PowerPoint Maps: Creating a Symbol Catalogue for Crossfire

I’m always happy to invest a bit of time to make my life easier later. So now that I’m seriously looking at using MS PowerPoint for drawing my wargaming maps I thought I’d invest a bit of time in getting the basics right. For map making the key is a Symbol Catalogue containing all the elements I need before I actual draw anything. This post describes how I put together a Symbol Catalogue for Crossfire.


I want drawing the maps to be dead simple and don’t really want to have to edit features on the fly. For example, I have created Hedgerow symbol so that I can just plonk it onto a map and then rotate it. Job done. This is going to be much simpler than designing a new hedgerow every time.

A PowerPoint Symbol Catalogue is just a slide with all the symbols I’m likely to use on it. With each symbol preconfigured to be the right size, shape, colour etc. This is what my Crossfire Symbol Catalogue looks like:

Crossfire Maps - Symbol Catalog
Crossfire Maps – Symbol Catalog

These are the elements of my Crossfire Symbol Catalogue:

  1. Building Sectors
  2. Woods
  3. Hedgerow
  4. Fields
  5. Rough Ground
  6. Contour lines / hills
  7. Crests
  8. Depression
  9. Roads
  10. Rivers
  11. Walls
  12. Boundary

I assume you know how to do general drawing things in PowerPoint, e.g. use the various line drawing tools (Straight Line, Curve Line, FreeForm Line). Anything I think is a bit trickier I’ve included in the PowerPoint Guide section.

Building Sectors

For my Campaign Cartographer 2 Maps I adapted the buildings from Village.FSC catalog by Phillip Rhodes. The catalog has lots of variety in building shapes, which I retained, but I created variants so all of them fit a 3″ x 3″ square (at the 1:10 Map Scale I use).

For my PowerPoint Maps I haven’t bothered with variations because I found, over time, I never used anything except the basic square shape. So I created a single square Building Sector Symbol with the same look as those by Phillip Rhodes. The Building Sector Symbol is made up of four triangles organised into a square. I drew the first triangle using the FreeForm Line tool. The line of triangle is black (0, 0, 0) and 3/4 pt wide.

I copied the triangle three times, rotated each as appropriate and arranged into a square. The Building Sector Symbol is coloured to suggest lighting on a tile roof. All four triangles are different shades of brown with the top triangle being darker and lighter at the bottom. Going clockwise from the top the colours are

  1. Dark brown (122, 71, 23)
  2. Mid brown A (176, 133, 91)
  3. Light brown (201, 170, 141)
  4. Mid brown B (152, 98, 46)

The next step is to group the four triangles to make a single object.

With my large Building Sector Symbol as a basis I made two different sizes at the map scale: 0.8cm for the 3″ building sectors and 1cm for the larger 4″ building sectors – remember this is at 1:10 Map Scale so the 3″ building sector is 0.8cm and the larger one 1.0cm. Just copy the original and resize.

Although a single shape is sufficient for my purposes I pre-made groups with multiples of the basic Building Sector Symbol in various configurations. For the 3″ building sectors I did groups with two adjacent building sectors, three in a line, three in an L-shape, four in a square. Because I’ve only got a small number of 4″ building sectors I only did a small number of configurations using this size. I did both horizontal and vertical variations because I want the roofs to have the correct colours, with the darker shade at the top.

The last step was to add a shadow to each group, including the single building sector. The shadow has to align with the shadow of the roofs. I chose to use Angle: 121°. Otherwise I used defaults for the shadow.

The image shows the final result at map scale.

Crossfire Maps - Building Sectors
Crossfire Maps – Building Sectors


Woods were the trickiest bit because I had to draw a Tree Symbol and that required drawing skills which I completely lack. So I just sort of traced a tree from one of my existing maps. Like everything else on my Crossfire maps this is a top view. I made the master image really big to make the tracing easier. To be honest I’m pretty rough so my tracing wasn’t exact, however the overall effect is fine because I scaled it down enormously. The final Tree Symbol is only 0.5cm across.

Steps to draw a tree:

  • insert image of the tree you want to copy
  • Use the Curve line to draw a closed outline around the tree
    • Line colour black (0, 0, 0)
    • Fill colour green (122, 220, 144)
    • Line weight: 3pt
  • Use the Curve line to put detail inside the outline
    • Line Colour dark green (30, 95, 44)
    • Line weight: 3pt
  • Group everything

I tried to resize the giant tree in PowerPoint but it doesn’t scale the lines well. Instead I saved the picture as a .PNG file. The advantage of a .PNG is that it can have a transparent background, unlike a .JPG which must have a background of some colour (by default white); you’ll see why this helps in a moment. This is how my giant tree looks:

Crossfire Maps - Map Symbol - Tree 1
Crossfire Maps – Map Symbol – Tree 1

I then inserted the image back into PowerPoint as a picture . The reason I couldn’t just use the original image I traced from is because it had that pesky white background, whereas my new .PNG image has a transparent background – this makes a difference for the shadows.

I have various prepared symbol definitions for different sizes of woods (copses). The tree top symbol is a very quick way to show how many squads can fit within the feature; not the sardines-in-tin capacity but in a normal slightly spread out combat formation. Basically a tree (2″ diameter on table) is the space necessary to fit a squad comfortably. This is 0.5 cm at my chosen 1:10 Map Scale. Crossfire suggests each feature be able to contain 4-6 squads, so a tree is not a stand alone feature. A four tree copse (4″ diameter) is the smallest possible woods feature as it can contain 4 squads comfortably. I also have copse symbols which are 6″ diameter, 8″ diameter, and 8″ x 4″.

Feature/Things PowerPoint Map Metric Tabel Imperial Table
Single Tree * (for Orchard or Wood) 0.5cm 5cm 2 inches
4 Tree Copse (Wood) 1cm 10cm 4 inches
7 Tree Copse (Wood) 1.5cm 15cm 6 inches
8 Tree Long Copse (Wood) 2cm x 1 cm 20cm x 10cm 8 inches x4 inches
14 Tree Copse (Wood) 2cm 20cm 8 inches

* Too small for a feature

The last step with the trees was, again, to add a shadow to each group, including the single tree symbol. Again this was Angle: 121°. Otherwise I used defaults for the shadow.

Crossfire Maps - Woods
Crossfire Maps – Woods


My hedgerow is just small trees side by side. My starting point was the image of my tree as a picture. I resized this to 0.2cm for the basic hedge bush. To make the hedgerow I copied the single hedge bush several times, arranged the copies in a line, and grouped them. I did both 4″ and 6″ rows. 4″ because that is how long my hedge sections are on table; 6″ because I initially forgot how long my hedgerow sections are and assumed they were 6″. Doh! Then a shadow for both the single bush and hedge row symbols.

Crossfire Maps - Walls and Hedges
Crossfire Maps – Walls and Hedges


I made a Wall 4 Symbol for the catalogue. I made my Wall with four Rounded Rectangles. The line is black and the fill white. To give the wall a rough stone profile I offset the four rectangles slightly and made one slightly narrower. I grouped these together.

I also made a single Wall 1 Symbol. This enables me to easily vary walls on the map.


The Campaign Cartographer 2 fields use a “Fill”, i.e. an image that is used to fill a shape that you’ve previously drawn.

So I made my own Field Fill Tile. This is a pattern with two types of green line: Olive green (118, 120, 28) and Dark green (38, 92, 48).

Crossfire Maps - Map Symbol - Field Fill 1
Crossfire Maps – Map Symbol – Field Fill 1

The save the picture as a .PNG file, insert the image back into PowerPoint as a picture, resize the picture, then save the picture as a .PNG file with the name you want your Field Fill Tile to have.

The next step is to draw an outline using the FreeForm Line tool in a brown (164, 115, 68) and 1 1/2 pt Weight. The FreeForm Line tool lets you draw rough but not exact rectangles for your fields. Then Fill using the Field Fill Tile you’ve just made.

I did a variety of shape corresponding to the shapes of my field features. Square (4″, 6″, 8″), Rectangle (4″x6″, 4″x8″, 6″x8″, 6″x12″), Triangle (half of square 6″, 8″), and trapezoid (start with rectangle 4″x6″ or 6″x8″ but cut out a corner).

Crossfire Maps - Fields
Crossfire Maps – Fields


Orchards are field features with trees on them. I made three based on my roughly square field features. I plonked small trees (0.4cm rather than 0.6cm) on them in rough rows. Then I grouped the trees with the fields.

Crossfire Maps - Orchards
Crossfire Maps – Orchards

Rough Ground

Rough Ground is another shape that, in The Campaign Cartographer 2, uses a “Fill”. So I made my own. Again just a simple pattern of lines with two colours: Dark green (39, 97, 50) and Brown (144, 55, 0).

Crossfire Maps - Map Symbol - Rough Fill 1
Crossfire Maps – Map Symbol – Rough Fill 1

Again The save the picture as a .PNG file, insert the image back into PowerPoint as a picture, resize the picture, then save the picture as a .PNG file with the name you want your Field Fill Tile to have.

Draw the outline with the Curve Line tool in brown (164, 115, 68) Colour with a 1 1/2 pt Weight. Fill the shape with the Rough Ground Tile you’ve just created.

Crossfire Maps - Rough Ground
Crossfire Maps – Rough Ground

Contour lines / hills

Contour Lines and Hills is where I diverged the most from Campaign Cartographer 2 maps. In CC2 I used a brown line with short perpendicular lines surrounding the main line. I don’t know any easy way to do this in PowerPoint so I didn’t bother.

Instead I drew my contour lines and hill features with the Curve Line tool using a compound line. A compound line has two or three lines compounded to each other. I used one of the default 4 1/2 pt compound line styles with a thick line on the inside and a thin line on the outside. Line colour is brown (164, 115, 68)

Contour Lines and Hills need a white (0, 0, 0) fill so the shadow shows up properly.

The last step was, as usual, to add a shadow to each Contour Line but in this case it is a contour shadow. Again this was Angle: 121° but it is also Blur: 4pt; Distance: 5pt; and Transparency: 57%. Basically it is a longer shadow compared to what I use elsewhere.

Hills are just single level Contour Lines. I made a few with typical dimensions.

Crossfire Maps - Hills and Contour Lines
Crossfire Maps – Hills and Contour Lines


My Crests are very similar to my Contour Lines. A Line Weight which is a compound line with Line colour of brown (164, 115, 68) and a contour shadow. I chose a different compound line Weight: 6 pt with three lines, thick in the centre and two thin outer lines.

Crossfire Maps - Crests
Crossfire Maps – Crests


I had a bit of fun with the Depressions. They are similar to Contour Lines but with a couple of key differences. For a Depression the shadow has to appear on the opposite side to other features and on the inside of the feature. Use Style: Inner so that the shadow is inside the feature rather than outside. Use Angle: 301° so the shadow is on the opposite side. Other attributes are – Blur: 5 pt; Distance: 6 pt; Transparency 50%.

Crossfire Maps - Depressions
Crossfire Maps – Depressions


Roads are just fat coloured lines. I could have used any of the three following line drawing tools to get the initial shape:

  • Line
  • Curve
  • FreeForm

For the example in my Symbol Catalogue I used a “Curve”.

I matched the colour from my CC2 maps, either brown (176, 134, 90) or grey (157, 150, 134). Line Weight: 6 pt.

Crossfire Maps - Roads
Crossfire Maps – Roads


The river is similar to the Road: Curve Line tool; Line Weight: 6 pt; Blue (79, 129, 190)

Crossfire Maps - Rivers and Streams
Crossfire Maps – Rivers and Streams


I used Boundary lines for deployment zones, table entry points, and some objectives. They are

  • Line Colour: Black (0, 0, 0)
  • Line Weight: 3 pt
  • Line Dashed: Medium Dash
  • Text Font Size: 18 pt
Crossfire Maps - Boundary
Crossfire Maps – Boundary


Objectives were a late addition to my Crossfire Symbol Catalogue. But I need one for my Sitno scenario so put something together. Then, of course, I refined it a bit to make more general. And then I made two variants.

The first is a white circle with a black outline and a red letter inside (W, X, Y or Z). The second variant are colours flags (Blue, Green, Red or Black) inside an rounded rectangle with a while fill and black outline.

Crossfire Maps - Objectives
Crossfire Maps – Objectives

PowerPoint Guide

There are only a few things you need to know how to do in PowerPoint to be able to do all of the above. I’ve described one way of doing the less obvious of these. This is for Microsoft PowerPoint 2011 for Mac.


I give the RGB code for all colours. Red is, for example, represented by the RGB triple (255, 0, 0).

You can change the RGB value of a PowerPoint shape with these steps:

  1. Select the shape
  2. Format > Object/Shape/Picture… > Fill
  3. Select the Color drop down
  4. Select More Colours…
  5. Select Sliders
  6. Select RGB Sliders
  7. Change Red, Green and Blue values


To resize an object, shape or picture in PowerPoint:

  1. Click on the Object/Shape/Picture to select it
  2. Format > Object/Shape/Picture… > Size
  3. Change Height and Width


The steps to add a shadow are:

  1. Click on the Object/Shape/Picture to select it
  2. Format > Object/Shape/Picture… > Shadow
    • Shadow check box: Tick
    • Style: Outer
    • Angle: 121°
    • Colour: Black
    • Size: 100%
    • Blur: 3.15pt
    • Distance: 1.57pt
    • Transparency: 62%

The great thing about PowerPoint shadows is the keep their orientation even if you rotate the image.

Contour Shadows

The steps to add a shadow are:

  1. Click on the Object/Shape/Picture to select it
  2. Format > Object/Shape/Picture… > Shadow
    • Shadow check box: Tick
    • Style: Outer
    • Angle: 121°
    • Colour: Black
    • Size: 100%
    • Blur: 4pt
    • Distance: 5pt
    • Transparency: 57%

The great thing about PowerPoint shadows is the keep their orientation even if you rotate the image.

Save as Picture

Steps to save an object as a image file:

  1. Right-click on the Object/Shape/Picture
  2. Select Save as Picture…

Insert image

To insert an image into PowerPoint

  1. Select Insert > Photo > Picture from File…
  2. Select the file with the picture image you want to insert

Fill shape using a Tile

The steps to add a “Fill” to a shape are:

  1. Format > Object/Shape/Picture… Fill > Picture or Texture tab
    • From file: Choose Picture…
    • Rotate with Shape: Untick
    • Tile: Tick


I haven’t done everything yet. Here are a few items I’ll do on an as needed basis:

Series of Blog Posts on MS PowerPoint Maps

This post is part of a series on using PowerPoint to Draw Maps. The series will cover:

  1. From CC2 to PowerPoint for Drawing Maps
  2. Choosing Map Scale
  3. Drawing table grids
  4. Creating a Symbol Catalogue for Crossfire
  5. Drawing Maps for Crossfire
  6. Creating a Symbol Catalogue for Optional Maps
  7. Drawing Maps for Operational Level Wargames

To make sure you see the rest of the Drawing Maps Series subscribe to the feed or by email, or follow @StevensBalagan on twitter.

2 thoughts on “PowerPoint Maps: Creating a Symbol Catalogue for Crossfire”

  1. Steve
    I and I am sure, many others, would gladly pay for these files so as to use for their own maps!!

    • No need to pay Dick – although it is a kind offer. I’ll post them a bit later in the series. For free.


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