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World Map Maker Tool

If you need to make maps for illustrations or presentations then my map making tool might be useful for you. It’s adapted from an example provided by the people who make the vega’ chart creation tool, obviously most of the credit goes to them.

This is a little bit about how it works, though most of the controls should be fairly obvious.

As you will see it consists of a canvas, at the top of the page where the map is drawn, and, underneath, a bunch of controls that affect different aspects of the map.

Diagram of map maker controlsDiagram of map maker controls

History of Cartography, vol.6History of Cartography, vol.6

1    The first control allows you to choose a map projection - there’s no perfect way to project a globe onto a flat surface so these all have their pros and cons. Choose a projection that is appropriate for your purposes.

If you’re interested in understanding these pros and cons, there’s more than you could ever want to know about projections, and map-making in general, in the University of Chicago’s History of Cartography.

2    This area contains miscellaneous controls:
Scale’ controls the size of the map within the canvase, it’s the zoom’ control,
Shift X/Y-axis’ controls the x-y position of the map image within the canvas,
Graticule Dash’ allows you to choose various dashed lines for the graticule, ie, the map grid,
Border Width’ controls the thickness of the country borders,
Land Opacity’, as you might expect, controls how transparent, or not, the land masses and borders appear.

3    These are the colour controls; Background’ is the sea/canvas’ colour, Foreground’ the landmass colour. You also choose a colour for the Graticule’ (grid lines) and the Borders’ of the countries.

If you don’t want to see the borders I would suggest leaving border width’ at 1’ and choosing the same colour for Foreground’ and Borders. You can do this easily using the eye-dropper’ tool that appears in the colour chooser pop-up. If you know exactly what colours you need you can paste a value into the box in the hex’ colour section of the pop-up.

4    These control various aspects of the rotation’ of the maps you can make; their effect can be somewhat abstract — and vary across the different projections — so its easiest just to play with them until you get what you want.

Export your image

It’s easy to miss but at the top right of the map canvas is a …’ menu…

Export menuExport menu

This allows you to export your map to a PNG or SVG file. If you’re going to do further editing — eg. highlighting particular countries — I would suggest SVG. This can be opened in vector-graphic editing software such as the free (and fantastic) Inkscape, or Adobe Illustrator.

Alternatives

The Supermap World site is also a good place to look for this kind of stuff; there are more projections on offer but you have to choose from a set of pre-created maps rather than designing your own.

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