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Representing Cliffs and Ridgelines

On yet another version of a map of the Little Bighorn Battlefield, I want to represent the lines of bluffs/cliffs generally along the river and perhaps the ridgelines leading downhill and cross country to limit mobility and line of sight.

The Contour interval I am using is 100 feet so as not to go blind tracing them and to avoid cluttering the map.

Map 1 shows the bluffs as I represent them know with a thick irregular line. Not very artistic, but functional on the topographic map underlaying the CC3 version.. Perhaps a better way.

Map 2 shows how they look on the finished map. Each hex is about 1/4 mile from side to side and is based on a 1:24000 scale map.

Not shown are the ridges. I was thinking of just marking the ridgeline and perhaps hill tops with a very thin (0.0) brown line polygon or 'circle' whether it should be dark or light I don't know. Given the curret colors, light might be better.

While I not current land marks/names I did not place the roads, except as a way for me to identify to locate some locations on the map. Some of the course of the Little Bighorn is altered to hopefully reflects its flow in 1876.

This is for a special map for an existing game in which I want to test out if attacking the pony herd, trying to kill or drive the horses away, perhaps through the village to cause destruction of supplies and remove the ability of the Sioux to resist and go to the reservation rather than engaging in direct combat for which we know the 7th Cavalry was rather unsuccessful, although in the end, they tribes were driven to reservations where their horses and arms were taken in an attempt to make them farmers and 'civilize' then.

Suggestions? Pointers? Appreciate any criticism.


  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 26 images Cartographer ProFantasy

    I don't know how this is usually done in fantasy maps of this type, but I'm more familiar with how it is done in real world UK Ordnance Survey maps. They either use little bluff symbols or they use hachures - especially in slightly older maps of the mid 20th century. So your idea of a line isn't too far removed from that. I might add some small hachures to the cliff side of those lines if I were you. I made some just recently for my John Speed map of Dorchester if you want some quickly without having to draw your own. They are available here at the bottom of this blog, and were used in the John Speed map with Symbols Along:

    If you find this little group of hachures too cumbersome to handle as a group (there can be issues if you want to go around rather tight corners) you can easily break them up into a set of separate symbols. It's a vector symbol, so it's perfectly editable.

    mike robelDaishoChikara
  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 26 images Cartographer ProFantasy

    If you scroll down a bit on this article you will see how the very tall and very sheer white cliffs of Dover are shown on a late 19th century map. Generally speaking, the older the map, the more intricate the detail drawing.

    mike robel
  • Thanks, Sue. I'll have a look at those. My thick lines appear rather jarring, given the paucity of the contour lines. I like the idea of the hachures; There is a symbol set of them, but they are rather fixed in nature.

    On the second map, I really like the depictions of the coastal defense batteries. I love going around looking at them on the Gulf and East Coasts of the US.

  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 26 images Cartographer ProFantasy

    You're welcome, Mike :)

    It's really easy to make your own set if nothing else fits. Just draw them as little triangular polygons and shrink them to the right kind of size with Scale, and use Define Symbol in the Symbols menu.

    As a tip, I created mine with the fat end at the top and the tail at the bottom. By chance that just seemed to be the right orientation to work with CC3 and Symbols Along without any issues.

    mike robel
  • I gave it a try. I like the way it looks. Had to experiment with sizing and spacing and then the "tapering" of size along the line. I like the way the symbols in CA84 look, but they are fixed shapes and don't conform well.

  • You are using hexes - so what does it mean when a ridge or river "line" goes through the middile of a hex and not on it's boundary?

    What is more important for you? Topographical accuracy or "War-Game" exactness?

  • I like accurate topography. If the line goes through the whole hex, then the user cannot 'climb' the bluff/cliff, but could move along it.

    People like hexes, but in the real world we use grid squares (actually trapazoids).

    In addition, when playing Command Post Exercises/Wargames as a young officer, sometimes we just sat at a table with our 1;50000 scale map and gave orders to the computer operators who did not have maps. Later, when playing CBS, there was a dichotomy between locations on the computer screen and the map. I saw commander's who came into the wargaming area become extremely upset when they saw the icon position on the map as compared to that displayed on the screen. If they were not the same, then one's integrity and honesty could be questioned. I confess, I never outgrew that attitude and its reflected in my designs.

  • Here's a version with Sue's Hash Marks which I really like.

    First with no grid, then with the grid, then with a look at the real map with the hash marks displayed. Basically a player can move through the bluff but has to declare he is moving up the draw/coulee/ravine in hex 3122 or 3123. The actual route is along the hex edge, but I don' t like to move terrain as I discussed above.

    Still thinking about the ridgelines or just drawing closed contours with 0.0 width lines to indicate hill tops to assist with Line of Sight matters. 20 foot contour intervals would be best, but I would go blind.

    By the way, after the fiasco with group/ungroup lock/unlock etc. I just did the map over in the last two days. I think it is better this time. I still have to label the features and designate the village and pony herd locations because my hex numbers and map do not coincide with the game map.

  • Here an overall view of the map. The actual map is 34 inches x 44 inches.

  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 26 images Cartographer ProFantasy

    They look good, Mike, but can I suggest making them partly transparent? This is only my opinion, but they may look a bit harsh in pure black.

  • Good Point. Actually they are dark brown so I will first lighten them up, and then maybe make them transparent.

  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 26 images Cartographer ProFantasy

    It might help to explode a couple of them and space them as single entities around those bends, so that the line of them is smoother.

    mike robel
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