Get Started Drawing

Drawing objects go hand-in-hand with the styles that fill and outline them. In fact, the formula for drawing in Ortelius is “Drawing Tool + Style = Draw”

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Get Started Drawing

Drawing in Artboard is easy – simply pick a tool, choose a style, and draw.

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The Format Bar in Ortelius

The Format Bar sits above the horizontal ruler and is designed to provide quick access to create and edit simple fill and stroke styles. It provides access to these stroke style components: color, stroke width, dashes, end-caps and corner joints; and fill style components: color and shadow.

NOTE: Complex styles, such as such as those containing arrows, hatches, patterns, or gradients, are created and edited using the Style Inspector.

Using the Format Bar

  1. Choose View > Show (or Hide) Rulers & Format Bar from the main menu.

To Draw Using Styles Created in the Format Bar:

  1. Choose a drawing tool from the Tools palette.
  2. Start drawing.
  3. In the Format Bar, edit the style properties as desired.
  4. Continue drawing (subsequent objects have the same style properties until they are changed).

Go way beyond simple fill and stroke… see Using the Style Inspector for detailed information about creating expert stacked styles and editing library styles.

To Change Styles in the Format Bar:

Do one of the following:

  • While drawing, edit the style properties as desired, and continue drawing (subsequent objects have the same style properties until they are changed).
  • Click the ‘Reset’ button in the Format Bar to reset to the default style, edit the style properties as desired, and continue drawing (subsequent objects have the same style properties until they are changed).

To Format a Simple Style:

With an object selected, do one or more of the following:

  • Click the checkmarks in the Format Bar to turn stroke and fill on or off as desired.
  • Press and hold the color-wells to display the color array, or click once on the color-well to open the Colors panel.
  • Set line width with the drop-down line width list or the slider.
  • Continue drawing with the style you have defined.

Text Labeling Linear Features

Ortelius’ connectable tracks are labeled with the help of the Linear Select tool. The label is placed in either the default style and positioned above the track, or its style and position will be based on the Label Adornment style that has been applied. Once placed, the label is fully editable. Labels follow the path of their associated linear features. If the path is moved, the label moves with it.

To Add Labels to Tracks:

  1. Choose the Linear Select [n] tool to highlight the connectable track where your label will be placed.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Choose Edit > Labels & Text > New Label from the main menu.
  • Right-click the selected area and choose ‘New Label’ from the contextual menu. A highlighted label “bubble” shows where the label has been placed.
  • Double-click the label bubble to edit the label text as desired.

HINT: Labels support multi-line text. Press OPTION-Return or SHIFT-Return on the keyboard to manually insert a line break.

HINT: Linear Select and associated labels apply only to connectable tracks. To convert a path to a connectable track, select the path(s) and choose Graphic > Convert To > Connectable Track from the main menu. Line shapefiles features are imported as paths. If labels are desired, converting paths to tracks is a necessary step after importing. Some features, such as roads, it may be desirable to join multiple line segments.

About ‘Just-Right Positioning’ of Linear Feature Labels:


Linear feature labels have handles for just-right positioning similar to the concept of handles with Bezier curves.

  • To control placement, the left handle (yellow diamond) slides the label along the track.
  • The right handle (orange diamond) controls the spread, or overall width, of the label along the line.
  • The handle on top (blue diamond) controls the vertical alignment of the label with respect to the line, moving the label up or down for perfect positioning.

To Flip a Label:

  1. Choose the Select [s] tool.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Select the label and choose Edit > Labels & Text > Flip Label from the main menu.
  • Right-click on the label and choose ‘Flip Label’ to change the orientation of the label relative to the line.

To Smooth a Label on a Complex Track:


As with other curved text, it is good practice to keep linear text labels as simple as possible. Usually this means selecting a relatively straight section of the line to place your label.

Do one of the following:

  • To place smoothly curved labels on lines with complex, sinuous routes, right-click the label and choose ‘Follow Trend Of Path’ to enable basic label simplification.
  • Right-click the label and choose ‘Detach From Feature’. The result is a Text On Path object. Adjust its curve handles as desired.

To Copy a Label to Multiple Tracks:

  1. Add a label to a track.
  2. Position and edit style and content as desired.
  3. Do one of the following:

Right-click the label and choose ‘Copy Label’ from the contextual menu.
Choose Edit > Labels & Text > Copy Label from the main menu.

4. Select other tracks.
5. Choose Edit > Labels & Text > Paste Label from the main menu. The label, including its content, style, and positioning, will be copied to the other features.

HINT: Multiple labels can be placed along a line. Each one can have its own style and placement, as appropriate to your map.

A Graphic Design Primer, 1: The Elements of a Design. Noupe Article.

Whether intro for beginners or as a refresher for those looking to brush up on the basics, this graphic design primer explains the various elements of a design in a clear, digestible way. In this article, author Cameron Chapman reviews the seven basic elements of any design: Line, Form, Shape, Texture, Color, Value, and Space. Read more