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Often times in planning projects, a hand drawn, sketchy look is desirable in order to convey the preliminary nature of a project.

Is anyone aware of any utilities/plugins for desktop GIS software (ArcGIS, QGIS etc.) that enable the user to apply a hand drawn, sketchy look to feature symbology without modifying the geometry?

Here is a product called M-Color for AutoCAD that does the sort of thing that I am looking for but it is of course CAD centric:

http://www.m-color.com/m-color/flash/hand_drawn.html

This sort of thing can also be achieved in SketchUp using styles. The best solution would be one that would eliminate intermediate steps, allowing the user to stay in a single software environment and avoid any intermediate export/import steps.

6

MapBox recently released a style called Pencil to emulate hand-drawn base maps. They actually mention the style is based on real hand-drawn lines. Paper textures are also added to achieve nice effects:

enter image description here

Looking at the past, in 2010 Microsoft published Destination Maps, an on-line utility to automatically generate map sketches, allowing users to indicate how to access a certain point.

enter image description here

Everything seems to go back to Agrawalas's work (2001) on generalization and distortion of route maps for improving usability.

enter image description here

It would be marvelous to have similar styles in GIS software. I think distorted maps would be more a sort of image product, not something to interact with. I remember that generating a destination map used to take a while.

  • Cheers for the info! I recently checked out MapBox's impressive Pencil style. I have experimented a bit with vector drawing editors like Inkscape. Inkscape has some interesting vector path tools such as the sketch and hatch tools : verysimpledesigns.com/vectors/… I have tweaked a couple of PDF maps using these tools to achieve some interesting "hand drawn" effects. This option requires extra export/import steps but it is definitely worth checking out. – Brent Edwards Feb 27 '15 at 20:17
  • Thanks @BrentEdwards for sharing information on the topic. – Germán Carrillo Feb 27 '15 at 20:57
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After searching a lot all over the internet for a solution to this I made my own DIY sketch style.

This is the result (see the building layer):

enter image description here

To create this style I did do the following steps:

1 - Export the vector layer to excel (or just create a CSV file that you can join with the layer). Give every object a random number from 0 to 1 ( in excel =RANDBETWEEN(0;1000)/1000 )

2 - Import the csv and join it to the original layer

3 - Set the first symbol layer to a gradient fill with a dark color to a greyish semitransparent color. In the example I did use a radial fill. Then I did set the first reference points x-value to the random number assigned to the polygon and the second reference points y values to 1- the random number. This is to create the random feeling of a sketch (all strokes are different).

4 - Add a second symbol layer on top of the first one. This one you set to a shapeburst fill where the outer color is transparent white and the inner color is white. Set shading style to "Shade to a set distance" with a value that is the desired width of the "strokes". In the example I did use 0,35 mm.

5 - Enjoy. I have noticed that the strokes can be hard to see when you are working with the project (graphic bug). But when exported to a map the style is working great.

I just came up with this solution so there is certainly a lot of adjustment that can be made to make it look better.

  • Thanks for sharing your workflow! What software are you using - QGIS/ArcGIS? – Brent Edwards Oct 27 '17 at 14:04
  • I'm using Qgis 2.18.11. Just let me know if you have any other questions. – Nils Edfast Oct 30 '17 at 16:48
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there is vector action pack here for photoshop, maybe it works who want to convert their symbology to vector art....it is only $5.. there is video here, about how can use it..

sketch

i hope it helps you...

  • Thanks for the link. Personally, I find these styles a bit too cartoon-like. Unfortunately, I do not have access to Photoshop/Illustrator. – Brent Edwards May 16 '12 at 12:59

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