View Full Version : Too Busy / Too Boring.

11-03-2007, 06:21 PM
The link below leads to a map that I made with CC3. It's not going to see any use beyond being a test bed, and that's my excuse for the truly excreable names, so feel free to ignore those....


The question that I've got is a pretty basic one: How does one draw the line between having a dull, featurless map and one that is so crammed full of STUFF that it's painful to look at? The map above errs on the side of the former state, I do believe, but my attempts to go the other direction....


...looks just as bad, in a different way, although it's even less finished at this point.

Any general advice, folks? Old threads to point me to?

11-03-2007, 06:40 PM
Finding the "correct" quantity of objects on a map, I think, depends on understanding two things: The function of the map and the basic principles of good design.

The function of the map is usually fairly straightforward--what information needs to be on the map in order for it to be useful for whoever is looking at it? I usually find it is very easy to keep adding details until it becomes difficult to draw from it the information it was intended to communicate. To prevent that kind of overload, I make a list of features the map needs to have and then resist the impulse to add anything that would overshadow those features.

The principles of design are a bit more involved, but I think I can recall enough of my intro to design class to list them: Balance, rhythm, proportion, unity, and emphasis. Google "principles of design" and read a couple of articles. It will probably all seem very theoretical, but trust me--applying those concepts usually results in a more pleasing piece of design or artwork.

That's my opinion. Your Mileage May Vary(tm).

11-03-2007, 08:13 PM
I think the best thing to remember when creating maps with CC3 symbols is to always keep in mind what type of map you are creating. The examples you posted are overland type maps that depict large portions (or the entirety) of the world you are trying to represent. At the overland level, symbols for mountains, hills and forests should be used to give a general impression that there is a mountain range or forest there. At the overland level, each mountain symbol (or tree symbol) you use does not represent each individual mountain or tree that may be located there in reality (in other words, it isn't a one to one relationship) - when you place cities on an overland map, you don't zoom down and draw every street and building but use one symbol (be it a city symbol or a black circle) to represent the location of the city. If you were mapping at the city level, however, with CC3, you might consider doing a one for one tree mapping depending on the size and style of the city map (or you might not, if the city is large like New York or Waterdeep). Finally, at the floorplan/dungeon/battlemap level (where 1 inch equals 5 feet to use the d20 default), you probably do want a one for one mapping of trees on that map.

One thing you can do is look at examples others have done and get a general idea of how symbols are placed on overland maps to represent trees or mountains or hills. You will probably start to see that "less is more" at the overland level. Other cool things you can try is to vary the size of the symbols in the map. When you place forest or mountain symbols, you always place the symbols from the top down so that the symbols closer to the bottom of the map partially overlap those at the top. By varying the symbol size of say mountains as you work placing them top down, starting at say a symbol size of 0.7, moving to 0.8 on the next "row", 0.9 on the next, 1.0 on the next and 1.1 at the bottom, for example, you can create an illusion of depth.

I noticed that in your forests you are only using single tree symbols only. You might consider with the top down approach starting with the larger blocks of tree tops at the top and saving the single tree symbols at the very bottom. That approach (combined with varying the symbol size as above) also adds some depth.

Hope this makes sense. :)

Edit: BTW, I think the mountains in the first example look about right.

11-04-2007, 01:09 AM
CC3 also has a nice feature for sorting symbols in you map.

As Jaerdeph, you want to place your symbols is a top down fashion (i.e. start at the top, place a mountain, then place the next mountian lower on the page but on top of the previous mountain, etc. If you see some areas where you 'missed' something you thought would look cool, like a tower 'behind' a mountain, don't worry about erasing the mountain or using the bring to front feature, place you symbol, and keep going. Once you are done, go to the 'SYMBOLS' drop down menu, and select Sort Symbols on Map, then, with the select tool, choose your mountain chain (for example) and then click OK. This automatically puts the tops most symbols at the back, and each symbol lower down above.

See the Examples Below. The first is a forest (each symbol in a deferent color to illustrate point). The second is those same symbols with the Sort Symbols applied.

Finally, with certain symbol sets, like the Base CC3 mountains and forests, they are designed to look good as a group (see Example 3 with the Colors all the same and some individual trees applied to make a forest edge).

Again, play around with the symbols and the styles, see what works, some things like Mountains and trees, lend themselves to the need to have a lot. A mountain chain is difficult to represent with a few mountains. See examples 4 & 5.

11-08-2007, 02:19 PM
Many thanks, Neonknight! That little trick has made my life a LOT easier, and I've been using it extensively over the past few days. I should be at a point worth posting a WiP shot or two this evening, and asking some more question, but this is the first time in a long while that I've actually been so pleased with one of my own creations.