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Thread: Scales

  1. #1

    Question Scales

    I've been mucking about with CC3/DD3 and am eagerly awaiting CD3, but I have a major problem with maintaining realistic scale across the board.

    I was wondering if anyone had any tips or tricks for maintaining a realistic scale when making overland, city and floorplan maps. ie realistic distance, houses that are a realistic size in relation to road width and so on.

    I realise this is probably just a conceptual problem in my own head, but if anyone has any suggestions or has over come this problem themselves, I'd love to hear about it!

  2. #2


    The reality is that if you are drawing objects to scale houses are very small. streets are very narrow and trees are really high, so much so that when drawing fantasy maps one usually throws scale out of the window and increases the size of houses and streets to get a more 'artistic' outcome. Not sure if this helps, but if you are after what scale is like, just use google earth and use the scale there as a guide.

    welcome to the Guild, by the way!

  3. #3


    I get what you're saying, and I suppose it doesn't matter all that much in terms of what I'm doing. It's just i see all the fantastic maps here that look perfectly to scale across the board, and I'm just wondering if broaching this is the next step in improving my mapping.

    Part of my problem is biting off more than I can chew aswell, I make these maps that represent a massive area, and then try to jam too much in to it. I think i need to play around with small county/village area size maps first.

    I'm looking forward to CD3, I'll try to approach it with a more open mind with regard to scale and see how i go!

  4. #4


    I find Profantasy products are a curate's egg. It's very easy to use the symbols to create a bog standard map, which has only the personality of the person who created the symbols and none of your own. My only caution is that if you want to use CD3, you should have in mind an objective first and then use the software to achieve it, rather than taking short cuts with symbol use.

    The difficulties in creating a good looking fantasy map are less to do with scale but more to do with learning basic principles of art, like understanding how to use colour to convey an emotion, using the a coherent scale of tone and hue and the basics of composition. Get those and the maps will look good.

    Your best bet will be to post some of your maps here so people can comment on them. It improved my mapping no end and I'm sure it will yours.

  5. #5
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Steel General's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ravells View Post
    Your best bet will be to post some of your maps here so people can comment on them it improved my mapping no end and I'm sure it will yours.
    I can't agree enough with this, the comments, critiques, and suggestions that you get here will go along way to improving your maps. So post often!
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  6. #6
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Ascension's Avatar
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    I can't help ya with CC3 since I only use Photoshop, but I always keep in mind exactly what I want my scale to be and then make sure everything fits into that scale. When I do a continent I will usually have the scale be 1 pixel = 1 mile or 1/2 mile, when I do a city I will have the scale be 1 pixel = 1 foot or 1/2 foot. So if I want a 50 foot wide house I already know how many pixels it should be. So that's how I start, what does 1 pixel represent? The other thing to keep in mind with CC3 is that if you download a lot of user created art they are not always in proper scale so that might be throwing ya off as well.
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  7. #7
    Community Leader NeonKnight's Avatar
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    OK, something I can weigh in on (Hitches up his pants with a nice wet *AHEM*)

    Scale, a lot of people wonder about scale and what is too big, too small etc.

    So lets start first with outdoor maps (i.e. Overland). Now, I am not going discuss thing like how far should a mountain be from a flat plains etc, as well, the real world is FULL of exceptions. But the real question I am sure you are asking is: "What sort of distance should I have for distance between communities?"

    To answer this I always look to one of my Favorite movies: Monty Python's JABBERWOKY. In one scene, Michael Palin's Character Denis Cooper (A Cooper's son by the way), is talking with Mr Fishmonger (A Fishmonger obviously, and the father of his Love Griselda Fishmonger). In the Scene, Mr Fishmonger is regaling young Mr Cooper with tales of his travels and the lines go as follows:

    Mr Fishmonger: When I was in Muckley the other day--
    Denis Cooper: Muckley? That's a ways.
    Mr Fishmonger: Two miles or more, easy.
    Denis Cooper: Gosh, I'd like to travel someday.

    Now, to those of us now-a-days this is quite funny, but in reality, back then, for the common man, they pretty much were born, lived and died all without ever leaving their village, and these villages were quite close to one another.

    Now, this also does not mean one won't find villages all scatered off many days travel away, but it does represent a true fact. The majority of a nations population was spread all over mostly in rural villages, and these became more closer together the closer they are to a large city/town/castle.

    There is an excellent article on Populations in relation to fantasy kingdoms here: and a lot of that can extrapolated to a map.

    Now, when I do fantasy mapping, I have my Overview Map, with major cities only shown, then as I make smaller maps (read smaller SCALE), I start to put in more villages, towns, thorps, etc.

    This then leads to the next question: SCALE FOR A COMMUNITY.

    This is often harder to account for, as we are used to seeing our cities (at least here in North America) of having lots of land, and being recent. For example, Canada's OLDEST city just turned 200 this year, and that city is Montreal, yet still is has phenomenal land usage. and by this I mean, Large empty yards around building, wide boulevards, etc.

    Most 'ancient' cities, Like Athens, Rome, London, etc., a choked with narrow winding lanes, often only wide enough for a single car. To get an Idea, use GOOGLE maps on Satelite view to look at some European cities. S, when I am drawing up my Cities, I tend to keep them contrastaned to maybe a couple of miles per side, with tight windy roads, etc.

    Further, a medieval city will not have private homes like I see all the time in Fantasy Games, like Baldur's Gate CRPG etc. Private residences like that would be limited to the extremely wealthy. The average citizen would have a small set of apartments (apartments Chiefly British. A suite of rooms within a larger building set aside for a particular purpose or person.)

    So, in a medieval city, the majority of buildings would be business on the lower floor (street level), and maybe even above, and above that the apartments of the workers who tended to live as close to their work as possible. There would still be building that were entirely apartment buildings, but on the whole these were not excessive.

    Additionally, in most cities, (especially when you look at the European ones on Google Maps) one notices that each city block tends to form a central courtyard. This would be where the communal toilets, and garbage pits would be located, as well as small vegetable plots and the like.

    SO, what about buildings.

    Most buildings of the time were small cramped affairs. The would have a 'central' salon where meals would be taken/prepared, and where most of the socializing, and seperate 'bedrooms' for the various family memebers were not commonplace.

    A typical home for more affluent people would be about 30feet square. The following link provides a few different floor plans of various houses/apartments from greco roman and medieval times. While some appear to be 'made up' a lot of them are also of scientific creation (read archeological etc), and so carries a great deal of weight.

    So, what do we know? Villages were often only separated by a few miles. Cities were compact and not spread out in medieval times often only a few square miles in size, with narrow roads, and narrow small buildings clustered together.
    Daniel the Neon Knight: Campaign Cartographer User

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  8. #8
    Administrator Redrobes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leondegrance View Post
    I've been mucking about with CC3/DD3 and am eagerly awaiting CD3, but I have a major problem with maintaining realistic scale across the board.

    I was wondering if anyone had any tips or tricks for maintaining a realistic scale when making overland, city and floor plan maps. ie realistic distance, houses that are a realistic size in relation to road width and so on.
    I write and use ViewingDale which is a mapping program which works at no fixed scale because it is a zoom browser type application. When you add a house to the map it places it down at the exact scale it should be for that map. You do not have to stretch every tree and widget to make it fit all the time like you might have to when doing it with a raster paint package like PS or Gimp. You can put sections of map into another map and it will also be at correct scale even when the scales of the pieces are wildly different - such as placing a town in a continent.

    We have all been mapping our community world ( the CWBP ) and these are made of tiles of approximately 600 miles square and the fairly large cities in these tiles work out as a pixel or two when the tile fills the screen. There are huge differences in scale from world mapping to city.

    The best thread to show how this is being combated using the program can be found here.

    Getting stuff with correct scale is a non issue for me now though I seem to be in a minority of people who use it.

  9. #9

  10. #10


    Thanks for the replies, Neon in particular, I'd been searching for period floorplans for a while with out much joy, although quite how i managed to not find anything considering the search term you used amazes me! I really don't know what I was doing!

    The demographic stuff is great also I had wondered the size footprint a period city of x number of people would be, so thats great too!

    Am taking a short break from mapping until CD3 arrives, but i will be sure to post when I've taken something as far as I think I can for critique!

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