How To Make Topographic Maps

Topographic maps are very important for a lot of reasons. Their uniqueness over other kinds of maps has made this one very useful not only for students but more importantly to graphic professionals, architects, urban planners, and hikers. Maps like this are very special since it showcases the locations and shapes of forests, mountains, lakes, rivers, roads, cities, and other features in the environment. If you know how to make this kind of map, take note of these following steps:

  • Pick the location you are trying to reflect in the map. Before you start everything, it is important that you are already familiar with the location you will be working on. Hence, start studying the location as much as you can from the elevation levels, scale, and compass directions to landmarks. To help you with this step, gather existing maps from libraries, books, or other sources such as the Internet. When you have maps in your hand, study and record everything that is needed for the topographic map that you will be creating.
  • Work on the scale of the map first. At this point, establish a scale for the whole map. This scale will be representing the distance in your map. For instance, you can represent one mile by one inch. Once you have established this, draw this scale at the corner of your map.
  • Work on the compass direction in your map. When speaking of compass, this means the designation of the four directions in your map. Draw the compass in one corner of your map and indicate arrows to show the four directions. The compass is very important because the positioning of the features in a specific location will greatly depend on the compass.
  • Draw the overall shape of the specific location that you are mapping. This will give you the complete view of the overall location. When doing this, it is best to start with the lowest of all elevations first. Do not forget to draw a label of the line to indicate its elevation level.
  • Use elevation lines to make your map clearer. Your map will be better if you will draw elevation lines depending on the established increment of a certain feature in the location. For instance, you can draw a line to indicate an elevation for every 50 feet.
  • Work on the landmarks in the map. The best way to indicate the landmarks in the map is through symbols. The most common symbol you can use for mountain peaks, for instance, is a triangle shape. Think of other symbols for other landmarks in the map. Then, create a legend of the symbols so that readers can easily understand what the symbols stand for in the map.
  • Finish the topographic map with the name of the location. A map will never be complete without the name of the location. Hence, to finish this project, write the name of the location at the top portion of the poster.

In several cases, topographic maps are made in a way with dimensions such as literally lifting elevations in the map. For instance, some use clay or other materials to elevate the area where there are mountains. In the end, no matter how you make this project, topographic maps will always be important things for a lot of people. Hence, if you are doing this kind of map, remember to be very accurate all the time.


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