GIS tutorials

Welcome to the GIS for Landcare video tutorial series. In these tutorials you will learn how to use the open source mapping software QGIS for the purpose of environmental conservation and Landcare. Most of the techniques and concepts covered in the tutorials can also be applied to other applications of GIS. The videos are usually around 10-15 minutes long and are accompanied by some written notes detailing the main points covered.

Important notes:
By design, the videos are recorded without sound. Please follow the on-screen captions.
QGIS software versions are regularly updated, and consequently the version that appears in the video may be slightly older than the version you are using. Most of the steps demonstrated in the videos will be the same regardless of the software version.\

Your questions and feedback helps us to make the videos as useful as possible. Please contact us if you have any questions or suggestions:
Stay tuned, more videos are coming soon!

Tutorial 01: Downloading and installing QGIS

Tutorial notes

Welcome to the first tutorial in the GIS for Landcare series!

Topics covered in this video include:
•Navigating to the downloads page on QGIS website (
•Understanding the different file download options
•Checking the system type of your computer (32bit or 64 bit)
•Selecting the right download file for your computer
•Downloading QGIS
•Installing QGIS

•At the time of recording, the latest version of QGIS was 2.6. Please download the latest version.
•You can optionally download some sample GIS data as part of the QGIS installation. This step is skipped over in the video because there is no local data available. Future tutorials will demonstrate downloading data for Victoria.

Tutorial 02: Exploring QGIS

Tutorial notes

In this video you will continue on and explore the QGIS user interface. Topics covered include:
•Introduction to the map canvas
•Introduction to the layers panel
•Exploring the main menu
•Exploring toolbars and tool descriptions
•Repositioning toolbars
•Turning toolbars on and off
•Understanding active and inactive tools

Tutorial 03: Downloading GIS data

Tutorial notes

Topics covered in this tutorial:
•Navigating to the Victorian Government Data Directory
•Searching for GIS data
•Viewing and understanding metadata
•Selecting data extent, file format and coordinate system
•Placing data orders
•Downloading data using links sent to your email
•Unzipping file downloads
•Processing and sorting GIS data downloads

•Additional GIS data is available to Nillumbik Landcare Network member groups. Please contact us for more information:

Tutorial 04: Viewing Shapefiles in QGIS

Tutorial notes

Topics covered in this tutorial:
•Understanding QGIS Projects
•Setting the coordinate system
•Adding Shapefiles to QGIS
•Changing style properties of map layers
•Labelling map layers
•Rearranging map layers

Tutorial 05: Downloading aerial photos from Planning Maps Online

Tutorial notes

Topics covered in this tutorial include:
•Using the Planning Maps Online website
•Turning map layers on or off
•Understanding the trade-off between image resolution and extent
•Saving high and low resolution geo-referenced images
•Unzipping and cleaning up downloaded aerial photos
•Adding aerial photos to QGIS
•Understanding Vector and Raster GIS data formats

•Additional GIS data including high-resolution aerial photography is available to Nillumbik Landcare Network member groups. Please contact us for more information:

Tutorial 06: Exploring Shapefile Attributes

Tutorial notes

Topics covered in this tutorial include:
•Opening the attribute table
•Optimising the display of the attribute table and map windows
•Selecting and unselecting rows within the attribute table
•Zooming to selected features
•Selecting and unselecting features on the map
•Understanding the relationship between features on the map and rows in the attribute table
•Exploring different ways to filter the display of data in the attribute table

Tutorial 07: Creating and Editing Shapefile Layers

Tutorial notes

Topics covered in this tutorial include:
•Understanding Shapefile geometry types
•Creating new Shapefile layers, specifically to record the location of weeds
•Adding and removing attributes
•Creating point, line and polygon features
•Entering attributes of new features
•Optimising the appearance of new layers
•Improving the readability of labels by adding a high-contrast buffer

Tutorial 08: Refining your weed map

Tutorial notes

Topics covered in this tutorial include:
•Using a shortcut to quickly add Shapefiles to QGIS
•Renaming layers to improve map presentation and usability
•Removing polygon fill colour to show only the outline of Parcel boundaries
•Using layer transparency settings to improve map readability
•Rearranging the stacking order of layers to prioritise the display of your most important data
•Understanding Road labels better

Links to GIS data download pages:
•Parcel boundary layer:
•1-5m Contour layer:

Tutorial 09: Preparing your map for export and printing

Tutorial notes

Topics covered in this tutorial
•Introduction to the QGIS Print Composer
•Defining the Composition settings such as page size and orientation
•Understanding items and item properties
•Adding items to the print composer including Map, Title and Legend
•Understanding and adjusting map zoom and page zoom
•Panning the map content
•Adjusting the map scale
•Exporting draft map as a JPG image for printing or distribution

Tutorial 10: Refining map layout

Tutorial notes

Topics covered in this tutorial
•Understanding and using the “composer manager”
•Adding and configuring scale bars
•Organising image files and setting up a templates folder
•Adding images such as a logo and north arrow
•Understanding and reviewing the functionality of a map legend
•Overriding the “Auto update” settings to manually remove layers from the map legend
•Optimising the appearance of the map legend
•Simplifying and refining the aesthetic and functional design of the map layout