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Make Your Own Maps Your Way

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The_Mountaineer View Drop Down
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** West BY-GOD Virginian! **

Joined: 02 July 2003
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    Posted: 28 December 2004 at 05:05

Well,

Here's a belated Christmas present to all you BSB's!  Seeing as how most big game hunters will use topographical and aerial photos to map out their favorite hunting spots I thought I'd share with you how I recently became a map guru totally free and without any special computer junk.  Admittedly, I didn't quite figure this out all by myself but with the help of a computer graphics guru who helped me!

So, here's how to do it.

Things you'll need:
Microsoft "Paint" program
Internet access to http://terraserver.microsoft.com/default.aspx
A 3.5 inch disk, CD, USB Storage device/removable drive (the size in kilobytes of your map will dictate which one you'll need)
Access to a large printer (might even be able to take it to a copy center to print big maps and aerials of)

Let's get started.

1.  You'll first need to locate your favorite hunting area on terraserver and pick whether you want an aerial or topographical map.  You navigate by simply clicking the North, South, East or West arrows.  To toggle between aerial and topo select the appropriate tab in the upper right hand corner of the map you're looking at.

2.   Next, to get the largest "field of view" go to the upper left hand portion of the map and select the largest square and click it.  It will not change the zoom of the photo but rather just expand the size of the map area you're looking at.

3.  Now, you must select the "scale" of the photo or map you want.  I usually use the 8 meters per pixel or 4 meters per pixel scale depending on how big the property is.  8 meters is great for topos while 4 meters is great for aerials.  Select the size scale you want to use by clicking one of the horizontal bars or the + or - button on the upper left hand portion of the map/aerial.

4.  Up to this point, you might have not learned anything new, especially if you're already familiar with terraserver.  However, if your hunting area isn't in full view you'll need to read on.  If it is, great!  You can simply print it out via the "print" function in terraserver itself and NOT in your browser's toolbar.  The "print" button is located above the "aerial" and "topo" tabs of the map window.  This allows you to toggle between "landscape" view or "portrait" view (located in the top line of the terraserver print view).  You can also "show" grid lines as they would be on a printed USGS map.  However, I should warn you that by switching to "show gridlines" the coverage area usually shifts a little and your hunting area may no longer be in full view.  It's all very simple once you try it.  When you are ready to print make sure to set your printer properties to "best" and select the proper page orientation, whether "portrait" or "landscape" for the map you're viewing.

5.  O.k., so let's say that your hunting area is only partly in view and you want to have one continuous map of the entire property BUT terraserver won't let you do it unless you "zoom out" to a larger scale map.  Don't fret there's a way to get around this!  While keeping the terraserver window open do a "screen capture".  On my computer this is done by Alt+Prnt Scrn (the Prnt Scrn button is above F10 on my laptop).  Whatever you see on the monitor is what you just captured when you hold the "Alt" key and press "Prnt Scrn".  Just be sure that before you do this that your cursor is OFF of the map you plan to capture.  Place it anywhere but over the aerial or topo.  Otherwise you might get a little message "click to zoom" or a crosshair tool on the map that you didn't want.  Congratulations, you've just done a screen capture.  So now what?

6.  Open up "Paint" a very common microsoft program on every computer I've ever used, usually found in "Start" - "Programs" - "Accessories".  This will bring up a white drawing "canvas"  You'll want to make this very very big.  To make the canvas larger, you can either (a) use the tiny toggle squares located in the corners and centers of each side of the square (difficult) or (b) go to the menu bar - "image" - "attributes" and specify in inches the size of the canvas you want (easy).  Save this file as your "working" file.  Repeat the same process for your "final map" file.  Keep both files open so you can work between the two easily.  Simply minimize them if they're in your way. 

So now, you have a "working map" file and a "final map" file in Paint.  You also have a screen capture of a terraserver webpage with a piece of the map/aerial of your hunting property since terraserver won't let you see the entire property without zooming out.  So, let's get to putting the pieces together! 

7.  Make your "working map" paint file the active file if it isn't already.  Now, you'll want to paste the screen capture into this.  To paste, simply go to "Edit" - "Paste" in the Paint menu bar or use "Ctrl"+"v".  What will happen is you'll paste the entire webpage screen capture from terraserver onto your paint canvas.  This screen is no longer active in paint so don't worry about hitting any buttons!  

8.  You'll want to now cut out only the map itself and not the sidebars, menu and other clutter.  To cut out just the map itself (or aerial), go to the "select" icon on the left side bar and click it.  It is the icon that looks like a box made of dashes and is the top right icon.  You now have a cutting tool in your possession, so let's use it! 

9.  This "select" function works just like cutting out biscuits, rolled out on a counter top except your "cutter" is square AND expandable.  Go to a corner of the map or aerial picture and while holding down the "left click" function of your mouse or keypad cut out the map/aerial picture.  When you have "boxed" around the map, release the left click.  Your cursor will now change to 4 arrows when placed over the "cut-out" of the map. 

10.  Now, you'll want to cut or copy your selected cut-out.  To do this, place the cursor in the map you just selected and then "right click".  A menu will pop up and simply select "cut" or "copy" - either will work though I usually use "cut" for some reason.

11.  You've just successfully cut one of X number of pieces needed to build your own hunting map!  Now, you'l want to paste it into your "Final Map" file in Paint.  So, make the "final map" file in paint the active window and paste it as before (edit-paste, or ctrl+v).  It will automatically, paste the map piece you just cut from the screen capture of terra server into the upper left hand corner of the white canvas of your final map file.  Orient this on the canvas appropriately.  By this I mean if you have the southeastern corner of your property pasted, drag it down near but not against the bottom right hand corner of the "final map" canvas.  To drag, simply place your cursor over the pasted image and hold the left click button of your mouse of keypad.  Bingo, you're well on your way!

To finish out your map, you simply keep repeating the above steps till you have "pieced" your map together.  To ensure they match up you'll need to make sure that when you are dragging a map piece and joining it with another, you'll need to select the very bottom icon of the left side paint toolbar which looks like a bunch of shapes with a green block with a dashed line square around it with a "clear" background.  This allows you to overlap the pieces perfectly as you can "see" through them.  If you were to select the icon just above it with the white dashed line square around the green block you wouldn't be able to "see" through it.  I guess it's like trying to match up a broken picture painted on glass versus one painted on paper. 

That's it!  Sounds complicated perhaps but it really isn't and it's a heck of a lot cheaper.  Once you're done you just simply have to take it somewhere where they can print it out.  The places I'm going to will print it out for a few $$$'s and all I have to do is supply a CD, or removable storage device (USB storage device) with the correct file and they'll print it!

Of course, you can pretty your maps up with all sorts of neat things too!  Here are some extra things you can do.

A. Crop maps to a perfect square shape.  This I do by opening the "Paint" file into Microsoft Photo Editor or perhaps the free Adobe 2.0 Photoshop program.  I simply adjust the margins till they "look" right and neat.

B.  On some of my maps I like to add a name or title to the area (perhaps the size, location, etc.).  To do this, simply open up a "working" paint file.  Select the text tool which looks like an "A" and draw a text box.  Type in whatever you want, cut/copy and paste into the "final map" and drag it to where you want it.

C.  Boundaries!  This is probably one of the biggest pains but necessary.  Simply open up the map file in Paint and save a new "working" version, so in case you screw up you don't ruin your original.  I then mark the boundaries with a yellow line.  This is done by selecting the "line" function in the left toolbar of paint.  Select the color by going down to the bottom color grid and clicking it with the left click button of your mouse.  Then, pick a starting point easily referenced and trace the property boundary by clicking point to point.  The straighter the line is, the fewer the points, the curvier the line is, the more points you'll have to "lay down" to simulate a curve, like around creeks, rivers and such.

D.  Icons, sign and other add-ons.  I sometimes want to add things like parking areas, game trails, stand sites and others things to the map so I don't forget where they are!  Do this by designating a symbol for it.  For example, I usually mark my stand locations with a red dot.  To do this, I simply make a circle in a "working file" by using the "circle" icon, fill it with red paint (the bucket icon) and then cut/copy paste and drag into the "final map".  Remember, all you're doing is making a picture in one place - the working file, and taking it to another place - the final map file.

E.  What about a scale?  Well, what I do is when I'm cutting the pieces of my map out of terraserver, I'll also cut out the scale provided by them.  This is located at the bottom right hand corner of the map/aerial viewing window.  I simply cut/copy paste and drag it to where I want in the "final map" usually in the bottom right hand corner.

If anybody has any further comments or questions, please ask.  It's entirely possible that I overlooked something.  But, I've been able to make about a half dozen maps and aerial photos on some public areas I've never even set foot on as well as those areas I traditionally hunt.

Sure beats paying $8.00 per map and $8.00 per aerial when it can be had for much less!  Those of you who have access to large paper printers are really in the hotseat for making maps using this method.

Hope this helps all of you and again, feel free to ask questions!

Though I had to shrink it to the be uploaded here on BSB's, here's one example of the final product.  Ready to be used on a 8.5X11 standard piece of paper.  Throw it in my home laminating machine and bingo!  Free map that I customized myself!

 



Edited by The_Mountaineer
Paritur pax bello - Peace is obtained by war.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 December 2004 at 05:25

Thanks for the info...great.  I like Terraserver and use it all the time.  But it will be nice "add" info with your guidelines.

To center maps I usually just click on my point of concern and terraserver will align the map to my click point.  When I make copies for friends they always ask what the little crosshair is in the dead center.

Unfortunately lots of the terraserver maps have errors or omissions, due to being old.  You method lets us update them easy.  Thanks

BEAR

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The_Mountaineer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 December 2004 at 05:38

No problems BEAR, it was a technique learned out of necessity!

You brought up a good point about the "crosshair in the center" or a "click to zoom" message being printed out on the map.

Whenever you go to "capture the screen" make sure that your cursor is OFF the map so you don't get these into your final product.  It's fine to just rest your cursor in the outside margin where it will be cut and discarded anyway. 

I'll make note of it in the original post!

Glad I could help!

Paritur pax bello - Peace is obtained by war.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 December 2004 at 06:02
brad -

in the words of my sister back when we were kids, "totally awesome!"

thanks for the informaiton. this just became a topic for the BSB archives!
TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Gunrunner Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 December 2004 at 06:36
Good post Mountaineer.   I've always liked maps, and this info will be put to use.      
Somebody better call the Secret Service. Let 'em know there's an illegal alien in the White House...and it ain't the cook!!
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