How to Make a Topographic Map | DIY Topographic Making Ideas for you

Several students in the United States in their school history are required to carry out a topographic map. In which they reflect with some aspect this gift of the lot that appears on the map.

If you have to carry out a task in this class, pay attention to the steps we offer you to understand how to make a topographic map. In theory, to build a map of this style, it is substantial to carry out a geological survey on the Earth, Rivers, and Lakes. Moreover, you can make a topographic map on Google earth and make a topographic map in an illustrator. 

What is the Topographic Map?

Topographic maps represent a two-dimensional space in which detailed and accurate graphic representations of the properties displayed in the Earth’s area are shown. Remember that maps can be done in different software and just a right-click, and that’s it. However, you can also make a topographic map on paper.

Starting in 1958, the USGS began testing their maps’ accuracy by field checking 20 or more well-defined points on about 10% of the access plans being produced each year.

How to Make a Topographic Map

What Properties Topographic Map Include


To make a topographic profile, start with roads, real estate, urban development, railroads, airports, site names, and geographic properties, administrative parameters, state, and worldwide boundaries, reserves.


Lakes, rivers, streams, swamps, coastal plains


Mountains, valley on a topographic map, contours, and cliffs, and also depressions


Wooded and cleared areas, vineyards, and orchards.

Topographic maps usually detail a geographic grid and a coordinate grid so that you can know the relative and absolute positions of mapped entities.

In this way, if you have to carry out a topographic map, you will have to reflect with an aspect the mentioned, about the sector to represent. This is how it is done.

How to Carry Out a Topographic Map

When we have to carry out a topographic map, first of all, we have to detail a scale of representation (which is more often known as easy scale)

That shows the relationship between the dimensions on paper and the real dimensions of the place represented.

At this point, it is a requirement that you make sure the printing scale is equipment to 100% to keep the map scale consistent. 

In contrast to geographic maps with a larger scale, topographic maps have a scale between 1: 100,000 and 1: 20,000.

For example, a 7.5-minute map with a scale of 1:24,000 requires a horizontal standard. It states that locations must be 90% accurate within 40 feet. Each point should be checked for current areas when walking. 

Vertical accuracy means that the elevations must be 90% accurate concerning the points tested. It also indicates that these must be exact within the floor’s contour, specifically within the middle of it.

That is, at least 90% of the horizontal points must be 7.5 minutes away. The measurement is one-fiftieth of an inch on the map at a scale of 1:24,000 40 feet on the ground).

This is how the standards work for everyone who makes maps.

Also, the horizontal standard set requires 90% accuracy of the control points on the map. It also requires that they be drawn within 0.02 inches of the correct position. 

how to make a topographic map with cardboard
Once you have established the scale, you will have to do the following:

Choose the site you want to map and collect the maps that are already there. City and university libraries, tourist guides, and online maps are products from which you can get some topographic maps.

Register elementary information about the sector you want to grant.

Record the maximum and minimum elevations, the map scale, and the latitude and longitude of the critical element in the lower left or right corner of the map.

This is called your map key. With that, draw a wind rose that shows which direction is north.

Draw the main reference points on the map. Draw roads, rivers, lakes, mountain peaks, and other significant sites.

You can give areas a symbol to make it easier to find them.

You can label mountain peaks with a triangle, roads with a dotted line, etc.

Write down the symbols you use in your map key.

How to Make a Topographic Map

Draw a contour line for the lowest level of elevation.

This line should follow the shape of the Earth at that level of elevation. Record the hill on the side of the contour line.

Start drawing more contour lines for higher elevation scenarios. Choose your increments according to the elevation changes in the sector you are mapping. Suppose you are removing a topographic map of a very flat industry. In that case, you can draw contour lines for every 3 or 6 meters of height, while if you are representing a sector with more dramatic changes, you can choose to use a contour line for every 80 meters. 

Label the elevation on every fifth contour line to make the map easier to interpret. Write the maximum elevations at mountain tops, plateaus, and other higher points. In the case of vertical mapping tests, the tested elevations are required to have 90% accuracy.

Currently, you can also find mobile apps that have all kinds of topographic maps of different sites. Download one of these apps that allow you to know how these maps are and imitate their style.

Topographic maps usually detail a geographic grid and a coordinate grid to know the mapped entities’ relative and absolute positions.

Finally, Change transparency (80%), brightness, and contrast, so the result is nice looking. 

In this way, if you have to carry out a topographic map, you will have to reflect with an aspect the mentioned to avoid committing failures along some times, about the sector to represent. This is how it is done to display the relief of your region.

Importance of Topographic Maps

Topographic maps are a considerable utility because they can represent the three-dimensional landscape in two dimensions. An individual who can read a topographic map can know the location of peaks, valleys, ridges, and mounds, for example, land properties. Topographic maps can also show you if you travel uphill or downhill on a particular trail or path.

how to make a topographic map in sketchup

Connecting points

The contour lines mark the elevations you see on a topographic map. They also connect the points on the contour lines. Walk near a mountain in a circle, never going up or down, but staying at the same height. If you draw the path you have traveled, you would have a contour line on a map. Contour lines are usually 40 feet apart vertically, although you should check the plan you are using to be sure, and one in five contours tends to be marked with an actual elevation.

Lot Properties

Among other things, the concentric circles detail a peak, with the smaller process marking the top. Contour lines that are too close together indicate that the lot is very steep while contouring lines that are separate detail that the lot is subjectively flat. Contour lines that cover two peaks, or two sets of concentric circles, can indicate a saddle, or a gap, between the mountains.


Topographic maps of the entire country were produced by the U.S. Geological Survey, which began conducting land surveys to make these maps in 1879. On this journey, the USGS created well over 54,000 maps, which form the basis of most of the commercially available topographic maps used on this journey. The USGS topographic maps also detail the normal route maps’ properties, introducing routes, dirt roads, towns, and buildings. The plans also detail power lines, rivers, glaciers, and mines.

Orienting the Map

To carry out a topographic map with the surrounding landscape will let you detect properties such as mountains and rivers. It is considered to make sure that the plan is intended correctly. You can quickly orient the map using a compass, and the “wind rose” on the chart, which will have an arrow pointing north. Align the compass needle, which means north, with the indicator on the wind raised, rotating the map if required.

How to Make a Topographic Map: FAQ 

What are the rules for topographic maps?

The rules for topographic maps are:

Each line connects all points at a specific elevation. Contour lines never intersect. After all, a single point can only have one elevation.

Every fifth contour line is drawn in bold and labeled.

Adjacent contour lines are separated by a recurring elevation distinction (such as 20 feet or 100 feet). The distinguishing feature of the elevation is the level interval. Contour interval is suggested in the map legend.

The scale suggests the horizontal distance and is also displayed in the map legend.

How does a topographic map work?

Topographic maps use symbols to represent information. Commonly used are points, lines, and colored or plotted surfaces to represent, respectively: isolated data, linear or equipotential traces (such as contour lines) captured in different images.

How do you make a 3d topographic map?

The primary development is as follows:

  • Get the digital elevation data of the sector you want to model. Usually, you will download this data as GeoTiff files.
  • If required, cut out the essential part of the data set.
  • Convert that data into a DEM file.
  • Make a 3d model supported by the data.
  • Print and enjoy.


Building a topographic map is not as simple as you might think. In theory, it is substantial to analyze all the resources, such as roads and different contours of the area you want to translate. In the same way, you have to carry out this to the features that have the region.

The most important thing to do is to understand how to use the utilities and continue our advice. Read Fishing guide here.

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