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Is Illustrator really the most suited tool to draw a (fairly simple) map from scratch and print it on a flyer? Are there any other tools or apps out there that might make this task easier?

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    I think if you are already familiar with AI, you will not find more convenient tool for you. – Vnovak Jun 11 '14 at 15:15
  • It really depends on the map. – DA01 Jun 11 '14 at 15:24
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    Illustrator would really be the way to go. – GoofyMonkey Jun 11 '14 at 16:03
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There are actually online tools that can do this. However, personally, I would start out with a google map screenshot and work from that - in Illustrator.

You could take a round on the net and search for brushes and plugins for Illustrator that have ready-made map-elements. Here is but one example of what you can find: symbols ready made. Such as:

enter image description here

enter image description here

These post might also be helpful to you:

Is there an easy way (a pattern or plugin) to create urban maps? Inkscape preferred

How to create a customized city map

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QGIS (http://qgis.org/en/site/) has a PDF export function, but it isn't exactly easy by any stretch of the imagination, as it's a full GIS program, but can export to PDF. You can pull in OpenStreetMaps data as well. Open-source, free.

Here's a good tutorial: http://multimedia.journalism.berkeley.edu/tutorials/qgis-basics-journalists/

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OpenStreetMaps (and Mapbox, which uses OpenStreetMaps data) both allow significant theming and export options, including PDF export, of maps. This would be the best filetype to open and manipulate further in Illustrator.

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Inkscape is another open source program you could use. But as others have suggested I would personally stick with Illustrator. Instead of grabbing a screenshot of a map you could start with a vector file instead.

Take a look at this website I created. http://openvectormaps.com

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