PowerPoint Maps: From CC2 to PowerPoint for Drawing Maps

I’m starting to use Microsoft PowerPoint to draw maps for my Wargaming projects. So I thought I’d start a series on how to do that.

CC2 is pretty good but …

I’ve been using Campaign Cartographer 2 to draw maps since 2003 and specifically the maps for my Crossfire Scenarios. I wanted to replicate the style of the maps in Hit the Dirt so I got the mapping tool the authors used for that supplement. The end result is, I believe, pretty effective.

Multiplayer Pocket - South Table - Crossfire
Multiplayer Pocket – South Table – Crossfire

Although CC2 is amazing there are a handful of reasons why I want to move away:

  • The user experience of CC2 (and CC3) has never gelled because it is based on CAD software and seems somehow “backwards” compared to other software. You select what you want to do then select the objects you want to apply that too. Whereas most Windows and Mac software works the other way: select the object then say what you want to happen
  • I don’t want to create masterpieces, just functional wargaming maps, so I’m really not using most of functionality of CC2. Maybe 1%
  • I moved to Mac years ago and CC2 is the last piece of Windows software I still use. And that makes it painful to use. Very painful

Why Powerpoint

MS PowerPoint is my map drawing tool of choice because:

  • After 2011 PowerPoint became Mac friendly
  • I use PowerPoint a lot for work so I’m familiar with it
  • I have it on my Macs at home
  • It has all the drawing capability I need

Other people might find PowerPoint an attractive choice for similar reasons.

What is possible with PowerPoint?

I started knocking up maps in PowerPoint in 2011. I just couldn’t be bothered to open up Windows in Fusion and watch my Mac grind to a halt when all I wanted was a quick map. So I didn’t. Admittedly my first PowerPoint map – for Position Four – A Megablitz Scenario – wasn’t too flash. But given this was a tiny table, literally only 18 inches wide, I didn’t see much point in investing a lot of energy in it.

Infiltration of Position Four 

Position Four – A Megablitz Scenario
Map created in MS PowerPoint

Since then, with a bit of homework, my PowerPoint maps have got very similar to my CC2 maps. The first real example is for Crossfire at Position Four – The Village P Scenario. There is a nice symmetry to this because the Megablitz example and Crossfire example are both for the same historical scenario – Hartmann: Infiltration of Position Four.

Crossfire at Position Four - Village P
Crossfire at Position Four – Village P

I’ve also done a map for the Battle of Albuera. Again this is using PowerPoint but because I wanted to highlight the different elevations I went for different style.

Albuera Map Steven Thomas
Battle of Albuera Map
Map created in MS PowerPoint

Series of Blog Posts on MS PowerPoint Maps

Because I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve done with PowerPoint maps I thought I’d start a short series on how I did it. Future posts in my Drawing Maps Series will cover:

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

So here I am writing a series on using PowerPoint to draw maps. Ironically part of my motivation for starting to write this series was finding a post on the Two Fat Lardies site about Creating a Powerpoint Map to Scale which refers to my own material on Campaign Cartographer 2. Funny world.

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

6 thoughts on “PowerPoint Maps: From CC2 to PowerPoint for Drawing Maps”

  1. Excellent, I always loved the maps and thought I would need cc to reproduce that style. Thanks for showing that we can all achieve them.

  2. I’ve always admired your maps but found CC very counterintuitive. I’m familiar with CorelDraw and Fireworks etc and have often had to inflict ‘death by PowerPoint’ in a professional capacity, but I look forward to seeing how it might be used more creatively.

  3. I am looking forward to your tutorials on this. I, too, use a Mac and have 2011 on it. Can’t wait to put into practice what you teach us.


  4. I never got to finish that thread over on the TFL forum. Had some health issues and honestly just forgot about it, and other things, back then. Getting back into it and found myself back here. Look forward to reading the series!

    The Bane


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