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nematode
03-17-2009, 10:43 AM
This is my first post on Cartographer's Guild, so I'd like to begin by saying thank you to the members for the tutorials and helpful posts which have been so very useful.

Recently, I bought a copy of CC3 and CD3 and started up a project to learn the software. Prior to this, I'd done some mapmaking using Photoshop Elements, so although I'm new to vector graphics, I'm familiar with some of the basic concepts like sheets and layers.

For my first project the goal is to depict a medium sized city. I chose the city of Safeton from the commercial RPG setting of Greyhawk. There have been some published references detailing some of the features of Safeton, which I felt would give me a head start on deciding the map's content. An article and sketch map can be found at

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=lg/lgmp/20071106a

Here are some notes about what I've done so far.

I began by inserting and scaling a sketch map. The Pdf CC3 manual was indispensable in getting things scaled and ready to go.

Next I laid out the terrain and water. They're made of stock CD3 bitmaps on separate layers to take advantage of edge fade. I've read criticism of the overly glossy CD3 background textures, and I agree, although I think the edge fade at contour lines worked out pretty nicely. For now, it's ok enough.

After terrain, I laid out the city walls. I found that I was unhappy with the appearance of the default CD3 walls, so I assembled crenelations and other wall parts in PE using components from the CSUAC, and inserted them into my CD3 project. In the process, I've learned that bringing bitmap art into CD3 has performance implications, and it would behoove me to pay more attention to Profantasy's recommended procedures.

To depict conical rooftops over some of my wall towers, I laid down some multi-sided CD3 houses via the house tool. The conical houses don't cast conical shadows, which I've been informed is a limitation of CD3 or CC3, but their shading looks really nice.

(Side note, this was the start of me creating things in CD3 by stacking things on top of other things. Doing this sometimes causes artifacts with directional shadows. Sometimes I can fix this with sheet ordering, sometimes I can't. There may be solutions within CD3 but I don't know em yet.)

Next, I put in some docks using CD3's road tool. Gandwarf's tutorial on making a CD3 custom road was really helpful here.

Roads came next. I created another custom road, using a stock texture that looks bumpier and more weathered than the default dust texture. It looks better on screen but doesn't come across too well in the accompanying lo-res PNG.

Buildings came next, and that's where things are in progress now. I want to give each city area a character that dovetails with the fiction, so the dock quarter will be crowded and chaotic, and the marine quarter will have larger nicer houses, more appearances of wealth, trees, temples, etc. The "new city" outside the old city walls, which I haven't begun yet, will need its own character.

I'd welcome any commentary and feedback on improvements.

nematode

Steel General
03-17-2009, 11:11 AM
Welcome Aboard!

Your map looks nice so far - looking forward to seeing it progress

Gandwarf
03-17-2009, 11:36 AM
Welcome.
You created quite a nice map. What I like so far:

- The general layout of the city
- The walls (the low stone walls in the city are also very good looking).
- The docks and especially the larger pier!

Did you paste the map together from screenshots? As I can see some artefacts near the shoreline. Also, the southeast gate has a piece of wall that doesn't seem to fit in. Very interested to see more progress.

nematode
03-17-2009, 05:28 PM
Did you paste the map together from screenshots?

Yes, I threw it together in PE from about 9 print-to-PdfCreator jobs, and it's quick and dirty to say the least. The missing texture may be due to a problem with CC3/CD3 lopping off bitmaps which extend over the edge of a print area, but I'm not sure.

I have been experiencing crashes when trying to use the built in "save as rectangular area image file" from CD3, so I've been using PdfCreator as a printer driver, with better results.

nematode

Gandwarf
03-17-2009, 07:39 PM
Yes, I threw it together in PE from about 9 print-to-PdfCreator jobs, and it's quick and dirty to say the least. The missing texture may be due to a problem with CC3/CD3 lopping off bitmaps which extend over the edge of a print area, but I'm not sure.

I have been experiencing crashes when trying to use the built in "save as rectangular area image file" from CD3, so I've been using PdfCreator as a printer driver, with better results.

nematode

Out of curiosity, if you are using PDF Creator, why are you exporting the map in multiple files you have to paste together? Because when I use PDF Creator to export my map I just make one huge file. I used to paste together screenshots and I am very happy I have that all behind me :)

NeonKnight
03-17-2009, 08:13 PM
Could the HUGE processing that is required to make a single image.

I am currently doing a city map project and am 'pasting together' the submitted JPG to the publisher from four individual JPEGS. I have the Map Border marked in quarters and then just save as a rectangular JPG the four quadrants and then drop them into a single Photoshop image set to twice the quadrant's JPEG dimensions.

Little more work, but I am not waiting 20 minutes for the computer to process to then 'crash' on me ;)

Gandwarf
03-17-2009, 09:28 PM
Little more work, but I am not waiting 20 minutes for the computer to process to then 'crash' on me ;)

Understandable :)
Although I must say my computer always crashes at the beginning of the process, never at the end. So once the computer starts processing I know it's going to make it to the end.

nematode
03-18-2009, 12:55 AM
Out of curiosity, if you are using PDF Creator, why are you exporting the map in multiple files you have to paste together? Because when I use PDF Creator to export my map I just make one huge file. I used to paste together screenshots and I am very happy I have that all behind me :)

I've been having a lot of crash problems with exporting. If I set the various export values too high, it'll die. I have been finding it very difficult to find a happy medium, and without a doubt, is the aspect of this project that is the most opaque and frustrating.

My big bitmaps and an older PC are not helping things.

So I went with a very conservative approach to make sure that I could get an image done. Even so, each of those 9 lo res images took about 30-45 minutes to render.

I would love to have a bulletproof scheme to export CD3 and am keeping my eyes and mind open to ideas :)

nematode

Gandwarf
03-18-2009, 08:44 AM
Did you use the "Save" function in CC3 or did you print them as PDF?
Because the "Save" function is very slow for me as well and CC3 keeps crashing. Now I use PDF Creator and I can render maps in insane dimensions (think 15.000x10.000 pixels or something). It might take a few minutes, but it never crashes. My PC is also a couple of years old.

Before I found this solution I was making screenshots of the map in CC3 and then pasting all those screenshots together in Paint Shop Pro. It was rather awkward and very time consuming.

nematode
03-19-2009, 11:59 PM
Did you use the "Save" function in CC3 or did you print them as PDF?

Success!

I'm able to export my entire map to a PNG using PDFCreator. Its about 15megs, and it looks about the same as my composited sectional image, but it took me *much* less time to produce.

Hurdle overcome, back to the good stuff....more mapmaking!

nematode

snuggums
03-21-2010, 05:04 PM
I recently started using CC3 and have had problems with crashing so I decided to try this PDF Creator but when I do, it only exports the dungeons I've made without the sheet effects. How can I include them?

NeonKnight
03-22-2010, 01:53 AM
I recently started using CC3 and have had problems with crashing so I decided to try this PDF Creator but when I do, it only exports the dungeons I've made without the sheet effects. How can I include them?

Make sure your PRINT dialogs look like this:
23121

You can set tiling, etc, to what you need. Of importance is the SHEETS section.

Also, ensure your image is displayed with the sheet effects currently activated.

nematode
09-10-2010, 06:12 AM
Wow! It's been a year and a half since I started this thread. In the meantime, I've resumed work on the map, and a work in progress copy is below.

My attachment shows a fairly straightforward CD3 map with the buildings completed, before trees and labelling and so forth have been done. I imported a fair amount of bitmapped art into the drawing to improve the look of the map, like the city walls, the castle, a domed structure, docks, and watercraft.

Although it's a reasonably serviceable map as it stands, what stopped my progress last year is that I want to create a map that shows changes in elevation and other terrain features in a more visual way than I am able to do with CD3.

At the time, I didn't know how to do that. But my skills have improved since then, so it's time to see if I can create the look I'm hoping for. My plan is to create terrain in PSE and merge the two together.

More to come.

Aval Penworth
09-10-2010, 11:33 AM
Cool. Looking good so far...I often use both programs on city maps to get a better result.

Are you planning to add more buildings? There is so much space inside the walls, and I am wondering what you are going to do with it.

nematode
09-10-2010, 12:03 PM
Cool. Looking good so far...I often use both programs on city maps to get a better result.

Are you planning to add more buildings? There is so much space inside the walls, and I am wondering what you are going to do with it.


Thanks! The question of density of buildings is one I've thought about a lot and wrestled with in my mind since I started the map. I want my terrain contours to be visible, and I haven't come across a satisfying technique to make an area filled with buildings appear three dimensional. So the empty space, or a fair bit of it. will be filled with terrain, and vegetation, labelling, etc.

Another reason for the areas of varying building density is that I'm endeavoring to depict a city undergoing growth, with old city districts by the water, featuring areas of dense buildings surrounded by stone walls, and a new city that is springing up inside a wooden wall & earthen rampart, with less dense bldgs and growing haphazardly.

This'll become evident ... hopefully!!! when the terrain is mated up.

jtougas
09-10-2010, 01:46 PM
Nice!! as a WoG fanatic I am eagerly watching this!!..as an aside my character has had a few shall we say "balance challenged" nights at the Angry Mermaid....lol

nematode
09-11-2010, 03:41 AM
A WoG fan! Awesome!

Here is a WIP shot of the terrain, done in PSE. Major to do's before marrying it to the structures in CD3 are add more vegetation, improve the roads, get the rocks where I'm happy with em. The roads and the rocks - especially the rocks - have been hard for me.

And after reviewing the image I'll also need to tone down the swampy draw. The PNG really brings out the dark swamp texture.

jtougas
09-11-2010, 03:58 AM
It really looks great. With the tweaks you described you should be well on the way to a excellent map. The rocks shape and detail look very good.

nematode
10-02-2010, 08:16 AM
Here are the CD3 and PSE parts of the map combined.

Aval Penworth
10-02-2010, 08:22 AM
Bravo. I congratulate you on a fine job.

You could probably do a little more to blend the imported elements into your PS scene, but that is really just nit-picking. Well done.

jtougas
10-02-2010, 10:59 AM
Awesome. looks just like I "remember" it.. Great job!! :)

nematode
10-02-2010, 02:39 PM
Thanks for the kudos guys!


Bravo. I congratulate you on a fine job.

You could probably do a little more to blend the imported elements into your PS scene, but that is really just nit-picking. Well done.

Hi Aval, first of all thanks, and second, would you be willing to tell me what you are seeing and suggest what I might do to improve things?

Katto
10-02-2010, 03:52 PM
That looks very good so far. Nice combination of CD3 and PS. I think Aval means the color and filter of the sea ;) I would add a bit of stroke to the landscape and the houses. I can imagine the pseudo handdrawn stroke described in Ascension's house tutorial would fit good.

Aval Penworth
10-02-2010, 07:30 PM
That looks very good so far. Nice combination of CD3 and PS. I think Aval means the color and filter of the sea ;) I would add a bit of stroke to the landscape and the houses. I can imagine the pseudo handdrawn stroke described in Ascension's house tutorial would fit good.

Indeed Katto sees where I am coming from. Look at the colour saturation and try to make it consistant. Your houses are soft and subtle where the piers, sea and boats are a bit more saturated. Also one of the piers seems to have a bright bevel highlight, but the rest of the buildings don't. The way the sea filter moulds around the boats and pier isn't quite right.

If you have the CD3 buildings on their own layer you could try a 1 px brownish stroke. If it is too much make a duplicate layer, add the stroke and turn down the opacity.

Again they are just little things.

nematode
10-06-2010, 06:44 PM
Thanks for the feedback, guys!

Following up on the advice, I've made some changes, and they're in the attachment.

Katto I'm glad you brought my attention to the water. I've replaced the earlier version with a water layer derived from a satellite photo. The whitecaps are faint but noticeable. It's a sandwich with a brown gradient to depict shallows, which is also faint but noticeable.

I think if I were really into it, I might pursue a technique to accentuate the whitecaps from the photo, and add a small amount of breaking surf-type ripples. But I'm not; maybe next time.

My earlier water had been produced with the stock ocean ripple filter in PSE and I had to wrestle with it a lot to get a decent result. The main issue was that I needed to give the filter a gradient-like variation in color for it to produce ripples that were appealing and somewhat to scale, so the best I was able to produce with the filter was a compromise. And of all the elements in the picture, the ocean ripple-filter-created-water survived the transition from original to small sized bitmap least successfully. So I am not sad to move on from that filter.

Since I produce the bitmap from CD3 rather than PSE (since CD3 has directional wall shadows) the great majority of the structures never see PSE. So I can't add a stroke to the buildings, but I can output from CD3 with some glow on the structures to approximate that effect, and the result of that is in the attachment.

I repaired the bevelled pier, and removed a layer of gloss from under the ships that I had added to simulate ripples against the hull. After due consideration I can't think of something to further equalize variations in color between structures generated in CD3 and bitmaps that I brought in from other sources. I'm OK with that, all things considered.

Finally, add captioning, a compass, etc, and I think that'll be a wrap.

Aval Penworth
10-06-2010, 07:05 PM
Excellent. A great map made even better. I am sure DMs around the world will be snaffling it for their games.

jtougas
10-07-2010, 02:20 AM
Awesome THAT's going in my WoG collection. (with appropriate credit of course.. :) )

Katto
10-07-2010, 03:52 AM
Much better now. Well done!

nematode
10-10-2010, 05:45 PM
Here's the final version!

This project has been a great learning exercise. A year and a half ago, I didn't know how to do a whole lot more than open a new file and draw my name in pencil. :)

Thanks to everyone who commented as well as all the people who created tutorials for this website and contributed art to the Mapping Elements forum, all of which has been tremendously helpful.

jtougas
10-10-2010, 06:31 PM
Awesome..!! :)

Gandwarf
10-11-2010, 03:50 PM
Wow... your first version was very humble compared to the last. Awesome job. Your skills have made some incredible leaps indeed. Chapeau!