I’m making a hiking map for a small range of mountains. I’d like to show surface coverage, including a few broad categories of vegetation type, rock, sand, etc. I’d like to do this as vector data.

I haven’t managed to get satisfactory results by processing remote imagery, although I’m very inexperienced with that and would welcome any suggestions.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m going to need to trace it manually from Google Earth or something. But, for covering large areas quickly with regions that are not always obviously contiguous or not, creating polygons by drawing outlines feels cumbersome and not intuitive. I’d much rather be able to use something like a brush tool from a drawing application to “paint” in the areas that I want for each coverage type.

Are there any tools or apps that would help me do this? I’m using QGIS, but am open to incorporating other software into my workflow.

I’d also welcome suggestions for alternative methods of generating vector data for surface coverage.


You could create a Grid of Hexagons for your area-of-interest using MMQGIS, Create Grid Layer. Use the "Select Features by Polygon" tool to attribute the vegetation types. Finally, Dissolve the grid by vegetation type to produce the outlines.

  • Ah ha! Thank you. It’s not quite like the painting I had in mind, but it’s definitely far superior to any other method I had thought of, and I’ll get stuck in with this once I’ve figured out all of the working details.
    – Graham vdR
    Aug 3 '17 at 21:45

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