Command of the Week - Managing Drawing Tools (Week 20)
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 20 - Managing Drawing ToolsDrawing tools are a very important feature of CC3+, as it lets you easily draw things like landmasses, terrain, roads, rivers and much more, without manually having to set all properties, like fill, width, size and so on. Obviously, you all know how to use these by now, so I'll talk about a more interesting aspect, creating your own drawing tools.
As you start working with CC3+, the drawing tools provided with any given map style may fit your needs, but as your mapping gets better and your needs change, they may not cover everything you need. Perhaps you need to change the behavior of an existing tool, or maybe you have acquired a new fill style, and needs a tool that uses this fill style.
Managing Drawing ToolsNo matter if you wish to create a new tool, or change an existing one, you need to go to the Custom Drawing Tools dialog. This should be accessible from any drawing tools window by clicking the Advanced>>> button. Once you get to this dialog, it will list all the drawing tools in the selected style, no matter what tools were shown in the window that brought you here.
Before making any changes to your drawing tools, do note that this configures the actual tools themselves, and will apply to all maps in this style, not just the current map. It is therefore recommended that you do not change or delete the official tools, but rather make your own copies of them instead. It is also worth nothing that for drawing tools to be quick and easy to use, you should consider making a seperate tool for each purpose, rather than go back in and edit the tool again and again each time you need it to behave differently. Instead of making one road tool which you constantly edit the width on for example, make separate tools for the various road widths you use in the map.
Editing an Exiting ToolTo edit an existing tool, simply select it from the list, make the desired changes, and hit the Save button. Note that saving is permanent and irreversible, and will change that tool globally, not just for the current map. Note that changing a tool will only affect future use of the tool, already drawn entities will not be changed.
Creating a New ToolTo create a new tool, select a tool in the list that you wish to use as a Template, then hit the New button. This will create a copy of the selected tool. This is recommended over making modification to the official tools, as there is now way to get them back (except reinstalling) once changes have been saved, and official tools may also be replaced by a patch, overwriting any changes you may have made.
Do note that you can actually make the changes to the selected template tool first, and then click the New button. When clicking new, the current settings are used, not the saved settings in tool.
The components of a Drawing ToolI won't go into detail about every setting, but let us check out the main properties of a drawing tool.
Draw MethodThe draw method controls what kind of entity you are going to create. The options button will bring up a dialog with choices appropriate to the draw method. For example, if you have selected a fractal polygon, the options will allow you to specify the fractalization level, while if your draw method is an ellipse, you can control eccentricity (Like setting it to 1 to make circles.) This option is also affected by your choice for Closure, if it is set to closed, you will make polygons, while if it is set to open, you will make paths.
Macro CommandThis is the most advanced feature of a drawing tool, allowing you to attach a macro to it. This macro can either be run after you have drawn something using the tool, or in stead of drawing normally with the tool. Macros was addressed in an earlier installment of this series.
PropertiesThis button opens up the various properties of the drawing tool, like color, fill, line width, sheet and layer. Here you can set the desired properties, or you can tell it to use the current settings, either for everything, or for individual options in this dialog. For example, if you set the fill style you use the current settings, the drawing tool will use the currently selected fill style instead of a fixed fill. This is great for a more generic tool, for example instead of making a separate tool for every single floor texture.
OutlineThe outline is a very interesting option. For outline, you have three options, None, A color, or a separate entity. None should be self-explanatory, and if you choose a color, it will provide a thin outline of the current color. The last option, an extra entity, is the most interesting one, because this makes the drawing tool draw two entities instead of one. This can be used in different ways
- A layered floor, where the top layer uses a semi-transparent texture, allowing the bottom one to shine trough. The top one can be another texture for a nice blending, or it could be a grid overlaying the floor below
- It can be used to draw a room, where one entity is the floor, and the other is the walls. This is accomplished by assigning zero width to one of the entities (which results in a filled polygon), and a fixed width to the other, for example 1, to make a 1-foot wide wall
Also remember that the outline doesn't have to be on the same sheet as the main entity, allowing for different effects on the two entities.