This is a tall order, but I thought it might be worth asking.

I'm working on a project where I need to basically fake a large urban map: streets, parks, rivers, etc. Essentially I'd like to wind up with something that looks like Google Maps at one or two stages short of maximum zoom.

I don't really want to spend an infinite number of hours drawing it, however.

Ideally, this would be something that I could generate in SVG, but reasonable resolution bitmaps would be fine too.

Gozzy's Map Generator and Dave's Mapper are kind of what I have in mind, but I need urban, not D&D. Suggestions?

  • 1
    Have you tried playing with the Path > Trace bitmap feature in Inkscape, using a snapshot of an urban scene as your starting image. It can create some large paths which are fiddly to edit afterwards, and maybe you want a 'randomly generated' output anyway. But it could be a starting point to creating something in SVG. There are two options - single path or stacked multiple paths, and you can choose number of paths and if you want colours or grays etc. Commented Oct 11, 2013 at 8:44
  • See also (not plugin-focused): How to create a fictional city map and also for more ways to use real maps as a starting point, How can I easily turn a Google Maps screenshot into an outline drawing? Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 11:25

3 Answers 3


You could collect a bunch of "map-brushes" from around the web, or you could create them yourself. This would in principle apply to your software of choice, though I would strongly suggest vectorbased (Illustrator or Inkscape, as opposed to Photoshop and Gimp).

There are a number of online map generators for fictional worlds, there are also a plethora of brushes and sets of brushes that will give your map a defined "feel" (unfortunately, a lot of these seems to be pirate-treasure-map-style. Not what you are after, I take it).

In theory, you could programme and so generate maps with SVG, but to my (very limited) knowledge of this, it would hardly be worth the effort. Unless you are aiming for thousands of fictional maps...

And just to have it said: cartography is a highly specialised field, with its own set of rules and guidelines, so it is easy to work oneself into a maze. You could also look for techniques used for creating metro maps, they can be very helpful, and reveals some interesting things about cartography. Take a look at this delightful blog that blogs about metro maps.

(Here is a tutorial basically explaining how to make brushes in Illustrator. http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/tutorials/creating-road-maps-in-adobe-illustrator)


A lot of cities put out files to use in various formats. Some will be .PDF some will have .DWG files. A lot of these will make excellent starting points for you.

For example:

I would start with a one or two of these and just adjust. This would be a lot easier then trying to draw something from scratch. Even if you find a few city maps, open the .DWG files into Inkscape and drop a new layer on top to trace over / simplify it will still be a lot easier then going from scratch.

You may also want to look into the GIS StackExchange for example this question might be of interest to you: Where can I download a map of the world?


A side project I am working on, http://openvectormaps.com, also provides a free library of editable maps in Inkscape and Illustrator formats. These maps would provide a great base to start from.

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