Contributing to Project Linework

For Project Linework to grow, we need help from people like you. People who are willing to sit down and craft a new, unique set of linework, and share it with the world.

If you’re interested in contributing to the project, drop a line to with your ideas, linework files, or any questions.

A few notes on contributing:

1) Georeferencing: We want to offer people georeferenced shapefiles in addition to Illustrator files, in order to give people the most flexibility in using these linework sets. If you provide us a shapefile of your linework, we can easily make the Illustrator file. If you’d like to work in Illustrator, instead, we can convert to a shapefile (using MAPublisher) if we know three things: the projection (including parameters), the scale, and the projected coordinates of one point in your .ai file.

We can also offer you a ready-for-georeferencing AI file for you to work with. It will contain 10m Natural Earth data that you can use as a template for drawing your linework. If you then hand it back to us without resizing or repositioning anything, we’ll be able to turn your linework into a shapefile.

2) Topology: We want everything to be topologically sound — rivers should line up with borders where applicable, adjacent polygons shouldn’t overlap or gap, borders should line up with coastlines, etc. Making sure everything is clean now means that anyone who downloads your linework contribution won’t have to deal with any errors.

3) Themes and Coverage: We don’t have any requirements for what sort of linework you draw, be it country borders, rivers, roads, rails, etc. There are also no requirements as to what regions of the world you cover. But consider tackling areas and subjects that cartographers will be able to get the most use out of. A set of world country borders is probably more likely to get used than a detailed street network for Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

4) Lines vs. polygons: Polygons offer more cartographic flexibility than lines. So, a set of lines with all the state borders is not as useful as a set of polygons, one per state, which would allow a cartographer to give each one a fill or even make a choropleth. Better to have both, but if you’re only planning on offering one, polygons are probably more useful.

5) Attributes: Attributes are nice, but not required at present. They will extend your set’s flexibility, however. Adding names can allow someone to join a data set to your linework shapefile, making choropleths and other thematic maps possible. It’s also handy just to have something like the names of countries/states/etc. in there, just to make sure that someone doing labeling can get it right without having to consult another map.

6) Point density: Since shapefiles don’t take bezier curves, you’ll need to add a lot of anchor points to your curves to get them to look good (and reproject well) when they’re loaded as a shapefile. You can keep the AI linework simpler, to keep the file sizes down, but the shapefile will need those points.

Just a few things to keep in mind. If you’ve got any questions, feel free to write in to

Project Linework keeps growing, thanks to people like you!


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