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Thread: The fabled tutorial thread on ViewingDale

  1. #11
      Redrobes is offline
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    Default Grids and the Snap

    No mapping app would be complete without some grids. By pressing 'G' and 'H' keys it toggles through the three types of grid. There is square grid and two types of hex grid with hexes going horizontally or vertically. So 'G' toggles square grid on and off, 'H' does hex-horz, hex-vert, and then off.

    By pressing F3 or using the main menu button you can find the Visual Settings Menu. On here you can see the home key listed, the hot keys for the four view modes then the grid options.


    From here you can set the grid size which brings up a text box where you enter it in. You can put in "10" for ten meters. You can also put in "10m", "10 meter" or "10 meters" and get the same thing. You can put in "5ft" "5 foot" or "5 feet". You can put in "3.72 inches" or "21.5 miles" "50 yds" "100 yards" or even "20 leagues". It has a wide variety of length units in imperial, metric and some extra ones like "AU" for astronomical units and "ly" or "lightyears" tho to be honest parsecs and lightyears are not worth using. ViewingDale has a map range of about 50 AUs to about 0.1mm

    With the 'J' key you can toggle the grid color from black to white.

    If you are editing the child icons then you can snap the movement of them to the grid. You need the grid enabled and you must press 'S'. When you do this it will show that you have snap enabled on the menu bar. Now when you grab a child and move it, it snaps to the nearest grid intersection. This is also true of rotate where the grid intersection closest to the mouse is used as the rotation target.

    Note that the grid always originates from the current icons origin.

    To finish off this menu, the set scale allows you to type in an exact numeric scale instead of zooming to it. Good for when viewing real world sized maps at 1:60 for example.

    Hide banner hides the top menu bar, banner, status text thing. Thats useful if your using a projector and want a really uncluttered projection down on the table. With no menus open its all map.

    Adjust Child Cut Off we will talk about next...

  2. #12
      Redrobes is offline
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    Default So how exactly does it manage to draw the whole world in real time ?

    When editing the child icons I mentioned that all the children should have their extents box within the boundary of the current icons extents. This is not strictly enforced by the app but it does lead to problems with display and screen saves if you don't do it. Its not strictly enforced because if you had some clear bit of the icons image over the edge then it does not matter and the app cant be bothered to keep looking at whether the image is clear or not when your moving.

    When you have this hierarchy which is very deep going from the world down to small things like carts with hay bales on the back then the app has to draw that whole world except that its smart enough to know what it needs to and what it can ignore. Firstly anything that's too far off the left or right edges don't need to be drawn and things too small don't need to be either. So how small is too small ? Well that depends and thats what the Child Cut Off limit is all about.

    When that option is put up then unlike most of the dialog options, this one a) gets rid of all the parent dialogs leaving just itself behind and b) normally when you open a dialog then it sorta blurs the map but with this one it does not.

    It has a red bar and a + and - button. By moving the slider to more and less then when it draws the screen it cuts off drawing small icons based on this limit. Sometimes you really want to see all the detail in the map. So go for a small setting. Sometimes its better if it cuts off the child hierarchy levels much quicker so go large.

    When its small the map has more to draw and might take longer if it has a lot of small stuff on it. So to some extent it matters what speed your PC / graphics card is too for the right setting.

    Now if a level in your hierarchy is too far to the left or right so that none of it is within the draw area then not only is that icon not displayed but the app assumes that since all the children of it were also within that icon then it does not have to go down any farther and clip the whole hierarchy tree off at that point. So had you have had some children off to the right of an icons boundary and then moved that icon off the screen left then that child would suddenly vanish when its parent left the draw area. So that's why you should not do it.

    Now given that in any one scene if you have an area with very small regions on it that have even smaller battle maps going on then it makes no difference how complicated those battle maps are because it wont try to draw them anyway. As you move in on them then sure they need to be drawn but some of the other stuff has moved out of view so now does not. At a certain level of PC / Graphics card power you find that all but the most contrived scenes can be done at a real time rate - and fortunately, so long as we don't squander that power, that's where we are now.


    Note the chests in this set of four images as we zoom out. Now the app doesn't just pop too small icons out in a blink. It fades them out so that it looks a little nicer. I should also add that this is with the Child Cut Off set quite high because normally its set to fade out at just a few pixels.
    Last edited by Redrobes; 02-09-2010 at 05:24 PM.

  3. #13
      Redrobes is offline
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    Default Saving maps.

    If you want to save a map then we need to be a little clearer about what that means since each icon is like a map in its own right. With ViewingDale you save out the screen image only with a few options. So you need to pan and zoom to the right part of your map first before saving the view. If you have a grid on then you get a grid with the saved image. You get the annotations and jump markers unless you hide them. The only thing you wont get is the main view border, top banner and bottom status bar which are not part of the map.

    To get to the save menu item its on the System Settings or F4 and the bottom option. It brings up a dialog panel like this:


    Initially it will have the dots per inch set to your real monitors current DPI rating. The scale will be as you had it at the point of hitting the button. Now with these two values and the current window size, all the rest of the numbers are derived. You can change any of the numbers from here and the related ones will change to match the right math. I.e. you can change DPI to 300 and the width and height in pixels will adjust.

    Say you have a 300 DPI printer and want to print a battle map for real miniatures. Then put 300 in the DPI and 60 in the scale (1 in = 5ft ). The rest will adjust and you had better hope your map is small enough to fit on the paper. If you had an A4 300 DPI printer and dont care what the scale comes out at so long as it fits then put 300 in DPI and either 11 in Width or Height depending on whether you want landscape or portrait.

    Style is one of two options. As seen on screen or the Color / Alpha pair. The first is what you would expect. The map rendered out to a bit map. The second option saves two bitmaps, one with full color and the second is a greyscale of the combined Alpha / Transparency masking for the whole scene. Ask me if you want to see this or know more.

    You set the path or filename and then the format which should be either BMP, JPG or PNG.

    It also displays an estimate of the file size tho its pretty rough because its highly dependent on the compression in the PNG / JPG cases tho it should be accurate for BMP.

    When it saves the scene it re-renders the whole scene again at the scaling required to get the right output bitmap size. Therefore it does not merely scale the current screen image up or down to fit. So if rendering much larger then detail will be saved not seen on the screen. The grid and the child cut off apply to the save process scaling so that items which were faded out might not be on the save. Same with grid. If the grid was too small to be seen then it might appear on the save if the save image is higher res.

    The app has been tested to save at up to 20,000 pixels square in BMP mode. Its a bit less for PNG - something like 14,000 square. The process for the BMP save has been particularly optimized for using a small amount of memory whilst it does it but if saving huge images, it still helps to have a lot of RAM.

  4. #14
      Redrobes is offline
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    Default

    That covers most of the things you need to know to use it - well at least from a mapping point of view. Theres a whole heap like that on the VTT and networking side as well. The tut was a bit light on nice maps to show but I have focused more on the concepts. If you want to ask questions then fire them off below and ill write more on that area.

    If you did want to see more maps rendered out of the app showing the CWBP (as it was quite a long time ago) then this thread has a few movies to watch.
    Last edited by Redrobes; 02-09-2010 at 06:24 PM.

  5. #15
    Guild Artisan industrygothica's Avatar
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    I received my copy of ViewingDale in the mail early last week. I think it's the first time I've received post from outside the US, so that was a bit unique in its own right.

    I must say that I was more than impressed with the packaging. I'm not sure what my expectations were, but they were surely surpassed as soon as I opened the box. The installation was a breeze as well.

    I'll admit, I'm looking at this utility more for the campaign organizer features than anything else. The first thing I wanted to do was to load my world map up and place Romeda in it's proper location, and then start adding notes here and there, and possibly map a city or two to go along with it. I'll be starting a new campaign in the region fairly soon, so this seems like a perfect way to keep everything nice and tidy.

    For some reason, however, I can't get the rectangular worldmap to scale properly; it always wants to come up a distorted square. Redrobes, do you think you could break it down to a kindergarten level for me so I could get it put together properly?

    Thank tons!


    -IG

  6. #16
      Redrobes is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by industrygothica View Post
    I must say that I was more than impressed with the packaging.
    Thats cool. The box artwork apart from the 3D cover image, insert and card is all done with the app. The whole print industry is totally geared up for Adobe products so I had some problems getting compatible artwork to them.

    Quote Originally Posted by industrygothica View Post
    I'm looking at this utility more for the campaign organizer features than anything else.
    Thats its prime directive. Its a VTT second to its world organization aims.

    Quote Originally Posted by industrygothica View Post
    For some reason, however, I can't get the rectangular worldmap to scale properly; it always wants to come up a distorted square. Redrobes, do you think you could break it down to a kindergarten level for me so I could get it put together properly?
    Sure.

    Theres two stages, getting the image in and making an icon for it.

    Image:
    In a paint package make a bitmap of the world at a max res of about 2048. Dont worry about the aspect or scaling - thats all part of the icon params. The bitmap can be square or oblong. Lets say its the usual 2:1 aspect and 2048x1024 image. If its a really big image then theres another way but lets ignore that for a while.

    In the App, press F2 for "Images and Icons" and the top item is Convert (Import) Image. Hit that button. With the three black paneled dialog up hit the "Load Colour Picture" and browse for your image (BMP, JPG, PNG or some TIF) anywhere on the HDD. Once loaded it should be in the color panel and the Final Image Panel. If the final image looks ok then hit the "Save final image" button and save it into a sensible directory under the ViewingDale/Images directory. The App wont let you go higher than this directory anyway. Try something like Fantasy/Worlds/Romeda or something like that. You can create new sub directories with the top item (Add new directory). Keep a mental note where it is. Theres no scaling or anything to do - thats it. If you browse with windows explorer then the file should be there with a .vmi extension.

    Hit F2 again and in the Images and Icons menu hit the "Create New Icon from Image Wizard". It has a few params to fill out and you need to set them all except the Default Origin which is set at Center unless you change that to Bottom Left - which with a world icon is probably a good idea. You can change any or all of these later anyway.

    Set the Icon Name - Romeda. Set the directory for it. This is the Icon dir now. So make another set of sub directories like Fantasy / Worlds / Romeda. With "Using Image", browse for the image you created in Images/Fantasy/Worlds/Romeda. Now set the "Width" to be something like "4000 miles" and the "Height" to be "2000 miles" - unfortunately, ViewingDale does not work in curved spaces so does not cope with different map projections. If thats a real problem then you can use jump points for large areas like continents and jump down to smaller maps where the curvature is so small it can be approximated. But ignoring this, once you have all the top 5 params set and the origin either center or bottom left then hit the "Create it" button and it will make the icon that size.

    If you hit F3 for the visual settings and press "Grid Size" and set it to "500 miles" and then press 'G' key then the square grid should show you the world has 8 x 4 grid squares. The title bar should show you the scale which would be a big number and you can pan around and see the position update in miles.


    Ok, lets say you have your icon and image and its the wrong size or aspect. Load it with 'L' key so its on the screen then press F8 to go to the "Icon Size" view mode. From here you can scale, size and change the aspect of it. You press the arrow keys where right and up is bigger and left and down is smaller. You will see it stretch a bit. Now in the top bar there is the background grid scale which changes dynamically depending on the current icon size. The units are the same as the map grid units so might be in miles now.

    When you press the right key it grows at a modest pace. If you press shift key as well then it goes fast (ctrl makes it go slow. Shift + Ctrl is very slow). You can press right and up at the same time and add shift or ctrl as well all at the same time. Keep looking at the background scale and count up the squares its covering. Imagine that the icon is a bit of stretchy paper on a graph paper backdrop. Sometimes you will have to stretch it a lot especially if the map started at 1mx1m. If it stretches right off the page - which is quite common if scaling a lot - or it stretches too small to see well then hit the "Home" button which will snap view to fit.

  7. #17
    Guild Artisan Gracious Donor LonewandererD's Avatar
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    I gotta looked at this in detail later. I must say I cracked up laughing when I saw the option "Edit Children", don't all parents wish they could have that.

    -D-
    People come and people go. I walk amongst them, I see their faces; but none see mine. I pass them in the streets but nary a glance is spared my way, for what interest would they have in a Wanderer? Not of this world... Forever Alone... Forever Wandering... LoneWandererD...

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