Cartographers use all kind of tricks to make their maps look deceptively simple. Yet, anyone who has ever tried to reproduce a cartographer’s design using only automatic GIS styling and labeling knows that the devil is in the details.

This post was motivated by Mika Hall’s retro map style.

There are a lot of things going on in this design but I want to draw your attention to the labels – and particularly their background:

Detail of Mike’s map (c) Mike Hall. You can see that the rail lines stop right before they would touch the A in Valencia (or any other letters in the surrounding labels).

This kind of effect cannot be achieved by good old label buffers because no matter which color we choose for the buffer, there will always be cases when the chosen color is not ideal, for example, when some labels are on land and some over water:

Ordinary label buffers are not always ideal.

Label masks to the rescue!

Selective label masks enable more advanced designs.

Here’s how it’s done:

Selective masking has actually been around since QGIS 3.12. There are two things we need to take care of when setting up label masks:

1. First we need to enable masks in the label settings for all labels we want to mask (for example the city labels). The mask tab is conveniently located right next to the label buffer tab:

2. Then we can go to the layers we want to apply the masks to (for example the railroads layer). Here we can configure which symbol layers should be affected by which mask:

Note: The order of steps is important here since the “Mask sources” list will be empty as long as we don’t have any label masks enabled and there is currently no help text explaining this fact.

I’m also using label masks to keep the inside of the large city markers (the ones with a star inside a circle) clear of visual clutter. In short, I’m putting a circle-shaped character, such as ◍, over the city location:

In the text tab, we can specify our one-character label and – later on – set the label opacity to zero.
To ensure that the label stays in place, pick the center placement in “Offset from Point” mode.

Once we are happy with the size and placement of this label, we can then reduce the label’s opacity to 0, enable masks, and configure the railroads layer to use this mask.

As a general rule of thumb, it makes sense to apply the masks to dark background features such as the railways, rivers, and lake outlines in our map design:

Resulting map with label masks applied to multiple labels including city and marine area labels masking out railway lines and ferry connections as well as rivers and lake outlines.

If you have never used label masks before, I strongly encourage you to give them a try next time you work on a map for public consumption because they provide this little extra touch that is often missing from GIS maps.

Happy QGISing! Make maps not war.

The BEV (Austrian Bundesamt für Eich- und Vermessungswesen) has recently published the Austrian cadastre as open data:

The URLs for vector tiles and styles can be found on under Guide – External

The vector tile URL is:{kataster | symbole}/{z}/{x}/{y}.pbf

There are 4 different style variations:{kataster | symbole}/style_{vermv | ortho | basic | gis}.json

When configuring the vector tiles in QGIS, we specify the desired tile and style URLs, for example:

For example, this is the “gis” style:

And this is the “basic” style:

The second vector tile source I want to mention is It has been around for a while, however, early versions suffered from a couple of issues that have now been resolved.

The project provides extensive documentation on how to use the dataset in QGIS and other GIS, including manuals and sample projects:

Here’s the basic configuration: make sure to set the max zoom level to 16, otherwise, the map will not be rendered when you zoom in too far.

The level of detail is pretty impressive, even if it cannot quite keep up with the basemap raster tiles:

Vector tile details at Resselpark, Vienna
Raster basemap details at Resselpark, Vienna

This is a guest post by Mickael HOARAU @Oneil974

As an update of the tutorial from previous years, I created a tutorial showing how to make a simple and dynamic color map with charts in QGIS.

In this tutorial you can see some of interesting features of QGIS and its community plugins. Here you’ll see variables, expressions, filters, QuickOSM and DataPlotly plugins and much more. You just need to use QGIS 3.24 Tisler version.

Here is the tutorial.

Today’s post is a follow-up and summary of my mapping efforts this December. It all started with a proof of concept that it is possible to create a nice looking snowfall effect using only labeling:

After a few more iterations, I even included the snowflake style in the first ever QGIS Map Design DLC: a free extra map recipe that shows how to create a map series of Antarctic expeditions. For more details (including project download links), check out my guest post on the Locate Press blog:

If you want to just use the snowflake style in your own projects, the easiest way is to grab the “Snowy Day” project from the QGIS hub (while the GeoPackage is waiting for approval on the official site, you can get it from my Dropbox):

The project is self-contained within the downloaded GeoPackage. One of the most convenient ways to open projects from GeoPackages is through the browser panel:

From here, you can copy-paste the layer style to any other polygon layer.

To change the snowflake color, go to the project properties and edit the “flake_color” variable.

Happy new year!

The Central Institution for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG) is Austrian’s meteorological and geophysical service. And as such, they have a large database of historical weather data which they have now made publicly available, as announced on 28th Oct 2021:

The new ZAMG Data Hub provides weather and station data, mainly in NetCDF and CSV formats:

I decided to grab a NetCDF sample from their analysis and nowcasting system INCA. I went with all available parameters for a period of one day (the data has a temporal resolution of one hour) and a bounding box around Vienna:

The loading screen of QGIS 3.22 shows the different NetCDF layers:

After adding the incal-hourly layer to QGIS, the layer styling panel provides access to the different weather parameters. We can switch between these parameters by clicking the gradient icon next to the parameter names. Here you can see the air temperature:

And because the NetCDF layer is time-aware, we can also use the QGIS Temporal Controller to step through the hourly measurements / create an animation:

Make sure to grab the latest version of QGIS to get access to all the functionality shown here.

Kappazunder is the city of Vienna’s database created during their recent mobile mapping campaign. Using vehicle-mounted Lidar and cameras, they collected street-level Lidar and street view images.

Slide from the official announcement on Thursday, 23rd Sept 2021. Full slide deck:

Yesterday, they published a first sample dataset, containing one trajectory on The download contains documentation, vector data (.shp), images (.jpg), and point clouds (.laz):


The shapefiles contain vehicle location updates, photo locations, and areas describing the extent of the point clouds. Since the shapefile lack .prj files, we need to manually specify the correct CRS (EPSG:31256 MGI / Austria GK East).

The vehicle location updates and photo locations contain timestamps as epoch. However, the format is a little special:

To display a human-readable timestamp, I therefore used the following label expression:

format_date( datetime_from_epoch( "epoch_s"*1000), 'HH:mm:ss')

Adding these labels also reveals that the whole trajectory is just 2 minutes long. This puts the download size of over 5GB into perspective. The whole dataset will be massive.


The .laz files are between 100 and 200MB, each. There are four .laz files, even though the previously loaded point cloud extent areas only suggested three:

Loading the .laz files for the first time takes a while and there seem to be some issues – either on the user end (me) or in the files themselves. Trying to load content of the ept_ folders only results in very few points and multiple “invalid data source” errors:

For the few point that are loaded, it looks like the height information is available:

Update on 2021-10-01: I’ve reported the data loss issue and Martin Dobias has provided a first work-around that makes it possible to view the data in QGIS:

135284370-b07272bb-be8a-47ac-b050-d6024613c63b.png (911×765)


The street view images are published as cubemaps. Here’s a sample of the side view:

One of the new features in QGIS 3.20 is the option to trim the start and end of simple line symbols. This allows for the line rendering to trim off the first and last sections of a line at a user configured distance, as shown in the visual changelog entry

This new feature makes it much easier to create decorative label callout (or leader) lines. If you know QGIS Map Design 2, the following map may look familiar – however – the following leader lines are even more intricate, making use of the new trimming capabilities:

To demonstrate some of the possibilities, I’ve created a set of four black and four white leader line styles:

You can download these symbols from the QGIS style sharing platform: to use them in your projects. Have fun mapping!

Today’s post is a video recommendation. In the following video, Alexandre Neto demonstrates an exciting array of tips, tricks, and hacks to create an automated Atlas map series of the Azores islands.

Highlights include:

1. A legend that includes automatically updating statistics

2. A way to support different page sizes

3. A solution for small areas overshooting the map border

You’ll find the video on the QGIS Youtube channel:

This video was recorded as part of the QGIS Open Day June edition. QGIS Open Days are organized monthly on the last Friday of the month. Anyone can take part and present their work for and with QGIS. For more details, see

If you are following QGIS topics on social media, you may have already seen this but if you don’t, I recommend having a look at Tim Sutton’s most recent adventures in building dashboards with QGIS:

The dashboard is built using labeling and geometry generator functionality. This means that they work in the QGIS application map window as well as in layouts. As hinted at in the screenshot above, the dashboard can show information about whole layers as well as interactive selections.

Here’s a full walk-through Tim published yesterday:

You can follow the further development via Tim’s tweets or the dedicated Github issue (where you can even find an example QGIS dashboard project in a GeoPacakge for download).

Update July 2021: the style hub is now part of the official QGIS infrastructure at

The 2016 post More icons & symbols for QGIS still regularly makes it to the top 10 list of posts by visitors. I wouldn’t attribute this popularity to the quality of this particular post, however. Instead, it’s a pretty clear sign that QGIS users are actively searching for more styling resources to add to their installations.

When it comes to styling resources, the person to follow right now is clearly Klas Karlsson who’s been keeping a steady stream of styling-related posts coming to Twitter:

Additionally, he’s the master-mind behind QGIS Hub, a – currently prototypical – platform for sharing styling resources and print layout templates:

If you are interested in sharing styling resources, head over there. Similarly, if you want to lend a hand developing QGIS Hub, get in touch!

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