Command of the Week - Symbols Along (Week 2)
edited September 2021 in Mapping with ProFantasy's Software
This series is called the command of the week, but it could also explain a feature. The explanations will tend to explain the technical parts of the command, and is intended to highlight the basics (and complexities) of the command, and information about how to use it, but won't be a detailed tutorial. It is up to you to use it creatively in your maps.
Week 2 - Symbols AlongThe Symbols Along command, also know as Escarpment, helps you distribute symbols evenly along a line. While the premise is reasonably simple, it is a very helpful tool for many different types of maps. Part of the flexibility for this command is due to the options for how symbols can be arranged along this line. Symbols can be rotated to follow the turning of the line, or they could keep their orientation regardless of the line. They can also vary in scale, and you can define a random chance for them to appear at all. All of this provides many different usages for this command. For example, you could use it to arrange pillars in a circle in battle maps, you can use it to draw railroad sleepers along the line. It can be used to draw weather patterns, or escarpments.
Internally, this command is known as the Escarpment command, and was designed to draw escarpments on overland maps. However, as described above, the command can do so much more, which is why it is now more commonly known as the Symbols Along command.
Note:This tutorial was written before CC3+ Update 12, which introduced an improved version of this command. Everything in this description is still valid, but the dialog looks a little different, and includes a few additional options not described here.
Where to find it?Menu: Draw -> Symbols Along...
Command Line: ESC
How to use it?First of all, draw a guideline which you want your symbols to follow. This line can be straight or smooth, circles, arcs or most other types of lines in CC3+, but it won't work with lines drawn with the freehand tool. Your symbols will be placed along this line, with their origin at the center of the line. (You can see the origin of a symbol easily by selecting it in the symbol catalog and moving the mouse over into the drawing window. The origin of the symbol is where the crosshairs is placed on the symbol when holding it on your cursor).
Now, activate the Symbols Along command. The Escarpment dialog will show. Let us have a look at the individual parts of this dialog
|The default symbol catalog may not be very inspiring for most map, but you can load in any symbol catalog for use with this command. Simply hit the browse button and load your favorite catalog. The symbols placed in your map will be regular symbols, and can be manipulated individually after running the command if you need to tweak things. You can of course also create your own symbols to use with this command. Do note that it has to be a symbol, this command cannot use simple drawing entities, you need to turn them into a symbol first. It is worth noting that you can acually load in your current map here instead of another symbol catalog, to get access to symbols defined/used in the current map (save the map first, then browse for it). Also note that the command can only handle a single symbol, you cannot select multiple symbols and have it alternate between them.
Note that the symbol will be placed on the current sheet, it ignores default sheet selection behavior for symbols.
|This is the distance between the origin points of the symbols used. If this is less than the total width of the symbol, the symbols will overlap. You may wish to first place the symbol you wish to use into your map at a scale of 1.0 so you can measure it and calculate the appropriate values to use for the symbols along command. Obviously, if you plan to set a different scale for the symbols placed by this command, you must take that into account when determining an appropriate value.
|Symbols can be arranged to follow the direction of the line, or to appear at the same angle no matter how the line twists and turns. This setting controls that. The top option means that all symbols will be placed with an angle of 0. The second option places the symbol at an angle perpendicular to the guide line at that point, while the third option orients it parallel to the guide line. Invert symbol rotates the symbol by 180 degrees. Note that if you used a symbol with an origin at the top or bottom of the symbol (as opposed to in the center), this will also have the additional effect of having the symbol extend out from the other side of the line (pointing up instead of down for example)
|Symbols Along places the symbols along the guideline with perfect precision, using the exact same distance between each symbol. But if you wish to randomly skip some symbols in there, you can adjust this percentage down.
|This options allows you to determine if the scale of symbols should be applied to both axes (maintaining the shape of the symbol), or if it should be scaled along only one of the axes. The latter option is very useful if the symbol is something like a line which should change in length, but not in width. An excellent example of this is the drawing in the "preview" area below where line length varies along the length of the guide line.
Symbol Scale & Location
|From here, you can control how symbols are scaled along the guideline. This area consists of a "fake" preview area (it only shows a general view of what the command can produce, unaffected by your choices), and 3 input boxes for scale (first, third and fifth), and 2 input boxes for distance (second and fourth). The first box specifies the symbol scale at the beginning of the guideline (100% means a symbol scale of 1.0), the third box determines the symbol scale at a user-determined midsection, and the fifth box the symbol scale at the end of the guideline. The second and fourth boxes are used to determine the location and size of the midsection. Basically, the second box determine the distance, in percent of the whole line, from the start of the line to the start of the midsection, and the fourth box determines the distance from the start of the guideline to the end of the midsection. For this to work properly, the second box needs to be less than or equal to the fourth box, and both needs to be less than or equal to 100%.
Symbols will start out scaled according to the starting scale, then gradually change scale until it reaches the midsection scale. It will then keep this scale for the entire midsection, until it reaches then end of it, after which it will gradually change the scale to reach the end scale. Note that if you wish all symbols to be the same scale, just set the same scale value for start, center and end, and just ignore the % along values.
|Pillars in a circle
|Railroad sleepers placed along a track. Shows section of a longer track. The rails themselves are just gray lines with effects applied. A full tutorial for this example can be found in the CC3+ tome
|A cold front (Weather map)