Do-it-yourself Topo map making

Tom Wolfe, ACMG/IFMGA

Introduction

Three techniques for printing your own topo maps will be discussed here. I’ll go over the first two superfically, reserving most of our time for learning to use Quantum GIS (QGIS).

  1. Caltopo.com  – an easy, inexpensive online way to produce good topo maps on high quality paper. Much better than mytopo.com
  2. Photo Editors — this can be a quick and dirty way of printing print-ready maps available online using software already on your computer.
  3. QGIS – If you want to do more complicated things with a map a full-fledged GIS program allows you to create maps that are fully customized to your needs.

Other Resources that might interest you

Have you been using your Smartphone for navigation lately? Wondering if it makes any sense to keep bringing along that old GPS (so say nothing of a map and compass…)? Check out my article on Trip Planning for Garmin GPS units with Google Earth.

Free Software

QGIS: at http://qgis.com/ 

Google Earth Pro: http://www.google.ca/earth/download/gep/agree.html and use GEPFREE as the install key if asked.

The GIMP photo editor: http://gimp.org

Terminology


Click to view Glossary of Terminology

GIS – a Geographic Information System is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of spatial or geographical data.

PDF – Adobe’s document format

TIFF – a high resolution image format

GeoTIFF or GeoPDF – TIFFs or PDFs that have embedded GIS information

Layers – Image and GIS editing programs use layers, similar to the layers of paper on a desk. Layers that are above cover layers that are below.

Transparency – Transparencies in layers allow you to see layers below.

DPI – dots per inch

GPX – GPS data file format containing, among other things, waypoints and tracks

KML – Google earth data format

DEM – digital elevation model. This data is collected from aerial photographs (older) and satellite imagery.
NTS – National Topographic System, an indexing system that organises all of Canada’s maps into an alphanumeric system.

Canmatrix – This is the old printed map format used in Canada. These maps are typically very well designed and crafted, and for 50k maps they are quite detailed and effective navigation tools. There are several problem with these maps: 1) Mapsheets use different contour intervals (older 100 ft and metric 40 m maps are often on neighbouring mapsheets making stitching a nightmare; in some areas you get 10-40 m contours at lower elevations and 40-100 m contours at higher elevations on the same mapsheet – yikes!); 2) Mapsheets use different datum, e.g. NAD27 vs NAD83

Canvec – all-metric maps based on the most recent imagery, terrain features (e.g. glaciation, ground cover, buildings, roads, etc.), and DEM data. See Toporama below.

Toporama – print ready Canvec data. These maps are clear and current. The biggest problem is that the imagery and spot elevations are mostly computer generated, and haven’t had detailed attention from a (human) map maker required to produce a truly fine map.

TRIM —  BC mapping data. The original TRIM program, consisting of 7027 digital files, was completed in December 1996. For several reasons, it was necessary for the data to be updated. The map compilation photography was as much as 15 years out of date. The Forest Practices Code put greater demand on increased information content for features such as roads, stream, forest openings and such. This lead to the development of the TRIM II program. Like Canvec data this data is largely computer generated and often has major problems, e.g. ice cliffs on flat glaciers (Burnie, Bugaboos).

Collared/Uncollared – A map collar is the white space and information surrounding the map imagery including things like map name, declination details, legend, etc. It is commonly included on print-ready maps (e.g. when using a photo editor to print your map). When using a GIS program a collar is an annoyance that gets in the way of stitching and is complicated to remove accurately. For this reason, Uncollared map imagery is what you’ll want when using a GIS program.

QGIS and AcrGIS – popular GIS programs. ArcGIS is the industry standard but expensive. QGIS is an extremely powerful free program that is gaining traction, Parks Canada being one major user.

Projection – To make a map of a spherical earth 2-dimensional, a “projection” is required.

UTM – The Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) conformal projection uses a 2-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system to give locations on the surface of the Earth. Like the traditional method of latitude and longitude, it is a horizontal position representation, i.e. it is used to identify locations on the Earth independently of vertical position. However, it differs from that method in several respects.

The UTM system is not a single map projection. The system instead divides the Earth into sixty zones, each being a six-degree band of longitude, and uses a secant transverse Mercator projection in each zone.

Map Datum – the two map data used in Canada are NAD27 and NAD83. The different map data use different UTM grids that are slightly different. Your maps should always use the latest NAD83 UTM grid.


Caltopo.com

By far the easiest way to print maps, using caltopo.com is as simple as going to the website and following directions.

PROS:

  • Inexpensive and easy to use online tool that doesn’t require any installation of special programs or knowledge of GIS
  • grid lines, declination, and other mapping information is automatically added to the map collar
  • no visit to the print shop necessary – delivered to your door in about a week
  • comes in a variety of sizes on waterproof and tear resistant paper, neatly folded into small pocket-sized maps
  • fairly customizable
  • a variety of map imagery is available

CONS:

  • Lacks the advanced features of a GIS program so you may not be able to customize it the way you want

Photo Editors

You can use a photo editor, e.g. Mac’s iPhoto or Windows’ Paint do do a quick and dirty map job so long as you have them in TIFF format. If you want to edit PDF files or stitch together multiple maps then a more sophisticated photo editing program that does layer editing, such as The GIMP, is what you need. These are the basic steps; see sections below for details.

Image result for the gimp
The GIMP: Photoshop functionality, for free

  1. Download printable mapsheets that include UTM gridlines.
  2. Open the map(s) you want to print with your photo editor
  3. Do any necessary stitching
  4. Ensure that the image’s DPI are correct (300 dpi is typical).
  5. Crop the image so that it contains the information you want and has the correct dimensions for the type of paper you want to use.
  6. Add text if desired (e.g. map information, declination, additional UTM numbering that might have been cropped off)
  7. When you’re done, export your result to a PDF file. Windows 10 and Mac OS should come with this. You can also download a third party PDF tool, e.g. PDFCreator at http://www.pdfforge.org/

Print-ready mapsheet sources online

Map Search Tools

Atlas of Canada Toporama

This is a one-stop, powerful graphical tool tool that provides an easy way of locating and downloading your mapsheet or mapsheets in bulk: Click here to open in a new browser window

BC TRIM Maps

TRIM maps for anywhere in BC can be downloaded in collared GeoPDF format using this handy search tool (Click here to open in a new browser window):

Determining the Declination

Every map should include declination information, and the beauty of printing your own maps is that you can even use the exact declination for the date you plan on using the map so that you don’t have to do the calculation in the field. NRCan’s online calculator is exactly what you need: http://www.geomag.nrcan.gc.ca/calc/mdcal-en.php or, you could consider using this handy map-based interface that accomplishes the same thing: https://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag-web/calculators/mobileDeclination

Creating your map

Opening your mapsheets

Unzip the files you’ve downloaded from NRCan. If you have more than one  you will need to merge them. Open each file individually, select/copy and then paste into a new image file. The exact workflow of this procedure varies with different photo editors.

Scaling and sizing correctly

When you create your new image file you will need to choose a size based on the paper size you choose. The easiest is to print onto 11×17 (tabloid) or 8.5×11 (letter) sized paper, but your local print shop will have much larger sizes available if you are printing maps for larger areas, e.g. a ski traverse, long hike, or canoe trip.

Ensure that your photo editor is set to print at the correct DPI for the image you’ve downloaded (e.g. 300 dpi). If you want to make a bigger map then you need to scale it appropriately. E.g. to turn a 50k into a 25k map you need to change the DPI from 300 dpi to 150 dpi.

Adding labels

There’s a good chance you’ll want to label your image with feature names or even trails. Just use the photo editor’s text tool and/or line drawing or pencil drawing tool with a contrasting colour. Play with the line width so that it’s not so thin you can’t see it but not so thick it obscures your map. It’s next to impossible to import GPX trails accurately onto an image using a photo editor; this is what a GIS program like QGIS is for.

Cropping and stitching maps

If you just want to crop a portion of a single mapsheet for your map then this is straightforward. Just open the file, use your photo editor’s crop tool to crop a portion of the map, check to make sure it fits your desired paper size (some trimming, or using a larger paper size, might be necessary).

If you want to stitch maps, this is best left to a program like the GIMP. The workflow of this is as follows:

1) Open up both maps

2) Select the areas you wish to stitch together from both maps, taking note of the pixel dimensions of each. Add these dimensions together, with a bit extra length and width to make working with it easier.

3) Create a new image with the dimensions you calculated in 2)

4) Copy and past the areas from both maps into the new image you created in 3) using two separate layers (important!)

5) Erase the collar from one of the images in one of the layers (e.g. select -> delete). With NTS maps this will not be exact since NTS maps don’t overlap at all, and the map imagery is angled slightly. Do the best you can.

6) Make sure this layer lies OVER the other layer and then position it correctly so that the features and grid lines line up. Note that

Printing considerations

You can order prints via online printers such as  Staples Copy & Print Centre or visit your local print shop. In Canmore Bow Valley Basics and Bow Valley Business Services both do this. In Revelstoke, Salmon Arm, Enderby and Vernon,  Lakeside Printing might work for you. In Nelson and Trail, Hall  Printing has online document upload and printing services.

How to Create and Print Custom Canadian Topographic Maps with Quantum GIS

Thanks to Michael Embree who provided the how-to that got me started on this. The following information is adapted/copied from his website at:
http://illumishare.blogspot.ca/2012/09/how-to-create-custom-canadian-topo-maps12.html

This article describes how to create and print customized Canadian Topographic (topo) maps using free digital topographic map information made available on the Internet by the Government of Canada (NRCan) and the free Quantum GIS (QGIS) computer application. QGIS can also be used to create maps from other free or commercial digital map information such as Open Street Map or US nautical charts (Canadian digital nautical charts are available but not free) but that is not covered in here.

QGIS is free Geographic Information System (GIS) software that runs on Windows, MacOS and Linux. Because QGIS will seamlessly join map files and has a Print Composer that enables map scale, area displayed and rotation angle to be specified, custom maps can be created containing just the area of interest without regard for standard topo map sheet boundaries or orientation. This is very useful when a large format plotter isn’t available to print full size map sheets as just the area of interest can be printed on standard letter or legal paper sizes using a normal home or office printer. It also facilitates the production of coastal or trail strip maps showing just the immediate area around the coastline or trail for kayaking or hiking.

For maps files to be seamlessly joined, they must be georeferenced and have no collars (borders). Paper topo maps can be scanned and then edited to eliminate collars and georeferenced with some effort, but NRCan and GeoBC have made it easy by providing the freely downloadable Toporama 1:50,000 raster map series. The Toporama map files are indexed by the National Topographic System grid, are already georeferenced (GeoTIFF or GeoPDF), collarless, have no grid overlay, and are available in either UTM or Lat/Long projections. For kayaking and hiking purposes, the UTM projection would generally be the best choice as a 1 km UTM grid, which is very useful for navigation, can easily be overlaid on the map. The Toporama maps are based on the most recent NRCan CanVec vector topographic information database and a new edition is released twice a year so they are about as up to date as Canadian Gov’t topo maps can be.

GeoBC’s 1:20000 TRIM GeoTIFF maps have just been made publicly available. Their Topographic Map Viewer, which has a zoomable map of BC, is a good way of figuring out which mapsheets you want exactly, but currently only GeoPDF (collared) files are available this way. For the time being you need to download GeoTIFFs manually at http://pub.data.gov.bc.ca/datasets/177864/tif/.

NRCan also provide a publicly available Toporama Web Map Service (WMS) on the Internet. QGIS can load any required Canadian Topographic map data from the Toporama WMS directly. The advantage is that topo maps for any area in Canada can be directly accessed via QGIS without needing to identify, download and store local GeoTIFF map files on the QGIS workstation. Also, the map layers are individually accessible in case that is of value. The disadvantage is that high speed Internet access is required while working in QGIS and accessing the WMS is slower than using local map files. The Toporama WMS can supply many projections but UTM would generally be the best choice for kayaking and hiking.

The WMS and downloadable map files appear to use different styles so there may be a preference for one or the other. At the current time, several of the Toporama WMS layers, including the Feature Names layer are not scaled correctly for larger scale maps (like 1:50000) so their text or content is too large and obscures other map features. This is not the case with the downloadable Toporama map files which appear to have all features properly scaled for 1:50000.  It is possible to use both map files and the WMS at the same time as long as the file layer is in front of the WMS layer, this could be useful to fill in around the edges of a map file without going to the effort of downloading adjacent maps.

Assuming a PC and Internet connection are available, Canadian topo maps can be created with no cost other than some time and effort, unless paper maps are required. If paper maps are required, an available printer can be used with any associated paper and ink or toner costs; or PDF maps can be created and sent to a commercial printing service such as Staples Copy & Print Centre. Because topo maps are intended to be viewed in colour, map features on monochrome printouts can be difficult to distinguish so colour printing is very desirable.

How to use QGIS

There are lots of online resources to help you get going with QGIS. During this class we only have time to touch on the most superficial aspects. On your own time back at home you could check out one of the following:

Introductory Video Tutorial: http://discoverspatial.com/courses/qgis-for-beginners/lectures/210164

A Gentle Introduction to GIS: http://docs.qgis.org/2.6/en/docs/gentle_gis_introduction/

QGIS Tutorial: http://mltconsecol.github.io/QGIS-Tutorial/

Official QGIS User Guide (the Abrupt Intro to QGIS): http://docs.qgis.org/2.8/pdf/en/QGIS-2.8-UserGuide-en.pdf

60 minute QGIS Intro

Today we only have time to cover the extreme basics of QGIS and GIS. Here’s an outline of what we’re going to cover.

1) Make sure that QGIS is installed as well as Google Earth.

2) When you start QGIS you’ll be given a blank project and the default QGIS interface. This consists of:

  • Top Toolbar
  • Tool buttons (horizontal top, vertical left) – contain quick access to various tools and functions for adding layers, editing, etc.
  • Left tool windows. Defaults are Browser (for accessing files) and Layers (showing the layers you have added to your project)
  • Map view window – shows the current layers you have loaded into your project.

3) Adding your first layers – the Canmatrix and Toporama maps of Revelstoke you downloaded:

Layer -> Add Layer -> Add Raster Layer (CTRL+SHIFT+R)

4) Adjusting layer height – do this by dragging and dropping your layers in the layer window. You can also rename layers and set properties such as transparency in this window.

5) Adding another layer – Vector Layer. First, create a path in Google Earth that wanders around the streets of . Then save this path as a KML file (NOT KMZ!). Right click on the layer and select Properties. Now browse through the properties that you can adjust. The most important are Style and Labels. Each category has a variety of settings that you can mess with.

Instructions for creating a map

Install the current QGIS version

Loading Toporama UTM 1:50000 GeoTIFF Maps into QGIS

50k Toporama UTM maps:
http://ftp.geogratis.gc.ca/pub/nrcan_rncan/raster/toporama/50k_utm_tif//

20k BC TRIM Maps:
http://pub.data.gov.bc.ca/datasets/177864/tif/

  • Unzip the downloaded maps so QGIS can read them
  • Open Quantum GIS Desktop
  • Layer -> Add Raster Layer, or click the toolbar button
  • Browse to the Toporama UTM GeoTIFF files download earlier
  • Multi-select each required map, or add each file individually
  • File -> Save Project As…
  • Give the project a name and select the project file location
  • File -> New Print Composer, or click the toolbar button

Loading Maps from the Toporama WMS into QGIS (Optional)

QGIS can also be configured to load map information on the fly via the Internet using the WMS protocol, so downloading map files isn’t required. This is handy but not essential and replaces the above steps.

  • A description of the Toporama WMS and each of its layers can be found at:http://atlas.gc.ca/toporama/en/index.html
  • Open Quantum GIS Desktop
  • Settings -> Project properties – CRS (set the default CRS for this project)
  • Select Enable ‘on the fly’ CRS transformation
  • Set the CRS. For most of BC/Alberta the CRS should be NAD83 / UTM zone 11N if printing Topo type maps
  • Layer -> Add WMS Layer, or click the toolbar button
  • (If Toporama WMS not defined) Layers tab -> New
  • (If Toporama WMS not defined) Set Name to Toporama,
    set URL to http://wms.ess-ws.nrcan.gc.ca/wms/toporama_en, click OK
  • Ensure the Toporama WMS is selected
  • Click Connect
  • Select 0 WMS-Toporama for all layers, or expand the second item +1 Toporama to select one or more specific layers. The WMS will respond much more quickly if all the required layers are selected at once as one QGIS layer rather than individually as separate QGIS layers. Separate layers allow rendering order to be controlled (determine which layers are on top).
  • Set Image encoding to PNG24, the layer will be larger and download more slowly than if JPEG were selected but should be better quality for printing
  • Click Add
  • If selecting multiple separate layers for QGIS, select the next layer or layers, ensure the CRS is correct (there seems to be a bug and QGIS may hang if this isn’t correct), click Add and repeat as required. In the current QGIS release (1.8.0), to keep the CRS when adding multiple separate layers, select the new layer(s) before unselecting the previous layer(s).
  • Click Close when finished adding Toporama WMS layers
  • (Optional) In the Layers panel, if multiple layers were added and they are to be re-ordered, drag the layers into the required rendering order
  • File -> Save Project As…
  • Give the project a name and select the project file location
  • File -> New Print Composer, or click the toolbar button

Loading a Track (GPS *.gpx) or Path (Google Earth *.kml) into QGIS

  • In the Layers panel on the right side of the QGIS screen, select one of the map layers added above
  • Layer -> Set Project CRS from Layer, set the project CRS the same as the selected map layer
  • Settings -> Project properties -> Coordinate Reference System (CRS)
  • Select Enable ‘on the fly’ CRS transformation
  • Under Recently used coordinate reference systems, verify that the highlighted CRS matches the loaded map layers. For most of BC/Alberta the CRS should be NAD83 / UTM zone 11N.
  • Vector -> GPS -> GPS Tools -> Load GPX file
  • Browse to the *.gpx or *.kml file containing the required GPS track and open it
  • Set the required Feature types (Tracks at least)
  • A layer for the GPS track should now be present on the map
  • In the Layers panel on the right side of the QGIS screen, select the GPS track layer added above
  • Layer -> Properties… -> Style
  • Set the track colour, symbol, etc. as required
  • (Optional) In the Layers panel, clear the X from the selection box to the left of the GPS track layer to prevent it from displaying and printing

Creating the printable map in QGIS Print Composer

  • A QGIS Project can have multiple Print Composers defined. In most cases, a separate one would probably be defined for each map page to be printed. Also, a Print Composer can have more than one map defined so an inset overview map could be added to a sheet or a single sheet could have multiple small maps on it, etc.
  • In the QGIS Print Composer window (not the Quantum GIS window)
  • Composition -> Paper and quality (panel on the right side of the Print Composer screen)
  • Set the paper format (Legal, ANSI A / Letter or ANSI B / Tabloid) and orientation (Landscape or Portrait)
  • Note the Width and Height shown for the selected paper size
  • Select Print as Raster at 300 dpi (this seems to work better for printing the grid and makes the exported PDF smaller)
  • Layout -> Add Map, or click the Toolbar button
  • Use the mouse to draw a rectangle. This area will display the map currently loaded into QGIS
  • Item Properties -> Map (on the right side of the Print Composer screen)
  • Set the Width and Height to that of the paper (from above) less about 6 mm in each dimension because laser printers can’t print to the edge of a page
  • Set the Scale to 1:50000 or whatever scale is required
  • Use the mouse to centre the map on the page (drag)
  • View -> Zoom Full, or click the Toolbar button
  • Layout -> Move Content, or click the Toolbar button
  • Use the mouse to Pan (drag) and Zoom (mouse wheel) the map to the area of interest
  • Layout -> Move Item, or click the Toolbar button (this is required for selection in addition to move)
  • Click on the map to select it
  • Item Properties -> Map, set the Rotation (in degrees) to maximize the coastline shown on the page. Start by estimating the required rotation and adjust as required.
  • Re-adjust the area of interest that is displayed as required
  • Item Properties -> General options (below the Map, Extents and Grid sections)
  • (Optional) Unselect Show Frame to eliminate the map frame

To add a 1 km UTM grid on the printed map

  • Layout -> Move Item, or click the Toolbar button (this is required for selection in addition to move)
  • Click on the map to select it
  • Item Properties -> Grid (below Map and Extents sections)
  • Enable Show Grid
  • Set Interval X and Interval Y to 1000 (for a 1km grid)
  • Set Line color to a medium gray (too light and it won’t be legible, too dark and it will be distracting)
  • (Optional) Enable Draw annotation to print the UTM grid coordinates on the edge of the map
  • Set Annotation position to Inside frame or as required
  • Set Annotation direction to Boundary direction
  • Set Font… -> Size to 4 or whatever size is required
  • Set Coordinate precision to 0.
  • If you want to tidy up the UTM labels a bit, go to x Draw coordinates > Format > select “Custom”. Then click the “Epsilon” symbol. This opens the Expression based annotation sheet. Enter the following code on the left hand side:

CASE
 WHEN @grid_axis = 'x'
  THEN left(@grid_number,length(@grid_number)-3)
ELSE
  RIGHT(left(@grid_number,length(@grid_number)-3),3)
END

This parses the UTM information to three digits to look like MGRS format. It may or may not work for you without some tweaking.

To add a Scalebar

  • Layout -> Add Scalebar, or click the Toolbar button
  • Click the map to add the scale bar
  • Click on the scale bar to select it
  • Item Properties -> General options (below the Scale bar section)
  • Slide the Opacity slider all the way to the left to make it transparent
  • Unselect Show Frame to eliminate the frame
  • Item Properties -> Scale bar
  • Set Segment size and Map units per bar to 1000 (for a 1 km scale)
  • Set the Style, Left and Right segments, Height, etc. so that the scalebar has the desired appearance
  • Set Unit label to km
  • Set Font… -> Size as required
  • Use the mouse to drag the scalebar to the desired location on the map and size it as required

To add map scale text (e.g. 1:50 000)

  • Layout -> Add Scalebar, or click the Toolbar button
  • Click the map to add the scale bar
  • Click on the scale bar to select it
  • Item Properties -> General options (below the Scale bar section)
  • Slide the Opacity slider all the way to the left to make it transparent
  • Unselect Show Frame to eliminate the frame
  • Item Properties -> Scale bar
  • Set the Style to Numeric
  • Set Font… -> Size as required
  • Use the mouse to drag the scale text to the desired location on the map and size it as required

To add a North Arrow

  • Layout -> Add Image, or click the Toolbar button
  • Click the map to add an image placeholder
  • Click on the image placeholder to select it
  • Item Properties -> General options
  • Slide the Opacity slider all the way to the left to make it transparent
  • Unselect Show Frame to eliminate the frame
  • Item Properties -> Picture options
  • Select the North Arrow image you like from the images shown
  • Select Sync with map to cause the North Arrow to align with the map regardless of map rotation
  • Use the mouse to drag the North Arrow to the desired location on the map and size it as required

To add a Map Title or other text

  • Layout -> Add Label, or click the Toolbar button
  • Click the map to add a Label placeholder
  • Click on the Label placeholder to select it
  • Item Properties -> General options
  • Slide the Opacity slider all the way to the left to make it transparent
  • Unselect Show Frame to eliminate the frame
  • Item Properties -> Label
  • Enter the required text
  • Set the Font… -> Size, Font colour… and Alignment as required
  • Use the mouse to drag the Label to the desired location on the map and size it as required

To add Magnetic Declination information on the map

  • In the main Quantum GIS window (not the QGIS Print Composer)
  • (If not already present) View -> Panels -> select Coordinate Capture to display the Coordinate Capture panel on the right side of the QGIS screen
  • (If the Coordinate Capture Panel is not listed) Plugins -> Manage Plugins… ->enable the Coordinate Capture plugin, then perform the previous step again
  • View -> Pan map, or click the Toolbar button
  • Use the mouse to pan the map so the center of the area to be printed is showing
  • In the Coordinate Capture panel
  • Click Start capture
  • Click on the centre of the area to be printed, the Coordinate Capture panel should now display the Longitude, Latitude and Easting, Northing (UTM) coordinates for the centre of the map. The more common coordinate order is Latitude, Longitude and Northing so depending on what they are being used for, the coordinate order may need to be swapped.
  • To determine the UTM zone, Settings -> Project properties -> Coordinate Reference System (CRS) -> Recently used coordinate reference systems, the project CRS will be highlighted in this section and, for a UTM CRS, should list the UTM zone.
  • Use the captured coordinates, UTM zone and date to determine the grid declination (angle between magnetic north and grid north) and its annual change. NRCan’s online calculator is exactly what you need: http://www.geomag.nrcan.gc.ca/calc/mdcal-en.php. For more details you can also check out How to Determine Magnetic Declination Information for a Topographic Map.
  • Use text and/or arrows to document the grid declination, the year for which it was determined and the annual change. Documenting the grid convergence angle is probably also a good idea.

When map composition is completed

  • Layout -> Move Item, or click the Toolbar button
  • Click on the map to select it (not on the Scale, Arrow, Title, etc.)
  • Item Properties -> Map
  • verify that the scale is still 1:50000 or whatever was set (sometimes it can be changed during map composition)
  • File -> Export as PDF, or click the Toolbar button
  • (If additional maps sheets will be required) File -> Save as template, saves the paper size, grid, scale, north arrow, text, etc. to be used when new print composers are created
  • Provide a meaningful name for the print composer template
  • In the main Quantum GIS window (not the QGIS Print Composer)
  • File -> Composer Manager…, or click the Toolbar button
  • Select the Print Composer that has just been completed and rename it to something meaningful
  • File -> Save Project, or click the Toolbar button

To compose additional maps in the same QGIS project

  • The above steps can be repeated as required to add multiple print composers to a QGIS project, a separate print composer should be defined for each separate map sheet required
  • To make this easier, a print composer template should be saved from the first print composer completed or from another project
  • In the main Quantum GIS window (not the QGIS Print Composer)
  • File -> New Print Composer, or click the toolbar button
  • In the QGIS Print Composer window (not the Quantum GIS window)
  • File ->Load from template
  • Select a saved Print Composer template
  • View -> Zoom Full, or click the Toolbar button
  • Click on Map will be printed here text to select the map (not on the Scale, Arrow, Title, etc.)
  • Item Properties -> Map
  • In the dropdown list box, change Rectangle to Cache
  • If required, click Update preview
  • Layout -> Move Content, or click the Toolbar button
  • Use the mouse to Pan (drag) and Zoom (mouse wheel) the map to the area of interest
  • Layout -> Move Item, or click the Toolbar button (this is required for selection in addition to move)
  • Click on the map to select it
  • Item Properties -> Map, set the Rotation (in degrees) to maximize the coastline shown on the page. Start by estimating the required rotation and adjust as required.
  • Re-adjust the area of interest that is displayed as required
  • Move, resize or update the Scale, Arrow, North arrow, Title, Declination information, etc. as required (see the steps above)
  • When completed, follow the When map composition is completed step above

Print the maps

  • Open the QGIS generated PDFs and print them. Ensure that automatic scaling, shrinking or fit to page are not enabled, if they are, the map scale will not be correct.
  • If the PDF page size is larger than the available printer paper size, the Adobe Reader print function using the Poster options (click the Poster button in the Adobe Reader print dialogue) can split it up onto multiple sheets of paper which can be taped or glued together if a single large sheet is required.

To reprint or edit the same maps later

  • Open Quantum GIS Desktop
  • File -> Open recent projects -> project name, to reopen the saved project
  • File -> Print Composers -> composer name, to reopen a saved print composer
  • Follow whichever steps from above are required