Customising vector art base maps
The advice below relates to our downloadable vector artwork maps. (It does not apply to our dynamic online maps.)
Vector artwork maps are easy to customise using industry standard vector graphics editing software.
We do not supply this software, but you can download free or trial versions.
Above all we recommend Adobe Illustrator® for editing our downloadable maps. Experienced professional graphic designers will fully appreciate the careful layering of many thousands of vector paths and anchor points, which allow for one-click selections and rapid changes to stroke and fill styles, plus custom plottings and labels, or hiding of unwanted elements.
When you have edited your map, you save it to PDF, JPEG, PNG or GIF if it is destined for the web, or TIF, EPS, JPEG or high-resolution PDF if it is destined for print.
Adobe Illustrator® (RECOMMENDED)
Illustrator is the graphics industry standard for vector artwork. Maproom base maps are created in Illustrator, and you have the greatest range of options when editing in Illustrator, including easy layer selections. You can usually download a fully functioning copy of Illustrator on a FREE trial at Adobe.com, or subscribe to Illustrator from about £20 per month on an annual plan, or about £30 for a single month on Adobe’s monthly plan. We recommend this software above all others for both easy and advanced editing.
If a map specification includes Illustrator, the package will include a raw Illustrator file in it with universal fonts (generally Helvetica) for universal compatibility. In addition to this, the PDF examples supplied in the bundles can also be opened in Illustrator with all of their editable layers available.
If you are a CorelDRAW user, you should be able to open the Illustrator AI, PDF and SVG file versions. See Looking to open an AI file? on the Corel Discovery Center.
All our vector art map bundles include PDF files which can be annotated using PDF editing software. Our current favourite for people using Macs is PDF Expert, which has a free version. Adobe Acrobat is for PCs and Macs. You can do things like add labels, but don’t expect map layer editing with PDF editors.
Inkscape is a free open-source vector graphics editing program, which you can use to make simple edits to our SVG file format, although the layers will not be ordered in the way shown in the Illustrator panel previews. Follow the download link at Inkscape.org.
Some of our maps contain a raster art layer (pixel-based rather than vector artwork) for hillshading. Adobe Photoshop is the most popular software used for raster images and is suitable for editing raster layers in our relief / physical maps. It is also possible to use Photoshop to make simple alterations to the JPEGs and PDFs included in the downloads. However, if you want to access all of the individual vector artwork layers – such as if you want to turn off all roads on the map with a single click – we strongly recommend you use Adobe’s sister Illustrator instead (see above), which is much better than Photoshop for map labelling.
Code editors, e.g. Notepad++
Strictly for techies: SVG files can be opened in any basic code editing program, e.g. Notepad++. Use this if you want to link the map to a database or XML code. You can preview the map in a browser window at the same time as working in code, refreshing the browser to see your code changes on the fly.
Advice for complete beginners
We have deliberately built maps that will be easy to edit, especially in Adobe Illustrator.
Even beginners can quickly grasp how to make simple colour changes with a few clicks of the mouse using Adobe Illustrator.
However, maps are some of the most complex types of artwork, especially street maps with lots of labels and layers. If you have never edited digital art before and do not have the time or inclination to learn how to use graphics software, then we recommend you enquire about our bespoke mapping services.