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Preferred software is either Photoshop or Illustrator CS6. I could probably figure out how to do one, but I have to do like, 30 of these and I want to learn how to make it quick and painless. My first thought was using Live Trace in Illustrator, but I'm not terribly good at that yet.

Essentially I want streets to be in black (and at similar relative thickness) and the rest of the map to be white.

A good answer can simply be a link to a tutorial that I haven't been able to find via a Google search (if the tutorial gives me the right information).

I'm quite sure I'm leaving out some information you need to know, so please ask for clarification in comments.

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Not so sure about what you want, but maybe this could get you there: gmaps-samples-v3.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/styledmaps/wizard/… –  Joonas Feb 15 '13 at 6:41
Had a bit of time in my hands, so I figured I'd try to see if I understand what you want: bit.ly/Yv4rPw is this it? ( Made with the Styled maps wizard linked in my comment above this one ) –  Joonas Feb 15 '13 at 9:12
@zelbinian if it's black and white unstyled maps with no labels you want, also check out the Perl script in the first link on my answer - I didn't go into detail on it because most designers don't code but judging by your having a stack overflow account you should have no problem with it. It's designed for the kind if batch output you seem to want. –  user568458 Feb 16 '13 at 16:44
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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Styled Maps Wizard ( link ) does the job.

It does have a pretty good instructions that show up when you open up the website. Those instructions can be accessed at any point with the help button at the bottom of Map style panel ( shown in the image below ).

Beloware the styles I used to create the static map on the right and in this link.

enter image description here enter image description here

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Both links currently point to the output, not the styled map wizard. Also, what are the licensing conditions under which these can be used? Last time I looked into it (8 months ago maybe?), any web page using Google Maps API data without a commercial licence needed to use it in conjunction with an embedded Google map with logo etc prominent - may have changed. –  user568458 Feb 18 '13 at 11:21
@user568458 Thanks, fixed the link. developers.google.com/maps/faq#tos_mysite || developers.google.com/maps/terms ...and especially as far as your question about google logo goes, yes, logo needs to be kept intact: developers.google.com/maps/terms#section_9_2 ( 9.4 Attribution ) –  Joonas Feb 18 '13 at 11:46
Luckily this is a student project so I'm covered. (Also, I attributed.) –  Zelbinian Feb 28 '13 at 17:29
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Assuming there isn't a reason why it has to be the Google-copyrighted maps you use, I'd use OpenStreetMap for this (the open source wikipedia-style Google Maps alternative).

They're virtually identical but with three clear benefits in this case:

  1. They have a step-by-step guide on exporting to Illustrator. There isn't a simple process (more below), but it is something they support, albeit in a buggy temperamental roundabout way.
  2. They are capable of outputting vectors - so in the resulting file you can select each individual path, road, icon, contour, label etc and edit each one independently, and scale the chunk of map to any size.
  3. Their license (Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike) explicitly allows this sort of thing including for commercial work, so long as they're credited and you share the work you make with their data under the same licence, whereas Google are strict about usage of their maps unless you pay for an expensive license.

The downside is, as is often the case with open source stuff, it's not slick and takes trial-and-error to get it all working. There seems to be four approaches (the first three are further detailed in the above guide):

  • Use the free software Maperitive (Windows software that requires a dependency to run on Mac/Linux)
  • Using the expensive ($1399!) Illustrator cartography plugin MAPublisher.
  • (the one described on the linked page) Using a Perl script that removes all styling and text: not easy to do and probably not suitable if you want something quick and simple.
  • Exporting as an SVG or PDF file, using the Export button above each map view, then cleaning the file up (details on how below). Note that this is buggy, it sometimes fails with an error message about there being too much load on the server, but in my experience it usually works a few minutes later. There might be different times of day when it is more reliable.

SVG via Inkscape

Illustrator has some issues with the SVG files OSM produces (see below). You may be able to sort these out by opening them in the free open source Illustrator alternative Inkscape, then exporting for Illustrator. The only problem with this plan is, Inkscape like much open source software is temperamental (doesn't work on my Mac at the moment for mysterious reasons), but if it does work for you, this might be easier than fixing the SVG in Illustrator (below).

SVG in Illustrator

The labels can go a bit crazy in the SVG files in Illustrator - sometimes turning into a big mess of colour that turns out to be a jumble of giant letters:

enter image description here

These can be cleaned up by deleting everything in the Symbols window (select the first one, hold shift, select the last one, click on the bin icon in the bottom right), and choose 'Delete instances'.

enter image description here

Then, inside some groups and clipping masks, there's a whole lot of expanded-text non-editable-text labels with white outlines.

  • If you want to wipe these out and add your own labels, select one, Select > Same > Appearance, then delete.
  • If you want to keep them but make them look normal, Select > Same > Appearance, set the fill colour to 'Black', and in the Strokes window, set the stroke to 'Align stroke to outside' (or alternatively, in the Appearance window, drag the 'Fill' box above the 'Stroke' box).

Select > Same > Appearance might miss a few types of label, so check, and if it does, use the same trick to get all these other types of label.

Here's the result, a cleaned up, 100% free and legal to use, editable vector map of any location in the world:

enter image description here


PDF export is temperamental like SVG.

In my experience with PDFs exported from OSM, there is a heap of strange boxes that need to be deleted, then below this the text labels are real live text - but in Illustrator these labels are completely garbled  boxes, even if you change the fonts, with non-text white outlines behind. (in seemingly everything except Illustrator, including Acrobat, they're real text without any problems).

I generally use SVG and add my own text, but there might be some way to salvage the PDF labels I'm not aware of (or it might be a glitch that will get fixed). Programs other than Illustrator seem to cope with the PDF just fine, so the problem seems to be more with Illustrator than the PDF itself.

If you can find a way to stop the text turning into , this will probably be the best method. Installing the fonts used (DejaVu Sans, free) might do it.


The best other option looks to be using the free software Maperitive to export an Illustrator-compatible file, see this guide. I haven't tried it because I don't fancy installing all the dependencies on a Mac, but they're all free, so if you've got 30 to do and not much time it seems like a good bet.

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Open Vector Maps

In addition to the great suggestions already mentioned take a look at http://openvectormaps.com. I created this library of free maps that are editable, layered and in .svg (Illustrator or Inkscape) and .ai formats

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Welcome to GD. We always love seeing new users but please understand new users posting links to their sites are normally flagged as spam and downvoted on so even though your answer may help the OP someone else may consider dislike this answer. Just an FYI.. –  Matt Jun 13 at 3:19
I understand. Thanks for the FYI. Sorry for being a n00b. I thought it would be very helpful for the OP and others to know there's another option. –  Jeff Jun 13 at 19:59
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