Posted on Leave a comment

Get to Grips with Layout Layer: Six Tips

Layout Layer

Edit Layout Objects
Edit Layout Objects

Layout Layer Pros & Cons

In a few words, OCAD‘s Layout Layer is a bit klunky to use but it is worth having.

Condes course planners might think that the ability to stash raster (bit mapped) images is not required in OCAD. But for raster images that are permanent to the map, surely it is advantageous to store them with the map rather than fiddle around with Condes templates to effect the same?

I have found the legend creation a boon although displaying it in other than the default can be a task and a half.

Trim (crop) and bleed mark creation is great. And all my north arrows and scale bars are selected via the Layout Layer library now. The Mapping Resources page on this site has quick reference PDF downloads of those libraries. I haven’t yet had a use for the Name Index function but may do so on a forthcoming internet map.

While I haven’t tried to import layout objects from another map file, I can see that would be useful if you have fairly standardised border information such as during a multi-day event. Note that the objects are not imported into the same relative location.,

On the con side, the method of selecting objects is annoying. Especially when your logical folder system means that you are faced with a stack of path names and to view them in full you either hover on each one or  use the slider each and every time. Then you move an image slightly, find it is not enough and lo, you have to select it again before you can make the next move. Maybe I have been spoilt by all the great productivity enhancements in the last 2-3 years.

Update 3 August

New Layout Layer image path
New Layout Layer image path

OCAD AG listened and responded very quickly.  They have already devised a fix to the file path/name display issue. From the next release, the file path will display in shortened format so you see all or most of the file name.

You can still read the full path by hovering over the shortened path.

The 6 tips for Layout Layer

Images are not yet covered in the OCAD wiki on Layout Layer. 

[unordered_list style=”tick”]

  • select a Layout Layer item by double clicking on it in the list.
  • images with transparency effects will not work.
  • copy images into the map folder to be able to pick them out easily in the Layout Layer list.
  • keep in mind that legend, north arrows, scale bars, trim (crop) and bleed marks are available.
  • images should be minimum 300 dpi for high quality printing.
  • if you have any raster image in Layout Layer, then Export EPS will not work.



Transparency indicated by checkerboard pattern
Transparency indicated by checkerboard pattern (Wikipedia)

Transparency means that a part of your image is clear or see-through. Image formats that support transparency include GIF, PNG, BMP and TIFF.

In logos and promo images, transparency is usually applied to the background so it doesn’t show up in print or web. It is not always easy to tell if an image has transparency.  Some raster graphics editors will display a checkerboard pattern for transparent parts of an image. Irfanview doesn’t. Snagit only for certain formats.

JPG supports a faked transparency whereby the background is changed to suit the colour where the image is going to be placed – typically white on maps. This is the method to use in Layout Layer as it should not be recognised as transparency. Some raster graphic softwares allow you to easily fake the transparent background to a specified or selected colour. Irfanview allows you to do that for GIF files during the Save As.

OCAD AG has not implemented transparency in raster as it creates difficulties in exporting EPS’ and PDFs that contain both CMYK and RGB colour spaces.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *