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Getting Starting with OCAD Cartography


The OCAD 11 Getting Started Guide

With a flurry of OCAD Starter editions sold in recent months this should be a useful guide. It is included with each

Bezier curve drawings
Bezier curve drawings

installation of OCAD 11 and you can easily access it via the Help menu in OCAD. It contains links to the OCAD wiki for fuller treatment of various items.

Or here it is. Getting Started in OCAD 11

Drawing Bezier curves

While the Guide covers the basics of drawing those wonderfully useful and professional looking Bezier curves, there is also a sheet of exercises (image at right) that I find very useful.  This Bezier exercises OCAD file is found in OCAD at File | Open Sample Map by selecting Samples / Bezier / BezierExercise.ocd

You will also notice a BezierExerciseResult.ocd file to check your attempt against. The image at right can also be used as a drawing template by loading it as a background image via Background Map | Open and navigating your way to the Samples / Bezier folder within the OCAD 11 program folder. Or if you want a version with English translation then download it here – Bezier exercise with English translation

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OCAD 11 File |New : Journal #1 addendum

Orienteering map symbol set

Following an enquiry to OCAD AG, they advise how you can add custom symbol sets to the list shown when in File | New you select Map Type of Orienteering map.

If you place a custom symbol set in the OCAD 11 default symbol folder (currently Program Files (x86)/OCAD/OCAD 11/Symbol), your symbol set will show up by default in the Topographic, city or leisure map group. If you wish to have that symbol set display in the Orienteering map type group, then you need to edit (or create) the file OrienteeringMapList.User.txt and place in that, the file name of your symbol set.

The Help wiki has been amended to show this. See previous post for an image of this File | New dialogue.


Take care not to edit the existing file OrienteeringMapList.Default.txt. However this file is useful to inspect for the corrwect format when creating the user version of the file. Here are the first few lines of that default file.

// Please do not edit this file! OCAD Updater replaces this file automatically.
// Add the user-defined symbol sets for Orienteering maps in file ‘OrienteeringMapList.User.txt’.
Orienteering Map 5 000 ISSOM.ocd
Orienteering Map 10 000.ocd


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OCAD 11. File | Import : Journal #7

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New symbol set or meld a map – colours to the top

Colour table prior to import
Colour table prior to import

You’ve imported a new symbol set to an existing map, converted various symbols and then realise some of those symbols are not showing up on the map. Or maybe you have imported an existing map to meld with a new or adjacent map and have the same issue.

It is likely that the colours for those symbols are below every colour in the original symbol set. If there are many new symbols and/or many existing symbols, it can be time consuming to move colours up the table. But all is not lost.

Fixing the colour table sequence

Take a copy of your map for safety. Select all the new symbols, right click and Delete. File | Import the new symbol set as an empty OCAD file and select the option to place colours at top of colour table. After import, all the symbols on the map are re-engaged with the new symbol set and should now be visible.

Getting it right first time

Colour table after import
After import, new colours in top

For a clean run, simply File | Import the new symbol set as an empty OCAD file and select the option to place colours at top of colour table. If you are melding an existing map file then File | Import that file and select the option to place colours at top of colour table.

Looking ahead

This function is on the OCAD AG wish list to include in Map | Load colours & symbols from… That will negate the need to have an empty map file when you simply wish to import new symbols.

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OCAD 11. File | Import : Journal #5

Import OCAD file – the pain

Colour table before import
Colour table before import

Ever imported an OCAD map or symbol set so you could replace many or all symbols and colours in the base map? I did when converting an orienteering map to a public recreation map.

Converted my first few roads to the new symbols and wondered why they disappeared from the map. I realised that the colours for the new symbols were all lower in the colour table than colours for existing symbols. Thus my new symbols were blocked where there was an old symbol in the same location. e.g. a green or yellow area symbol. What a pain moving each colour up.

The solution

Colour table after import
After import

When importing all symbols and colours, OCAD 11 offers the opportunity to place colours at the top of the colour table. So as you convert symbols, they should still show up on the map. On some maps it may be wise to convert area symbols last else your unconverted line and spot symbols may be invisible under the higher placed new area colours.

Wish list

This function could be useful also when Map | Load colours from (and symbols) is used. OCAD AG now has that on their wish list.

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OCAD 11. File | Import : Journal #4

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OCAD 11 multiple file import

OCAD 11 provides multi file import for Shape, DXF, GPX, NMEA and XYZ formats.

Import multi Shape files - screen snip
Importing multi Shape files

I tried it with Shape files (Professional version of OCAD 11) and it worked well. If, like me, you often use Shape files to create base maps then you will find this a time saver.

Selection of files is by Windows conventions of SHIFT to select a range of adjacent files and CTRL to select disparate files. However! The files you import must share the same field names for selection of unique key and layer information.

The screen snip shows the result of selecting an area hydro file and a line hydro file. The layers column contains the relevant entity names and OCAD symbols can be applied to the right of each entity for automatic translation.

I could not evaluate the co-ordinate system transformation function as issues arose that I have reported to OCAD.

Import PDF and save layer reference file

PDF convert layers screen snip
PDF convert layers

Dead simple, efficient and worked well.

However! The VicMap PDF I tested, generated a CRT (layer-symbol cross reference) file comprising a long list of layers named by number rather than descriptiion thus was unworkable – not the fault of OCAD. If your supplied PDF does have more relevant layer names, then the facility to select an appropriate symbol for each layer appears to work just fine.

It gets even better if you regularly import PDFs that have the same layer structure. The first PDF you process creates a CRT file that can be saved and reused to process later PDFs. So name those CRT files meaningfully.



Import OCAD file with colours to top of Colour Table

What a great option. Recently I have been importing a new symbol set with associated colours, into older files. Often the colours for those symbols are not in the correct place in the symbol table to enable the symbol to show. So now, when I test out those symbols by opting to place colours at top of the colour table, I can be sure they will show up on the screen as they are no longer subservient to existing colours.

In case you are not aware, the order of colours in the colour table defines the order in which they are printed. The top colour in the table is printed last (in offset printing and simulated so in digital printing) thus rests on top of any colour below it. Unless you have ‘overprint‘ ticked for a colour, OCAD does not generate lower sequenced colours using the same space.

If you intend using the new symbols but marry them to existing colours, then once you have checked out the symbol shapes and sizes on your map, the redundant colours are easily found for deletion at the top of the table.

Import Freehand files

I won’t be testing Freehand as I am not familiar with it. However you can read the process in one of OCAD’s FAQs .

Next up

View functionality.