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Struggling with getting an effective base map

 
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My property is only about an acre, but is shaped a little unusually - its quite long. It also is well landscaped already by the previous owners, with mature ornamental beds, sweeping borders and alike, so there is ALOT of detail to consider. I'm trying to map the site by a process of triangulation, but am finding that any scale I can get on a piece of paper, is too small to be useful - to fit on A1 paper, I have to be working with about 1:200. I've tried breaking it up into separate pieces to get more detail, but even then I can get to about 1:50 on A1, which means a number of different pieces of paper and arguably still not close enough to the ground to really plan out and design effectively.

With so much detail its getting quite laborious processing the triangulation measurements too - everything is organic in shape (paths and beds naturally sweep and bend through the property), very few straight lines to be working with over distances I can measure on my own! I feel this is making accuracy difficult.

I know the importance of a solid base map - the ideal solution I think would be mapping on a computer via a CAD programme or Adobe Illustrator. Would create a map that looked great and could be referred back to time and again. I have had some training in CAD and have access to software, but I wonder how worthwhile it would be to take this route given how basic my knowledge is in this area.

I've looked into buying in a map even, but here (in UK) choices are either maps too simplistic to be useful (an boundary outline at 1:200 is about as detailed as you can get off the shelf) or commissioning a third party to do this, which would run into thousands of £££.

Any advice from others who've faced similar challenges? Keen on any views anyone might have on this.
 
gardener
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I'm not sure about in UK but mytopo.com creates very nice custom maps. Don't recall the price but it was reasonable. They are large maps with excellent detail. Mine even shows some old homesteads that were abandoned 100 years ago. Have explored most of those locations but have only found an old root cellar & a chimney so far.  
 
Mj Lacey
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Mike Barkley wrote:I'm not sure about in UK but mytopo.com creates very nice custom maps. Don't recall the price but it was reasonable. They are large maps with excellent detail. Mine even shows some old homesteads that were abandoned 100 years ago. Have explored most of those locations but have only found an old root cellar & a chimney so far.  



Looks great and thanks - alas US / Canada only.
 
gardener & bricolagier
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Illustrator can be a high learning curve, and isn't as useful as you'd think it would be. I draw in Photoshop, also not the best, but easy for me. I'd suggest look for a paint or drawing program that does layers, so you can work with sections at a time. Photoshop CS2 is my program of choice for that. Get much newer versions and they are way more complex than what you need. I don't know what other paint or drawing programs support layers, but layers will be your important thing. That's how you can get your details in. Keeps it from getting too complex. Check my Gardens In My Mind post in my signature to see what I do with layers. Every picture on that is the same file, just different layers turned off or on.  

And a weird thought: exactly how precise do you absolutely require your base map to be? I keep multiple maps, sections when I need details, an aerial satellite view shot when I need overview. In reality, most of it is in my head, as my brain is better software than any computer graphic. I have few measurements, as they are difficult on my property. You might think on what you actually require for a base map, and for detail maps.

:)
 
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Maybe I am missing something here ...

We use Google Earth.  We can mark area as specific locations and the print it out.  That way we can draw on it or even make several copies to play with.
 
pollinator
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I have used a combination of Google Earth, our town's GIS mapping here, found on our town's website: Town of Winchester, Massachusetts, as well as a detailed, triangulated measuring of our deer exclusion fence layout as installed, to begin  making a map in a CAD program.
(as yet unfinished)
I would also suggest a mortgage plot plan as another source, or other maps/plans on file at your building department or assessor's office (you may need to pay for a copy)

While I find it nice to know that I could sit inside on a cold, rainy day and make plans on the computer, I also find it more productive to get outside and stake something off. It's too easy for me to get sucked into spending a lot of time recreating an exact miniature copy of what's already there, just waiting outside...
So, be honest about why and how detailed it really needs to be.
 
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I'm in the same boat for my property.  There is no LIDAR information for the area and the satellite imagery is older.  I have been considering using a drone to generate a 3d map of the property but they are a bit cost prohibitive.
 
steward
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Another thing to check is your county's GIS mapping service.  It's for identifying parcels, taxes, etc.  Mine defaults to a map view but there's an option to change the layer to aerial photos they take every 5 years.  It's also nice because the lot lines are shown.
 
Mj Lacey
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Pearl Sutton wrote:Illustrator can be a high learning curve, and isn't as useful as you'd think it would be. I draw in Photoshop, also not the best, but easy for me. I'd suggest look for a paint or drawing program that does layers, so you can work with sections at a time. Photoshop CS2 is my program of choice for that. Get much newer versions and they are way more complex than what you need. I don't know what other paint or drawing programs support layers, but layers will be your important thing. That's how you can get your details in. Keeps it from getting too complex. Check my Gardens In My Mind post in my signature to see what I do with layers. Every picture on that is the same file, just different layers turned off or on.  

And a weird thought: exactly how precise do you absolutely require your base map to be? I keep multiple maps, sections when I need details, an aerial satellite view shot when I need overview. In reality, most of it is in my head, as my brain is better software than any computer graphic. I have few measurements, as they are difficult on my property. You might think on what you actually require for a base map, and for detail maps.

:)



Thanks, thats useful. I'm familiar with Photoshop already and use it regularly (photographer as part of my income).

Its a fair point on preciseness - there are probably 4 distinct 'areas' that would benefit from detailed overview over others (say, 1:20, 1:50) but if I go to the effort to make 4 individual maps at precise detail, I might as well just scale back a little and do the property.

I'd like to just see it unfold in front of me out there, but my mind works best in a 'play' space - moving pieces of trace and experimenting on paper will help me enormously I think. Also we have small children, so my primary design time is going to be at night, when its too dark to be effective wandering in the garden.
 
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https://framacarte.org/en/

On framacarte, an open source initiative, you can draw your maps and play around. Not as complete as Qgis, but quick and easy, done online!

Not everything is translated yet, but enough to work on it. Check out the different base maps for the one that suits your needs.
 
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If you have a phone with GPS, you can install a GPX tracker and walk the contours, and circles at the points you want to record. The generated file can be imported into Google Earth (or something else). It will not be perfectly accurate, but you may not need that with organic shapes anyway.
 
Anne Miller
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Mike Jay wrote:Another thing to check is your county's GIS mapping service.  It's for identifying parcels, taxes, etc.  Mine defaults to a map view but there's an option to change the layer to aerial photos they take every 5 years.  It's also nice because the lot lines are shown.



This is where I go sometimes to get the latest version of google earth though not all counties are up to date.  I use another county's version rather than the one I live in and just "zoom" (for lack of a better word) over to my property.

We don't currently have any project that need mapping though in the past this have been great for a lot of reason.  After marking on the print out it is then helpful to finding where we want to put our markers or flags as we can see the trees, rocks, etc to find the locations that we want to mark.
 
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I'm taking a GIS class right now at college, and my professors likes to mention the UK as having one of the best national mapping services.

Would an Ordinance Survey potentially work as a basemap for you? They have Open OS maps, which you can look at online.
 
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Google Earth with a measurement line inserted somewhere for reference and a Huion light pad for tracing.  Base map created and then multiple copies made and we're off to the races.  
 
Rob Kaiser
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Rob Kaiser wrote:

Rob Kaiser wrote:Google Earth with a measurement line inserted somewhere for reference and a Huion light pad for tracing.  Base map created and then multiple copies made and we're off to the races.







Ok, well someone messaged me and told me my photos didn't post.  I don't know how.  Anyone wants to see them just let me know and I can explain my procedure here if there's enough interest.  :)
 
Mj Lacey
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Rob Kaiser wrote:

Rob Kaiser wrote:

Rob Kaiser wrote:Google Earth with a measurement line inserted somewhere for reference and a Huion light pad for tracing.  Base map created and then multiple copies made and we're off to the races.







Ok, well someone messaged me and told me my photos didn't post.  I don't know how.  Anyone wants to see them just let me know and I can explain my procedure here if there's enough interest.  :)



Hi Rob - would be super interested to see this, yes please.
 
Anne Miller
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It might help if Rob told us how his pictures were posted.  Are they stored on your computer or do you use an image storing service?

Here is a tutorial for how to post an image:   https://permies.com/t/61133/Post-Image-Permies
 
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This may not be for the Original Poster because this is for the USA, but when I need a map of my farm, I go to the USDA-NRCS and ask for a map in two foot contours. It will take a few weeks, but they will get you one for free.

There is also a ton of information on their website for maping called Web Soil Survey. Again, everything is free.

I seldom make my own maps, but I do a lot of designing of homemade equipment, and for me, I use Microsoft Excel. I set all the columns to size 2, and that gives me nice squares in which to draw from. Excel has a lot of drawing tools, and even templates in which to do landscape drawings and technical drawings. It is not ideal I know, but I can jot down some really quick ideas to help me figure out proportion sizes, clearance angles, etc.



 
Rob Kaiser
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OK - here's the method I've come up with for decent basemaps that are easy to use on the cheap:

(Please keep in mind, this process is not perfectly scaled or accurate - much like most designs I do, lol)

1.  Utilize location on Google Maps and zoom in as much as desired.  

Utilize measuring tool in an out of the way, yet visible location.  

Take screenshot. Print several copies of this in color.



2.  Utilize the measuring tool along primary objects such as buildings, roadways, etc.

These measurements may come in handy for notes and anything you wish to document during your site visit.



3.  Grab your Huion light board (available on Amazon for $35)

Specifically, I use model:  Huion L4S LED Light Box A4



4.  Place the printed image on the light board, ideally tape it to the board.



5.  Grab your tracing paper or vellum paper and place it on the board as well.  Tape if desired.



6.  At this point, you'll have a pretty solid map on tracing paper.



7.  Copies of this can be made on a copy machine - end result can be marked up further with white out tape



8.  Finalize drawing with white out tape, and make multiple copies of that for final base map.



9.  Repeat steps of copies, tracing paper, and light board for quick and easy sketches.

10.  Take rough sketches of copies of basemap and take photos of them into Evernote...be sure to take a photo as a "Color Document"



11.  Evernote "cleans up" the image and allows for a much cleaner deliverable image to your customer.

What's nice is that you can use yellow highlighter and/or red ink to bring attention to certain areas.  These colors show after Evernote "cleans up" the image.



This should provide some additional detail to how I go about making basemaps inexpensively.

Hope this helps!


 
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