Designing Tapered Rivers with Flowing Styles

Ortelius Tutorials

Ortelius has always had great tools to create smooth meandering rivers & streams. Now they can look even better with naturally tapering ends. We’ve added an expert Tapered Stroke component to the Style Inspector – you can use it to design your own creative map styles. Here’s how…

Draw a Line To Preview Your New Style As It Is Built


Draw a line on the Ortelius drawing canvas so you can preview your changes as you build a new style. Open the Style Inspector and navigate to the “Expert” pane. Keep your line selected for the next step.

Create New Style


From the Action Menu (looks like a gear), choose “New Style” from the drop-down list. A new ad-hoc style will be created ready for your use. Alternatively, choose “Clone Style” to create an new ad-hoc style based on the current one.

Add a Tapered Stroke


Add a Tapered Stroke Style Component from the drop-down list by clicking the “+” button. You won’t be using the Fill and Stroke Style Components so they can be removed from the list by clicking the “–” button. Next, we’ll adjust the settings on your new style.


Adjust the line width of your river style. From upstream to downstream your river widths will become wider (or thicker). Plan on creating a set of 2 or 3+ stroke styles of varying widths that can be “nested” in your river hierarchy, the upper-most being your tapered stroke.

For example, this tapered style will represent the upper-most river segments that will flow into other down-stream river segments. We’ll create a 2-pt width tapered stroke to flow into a 2-pt width (non-tapered) segment, and then a 3-pt width (non-tapered) segment.

Click the color well to open the Colors panel and choose a new color. You can also adjust the percent and type of taper – we’ll keep the default settings as they work really nicely for rivers. Then uncheck the “Right” setting so your stroke is only tapered on one end.

HINT: When you draw your rivers in the direction from upstream to downstream the taper will be the upstream end. You can always choose Edit > Paths & Tracks > Reverse if you need to flip the direction of the taper.

Add Style To Library


Click at the top of the Style Components list to return to the main Style Inspector window. Type in a name for your new style and click the “Add Style To Library” button. You’ll be prompted to assign the style to an appropriate category and the style will be saved to the Library.


Your new styles are ready for use. Choose a tool, such as the Freehand Track, pick your style from the Styles & Symbols palette, and draw. Styles can also be applied to imported GIS maps.

HINT: To make a smooth transition between two tracks of varying line widths or styles, select the tracks and choose Edit > Paths & Tracks > Join or use the CMND-J keyboard shortcut. A smooth transition will be automatically created between line styles. Smooth transitions apply to connectable tracks, not regular paths.

Be Sociable, Share!

Related Topics

  1. Randomized Patterns Make Interesting Map Fills
  2. Make a Dot Screen Pattern Map Style
  3. Create a Dashing Stroke Style
  4. Drawing City-Block Style Maps
  5. Creating Expert Styles

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.
This site uses a Hackadelic PlugIn, Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.2.