Wednesday, September 02, 2009

How to create a Google map for sketches and sketchercise

Members of Sketchercise have recently been learning how to produce maps of our routes using Google Maps - so that we can see the places where sketches are being done on our travels with a sketchbook.

I included my first one in my last post about Hampstead Heath and the Boating Pond

Now - so that I don't forget how to do it and also so I can make a record of my tips for myself I'm sharing what I do to create a map. I think I was successful on my third attempt - hence the tips section!

How to create a Google Map of your sketching trip

If you want to include maps of your route on sketching trips in your blog posts this is what you need to do:
  • find Google Maps - it's usually a link in the top left of the Google Home Page.
  • If you're creating a map for a foreign country, go to the Google Map for that country eg "Google France" and then click the maps link
  • You can create maps in the My Maps section
  • Here's the Google Help Page for how you get started with creating your own map
  • Watch this Google video tutorial about how to create maps on Google Maps. This explains about creating a new map and including placemarks and lines for your route.

Two ways to create a map of your sketches

There are essentially two alternative ways of creating a map:
  • a map of a route taken - with placemarks for sketches en route (and/or local landmarks and/or places you'd like to sketch - as a reminder!)
  • a map of placemarks
A map of a route taken with placemarks for sketches

This was the option I chose for my (unlisted) first map of Hampstead Heath Walk #1 - The Boating Pond

The huge benefit for sketchercisers is that it tells you how far you've walked at the end of the route!

A map of placemarks for sketches

An alternative to creating a route is to create a map of placemarks which link to sketches you've done from that spot

Martin Stankewitz (Edition Handdruck) has created a (public) map like this for his walks in his local forest which he features in Wandern und Zeichnen. See Waldtagebuch Forest diary . Click a placemark and you can see the sketch

His images in Picasa are public and hence can be located on the map.

(Note you can translate the text on Martin's blogs by clicking the translate link at the top of the right column on the home page)

Some tips for creating Google Maps

  • What's the map about - Use the title and description to say what the route is about if you want to be able to keep your chums aware of where you have been walking and sketching.
  • Use the right line tool - If you're going to be walking across open land you can't use the 'draw a line along roads'!
  • Don't give up! - I found it quite difficult to get the 'draw a line' tool to start. Persevere - you'll get there in the end.
  • Achieving accuracy Tip #1 - Work in the satellite view with names of roads and landmarks switched on. It's much, much easier to get the route right that way
  • Achieving accuracy Tip #2 - Magnify the map as much as you can while you're inserting placemarks and the route you walk. Otherwise you'll find as I did that all the placemarks and the route lines are in the wrong place when you do look more closely
  • Achieving accuracy Tip #3 - Use lots of clicks for the 'drawing a line' tool for the route that helps get its 'shape' right. I started to find it was useful to click every time the route started to bend in shape.
  • Show where you did the sketch - I use placemarks to note where I did a sketch. I then use the rich text of description to include a link to my blog post. Obviously the description also gives scope to indicate which direction you were looking in, what the weather was like etc and/or how long you stayed.
  • Concise descriptions - The description in the placemark list only shows the first line - so you need to be fairly precise with the words used in that line, for example "This is where I did my sketch of..."
  • Public or unlisted? - You have a choice about whether you make your map public - or only available to those which have its URL (ie it's not listed by Google). I'm sticking to the latter.
  • Privacy - One important thing to bear in mind. If you don't want to share your address on the Internet do what I do and use a fixed point near your home to act as a start and end point. I'll also be varying mine!
I'm going to be coming back and updating this post as I find out new tricks!

What are your tips for creating a Google Map of where you've been sketching?


  1. Thanks, Katherine, for ways to use the Google map. I have rouble just reading one :)
    so this post was very helpful to me in that regard.

  2. Great piece of information.
    I've been loving your blog and have added it to my blog in my Favorites!!


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