Drawing Roads

Use Cartography Tools to Draw Roads


We’ve set up our drawing file with a source map to trace over, so let’s add a layer to hold our roads.

Choose the Freehand Track tool from the Drawing Tools and a road style from the Symbols Palette. Ortelius comes packed with road styles or you can create your own. We’ll use a yellow-cased road style.

Sticky Tools


HINT: For repeated use, tools can be made “sticky.” Click a tool once to “turn it on” and use it once. Afterward, you’ll default back to the direct Select tool. To use a tool repeatedly, for instance to place multiple symbols, ?double click the tool to make it “sticky.” All tools will be in the “sticky state” until you double-click again on any tool to release them.


For the minor road, we’ll use the Curved Track tool and a narrower line style. If you aren’t used to drawing with Bezier curves it may take a bit of practice. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll enjoy the smooth appearance and control these curves offer.

As we add roads to our network, the power of Ortelius’ cartography tools really shines. Notice how clean junctions are made, fully automatically. To change a style, just select the features and choose a new road style from the Symbols Palette.

If you don’t get your lines perfect the first time you can edit points and curve handles later as necessary.

Add Road Name


We’re almost done. First lets add some road names and a few highway shields. Using the Object Inspector, you can add multiple attributes as information behind your map features. This may be a new concept for some designers as attributes aren’t used in traditional graphics programs. Ortelius is smart about labels – if the feature has a NAME it will find it and use it for the label. We’ll also add a route number for this same road.


Now, lets highlight the road with the Linear Select tool and right-click to choose “New Label.” Notice how the road name pops right in, a great time-saving feature when adding lots of labels.

Free-text Road Name


An alternative way to add labels is with free-text. Highlight the road and choose “New Label.” No attribute information exists so it just reads “Label.” Double-click to edit the text. Just ignore the “Name” tag and start typing. Like tunnels, you can use the label handles for perfect positioning every time. When you move it, it will follow the path of the road.

Finished Road Network


Your road network is complete and ready to add points of interest and other finishing touches.