How To Draw Complex Road Networks, Automatic Junctions

Lay out your next road map using Ortelius’ special cartography tools. Create a complex road network with smoothly joining intersections following these three simple steps:

  • Draw roads using Ortelius’ Cartography tools
  • Optionally, name your roads in the Object Inspector
  • Use the Cut Path tool to form automatic junctions at desired intersections (new with v.1.0.3)

Establish the Road Network

media_1253127460051The first step in establishing your road network is to lay out your roads. Sometimes roads cross over or under each other and you’ll want to maintain that visual relationship. More often, roads will intersect and you’ll want your map to show nice clean, connected junctions. When using Ortelius’ Track tools, end points of tracks will form automatic junctions. As seen in this example, crossing lines will overlap each other. That’s what you want in the first step, we’ll finish off these intersections in step #3.

Use the Ortelius Track tools to draw road features. Select an appropriate road style from the Symbols Palette and draw or trace your roads.

Name Your Road Features


If you’ll be labeling your road map, this is a good time to add road names. Adding road names now will assure that the names carry over to tracks even after they are split in step #3.

Add names to your road features in the Object Inspector. Open the Object Inspector and choose the Attributes pane. When you select a road segment its attribute information will be visible in this pane. Click the “+” button in the bottom left corner of this pane and add a text “string.” The identifier “Name” will be added to the table and you can type in the feature name. Click onto the next road feature and repeat.

Note that in this step the road name labels are not added directly to your map. Using the Object Inspector is a quick way to this build information behind your map. With your feature information in place, adding labels to roads will become a joy rather than a burden, as it offers maximum versatility for label placement, style, and editing.

Related topic: Intelligent Labels (this video tutorial shows how to add attribute information to point features – use the same method for linear and shape features).

Click Intersections to Finish Automatic Junctions


Choose the Cut Path tool and click once onto the top track at each road crossing where you’d like connected intersections. The road’s path will be split and junctions will be created fully, automatically.

HINT: If you are creating a map for an area that you will want to re-use later, you can save your drawing file as a map template. Choose File > Save As and choose “Save as a Template” in the main menu.

Editing Roads in a Network


As you continue to work, an interconnected network of roads and junctions is created. When a single road is moved, its connector (child) roads move with it. To prevent roads from getting tangled, if you need to move a road with many connectors, use the Object Inspector to disconnect all junctions before moving it.