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I am new to the certification process and am currently trying to build a reputation in course marking/mapping to become certified. Any input on mapping/editing software? Are most of you using Google Earth and is anyone using Google Earth Pro? Love to know what maps work the best and preferred editing software. I am hand writing my Maps off Google Earth. Thanks
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Thanks Gene! I was reading over the different resources and it mentioned Google Earth/Pro. I read it as you would want to use this over Google Maps. This is why I figured I would ask what people prefer. Map My Run is something I am familiar with, but I wasn't sure if others like it or not. I have been looking over a bunch of the USATF Course certified maps and its good to know someone may not mind me asking what they use for design. Thanks again!
Welcome to the measuring world!

I use MapMyRun to map the course. I then take various screen-shots: the entire course (map background) to get the overall size of the course onto the page; then zoom-in on sections of the course, and size them to fit over the overall image. Two layers at this point - main overview, and one with the zoom shots.

I use Illustrator, but you can use Both layer. Illustrator is around $400, OpenOffice is free. Illustrator draws better curves, but that is about the main difference.

When you make your maps, put different elements on different layers. As said, overview and zoom shots on two layers. Then, your roads that you draw go on another layer. Road labels on another layer. Descriptive text on another layer. Course lines on another layer. Mile marks on another layer. This actually makes it easier to edit the different elements.

You can be as basic, or as elaborate, as you want. I tell mappers to keep in mind that the map should be made for runners and people not familiar with the area, not just the race director. Clarity, and not cluttered.

Good luck!

I would like to re-ask Kathleen's question now that five years have gone by. I have watched Nathan Porch's video demo of Open Office Draw.  ( That certainly seems adequate and the price is right but I don't want to invest a lot of time learning it only to find out everybody else is using Autodesk Sketchbook (also free) or something else that is much better than either of those.


I am no longer doing course measuring. I use Mac Draft Pro the Bill Bellevue taught me when he was with us. It took a lot of time to learn.
I hear good things about Nathan’s but there is no map that is easy to draw via a computer. It would be great if surface pro had something that allowed you to trace
Like you do by hand, but as of now there isn’t anything.



> On Mar 6, 2019, at 1:20 PM, Road Course Measurement Forums <> wrote:

I have been using Open Office Draw for about 3 years after watching Nathan's Youtube video a couple of times. I will never be an "Illustrator" or reach the level of  map making that the program is capable of but it is a 100% improvement over my hand drawn maps and cut my map making time dramatically. I can make a basic 5k map in about 30 minutes. Maybe another 30 minutes tinkering around with it to be sure it is descriptive and correct. It works for me. 

Jingle Bell 5k Map

Nice map, Winston. I wish there were more maps like yours. On a recent search for a course for a new race, I encountered some maps that are, generously, less than perfect. Open Office Draw is completely adequate for most measurers. Nathan and some other measurers have taken O.O.D. maps to a high level. For amateur measurers, this seems to me to a worthwhile program to learn and use, and likely it is the best of them all. I encourage anyone interested to take the time to view Mark's videos and Nathan's.

For those of us who certify course as part of our profession, I think it is worthwhile to use a higher-level program such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. Take a glance at these beautiful maps by Oscar Wagner and Duane Russell.



Files (2)
Oscar Wagner Map Sample
Duane Russell Map Sample
Last edited by Race Resources LLC

I went ahead and played with a free trial version of AI Saturday morning.  The learning curve is steep as it the price but I think I am going to go this route.  A lot of experienced measurers tell me they spend more time of maps and paperwork than they do on measuring.  That could end up making free software a false economy in the long run.  Videos like this one: make Illustrator pretty enticing (If only I could figure out what The Design Ninja is doing .

I applaud your decision, Frank. I use Corel Draw, just because I got a free version of it many years ago and because it was cheaper to buy updates than to buy Adobe Illustrator outright. Corel Draw and A. I. are very similar programs. They do have a steep learning curve.

I struggled before I figured out how to easily draw parallel lines to represent roads. But the result in A.I./Corel is far better, IMO, both in ease of production and in appearance, than O.O.D. And of course, these high-end programs readily handle any image formats, which is important when you produce a map for a sponsor who has strict guidelines for how their logo appears, for instance.

There are some pretty fine maps in the database that were created using O.O.D. For my money, though, when you compare these to the best made with A.I. or Corel, the difference is obvious. 

Keep watching the many videos. They are a great help. Best wishes.


Flattered that my Haunted Half is included above.  I use Inkscape.  It is free but like all layered vector graphics programs, quirky with a steep learning curve.  Inkscape, believe it or not, takes spells of not working / grinding to a crawl because unwittingly changed one of about 50 global preferences and can't figure out what the problem is.  After many Inkscape uninstalls and reinstalls, I tried Draw this morning and could barely make a straight line.  This forum log on was to search for Nathan's Draw Tutorial which received rave reviews when he did it originally. 

Frank, I can save you some time by showing you how to do nice streets. I do not know about A.I., but I had to dig in the materials for Corel to find the basic info, which wasn't totally accurate for my needs but which allowed me to noodle out the problem. Once you get this little technique down, you have mastered more than 50% of what you need to know to draw fine maps. Contact me off list if I can help.

Thanks.  I am going to try to get my AI fundamentals in place this weekend and, time permitting, go through this: <iframe width='560' height='315' src='' mozallowfullscreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' allowfullscreen='true' frameborder='0'></iframe><div style="margin-bottom:10px"><strong><a href="" title="Learn how to create a simple, easy-to-read map in Illustrator, and enhance it with motion and interactivity.">Drawing Simplified Maps in Illustrator</a></strong> by <a href="">Tony Harmer</a></div>

I have drawn one map with AI sort of learning by doing.  It is not as pretty as it should be.

As I have been thinking about this, it has occurred to me that map making is kind of a specialty thing that does not have a lot to do with measuring.  Seems to me that a measurer should be able to provide enough information to a mapmaker to get a solid first effort.  A couple of iterations later you've got a best in class map in a fraction of the time that the measurer would take.  Do you know if anything like this has ever been tried?  Subcontracting the map making that is?

My experience with Adobe (Premiere and PhotoShop) is that you have to use it often to maintain your skills and maybe even basic competence.  Seems that a lot of measurers do less than 10 courses per year.  Unless they are using their chosen software for something else, their skills will likely suffer.

I'll PM you on where I stand next week.  I actually enjoy fooling around with programs like AI.

I have Adobe Illustrator which I bought outright at least 8 to 10 years ago. Now I see if you want to purchase Adobe Illustrator you will have a monthly fee. I definitely do not like that idea. Say you pay $20 a month that would be $240 a year or $1200 for a 5 year period. Now I realize you will get the update along with that whenever there is an update versus having to pay for the update. But it fills my need so I have never updated the software. This is why if I ever would need another software to draw with I will probably check out the Corel Draw.

When I first got Adobe Illustrator I took personal lesson to learn how to use the pen tool and there was a learning curve to it. One day  while searching for how to make roads I came across a web site  telling how to make simple roads. I don't remember what site it was but basically it said on layer 1 to draw your roads (I use black) when you are finish copy all the roads and lock layer 1 and create layer 2 and use (I have a Mac) hold down command and the F key and it will copy right over the top of the roads on layer 1. You would then change the color of the roads on layer 2 to (I use white) a color. Make the weight of your line smaller than the weight of the line on layer 1. And than you will have all the roads. This is the basic way I do it. Sometimes you may have to make adjustments but they are just small adjustments. I am by far not an expert but if I can help please get in touch with me.

The Classroom in a Book chapters are supposed to take 45 minutes each.  I'm averaging 120 minutes per and am not learning much that will obviously be helpful in drawing maps.  Then again, you don't know what you didn't know until you learn it.  On that basis, I'm going to stick with my plan of working my way through the book before I draw my next map.

I agree, Frank. You are doing it the "right" way. I never did that. I just jumped in and assumed I could noodle out how to do stuff. This turned out to be a bit of a challenge. Going to the Corel help files often got me what I wanted, but sometimes it didn't. I am all but certain that, had I invested the time, as you are, in learning the basic ropes of a complex software program, I would have experienced less frustration in my first few years of using it. As it is, I don't even know what I am missing. So, I have begun to watch a few tutorial videos. 

Because A.I. and C.D. are so huge, your way will reassure you of all the things you can safely ignore in your quest to create good maps, which relieves any FOMO. This should help you focus on the elements which get you on the way to your goal in ways you can't anticipate. Finally, after you've made your first few maps, your learning curve will probably slant upward quickly.

I know the cost of a pro program for creating maps is one obstacle. I don't know whether this or the steep learning curve is more responsible for discouraging more measurers from trying one. It's probably both things. This is a shame, I think. When I was a certifier, I saw the good, bad, and ugly in measurer submitted maps. A couple I got were so bad that I knew it would take me less time to do a new one myself than to try to bring a non-artist up to speed with his/her hand-drawn map.

There are some real artists in our ranks. Take a glance at Bob Thurston's hand-drawn maps, for one example. Bob is one of a small group among our ranks who have the skills to make clear, detailed, accurate manual maps that also have some eye appeal. For a race director and his/her staff who have no familiarity with a course or the area in which it is located, this clarity and detail is obligatory. This is where digital maps do so much better for most of us.

I see more maps created with Open Office Draw these days. Taken as a whole, these maps are far better than most hand-drawn maps. While the learning curve is not as steep for O.O.D. as for the pro programs, it is nevertheless a non-trivial enterprise to get comfortable with it. Mark Neal's videos and Nathan Porch's video are all excellent. Yet, I believe the high-end programs will ultimately result in greater ease of map drawing and in greater satisfaction with the end product.

I am certain that, if I were a certifier again, I would encourage every measurer who plans to certify more than a handful of courses a year to consider taking the steps you are. Long ago, there was some discussion about getting a group license for A.I. or Corel Draw. I don't think there was sufficient interest at the time. When our new submission system comes on line later this year, we will have expanded latitude in the types and size of image files we can submit. This removes one legacy reason for not using a drawing program. I think the future will see a greater percentage of digitally-drawn maps, which is a very good thing for all involved. Maybe we'll re-visit the group license idea in the future. I volunteer to create a video on drawing with Corel when there is enough interest. Maybe you'll be ready to do one for Adobe by then!

oscarwagner posted:

Flattered that my Haunted Half is included above.  I use Inkscape.  It is free but like all layered vector graphics programs, quirky with a steep learning curve.  Inkscape, believe it or not, takes spells of not working / grinding to a crawl because unwittingly changed one of about 50 global preferences and can't figure out what the problem is.  After many Inkscape uninstalls and reinstalls, I tried Draw this morning and could barely make a straight line.  This forum log on was to search for Nathan's Draw Tutorial which received rave reviews when he did it originally. 

I didn't know you use Inkscape, Oscar. You do a fine job with it. I took a look at Inkscape once. I did not like it.

We all know maps can take more time to create than does the physical measurement. This is the beauty of the high end programs. Once you have made the investment in them, map drawing becomes much easier and quicker, as well as providing a superior product. If there is some map error after submission, fixing it is a snap. And the imprimatur of professionalism these high-quality maps reflect on us is indispensable, IMO.

Above illustrator (AI) is definitely the way to go, but is painful. I went this route only after having some vector knowledge from ezdraw (mac only) and the Mac crashed while I was on site measuring a course in IL. PC (windows) was my only option so I downloaded AI, the first map looked cryptic and took hours. The  transition was painful, honestly I would have been better off with no previous vector knowledge. UTube taught me a lot. 3-years post conversion I’d never go back, I actually installed AI on my new Mac 

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