map draw rivers with tapered strokes

Designing Tapered Rivers with Flowing Styles

Ortelius has always had great tools to create smooth meandering rivers & streams. Now they can look even better with naturally tapering ends. We’ve added an expert Tapered Stroke component to the Style Inspector – you can use it to design your own creative map styles. Here’s how…

Tutorial Details

Program: Ortelius 1.7+ for Mac OS X
Difficulty: Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced
Topics Covered: Style Inspector
Estimated Completion Time: 15 minutes

Draw a Line To Preview Your New Style As It Is Built

Draw a line on the Ortelius drawing canvas so you can preview your changes as you build a new style. Open the Style Inspector. Keep your line selected for the next step.

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


Create New Style and Add a Tapered Stroke


Choose ‘Reset’ to create a new ad-hoc style ready for your use.

Add a Tapered Stroke Style Component from the drop-down list by clicking the “+” button. You won’t be using the Fill and Stroke Style Components so they can be removed from the list by clicking the “–” button. Next, we’ll adjust the settings on your new style.

Make Adjustments


Adjust the line width of your river style. From upstream to downstream your river widths will become wider (or thicker). Plan on creating a set of 2 or 3+ stroke styles of varying widths that can be “nested” in your river hierarchy, the upper-most being your tapered stroke.

For example, this tapered style will represent the upper-most river segments that will flow into other down-stream river segments. We’ll create a 3-pt width tapered stroke to flow into a 3-pt width (non-tapered) segment, and then a 4-pt width (non-tapered) segment.

Click the color well to open the Colors panel and choose a new color. You can also adjust the percent and type of taper – we’ll keep the default settings as they work really nicely for rivers. Then uncheck the “Right” setting so your stroke is only tapered on one end.

HINT: When you draw your rivers in the direction from upstream to downstream the taper will be the upstream end. You can always choose Edit > Paths & Tracks > Reverse if you need to flip the direction of the taper.

Add Style To Library


As desired, click at the top of the Style Components list to return to the main Style Inspector window. Type in a name for your new style and click the “Add Style To Library” button. You’ll be prompted to assign the style to an appropriate category and the style will be saved to the Library.

Your new styles are ready for use. Choose a tool, such as the Freehand Track, pick your style from the Styles & Symbols palette, and draw.

Joining Tracks for Smooth Transitions


HINT: To make a smooth transition between two tracks of varying line widths or styles, select the tracks and choose Edit > Paths & Tracks > Join or use the CMND-J keyboard shortcut. A smooth transition will be automatically created between line styles. Smooth transitions apply to connectable tracks, not regular paths.


Making Fun Map Title Text in Ortelius

Whether formal or informal, your choice of fonts will set the mood and help to weave the story being told by your map. Map text doesn’t need to be dry and stodgy. Introduce a creative element in you next map graphic through the use of text shapes with custom fill styles.
The key to success with this approach is moderation – for example, get creative with the title and choose a complimentary font throughout the rest of your map that is simple and unassuming. Your goal is to express a bit of whimsy while maintaining legibility and overall balance.

Tutorial Details

Program : Ortelius 1.0+ for Mac OSX
Difficulty: Beginner
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

Choose_a_FontWith 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!

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Make a Dot Screen Pattern Map Style

Ortelius is loaded with styles and symbols. You can also create your own. Here we show how to create a dot screen pattern.

Start With a Basic Shape


Draw a basic shape, such as a rectangle, using a basic fill style. Open the Style Inspector – Expert pane and use the action menu (looks like a gear) to Clone Style.

Add a “Hatch” Fill Style Component


Note that in this example the units of measurement are shown in millimeters. The units of measurement are set in the Drawing Setup, and displayed based on your settings in View > Display Units (points, drawing units, or map units) in the main menu.

Change Hatch Settings for Repeating Dot Pattern


Adjusting the “Density” setting will automatically generate a dot pattern. Changing “Line width” with a dot pattern will adjust the dot diameter. Changing the “Angle” will adjust the orientation of the pattern.

The density of the pattern is controlled by the “Density” setting. Alternatively, this can be fine-tuned by changing the “Spacing” setting to adjust the pattern spacing in one direction along a line. Then adjust the other direction by changing the “Dash” settings. Choose “Other” from the Dash setting and adjust the spacing of the dash pattern.

Name and Save Your Pattern to the Symbol Library


If you would like to save your new style for future use, name your new style and add it to the Library. When you click “Add Style To Library” you will be presented with the option to assign it to an appropriate category(s), such as “My Styles & Symbols.”