States I've Visited Map - Using Ortelius Templates

Oh, The Places You’ve Been! Working With Ortelius Map Templates

Ortelius delivers with dozens of world, region, and country outline templates. Using styles, symbols, and labels, these maps are easily customized. We’ll create a map from start-to-finish that shows the states we’ve visited. Find out how to modify any template map to make it your own.

Tutorial Details

Program : Ortelius 1.9+ for Mac OS X
Difficulty: Beginner
Topics Covered: Customizing Map Templates
Estimated Completion Time: about 45 minutes

Step 1

When first launching Ortelius, you are presented with the Template Browser. You can access templates at any time by choosing File > New From Template… in the main menu. In the “Countries” folder, choose the “United States 2” template and click “New.”

Prefer doing things hands-on? Give it a try…


Step 2

When the template file first opens, you’ll notice it is organized by layers of information. Layers are used to keep your map organized and are discrete – you can only select drawing objects that are in the active layer. Click onto  the “States / Provinces”  layer in the Layers list to make it active. Note, the white arrow indicated the layer is active. A small white dot next to a layer name  indicates a layer is not active, but has some objects still selected within the layer (not shown). Layers can be dragged to re-order.

Step 3

The first thing we’ll do is add labels to the states. Unlike a standard vector drawing program, Ortelius drawing objects can have attribute information stored “behind” the objects. In templates, names are stored and can be used as labels.

With the Select tool, click onto the drawing canvas to make it the focus. Choose Edit > Select All from the main menu (or CMND-A keyboard shortcut). Since “States” is the active layer, all objects within that layer are selected.

Choose Edit > Labels & Text > New Label to automatically add labels for all the selected states. Labels are automatically generated and placed in the weighted center of each drawing object. Note, Ortelius can use any attribute information that is stored for an object as its label. By default, Ortelius uses the attribute “Name” if it exists.

Step 4

Next, we’ll color the states that we’ve visited. First, open the Styles & Symbols palette by clicking its icon on the toolbar. Use the Library drop-down button in the palette to choose the “Color Regions / Territories” category in the built-in collection. This category is filled with styles based on ColorBrewer map color schemes that are specifically designed for quantitative and qualitative maps.

Now, with the “States / Provinces” layer still active, use the Select tool while holding the SHIFT-key to select multiple states. Try to avoid clicking the labels – you can do a few states at a time, and zoom-in as needed. With your desired states selected, double-click onto a style in the Styles & Symbols palette to apply it to your selection. We are using the “Diverging Purple-Orange 2” style.

Step 5

Now let’s color the states we have not visited purple. We could use the Select tool like we did in Step 4, but let’s learn how to use Advanced Find... to quickly make our selection. On the Ortelius toolbar you will see the Find Objects search bar. The little triangle in the search bar opens a drop-down menu. Choose Advanced Find… to open the dialog.

Use this dialog to choose “Style Name” from the first drop-down field. We are searching for objects that contain the word “orange” in the style name. Type “orange” and click “Find.” This will search and select matching objects on the currently active layer.

Step 6

So we’ve quickly selected all the states we’ve already colored orange, now let’s invert the selection. Choose Edit > Select Others from the main menu to switch the selection. Double-click the “Diverging Purple-Orange 6” style to apply a purple style to your selected objects.

Step 7

Let’s make the background of the map a light purple to go with our color scheme. Ortelius has a special “Border Layer” layer that can be quickly filled with any style. Click onto “Border Layer” in the layers list to make it active. Now drag a style from the Styles & Symbols palette and drop it directly onto your drawing canvas (we’re using the “Diverging Purple-Orange 5” style). Ta-da! The border layer is now purple. You can apply fill styles to the border layer like we did here, or line styles to create more of a neat-line frame around your map.

HINT: In addition to double-clicking to apply a style to existing objects, you can drag styles from the palette onto any drawing object.

Step 8

When you add labels in Ortelius, they are placed automatically in the weighted center of the drawing object. Sometimes you’ll want to make adjustments to a label’s placement. With the Select tool, click onto a label to select it and move it around into one of nine standard click positions. Hold the SHIFT-key while moving a label to free-move it into any position. Right-click a label to open its context menu revealing more option, such as “Show Leader Line.”

Here, we’ve made some minor adjustment to the state label positions, and added a leader line for the District of Columbia.

Step 9

Now let’s add a map key (or legend). Click onto the “Title and Text” layer in the layers list to make it active, since that is the layer on which we want to place the legend. In the Styles & Symbols palette, use the Library drop-down button to go to “Map Elements > Legends & Inset Maps” in the built-in collection. Drag the first item “Legend 1” from the palette onto your drawing canvas. This is a special symbol that has already been detached from its master to make it easy to edit.

Now let’s edit the legend. Since this is a complex graphic made from a group of objects, it must be un-grouped for editing. With the Select tool, click onto the legend and choose Graphic > Ungroup from the main menu (or from the right-click contextual menu). This legend had three items, so we’ve deleted one. Double-click onto the text to edit it. We renamed the legend “Places I’ve Been” and the items “Visited” and “Not Visited.” Lastly, we return to “Color Regions” in the Styles & Symbols palette and drag-and-drop the orange and purple styles onto the legend key boxes.

Step 10

A map’s title should be brief and descriptive. With the Select tool, double-click the title to edit the text.

To change fonts, select the title text and open the Fonts palette. Choose your desired font and size. Here we’ve used a fun little font called “2Peas Flea Market” to add a bit of whimsy to our map (font size 72-pts). Drag the text box object handles to adjust its size as needed.

Step 11

Finally, we want to polish off our map by modifying the map scale color scheme. Use the Zoom-in tool to get a closer view as desired. With the Select tool, click onto the scale bar (we are still on the “Title and Text” layer). Click the Object Inspector icon on the toolbar and open the Object Inspector – Features pane. The Object Inspector is context-sensitive – it knows what type of object you have selected and presents available options. To edit the scale bar’s alternating colors, click onto the color-well at the lower-right of the Object Inspector window. The Colors palette will open. To select the color, click the little magnifying-glass icon in the Colors palette and click onto your drawing over the color you want. The Colors palette color-well will adopt your selected color for a perfect match.

To quickly zoom-out to your entire map view, double-click the Pan tool.

Step 12

Your finished map can be saved, exported to a variety of file format options, and printed.

We are printing our map. Adjust your page settings for paper size and orientation as needed by choosing File > Page Setup… in the main menu. To print, choose File > Print… from the main menu. Often the maps you create may be bigger than the paper size in your printer. Ortelius can poster-tile larger maps over multiple printed sheets to be fitted together after printing. To print your entire map to a single page, be sure to check “Fit to Single Page” in the Ortelius print dialog.

Final Image

Congratulations! You’ve completed a custom map from template – and it looks like I’ve got some more places to visit! There is a lot you can do with templates – more or less than what we’ve presented here. We hope you’ve also learned a few tricks for applying styles, editing text, using advanced find, and more. What other topics can you use with map templates? We’d love to see what you come up with!