I am willing to pay a bit, but don't want to pay professional costs for professional software - this is just idle fun.

Apart from the ability to draw out the layout of roads and buildings, I'm looking for as many as possible of the following Google Maps-like features:

  • Buildings of different shapes
  • Some kind of indication of building size (see shadows by large buildings in the Maps image)
  • Ability to draw bodies of water and parks and see them appropriately indicated by colour/however
  • Ability to add labels (to buildings, roads, etc) and toggle them on or off - ideally both individually and by classes (show restaurants, just show this one road's name)

The more options and tweakability the better - especially at the point where you've laid out the map and you are tweaking how it appears.

I have access to Linux, OSX, and Windows (but would prefer to avoid Windows if possible). I am imagining a desktop thing but I also have an iPad and an Android phone.

enter image description here

  • Should the result be integrated into a "live map" (with capabilities to zoom and integrate other details "at will") – or is a "static image" all you want?
    – Izzy
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 15:43

2 Answers 2


I first thought whether I should really recommend a maps-oriented software, like JOSM, but the setup would be immense: you need a database to store the items, you'd need a renderer to render the tiles and stack them in layers. Maybe, if you want to draw really large-scale maps, that's the correct approach.

For a more leisure-oriented, single application approach, I would use Inkscape.

With Inkscape you can:

  • draw any kind of shapes, which become your buildings
  • add shadows by duplicating the shape and moving it by an offset
  • draw freeform items for lakes
  • define a custom palette with only the colours you need/want
  • add labels
  • toggle items on or off using layers. It has to become a habit to work with layers, but it works well.

Screenshot: result in Inkscape

Screenshot: Layers

Screenshot: custom colors


You could try OpenGeoFiction. It is a a collaborative platform for creating a map of an imaginary world.

It is based on the OpenStreetMap software platform, so you are able to use the regular OpenStreetMap editors and other tools. eg you can use JOSM as an editor, so there are plenty of options of tweaking things if you want. You could export the data, and render it with the OSM software, to produce a map in a different style.

Note OpenGeofiction does have some rules for what you can map - About OpenGeofiction. It is based on a modern, 'real' world, not fantasy or science fiction. The map is divided into territories, which can be claimed by users, who are then allowed to edit within that area.

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