Making a Compass rose in Artrage

compass rose

The other day I decided to upgrade my version of Artrage from 3.5 to the new 4.0. One of the new features in the program is that you can draw in symmetry, or as it is called in Artrage Paint symmetry.

First when I bought the program I didn’t think much of this feature but after some testing I’ve realized that it really has some great potential. For example I started to experiment doing compass roses, and to my surprise the symmetry paint feature is a big help.

Here is a quick tutorial on how to make a compass rose as the one in the picture at the top of this post.

First of all start up Artrage and click Tools-Paint Symetry-Paint Symmetry, as in the picture below.

This will give you the default symmetry where the picture is divided into four squares. This means that if you draw something in one square the stroke will be repeated in the three others. If you like to have a compass rose that only shows N,S,E and W this will do fine. If you however also want the rose to include NE,SE,NW and SW you have to increase the symmetry segments to eight instead of four.

To do this you do the following. Point with mouse at the circle in the middle of the picture and click with the left mouse button. This will open up a new menu as seen in the picture below. Select Set number of Segments and put in the number you like, the maximum number of segments are twelve, but in this case we only use eight.

The work area will now look like in the picture below and it is time to start drawing. At first do some test strokes that you later delete so you understand the logic behind the symmetry, it’s not that complicated. Making a compass rose shouldn’t be too hard, making a good looking one might be a bit trickier.


I can see a lot of things where the symmetry feature can come into good use. Like when you do simple icons for cities or towns for your map, or making intricate borders. Well I think I have some more experimenting to do 🙂


Making a new symbol set

Symbolset test

When I grew up one of the first maps I really remember, if you don’t count maps of the real world, is the maps in Tolkien’s books. I can still recall when I first laid my eyes on the map of middle earth in the Lord of the rings. I was on vacation in England with my parents and I was eight years old. We went to a flea market and there they were, all three books. I remember looking in them and I was lost forever. Just seeing those maps made me understand that these has to be the greatest books ever written, so I bought them for my own money. The funny thing is that I didn’t know how to read or speak English, but that didn’t matter I could just look at those lovely maps and fill them with life from my own imagination.

Since then I’ve always been very fond of black and white maps, and then I mean black and white maps, not the ones that are black, white and grey. So when I was commissioned to do a map for a fantasy world that will be printed in a book I decided to try to do a map that really looked like those old maps from Tolkien’s books. But just making a map wasn’t all I wanted to do.

As this project might expand to more maps than the first one I decided to make a new symbol set that I could use for this map and future ones. Earlier I’ve made two style sets for Profantasy and from that experience I’ve learned a lot, especially how much quicker you can make the maps once the symbols are done.

First of all when you make symbols for a map style it is good to try to write down what you need. What different type of terrain will there be? Mountains, hills, cliffs, trees, cities, villages, volcanos etc. Write them all down on paper, or in a document on your computer. Now you have a plan on what you need, next step is to start drawing them. When you’re done and satisfied with a symbol, tick it off from the list and continue with the next. Some symbols like mountains will need more than one symbol, so in this case you just make as many as you think is necessary before you tick it off in the document.

Another important step is to test the symbols. I usually have a test map where I copy and paste the symbols into, to see that they will fit together, the map in this post is a document like that. Here I’ve tested that the mountains and trees will look good together. In my first try I realized that the trees outer lines weren’t thick enough, so I went back to the originals and made the lines thicker. In this way you will be sure that when the symbol set is done everything will work together.

Making a symbol set will take some time, but after that you’re done making maps using the symbols will be so much easier.

My first city in CD3


Since I’ve been quite busy lately with a commission I haven’t had much time to to do some mapping for my self, or blogging. But while cleaning out some old files from my computer, you always need more free space, I found this little town map, the first map I ever did in CD3.

When I first started with City Designer 3 (CD3) I started out doing maps in the black and white style that was a part of the 2010 annual from Profantasy. For some reason it felt much easier to start out doing black and white maps then coloured ones.

After having used CC3 for a long time I actually found it quite easy to learn CD3. But as you usually say, easy to learn but hard to master. And there are really a lot of small things to master here.

The black and white style is really great to use and there is a good variation of houses and structures included. But always when it comes to cities you can’t have too many symbols, and after a while you really wish there where more of them. I’ve had the idea of making some myself, I just need some more time in my life :).