Once a map has been awarded a stamp for gameplay, it is time to set about transforming it into a work of art that would sit comfortably alongside other CC maps in the Viewing Gallery. There are fairly few rules and restrictions about graphics development - graphical benchmarks are subjective and it is difficult to legislate for them: the Foundry Team members are the final arbiters of map quality, and will ultimately judge whether or not a map meets the Conquer Club standard. The few rules we do 'enforce' are listed below:
Graphics Software - You (or your artist) will need some graphics software and a decent understanding of how to use it. Photoshop, Fireworks, and GIMP are the most commonly used platforms by CC mapmakers (though some swear by other programs). Each are good choices because they are layer-based applications, which means that when you alter one element of your image you aren't altering everything else below it, so it is infinitely easier to make the hundreds of updates and changes that will be required. But these programs aren't easy to use - at first you will be taking advantage of only a fraction of their capabilities, and long-time users are still learning new tips and tricks.
Map Ownership and Copyright - Up to two cartographers may receive a medal for working on a map, but one person must have "assigned ownership" of the map imagery, as per the Copyright Agreement:
The author retains copyright on their work, and gives Conquer Club permission to use the imagery free of charge, for as long as Conquer Club sees fit on the Conquer Club website. Conquer Club cannot sell, lease, or lend the right to use the images to anyone else. The author swears that their map is their own work, or a legal derivative work and by submitting it, do hereby claim all responsibility for that being true.
Map Sizes - Each map must eventually be submitted in two sizes. The 'large' map may be up to 840px wide and 800px high. The small map may be up to 630px wide and 600px high. Mapmakers are encouraged to make their 'large' maps smaller than the maximum size limits when possible. The 'large' map must be noticeably larger than the 'small' map; 9% larger is required but 33.3% (1/3) is recommended. The majority of mapmakers begin working on their large image; although it is worth ensuring that everything will remain clear and legible on the small image relatively early during development.
Army Numbers - Army numbers are an essential component of every CC map. Their placement is important - it must be clear which 'territory' each army belongs to, and there must be enough room to fit a three digit number without compromising legibility of borders or labels. You may wish to use CC Army Digit Images to see how the map looks with the addition of army numbers, and to check the placement of 'army circles' if you choose to use them.
Player-Friendliness - The image should present itself as clear and legible. Any information you need to know to play a map should be easy to gather by looking at the map itself:
Borders and attack routes should be clear (or clearly explained if unconventional borders are used).
Bonus regions should be indicated clearly; any non-standard groupings, combinations, and permutations should be clearly explained.
The legend should be clear, concise and consistent; the map itself should be free of unnecessary or cumbersome rules that push it over the line separating complex from confusing.
The image should be subjected to a Colourblind Pallet Check to ensure that regions, attack routes etc. are colourblind friendly.
Thematic Consistency - The look and general appearance of the map should fit with the theme of the map. You will need to consider how all the visual aspects of map fit the theme (pixellated vs smooth borders; bright vs dark; clean vs grunge; compatible font selection, etc. etc.). Here are some questions that you can ask yourself before you make a map. While not every question will be appropriate for every map, they will help you focus your ideas and design:
Who are the characters in the map? (backstory .i.e. why is this map significant or a cool story)
What is your map about?
Where does it take place?
When does it take place?
Why are the events taking place? (again backstory)
How will the events unfold?
Graphical Benchmarks are Subjective The Foundry Team members are the final arbiters of map quality, and will ultimately judge whether or not a map meets the Conquer Club standard.