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 ).
Below are the styles I used to create the static map on the right ( and in this link ).
You also ...
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 ...
The easiest way:
If you want to do this in a much faster way you could go to http://www.openstreetmap.org/ and find a street map you want your map to look like. Then click 'export' and download the map as pdf (Map will be vector) which you can open in Illustrator and modify it to match your needs.
If you want to do it from scratch:
Start out with a number ...
Get vector data
You can download vector data from http://www.openstreetmap.org for free.
Choose the region you need and choose 'share' (right side). Then select PDF and download.
Open the PDF in Illustrator.
Use Edit > Edit Color > Recolor Artwork.
Trace the course
To create a course (two continuing lines along the course):
Create a ...
If you'd rather start from scratch, you're talking about cartography with the difficult fact-finding and accuracy stuff cut out. It's not half as daunting a task as it initially looks - the key is in the preparation.
Broadly speaking, a typical cartography workflow (minus the research and geolocation) is:
Decide what details ('traits') you are including. ...
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.
It's all about the contrast my friend. It basically comes down to being able to contrast colors using hue, saturation and tint/shade, or hsl.
Here is a nice way to experiment with colors: http://colorschemedesigner.com/
and here is a decent explanation of different ways to produce contrast in colors: http://www.colorsontheweb.com/colorcontrasts.asp
on the ...
I may be misunderstanding your question, but I don't imagine there is a simple way for GIMP (or any other graphics program) to discern and color arbitrary regions on an image with a unique color. How would it know things like Great Britain or United States having multiple geographically-separated regions but color them the same?
You'd better buckle down ...
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:
If you'd prefer a fuzzy border inside the land's borders, rather than outside, try this...
Create your vector land shape and give it a fill colour and no stroke
Duplicate this land shape twice (press Ctrl + D twice) so that you have three copies. One copy will stay as the original land shape, one will create the border, and one will be used for clipping.
You can easily draw the lines using the pen tool.
1) use the pen tool (P) and start drawing some paths. Once you're done with a road you can click on the black mouse (V) to stop/deselect the current path. You can change the colors by selecting the boxes next to the width stroke option.
2) Re-select the path using the black mouse tool (V). Change the stroke ...
In the Photoshop versions that support 3D, you can paint directly on a 3D surface, independent of the existing texture. Try making a custom brush from one of these flat objects, and "painting" it on. If your objects are simple enough, that might be all you need to do.
An alternative approach (very much depends on the specifics of your application) might be ...
The issue with the equirectangular map is the Tissot Indicatrix, which is the way the lines spread out towards the top and bottom of the map (the distortion when wrapping and unwrapping the texture on a shape).
How does one calculate distortion on Equirectangular Projection?
USGS Publications Warehouse Map ...
Since there is no background attribute in a text object in SVG, you'd need to use another method, such as drawing a filled rectangle under the text, however as you say that's inconvenient as you'd have to resize the rectangle every time you type a name that's shorter or longer.
One method is to use an SVG filter applied to some text to create a box around ...
The closest you could probably get without drawing it is to use the filter > stylize > find edges (adjusting the contrast first might work better). Once that is applied, use the threshold adjustment to make it black and white.
Here is a quick example of the result:
Another way is to use the filter gallery > stylize > glowing edges. This gives ...
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:
I know this is a very old question, but its an interesting problem.
here's a solution I came up with. Keep in mind I don't have a full grasp of usage. My goal was the indicate distance in some way visually while reducing the amount of white space overall in the image...
The reduced background image allows for indication of a more accurate distance. While ...
Use a custom brush.
Take the artwork you want to repeat over the lines. In your case, the symbol. You can't use symbols in brushes though, so expand the symbol first.
Drag the artwork to the Brushes panel (Window → Brushes) and from the New Brush dialog select "Scatter Brush" (You could use a pattern brush, but that will either stretch or leave spaces ...
You could make a document (or change the one you are working in) to have multiple artboards set up in a tight grid:
Here you have 16 tiles. Then you add another artboard and make it cover the other ones:
In "File/Export" you can choose which artboards to save as images. If you save artboard 1-16 you will get the micro level images. Saving artboard 17 will ...
The clusters appear to be roughly aligned along a 45° axis.
To "compress" the distance between the clusters and preserve their size and relative orientation, position your "zig-zag" break perpendicular to the axis formed by your cluster plot points.
Remove as much of the negative space along the axis as you wish to illustrate your point.
I think most people have found themself asking the same question. I know I have. Generally I have accepted that every set of observations that exist within a quantitative and continuous range should be visualised using two-color sequential colormaps, that is one color gradually turning into its complementary color over the given range of values. If you are ...
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
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.
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 ...