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

Edit: Updated with a new QGIS workflow (November 21, 2014)

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. QGIS now comes with built in tools for downloading Open Street Map Data.

2. Open QGIS and zoom in to an area of interest. Use the OpenLayers plugin for a basemap if you do not have any imagery or mapping of your own. 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).

Bing Basemap
(Click for larger version)

3a. Go to the Vector Menu and Choose OpenStreetMap and then Download data.

OSM Download Menu

3b. Choose how you want the extent of the downloaded data to be defined. The easiest way is to use the Map Canvas.

OSM Download Dialogue

4. Open your downloaded .osm file in QGis using the Add Vector Layer tool. Select all the Layers and choose OK.

Select vector layers to add

This results are shown in several layers depending upon what is present in the extent you have downloaded. In this case there are points, lines, multilinestrings and multipolygons. Note that QGIS only imports features that fall completely within the extent specified. So make sure you choose an area larger than your actual area of interest to ensure it is completely covered.

OSM layers loaded in QGIS
(Click for larger version)

5. Export these layers one by one. Right-click and choose "Save As, then ESRI shapefile".

Save Points to Shapefile
(Click for larger version)

6. The 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.

OSM Layers loaded in MAPublisher
(Click for larger version)

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.

OSM Layers loaded and themed in MAPublisher
(Click for larger version)


OSM Data in Adobe Illustrator without MaPublisher

I use the same way to import OSM data in 3D UTM map for flying simulator sceneries. I export the vector layers as DXF instead of EDRI Shapefile. DXF files can be imported directly into Illustrator. my two pence

Arieal Imagery Error

Hello This is rajesh form bangalore I have doubts for Arial imagery each and very minutes getting error If i add imagery, if have solution please share it me.

re: Arieal Imagery Error

Hi Rajesh, please contact with details of the issue you're seeing and we'll be glad to help you. Thanks!

Blank when importing

Hi, when i import my .osm file that i exported from openstreetmap, i get all the layers but the canvas has nothing on it, its blank. Any ideas, ive followed the instructions again and again.

Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for sharing.

re: Thanks for sharing.

You're welcome Julie!

Why not rewrite this page to incorporate the new method

Since the OSM plugin is no longer, why not rewrite this page so we don't have to try the explained method dependent on the plugin only to discover it no longer works? The Add Vector layer method works beautifully; just rewrite the page explaining how to use it to get into QGIS and then how to export

re: Why not rewrite this page to incorporate the new method

Thanks for the comment Bruce. We'll be updating this blog post or writing a new one shortly. - Avenza

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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