Georectifying Historical Maps using MapWarper
In Map Warper, it is possible to browse and download maps others have uploaded into Map Warper without an account. To georectify your own map, however, you must make one. This also allows you to easily return to your maps later.
- 1.On the top right corner of the page, click "Create Account"
- 2.Select a username and password and enter an active email address.
- 3.Click "Sign up"! You should quickly receive an email to confirm your account
Choose "Create Account"...
...and enter in a username, password, and active email address!
Now that you are logged in, you can upload your own images to the Map Warper server in order to georeference them.
- 1.Clicking “Upload Map” on the main toolbar (note if you are not yet logged in, it will ask you to do so at this point)
- 2.Insert any available metadata and a description of the map. This is useful both for your own records and for anyone else searching for similar maps on the Map Warper server.
- 3.At the bottom of the page, choose to Upload an Image File from your local computer or from a URL. Once the file has been selected, click "Create"
Once you are logged in, select "Upload Map"...
...enter any available metadata...
...and then choose what image you want to georeference, and click "Create"!
Once the upload is complete, a new page will appear informing you that the map was successfully created as well as providing an image of the uploaded map.
Now the map is on the platform, but it does not yet have any spatial information associated with it. The next step is to use what are called "control points" to place your map in a “real-world” coordinate system where it can interact with other types of spatial data.
- 1.Once your image is displayed, select "Rectify" on the main toolbar.
- 2.This opens up the Georectifying page, the most important page in this tutorial. It is composed of two windows, one showing your map and one showing a “basemap” which you will be using to geolocate your map.
- 3.In the top right corner of each map there are a series of buttons that help you navigate the map and add control points
- 4.The goal here is to create what are called, “control points,” or points that are corresponding between your uploaded map and the basemap. This is done by simply zooming in on each map in turn and creating a control point as close to the same point as possible in each map.
Georectifying page, with your map on the left and a basemap on the right...
...and each has a series of icons in the top right corner
Add a control point to the maps
Move a control point that has already been added to the map
Pan around the map
The last two icons appear only on the basemap and are used to adjust it as needed to help with georeferencing
Change the basemap to a Custom, already georectified basemap of your choosing (if available)
Swap between the initial basemap and satellite imagery, depending on which is easier to georeference your map
- 1.Navigate on your map to an easily identifiable location. In this example, I have chosen the tip of the island in the middle of Paris that the Notre Dame Cathedral is on. Note that an external mouse with a scroll wheel can make the zooming/moving process easier; zoom and pan buttons are also provided in each window.
- 2.Click the “Add Control Point” icon, then click again on your map in the desired location. A little control point should pop up!
- 3.Swap to the basemap and click the “Pan” tool (the hand) to find the proper location, then again select the “Add Control Point” tool and click on the corresponding point on the Basemap.
- 4.Once you have created a control point on each map, scroll down and click the “Add Control Point.” This will add the control point coordinates to a list of points below, which you can see by clicking the words “Control Points."
Click the Control Point icon then choose a location on your map...
...and repeat this process on the basemap at the same location!
Finally, click "Add Control Point" to set the two points equal to one another.
- 1.After you add the 4th control point, your table of points will start including error information, as the points are triangulated against one another. Note that this error may not mean that you are doing anything wrong, particularly in an older map that is not as spatially accurate as something more modern! On the other hand, if your error is quite high and you believe your map is relatively accurate, you may have misplaced a control point somewhere. Usually, high error is caused by a single point being misreferenced.
- 2.When you feel like you have enough points scattered around your map, we are ready to georectify the map! Remember you can always come back later and add new points or remove old ones if you feel like the result is not to your liking. To georectify your map, just click “Warp Image!” at the bottom of the page and you’ll get a notice that your rectifier is working.
Error is shown in the Control Points toolbar, color-coded by suggested severity.
When you are ready, hit "WARP IMAGE!"
When the map is finished rectifying, you will get a notification that rectification is complete. Now, you should be able to see your map overlaid on the Basemap, as well as be able to turn it on and off or more or less opaque to check for accuracy!
A pretty accurate map of central Paris!
If the map is to your liking, you are ready to export. Map Warper offers a variety of ways to export your map depending on your needs
- 1.To export your map, Select the Export tab on the toolbar. A window like that seen below will pop up, giving you a variety of choices for exporting
Lots of options for exporting
Some exporting options:
- public domain standard; easily imported into a wide variety of spatial platforms like ArcGIS or QGIS; good for backing up your georeferenced map on your local computer or in cloud storage like Google Drive
- Easy import directly into GoogleEarth
- Tiles (Google/OSM scheme)
- Useful for loading into tools like ArcGIS online and Knightlab StoryMap JS. Remember to ensure a backup of your files elsewhere though in case your map is eventually removed from Map Warper.