Map Making
November 7, 2019 7:15 PM   Subscribe

For an art project, I would like to generate some maps of neighborhoods in various cities, from OpenStreetMap, I guess. I would like to keep this as simple and cheap as possible.

  • These maps should be very simple. Ideally, they should be black and white outlines of streets and shore boundaries, with no text, and no other layers.
  • They should be in vector format, not raster, i.e. SVG.
  • I don’t mind paying money for this, but I don’t ever seeing myself ever needing more than 15–20 maps, so purchasing an expensive software product or subscription is out of the question.
  • Assume that I want to learn as little as possible about GIS systems in order to accomplish this. Relatedly, please keep the amount of jargon in your answers to a minimum.
posted by 1970s Antihero to Technology (5 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
If .STL is a reasonable format for you, you could use Terrain2STL.

I'm sure there was a similar, but google-maps (rather than -earth) based, which had more street-type data, because I have a very boring STL of my block at home.

If these aren't ideal, I'd try searching for other STL-generators, as this is a reasonably common project in the 3d-printing world.

Some guides:
posted by pompomtom at 7:52 PM on November 7, 2019

1. Use Protomaps Extracts to download a small area of OSM data
2. Open the resulting .PBF file in a recent version of QGIS
3. Make sure your map projection is Web Mercator (3857) so the map doesn’t look squashed
4. Filter and style as you’d like, get it looking good
5. Use QGIS Print Composer to output a vector map
posted by migurski at 9:06 PM on November 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Mapbox Studio might fit your needs. It's all about making maps with varied, customizable styles. It gives you pretty much complete control over the styling of everything. I don't see SVG or vector exports, I'm afraid, ... and the documentation says nope (though you can print/export up to 8000x8000px, which might suffice?).

It's now an online, web-based tool, but it used to be a desktop application. It was open source, and so it's still available as Mapbox Studio Classic. I don't know, but it might support vector exports. Running it from source is non-trivial, of course, so finding an old installer would help. A web search finds this S3 directory, which may be legit, but I have no idea. FWIW, I'd probably be willing to download one of those installers, send it through something like VirusTotal to feel a bit better, and run it. (I'm starting to think this is too much trouble for something that might not even have the feature you want.)

You may find other alternatives starting from the OpenStreetMap Wiki SVG page.
posted by whatnotever at 9:27 PM on November 7, 2019

Ooh! Maybe Maperitive will work. It exports SVG.
posted by whatnotever at 9:30 PM on November 7, 2019

Probably Maperitive, as whatnotever said. Geofabrik Download Server may have handy data extracts for you.

There are several ways to generate SVG from OpenStreetMap. Knowing about GIS may not help with OSM, as it uses its own data model. You likely want all the ways with highway=*, water=* and possibly natural=coastline if the city is on a sea coast. Be prepared to clean up the vectors, as OSM's not built to be pretty.
posted by scruss at 5:56 AM on November 8, 2019

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