here is to find real world location that can inspire you, and that you can copy bits and pieces from. In this way you can create a map that will look much more convincing than if you just draw something from your head.

I soon found two cities that gave me the right feeling. These cities were Lübeck in the northern parts of Germany and Gdansk in Poland. None of them was perfect but I liked the flow of the river around the old part of Lübeck (as you can clearly see in the map), but this part missed a harbor. So I picked the harbor from Gdansk for the map. I also added in some more rivers to get the feeling that the city really is situated in a river delta.

In City Designer 3 (CD3) I then started a new map and started to draw the rivers. During the process I looked at the cities for inspiration but still trying to do something original. While creating the island where the actual town would be I draw the outline of the harbor already at this stage. In this way the shadows between river and land would be right later on. So at this stage I had a quite clear picture on how I would progress with the city. In the picture below you can see the result when all the terrain was done. Next step would be to start on the actual city.

Originally posted on mappingworlds.wordpress.com

This is a map of the City of Lost Souls. The map is done in City designer 3 (CD3) from Profantasy combining the included styles A and B with the latest annual city style by Jon Roberts. The end result from CD3 has then been quite heavily edited in Photoshop, where the labeling also has been done.

In the next post I will go through the process of creating the city. Until then you can have a guess on which two real world cities that inspired me while making the City.

As always when I make maps I try to add a story to it, this makes it easier to picture what I want and what to put into the map. As for the City of the Lost the story goes something like this:

Continue reading »

 

Originally posted on mappingworlds.wordpress.com

This month’s annual from Profantasy is a new city style designed by the fantasy cartographer Jon Roberts. This is the third time that one of Jon Roberts’ themes are presented as an annual. The two earlier versions have been an overland style and a dungeon style.

I must admit that I’ve really looked forward to the release of this annual. First of all I love city maps and CD3, secondly Jon Roberts is a very skilled cartographer and illustrator so I expected some really nice graphics in this one.

As expected, all the graphics are top notch and I especially like the walls and towers. To test the style I decided to make a rather quick village, called Crossroads, situated in the middle of a forest. The style was easy to work with and if you have done maps in CD3 before there isn’t really any new things to learn here. One little feature I liked however was the ability to make nice shadows on the hills. You can clearly see this on the hill where the temple of life & death (3) is.

After finishing the map there are some things I felt I need to work a bit more on next time I’m using the style. First of all the fields didn’t turn out great in the map; probably I have to try to put some more time on them in the future. When I started doing maps in the included styles in CD3 it took me a lot of trial and error before I got the fields right. So I have some more testing and practice to do here.

Another thing to think of is that in this map I had quite some open space between the forests and in the background texture you can see a pattern. I think the solution here is to add in some more different textures to hide the pattern. If you look at the included map in the annual you don’t see this pattern there.

At last if you look at the trees in the forest you can see that the northern forest has the trees more closely to each other. I actually think they got too close so in the southern forest I put some space between the trees. This made the forest look much better, in my opinion.

Overall I think the style is really strong. I like the darker colours of this one compared to the included styles in CD3 (which means less editing in Photoshop for me) . Still it takes some time to get to know the feeling of a new style, to get all the things in place in a good way. This one surely needs som more practicing for me before I’m there.

As usua,l I added the labeling in Photoshop, and I also selected another font. If you want to use the font I used it’s called Blackadder regular and can be downloaded from dafont.com for free.

First buildings added along road

First buildings with effects on

Ok, we’re going to spend time today filling in a block section with houses.  We’re going to be using the House command from CD3 extensively, so you should be an expert in it once we’re done.

The house command is in the House toolupper left corner of your toolbar and looks like a roof seen from  the top – a screen shot is to the right (you can see the “House” tooltip as well):

 

 

 

 

 

We won’t spend a lot of time going through the different options, but I recommend that you review two sections of the online help (Help>Search):

  • House Shapes:  Good information about what each shaped house is, and the order CC3 expects corner points to be placed.  Generally you will place two points that define the long axis of the roof, but the interpretation of the third point varies from shape to shape.
  • Roof Types:  Gables and styles of roofs.

Scrolls through the House settings part of the dialog to look at available styles.  I recommend that once you have found a style you like, place one or two buildings and scroll out until the map is roughly the size that you will use.  Some of the house styles have wonderful detail that looks great in-close, but which compresses to a black blob when you scroll out a long way.

I’m using the CD3 B Fantasy varicolor symbols.  The roof lines look great at medium resolution, and I plan to not show the individual buildings when I am using a city-wide map.  Varicolor means that the building will pick up the currently selected color – this gives you flexibility to change colors periodically to add some needed variation to the buildings.

Start with rectangular buildings – they are most common in real houses, and easiest to place.

City block in progress, almost done

City block almost completely filled in

I like moving along a major road, placing one building after another.  Here are some tips:

  • For a medieval city, don’t worry too much about getting each building front exactly lined up with the buildings next to it – there will be variations in real life.  But do use the “Parallel To (F11)” and “Perpendicular to (F12)” snaps (Tools>Snaps) to ensure that buildings square to the road or to each other.
  • The roof line will run parallel to the first side you draw – so for most buildings you will want to put your first point at the street and the second point well back from the street so that the line is perpendicular to the street (the F12 snap is made for this – put your first point, press F12 and select the edge of the street, now your next point is constrained so the wall must be perpendicular to that street).
  • If you are using varicolor symbols, set the color slightly darker than your landmark buildings and change the color a little from time to time.  It will give your city a subtle but more realistic look.
  • Use a small number of building types and roof types – it will make the city look more cohesive.
  • Every building will need access to the road.  Better establishments should have two ways to get to the road (e.g. a front door for visitors and a back door for trash and other things).  Access can be circuitous, through an alley, but a building can’t be used if no one can get to it.  But don’t worry too much if you block access to an occasional building.  You have several ways to explain it:
    • The building is no longer used.
    • The building has been annexed (one of the adjoining buildings is connected through to it) or is associated with one of the nearby buildings and is accessed through it.
    • There is a passageway – a covered street or entryway leads to the blocked building, the passage is just not visible on the map because it is under the other building’s roof.
    • Block with buildings filled in
                                                Block with buildings filled in, some details and effects on

      Work a little way down the street, then put a gap in the buildings.  This will be aplace for an alley.  Start putting buildings away from the street to continue defining that alley.

    • If you followed the approach of roughing out each block, eventually you will find a situation where you have an irregular space.  This is the perfect place for a V-shaped, Skewed rectangle (called a four-sided building in the dialog), or a many-sided building.   These buildings are infrequent in a real city, so see if you can find a way to fill the space with one or more rectangular buildings. But if not, enjoy placing these unique buildings.
    • Do put in occasional squares and open spaces, whether they have trees in them or not.  Even if these are in back alleys, they will visually break up the city sections.
    • Save often.  I like to use “Save As” with a file name that ends with a number – each time I save I add one to the trailing number.  That way if something goes wrong (artistically or technically), I have something to return to.  Save often enough that you could endure losing work, e.g. if you can endure losing your last 15 minutes of work, you can back up every 15 minutes.

Next time we will fill in a few more details in this section and talk about rendering effects – they turn the most mundane map into something wonderful.  Then for a break we will turn to mapping some sections outside the city wall, where the CD3 automatic tools really can shine.

First off, I apologize for the long lag between part 5 and 6 of this series:  it was not my intention, but a series of life events conspired to take me away from mapping.  But I’m back.  Thanks to everyone for the kind words of support along the way.

If you need to refresh your memory about the project, here are links to Mapping Cities part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5.

In this session, we’re going to fill in the blocks of our district with buildings, lots and lots of buildings.

We’re starting with the Entertainment district, which I’ve completely filled with block designations:

Rough outline of the block that we will fill in, showing major alleys and form

 

It’s a little hard to see in the overview, but I’m going to work on the block in the middle of the district – just where the bend in one road meets another coming from the right.  You can see that the road is defined by the absence of buildings, and I’ve left alleys at random places throughout the block.

 

I’m purposefully haphazard about how I put these blocks in – for a medieval city, I don’t need a lot of square corners and perfect streets.  The blocks become guidelines so that I know where to leave room for streets, squares, and public spaces.

We’ll start by putting in landmark buildings.  We’re going to put these in from the CD3 symbol library –Read post 5 for an explanation why.  I’m going to start by putting 5-7 landmarks for a block, that usually works out that each street has a few landmarks that make it interesting.  Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

  • I’m using variable color symbols, and plan to do the city in mostly red tile roofs.  I’m starting with color 167 for the large buildings, and plan to get darker for the other buildings – it will make the landmarks stand out a little more  making them easier to find.  To me it also looks like more sunlight on bigger buildings as well.
  • Enabling smart tracking on the symbols lets me align them with the roads, which is a great help.  But after that, sometimes smart tracking can fight you in getting the building in the right place.  Just go ahead and get the alignment of the symbol correct, then move it if you need it in a different position.
  • Most buildings in a city will have their shorter side facing the street – that reduces taxes and maximizes the value of the limited road space.  For these first buildings, it’s a rule worth keeping in mind but also violating freely.  After all, these are landmarks, which are supposed to draw attention.
  • I like to expand the symbol collections and place specific buildings.  But when I run out of imagination for that, I start picking randomly (or quit for a while)
  • Take notes as you go!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a great idea for one specific building, that I’ve forgotten when I came back to work on the map.

 

Here are my landmark buildings placed:

 

Now we’re going to fill in a bunch of smaller buildings, using the Insert Building Tool ().  I’ve darkened the red to 164, and used the following options:

Our options for the CC3 Insert Building tool

 

Now, we’ll start putting in the smaller buildings, and next time we’ll give some tips to make everything look great without worrying.  Here’s a shot of the block in-progress to show where we are going: