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. Preferred software is either Photoshop or Illustrator CS6.

How can I create a stylised, outlined map?

  • 1
    Not so sure about what you want, but maybe this could get you there: gmaps-samples-v3.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/styledmaps/wizard/…
    – Joonas
    Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 6:41
  • 1
    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
    Commented Feb 15, 2013 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. Commented Feb 16, 2013 at 16:44
  • This answer might interest you: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/31227/…
    – allcaps
    Commented Aug 8, 2014 at 18:55

5 Answers 5


Update (2020)

So I just got an upvote on this and had an inkling that this might be a tad outdated and turns out it was.

As far as I can tell the wizard in my previous answer (↓) has been scrapped and has been replaced with this new Styling Wizard.

Here's a link to the API doc, if you want to read a bit more on the coding side of things. And some info on where you get the API key.

I also found a 3rd party service called Snazzy Maps, which does pretty much the same thing but serves as a gallery of community made styles

Old answer:

Styled Maps Wizard ( link ) does the job.

It does have 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 ).

Below are the styles I used to create the static map on the right ( and in this link ).

enter image description here enter image description here

You also may be interested in this.

  • 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. Commented Feb 18, 2013 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
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 11:46
  • Luckily this is a student project so I'm covered. (Also, I attributed.)
    – Zelbinian
    Commented Feb 28, 2013 at 17:29

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 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.

You can also output vectors, but 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...

Edit: the earlier version of this answer recommended using Open Street Map (OSM)'s export to PDF and SVG tools. I'd now recommend against fighting with these: they're junk. Not only are the files produced a mess (see edit history for examples - and the latest don't even open for me), but the tools almost never work, failing with a hopelessly misleading error message about "server load" being too high (<25), recommending trying again in a few minutes - but the server load is always far over 25 except for a few hours in European night time (and even then not all days).

There's a wiki with loads of alternate options, but all of these I've tried either don't work (many of them), don't work for anything except a close up of a few streets (MapOSMatic), give grainy pixel images in a PDF rather than actual vectors (Field Papers and Walking Papers), or where the "installation" process is more like configuring an entire server (most of them)...

There is however one process which seems to work:

enter image description here

  1. Install Maperitive (free, simple install on Windows, requires a dependency on Mac / Linux).
  2. Export the area of the map you want from Open Street Map. You might need to use one of the alternate links if it says the area is too large. Warning: for any area larger than a small town, files sizes are absurd. County level is 300mbs+. Countries will be many gigabytes. It gives you every single unnecessary detail at every zoom level below the area you specify, and there seems to be no facility to change this. Clearly no-one at OSM has ever heard of county maps, country maps or region maps.
  3. Open it in Maperitive. You might need to change the file extension to .osm before it'll open
  4. Change the rendering rules (what it shows and how) to ones which aren't insane.
    • You can get something pretty decent with Map > Switch to rules > googlemaps
    • Or, there's a huge amount of customisation you can do if you have the patience to tinker with the code with Map > Edit rendering rules
  5. Use Map > Set printing bounds to set the area you want (it creates a near-invisible box filling the screen: zoom out and/or drag from a corner), and View > zoom to set the zoom level. Everything outside of the "printing bounds" will be cropped.
  6. Export it with Tools > Export as SVG (Adobe Illustrator)

Note that if you want real vectors you must download then open the export from OSM rather than just browsing around in the default map that shows when you load up Maperitive - else it'll give you a fake SVG full of chopped up low quality bitmap tiles.

Another note - sometimes it doesn't actually update the file. If the file isn't changing, make sure you don't have it open in anything, and wait a few minutes between exporting and opening.


Open Vector Maps

In addition to the great suggestions already mentioned take a look at http://openvectormaps.com. I created a library/directory of free, high quality city maps that are editable and layered. Choose from either .SVG or .AI file formats for use in Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape.

  • 1
    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..
    – user9447
    Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 3:19
  • Nice, thanks for sharing! It's worth explaining that this is basically a directory of large, high quality static maps for major world cities and other major locations. Commented Jul 26, 2014 at 20:10
  • 2
    Looks like you exported data from Open Street Map and sell it?
    – shuckc
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 9:44

Depending on how detail you want to go into.. I have used ArcGIS which is really quick and good for simple stuff, I think more complex stuff has a bit of a learning curve but well worth it. https://www.esri.com/en-us/arcgis/products/maps-for-adobecc/overview


Simplest answer if you are good in illustrator.

Open website OpenStreetMap and search your desired location, make screenshot then turn it into vector(svg) using image trace option.

  • 2
    Traced result is generally useless, people expect ability to remove parts, rewrite texts, extract parts, recolor roads and areas, etc... After tracing there's only a memory left of the fact it was once a map. Sorry. OpenStreetMaps are downloadable as SVGs. The files are very complex, but vectors. Download is in the "Share" tab if there's option Standard = ON in the "Layers" tab. Other layers can only be watched. Try it and see. With this answer you got this comment. I guess later you will get downvotes or nothing.
    – user82991
    Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 8:50

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