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More than welcome.

This is just my own personal method set- do open maps by Pete, George MC, or the others of us that do a lot of these. We all learn from each other, but you will notice slight differences that make the maps unique and interesting based upon those choices.

I still screw stuff up from time to time on maps and learn from it, wash and repeat. If you like low-risk, high-yield problem solving, it can be a lot of fun. Just look for the signs of the map maker fatigue- claw-like hands, eyes squinted, staring into every patch of woods and wondering how you can better model those forests....The Map Zone.

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Thank you a ton @benpark.

Your guide to map building will come in handy.. I'll try to stick to it.

For the following post.. I will have to dissect that :D.

I'm using paint right now for my overlays etc and I used google maps for the picture. But the problem with the google overlay is it's so blurry at 4.5 x 4km that I can barely distinguish individual houses, and often times I can't.

Bing maps are much sharper. And I think Bing gets their maps from Zoom.earth. I prefer Zoom because .. I can zoom a little closer. It also doesn't display anything but satellite image. No roads... road names ..nothing. 

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I'm going to offer my own, un-solicited advice on map making...

Use the light forest tile under trees, fences, hedges, roads, buildings, any sort of man-made "divider" - its represents well the undergrowth that builds up on these less traveled/less maintained areas. Look at pictures of rural fences and such and you'll see shrubbery/grass growing taller then the immediate surrounding foliage It also serves as an eye pleasing way to "break up" large chunks of terrain, especially when you're zoomed out - where most players actually play the game - and the fences start to blend in with the surrounding grass.

Alternate between yellow grass, tall grass, green grass, extra tall grass, etc when building large fields. Breaks up the color tone that looks unnatural when zoomed out. Same goes for dirt - mix in dirt, red dirt, hard dirt etc when building lots for your buildings. These large lots - either grass or dirt, or whatever - should look like a Jackson Pollock painting in the editor. Just splashes of different tiles everywhere.

Dirt footpaths serve as a great way to break up terrain as well - simulates the many different ways people cross fields, and the paths they create. Also works great in residential dirt lots.

Combine different buildings to make a realistic looking residence. I like to use the half tile barn on the end of an independent one story house. The half tile barns also look good between fences, and when they form an "L" at a 90 degree angle to a house.

Really pay attention to how homes are setup for the area you are modeling. They are often tighter and more "intimate" then you think. Remember, tiles are 8 meters by 8 meters, which is absolutely huge. I would say most Eastern European residential lots are maybe 3x3 or 4x3 in CM terms. Use street view when you can to see how they look from ground level. Satellite imagery can be deceiving.

When it comes to forests, less is more. I almost never use the two or three tile tree lots. Single trees are enough. In fact, drop your block of trees, and then go back and remove some trees from random tiles. Creates a realistic patchwork effect. Also, use different types of trees in a forest. Trees of the same type in CM are universal in height - no forest is like that in the real word. I like to use Tree D - a fairly short tree - and mix the taller A and C trees into the mix. Creates a more natural forest.

Avoid painting solid lines of height elevation. There is nowhere in this natural world where you have a universal flat area or a universally sloping area (bar maybe a salt bed, I guess..) Purposely leave gaps in your contour lines, and then drop random points in between contours that are one higher or one lower then what the game "calculates" it should be. It will create very pleasing, very natural, undulating terrain. Failing to do this is probably the biggest sin when it comes to map making in CM, in my mind. Elevation is much more difficult in CM2 then it was in CM1, which is why I think people have a hard time with this. But if you take the time to hand craft your elevations, it will pay off big. It makes your map look 100x more realistic.

Don't tie yourself to an overlay! The real world is much more angular then what CM can handle. Have fun with your map - no one will care if this street had 7 houses instead of 5. What matters is the look, and how it plays, Additionally, the height data in Google Earth and other public programs does not have the fidelity to make a realistic map. It's great for a starting point - ie, this town is on a hill - but the nuances of height elevation in real life terrain can not be captured in an overlay. Go for a walk and look for the micro terrain that is out there. Most of it is well within CM's ability to model.

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Another of my favorite mappers. Good advice.

I think there is an option in the menu of GE to take a high resolution areas of view and save it as at least a JPG (hopefully BMP/TIFF)- (the standalone version- download that if you don't have it, it is more useful than the web-based version for most things except for contour lines. That would clear up the blur.

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Thank you tons @SeinfeldRules!!! A lot of great information here in a short span of posts. Love it.


This is a quick scenario/what I have of the map so far. 

The walls on the SE side were rushed so I could fill the residences with them for a preview release. It kind of captures the carnage I am expecting with the map when completed.. the real place is significantly tighter though. As mentioned by SeinfeldRules. The map needs a lot of more trees, and a lot more 3D editing (Which I never wound up getting to :P).

It's there if you want it. No pressure :rolleyes:

Edited by Artkin
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1 hour ago, benpark said:

Another of my favorite mappers. Good advice.

I think there is an option in the menu of GE to take a high resolution areas of view and save it as at least a JPG (hopefully BMP/TIFF)- (the standalone version- download that if you don't have it, it is more useful than the web-based version for most things except for contour lines. That would clear up the blur.

I tried this, unfortunately Google compresses the images I think. I tried the max resolution. 

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My couple of cents/tuppence worth then ...

As I said earlier, you seem to be tracking pretty well as you are so I wouldn't stress too much about your ability to make maps.

My approach has evolved as most other people's approaches have evolved through experience in the editor and becoming aware of new tools to assist the process but I generally like my mission briefing maps to be Google Earth images or topographical map images. As a result, my default is to try and create a CM map that is compatible with that real world imagery.

Inevitably compromises have to be made and other posters have touched on these issues - things like guessing what a place looked like in 1944 in comparison to what a place looks like now or making judgements about what buildings to put down. You've already heard some great tips about looking for handheld imagery/street view to fill in those gaps but ultimately they are not always going to solve the problem and you also have to contend with the building types in the editor.

A top imagery analyst tip for looking at overhead imagery is to look at the shadows - they will often tell you more about what is going on than the structures themselves and will certainly give you an idea about the relative heights of buildings.

The other imagery analyst trick is to understand what things should look like. When I did my course, we spent time crawling over bridges, power stations, airfields, dockyards etc for this very reason. As an example, it is no good putting down a railway line and chucking a platform next to it and calling the place 'Railway Station' if it doesn't look like one. You've got to consider the size of the village/town that the station is servicing and know train lengths to get the platform lengths right plus a whole bunch of other factors.

Ultimately though, your map is just one piece of your scenario jigsaw - I'd have a scenario in mind before you start the map.

Good luck with it and keep the questions coming.

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On 6/30/2018 at 4:19 PM, benpark said:

There is also this, but I can't get a height map from it yet (which would have to be sorted into contours for easier editing):


Terrain.party is the website where you get elevation for maps used in the citybuilding game Cities Skylines. A great source and the elevation is good enough. After some manual changes you have a landscape where you can start building your city.

Edited by BornGinger
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On 6/30/2018 at 8:19 AM, benpark said:

There is also this, but I can't get a height map from it yet (which would have to be sorted into contours for easier editing):


Not sure it is useful, but it looks interesting.

Edit- may no longer be supported.

You can get some contours by compressing the range of the heightmap they output and posterising the image (compression is optional but makes it a lot easier to see the contours).

You have to know the highest and lowest points in the image (but I think that is standardised from their satellite data sources - so certain grey values correspond to certain elevations).  When you know that, you can divide by the number of tonal levels you set in the posterisation and each tone is a contour line.

With that said, I doubt satellite data is useful in creating data for Combat Mission scaled maps.  For example, here is a section of B27 heading to Fulda (chosen for a myriad of reasons :D not the least of which is the hills).


Overlaid with the map section.  Looks pretty good, right?  Well, this is the whole map that Cities Skylines lets you use, not Combat Mission.  So you need to trim it to the 4x4km square that we're allowed.


Which is this sad chunk :unsure:


That is this section (actual scale).

If you're doing macro level terrain on a map with a lot of variation in height, it may work out.  Otherwise you'll run into trouble that the satellite data just isn't that accurate and on flat areas or areas with water it'll be really garbled.

Cool stuff though, I may end up using it myself...

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