Useful QGIS and Illustrator Hacks

By Jeremy C. F. Lin

Useful QGIS Hacks

  1. Determine your projection:

  2. Install the QGIS plugin, SVG2coloR and then navigate here to select an appropriate color option (select svg and copy and paste within QGIS; this functionality does not work in Firefox)

  3. If there isn't a great color ramp available, one thing you can do is take a screen shot of a relief map you like (Google Earth), and then bring it into photoshop and use the color range tool to get the corresponding RGB codes. You then manually change this in the color ramp in QGIS.

Useful Illustrator Hacks

How to separate and move your map layers into new layers

First, release the clipping mask in Illustrator. Then to create separate layers, select by same fill and stroke, and when the blue box appears in the layer panel, drag it to a new layer you've generated. (You don’t need the expanded view of elements, because when you move the blue box, it moves all of them at once).

How to copy content to multiple artboards

Once you’re done designing you will need to create multiple artboards for different screen sizes.

  1. Cmd + 2locks elements and this can be a useful if there is a concern of grabbing other layers you're not trying to move/resize.

  2. Make sure this button is clicked in the main tool bar so you can move the artboard with the content:

  1. To copy the content of one artboard, select option + artboard tool, and select from the middle

Resizing lat/lon points without changing the position

If you have some geographic content that is lat/lon, that you need to resize but cannot move the position of the object, what you want to do is select all (by fill or stroke or whatever other attribute) and then to go Transform > Transform Each and from there you can use command + D to keep applying the same transformation until you achieve the desired effect.

Adjusting the size of an object without changing the position

Say some of your circles are distorted and you need to resize them, w/o moving them. What you'll want to do is apply either an horizontal transform each or a vertical transform each (depending on which attribute is distorted).

If adjusting height, take the height you want and divide that by the wrong the height using: From there, add 100 to your answer and then apply that for height.

Aligning objects

In the align menu, you can select an object in the selection of objects and align all of the other objects to it (aka a horizontal align). In addition, you can select options and distribute the objects evenly based on whatever spacing parameter you want.

Text Hacks

  1. If your text is distorted, you want to command + T, and then select 100% on T horizontal or vertical (depending on which value is distorted)

  2. VA in the text window represents spacing between characters in a word and is useful for country labels.

  3. If you're trying to create text that follows a curved path (or isn't straight), you can draw a line and then select the text tool and it will make a curved word.

  4. If you're trying to create text that has an inner and outer color, first copy the label, change the color, and give it a really large stroke (2px or 3px). Next, open the stroke window, go through and select the middle selections in the window, so that its smooth, then command + F to place the original label inside the new one.

How to draw a swoopy arrow

To make a swoopy, arrow draw a circle and cut that circle in half. That way your swoops are always perfectly sized. Add an arrow at the end, #7 for maps, #11 for other circumstances. And you should think about the annotation as being an extension of the text.