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World War 1 and Detailed Maps

Newcastle 1913 topo

British Forces, aerial photography and more in WW1 …

“British surveyors made a crucial contribution during World War I—an accurate map of the battlefield”

writes Jeffrey S. Murray. His article highlights even more surprising advances in that short 4 year period. Continue reading World War 1 and Detailed Maps

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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.

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Swiss Maps Swap 5 colours for 4

Stochastic screening

Switzerland’s WOC’12 maps printed CMYK

Through research and utilisation of the latest processes in four colour (CMYK) printing, Switzerland was able to produce maps that satisfied the demands of our sport’s prestige events — the World Orienteering Championships.

Part of the story was OCAD’s new Layout Layer which made it easy to incorporate sponsor logos, printer’s crop marks and other useful map artwork.

Switzerland’s O magazine earlier this year published an article by Thomas Gloor, CEO of OCAD, on the topic. You can read the English translation (PDF 2pp)

Is this important to Australia and NZ?


Firstly, the cost of top class CMYK offset printing is generally lower than that of PMS (Pantone) offset printing for the relatively small quantities required by our sport.

Secondly, CMYK printing enables the easy incorporation of raster (JPG, TIFF, PNG, GIF) images such as sponsors’ and clubs’ logos plus photos.

So are we lagging?

Maybe not a lot.

With one exception (see below) I have always presumed WRE (World Ranking Events) and above in Australia are PMS printed. A quick look at the relevant page on the Orienteering Australia website supports my perception.

However, I am aware that at a lower level,  Bendigo Orienteering club has produced detailed rogaine maps (compiled from orienteering maps) that are CMYK offset printed.

With significant recent interest in colour conformance by the Australian CMYK offset print industry, we should be able to achieve the same results as the Swiss although some effort, and maybe cost, will be required.

CMYK offset colour conformance

Why is colour conformance an enabler? It isn’t in itself. But to me, accreditation to a recognised colour quality mark  indicates the printery is serious about quality, especially repeatability of colour. Unlike PMS with its strictly controlled ink manufacture, CMYK inks and application are relatively uncontrolled and thus exhibit colour variation which may be unacceptable to orienteering.

You also need to be aware that while PMS colours should always be within a narrow tolerance of an internationally accepted  Pantone swatch colour, the best CMYK can achieve is to be within tolerance of a particular quality organisation’s CMYK swatch colours. In other words, switch from one accredited CMYK printery to another and the result could be noticeably different.

Two such digital certifications are from Fogra and Truly Colour (in conjunction with Swiss based UGRA).

Australia CMYK digital (laser)

Since Bushrangers Carnival 2009, Australia has had top flight digital CMYK printing of maps. Similarly to the Swiss development, this came about through research and process experimentation. Reviewing overseas reports earlier this year, it appears we have been ahead of much of the orienteering world in CMYK digital press map production at least until 2012.

Validation of our processes came when 2011’s WRE on Marginata map in Canberra was printed digital CMYK. This was done as the cost of offset printing as normally required was prohibitive. However, despite the print for a rock strewn map being very high for a digital print, it must be noted that feedback from competitors was that it is still unacceptable for such a high level event. This gives some impetus to exploring CMYK offset while awaiting the to see if the advent of ink jet (as opposed to toner based) production digital presses will also bring greater precision.

Two print centres known to produce very high quality digital (laser) print orienteerings maps are;

Specifications and process to enable other digital print centres to achieve the same quality are on the Mapping Resources section of this website. Generally, the model of digital press would need to be ‘full production’ classification and probably will be no more than 3 years old.

Further reading

A further article in the Swiss WOC’12 + OCAD series will be published in the next post.  The topic is LIDAR. The series article on Sprint maps will be published in the March 2013 edition of The Australian Orienteer.

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Comments welcome

Your comments, corrections and own experiences on CMYK map printing are welcome.