In this video tutorial, find out how to use the Ortelius Library Manager to manage all of your cartographic styles and symbols.
City-block style maps (sometimes referred to as “European-style”) are characterized by their use of negative space. Shapes – in the form of city blocks – define the positive space, whereas the road areas are negative space. Ortelius excels at designing modern style road maps, with connectable tracks and built-in symbols, and it also has great tools for creating city-block style maps.
Program : Ortelius 1.x+
Topics Covered: Combining Objects
Estimated Completion Time: 45 minutes
In this example, we trace city blocks from this 1892 map of Odessa (Ukraine, formerly Russia), Wagner & Debe. Some cartographic sleuthing: the map is undated, but was possibly produced earlier than 1892, as the Protestant Hospital, completed in 1892, is not shown (source: North Dakota State University Library online).
When setting up our drawing file, the source map is placed on its own layer and a new layer is created, called “Blocks,” to hold our new drawing objects.
Drawing With the Irregular Polygon Tool
Any of Ortelius’ drawing tools can be used when creating city blocks. Your choice of tool will often depend on the layout and orientation of the blocks you are drawing. The Irregular Polygon tool is an extremely flexible choice when blocks are irregular in shape and orientation. Use the Irregular Polygon tool and a color-filled style to draw individual city blocks, clicking on each corner of the shape. When your final point is placed on top of your first point, the polygon will close automatically. Making sure polygons are closed will assure proper display, particularly if blocks are outlined.
Hint: To clip blocks neatly to maps edges, temporarily disable Layer > Clip Objects To Map Layer in the main menu and draw shapes slightly beyond the map border. Enable it again when you are finished drawing your blocks.
Drawing With the Bezier Path Tool
People are sometimes (quite pleasantly) surprised at how advanced Ortelius’ Bezier Path tool is for drawing shapes with straight lines and curves. Choose the Bezier Path tool and a color-filled style. Although you are drawing a path, it will be represented as a filled object when an area style is applied. Single-click on corner points to trace corners; click and drag curve handles to draw curves; hold the CMND or OPT modifier keys while adjusting the curve handles. Placing your last point on top of the first point automatically ends the path. Optionally, you can formally close the path by choosing Edit > Paths & Tracks > Close from the main menu. Curve handles can be further adjusted as needed.
If you are unfamiliar working with Bezier curves in Ortelius, try your hand with our hands-on exercises.
♥ Hands-on exercise. See Ortelius File > New From Template > Exercises & Demos > 2-Paths Exercise.
When faced with situations such as this circle with an internal median area (a classic doughnut!), try drawing the circle using the Oval tool and a line symbol then clipping the area out using the Combine > Difference command. Begin this technique by drawing the positive space (the road) and then subtracting it from the background to create your negative space. This technique is described in detail below.
Draw ‘Positive Space’ In Gridded Areas
Where city blocks are laid out in a regularly gridded pattern you can quickly create blocks using path outlines and a few Combine operations. Begin by drawing the road grid with Paths or Tracks. Note you can draw roads of varying widths. Next, draw the background shape (shown here in green) and send it backward under the roads by choosing Graphic > Send To Back from the main menu. We draw the background shape last so you can see your source map while tracing the roads ;).
Edit > Paths & Tracks > Outline
Next, select the roads and choose Edit > Paths & Tracks > Outline from the main menu to turn the roads from lines into polygons.
Combine > Union
Combine all the new road polygons into a single object by selecting them and choosing Combine > Union from the main menu.
Create ‘Negative Space’ Combine > Difference
With the background and foreground polygons selected, choose Combine > Difference from the main menu. The roads will be subtracted from the background polygon creating negative space. The blocks are a single object when selected.
Combine > Break Apart
If further editing is desired, select the blocks object and choose Combine > Break Apart from the main menu. Each block is now its own individual shape object. Optionally, even further refinement is achieved by selecting a block and converting it from a shape to a path (chose Graphic > Convert To Path from the main menu). Each individual corner node can then be moved and edited. Path objects can be converted back to shape objects at any time.
Working with all blocks as a single object is the most efficient way to re-color and symbolize the map. Once you are satisfied with the layout of the blocks, select all and choose Combine > Append to combine all blocks into a single object again.
Unlike road features drawn with the Track tool, roads in a city-block style map are not objects – they are negative space. Use the Text Box and Text On Path tools to add label text for roads. To label city blocks and other features, right click the objects and choose Add Label.
Some differences between maps with roads as primary feature vs. blocks as primary feature…
neither “right or wrong” it just depends on the style you’re looking for > both use in large scale (local scale) mapping good for showing neighborhoods, towns, small cities;
some applications of city block style > tourism maps, land use planning maps, location maps, campus maps, pedistrian maps, etc.
1. blocks can be easily attributed, e.g., land use/land cover or districts, and new styles applied; can add style components such as shadows to enhance look; because they are negative space and not repersented with objects, street text must be placed with Text tool rather than labeling function associated with point, line, and polygon features;
blocks as focus can result in a more organic looking map with irregular shaped blocks and streets – show nooks and cranies, etc., tends to feature the city blocks as the most prominent feature so good for applications where this is important
2. road maps (with tracks) are more easily labeled using tracks; similar look can be had using cased line styles and connector tracks (show example) though result is more regular spacing; can have background ploygons behind road network to show land use or districts; tends to feature road network as most prominant feature so good for transportation/navigation purposes
Using the techniques described above, you can create your own fully editable European-style city block map. With Ortelius’ slick style swapping, the look of your map is easily updated to create unique versions of this classic map style.
Existing symbols can provide a great starting point for refining and creating new symbols. When a symbol is originally created, it is assigned as a "master" symbol which can be placed unlimited times on your map. Read more
Coastal effects can add interest and texture to your map of land, water, and island areas. These effects help develop a visual hierarchy between land and water areas, an important cartographic principle providing clear separation and focus to the land areas. In addition, such effects lend to the overall style of your map design whether contemporary or historic in nature. Here’s how…
Prepare Your Map for Coastal Effects
Add a new layer to your map called “Land Area.” Begin by drawing coastal and island features.
Join and Close Paths
Along coastlines, paths that meet end-to-end should be joined into single paths for coastal effects to be applied evenly. Select paths and choose Edit > Paths & Tracks > Join from the main menu or use the CTRL-J keyboard shortcut. For stand-alone polygons, such as small islands, the paths should be logically closed. Choose Edit > Paths & Tracks > Close from the main menu. We can see from this example that coastline effects will look uneven when applied to paths which are not closed (top image).
If you have multiple objects in your map, such as small islands along the coastline, combining the objects will ensure the coastal effects are unified. For example, we see when objects are separate (top image) this waterline effect overlaps among adjacent island. To combine objects, select them and choose Graphic > Combine > Append from the main menu. As needed, the objects can be broken apart later for further editing, then re-combined.
Duplicate Active Layer
To apply a variety of coastal effects, duplicate your Land Area layer to use it as a coastline layer. Choose Edit > Duplicate > Active Layer from the main menu – all features from the active layer will be duplicated in place to a new layer with the default name “Copy of —“. Click the name of the copied layer in the Layers list and rename as desired, for example name it “Coastlines.” Drag the coastlines layer to be under your land area layer in the Layers list. Make Coastlines your active layer and select the features. You are now ready to apply the coastal effect of your choice.
Waterlining, used on many historic maps, was a popular effect achieved by talented engravers. Waterlining has proved less-so today due in part to the relative difficultly to reproduce digitally, particularly among traditional GIS mapping software programs. With its robust Style Inspector, Ortelius makes waterlining straightforward.
The effect here uses style “Waterline” available in the Ortelius default symbol set. Note the even application of waterlines around islands and inlets.
Referred to as “coastal vignette,” a glow or blur applied to the coastline is a common technique used by cartographers. It provides a striking contrast between land and water areas.
This effect uses the style “Grey Blur” available in the Ortelius default symbol set. Note the even application around islands and inlets. This is quite similar to adding a simple shadow to your fill style with minimum shadow distance and maximum shadow blur. Other available styles, such as “Gaussian Blur – Outer Glow” provide similar effect with slight differences, such as more concentrated color around bays and inlets. The key here is it’s incredibly easy to change styles to see what works best in a given situation. And remember, you can always have fun experimenting with new effects and Clones of existing styles.
A color-wash along the coastlines is a more natural looking effect than waterlining, offering subtle variation and texture. Here, we use the style “Waterline Wash” available in the Ortelius default symbol set. Because it uses semi-transparent colors, this particular style also provides a pleasing effect when the Coastlines layer is on-top of the Land Area layer rather than under it. For another interesting effect, try hand drawing a highly simplified version of the coastline with this style, applied over a more detailed land area.
As with all Ortelius default styles, you can Clone the style and edit it to suit your purpose, such as changing the color or transparency of the strokes and fills.
An alternative to a separate coastline effect, a shadow can be applied to the main Land Area polygons’ style proving striking visual appeal that makes the land areas “pop” off the page. To add a shadow to an existing style, select the feature and open the Style Inspector – Simple pane. Click the “Clone” button. You’ll now be modifying a clone of the style without altering the original. Check the box to add a shadow to the fill. Adjust the rotation angle, distance, and blur using the controls, and change the color and transparency as needed.
Try adding a simple shadow to your fill style and make the color white, with minimum shadow distance and maximum shadow blur. When you apply a solid blue (water) fill style to a New Border Layer you can achieve lovely results.
If desired, click the Expert pane in the Style Inspector to name and save your new style to the Library.
Many styles are available or can be created to enhance the visual appeal and hierarchy of coastal elements on your map. When selecting a style, consider the overall look you wish to achieve and how your coastal effect should blend or contrast with other map features.
Note that some of the coastal effects presented here (as well as ones you make on your own) may be graphically demanding and can slow performance with large and detailed files. For example, highly detailed coastlines imported from GIS shapefiles can slow performance when these effects are applied. One way to overcome this is by first simplifying your map data on shapefile import or using an external application such as MapShaper.org.
Ortelius has many subtle methods for fine-tuning your cartographic work. One of these niceties is the point of origin, or center point, around which objects and symbols rotate and snap. Adjusting an object’s point of origin is simple and direct. Here’s how…
Point of Origin
The point of origin of shapes, symbols, grouped objects, and images is represented with a blue “target” originally rendered at the center of the object. To change the point of origin, simply hold the Command-key then grab onto the blue target and move it to any location within the object’s bounding box.
Object Rotation Pivot Point
The direct rotate knob is represented with a purple handle offset to the right of the object’s center. Simply grab the rotate knob and move to rotate the object. The rotation pivots around the object’s point of origin. To change the point of origin, simply hold the Command-key then grab it and move it to any location within the object’s bounding box. Object rotation will now pivot around the new point of origin.
Resetting the Bounding Box
After rotating and/or adjusting the point of origin of an object, you can reset the bounding box to perpendicular and return the point of origin to the center of the object. Select the object and choose Graphic > Reset Bounding Box from the main menu. As expected, the object’s appearance does not change, just its bounding box.
Point of Origin on Symbol Adornments
When symbols are created, they retain the point of origin of the original object on which they are based.
Symbols are placed on tracks as a “adornments,” and are snapped to the track at their point of origin. Typically a symbol is centered on the path with its central point of origin. In some circumstances, it may be useful to have a point of origin that is off-center. For example, for floor plans, doors are placed to show the door opening outward from a wall. When placing a door symbol (available in the Ortelius default symbol set) on a wall drawn with a track tool, a door must be offset to one side of the wall. If you look closely at a door symbol while it is not snapped onto a track, you will see this is accomplished with an off-center point of origin.
Before the symbol is created, adjust the point of origin. The symbol retains this point of origin. When snapped to a track, the symbol adornment is offset based on its point of origin. The side of the line the offset symbol appears on is based on the drawing direction of the track. The adornment can later be rotated by right-clicking it and choosing the desired rotation setting from the context menu.
Sometimes static text (as opposed to dynamic text like route numbers) is an integral part of a symbol. These symbols may be re-scaled and shared for different purposes, such as placement in a legend and reuse at a different size within a brochure or book. For maximum scalability and consistency with complex symbols, convert text objects to shapes when creating a symbol. Your symbols will always look right, even when shared with people who don’t have the same fonts loaded on their system. Here’s how…
Complex Symbol Objects
Map symbols in Ortelius can be composed of any combination of shapes, paths, graphics, and text. However, problems can occur when text objects within a group or symbol are re-scaled, or when a symbol is shared with a user who doesn’t have the same font loaded on their system. The solution is to convert the text to a shape after you are satisfied with the color, font, size, and style. In this way, the text will not change unexpectedly when scaled or if the symbol is used on another system or other vector editing program (such as Illustrator) without the proper font.
We’ll examine a fairly detailed symbol of a First Armored Division patch created by one of our customers. Color and grey-scale versions, and the original patch this symbol is modeled after, are shown.
Convert To Shape
Select the text and choose Graphic > Convert To Shape in the main menu or from the right-click context menu. When the shape is grouped with the other objects and turned into a symbol it will scale properly. Shapes cannot be converted back to text objects. In this example, the text “Old Ironsides” and “1” would be converted to shape before creating the symbol.
Note that some symbols, such as road shields and sequence markers, are designed with dynamic labels that read the feature’s attribute information. This dynamic text should not be converted to shape.
To complete the symbol process, group the objects and choose Edit > Create Symbol from the main menu. Name your symbol and assign it to an appropriate category, then click the Create button. It will be added to your Library as a symbol master.
A special thanks to Mr. Richard Brummett for allowing us to use his his work in this tutorial. These and several other crests, patches, and maps were created exclusively with Ortelius by Richard to accompany the upcoming book “Search and Destroy” by Keith W. Nolan and published by Zenith Press of Minneapolis (anticipated July 2010). Keith died last February at age 44 and this will be his twelfth and final book on the Viet Nam War.
When you need to map points of interest with numbered placemarkers, look no further than Ortelius’ smart Sequence Markers. These symbols save time and sanity. Place Sequence Markers just like any other symbol and they’ll automatically number themselves 1,2,3… (we should call them magic).
Our customers have been finding Sequence Markers really useful, and with their suggestions we’ve made Sequence Markers even better. This tutorial demonstrates some of the advanced (and super easy) Sequence Marker features.
Placing Sequence Markers
Use Sequence Markers over your own custom maps, aerial photographs, even scanned maps and drawings.
Like all symbols, quickly find Sequence Markers in the Symbols palette by typing “sequence” into the palette’s search bar. Note, you won’t see any numbers when viewing the markers in the palette. Choose a marker and place it using the Symbol Stamp tool. Markers automatically number themselves 1, 2, 3… in the order in which they are placed.
Instantly Re-Order the Sequence
Wow. Sometimes you change your mind pretty fast. Shouldn’t you be able to change the order of Sequence Markers just as quickly? Ortelius provides several ways to re-order sequence numbers to fit the way you work best.
Delete re-orders the sequence
After placing a series of Sequence Markers, if a marker in the series is deleted the remaining markers will automatically renumber so there are no gaps in the sequence.
Grouping re-orders sequence
Grouping two or more markers in the sequence will automatically renumber the grouped markers, placing the grouped markers at the end of the sequence.
Use Object Inspector to re-order sequence
Change a the sequence of a marker from the Object Inspector – Features pane. Select a marker and use the up and down arrows under “Sequence” to edit the selected marker’s sequence number.
Edit > Symbols > Sequence to re-order sequence
Changes to the sequence can be made by selecting a marker and choosing options from Edit > Symbols > Sequence in the main menu. Options include “Move to start,” “Move to end,” “Move backward,” and “Move forward.”
Note, as with any symbol you can also change the scale of sequence markers from the Object Inspector – Features pane.
On-the-Fly Sequence Type
Need numeric, roman numerals, alphabetic? No problem.
Sequence markers can be switched to different types, such as numeric (1,2,3…), alphabetical (A,B,C…), roman numeral (I, II, III…), just choose the type in the Object Inspector – Features pane when a sequence marker is selected. Alternatively, choose Edit > Symbol > Sequence > and choose the type. Changing the marker type applies to all markers in the active sequence.
Ortelius is packed with hundreds of styles and symbols. Now it’s easier than ever to make fine adjustments to symbol sizes on your map. Here’s how…
Manually Scale Symbol
Individual symbols can be resized, or scaled, directly by grabbing the lower-right sizing handle on the symbol and dragging inward or outward.
Note, symbols in the Library are “master symbols.” When you place a symbol on your map with the Symbol Stamp tool, you place a copy, or instance, of the master on your map. When you make changes to that instance, such as changing the scale of a symbol, the master symbol is unaffected by the change.
Set Scale Factor Using the Object Inspector
Select one or more symbol and adjust the scale factor from the Object Inspector – Features pane. Scale can be adjusted via the slider bar or by entering a percent scale factor. As of Ortelius release 1.0.6, multiple symbols can be scale at one time. It’s that easy!
Pre-scale Map Symbols
On occasion, mappers may work with a symbol set that is based on exacting symbol specifications. For example, symbols for the International Specification for Orienteering Maps are sized according to exact specifications for viewing at a particular scale (1:15,000). Their specification allows symbols to be rendered at 150% for viewing on 1:10,000 maps. Ortelius makes it easy to pre-scale all map symbols to before they are even placed on your map. Choose File > Drawing Setup in the main menu to set the pre-scale factor. Note, under most circumstances this setting should remain at the default 100%.
Maps are tremendous genealogical tools to help build a more comprehensive understanding of what life was like for your ancestors, looking at locations, migration routes, political boundaries, and more. Custom maps let you personalize the historical geography and highlight features relevant to family reports, documents, and photographs.
Here is an example of a family history map made with Ortelius showing the northeast Italian region of Udine (c. 1910). Click here to view a PDF export of the finished map in all its glory.
Tracing Source Maps
Two common techniques for creating custom maps from a source map are 1) to draw over an existing map or aerial photograph highlighting features and adding new information, while leaving the original source map as the background image, and 2) tracing relevant features and then “turning off” the source map, thus resulting in a completely new map.
Remember to consider copyright issues if you intend to publish your finished map and it includes a copyrighted source map.
Finding Source Maps
Finding source maps for tracing can sometimes be a challenge. Fortunately there are many sources of current and historical maps available online. Our example of Drenchia and Stregna, Italy is made by tracing parts of a 1909 source map from the Third Military Mapping Survey of Austria-Hungary. When looking for source map material, try a Google search of the location and date. Here are a few of our favorite historical map sites, many available for download or online viewing:
- David Rumsey Map Collection
- The Map Room – Antique Maps
- Maps Etc. – Historic Maps for Students & Teachers
- Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection
For more local scale mapping, try your local government agency plat maps and local library collections. In U.S. urban areas, search for Sanborn Fire Insurance maps available at many public and university libraries. Historic railroad and survey maps can also be valuable source material.
After finding the right source map, decide on your page layout and map size. If you aren’t familiar with using Ortelius’ drawing tools, the Ortelius’ Getting Started With Ortelius guide (PDF version 6.77MB) and Getting Started are a great place to start.
Genealogy maps are a fun and interesting way to incorporate the spirit of place into your family history. Ortelius comes prepackaged with hundreds of styles and symbols, and it is easy to create your own custom maps. If you are making a series of maps, consider using a consistent style of colors and map symbols throughout to give your maps a unified look and feel.
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.
- Open the Style Inspector and choose “New Style” from the drop-down Action Menu (looks like a gear).
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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).
- 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.
- Name the style and add it to the Library if you want to keep it for future use.
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.
Program : Ortelius 1.0+ for Mac OSX
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
With 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!