Quite often on this blog I use GIS mapping, especially maps of Kansas, to make a point. Generally when I am making a map I use a simple block colored map, like this one of counties:
That map is great, especially for Kansas policy wonks, or people who can identify areas of Kansas without greater context. But what if we want more contextual data on our map, like roads, city names, and topographical features? This is very easy in QGIS, using the following steps:
- Install the QGIS OpenLayers plugin using the Plugins Menu.
- From the Web menu Choose the OpenLayers plugin.
- Choose which layer you want to add to your map (I have best luck with the OpenStreetMap layer).
- Move the OpenStreetMap layer to be the bottom layer.
- If your top layer (what you are analyzing) is a polygon, it will likely cover your context layer. Change this top layer to be partially transparent using this dialogue.
And, here's our ouptut (same map as we were looking at before):
This gives even more context on close views, like this one:
And is even more helpful for close-up in-town views (like a precinct map of Northern Johnson County Kansas):