OSM on Paper

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OpenStreetMap offers many possibilities for creating high resolution paper maps. Unlike commercial map services such as Mapquest and Google Maps, there are only a few restrictions on what you can do with OSM images.

Basic Export

The main Export functions on the openstreetmap.org front page, can export arbitrary map areas within a limited range of resolution, suitable for simple situations. The PDF export (found using the "Share" icon) is suitable for printing on high resolution printers. Bitmap output formats are available, but as the resolution is increased the font size gets smaller and text readability does not improve.

Simple web interfaces for printing OSM maps

MapOSMatic street index
Part of Inkatlas page with elevation contours.
  • Field Papers (fieldpapers.org) - Nice multipage atlas printing options. Simple area / page picker interface. Different printable rendering styles, including a nice black and white. Bitmap PDF export
  • Walking-Papers (walking-papers.org) - popular service as precursor to Field Papers
  • MapOSMatic (maposmatic.org) - Generate PNG, detailed Vector PDF or SVG map with a grid and index of the streets
  • Inkatlas - Create multi-page black and white atlases or large format maps optimized for print. Several paper sizes and map styles, including a topographic one with elevation contours. Users can add their own GPX tracks.
  • cycle.travel ([1]) - lets you download a really nice vector PDF after planning a cycle route on the site (Western Europe only, log-in needed for PDF export)
  • Get Veloroad (on github) - generates vector and raster images for selected area and size (in mm), allows adding GPX trace. Russia and Baltic states only.
  • Overpass turbo has a nice feature in Export menu: save displayed map as PNG bitmap graphic file, with proper attribution included.
  • milvusmap.eu offers a webservice to choose an area of an OSM based map in order to produce and download a rendered map in real PDF with an own style by milvusmap.
  • mapwebbing.eu produces a high quality PNG bitmap file with selection of a certain area and DPI parameter. Currently in German only.
  • mapz.com offers high resolution output of OSM based maps with custom overlays. Free to use for non-commercial purposes, and the ability to buy commercially licensed maps.
  • printmaps-osm.de PDF with embedded vector data, info legend, print size max. 5000x5000mm, map data available for germany, austria and switzerland, different map styles. BETA, currently in German only.
  • BBBike.org extract service offers download of SVG and PNG files for an area of your choice in different stylings, updated weekly.
  • Boundaries Map offers worldwide download of all administrative boundaries in different file formats, SVG is one of them. Database will be updated at midnight, german time. Created by User:wambacher
  • OpenPaperMaps - a webservice based on the TownGuide tool. BETA, currently offline.
  • mapworks is a web service that has features to display either single objects or a whole category (so far: buildings ways etc) with a user defined fill and outline colour, output as PNG or SVG file.

Other tools specifically for producing printable maps

  • MapPDF for vector PDF renderings
  • Mapapel (Mapapel.com) Printable city maps based on OSM data.
  • TownGuide (townguide.webhop.net) PDF Map Generator with street index and index of user selectable Points of Interest.
  • Osmbook is a program that can print multiple-page map books out of OSM data with a gridded overview, a page index of all printed labels, and optional subgridded pages.
  • MapBook (MapBook)
  • OSM-Atlas creates a PDF street atlas suitable for printing.
  • Generic Mapping Tools (gmt.soest.hawaii.edu) is a collection of tools to produce high quality scientific maps; GMT input files can be derived from OSM e. g. via PostgreSQL/PostGis and the GDAL ogr2ogr conversion utility
  • Smrender is a generic rule-based renderer for printable charts mainly developed to produce sea charts.
  • (SplashMaps) offers customers a high-quality, water resistant, customisable fabric map of anywhere in the world based on OSM data.
  • Kartograph is a frame work to produce vector tiles in SVG format.
  • OSMgrabber collects a given number of screenshots after moving the map by simulated mouse clicks and pastes them together to a printable PNG file.
  • Nik4 is a mapnik-to-image exporting script. You can set special parameters to get quality graphics for printing or publishing.
  • Mobile Atlas Creator (mobac.sourceforge.net) can be used to create png images for paper maps
  • mapCreator.py a light-weight python script for downloading a set of tiles and stitching them to a single jpeg image
  • Hikingmap a python script to render 1 or more GPX tracks on a minimum amount of pages

As a big image map

There are many ways of getting a map image which you can then print out.

Generating from existing tile sets

  • Static map images - Services to generate a map image with specified centre point and dimensions
    • StaticMap - Interface to pick from several styles
    • MapQuest Open Static Maps ([2]) - Static map images in the mapquest style
    • bigmap ([3], also bigmap 2) - Forms a big map arranging tile images side by side. Interface to adjust the view. Download a perl script to generate a stitched together image. This results in a very big bitmap image which allows you to print at high resolution, although font size can be a problem.
    • Category:Tile stitching - Lists these and other tools which can download tiles and stitch them together to form a large (hi-res) image.

Rendering an image

Big printout of a Mapnik rendered image

See Rendering for a full list of options and details for setting up your own rendering software.

  • Mapnik is the renderer used to create the default tile layer on the main OSM homepage. It can output SVG.
  • Maperitive is a desktop application for interactive mapping, with many tools and functions, including exporting to bitmaps and SVG files. It works on Windows, Linux and Mac. Maperitive is successor to Kosmos. The latest version can now generate Walking Papers-like maps.
  • Mapweaver is another perl application with customized output.
  • Merkaartor is desktop OSM editor that can output SVG and bitmaps using presets and editable styles.
  • osmrender.pl is a small PERL program that can be customized easily and draws simple maps.
  • Osmarender renders an SVG map image which can generate a high-quality raster image.
  • The sample program of CartoType generally displays realtime vector maps from a local offline OSM datafile on a desktop PC according to an own rendering style, you can create easily a PNG bitmap file from current screenview.

Note that many of these renderers can be configured for creating your own tiles, and you might then follow the tile-stitching approaches listed above

Increased resolution, the ability to take a map style configuration and uniformly increase the scale of all of the features, may be important for good quality printouts. See high-resolution tiles.

Freeware Solutions for Printing Maps

Building a free high-resolution street atlas from Open Street Map is a straightforward job, but it requires access to a computer with sufficient memory to handle rather large image files. The following was done on a 64-bit computer with an Intel i7 CPU at 4 GHz and 16Gb RAM running Windows 10. There are four major steps: download the data, convert the data to one or more images, merge them (if you want a wall map) into one big image, and then print.

Needed software: Maperitive and Easy Poster Printer (free downloads). Microsoft ICE (free download) is optional if you want one big map. You need to create an account on Open Street Map if you don't already have one (no cost).

A. Download data from Open Street Map.

1. Surf to Open Street Map.
2. Zoom to desired area. There are limits to how much Open Street Map will allow you to download at one time. 50 square miles (5 x 10) seems to work ok.
3. Press the Export button. Note where the .osm file generated is stored on your computer.
4. Move to another part of the map and repeat until all areas of the map you want in your street atlas are included. You now have several files containing all the desired data on your computer.

B. Convert .osm to .jpg image files. If Maperitive is not installed on your computer, download it and install it.

5. Launch Maperitive.
6. Open the files you just downloaded, all of them at once.
7. Zoom to a reasonable area (if you try to create a file that is too big, the program will fail). Any scale at or under 1:50,000 seems to work (scale of zoom is displayed in the lower left corner of the map). Use the command zoom-map-scale 50000 (or another scale if you prefer).
8. Enter on the command line in Maperitive the following command: export-bitmap file=filename.jpg dpi=300 map-scale=6691 where filename is the name of the file you want to create. Since you will be creating multiple files, you might want to call it something like "city1.jpg" then the next one will be "city2.jpg" and so on.
9. Repeat on different parts of the city until you have covered everything you want in your atlas. Make sure your bitmaps overlap a bit if you plan to generate a single large image.

If you want one giant image of the whole city (like for a wall map), now do this. If not, skip to D.

C. Merge the .jpg files into one giant image of the city. If Microsoft's Image Composite Editor or ICE is not installed on your computer, download and install it.

10. Open all of the JPG files you just created in ICE.
11. Follow the instructions in ICE to build a composite image from all the JPGs. Be sure to set the quality to 100% and do not use the autofill option.
12. Export the composite image to a new JPG.

You now have a VERY large image file that contains a high-resolution snapshot of the city as well as a bunch of smaller such snapshots of different parts of the city.
If you can print the entire composite image on an industrial plotter, great. You can now print out a huge map of the city. If you don't have one, you can also generate a street atlas that is easily printed on letter-sized paper and carried in your car.

D. Print the .jpg files in a format printable on your desktop printer.

Option D.1. If Easy Poster Printer is not installed on your computer, download it and install it.

13. Open the first of the JPGs you created in Easy Poster Printer.
14. Play with the settings until you have it set for the size of paper you want to use and the scale of the map you want on that size of page. Set "Quality" to 300 dpi.
15. If you want hard copy immediately, print it.
16. If you want to create a PDF file, print it to PDF (this assumes you either have Adobe Acrobat Professional installed on your computer or are running Windows 10, which includes a "Microsoft print to PDF" setting.)
17. Print the PDF file at your leisure. Hint: Windows 10 creates large PDF files. Open them in Adobe Acrobat Professional, if you have access to it, and use the "save as" function to reduce their size to something more reasonable. You may also have some blank pages; you may wish to delete them in Adobe Acrobat Professional. If you don't have Acrobat Professional, recycle the blank pages.
18. Repeat with the remaining JPGs (always using the same scale settings) until you have printed the entire atlas.

Option D.2. Print directly from Maperitive.

19. Edit a copy of the original file ..\Maperitive\Samples\Python\WalkingPapersCopy.py, a script that will generate printable maps for you a page at a time. Instructions for editing are embedded in the file. Try map scale set to 10,000 and increase the maximum number of pages from the default of 30 to however many you will need to print your street atlas.
20. Open your .osm files in Maperitive. 21. Click on Maps/Set Printing Bounds to define how much of the map to print.
22. Drag and drop your edited copy of WalkingPapersCopy.py onto Maperitive.
23. Your files will appear in the ..\Maperitive\output\ folder on your computer. You may print them as is, or combine them into an Adobe PDF file.

Usage examples

Styles suitable for black & white printing

Tile of map using Toner style

Almost all styles rely on colours to distinguish features, and as result map printed on black & white printer is typically an useless gray blob. Some styles are designed to not use colours:

Other links / tutorials