I have tried to look online for an answer but I don't seem to be able to find what I am looking for. Here is my questions:

What is used to create maps like this:

enter image description here

and like this:


My goal is to augment already existing map with a few extra elements. I checked out Edraw Max but it does not seem to be able to upload a customized background.

So basically it would be great if the software accepted a .pdf file like above (I think it is already in a vector form) and after minor change and editing, I would be able to generate a similar .pdf file

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  • 1
    Illustrator works pretty well here. In anycase do you have the right to use and modify the originals? Most maps have a very protective copyright.
    – joojaa
    May 14, 2014 at 8:33
  • 1
    The answer to your first question "What is used to create maps like this?", is vastly different from what it sounds like you actually want. Sounds like you just need any sort of graphics software (photoshop, illustrator, paint shop pro, GIMP). Those maps will be rendered using map rendering software such as mapnik - a much more complicated process (TileMill offers a nice interface for that).
    – OGHaza
    May 14, 2014 at 9:27

2 Answers 2


Most cartography for publication done using electronic files was done using FreeHand to post-process for publication raw files exported from Geographic Information Systems (GIS) --- since Adobe bought them out, most map makers have grudgingly begun switching to Adobe Illustrator.

You should be able to achieve what you want by placing the .pdf into a program such as InDesign or Scribus or Illustrator or Inkscape and adding the customizing elements over it.


I would assume Illustrator was used to create this map. Inkscape could also be another possibility. I started http://openvectormaps.com as a side project I think it would provide a great start and you'll have the ability to edit and save an output that works for you.

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