How to get Open Street Map data into Adobe Illustrator with MAPublisher

The following tip is courtesy of Hans van der Maarel of Red Geographics.


For many areas on Earth, OpenStreetMap is a viable alternative to commercially offered data sources. However, it is not always easy to process. This blog tutorial explains the steps needed to load OpenStreetMap data into MAPublisher.

1. Download and install QGis, this is a free GIS application, available for Windows, Mac and Linux computers. Make sure that after the installation finishes, you activate the OpenStreetMap plugin (Plugins -> Plugin settings).

2. Go to OpenStreetMap in your Web browser and zoom in to an area of interest. Keep in mind that downloads from the OpenStreetMap website are limited in the number of exported objects, so for larger areas you will have to combine multiple downloads yourself, or look for other options (for example Geofabrik or Cloudmade).

Item 2: Coordinate system of the map

3. Go to the export tab and pick OpenStreetmap XML. Save this file as map.osm (it may take a few minutes).

Item 2: Coordinate system of the map

4. Open map.osm in QGis. Tick all options. Note: this uses the "Load OSM from file" option in the OpenStreetMap plugin.

Item 2: Coordinate system of the map

This results are shown in three layers: points, lines and polygons. Note that the OpenStreetMap export will not crop objects, but you can do this later on in MAPublisher.

5. Export these layers one by one. Right-click and choose "Save as shapefile".

Item 2: Coordinate system of the map

6. The three shapefiles can be imported into Adobe Illustrator using MAPublisher. After reprojecting, scaling and cropping we've ended up with the raw OpenStreetMap vectors in Adobe Illustrator, with all attributes still maintained.

Item 2: Coordinate system of the map

7. Once within the data is imported successfully, you may now use any of the MAPublisher and Adobe Illustrator tools to style and customize the map in any way you want.


QGIS 2.2.0-Valmiera gives error

Hi and thanks for the clear instructions. I run QGIS 2.2.0-Valmiera in Ubuntu 12.04 and I have installed the two plugins OpenLayersPlugin and OSMEditorRemoteControl. I'm following the instructions in "re: How to adapt this process for QGIS 2.2.0-Valmiera?" but I get an error message: Invalid Data Source: ..../map.osm is not a valid or recognaized data source. Any idea of what is wrong? thanks /Goran

re: QGIS 2.2.0-Valmiera gives error

Hi Goran,

Please check that your data source location is correct and to make sure your .osm file was properly exported.

If your problem persists, please refer to QGIS Documentation or contact QGIS directly. Hope it works out for you. - Avenza

How to adapt this process for QGIS 2.2.0-Valmiera?

hi, I am a trying out the free trial of MAPublisher for use with Adobe Illustrator Creative Cloud. How should I adapt this process to work with QGIS 2.2.0-Valmiera? Specifically, how should I open the .osm file? Thanks in advance.

re: How to adapt this process for QGIS 2.2.0-Valmiera?

Hi arnelson1,

The steps to open an .osm file in QGIS 2.2.0-Valmiera are similar:

  1. Assuming you have already exported a map.osm file from OpenStreetMap, start a new project in QGIS 2.2.0.
  2. Click the Add Vector Layer button. In the Add Vector Layer dialog box, choose File as the Source Type, then click Browse and choose the map.osm file. If you don't see it, change the file type drop-down list to All files. Click Open.
  3. Back in the Add Vector Layer dialog box, click Open. Your data will be imported and displayed.
  4. In the Layers panel, right-click a layer and click Save As. Choose to save the layer as an ESRI Shapefile.
  5. In Adobe Illustrator, use MAPublisher Import to add the new shapefile.


Having trouble opening an

Having trouble opening an .osm file in Illustrator. I get this error message: map (2).osm is not a valid or recognized data source I'm running OS X and have installed the proper version of QGIS, along with requisite GDAL and GSL_Framework. I also looked up the Open Street Map plug-in, and it said "installed", although it also said "only locally available". Thanks for any help.

Unfortunately, Adobe

Unfortunately, Adobe Illustrator and MAPublisher do not support the OSM file format. You will need to follow the instructions outlined in this post and open the OSM file in QGIS, export them as shapefile format and then import the shapefile into Adobe Illustrator with MAPublisher.

QGIS plug-in

It might be worth mentioning that in version 1.7 of QGIS, you need to go to Plug-Ins/Fetch Python Plug-Ins to access this Open Street Map plug-in. For my part, I was unable to install it as the installer says "only locally available", which I suppose precludes those of us behind a firewall.

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