I was reading a gardening book today, stressing the importance of understanding how the sun interacts with your garden. It got me to thinking that I only vaguely know the layout of our house with respect to the compass points. I was also feeling the need to do something to keep my mind off this returning cold, so I hatched on a bold, daring and nefarious plan. I’d get a top-down view of the house, and add a compass rose to it.
First, I tried just taking a screenshot of our place from the satellite view that Google Earth gives, and dumping a free clipart compass rose on top of it via Gimp (because the image is already oriented with respect to the compass). The result was OK, but not pretty. There was also the vague discomfort around using the image for my own purposes, as I have no idea what copyright covers it.
I decided that what I didn’t like about it was that it was too busy. I just wanted the very essence of the house view combined with the compass rose. Also, I’ve got this love-affair going on for Scalar Vector Graphics, so I hatched on a new plan around making an SVG icon instead. Why? because SVG scales to any resolution without pixelation. If none of that means anything to you, just think “always pretty, regardless of evolving video technology”.
I took the house image in Gimp and put it through an edge detection filter to draw out just the lines of the house. That temporary image, I loaded into Inkscape (my favourite SVG tool) and used it as a base (throwaway) layer that I traced the house lines over with proper SVG lines. I’m pretty certain the base image falls under US “fair use” laws so I threw it i the slideshow below.
Once I had a good simplification of the rooftop, I added a little colour, and a new layer. I took Inkscape’s option “Import from Open Clip Art Library” for a burl, and picked a compass rose that appealed. I then fiddled a little more with with transparency and colour until I got the base SVG image