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Thread: Inkscape strategies: coastline, outlines, and borders

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      carlaz is offline
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    Question Inkscape strategies: coastline, outlines, and borders

    A question perhaps primarily aimed at, if not Inkscape users specifically, those using vector drawing tools for their maps ....

    I've been messing around (very slowly! ) in the last few months making various efforts to start redrafting some of my world maps. I'm using Inkscape, and trying to figure out the most efficient way to prepare some basic maps of continent-sized regions or large chunks thereof. I've been wrestling with the best way to delimit the area on which I'm working. How do others start out?

    For example, do folks start by drawing a big rectangle as a map edge or border and then attach, say, coastlines directly to that frame (so that one could, perhaps apply fills of colours, etc. to the area delimited by the combination of coastlines and map edge/border)? Or, though this seems a sensible way to set out to me, will it cause unforseen problems for me at a later more detail-oriented stage?

    How do people actually begin from scratch? I guess that's kind of what I'm asking .... I suppose that seems like a very dumb, basic question that perhaps has obvious answers, but being totally new to digital mapmaking there might be strategies that should be staring me in the face, but aren't!

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    Publisher Gamerprinter's Avatar
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    Post Depends...

    Depends on your work flow, of course. I usually begin with coastlines, think about important harbors, bays, river inlets. Once I complete the coastlines, sometimes I rescale larger or smaller depending how the end map looks compared to what I wanted. I tend to create the oceans as an after thought, since in a vector program you can always create your ocean layer then place it below your continental layer.

    It simply depends on which way you're more comfortable. To me, creating a rectangle first defines a limitation. I don't want to be limited when I create something. Its only in the final presentation that I frame the land with the proper ocean and possible map borders.

    As opposed to CC3, I prefer to do my grid as the very last thing, rather than the first thing. Its this workflow in a vector drawing application that I prefer.
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      carlaz is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gamerprinter View Post
    Depends on your work flow, of course. I usually begin with coastlines, think about important harbors, bays, river inlets. Once I complete the coastlines, sometimes I rescale larger or smaller depending how the end map looks compared to what I wanted. I tend to create the oceans as an after thought, since in a vector program you can always create your ocean layer then place it below your continental layer.
    That's an useful observation. Perhaps I'm getting confused because I haven't figured out how to add (as a simple example) an ocean layer that's distinguishable from my coastline/land layer if I haven't got closed coastlines.

    I've got healthy sized sections of terra incognita in my world, and while I could almost just slap on text saying here be monsters, I find myself unsure of what do to with my "loose" ends of coastline where I'm unsure or where they tie up to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gamerprinter View Post
    It simply depends on which way you're more comfortable. To me, creating a rectangle first defines a limitation. I don't want to be limited when I create something. Its only in the final presentation that I frame the land with the proper ocean and possible map borders.
    As opposed to CC3, I prefer to do my grid as the very last thing, rather than the first thing. Its this workflow in a vector drawing application that I prefer.
    Perhaps my difficulty is being unsure how to proceed with a "partial" map of a larger continent. Though I know that my continent has coastline all the way around I'm not sure how to give my self partial, "working" maps for areas whose designs I'm more sure of ..... For example, I've got a good sense of how things are in the subarctic-to-subtropical of the eastern sections of one of my continents, but things get hazy in the west, and norther/southern extremes. I'd like to get on with mapping the bit I know, but then find myself unsure of what to do with my loose coastline ends ....

    What do you do in this kind of situation (if you have it!)?

    BTW, what's your approach to rivers? Do you put them in the same layer as the coastlines, just extra lines tacked on to those? Or do you keep them in a separate layer? I've been leaning towards the latter, though I sometimes confuse myself by forgetting to move a river mouth when I move the coastline ...

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      Wordman is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by carlaz View Post
    For example, I've got a good sense of how things are in the subarctic-to-subtropical of the eastern sections of one of my continents, but things get hazy in the west, and norther/southern extremes. I'd like to get on with mapping the bit I know, but then find myself unsure of what to do with my loose coastline ends
    The beauty of vector lines is that you can just snip and join them when you want. If you have a section of perfect coastline, but are hazy on what happens when it runs out, then just make the picture hazy. That is, connect one end point to a long line that goes off the screen, then continue that line around (outside your usual view) until you can connect it back to the other endpoint of the coastline. This has two basic advantages: 1) it closes the loop so you can apply fills. 2) it actually looks un-finshed, so you know it isn't done yet. Later, when you are ready to fill in the blanks, you can just snip the line and go to town.

    Also, rivers depend on the map. At large scales, they work better as a separate layer. At shorter scales, you might be better off treating rivers like any other other coastline. For example, if your map is the sort where you could conceivably draw a ship sailing up the river, to scale, coastlines may work better.
    Last edited by Wordman; 02-15-2008 at 03:57 PM.

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      carlaz is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wordman View Post
    The beauty of vector lines is that you can just snip and join them when you want. If you have a section of perfect coastline, but are hazy on what happens when it runs out, then just make the picture hazy. That is, connect one end point to a long line that goes off the screen, then continue that line around (outside your usual view) until you can connect it back to the other endpoint of the coastline.
    Ah! I think I understand what you mean ....
    I'm looking at a new Inkscape document here -- so consisting simply of a blank "page". If I understand your description aright, I could draw as much coastline as I was sure about within the bounds of that page, then loop it around [i]outside[i/] the bounds of the "page".

    Quote Originally Posted by Wordman View Post
    This has two basic advantages: 1) it closes the loop so you can apply fills. 2) it actually looks un-finshed, so you know it isn't done yet. Later, when you are ready to fill in the blanks, you can just snip the line and go to town.
    Mmm, yes, and I suppose using the "outside loop" technique, even if my "page" is filled, when I decide that I am ready to draw the section that are currently "off the map", I could just select everything and scale it down uniformly. Then I could reposition on the "page" as appropriate and carry on detailing my new sections up to the edge of the "page", leaving further "outside loops" as necessary.

    Working like this, I could n extend the scope and detail of the map section-by-section, leaving outside loops to cover remaining unknown bits ....

    Good stuff! (if I've understood aright! ) Thanks for that

    Quote Originally Posted by Wordman View Post
    Also, rivers depend on the map. At large scales, they work better as a separate layer. At shorter scales, you might be better off treating rivers like any other other coastline. For example, if your map is the sort where you could conceivably draw a ship sailing up the river, to scale, coastlines may work better.
    I'm not sure I'm ready to illustrate ships and crocodiles splashing around in my rivers yet so perhaps I'll start with separate layers for these kinds of features ....

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