Mapping a small town part 1

In this tutorial I’ll try to show how I use City designer 3 and Photoshop CS5 to make my city maps. Hopefully you as a reader can learn a thing or two, but be warned this is how I work. That means that there might be more effective and quicker ways to reach the same reslut. If you miss some information or if I’m just impossible to understand please let me know in the comments and I try to clarify.

To complete this tutorial you need a copy of Photoshop CS4 or CS5. The reason earlier versions wont work is that you need a litle free addon from Adobe called pixelbender. And it only works on the newer versions. You also need a version of City Designer 3 from Profantasy, which also means that you need a copy of campaign Cartographer 3.

When I make maps I usually try to make a story around the map. This makes it easier, at least for me, to get some inspiration when you work. It also makes it easier to come up with ideas of what to put into your map. For this particular map I’ve decided to make a map of the small town Oddwood in the northern parts of the kingdom Armadien.

Oddwood is a small town situated on the road to the northern part of the kingdom. To the east you have some old ruins from the time before the old apocalypse. This means that a lot of adventurers and treasure seekers pass by here. To the north you have smaller villages and the wild barbarian woods, home to dangerous savages and mythical creatures.

First of all you need to start a new map in City Designer 3/Campaign Cartographer 3. Choose city and city style A. I’m using the default settings here except for the size that I’m slightly increasing. The size you’re using depends on how big you want to make your town.

I’m always starting with the water when I make a map, mainly because this will have a big influence how the town layout will turn out. In this case my little town is situated where two smaller rivers combine into one. After having done the rivers my map looks like below:

It’s not much but it is a start. When you’ve come this far you have to start to think about where your town exactly will be situated. Try to take the river, or other water constellation you have created, into account when you decide this. When you have a fairly good idea of how you want it to be start to draw some roads that will lead into the town. In my map I need a road that goes from south to north. I also need a bridge over the river and a road to the eastern ruins. Apart from this I’m putting in a fortress where the rivers meet. This feels like an strategically important place that the rest of the town will be build around. To make the fortress I used the buildings from style B, not A. I prefer the city style B buildings because they look more hand made then style A. You decide what you like.

To make the bridge I created a new drawing tool by choosing one of the roads (the 5′ one). Save it as a bridge, changed the size to 7′ and changed it to use the fill style CD3_Darkwood_Roof Bitmap. You can see the properties below:

Well that is all for this time. Next time I will start to layout the town.


5 thoughts on “Mapping a small town part 1

  1. I know this is a old post buy I find it very hard to find any descent guides on using city designer. Im stuck at step one, creating a city. I can only get flat lines. Hope you can provide some help. Thank you,

    • Hello Danny,
      The post might be old but I’m still around.what exactly is it that doesn’t work for you. You say you only get flat lines? If you explain a bit more I do my best to help you out.

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