In a previous article, I discussed my mapping style and how I had come to the conclusion that I preferred the style used by Darlene in the World of Greyhawk map. That being the case, what tools should you use to create that style of map?
Immediately, most people will think of Hexographer. Let me start out by saying that I have absolutely no direct knowledge of the program. I have never used it. I couldn’t even tell you, with any certainty, whether it is a vector-based or raster-based mapping program.
What I can tell you is that it has been around for a long time, has a very respectable reputation, and I’m told that it is intuitive and easy to use. There is a free, web-based, version that contains most of the features of the pro version. I’m not particularly impressed with the maps made from the free version, but that is largely due to the poor quality symbols. The pro version allows you to import additional symbols which, imo, vastly enhance the program.
Joseph Bloch, at Greyhawk Grognard, has been using hexographer to great effect. He has already created three beautiful maps that extend Darlene’s World of Greyhawk map (in accordance to the world map detailed in Dragon Annual #1) and states that he has plans to map it in its entirety.
When you think of hex mapping, you probably don’t think of Campaign Cartographer. It just isn’t the type of map you typically see from CC3 users. But that doesn’t mean that CC3 doesn’t excel at hex mapping.
In Campaign Cartographer, select the Draw menu and click on “Hex or Square Overlay”. Select either horizontal or vertical hex grid and make sure that “Set Snap Grid” is checkmarked (it is by default). Then (making sure snaps are turned on) start a polygon and click near one of the corners of a hex. Click on the remaining corners in order and CC3 will create a polygon in the selected color, snapped to the corners of the hex you selected on the grid.
Creating a single hex in this manner may be slightly more involved than doing so in hexographer. However, there are a number of benefits. First off, you don’t need to create hexes one at a time. Using snap-to-grid makes it easy to draw a large section with the edges constrained to the hex grid. You have access to the extensive CC3 symbol library. And most importantly, you have access to all the rest of CC3′s powerful features.
Being familiar with CC3, I knew I didn’t want to switch to another program and give up these features. But if I were new to mapping, or was intimidated by CC3′s learning curve, I would certainly give hexographer a shot. From what I’ve seen though, that ease of use does come at the cost of certain functionality.
CC3 Hex Symbols
As far as I know, there aren’t any pre-defined hex symbol catalogs for CC3. They aren’t particularly needed but I have toyed with the idea of putting one together anyway. I’ve only just started playing around with defining my own symbols so this would give me an interesting project. Since I never seem to have enough time to do everything I want to do, I don’t know if this will ever materialize, but the idea is certainly rolling around in there.