Load a scanned map, digitize the data and create a vector base map in Surfer

This article discusses loading a scanned map into Surfer to digitize the data and create a vector base map. We also have a webinar on this topic: Create Dynamic Models from Scanned Maps with Surfer (recorded with Surfer 18).

Surfer can create a base map from many different file formats. If you have a scanned image, you will need to georeference and digitize the scanned data to obtain XY data (and possibly add attribute information), export to a vector format, and create the base map from vector  file.

You can do this following these steps:

Step 1. Load and Georeference the Image

Click Home | New Map | Base, select your image file and click Open. This will load the scanned image map into Surfer as a base map. If the image was already georeferenced, you can skip to Step 2. If the image is not already georeferenced, you can georeference the image base map, by using one of these methods:

  1. If you know the real world coordinates of the image corners, follow the steps in this article: How Can I Georeference (Assign Coordinates To) An Image Base Map In Surfer?
  2. If you don’t know the corner coordinates, but know 3 points interior to the image, you can use the instructions in this article: A detailed look at how to georeference (assign coordinates to) an image in Surfer
  3. If you don’t care what your X and Y coordinates are, you can simply leave the coordinates as they are in pixel units (0,0 in the lower left corner).

Georeferencing and image in Surfer

Step 2. Digitize the Image and Export the Vector File

  1. Click Home | Add to Map | Layer | Empty Base.
  2. Click the new Base layer in the Contents window to select it.
  3. Click the Insert menu and select the item you wish to draw (polyline, polygon,  symbol, etc). Create all the items by drawing them over the scanned image.
  4. If you wish to add attribute information to the drawn objects, you can do this individually or in a table format.
  5. For a table format, select the Base layer with the drawn objects and click Map Tools | Layer Tools | Open Attribute Table. You can add attributes and attribute values directly in the Attribute Table.
  6. If you wish, click the Add Geometry Attributes button in the Attribute Table to add geometry information as attributes for all objects at once.
  7. To add and edit attributes per individual object, select an object and in the Contents window, click the Info tab.
  8. Click the Add button to add a new attribute.
  9. Enter a name for the new attribute and click OK.
  10. You can enter the attribute value for that attribute directly in the Properties window.
  11. Once all the items are drawn and attributes created, turn off the original scanned image Base layer and all four axes by unchecking them in the Contents window (so you just see the drawn objects on the screen).
  12. Click File | Export and export to a new file format (i.e. MIF, SHP, GSI, DXF).

Step 3. Create the Base Map

  1. Click Home | New  Map | Base | Base.
  2. Select the vector base map file you just created and click Open. This will create the new base map.
  3. Select the Base layer in the Contents window, and make change any of its properties in the Properties window.


See also:

How can I load a scanned map into Surfer, digitize the data and create a contour map?


Updated December 20, 2021

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