Welcome to Map Practical, where the cartography gets done. These are the cartographic trenches, the domain of greasy hands, busted knuckles, and sore mouse fingers. This is the home of techniques, tutorials, and tricks of all things map. Here’s how we do it;
your job is to make it look good!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Contour Masks in Illustrator

The standard convention for labeling contours is to knockout the line behind the label. Obviously we could cut each line and delete it, but in a small scale mapping project this would not be very efficient. In Illustrator, it is much faster to use a clipping mask to style all the contour labels. And thanks to a few tips from my friends at NACIS, it’s quick and easy. Here is a link to the text version, along with a little video tutorial.


  1. I'm a GIS student who not only loves mapping, but firmly believes in maps as a form of art. I've just finished tracing a map in Illustrator and I was wondering how to do exactly this!

    Thank you so much. I've just found this blog and am devouring every post.

  2. Thanks for the video. This was perfect - just what I needed to make labels that mask out roads.