I’m very new to GIS, and I’ve been reading a lot of manuals and information, but I thought I’d ask a couple of questions here.

One of my major hobbies is drawing maps of a completely imaginary country; it’s part of a massive project of mine. I’m getting to the point where I’m reaching practical limitations in the way I’m drawing the maps using traditional graphics software.

However, I’ve already done quite a lot of work on these SVG maps in Inkscape, and I really would prefer not to start completely from scratch: the current file represents several months, if not a couple of years worth of work. They aren’t georeferenced, but they are drawn to scale (1:10000).

Is there a method to convert or import the SVG into a GIS application, such as QGIS? I’ve been playing around with it all week to no avail. Ideally I want to just import the file, layers and all, and pick up drawing where I left off, but that seems to be all-but-impossible. Even just an easy way to add georeferencing to the exported image would be a good start.

EDIT: Here’s one of the maps in question. It’s an export from Inkscape at 60 dpi; the original SVG file is ~ 3×3 metres(!) in size and tends to crash browsers. I’ve been documenting my progress with an album too. Although it’s unfinished, I figure if I’m planning to switch to QGIS, the earlier I do so the less re-mapping I’m probably going to have to do too. The bottom left corner is the point 0°E 40°N, and the map covers an area of roughly 1100 km² (33×33 km).

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    Do you have an example image you could add to your question? – bcollins Oct 12 '13 at 7:51
  • I really enjoyed the samples. Do you have a final goal related to converion to QGIS compatible layers (e.g. web application)? – bcollins Oct 13 '13 at 21:15
  • Yeah, the idea is to eventually create some kind of encylopaedia about this imaginary world written from the perspective of its inhabitants. So the maps will be one part of it; I’ve also got notes on biology, society, languages, religions, economies, etc. – Robbie Oct 15 '13 at 7:18

I think using QGIS or another package would be a great idea.

Usually people flow the other way...QGIS to Inkspace for additional cartographic design work, although use of SVG for symbology is common.

Have you seen this post:


It suggests converting to SVG to DXF in inkscape, then also mentions some caveats with geo-referencing.

In the end, you will need to standardize the coordinate systems so you can use different layers with separate attribute tables.

Edited after review of example material:

Great examples. I'm very impressed with what you were able to accomplish with Inkscape.

So you could:

  • Georeference your images, then digitize additional layers within QGIS as using standard GIS data formats (shape, gml, kml). These new layers would be proper vectors with attributes tables, while layers created in Inkspace would be only part of the basemap image (raster), and would not have attributes. This would be easy to do, but you wouldn't have access to modify individual layers from InkScape which would be a bummer.

  • You could also try to convert the individual SVG layers into a projected coordinate space. I'm not sure if there exists a utility to do this. The post talks a bit about it, but it looks bleak:


It looks like the most practical option would be to create your static basemap in InkScape, considering the coordinate system when defining extents. Then manage additional points/lines/polys-of-interest in QGIS.

What is your final intent? Do you want to symbolize features based on attributes? Do you want to create a web map?

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    I want to create a map of the continent (and eventually the entire imaginary world), and include it in some kind of encyclopaedia about the planet. It’s a pretty massive project. – Robbie Oct 15 '13 at 7:22
  • hey awesome idea. I love hearing about such creative projects – bcollins Oct 18 '13 at 18:17

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