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I've absolutely no idea if this is a proper forum to ask this or not. But I know that I can at least get some information here.

I was reading few wiki articles on Indian rivers and I'm very much impressed by the maps on those pages. Example:

enter image description here

enter image description here

Maps in the school geography textbook that I'm reading are dull & boring. Example:

enter image description here

These maps got me excited. I want to generate few maps like these. I specifically want to add details of the second map in to first map, for all the rivers shown in the first map. I also want to add names of reservoirs & dams with icons etc.

The guys who made these maps have also made lot of such maps for wiki:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:NordNordWest/Gallery/Maps http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Shannon1/Maps

How can I generate such maps?

I'm an absolute newbie. I just discovered this.

Don't we have an advanced version of this tool? mapsofindia.com/editable-maps/customise-your-map.html where we can just select what we want to include in the map by using checkboxes

  • What resources do you have? Do you have a machine where you can install software? Do you have Linux? Do you have knowledge of CSS and could apply that to a different situation? There are a lot of different tools, and it depends on what you are likely to be able to work with. – BradHards Feb 22 '15 at 1:33
  • Machine: Yes. Linux: can install. CSS: Have bit of web designing experience. So yes. – claws Feb 22 '15 at 1:45
  • Another example: mapsofindia.com/maps/india/india-rivers-map.jpg – claws Feb 22 '15 at 1:47
  • This looks like a possible duplicate of gis.stackexchange.com/questions/8113/how-to-start-web-mapping so I'm thinking a review of that should enable a more focussed question to emerge. – PolyGeo Feb 22 '15 at 2:08
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That looks like Natural Earth Data being used, however as far as creating a map, there are a lot of different aspects that need to go into the process. You need to consider the scope, audience, styling, interactivity, etc.

If you need these maps quickly for a project you might be working on, I would suggest hiring a professional, but by the way you worded your question, it seems like you just want to get into map making in general. If that's the case, here are a few resources I can point you towards.

I would start by reading How Maps Work by Dr. Alan M. MacEachren from Penn State. He is a very well respected individual in the cartographic world and his book is highly informative. It was one of the ones I was told to read when I first started as well. I'd also look into Thematic Cartography and Geovisualization by Terry Slocum and others. This is a great starter textbook and is used in many intro to cartography courses.

If you want something with more of an interactive flare to it, I highly recommend Web Cartography: Map Design for Interactive and Mobile Devices by Dr. Ian Muehlenhaus. I read this book in preparation for a mobile cartography seminar I took while getting my Masters degree in Cartography and it was very informative.

Finally, to get your feet wet in the discipline, I'd consider taking a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC). There is one that is taught called Maps and the Geospatial Revolution by Dr. Anthony Robinson from Penn State that goes through the background and basics of Cartography. I think if you want to get started making maps, this would be your best place to start.

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