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GIS for Beginners #1: QGIS 3 Orientation. +Free 111p eBook

Learn to use QGIS 3. Navigate the interface. Create a shaded Thematic Map. Learn GIS basics and geospatial analysis.
Ian Allan
4,040 students enrolled
FREE eBOOK: 111 pages of screen captures and explanations.
QGIS tutorial: Learn to use QGIS 3 - the Beginner Basics.
GIS Generics: How to open QGIS maps and QGIS air photos. And change their appearance.
QGIS 3 Project Files: Recreate screen environments from days, months or even years ago.
Thematic map: Shaded GIS Map creation.
Thematic map colour scheme: It is easy to compare maps that have been shaded using the same colour scheme. It also helps your maps to tell their story. I show you how to choose a colour scheme that works for your entire GIS mapping project.
Create a time-series (shaded) Thematic map.
How to validate Geospatial data: Why it is important to validate GIS mapping and how to go about doing it.
Understand the relationship between a GIS map and the table that lies behind it.
Understand Geospatial conceptually: Why maps have limitations. Why GIS maps are rich Geospatial databases. What is map overlay. What are the four GIS map objects.
Map interpretation: Understand that the shapes, colors and other visual clues in GIS maps and air photos can be surrogates for both socio-economic and environmental information.

QGIS 3.4, Accurate Captions, 111 Page eBook, HD Video & High Qupality Audio.

Attention Researchers, College Students and Professionals: Do You Want to add QGIS to your Toolkit without having the Hassle of Enrolling in a College GIS Course?


Learn the First Steps That All QGIS Professionals Learn When They Start Out.      Join 3,450+ students in the BESTSELLING QGIS tutorial on Udemy!

Have you been trying to learn to use QGIS without any luck?

You have looked for QGIS tutorials around the web but the information you find is incomplete, often out-of-date and narrow in its focus.

That’s understandable because the best GIS training is usually for expensive commercial GIS’s and the lessons for the FREE, equally functional, QGIS 3 are mostly written by volunteers.

In “QGIS tutorial for Beginners #1: Orientation. +Free 111p eBookI teach you the beginners basics of QGIS using HD videos, free eBook and teaching dataset, Step-by-Step Follow-Along style.

It is as simple as watching the videos on your computer, referring to the eBook resource if you need to, and following along with the exercises using the FREE QGIS 3 Software

Start now and you’ll learn to use QGIS in no-time. You could be working on your own QGIS project this time tomorrow!

Imagine what would be like to have your own GIS maps on your own computer and under your control.

Enrol in my QGIS tutorial now and dip your toes in the water of one the most popular GISs ever – QGIS 3. As your instructor I will use my 24+ years of GIS consulting, research and teaching to guide you in your first QGIS steps.

Let me remove the pain of stumbling and fumbling as you muddle through your daily GIS mapping tasks. Using videos, downloadable 111 Page eBook and teaching datasets, I start you off with the basics of QGIS, Step-by-Step Follow-Along style, and build on them so you can create your first Thematic map.

At completion of this QGIS tutorial you will have mastered the most-used QGIS tools. You will emerge with the confidence to complete basic Geospatial tasks in QGIS and the skills to quickly advance to intermediate level Geospatial projects.

QGIS tutorial for Beginners #1: Orientation. +Free 111p eBook will teach you…

  • Generic GIS mapping functionality: How to open, navigate and interpret GIS maps and air photos, and change how they look on screen.

  • The basics of Geospatial analysis.

  • QGIS Thematic map creation: Create your first shaded thematic map. I show you a simple way to find a colour scheme for any Thematic map. I also talk about why it can be important to generalize Geospatial data for some audiences.

  • QGIS time-series Thematic map creation: I show you a simple technique that even QGIS beginners can use to demonstrate “change” in a map theme over time. We’ll compare Land Use maps interpreted 28 years apart.

  • I show you that the shapes and colours in GIS mapping and GIS air photos can be surrogates for both socio-economic and environmental information: Why visual clues such as block size, watercourse shape and even vegetation condition reveals all sorts of valuable information. These techniques are not even on the radar of many GIS technicians.

  • Geospatial data validation: Why it is important to validate GIS mapping and how to go about doing it.

  • Understand GIS conceptually: Why maps have limitations. Why GIS maps are also rich databases. What is map overlay. What are the four GIS map objects.

  • Understand the relationship between GIS mapping and the tables that lies behind it.

My name is Ian Allan. While doing my post-graduate research, I co-authored (world top 100) Monash University’s first two GIS courses. In those courses I taught Grid Cell GIS and Vector GIS to both Undergraduate and Graduate students.

I have authored and co-authored fifteen peer reviewed publications. I have worked professionally as a GIS researcher, taught GIS to thousands of students, and worked as a GIS consultant on projects as diverse as the following…

· United Nations: Post tsunami strategic planning in Banda Ache

· Australian Federal Government: National Broadband strategic assessment.

· Victoria Australia’s Department of Premier and Cabinet: Housing affordability modelling.

· Local Government: Environmental sustainability modelling for planners,

· Water industry: Buried water pipe condition modelling. Ease-of-digging modelling. 3d landscape modelling.

For the past 24 years I’ve been a GIS researcher teacher and consultant. Over 5400 students have enrolled in my Udemy GIS courses. Here’s what some of my students say about my teaching style…

Caesar says: It was a very good class, just what I needed to get familiar with QGIS.

Carina says: “Perfect course to whom have never used… QGIS! Very detailed on the explanations and really generous additional materials to study.”

Brian says: “It was very thorough and comprehensive… Ian also covered aspects of GIS Analysis – which increases your learning and appreciation of the capabilities of how powerful the GIS tool can be”

Umar says: “Ian is vast and knowledgeable in what he teaches. I would do another course by Ian if he offered it”

Nathan says: “Really great introductory-level course! The examples were simple to follow, but also very useful. All the work can be finished while watching the videos, there was no extra work to be done without guidance. I really look forward to the next course by this instructor. – Cheers and well done!”

Boojhawon says: “Simple and very clear lectures with the minimum basics/backgrounds to get a taste of what awaits us further and also making us think of what we can do more.”

SRIJON says: “I have experience in using ArcGIS. I needed the QGIS taste for which I took this. If anybody who has little experience in GIS will love the ‘Techniques and Tips’ parts, which are very clearly and elaborately described, which will greatly help to be a GIS interpreter. And I love the line “Don’t just be a tourist.” It should be the tricky line between a GIS analyst and a technician. The course will help me in my future works.”

Here’s what you get…

  • FREE eBook: 111 pages of screen captures and explanatory text to compliment the QGIS tutorial videos.

  • A zip file of the QGIS teaching dataset I use in the videos: Extract these and follow-along with me in the videos.

  • 2.5 hours of QGIS tutorial videos: In the videos I show you how to navigate QGIS, create a shaded Thematic map, create a shaded Thematic map time-series, and how to think like a Geospatial analyst.

  • You get to eavesdrop as I work: Gain insights into how to create a Thematic map in QGIS. These are insights that only experienced Geospatial analysts have. Insights you would otherwise likely overlook or possibly never otherwise grasp.

Try this QGIS tutorial risk free. If within 30 days you are not satisfied with the course for any reason, return it for a 100% refund. The dataset and eBook are yours to keep!

Be sure to click on the “Add to cart” button on the top right corner of this page.

All the QGIS tutorials in my QGIS tutorials For Beginners series have been developed by me over the last 24 years. All the techniques and concepts I teach have been proven in the research and consulting environments during that time.


Q. English is not my native language. Does this QGIS tutorial have captions?

A. Yes. High quality ones too! Almost all the videos have captions that are generated from transcriptions (unlike other Udemy captions that are auto-generated and prone to error).

Q. Your QGIS tutorial does not use ARC. Does this matter?

A. No, it does not matter. I teach you the basics of GIS mapping in a way that’s applicable to ALL GIS software, even Arc.

Q. I have no experience with QGIS. Does that matter?

A. No previous GIS or QGIS knowledge is assumed.

Q. I am worried that this QGIS tutorial will be like many other technical courses – abstract and hard to follow.

A. All exercises are deliberately based on the type of practical every-day GIS problems that I encounter day-to-day in my GIS consultancy. All my QGIS tutorial for Beginners courses use datasets covering the same area – Yarmouth in Massachusetts. That means that for each of my (now four) QGIS tutorials, from QGIS tutorial to QGIS tutorial, you get to understand that the value and usefulness of maps over an area increases as more maps are added. Download the teaching dataset and follow-along with the videos.

Q. What Work Materials are there to support the QGIS tutorial?

A. A 111 page eBook with screen captures and explanations to compliment the videos, and a zip file containing the same teaching dataset I use in the videos.

Q. Do I need to purchase software to do this QGIS tutorial?

A. No, there is no need to purchase software. We’ll use the FREE QGIS 3. In follow-along videos, I show you how to download and install this.

Q. I want to buy this QGIS tutorial today, but I don’t have time to do the course right now. How long do I have access to the course for?

A. You have Unlimited Lifetime Access to the course (including future upgrades)

Q. What if I decide this QGIS tutorial is not for me.

A. I offer an unconditional, no-questions-asked full 30-day money-back guarantee!

Q. If I have a problem, can I ask questions?

A. Yes. I welcome questions. I enjoy helping my students. Questions also help me improve this QGIS tutorial. Its best to use the Q&A area for this.

Be sure to click on the Add to cart button on the top right corner of this page.

I look forward to seeing you inside!


QGIS 3.4: Setup, Desktop overview, and Opening Your First GIS Map and Air Photo


Download the eBook here. 111 pages of diagrams and text


You download the sample dataset from the resources area. The resources area appears when you hover your mouse cursor in the top-left corner of the screen. Click on this and the screen resizes. Click on the zip file link on the left of the screen and it will download.

To make following along easy, make sure that you place the downloaded QGIS Orientation.zip file into a folder called QGIS for Beginners on your desktop. Then when you unzip the file, the contents should unzip into a folder called QGIS Orientation and you’ll end up with a directory structure that’s the same as my videos…

..DesktopQGIS for BeginnersQGIS Orientation

 I used 7-Zip for this, but you could use WinZip if you wanted.

At this point I would like to very gratefully acknowledge the Office of Geographic Information (MassGIS), Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Information Technology Division. They have compiled and made available the data you are about to download.

QGIS 3.4: Introduction to the section
QGIS 3.4: How to download Quantum GIS
QGIS 3.4: How to install Quantum GIS
QGIS 3.4: How to launch Quantum GIS
A quick orientation of Quantum GIS
QGIS 3.4: The Map window and Layers window
QGIS 3.4: How to Open a QGIS vector map
QGIS 3.4: How to open an air photo
Install QGIS and open your first GIS maps

Questions about installing & launching QGIS, and opening a GIS map. Answer the MOST correct

QGIS 3.4: Introduction to the QGIS desktop.

QGIS 3.4: Introduction to Quantum GIS’s Desktop Buttons
QGIS 3.4: The Project Toolbar
QGIS 3.4: The Map Layer Properties (change your map style here)
QGIS 3.4: The Navigation Toolbar
Quiz Three: The Quantum GIS desktop

Questions about the QGIS desktop. Answer the MOST correct.

QGIS 3.4: More Desktop Buttons and Traps With Maps

The Identify Features button
QGIS 3.4: The geographical selection button
QGIS 3.4: The Open Attribute Table Button
QGIS 3.4: The Measurement Tools Button
QGIS 3.4: The Bottom Status Bar
Tips on interpreting vector maps
Tips on interpreting air photos
Buttons and map interpretation

Answer the MOST correct

QGIS 3.4: How to Shade a Map in QGIS (thematic mapping and time series mapping)

QGIS 3.4: Introduction to Shading Thematic Maps
QGIS 3.4: GIS tables
QGIS 3.4: Thematic Map Generalization
QGIS 3.4: Time Series Thematic Mapping
QGIS 3.4: How to Shade a Thematic Map using Categorical Data
QGIS 3.4: How to Validate your Thematic Map
QGIS 3.4: How to create a Time Series Thematic Map
How to shade a map

Questions about shading a GIS map and the tables that lie behind GIS maps. Answer the MOST correct.

GIS concepts lectures What is a Geographical Information System (GIS)?

Concepts: The four object types in a GIS map PLUS 2 PAGE PDF

You will learn: The four types of spatial data in a GIS – points, lines, polylines and polygons. 

They sound simple, but they are very powerful!

Concepts: The limitations of maps - Mapping cholera victims in the 1850s

You will learn: that although maps can add a wonderful dimension to studies, they should not always be accepted at face-value.

John Snow if often referred to as one of the Fathers of GIS. His 1854 Cholera study included a mapping exercise is important to the study of GIS. During the outbreak over five hundred people in the Soho district of London died in just ten days. Simplistically, with the aid of a map, John Snow was able to convince local officials that a water well was the source of the infection. They removed the pump handle from the well and the outbreak ended. It’s not quite that simple though. A purely GIS-style technology solution would not have yielded a result that would have convinced Town Officials to remove the pump handle. As you watch the video, look out for four parallels with modern-day GIS...

  • Parallel 1 - geocoding: He mapped where people were when they became symptomatic of cholera. The idea of taking a list of people's addresses and putting them on a map is what's called Geocoding. We do that all the time in GIS, and he was doing that in the 1850's.
  • Parallel 2 - field validation: The importance of field validation to address data quality issues. In some places the pattern of the cholera outbreak could only be explained when human behavioral issues were understood. This understanding could only be gained by interviewing local residents.
  • Parallel 3 - map quality issues: The importance of map quality issues. In some places Dr Snow found that the map he was using was incomplete. Maps that are important to your study results should not be accepted at face value. Accepting “canned” GIS maps at face value is where a lot of GIS users fall over.
  • Parallel 4 - network analysis: Dr Snow did Network analysis. By network analysis I mean the google maps functionality that allows you to work out an optimal route between two points on a map.

Please don't forget to leave a review when you're prompted to. Thankyou.

Concepts: The power of map overlay - Land suitability mapping in the 1960s

You will learn: 1) The importance of making the effort to assemble the maps that are important to your study, and 2) the principle of Map Overlay. 

In McHarg is also often referred to as another Father of GIS. We're about to have a look at one of his 1960s Environmental Planning studies. As with the John Snow example, Ian McHarg developed a spatial technique – GIS is just a tool that made the technique more efficient.

In the previous video about Dr John Snow's cholera mapping exercise, I asked you to look out for the following GIS parallels...

  • Dr Snow geocoded the subjects for his study.
  • Dr Snow did field validation to address data quality issues.
  • Dr Snow paid a lot of attention to map quality.
  • Dr Snow did network analysis

  • In the same vane, I want you to look out for two things in this video about Ian McHarg.

    1. SPATIAL DATABASE CREATION: By this, I mean the attention that Ian McHarg paid to bringing a bunch of maps together at the same scale

    2. MAP OVERLAY: Map Overlay is only possible once a spatial database is in place. If you understand map overlay then you are a long way along the path to understanding GIS. Map overlay is the idea that you can overlay maps onto each other and see different bits of information relating to the same place. It’s used day-to-day in so many organizations these days. At its simplest, someone might overlay property outlines onto an air photo. At its most complex, researchers might relate multiple maps to each other using map weighting or statistical techniques.

What is a Geographical Information System

Questions about the GIS concepts - Answer the MOST correct.

Bonus eBook - Environmental Mapping with GIS

Download the 69 page Environmental Mapping With GIS eBook

How to leave a review

If you've enjoyed my course, it would be great if you would leave a review for me.  

Reviews are the air that Udemy Instructors survive on. Good reviews not only give instructors encouragement, they also lead to more students in our courses. Bad reviews...well, perhaps send me a message and give me the opportunity to address your concerns first. 

Udemy asks you 6 general Yes/No/Not Sure questions about the quality of the course. There's also an area where you can give additional feedback. In that area, it'd be great if you could...  

  • Tell me what you've liked about the course. 
  • Tell me what you would like to be included or excluded in this course? 
  • Tell me about yourself... what’s the project that you plan on using GIS for? 

This sort of information helps me to improve the course, and seeds ideas for new courses.

You can leave a review by either responding to Udemy’s quick surveys that pop-up from time-to-time while you’re doing my course, or by clicking the stars on this course in your My Courses page. 

Otherwise see this Udemy article called “Leaving and Editing a Course Review” for more detailed instructions. https://support.udemy.com/hc/en-us/articles/229234267-Leaving-and-Editing-a-Course-Review

Thankyou so much


Bonus video: GIS applied to Real Estate Analysis

Once you have a dot on a map you can relate that dot to any boundary you want. In this video I turn house sales into GIS dots on maps and relate them to GIS maps of grid squares from a local street directory. 

Point data are very, very flexible!  The types of analysis you can do using point data are only limited by your imagination. 

To get a point on a map you must geocode it. That is to say, convert your geocode (in this case address) into a GIS dot by relating it to a GIS map that has an address with the exact same address details in it. 

In this example I compare one real estate agent’s house sales in an area to a database of all house sales to analyse their share of sales. Market share is the number of houses sold by a real estate agent within an area, compared to all the sales made by all agents in the same area.  So, if 10 sales were made in an area and five of those were made by our real-estate agent, then our agent will have a 50% market share. Another measure of market share could have been an agent’s share of the total dollar value of sales.

This GIS project involved analysing all the house sales made by one real estate agent in 1991 and 1996.  First I geocoded all the sales made by the Hocking Stuart real estate agent (realtor) and then I geocoded all property sales for metropolitan Melbourne. Both point datasets were then related to a GIS grid of a local road atlas.

The resulting time series maps showed that the Hocking Stuart real-estate agent had expanded over a five year period and while it was expanding it lost market share on the home front.  It’s very important when you look at data such as these to think behind the scenes. 

  • Inner city house values (and sales commissions) are far greater than those in the outer suburbs.  So a loss of market share in the inner city may have a far greater impact on the bottom line then again in markets year on the periphery.
  • Some gains in market share might be from a low number of sales. A change in market share for a grid with a few sales of low value had a different meaning to the agent than a change in a grid that has lots of high value sales.

PS. The examples were from days prior to QGIS being as stable and usable as it is today so I used MapInfo to produce these maps. That said, nowadays, the maps in the video could easily be produced using QGIS!

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Course Summary and Where To From Here

Course Summary and Where To From Here????

In this final video I want to do a quick recap of the topics we've covered, and then I want to ask you…”where to from here?” – that’s going to take a bit of teamwork, and when we get to that bit of the video I think you’ll see why.

We have covered a lot of ground…

We started out by looking at historical examples of mapping studies to demonstrate how firmly modern GIS is rooted in manual mapping techniques...

  • Maps are not always right: John Snow’s cholera study showed us there is a need to interpret maps and not take them at face value, and…
  • Map overlay: We saw how important map overlay is.
  • Maps as databases: I demonstrated that GIS maps can be rich databases
  • GIS data types: I also showed you the four simple, yet so powerful GIS data types

Then I showed you…

  • How to set up Quantum GIS: Don’t get hung up on what version of QGIS we’re using. I’ve been teaching you “generic” GIS. Things like installation techniques are similar for all GIS systems, and they don’t date.
  • How to open a GIS map: Importantly, here you saw that Quantum GIS can import many different file formats. Even if you don’t use Quantum GIS beyond this course, it will always be there as a file conversion tool, that will help you overcome the file import glitches that are common in GIS – trust me on that!
  • How to do some basic GIS map interrogations and manipulations using your mouse: Once again, zooming, panning, clicking on something to find information about it…is all generic GIS functionality.
  • Map interpretation: I gave you a quick insight into map interpretation. By that I mean using the information you see in GIS maps and air photos (colors, shapes, etc) as surrogates for other information that can be important to both environmental interpretations and social interpretations.:

And finally…

  • Shading a map: We created a nine category shaded GIS thematic map, 
  • Tables: We talked about the tables that lie behind GIS maps and how each row relates to an object in the GIS map (and a column to a map theme)
  • Map validation: We talked about the importance of map validation (we also covered that topic when we talked about John Snow),
  • Map generalization: We talked about why you sometimes need to generalize maps
  • Time series: And we created some simple time series maps.

Of course, we have only just touched the surface of what you can do with GIS. But I’d like to think that we’ve also made a good start together.

This Udemy course is a bit of an experiment for me, and this is where you and I need to work as a team on the “WHAT NEXT” bit.

I am currently running six other similarly detailed GIS lessons as an entire GIS course on another site. Each follow-along-with-the-video lesson covers a stand-alone topic that I could fairly quickly add to Udemy if there was enough demand. Examples of topics are…

  1. Traps with Maps: Most GIS maps have their origins in paper maps. Over the years I’ve been horrified to discover how many GIS professionals are oblivious to issues relating to map pedigree.
  2. Shading GIS maps using numerical data: A very tricky and necessarily detailed lesson that uses the US census as an example. Great for those of you who want to understand census information, and also for those who just want to understand how to go about mapping numerical data.
  3. How to geocode: Turning an address (or some other geocode) sitting in a spreadsheet on your computer into a dot on a map. 
  4. How to get a paper map into a GIS (and how to reinterpret old paper maps by referencing newer GIS maps).
  5. How to overlay maps, create buffers, and combine database query with spatial query.
  6. Project completion: How to present a map to various audiences and how to hand over a GIS project to a client.

If enough of you show interest I’d be happy to upload the most requested lessons to Udemy too, so I’d be grateful if you’d indicate if any of these appeal to you. Just let me know in the Q&A area.

Please write a Review of this course for me: Testimonials and reviews are the currency of Udemy. The more of them I get, the more students I get, and so the more time I can devote to adding new courses and improving existing ones. As you can see, Reviews are good for everybody! So, now that you’ve finished this course, PLEASE LEAVE A REVIEW . 

Thank you and I hope to see you in another course soon.



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