Sunday, 14 August 2016

New Campaign Maps

Malcolm’s Map of Portugal and Spain
A few years ago I found a set of maps online by a chap called Malcolm McCallum.  I was really impressed, and wanted to use them for the new Napoleonic campaign I was working on.   I understood that they were available for anyone to use, but I contacted him anyway to confirm that it would be ok.   He replied that I was welcome to use them.

As you can see from the example above, they are great looking maps.   He has make about 23 maps covering all of Europe, Russia and the Middle East.   I was particularly interested in central Europe, including Germany, France, Spain and Portugal.  

At that time I had already produced a set of maps based on an European Road Atlas.   It has the advantage that it already had a grid, so I could reproduce it to scale in the style that I wanted.  

Unfortunately Malcolm’s maps do not have a grid, though they do have a scale.   As I understand it they are designed that each town is one days march.   I tried drawing a grid using the scale at the bottom and sides of the map.  But there were a considerable number of squares which did not have a town.

This created a problem, as it was important that I could transfer sections of this map to a more detailed strategic map and finally to a tactical map which would look exactly like the wargames table.

I worked on trying to convert it for a couple of months, but finally gave up.   I did in fact use one of these maps in one of the first PBEM campaigns I took part in as a player.   It worked well, but transferring it to the table proved too difficult.  Not the fault of the map, rather poor planning of the campaign.
My Current Grand Strategic Map of Portugal and Spain
This is the map which I finally produced to cover all of Portugal and Spain.   It works well for the campaign, but I have never been very happy with the look of it.   I suspect that all maps designed for wargames are very much a compromise.   Mine are even more so than most.   My whole campaign is designed from my wargames table up, and it is critical that all of the maps are capable of be reduced to the tactical map, which is in effect a combination of up to 12 wargame tables.

This map works well because each square is a wargames table.   But it only contains basic terrain features.   The next stage is a strategic map for each area, which has more detail.   And finally the very detailed tactical map.
My New Grand Strategic Map of Portugal and Spain
July and August present some problems for us now that we live in Spain.   It is too hot to do our usual hill walking, and we both need a project to keep us occupied during the high temperatures.   Jan has a never ending list of wargames scenery to produce.   For the past five years I had my PBEM campaign.   This year I needed something to replace it.

As the months get warmer, I find myself casting about for something to keep me occupied.  This year my attention turned to the campaign maps.   I have always been somewhat dissatisfied with them and decided to have another go.  

I had kept copies of Malcolm’s maps on my computer, and I decided to try to make new maps for my 1813 campaign based on them.   I use ProFantasy CC3 software to make my maps, and they are all grid based.  I recently found Microsoft Paint and realised that I could import one of Malcolm’s maps and add a grid.   I could then make my own maps using a similar grid in CC3.

The above is my first attempt.  It is very much a work in progress.   It still has lots of squares without any town, but I can add them in now when I produce the more detailed area strategic map.

The project has kept me busy during June, July and part of August.   At the present rate it should keep me busy for the rest of the year.   But having proved that I can make it work has encouraged me to continue.

I doubt very much that my maps will ever look as artistic as Malcolm’s.  But they will have the advantage of being more accurate, as they are cross referenced with the road atlas based map.   More important it is quite easy to scale them to the other maps.

I now have to find a way of transferring the detail shown on the maps I have already used in the 1813 campaign over the past eight years.  Not sure that I can make that work, so no doubt another compromise is on the horizon.

I doubt if Malcolm will read this, but if he does I hope he has some satisfaction in knowing that his excellent work in producing those maps so long ago is still providing inspiration today.


Robert (Bob) Cordery said...

I think that the new style of campaign map is an improvement, especially as it looks more recognisable as being the Iberian Peninsular.

As I know from my own attempts, drawing maps is not that simple or easy, but I have found MS Paint to be an excellent program. It might not be the most sophisticated piece of software, but the fact that you can manipulate images at pixel level makes it extremely useful.

All the best,


thistlebarrow said...

Hi Bob

Thanks for your comment

I am pleased with the new map, but not sure how I can make it compatible with the old ones already used during the campaign. At the end of each phase I show the battle fought so far in that area on the strategic map. Not sure if I can get all of the necessary locations on the new map.

I have two problems with map making.

First I am just not very artistic. I am patient, and know what I want to achieve. However I have always been neat rather than artistic.

Second I have never really mastered ProFantasy, which is the software I use for making maps. It is a bit like using the computer. Like people I know how to do the things I do most, but that is only scratching on what I could do if I could master the full potential.

However it has given me a project for the summer months, which is what I needed. And I am enjoying trying to integrate the two different map styles.