View Full Version : Latitude-Longitude Lines in Inkscape

03-19-2013, 02:00 PM
Hi all,

I'm still rather new to cartography in general so please bear with my questions.

Basically, I would like to create a series of maps for a project (climate maps, altitude maps, etc.). I have been doing this by hand, but redrawing/tracing the coast line by hand every time I want to create a new map is tiresome and not very accurate. So, after browsing the forums for a while I think Inkscape would be best for drawing in the continents and land shapes.

However, I would like to draw these in with latitude-longitude lines (10-15 degrees apart), so I know where to place the various climate zones and what not. I can't seem to figure out how to do this at all. This is just on a regular equirectangular map, so it's just a grid I need really.

Also, lets say I have a map drawn on an A4 sheet of paper, and I want to trace it into Inkscape, how would I go about doing this? How could I then scale it up?

Finally, I am currently a student, although only for a few more months. I am considering getting the Creative Suite package, for cartography and general artwork, however even at the discount price, it is still rather expensive for an unemployed student - do you think it is worth buying it now, or perhaps just using GIMP and Inkscape for my needs?

Sorry for the long list of question and any help is appreciated!

03-19-2013, 03:11 PM
Hi, and welcome to cartography ^-^ Sounds like you've got quite a project on your hands. Retracing your map over and over can definitely be pretty boring; Inkscape (vector in general) is a great way to go since you can scale to whatever size you need. As for your questions:

1) lat-long lines are annoying at best - I would recommend G.Projector (http://www.giss.nasa.gov/tools/gprojector/) (Global Map Projector), from NASA. It's available for a lot of OS's, and it not only can project any image (say, that equirectilinear map you have ^-^) in a variety of different projections ranging from Azimuthal Equidistant to Hammer to Winkel Tripel, it can also project lat-long lines at a variety of degrees (2-10, 15, 30, 45, 90). You can set the color and "weight" (opacity) of the lat-long lines, and even center the map at a specific longitude degree (E). You can overlay different maps or images onto the base map as well. You will need Java to run the program, but it's standalone; you won't have to install anything.

2) I'm afraid I don't know Inkscape very well (I use Illustrator), but there are some excellent tutorials as well as just basic advice and tips in the Tutorials section of the forum.
From my limited knowledge of Inkscape, you can use the "bezier curves and straight lines" tool (Shift+F6; the blue pen 2 tools above the 'A' on the left). Left click to place your first and second points, and right click to end the line. Unfortunately, that's about where my helpfulness ends in regards to Inkscape -_-;

3) Personally, as an avid lover of all things art and illustration, I would say "GO FOR IT!", especially since that student discount won't be available to you much longer. On the other hand, it really depends on how much you'll be using those programs, and for what - for illustration (say, a world-building project with maps and illustrations), I would recommend Illustrator and Photoshop and leaving the rest of the programs in the Suite for another day. Dreamweaver, InDesign, Flash, and Fireworks can be great programs, but unless you're going to make a career out of this, you don't really need them. Now, if you plan on making a fully-customized website with interactive maps and detailed, custom-layout PDFs/documents, go ahead and get the whole Suite. Otherwise, there are tons of free and less-expensive-than-Adobe products out there.
Having said that, I have the Adobe Creative Suite, and I've still downloaded and am messing around in both Inkscape and GIMP - they might not be "almighty Adobe" products, but a lot of people use them and if you have the time (and inclination and patience), I think it's worth it to see what other software can do.

I hope my reply isn't way too long, and that this helps! The forum is a fantastic place to get answers, and don't wait to start posting your maps! We need more hand drawn maps, even if you plan on going digital with them ^-^ Good luck with your project!

- kes

03-20-2013, 05:29 PM
Thanks for your reply.

I really don't know why programs such as inkscape etc. can't just lay a regular grid on top of the image? Surely that would work...

After some messing around I managed to trace my hand-drawn map onto inkscape and the result seems ok. I don't know how to go about scaling it up and down or how to change the thickness of the lines etc. yet. I also need to figure out a way how to smooth out some of those lines. Here's what I have so far:


I tried saving it as a .png but the quality seems to have reduced, and the background became grey for some reason...hmm.

03-27-2013, 10:40 PM
Very nice; I haven't even tried Inkscape yet, but it looks like an excellent program. You're right about the grid lay-over being helpful; maybe take a look HERE (http://wiki.inkscape.org/wiki/index.php/Effect_reference#Cartesian_grid) for Cartesian Grids and HERE (wiki.inkscape.org/wiki/index.php/Effect_reference#Grid) for regular grids (same page, different sections). Again, I don't know inkscape, so I have no idea how to actually apply/use those "effects".

The landmasses look good, and the coasts look realistic. I especially like the more jagged coasts breaking up/into the "smoother" coasts (compared to the "jagged" coasts).