Create Square, Diamond, Hex Repeating Grid Patterns

Create interesting repeating grid patterns with the Hatch Fill and Pattern Fill components in the Ortelius Style Inspector. A wide variety of repeating patterns, including square and hexagonal grids, are available in the default style set. Here’s how to get creative with your own.


Using the Hatch Fill Component

Simple grid patterns are made super easy with Hatch Fill. First draw a largish shape on your drawing canvas. With this shape selected your new style will be applied so you can view your pattern as you create it.

  1. Open the Style Inspector and choose “New Style” from the drop-down Action Menu (looks like a gear).
  2. To create any regular grid, you’ll overlay two sets of lines at 90-degree angles from each other. Do this by adding “+” a Hatch Fill component and setting your line style. You can adjust color, width, spacing, and even make rough wobbly lines.
  3. Next, under the Action Menu, choose “Duplicate Style Component” to add an exact copy. In this second Hatch Fill component, change the angle of the style so it is 90-degrees from the first (for demonstration we’ve also changed the color).
  4. You’ve just created your first grid! Name the style and add it to the Library if you want to keep it for future use.

Grid Using Hatch Fill

Try a diamond pattern by setting the first Hatch Fill angle to 45-degrees and the second Hatch Fill to 135-degrees. Voila, a diamond grid!

Using the Pattern Fill Component

For more complex grids use the Pattern Fill component. In the Style Inspector, choose “New Style” from the drop-down Action Menu. To create your custom fill pattern, we need to create the smallest possible element that can be repeated in a pattern. The following shows a hexagonal pattern, and the red rectangle shows where the pattern repeats:Repeating Pattern in Hex Grid

  1. First create the drawing element(s) that will be the building block for your pattern (see the hint below for hex patterns). In your drawing area, use the drawing tools to draw the repeating portion of your pattern. On most grid patterns, the key is to have equidistant lines for a regular grid.
  2. After you’ve completed your drawing element, copy it and work with the copy (that way you’ll have the original if you want to tweek it a bit more). Working with the copy, select your drawing objects and use the Graphics > Combine > Append function from the main menu. (This is mostly done for efficiency – to make the shape smaller and simpler. You could just as easily group them together, but Ortelius likes Append since it creates a single shape. It’s smaller on disk and probably adds slightly to performance since there’s less data to read.)
  3. Then, simply copy and paste the graphic into the pattern-well in the Style Inspector to create the repeating pattern. Adjust your pattern settings (size, spacing, etc).
  4. Some patterns will use more than one instance of the Pattern Fill component. For instance, a hexagonal grid requires two Pattern Fill components – one for the left side of the pattern and one for the right.
  5. Name the style and add it to the Library if you want to keep it for future use.
Left and right side of hex pattern elements, with orange spacers

Left and right side of hex pattern elements, with orange spacers

HINT: With a hexagonal grid, we need two pattern elements (the left and right sides of the pattern) and spacers need inserted to achieve the desired results. Make the color of your spacers fully transparent so they don’t show on your end result (here we’ve colored them orange). Create one side of the element first, then group, copy/paste, and flip it to create the other element. Look at an existing hex pattern from the Style Inspector to get ideas on the settings. Finally, if you will be layering the grid pattern on top of your map, make sure there is no solid fill as part of your pattern.

Making Fun Map Title Text in Ortelius

Whether formal or informal, your choice of fonts will set the mood and help to weave the story being told by your map. Map text doesn’t need to be dry and stodgy. Introduce a creative element in you next map graphic through the use of text shapes with custom fill styles.
The key to success with this approach is moderation – for example, get creative with the title and choose a complimentary font throughout the rest of your map that is simple and unassuming. Your goal is to express a bit of whimsy while maintaining legibility and overall balance.

Tutorial Details

Program : Ortelius 1.0+ for Mac OSX
Difficulty: Beginner
Topics Covered: Converting Text to Shape; Styles
Estimated Completion Time: 10-15 minutes

Step 1. Add Text To Your Map Canvas


Use the Text Box or Text On Path tool to add a title to your map.

Step 2. Choose a Font

Choose_a_FontWith your text selected, open the Font palette. Choose a wide or heavy font that matches the style you’re after and will look good as an outline. The font you choose will be the basis for the text shapes. In this example we use Geodesic. Adjust the point size as necessary.

HINT: After switching fonts and sizes, you may need to grab the handles of the text box to enlarge it to expose the larger text. Alternatively, right-click the text box and choose Fit To Text from the context menu.

Step3. Convert to Shape and Break Apart


Select the text and choose Graphic > Convert To > Shape from the main menu. Alternatively, right-click the text and choose Convert To > Shape from the context menu.

Next, choose Graphic > Combine > Break Apart from the main menu. This step will convert each letter into an individual shape object.

Note, text can also be converted to individual objects with paths to further modify the shape of individual letters. Choose Graphic > Convert To > Path from the main menu. Convert back to shape after modification as this will keep your drawing more efficient.

Step 4. Add Style to Letter Shapes


Open the Symbols palette. To change the style of a letter, select a letter shape and then choose a style from the Symbols palette. In this example, we’ve chosen various styles from the Patterns & Textures category.

Note that after converting your text to individual shapes, the negative space inside letters such as “o” and “d” (the “counters”) have also been converted to separate shapes. These can be colored or styled individually. If you prefer an empty space, select the counters and letter shape and choose Graphic > Combine > Difference to subtract the inside piece from the main letter shape. In this example we’ve chosen to leave the counters black.

Step 5. Re-Group

When you’re all done making your text fancy, select all the letter shapes and choose Graphic > Group (or use the Command-G keyboard shortcut) to group and keep letter shapes together. Have fun making interesting and unique title text for your maps!