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Getting Started with QGIS: Reference Mapping




Getting Started with QGIS is a FREE short course by Geograf.io Learn that provides an overview of (1) installing QGIS, (2) working with the QGIS user interface, and (3) creating basic print-quality reference maps using the QGIS Layout Manager.  This short course, which is suitable even for novice users who have never worked with GIS, introduces basic GIS mapping techniques and walks through many essential reference mapping methods.  Participants will use the free and open source QGIS software platform, and no purchase of software is necessary.  Skills learned with QGIS transfer well to popular commercial/proprietary GIS platforms.

Participants will learn the following essential concepts and techniques:

  • Techniques for creating visually effective maps using multiple vector and raster data layers;
  • Basic cartographic design techniques, including the essentials of figure ground, representation, color, and typography;
  • Vector data symbolization techniques, including color, labeling, and sizing;
  • Terrain and relief data symbolization techniques, including transparency and rendering/blending modes;
  • How to use QGIS Layouts to create attractive print-ready maps containing common map elements, including titles, legends, scale bars, and other annotations;
  • Raster data symbology techniques, including Hillshade and Contour operations.

Outcomes and Products

Participants will create several reference map:  one will be a reference map of a selected country or region, and the other will be a topographic map showing terrain characteristics in the context of other physical and cultural features.  Cartographic design techniques are emphasized throughout, and practical training videos are provided.

Example of a reference map that participants will produce in this free course.


Example of a topographic reference map that participants will produce in this free course using terrain analysis methods.

Course Video Tour