This is my first real post on these forums, so first off, hello, and thanks so much to everyone involved with the site for providing such an amazing resource for us cartography enthusiasts.
Now the real question:
I recently purchased CC3, and for $45.00, it was a fabulous investment. I am absolutely IN LOVE with it for doing overland maps. It took me about a week and a half of fairly steady work (2-3 hours a day at nights), and a fairly healthy dose of tutorials to really get the "feel" for the software, but I now feel if not like a master, at least competent with its basic features. For overland mapping, it's great, and for dungeon/battle grid maps, it's easy as pie, assuming you have good textures on hand (and with all of the free textures out there on the Interwebs, it's a piece of cake). So for overland mapping and dungeon mapping, CC3 is exactly what I was looking for.
Here's my current problem: I want to now do cities.
And because I didn't want to spend more money for something I wasn't sure I was going to like, I procured a "trial" version of City Designer 3--and was fairly unimpressed with the tools it adds to CC3. Yes, the house creation and easy "street creation" tools were okay, but like a lot of cartography, it's not the tools, it's the artwork that's important. One of the things that CC3 was awesome for in overland was the ability to quickly add textures to nearly anything on the map. But I couldn't see a quick, easy way to add custom textures and objects to the house and street tools in CD3--meaning that if I didn't like the default symbols and artwork styles, it didn't seem like a worthwhile investment. In this case, I'd rather put together a bunch of custom artwork as raster images, and import them in CC3 as a symbol set, and not even bother with CD3.
Now I've looked at some cities done in Fractal Mapper 8 that didn't look super impressive--but they were competent, and the "default" style seemed fairly appropriate to what I wanted to do for city maps.
So, my question is, have I missed something cool with CD3 that I don't know about? Is it easier than I think to create/import new house styles that match what I want for maps? I thought City Designer 3 would be the next logical purchase for me, since I have already spent the time to learn CC3's interface, and CD3 is just an extension of it--but there's no reason to pay for tools if I can't get the artwork and texture styles in it (I'd just stick with CC3 flying solo).
Most people I've seen opinions of Fractal Mapper seem to think that it's generally inferior to CC3 in terms of overall quality of final product, but also seem to think it's easier. Also, Fractal Mapper has a bunch of free "add ons" like the global map creator (that CC3 doesn't have). In other words, FM8 seems like it's more of a "Swiss Army" application, but not as robust, whereas CC3 with CD3 is more of a precision tool, but narrowly focused, with high output quality.
At this point, the cheaper price, and the "Swiss Army" approach of FM8 makes it seem more appealing for my city map creation needs--but again, I don't want to throw away the "learning curve" knowledge of CC3.
Can someone give a realistic assessment of the pros and cons of doing city mapping in CC3 w/CD3 compared to Fractal Mapper 8?
Any advice from the kind gentlemen and ladies of Cartographer's Guild?