In many fields of research, valuable information is stored in atlases and maps which are only available as printed media. Scientists who are interested in computational analysis often seek to digitize the data to make it accessible for numerical calculations. In this paper, an approach using the example of digitizing distribution maps taken from plant-taxonomic atlases is described. For this purpose, a software tool has been built for application in the Sonderforschungsbereich 350 `Interactions between and Modelling of Continental Geosystems' at the University of Bonn. Its functionality has to be simple in use and capable of transforming fields drawn on geographical maps into grid data even where the type of map projection is unknown.